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NPR made me laugh this morning(29 posts)

NPR made me laugh this morningContinental
Nov 18, 2003 7:47 AM
A University of Michigan (screw the Wolverines, go Buckeyes) survey showed that 40 some percent of people in the U.S. attend religious service at least once a week, but the rate is only about 8% in England, 7% in France and 5% in Japan. One of the explanations for American Religiosity was "The existential insecurity arising from the less comprehensive social safety net."

How could anyone report that and not crack up laughing?
yes, that's stupidDougSloan
Nov 18, 2003 8:04 AM
Can anyone honestly argue that NPR is not biased? Why was there any characterization of the numbers at all? Or, why were there not alternative explanations given, maybe something like "Another explanation may be the fact that most Americans believe in God and believe church attendance is an important part of their lives."

I guess NPR implies that the government is replacing the church in Europe. Maybe it is. However, is that good?

re: NPR made me laugh this morningMJ
Nov 18, 2003 8:07 AM
funny - that conclusion's a leap of faith
40% sounds highColnagoFE
Nov 18, 2003 8:21 AM
Nearly half attend service once a week? I find that statistic suspect. I can see 40% attend at least once or twice a year. Where did they pull that stat out of?
Yes and no,TJeanloz
Nov 18, 2003 8:36 AM
I think this is a relatively polarized question - people tend to either go every week, or not at all (or very rarely). I've lived in communities where everybody went to church every week, and also in places where most people couldn't tell you where the nearest church was.
I think that's about rightMcAndrus
Nov 18, 2003 2:31 PM
I've been following these kinds of numbers for years and it's been consistently around that number in the U.S.
Nov 18, 2003 8:40 AM
I think that statement is correct if you leave off everything but insecurity. Religiosity=insecurity, at least in some cases.

Also, NPR is better than it used to be, it's still left leaning but it's not so blatant.

Directions to Columbus: South until you smell it, East until you step in it.
No Doubt!!94Nole
Nov 18, 2003 8:42 AM
I figure I have 4 days leftContinental
Nov 18, 2003 9:06 AM
to enjoy the last two victories over Michigan. I have no idea how Ohio State has been 24-1 over the last 2 years, but I expect that the party will end on Saturday. Who knows though? Ohio State 11, Michigan 10. That would be an appropriate way to end the season.
If you don't like the message, kill the messengerCory
Nov 18, 2003 9:22 AM
I don't believe it, either--40 percent seems way high to me. But it's well known that people lie on surveys, and in any case my opinions, like most of yours, aren't worth squat because we don't KNOW how many people go to church.
What should also be known, but apparently isn't, is that NPR didn't CONDUCT the survey, it just REPORTED on it. Why do so many conservatives have trouble with that concept?
Anyway, isn't the whole point of religion the belief that Somebody somewhere really cares about YOU? And when the sitting government so obviously doesn't, why wouldn't people look to a higher power?
the issueDougSloan
Nov 18, 2003 9:37 AM
To me that issue wasn't the survey at all, but the commentary about the reason behind the apparent results. The above message did not make it clear who authored the commentary, the survey people, NPR, or someone else. Nonetheless, as most of us acknowledge, reporting a fact item, like a survey result, and added commentary, can show bias. The mere fact that NPR chose to run the story or the story with a one-sided commentary tells us something.

You seem to consistently deny that news media can show bias by their mere selection of stories run or the characterizations of those stories. I can't understand that position. Or, maybe you agree that it occurs, but just deny it happens when you seem to agree with the report. In other words, Fox is biased, but NPR is not. Is that it, or am I over reaching and assuming too much? It's interesting that you accuse conservatives of "having trouble with the concept" of NPR's "only running the story," when I've seen you (if my memory is correct) and others repeatedly berate Fox News for the same thing.

