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7/13/2009

If Given a Statistic about Catholics...

Posted by JoeyBreak

There are a lot of statistics thrown around on the web today and their purpose in most circumstances is only to support an author's view on the topic. However persuasive statistics can be, it's important that they aren't taken seriously or that the author (in goodwill and for the sake of objectivity) describe the limits of the statistic so not to do a disservice to those who read it.

For example, I was reading a funny article about one gentleman's funny take at Natural Family Planning and in the reader comments, one reader succinctly commented, "96% of married American Catholics use some form of artificial birth control..."

Statistics like these are found only to show how "hypocritical" we Catholics are because the Holy Fathers have been in one corner teaching the virtue of chastity while us American Catholics are using birth control in the other. Thankfully, the very next reader shed a little light on the statistic in their comment (comment #9). I wanted to post a few of the questions that were posed by that reader in their response to that statistic. It can be used by all as a great tool to objectively determine the accuracy of any statistic about Catholics, wherever they might appear.

(1.) How was this measured? A poll? How were the questions asked? What were the questions? Did the respondents have a sense of privacy?

(2.) How did the poll determine if the respondent was Catholic? Self-described? By Baptism alone? Baptism and Confirmation? Was any distinction made between persons who actually believe and attempt to practice the faith, and persons who "grew up" Catholic and have, at most, a cultural attachment irrelevant to belief and practice?


If a teacher says to the class, "Cell phones are not allowed in class," yet most of the students secretly have a cell phone in class anyway, it doesn't follow that cell phones should just be allowed.

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