13.9.10

Staggering Statistical Errors?

Note: This post is meant too be an add-on to my blog tour review of Turning Controversy into Church Ministry.  If you are not reading this because you clicked to it from there, you may not understand what this is about.
2nd Note (Edit): These points are tangential in nature to the main point of the book itself.  The rest of the book does not stand or fall with these stats. Also, please note W.P. Campbell's clarifying comments on the full review post.  


In the lead-up to this blog tour Engaging Church noted some staggering statistics listed in Campbell's book.  I did indeed find these statistics staggering.  He claims that 80% of pastors would find another job if they could and that 85% of pastors wives are depressed!  

Really?  I found those so staggering as to be unbelievable... so I did some source research.  Frankly, I am really hoping that this is all the result of some type error or something, but here goes. 

So far I have no idea where these statistics come from.  Campbell references pages 15-16 of Preventing Ministry Failure by Hoffmann and Wilson. But, on pages 15-16 of that book there is no such material. Instead there is a quiz on statistics, with answers on page 31, and none of the statistics given relate to pastors desiring other jobs nor depression in pastors wives.  


Later on in chapter one, Campbell accurately relates statistics on teen sexual behavior from an NCHS report, but presents them in a an alarmist fashion exactly the reverse of the content of the report. Campbell notes how high the stats on teenage sexual activity are but ignores the reports own notification that they have significantly decreased since the mid-90's.  


Immediately after this Campbell uses some data from a U.S. Census Bureau report to claim that the rate of cohabitation has risen 1000% between 1960-2000.  However, the report referenced does not indicate this at all. The report contains data from 1970 - 2000, not 1960, and at most indicates a 300% increase.  More detailed reports, available here, indicate an increase of slightly more than that in the period between 1977-1997.  These are all based on cohabitation as a percentage of the population.  If one takes a look at Just Living Together, on page 55, it is noted that the absolute numbers of cohabiting couples in the U.S. has increased by approximately 1000%, but the very sentence in which this figure is introduced points out that it is misleading for several reasons (not least off all due to the lack of reliable statistics on cohabitation before 1977). Further, Just Living Together is not referenced by Campbell at all.

The statistical and referential issues didn't end here, but my analysis will... All in all, I was sorely disappointed at the use of statistics and references in Turning Controversy into Church Ministry.

Don't get me wrong, the stats on teen sex and cohabitation are high.  But why the need for inaccurately relayed information and alarmist tone? And of course non-Christians will not live up to Christian moral standards. 

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