Cheryl Russell - Society, Statistics and Skepticism
Posted: 21 March 2011 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  170
Joined  2009-06-02

Host: Karen Stollznow

My guest this week is Cheryl Russell, a recognized authority on statistics and demographics.

Cheryl is the editorial director of New Strategist Publications and the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine. She is the author of the “Demo Memo” blog and the books The Master Trend, 100 Predictions for the Baby Boom and Bet You Didn’t Know: Hundreds of Intriguing Facts about Living in the USA.

In this interview with Karen Stollznow, Cheryl reveals that demographic information challenges deeply embedded beliefs about society and explains why there is such a gap between belief and reality. She shows that statistics and demography are not so dull, but instead they afford us a fascinating glimpse into society.

Cheryl explains that typically, the more economically developed the country, the lower the religiosity. Paradoxically, the United States is one of the world’s most religious countries. Cheryl discusses some statistics about belief. What percentage of Americans believe in god without a doubt? Do Americans think it is necessary to believe in God to be moral? How many people believe in religious miracles? How many believe in evolution? How reliable are these statistics anyway?

Posted: 23 March 2011 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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In the interview Cheryl sited the US as being an outlier in the typical inverse correlation that can be found between religion and material wealth. I would be curious how much divergence would be present if the study focused only on the top X percentile of wealth producing regions in the US, particularly if it excluded revenue generated from federal government subsidies.

Posted: 26 March 2011 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Joined  2010-05-08

Canadians and Mexicans will be interested to learn from Russell (at 11:08) that the United States is geographically separate from “all the other countries”. Did her Aunt Jane tell her this?

Posted: 26 March 2011 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Joined  2007-09-03

I thought it was a good interview. Here is the link to demomemo blog

At the end Karen S. often asks an interviewee for parting wisdom, and Cheryl Russell had a good line:

who, how much,and how long ...who is reporting the statistic (and why), is it really signficant, and is it just some sort term observation or part of a longer trend.  I thought this was a good punchline {maybe if I garbled it after a week but the gist is there}.

Posted: 27 March 2011 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  115
Joined  2007-12-09

Yes, a fine podcast.  Thank you, Ms. Stollznow and Ms. Russell!

Like the commenter above, I would have been interested to hear how individual U.S. states vary when wealth and various measures of social health are plotted against overall religiosity. 

My understanding is that when the U.S. is subdivided by states our nation conforms more to the model of the rest of the world in such comparisons.  Is this correct?

(When thinking of things such as this, I’m always reminded of and amused by the recent data, though I can’t remember its source, that showed Utah as having the highest paid porn subscription rate in the U.S.
I guess Mormons really are the heirs of Joseph Smith in that they appear to be exceptionally sex-obsessed (horny?) devils.)