Christian Pop Is Oh So Peppy

Over at my day job, I've done an analysis of contemporary Christian music and traditional shape-note hymns. I took a look at the last five years of Billboard’s year-end top 50 Christian songs1 to see whether Christian pop is unrelentingly cheerful. I looked at pairs of concepts across the entire collection of lyrics2 (life and death, grace and sin, etc.)3 and calculated the ratio of positive to negative words. For every pair I checked, positive words were far more common than negative o … [Read more...]

Running the Stats on Shakespeare!

Shakespeare's 400th death day comes up this weekend, so I've done some analysis for FiveThirtyEight on which of his plays wind up taught outside English class (and offered a few recommendations of my own): Psychology students most often encounter Shakespeare’s great madmen: King Lear and Hamlet. Perhaps they’re the ones to blame for the more sexualized stagings of Hamlet’s confrontation with his mother. Oedipal productions of the play are such a trope that, in Jasper Fforde’s modern lit-nerd com … [Read more...]

I’m Speaking in NYC on Fights and Statistics

I have two speaking gigs coming up in New York City, if you're in town or have friends who are interested in arguments, statistics or both!  Theology on Tap: "Fighting in Good Faith" April 11, 7:30p121 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036How to avoid "agreeing to disagree" while still engaging with curiosity and love.  World Communications Day: "Counting Catholics: A Guide to Telling the Truth With Statistics" May 11, 2:10p333 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201Making … [Read more...]

Stats & Chat about the primaries with In The Arena

Last week, I was a guest on In The Arena to talk about the aftermath of Super Tuesday and to look ahead to Second Super Tuesday.  (Is that what we've agreed to call it? Has anyone reached out to Merry and Pippin for comment?).  You can check out my segment (and my stats) below.And although I can't fault you for being a little tired of takes on the election (and the electorate) I want to strongly recommend Ivan Plis's examination of evangelical support for Trump for National Interest. By … [Read more...]

On Beyond Valentine’s Day!

I've got two great essays to share now that Valentine's Day is over, and you have to go on muddling through how to offer and receive love without quite so much guidance from Hallmark.  First up, in First Things, Alexi Sargeant has a great piece on dating and courtship, and the kind of deliberate work couples need to do to keep dating focused on its proper end: discernment. An overwhelming amount of the media we consume (from romantic films to television sitcoms) suggests that couples work out t … [Read more...]

My Statistician’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

I've written two pieces at FiveThirtyEight that may be of interest to those of you celebrating Valentine's Day this weekend.  First up:  The Cheapskate’s Guide To Buying Flowers For Valentine’s DayIf you bought your roses on Feb. 10 and took good care of them, you might still have a bouquet to bestow on Feb. 14. (But you’d need a good explanation for why they wilted a day or two later.) You could eke a little more life out of the roses by keeping them in something other than tap wa … [Read more...]

Speaking in Rhode Island tonight & how to have me visit your school

Tonight, I'm giving a talk on my book Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Answer on "Lessons in Prayer from an Atheist Convert" at Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island.  The full logistical details are here, and the event description is: Leah Libresco, a popular atheist blogger whose conversion to Catholicism became a topic of national conversation, will speak to the public at Portsmouth Abbey on learning how to pray (badly). Author of the new book, Arriving at Amen, Leah will e … [Read more...]


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