Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conservative Religiosity and Teen Birthrates in States

by Alan

Nick Barrowman, who operates the blog "Log base 2," examines a study reported on showing a strong correlation (.72) between states' teenage birthrates and conservative religiosity (the latter obtained via public opinion polling in each state). Both the MSNBC article and the original scientific publication discuss how caution is warranted in interpreting the findings, both in terms of correlation and causality, and the ecological fallacy. Indeed, Barrowman writes that, "My goal here has not been to criticize the authors of this study, nor the media." Instead, his concern appears to be that the general public may draw improper conclusions from the study. All in all, however, I would say the scientific article -- and media and blog coverage thereof -- have done a public service by promoting an exchange of ideas about how the study's findings might reasonably be explained.