Measuring Social Pollution

OK, so we all know that society is plagued by bad ideas. We do know that don’t we? Good. Maybe we should devise a way of measuring social pollution. Some of you may be familiar with Harper’s Index, a list of anecdotes and statistics. The Index is really only for entertainment, but the items listed do give an amusing look at the nature of our times.

Well, maybe the ideas that characterize our times deserve the same treatment. The index could include statistics like these, from a 2005 Gallup Poll of 1,002 Americans:

  • 41% of respondents believe in ESP
  • 42% of respondents believe in telepathy
  • 51% believe that aliens have visited Earth

Ideas related to science, technology, morals, and ethics could also be good Index items I think. How many American’s prefer to avoid food grown with chemicals? (NOTE: Food is chemicals. Plants make their own pesticides.) How many people think its okay to steal from a chain store but not from a locally-owned corner store?

I tried to actually create a Social Pollution Index like the one I just described. Tracking down enough information to publish a montly index turned out to be tough! Maybe I should return to that idea; it could even be the focus of my sociology blogs.


FOOTNOTE: Social scientists may want to create a very different sort of index. This one would rate the level of social pollution in society by combining scores on variables such as superstition and technological literacy.

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~ by chetdavis on August 15, 2006.

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