Maps of Seven Deadly Sins in America

Via Andrew Sullivan, One nation, seven sins: Geographers measure propensity for evil in states, counties. Here's the methodology:

Greed was calculated by comparing average incomes with the total number of inhabitants living beneath the poverty line. On this map, done in yellow, Clark County is bile (see map on Page 2).

Envy was calculated using the total number of thefts -- robbery, burglary, larceny and stolen cars. Rendered in green, of course, Clark County is emerald.

Wrath was calculated by comparing the total number of violent crimes -- murder, assault and rape -- reported to the FBI per capita. Vought and his colleagues used the color red to illustrate wrath, so Clark County looks like a fresh welt. Washoe is slightly statistically duller. Everywhere else is a friendly pork pink.

Lust was calculated by compiling the number of sexually transmitted diseases -- HIV, AIDS, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea -- reported per capita. Here again, Clark and Washoe counties are worst. Carson City County is a close third.

Gluttony was calculated by counting the number of fast food restaurants per capita, and this is one category where Clark County is bested. First in deep fry goes to Carson City.

Sloth was calculated by comparing expenditures on arts, entertainment and recreation with the rate of employment. Here again Clark County is beat, scoring only average on the scale of sloth.

And pride, lastly, is most important. The root of all sins, in this study, is the aggregate of all data. Vought and his Kansas colleagues combined all data from the six other sins and averaged it into an overview of all evil. So pride, mapped in purple, shows the states two darkest bruises: counties Clark and Carson City.

Below are screenshots of the maps in standard deviation units; red naturally is more sinful, blue less sinful.


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At least we seem to be not particularly slothful--moderate in our slothfulness--it must take a lot of work to keep up with that other stuff.

Hmmm, so according to Pride (the aggregate), it looks like the best predictor of sin is living by a body of water. You'd think all of us land-locked midwesterners would have nothing better to do but sin!

Heh. Montana: low on the lust, but high on the sloth. I can think of one simple way to normalise both those things...

Can anyone justify their odd measure of "greed"? Why would it be any better than, say, recording the fraction of local government amployees making more than 100,000 dollars per year?

By bioIgnoramus (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

but I'm guessing 'Lust' as measured, is potentially confounded with poor sex education/attitudes since it is purely a function of STD's per capita.

Interesting to compare wrath and envy - envy is basically non-violent crime and wrath is violent crime. They seem to be closely correlated with one major exception - the Seattle area, where they only have non-violent crime. I guess one more reason in my list of reasons to try and move there.

And bio, their "greed" is basically a measure of how overall rich an area is vs. how many people in it are very poor. I.e. an area where there is wealth, and yet people are too greedy to help take care of the poor and get them out of poverty. I suppose that's technically more of a measure of how easy it is to escape poverty relative to the overall wealth of an area, but I can't think of a better way to measure local greed off the top of my head. Maybe something like wealth vs. charitable donations and % of taxes going to social goods.

And I don't even know what your proposed metric would measure - first off if you're using a flat number like 100K you'd be insensitive to the differences in living standards in different areas. But let's disregard that and say you use the fraction of government employees making twice as much as the average government pay in that area - I guess that's a measure of degree of pay stratification in government jobs, but what does that have to do with greed?

Since presumably all government employees would be at least above the poverty line, there's no big greed involved in looking at wealth stratification among them.

Coriolis, your suggestion of "wealth vs. charitable donations" would surely be a better measure of greed, though presumably with the disadvantage of showing "liberal" areas as particularly greedy.

By bioIgnoramus (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

Oh, my goodness! I live in southeastern North Carolina and I never realized that I lived right smack in the middle of a hotbed of envy, lust, pride and wrath. Clearly I don't get out enough.

So... living near the water is a predictor of sinfulness? Not surprisingly, it's also early in the list of stuff white people like.

Interesting, too, that the Dallas area seems a lot more sinful than Houston and its surroundings. Any Texans got a clue as to why?