give us some credit pleasegregario
Nov 18, 2003 9:43 AM
we know that NPR didn't do the survey. What is not clear but is being credited to NPR, perhaps incorrectly i admit, is the reason for the high number being a result of a lack of government social programs. THAT'S the part that is under discussion.
the messenger chooses the messageContinental
Nov 18, 2003 9:45 AM
There is no news organization that simply reports. NPR and every other news organizatin choose which surveys they report and which stories they feature. Through those choices they bias the news. Only a news organization with a leftist egghead bias would choose to report this survey on religion and include the wacky explanation. I think NPR and PBS are the best news reporters in radio and TV, but I recognize their biases and frequently get a good laugh over the absurd selection of "news" stories.
And NPR dared to choose one the neo-cons don't like!Cory
Nov 18, 2003 11:12 AM
Personally, I get MY news-related laughs when Bill O'Reilly says "no spin." But I challenge your assertion that "only a news organization with a leftist egghead bias" would use that story on at least two levels.
The first is arguable, I guess--anybody who uses "egghead" pejoratively is showing an anti-intellectual bias. That fits neatly with my own bias, which includes Neanderthal conservatives huddled in a cave worrying that voters will suddenly start thinking, but that's probably not accurate.
The second is inarguable, though: Every news organization has a duty to report both sides of every story. NPR and PBS make an attempt to do that. Fox (for instance) doesn't. But conservatives are so spoiled by decades of sucking up from the (fading) big networks that they perceive non-sucking as treason.
wtf is this "neo-con" label, anyway?DougSloan
Nov 18, 2003 11:46 AM
I really get a kick out of your attempts to create a perjorative term to describe conservatives, or anyone right of Hillary Clinton, for that matter. It's pretty obvious that you are trying desperately hard to link "neo-con" with "neo-Nazi." Having suffered under the "Liberal" label with all it's baggage for years, I suppose the attempt is understandable.

Neoconservativism certainly does exist, but that does not mean that all conservatives or non-liberals are Neoconservatives. Rather than using the term precisely, I suspect that your use is rather a loosely and haphazardly applied attempted epithet.


BTW, I'm not a Neocon:

Neocon quiz results

Based on your answers, you are most likely a realist. Read below to learn more about each foreign policy perspective.


The term isolationist is most often used negatively; few people who share its beliefs use it to describe their own foreign policy perspective. They believe in "America first." For them, national sovereignty trumps international relations. Many unions, libertarians, and anti-globalization protesters share isolationist tenets.


Are wary of US involvement in the United Nations
Oppose international law, alliances, and agreements
Believe the US should not act as a global cop
Support trade practices that protect American workers
Oppose liberal immigration
Oppose American imperialism
Desire to preserve what they see as America's national identity and character
Historical isolationist: President Calvin Coolidge

Modern isolationist: Author/Commentator Pat Buchanan



Are wary of American arrogance and hypocrisy
Trace much of today's anti-American hatred to previous US foreign policies.
Believe political solutions are inherently superior to military solutions
Believe the US is morally bound to intervene in humanitarian crises
Oppose American imperialism
Support international law, alliances, and agreements
Encourage US participation in the UN
Believe US economic policies must help lift up the world's poor
Historical liberal: President Woodrow Wilson

Modern liberal: President Jimmy Carter



Are guided more by practical considerations than ideological vision
Believe US power is crucial to successful diplomacy - and vice versa
Don't want US policy options unduly limited by world opinion or ethical considerations
Believe strong alliances are important to US interests
Weigh the political costs of foreign action
Believe foreign intervention must be dictated by compelling national interest
Historical realist: President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Modern realist: Secretary of State Colin Powell



Want the US to be the world's unchallenged superpower
Share unwavering support for Israel
Support American unilateral action
Support preemptive strikes to remove perceived threats to US security
Promote the development of an American empire
Equate American power with the potential for world peace
Seek to democratize the Arab world
Push regime change in states deemed threats to the US or its allies
Historical neoconservative: President Teddy Roosevelt

Modern neoconservative: President Ronald Reagan
This is a little shaky53T
Nov 18, 2003 5:36 PM
I've studied International Relations at length, including the diametric reltionship between neoliberal and neorealist views on the character of international relations. There was never any serious academic reference to neoconservatives, certainly not the definition that the quiz web site spits out. In fact, neorealism has very little to do with what "you want", but rather which model you believe best describes the rulebook of international affairs.

