Gene Expression

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Pew has a new survey out, Public Expresses Mixed Views of Islam, Mormonism. The table to the left summarizes the most important points in the survey: Americans dislike Islam somewhat more than Mormonism, and they think Mormonism is a pretty weird religion (and on the whole, barely Christian). And of course atheists are the gold-standard in terms of being disliked. There are a few points which I think are important to keep in mind. First, many Americans have vague understandings of their own religion, asking them about Mormonism or Islam is pretty humorous. What you’re gauging here are vague impressions and reflections of the Zeitgeist; not well thought out opinions. Second, as I’ve been saying for a while one of Mitt Romney’s major problems is that he is running as a Republican whose target constituency is the segment which has the most inbuilt hostility toward his religion. In other words, Mitt probably has more general election appeal than he does within the primaries. Third, asking about Pope Benedict seems really a stretch, I don’t think most Americans are keeping track of the goings on in the Vatican. I do keep track of these surveys; I’m a data fiend, what can I say? Yet despite that sometimes I look at the questions and imagine the average respondent, and wonder if the Memos at Pew are titled “So what are we going to ask stupid people this month?”