Some interesting facts from 2014

Here’s a cool piece from Pew Research. It lists “14 striking findings from 2014.” Here are some highlights (though you really should go check out the whole piece…it’s quite interesting!).

  1. The median wealth of white households is 13 times that of black households and 10 times that of Hispanic households. That’s insane!
  2. 63 percent of Americans say it’s a good thing that states are moving away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders. This is up from 47 percent in 2001.
  3. 47 percent of “consistent conservatives” cite Fox News as their main source for news about government and politics.
  4. The typical unauthorized immigrant has now been in the U.S. for nearly 13 years, up from 7.4 years in 1995 (does this mean the rate of illegal immigration has slowed?).
  5. The number of Catholics in Latin America has fallen from 92 percent of the population in 1970 to 69 percent in 2014. The number of Protestants, meanwhile, has risen from four to 19 percent over the same period.

I like pieces like this because they help to refine the mental constructs we maintain that color our understanding of the world and the manner in which we interpret current events. It’s easy to think we “get” the world—that we understand the economic, socio-cultural and political factors that shape public opinion because we once read about how this or that influence pervades in this or that cultural setting. But the world is ever-changing. What was true 20, 10 or even just five years ago might not be true today.

In certain contexts, failing to recognize this can be damaging (and sometimes embarrassing). It also frustrates me to hear people reference things like “Christian Europe” and other stereotypes that are founded on grossly outdated information that articles like this help to correct.

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