Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google Insights: Baptist, Mormon, Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist

One of the first things I fell in love with on Google Insights was the map function. I am even more of a map geek than I am a stat geek, so I was now in absolute heaven. I tried to find a stat-map that actually had some kind of meaning, and I stumbled across the idea of looking at searches various Christian religions on a state-by-state basis. It’s amazing just how religiously heterogeneous the United States really is and the extent to which each of the fifty so-called ‘states’, while from an international perspective hopelessly similar, actually do have distinct characters. So the graph is included here, but who cares? It’s the maps that steal the show.

The blue map is for the word ‘baptist’, which doesn’t necessarily denote the denomination (there’s John the Baptist, for example), but does tend to. And Bible Belt? Here you have it… the South are busy searching for Baptist this and Baptist that, while not a single state north of the Mason-Dixon line shows up on the Top Ten.

Of course Utah Googled the word “Mormon” the most. If any other result had turned up, I’d have called fraud. But I certainly didn’t expect a result this drastic: Utah so red that Senator McCarthy would rather be dead than visit there, but no one else except for Utah’s immediate neighbours care in the least. Hm.

I don’t know much about Lutherans, and just included this one through some random memory that one of the States bordering Canada had more Lutherans than anywhere else in the States. Yet what a beautiful map: a very specific chunk of the United States likes to Google the word “Lutheran”.

Don’t know what, if anything, to make of the Catholic map: Louisiana is a nice remnant of French rule, but apart from that I had thought it was the Atlantic coast, in particular Massachusetts and New York, where the Catholics lived. If so, I guess they don’t Google themselves. Nebraska I can’t explain at all.

I included Methodists because I couldn’t really think of a fifth… but of a strange map, similar to the Baptists but a bit more widespread. And I think Nebraskans just like Googling religions…

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