Statistics and religious trends

By Razib Khan | October 31, 2008 1:06 pm

I have a piece up for The Guardian’s new Comment is Free Belief site, The use and abuse of statistics – Prophecies of the extinction of religion, or its triumph, fall prey to the weaknesses of linear prediction. Implicit in my argument are these sorts of dynamics:

Bearman and Brückner have also identified a peculiar dilemma: in some schools, if too many teens pledge, the effort basically collapses. Pledgers apparently gather strength from the sense that they are an embattled minority; once their numbers exceed thirty per cent, and proclaimed chastity becomes the norm, that special identity is lost….

This is in regards to virginity, but the insight is generalizable. You don’t have to know anything about dynamics though, just read a cultural history of France since the Revolution and you’ll see what I mean.

  • M. Möhling

    In the Guardian, of all places? Anyway, congratulations–that promises a breath of fresh air.

  • razib

    it’s all due to andrew brown’s. i appreciate the opportunity he provided and hope to contribute more in the near future.

  • Jason Malloy

    Awesome, Z. Good points.
    Your sun-whitened hair made you look like Thomas Sowell.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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