Research – Data Doesn’t Imply Understanding

(Your deity of choice here) bless CNN for this story. 

I’m not sure whether it’s just me, but this has got to be wrong – and on so many different levels.

  • Why did they do this study in the first place – what purpose does it serve?
  • What made the Pew Forum think it was a good idea to release this?
  • Why didn’t someone make Brian Grim change his name? To Brian All-Embracing perhaps?
  • Who wrote it? And if it was the Pew Forum, why didn’t CNN re-write it?
  • “Nearly one in four people worldwide is Muslim – and they are not necessarily where you might think” – er – where did you think they might be? (Incidentally, it’s 0.9 people in four who are Muslim. 1.3 people in four are Christian, and I’d bet they’re not necessarily where you might think either. I know I’m not.)
  • Did it not actually cross anyone’s minds that this might be – well – incredibly insensitive and insulting?

It’s not research I have a problem with – we’ve all got to know stuff.

The issue I have is with those who think that – because it’s a legitimate study and thus statistically proven and correct – it’s OK to tell the world you’ve done it.

In this case, the way the research and its findings are presented make just under 25% of the global population seem little more than a curiosity. Congratulations, Pew Forum.

(Oh – and I particularly enjoyed this quotation. “When it comes to issues of outreach to the Muslim world, these numbers will indicate that outreach cannot be focused so narrowly on the Middle East. If the goal is to create better understanding between the United States and the Muslim world, our focus should be on south and southeast Asia, not the Middle East.” So – where are we off to war next?)

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