Most simply neorealists believe in a collection of soverign states acting in an anarchical system, where power is the ultimate determinate of any outcome. Neoliberals belive that states act according to international standards and treaties, the so-called "international law". They believe that cooperation (peace) can be bought about by means other than power, and balancing power.

See the collection of papers "Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate" David Baldwin, Editor, published by Columbia University Press 1993

Neoconservative, bast I can tell, is some post-Gingrich pejoritive term invented by the left. the left will of course tell you it is something that Cheney and his New American Century friends call themselves. It's just a bunch of semi-educated name calling, IMO.
Not quite.czardonic
Nov 18, 2003 6:29 PM
"Neoconservative, bast I can tell, is some post-Gingrich pejoritive term invented by the left. the left will of course tell you it is something that Cheney and his New American Century friends call themselves. It's just a bunch of semi-educated name calling, IMO."

Do a little research and you will find that while the term was invented as a pejorative by liberals, the term long predates Gingrich and has been fully appropriated by adherents to a distinct political philosophy.

You might start here, with the words of the "Godfather of Neoconservatives", Irving Kristol:

Also worth looking into is the distinction, often bordering on a rift, between "neo-cons" and "paleo-cons", Pat Buchanan being a prominent member of the latter: (see "Mission Statement").

That is not to say that the "left" does not view Neoconservativism with derision. But just because the "left" is making fun of something doesn't mean that it is a strawman or a conspiracy theory.
I've always been very careful to distinguishOldEdScott
Nov 19, 2003 6:55 AM
between neo-cons and regular cons. Ooops, there I go, using the perjorative 'con' in a desperate attempt to deflect the 'liberal' label from myself!

The neo-con 'movement' has been around for quite some time, and some of its tenets drive (or used to drive) regular cons batty. And it would probably drive every neo-con and neo-con sympathizer on this board batty to realize that neo-conservativism was actually hatched by a bunch of ex-Commies, and is actually deformed Trotskyist internationalism. Trotskyism with a American Patriotic face.
I don't use "Liberal" in a perjorative sense, anywayDougSloan
Nov 19, 2003 7:24 AM
I prefer "bleeding panty waste". ;-)

Reserved for only theOldEdScott
Nov 19, 2003 7:36 AM
most severely ret@rded Liberal!
well, maybe not thatDougSloan
Nov 19, 2003 7:47 AM
At ages 42 (her) and 43 now, my wife and I had a scare about our soon to be born child having Down's syndrome. Some stupid nurse called up my wife with some test results and said something like, "I'm so sorry, but the tests show it is highly likely your child has Down's." My wife fell apart, nearly emotionally crippled for days. I researched it, and found (at 2 o'clock in the morning) that the results actually were 1/29 chance, which is about 3%, actually, and that was better than the population at large at our age; essentially, the test meant we were *less* likely to have a Down's baby. Then, we followed up with specialist doctor who determined through a high resolution sonogram that the baby was not Down's.

The point is that during that 4 or 5 days, we nearly had to accept that our baby actually was Down's, and began preparing ourselves for that. I'll never think about the concept of "retarded" the same again.

You mean the nurse was retarded for dealing with ...Live Steam
Nov 19, 2003 7:53 AM
such a sensetive subject in such a "retarded" way? Very happy to know that she was 100% wrong!
Aw, manOldEdScott
Nov 19, 2003 8:03 AM
I can't imagine those 4 or 5 days. What a nightmare it must have been. Terrfic news that it's OK after all.
Have you ever actually watched Fox?TJeanloz
Nov 18, 2003 12:41 PM
I rarely watch Fox, but I will say that your statement that Fox doesn't attempt to show both perspectives is not correct, in my limited experience. I have seen several Fox News shows (usually the one they have on Sunday morning) where an NPR comentator was one of the roundtable guests. The liberal voice often gets shouted down, but they are there presenting their view.
Depends on WHICH npr person they have.dr hoo
Nov 19, 2003 4:41 AM
For example, Mara Liasson who is an NPR reporter, is actually a very conservative person. So to put her on as a liberal, when at most she is a moderate, and having her voice "balance" VERY conservative ones is disingenuous at best.

