Sunday, January 21, 2007

Don't Know Much About Statistics

Do we, as evangelicals, play fast and loose with statistics?

Sometimes we do, and it's not a good (or godly) thing according to Christian Smith, a sociology professor at Baylor University. In an article in Books & Culture called "Evangelicals Behaving Badly with Statistics," he takes particular aim at the recent claim that only four percent of todays teenagers will be evangelical believers by the time they reach adulthood.

He says, "The point is that not all evangelical leaders need an M.A. in statistics, or that all evangelical organizations need to hire statisticians. Indeed, let me be entirely clear here. I am not finally pushing for the authority of experts. The last thing the world needs is more worship in the cult of expertise. I am actually arguing for the opposite: for ordinary evangleical leaders, pastors, and organizational staff-people to better exercise their God-given minds on pretty basic matters of percentages, averages, trends, and logical inferences so as not to say indefensible and embarassing things in public."

You can read Smith's article here.


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