Interesting, and good at least for a laugh. I found the proxy they use for 'sloth' the most problematic. In everyday use, 'sloth' proxies for 'laziness' - wiki elaborates on the biblical meaning, which correlates with the everyday meaning, but I can't figure out how their proxy actually measures even approximately. And sloth is highest in rural Montana, Missouri, Pennsylvania? Louisiana and Southern Cal I can understand. Wrath, on the other hand, seems well modeled. Much of the Midwest is placid, the South and the DC-NY Corridor pretty violent. I can buy that.

I would've thought that Los Angeles, specifically Hollywood, would score higher in lust. I'm betting we pegged the meter on greed, though :)

The Bible Belt is a hotbed for Envy, Lust, Pride and Wrath


Is there a reason that you covered up Orleans Parish, LA in every map? Did New Orleans outshine everywhere else so brightly that it needed to be hid?

Plus, I must object to the use of fast-food restaurants as a measure of gluttony, restaurants plus bars per capita would be a better measure. The use of fast-food only is probably a better measure of poverty than gluttony.

By Zulu_Big_Shot (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

To M Malone- funny, I just sent this whole thing to a friend and my only comment was re lust in LA. I told her that all Angelinos go to Clark county or another Nevada place, the Chicken Ranch

Lol. I live right in or right around a blue area in almost all of these.

This is a really disappointing post. The methodology is clearly sub-par and lacking in statistical rigor or meaning. These are maps of total crimes, or total existence of anything. If you'll notice, they track population centers where everything to do with population happens more often.

If these maps were corrected for per-capita occurrence then there would be some meaning. As it is, they are basically worthless.

By Dobbshead (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

@Zulu_Big_Shot #15.
It's just poor use of an image editor. The Kansas State Univeristy logo is a square image with a white background. Where it's white on white, there's no problem, but the top left corner overlaps the SE part of Louisiana. Rookie mistake, really.

There,s a lot of red in the DC area for all of the sins.What,s up with that, Mr President?

I find it an interesting statement on America's puritanical roots that "lust" is directly linked to disease. Sex is not a disease. Unsafe sex that spreads STDs is but one small slice of overall sexual activity.

@ Dobbshead
As you can see, if you take the time to read the actual post, most of these measures *are* corrected for per capita. Don't you think that if it were centered around high population density areas, that NEW YORK CITY and the surrounding areas would have high reports for crimes? It helps to think before you disparage someone's research, even if it's research done in the spirit of fun.

The Gluttony in Texas, is in an area that has few people, one fast food place would mess up every thing if measured on a population basis.

By Dan Atson (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

I don't care how they took the statistics for this but for Pride, Texas should be BLACK. I'm from Texas and the people here are fairly die hard when it comes to patriotism for Texas

By Not that patri… (not verified) on 06 May 2009 #permalink

Nice art. Far cry from science!

It seems like a better way to measure LUST would be using Strip Clubs and Adult Book Stores or even reports of Prostitution per capita. I believe tbell is correct, STD's can measure the quality of sex education, much better that actual lust.

By mz.mojo.jojo (not verified) on 07 May 2009 #permalink

interesting idea, yet quantifying the 7 deadly sins is far more ambiguous than these statistics would give away. In addition, I have to disagree with the level of detail and thought put into the definitions of the 7 deadly sins, and the best way to go about measuring that data.

pride? the data for this was simply a mash-up of all the rest. If that was the case, this sin would not be called pride, it would be called "Sin". is the argument here that pride is the result of the other sins, implying that people who commit sins are a proud of what they have done? I think that's a grander statement than anyone has the right to put numbers to.

Good thought and an interesting project if you have spare time and love maps/statistics....just as long as people arn't fooled into thinking its realistic...

I'm in a cartography class... mind if I use this concept? It will be for only one state, and I will use some different sources, colors, and measures. I really like the 7 Deadly Sins idea for mapping. I assume this isn't copyrighted, but I'd like your permission anyway. I can even show you the final result if you like.

while I like the idea from a humorous point of view, I do not see any scientific value in it. the measures taken are wrong from the beginning. most are just dumb, some are even shocking. lust equals STDs? goodnes...