"The numbers show an overwhelming slant on Fox towards both Republicans and conservatives. Of the 56 partisan guests on Special Report between January and May, 50 were Republicans and six were Democrats -- a greater than 8 to 1 imbalance. In other words, 89 percent of guests with a party affiliation were Republicans. "

The most obvious sign of Fox's slant is its heavily right-leaning punditry. Each episode of Special Report with Brit Hume, for example, features a three-person panel of pundits who chat about the day's political news at the end of the show. The most frequent panelist is Fred Barnes, the evangelical Christian supply-sider who edits the Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard. He sits proudly on the rightward flank of the Republican party (and often scolds it for slouching leftwards).

The next most frequent guest is Mort Kondrake, who sits in the middle of the panel. Politically, Kondrake falls at the very rightward edge of the Democratic party-- if not beyond it. As he famously explained in a 1988 New Republic essay (8/29/88), he is a Democrat who is "disgusted with the Democratic Party" and whose main reason for not defecting to the Republicans is that they "have failed to be true to themselves as conservatives." (He was referring to Reagan's deficit spending.)

Rounding out the panel is its third-most-frequent pundit, Mara Liasson, who sits on the opposite side of the table from the conservative Barnes, implicitly identifying her as a liberal. But her liberalism consists of little more than being a woman who works for National Public Radio; she has proposed that "one of the roots of the problem with education today is feminism" (Talk of the Nation, 5/3/01); she declares that "Jesse Jackson gets away with a lot of things that other people don't" (Special Report, 6/21/00); she calls George W. Bush's reversal on carbon dioxide emissions "a small thing" (3/14/01), campaign finance reform "an issue that . . . only 200 people in America care about" (3/19/01) and slavery reparations "pretty much of a non-issue" (3/19/01).

Personally, I think the show "Fox News Watch" is the best and most balanced show they have. But that is about it.
here, links for your consideration:dr hoo
Nov 18, 2003 10:19 AM
new release at um:

A quote:

"While traditional religious belief and participation in organized religion have steadily declined in most advanced industrial nations, especially in Western Europe, this is not the case in the United States," said Ronald F. Inglehart, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), and director of the ISR World Values Surveys, which were conducted in more than 80 nations between 1981 and 2001.

Some possible reasons cited for the results: Religious refugees set the tone long ago in America; religious people tend to have more children than non-religious groups; and the U.S. has a less comprehensive social welfare system, prompting people to look to religion for help."

Please note the phrase "possible" explanations. This is academic language for "we don't know, but we think this idea is worth looking into". Probably because of some theoretical model, maybe because of some other research findings.

The actual research MIGHT test "insecurity" and help seeking, but I can't find the questions they used. You could contact Janet Vavra (e-mail: for information about the ICPSR dataset. I am sure they would give you the survey questions, or at least give info about the "existential security" claim and how it was operationalized (if they measured it that is)

The institute(s) that conducted the research:

FYI, the institute for social research (ISR) at UM is one of the best in the world at survey research. The level of rigor is unsurpassed.

The question of religiosity in the USA is a thorny one for those that study religion. The US is a case that violates most models (like modernization theory) in the field, iirc. So it makes sense that scholars are "reaching" for reasons why the USA is SOOoooooo different from other nations.
found the surveydr hoo
Nov 18, 2003 10:31 AM

I have NOT got the time to work through this, but you all go ahead and have a good time! I will be checking your work later and grading your performance ;)
grrrrrr, frames! Direct link heredr hoo
Nov 18, 2003 10:53 AM
Isn't that the expressed intent of the GOP?czardonic
Nov 18, 2003 4:35 PM
That is, to turn people off of government and onto religion.

It think it is pretty remarkable that the agenda is suddenly deemed laughable when "liberals" mention it.