Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Do data matter?

Last week, I posted about the role of data in changing (and probably more often not changing) peoples' minds.

Here's more evidence of (we) people being bound to what we think we already know, in the face of contrary evidence.

A while ago, I was in a small group discussion with about a dozen Christian grad students and Ph.D. types. The conversation got off onto the issue of how non-Christians perceive Christians, and several people commented about how little respect non-Christians hold for Christians because of how we misbehave.

I had recently finished doing some analyses about this very question for a review of the book UnChristian. With these analyses, I probably knew more about that small question than perhaps anyone else in the country (that's what academics do, I suppose, find a narrow question and start digging deep). It turns out that Christians are actually reasonably well thought of. See here, here, and here. I explained this all to the group, and they seemed very interested and thanked me for the information. I went into the other room for about 20 minutes, chatting with some other people. When I returned, the conversation about non-Christians not liking Christians was continuing on as before. Doh-h-h-h-h.

I'll have to buy the new Paradigm-Changer 2000 the next time I'm at the hardware store.


Patti said...

Brad, I can't recall if your research addressed this question: of those who do not think highly of Christians, how much blame can be given to the past or current behavior of Christians?

André said...

If the "Paradigm-Changer 2000" is a hammer for beating people over the head with until they believe the facts, then I shall buy one too!

Brad Wright said...

Good question Patti. I haven't seen any quantitative data on that, so I'm not sure. In a qualitative study I did of 50 deconverts, they seemed more mad at God than his followers.

Andre, maybe a hammer would do it?