Friday, June 29, 2012

A Partisan Divide? Oh, Yeah

If ever there was any doubt of a partisan divide in the U.S., Thursday's Supreme Court decision on health care answers all doubts.  According to a new Gallup Poll:
                Dems    GOP   Ind    All
Agree          79       83      45    46
Disagree      16       13      42    46

Talk about your partisan split, with Independents edging in favor of Obamacare.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Civility in News

Fox News is the most uncivil source of news, PBS the most civil, at least according to a survey released today (read a brief report here, download the actual PDF here, which is part of a larger "civility in America" study).

First off, let's be clear -- this is not an analysis of actual content.  Rather, this is a survey of people and their perceptions of civility.  Actual content studies do exist, one of my favorites being how often in a minute Bill O'Reilly manages to insult someone (answer, every seven seconds, see my post about that study).

What's making things less civil?  Survey says:
  1. Politicians
  2. Government officials
  3. The economy
  4. America's Youth
  5. Media
  6. Celebrities
  7. Corporate America
  8. Internet/Social Media
  9. Sports Figures
  10. Cellphones
  11. Twitter
  12. None of the above
We can feast on the above list for days, but let's move on to the fun stuff:
  • Republicans in Congress are seen as more uncivil than Democrats
  • The Occupy movement is more uncivil than the Tea Party
  •  Schools are a cause of incivility more than pro sports
  • Urbanites are the least civil
  • Pepsi is more uncivil than Coke (I made this one up)
I'd go on (and on and on), but summer hours are a precious beer-drinking time, so check out the report yourself.

Column on the Public's Knowledge

It's summer.  And I'm lazy.  So today I merely point to this interesting column about the public's knowledge and whether it makes sense to always be attentive to politics.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Brainiest Cities in the U.S.

We love lists.  They're catchy, they give us something to argue over, and they make for fun stories.  Here's one I just came across thanks to the magic of Twitter: America's Brainiest Cities.

Oh dear, you're thinking, this is gonna be bad.

To save time, here's the list of America's 25 brainiest, according to the metrics a company created (read the story for a discussion):

  1. Charlottesville, Virginia
  2. Lafayette, Indiana
  3. Anchorage Alaska
  4. Madison, Wisconsin
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose 
  6. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque, Iowa
  7. Honolulu
  8. Johnstown-Altoona, Pennsylvania
  9. Champaign & Springfield-Decatur, Illinois
  10. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  11. Boston-Manchester (Massachusetts/New Hampshire)
  12. Austin
  13. Rochester, New York
  14. Gainesville, Florida 
  15. Fargo-Valley City North Dakota
  16. Lansing, Michigan 
  17. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo
  18. Burlington-Plattsburgh (Vermont/New York) 
  19. Pittsburgh
  20. Syracuse, New York
  21. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  22. Columbia-Jefferson City, Missouri
  23. La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  24. Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York Pennsylvania
  25. Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts
Many make sense. College towns, noted cities.  But Baton Rouge?  Sorry, I've spent a lot of time in Baton Rouge, La., and brainy is not one of the first words that comes to mind, otherwise I can't really quibble without delving deeply into their methodology, which I'm not going to do because it's the first day of summer class and probably I need to actually prepare for the semester in the next hour or so.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No Change = News?

Nearly half of Americans believe God created humans in their present form in the last 10,000 years.

Yes, I know ... scientifically implausible given the massive fossil record.  As a practicing Catholic, I have no problem believing God played a role in creation but that man (and all the other critters) evolved over a huge amount of time, but 46 percent of Americans think we magically appeared in the last 10,000 years.  Probably along with the dinosaurs.

My headline above, though, says No Change = News? because, frankly, even the news story tells us the public really hasn't changed all that much:
That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution. Thirty years ago, 44% of the people who responded said they believed that God created humans as we know them today - only a 2-point difference from 2012.
So is it news that people remain unchanged in this belief?  Yes, if for no other reason than to demonstrate we're not getting any smarter, at least when it comes to what people know about science.