Friday, September 18, 2009

Warning: Being A Bigot Makes You Not So Good At Statistics

This is sadly typical of lots of bigots these days:


Is this a surprise to anybody? The following was posted on rhrealitycheck.org Thursday:

U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth, according to a new study forthcoming in the journal Reproductive Health.
It's not surprising to me, because most of those "religious" states are also so-called red states. Generalizations are always dangerous, but lack of education, low or no income, and increased religiosity tend to intertwine and build on each other.

Yes, because God knows, there is no chance there are other variables in play here. Like how about the differences in birth rates between races or the difference in the rates of teen marriage?

We know that nationwide (these stats are from the CDC 2006) the birth rates for unmarried women age 15-19 (per 1000) was:

All Races: 36.2
Non-Hispanic Whites: 21.6
Black: 63.5
Hispanics: 70.6

Using this information I can hypothesize that states with relatively low percentages of non-Hispanic whites will have higher teen pregnancy rates then states where there are high percentages of non-Hispanic white.

Let's see how my hypothesis does. Here are the states with highest rates of unmarried teen pregnancies, along with their non-Hispanic white population as a percentage of total population: (State - Teen Birth Rate - % Pop. non-Hispanic White)

#1. Mississippi - 68.4 - 58.7%
#2. New Mexico - 64.1 - 41.7%
#3. Texas - 63.1 - 47.4%
#4. Arkansas - 62.3 - 75.6%
#5. Arizona - 62 - 58.4%
#6. Oklahoma - 59.6 - 71.4%
#7. Nevada - 55.8 - 57.1%
#8. Tennessee - 54.7 - 77.1%
#9. Kentucky - 54.6 - 87.8%
#10. Georgia - 54.2 - 58.1%

The average percentage of non-Hispanic whites in these ten states is 63.33%

So, let us look at the same numbers for 10 states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates:

#1. New Hampshire - 18.7 - 93.1%
#2. Vermont - 20.8 - 95.2%
#3. Massachusetts - 21.3 - 79.2%
#4. Connecticut - 23.5 - 73.8%
#5. New Jersey - 24.9 - 61.7%
#6. New York - 25.7 - 60%
#7. Maine - 25.8 - 95.3%
#8. North Dakota - 26.5 - 89.6%
#9. Rhode Island - 27.8 - 78.8%
#10. Minnesota - 27.9 - 85.4%

The average percentage of non-Hispanic whites in these ten states is 81.21%

*Please note, in order to make these comparisons I do not have to weight the percentages for population. If you don't understand why that is so, please go find a statistician.*

Gee, my hypothesis seems to be doing alright, doesn't it?

I also note the study did not make any distinction between married teens and unmarried teens in the numbers they used. This will skew the results of any analysis and make their results specious unless they can show there is no difference between the rate of married teens in religious states versus the numbers of married teens in less religious states. This matters because the birth rate for married women seems to be 8-10 times that of unmarried women. (Seriously, doesn't anybody teach research design anymore?)

Well, I went and looked for the data and looky what I found! A CDC report on marriage from 2002. I wonder what I will find on the question of teen marriage rates?

Well, it turns out (page 44 of the report) the chances of you being married by the age of 20 if you are from the South is 31%. The chance if you are from the Northeast? 16% Got that? The (religious) South has nearly twice the rate of teen marriages when compared to the (not-so-religious) Northeast.

At the end of the day all this "study" proves is that the Northeast has more white people in general and fewer married teens in particular than the South.

Nice going Sherlock...you really wow'd us this time.

2 comments:

Tully said...

*Please note, in order to make these comparisons I do not have to weight the percentages for population. If you don't understand why that is so, please go find a statistician.*

LOL. If someone is stupid enough to ask about that, it's probably pointless to attempt to explain it to them.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

I'm sure you are right, but I was trying to cover the dumbest objection I could think of, because I'm certain it would be the objection I actually heard.

There is only so much stupidty I can bear to actually look at.