On Thursday evening, many American children will encounter costumed ghosts as they roam the streets in search of candy and other treats on Halloween. Before bedtime, to avoid nightmares, some parents may try to reassure their kids that ghosts are not real.
But not all of those parents may buy their own reassurances: Nearly one-in-five U.S. adults (18%) say they’ve seen or been in the presence of a ghost, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center survey. An even greater share – 29% – say they have felt in touch with someone who has already died.
Claude Fischer, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, explored Americans’ persisting beliefs in some supernatural phenomena in a recent blog post.
“As we approach Halloween, note that most American adults in the 21st Century say that they believe in life after death and in the devil,” Fischer wrote, citing data from Gallup and other sources. “Over one-third say that they believe in the spirits of the dead coming back; about that many also say they believe in haunted houses.”
Despite the influence of modern secularism and science, he observed, “the magic has not totally gone.”
Does going to church help keep ghosts away? It’s impossible to say, but people who often go to worship services appear to be less likely to say they see ghosts. Just 11% of those who attend religious services at least weekly say they’ve been in the presence of a ghost, while 23% of those who attend services less frequently say they have seen a ghost, the Pew Research survey found.
Topics: Religion and Society
In the shifting journalism ecosystem, proliferating nonprofit outlets are emerging as an increasingly important source of news and information. Over the past few years, the number of nonprofit news outlets has grown dramatically, yielding new collaborations and some closures, but also a few Pulitzer Prizes.
One of the major nonprofit news funders, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, released a report Tuesday that deeply examines the vital signs of 18 well-established nonprofit news outlets, many of which have received Knight funding. The group includes some of the bigger names, such as ProPublica and Texas Tribune, but also some smaller ones, such as Oakland Local and VTDigger. The report’s findings include some positive trends, with 14 of the 18 outlets showing a surplus in 2012. But some challenges remain, particularly when it comes to the level of investment these nonprofits are making in technology and business development.
Below are five key data points from the report that provide a sense of how the nonprofit news field is faring. (Pew Research’s Journalism project has also conducted related research on nonprofit news and recently conducted a roundtable discussion on the subject with Knight.) Read More →
Surveyed shortly after the online health insurance exchanges launched, a plurality of Americans said they were not working well or at all.
There has been a drumbeat of headlines and an outpouring of congressional criticism about the widespread technical problems plaguing the online health insurance exchanges where consumers were supposed to be able to explore, compare and buy coverage. The contractors who built the online marketplace were grilled last week before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to sit in the hot seat.
Category: Daily Number
Topics: Health Care
A federal judge in Austin yesterday struck down part of a new Texas law that imposes tough health regulations on abortion providers, just one day before they were set to take effect.
This scenario is one that is playing out around the country, as abortion opponents have pushed new restrictions through state legislatures and abortion-rights supporters have challenged them (often successfully) in court. The action in Texas now moves to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which will review the ruling in the coming months. For now, however, a substantial part of the Texas law has been ruled unconstitutional and is on hold, pending the outcome of the appeal.
More than eight-in-ten Tea Party Republicans say granting legal status to undocumented immigrants would reward illegal behavior.
The Senate last June passed, on a 68-to-32 bipartisan vote, a comprehensive bill to overhaul the nation’s immigration law. But attention to the issue got shoved aside by the drawn-out fight over the budget and the debt-ceiling, and proponents now face the challenge of getting the Republican-controlled House to take up the legislation.
With that challenge in mind, “an unusual coalition of business executives, prominent conservatives and evangelical leaders” has come together to lobby 80 GOP lawmakers from 40 states, according to the New York Times.
The push to get conservative Republicans on board could reveal some of the same divides that were evident in the party during the just-ended fiscal standoff. Read More →
Category: Daily Number
The nation’s top Spanish-language TV network, Univision, will launch a new cable venture today with ABC News called Fusion, aimed at an audience of young Latinos (and other millennials)—but in English. The network will include a mix of entertainment, sports and news, including new shows by Jorge Ramos, a well-known news anchor for Univision’s Noticiero Univision and Alicia Menendez, daughter of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and a former journalist from the Huffington Post.
Univision has been on a growth trajectory that many of its English-language peers would love to emulate. In July, it finished first among all broadcast networks in TV’s highly-sought-after 18-to-49-year old and 18-to-34-year old demographic groups. But since then, its ratings among those groups have declined, according to Nielsen.
Fusion’s launch reflects several demographic trends among the nation’s 53 million Hispanics, who make up 17% of all Americans.
1. The Latino population’s growth is now driven by the children and grandchildren of immigrants. This has been true since 2000 and has started to change the composition of the Latino population as the share foreign born has begun to decline. For example, among Latinos younger than 18, 93% were born in the U.S.
Are you Hispanic or Latino? It’s a question Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike have struggled with when deciding what to call the diverse community of 53 million Americans who trace their roots to Latin America or to Spain. Officially, both terms are used by the U.S. federal government to describe this population, and many organizations, including the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, use the terms interchangeably in publications.
However, among Hispanics themselves, many are ambivalent about the two terms. According to a new Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults, half (50%) say they have no preference for either term. But among those who do have a preference, “Hispanic” is preferred over “Latino” by a ratio of about 2-1.
But there’s one striking exception: Texas. Read More →
Topics: Hispanic/Latino Identity
More than 20 million tweets were posted on Twitter in a five day period covering the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Last month, Twitter announced it was launching a new service called “Twitter Alerts” which it described as a way to help “users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren’t accessible.”
Category: Daily Number
Topics: Disasters and Accidents
With recent reports of migrants risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean, Roma communities on the move throughout Europe and alleged abuses of migrant workers in the Middle East, one of the most frequently asked question is: How many migrants are there in the world? Read More →
There’s no shortage of data points about the state of the U.S. economy (at least now that the federal government is up and running again). In fact, there are so many economic statistics — few of them pointing in precisely the same direction — that it can be hard to see the overall picture.
Which is why we like this spider-web chart from Financial Times blogger Gavyn Davies. It summarizes years’ worth of data on 17 key indicators in an easy-to-understand way — and with nary a number in sight. The center of the web represents each indicator’s low point during the Great Recession; the thick black circle represents either the long-term average or the pre-recession peak. The closer the colored lines move toward the black circle, the more progress the U.S. economy has made toward regaining the ground it lost.
The chart clearly shows that massive job losses, of the sort seen in 2008 and 2009, are mostly over, and that in most other respects the labor market has improved considerably, especially since the Federal Reserve began its third round of quantitative easing in September 2012. But two metrics, the employment-to-population ratio and the average duration of unemployment, have barely budged off their lows. (The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta produces a similar chart with interactive features that allow you to customize your view.)
Category: Chart of the Week