by Leland R. Beaumont, guest contributor
Perhaps your readers will enjoy this graphic meditation on being that was inspired by the book I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Majaraj.
Leland R. Beaumont is an electrical engineer and computer scientist who is constantly curious about how the world works.
We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.
A Shift in Global Hunger Across the Developing World
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The Economist recently posted today’s daily chart and it’s a mixed bag. I’d love to see this index mashed up with other indices on war, corruption, desertification, pollution, population growth, and I’m sure you could name many more. Any of our readers have the skill set to make this happen?
“Since 1990, two-thirds of developing countries have reduced their populations’ hunger levels. But twenty-nine countries still suffer from ‘alarming’ levels of hunger.”
(source: The Economist)
Mapping Religion in Online Realms (or Maps of Irreverence that Tell Us Something about Our Online Selves)
Trent Gilliss, online editor
Over at Floatingsheep, Mark Graham has been rendering some superb data sets about religion as it manifests itself in various ways on the Internet. There’s some good learning to be had but they are also a lot of fun so I’m taking it a bit further by pulling maps from two discrete entries and pairing them for a bit of play.
First, my sub-dollar 2-liter bottle of soda to get you in the door — a visual analysis of “the comparative prevalence of churches (blue), bowling alleys (red), guns (green) and strip clubs (yellow)” (in-depth analysis here) in the United States as indexed on Google Maps.
A rather tongue-in-cheek way of weaving a good dose of humor into some disparate social activities that perhaps tells us something, in the context of our blog, about the online presence of churches in the South running through the Buffalo Commons in the Midwest to the Canadian border.
Now — and I realize this is a stretch, but since it’s Saturday… — compare this granular map below of Christianity in the U.S. with the one you just saw. In cyberspace, churches and Protestants seem to go hand-in-hand, dominating the landscape. What other non-scientific speculations and conclusions might you draw?
As seen in the following map, let’s zoom out and take a look at the larger world by comparing the relative number of search terms of four types of Christianity: Catholic (green), Orthodox (red), Pentecostal (gold), and Protestant (blue). Graham notes:
"Most interesting is the fact that references to "Pentecostal" are more visible than references to "Catholic" in most parts of Brazil (and large parts of South America) despite the fact that almost three-quarters of Brazilians identify as being Catholics. Part of the issue is likely down to the fact that we thus far have confined our searches to English-language terms and are therefore missing out on all the references to Catholicism in Spanish. However, it is intriguing that Pentecostalism is so visible in Brazil (perhaps because it is rapidly growing in popularity in the region).”
And then check out the next map from "Google’s Geography of Religion" that charts the relative concentration of search terms for Allah (green), Jesus (blue), Hindu (red), and Buddha (gold).
When I saw the addition of the search term “sex” to the map, the dynamic of the map changed quite dramatically, particularly in North America. Refer back to the first map and you may arrive at other conclusions or insights. Share them in the comments section so we all can conjecture and chat.
Joy to 30% of the World
Kate Moos, managing producer
For apparently the first time ever, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has gathered global data on religious freedom — and the lack of religious freedom — around the world. It makes for disturbing reading.
Seventy percent of the world’s population suffer restrictions on religious liberty. The study points out that not all religious oppression is conducted by the prevailing governments. Private individuals, non-governmental organizations, and social groups also persecute and restrict religious practice.
Since I’ve worked at Speaking of Faith, I’ve become used to being challenged by people who think the only worthwhile thing to say about religion is that it has caused a tremendous amount of injustice and human suffering. I understand that point of view and can find it emotionally persuasive. But what has always drawn me to this work is the idea that religion and faith are also the repositories for some of our most important knowledge, and our highest moral aspirations. Data such as these should give people of all faiths pause.
What would it look like to live in a world where all were guaranteed religious freedom? As 2010 approaches, it is astonishing that so few people in the world know what that is.
Ethicality of Profession v. Salary
Trent Gilliss, online editor
David McCandless has created this rather provocative infographic for the Guardian's Datablog (click through for larger image). He’s mapped data on public sector salaries in the UK to a 2008 Gallup poll rating honesty and ethical standards of 21 professions in the U.S. (nurses have worn the crown for nine out of the last ten years).
Having lived in Oxford and worked in London for a short while, I’m somewhat suspicious of mapping opinions of what Americans perceive to be the ethicality of professions to the actual professions of UK subjects. But, it’s fun to think about and talk over with your friends and colleagues.
I have to admit my solar plexus is aching a bit when I see that journalists are tightly clumped with bankers, attorneys, plumbers, and real estate agents on the low end of the respectability quadrant. At least stock brokers and savvy politicians make a better living wage for having “similar” moral integrity. Perhaps I should be a fireman or a high school teacher…
And your observations?
Maps of Sin
Trent Gilliss, online editor
The infographic above from this month’s Wired Magazine plots per-capita statistics of specified sets of data with the seven deadly sins — wrath is a compilation of violent crime numbers while gluttony is paired with the concentration of fast-food joints.
Naturally, your eye is drawn to where you live. In some cases, it is a cold, hard dose of reality. In others, it’s about what I expected. We’re located in Minnesota, so I found myself generally nodding in agreement.
But, if you’re like me and are a transplant from another state (in my case North Dakota), you revisit home and wondered why you ever left there — greed, wrath, envy, lust, pride — or realize exactly what drove you away — sloth (we NoDaks are an overly pragmatic bunch of home-dwellers).
Draw any conclusions yourself? Enlighten us and leave a comment!
(source: Kansas State University Geography/USACE)
A Matrix of Science and Religion
by Colleen Scheck, producer
Science historian Robert Crease evaluated responses to a 2008 Physics World survey that asked, “Which of the following reflects your views on science and religion?” He found he could place them in this matrix.