To hmmm... I think you got that backwards. I think they are saying Sin is the root, not the result. In otherwords, pride causes us to be wrathful, greedy, lusty, etc.

Condom sales could be used for lust, but again, that could be tied to sex ed. But if you are having sex /w birth control, it is defintely for lust reasons, not procreation. And how usefull: with this definition I have to avoid the lusty places. But if this REALLY measured lust, i'd have to pack my bags.


To hmmm... I think you got that backwards. I think they are saying Sin is the root, not the result. In other words, pride causes us to be wrathful, greedy, lusty, etc.

Condom sales could be used for lust, but again, that could be tied to sex ed. But if you are having sex /w birth control, it is definitely for lust reasons, not procreation. And how useful: with this definition I have to avoid the lusty places. But if this REALLY measured lust, i'd have to pack my bags.

Hmmmm, I seem to be wrathfully slothful.

Makes sense to me. We take our sloth seriously in these parts. There's even a saying, "You can take my remote when you pry it from my cold dead fingers."

Utah... We love that pr0n

This is simply bullshit.

You are poor because you are in a poor town, hence you eat in a fast food, hence there are more fast foods in your area, hence you cannot spend as much in movie tickets as if you were rich.

Did not mommy told you that to compare two things you have to compare them, every and each other parameter being the same ? Jeez, grad school plz.

Shouldn't you use sexual assaults, pedophiles/sexual predators, and rapes in an area for lust? Lust is "an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body." ( Perhaps even divorce rates, because love doesn't lead to divorce, so it must have been lust.
I don't think the mapping of , violent crimes, rapes, STDs, thefts, etc. in an area is useless, as previous posters commented. If I were moving to a new area, I would want to know these things. If I were a personal trainer, or a gym owner, or a nutritionist, the gluttony data may be helpful, along with other factors, in deciding where to open my business. Knowing areas with the most greed as measured by these students could help in deciding where to put soup kitchens, consignment shops and homeless shelters. I think the Sun's assessment of this project as a party trick is unwarranted.

Sin is sin.

The upper plains states are most morally virtuous. Why is that? I can think of a few factors such as white populations and low housing costs. Are farmers the major cause?

such a surprise that gluttony is this level...

Isn't your sin of pride, 'false pride' and not pride. I see no sin in pride since pride is a virtue where as false pride is like taking credit for something you didn't do. As well, it states 'false pride' in religious text.

To summarize: It's stupid.

Religion gets envy wrong -- envy is a virtue. it motivates us to strive to have the things we want to have; of course stealing is wrong; but stealing and evny do not have to be synonymous.

Again, Lust, well it's not exactly a virtue but it's certainly not a sin -- lust is to be thirsty (or hungry) for what our species longs for; we have no power over feeling this emotion, though we can in normal cases have some power over how we control this natural instinct.

By nyomythus (not verified) on 02 Jun 2009 #permalink

It seems the purest hearts live in what the elites derisively call "flyover country". This pretty much confirms what we already know about where they live and their lifestyles.

Once again, I find that Alaska and Hawai'i are not considered part of America. Interesting.

By Daniel Lovejoy (not verified) on 16 Jun 2009 #permalink

I wanted to see how New Orleans looked, but I can't. If stupidity is a sin, I vote Kansas.

Interesting that he ones that represent âhotâ emotions such as wrath, pride, and lust are mostly centered in the southern parts of the country where the climate is also hot. This does make some sense I think to physiologists and psychologists, as hot temperatures affect and stimulate the physiology, which then can stimulate the mind.

North Carolina...we're horney, want what you have, and proud of

By persnickety1022 (not verified) on 22 Jun 2009 #permalink

What is the connection b/t ENVY - PRIDE - WRATH they seem to overlap fairly closely.