NewsBreaks often covers the latest surveys and reports from Pew Research Center, “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” Its website has eight topic sections, each of which showcases the latest research, which is collected in reports, fact sheets, or other formats that extrapolate respondents’ answers to cover the entire U.S. population. The reports have a summary page that includes the methodology for how the information was collected and a link to download and read the full report. Here’s a roundup of the latest news from each section.
The Sept. 13, 2017, report, “Partisans Differ Widely in Views of Police Officers, College Professors,” shows how Americans view professions such as teaching and military service (generally, favorably) and ideological groups such as liberals and conservatives (less favorably and divided by party lines). “Educators—particularly college professors—tend to receive warmer ratings from Democrats than Republicans, while Republicans generally have warmer views of people in the military and law enforcement than do Democrats.” Respondents were asked to rate professions on a “feeling thermometer” from zero (coldest) to 100 (warmest). Military personnel received an average rating of 83 degrees; teachers, 78 degrees; police officers, 67 degrees; and college professors, 58 degrees. Democrats had an average rating of 45 degrees, while Republicans had an average of 41 degrees. Chilly!
Media & News
“Science News and Information Today,” from Sept. 20, 2017, was posted in both the Media & News and Science sections. This report shows that most Americans use general outlets to get science news, but they believe specialty sources (documentaries, science magazines, museums, etc.) are most likely to “get the facts right about science.” When they do read about science-related topics, it’s only a couple of times a month, if that, and they often come across the news unintentionally. Only 36% of Americans get science news at least a few times each week. Regarding how science-related policy issues (climate change, vaccines, genetically modified organisms, etc.) are communicated, about 40% of Americans “see significant problems stemming from media practices, researcher practices and the public, themselves.” The media is assigned the most blame, at 73% of respondents.
On June 22, 2017, Pew published “America’s Complex Relationship With Guns.” It reaffirms the idea that the gun debate is polarized—“the U.S. has a deep and enduring connection to guns” and their use in hunting, sport shooting, and personal protection, but “the results of gun-related violence have shaken the nation. …” At some point in their lives, at least two-thirds of Americans have lived in a household that owned a gun. Currently, 30% of Americans own one. An additional 36% said they might be open to buying one in the future. Around 30% don’t own one and don’t believe they’d ever want to. About 70% of people have fired a gun before. “Half see gun violence as a very big problem in the U.S. today, although gun owners and non-owners offer divergent views on this,” the report states, providing data on negative experiences: 44% of Americans know someone who has been shot, either accidentally or intentionally, and 23% “say they or someone in their family have been threatened or intimidated by someone using a gun.” Most Americans agree that people with mental illnesses and/or on federal watch lists shouldn’t be allowed to purchase guns.
The latest religion-focused report is “After 500 Years, Reformation-Era Divisions Have Lost Much of Their Potency,” from Aug. 31, 2017. Two surveys recruited participants from the U.S. and Western Europe to discuss their faith on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, finding that “the theological differences that split Western Christianity in the 1500s have diminished to a degree that might have shocked Christians in past centuries.” Most people believe that today’s Protestants and Catholics have more similarities than differences. For example, “Although Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers in the 16th century held that eternal salvation is attained solely through faith … the surveys show that many Protestants today say instead that eternal salvation is attained through a combination of faith and good works—which is the traditional Catholic position.” God only knows what the prevailing attitude will be in the future.
Internet & Tech
NewsBreaks covered the latest report, “How People Approach Facts and Information,” on Sept. 14, 2017. Other recent reports include “The Fate of Online Trust in the Next Decade” (summarized here) and “Online Harassment 2017” (summarized here).
The most recent report in this section is “Facts on U.S. Latinos, 2015,” from Sept. 18, 2017. It provides charts, current data, trend data, and previous years’ data on the Hispanic population of the country (Pew uses the identifiers “Latinos” and “Hispanics” interchangeably on this page). “There were 56.5 million Hispanics in the United States in 2015, accounting for 17.6% of the total U.S. population,” it notes. The Current Data page explores facets of these Americans’ lives: population, Hispanic origin, nativity, language use, and race (63.3% of Hispanics are of Mexican descent); age, gender, marital status, and fertility (their median age is 28); educational attainment and enrollment (23.6% have completed some college courses); work, earnings, and income (67% of Hispanics age 16 and older are in the labor force); top five states of residence (number one is California); and more.
The Sept. 20, 2017, report, “Still in Limbo: About a Million Asylum Seekers Await Word on Whether They Can Call Europe Home,” shares that based on government data, it is estimated that about 1.1 million people “who sought asylum in Europe in 2015 and 2016 still did not know by Dec. 31, 2016, whether they would be allowed to stay. … Those in limbo make up about half (52%) of the 2.2 million people who applied for asylum during one of the largest refugee waves ever to arrive to the European Union, Norway and Switzerland.” Only 40% of the people waiting have been approved for refugee status or a temporary stay, and 3% returned to their countries (i.e., their applications were rejected).