Nine out of ten young people leave the church as soon as they graduate. That is, churches are losing 90% or (in another version) 88% of their children. Have you heard that? Has your congregation, alarmed at these statistics, started elaborate youth group programs or family ministries? Or scrapped your traditional worship services and brought in new styles of music that someone thinks will appeal to the young people? Well, quite a few teenagers and young adults do drop out of church once they leave home, at least for awhile. This is indeed a problem. But the 90% number is yet another bogus statistic, as Timothy Paul Jones shows. [Read more…]
Apologists for the administration’s abortion pill & contraceptive mandate are pointing to statistics that say as many as 98% of Roman Catholic women use contraceptives in defiance of the teaching of their church. This is then used to encourage Democrats to not back down from the mandate, despite what the bishops say, as if rank and file Catholics will support the Obama administration anyway.
It turns out, though, that the 98% numbers are yet another way to lie with statistics, as Mark Misulia explains, quoting an analysis linked in the post:
The study excludes women who are not sexually active, where this is defined as “sexual intercourse in the past three months,” postpartum, pregnant, or women trying to get pregnant. The study was designed to “include only women for whom a pregnancy would be unintended and who are ‘at risk’ of becoming pregnant.” It is not clear whether the study includes women who are neither trying nor not trying to become pregnant. . . .
“The deliberate design of the study to cover only women who, at the time of the study, were having sexual intercourse while regarding a pregnancy as unintended would be likely to make it unrepresentative of Catholics and particularly unrepresentative of devout Catholics. Yet the study is now being cited to show the percentage of Catholic women generally who are not following the teaching of the Catholic Church in this area…a statistic based on a study that explicitly excluded those who have no use for contraception is obviously irrelevant to a question about the percentage of Catholic women who have a use for contraception!”
The fact that women who are celibate, postpartum, and those not trying to avoid pregnancy are excluded is enough. That such a misrepresentation is being used as leverage in serious political discourse is truly unfortunate, regardless of the content of the study, and says as much about contemporary American politics as the mandate itself.
Here is how Mollie Hemingway puts it, analyzing in more detail the original study from the Guttmacher Institute (which happens to be an organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood):
So I guess we could say that among women aged 15-44 who had sex in the last three months but aren’t pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant, 87 percent of women who identify as Catholic used contraception. It’s worth pondering just who is left out of this 87 percent, other than, you know, everyone who doesn’t use contraception.
Certainly lots of Roman Catholics don’t follow their church’s teaching in this matter, but that doesn’t change the right of the church to set those teachings, as they themselves for the most part surely realize.
More ways to lie with statistics. From an article by Christina Hoff Sommers:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study suggesting that rates of sexual violence in the United States are comparable to those in the war-stricken Congo. How is that possible?
The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that, in the United States in 2010, approximately 1.3 million women were raped and an additional 12.6 million women and men were victims of sexual violence. It reported, “More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” . . .
The agency’s figures are wildly at odds with official crime statistics. The FBI found that 84,767 rapes were reported to law enforcement authorities in 2010. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, the gold standard in crime research, reports 188,380 rapes and sexual assaults on females and males in 2010. Granted, not all assaults are reported to authorities. But where did the CDC find 13.7 million victims of sexual crimes that the professional criminologists had overlooked?
It found them by defining sexual violence in impossibly elastic ways and then letting the surveyors, rather than subjects, determine what counted as an assault. Consider: In a telephone survey with a 30 percent response rate, interviewers did not ask participants whether they had been raped. Instead of such straightforward questions, the CDC researchers described a series of sexual encounters and then they determined whether the responses indicated sexual violation. A sample of 9,086 women was asked, for example, “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you?” A majority of the 1.3 million women (61.5 percent) the CDC projected as rape victims in 2010 experienced this sort of “alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.”
What does that mean? If a woman was unconscious or severely incapacitated, everyone would call it rape. But what about sex while inebriated? Few people would say that intoxicated sex alone constitutes rape — indeed, a nontrivial percentage of all customary sexual intercourse, including marital intercourse, probably falls under that definition (and is therefore criminal according to the CDC).
Other survey questions were equally ambiguous. Participants were asked if they had ever had sex because someone pressured them by “telling you lies, making promises about the future they knew were untrue?” All affirmative answers were counted as “sexual violence.” Anyone who consented to sex because a suitor wore her or him down by “repeatedly asking” or “showing they were unhappy” was similarly classified as a victim of violence.
Perhaps the CDC researchers are sensing that all extra-marital sex has an element of exploitation about it, but since moral absolutes must be left out of the equation, they are instead trying to employ secular legalisms and the feminist ideology that says women are always being oppressed by men. But that does not excuse “constructing” data like this.