And Today’s Worthless Study Is: “2020’s Most Patriotic States In America”

In plenty of time for the weird Fourth of July celebration coming up, a financial website called WalletHub spent a lot of time and money researching the a question nobody seriously would ask: How do the 50 states rank in strength of patriotism from best to worst?

The study came up with an answer, and the answer is being dutifully reported in newspapers and websites as if there is any reason in the universe to believe it. New Jersey ranked last in patriotism, the New York Post gloated. #1? New Hampshire!

The study report is here.

You can go to the link and check it out, or watch this:

The significance of the study results is zero. Nothing. The study consists of misleading and arbitrary data assigning numbers according to subjective criteria to measure something that cannot be measured because it cannot be conclusively defined. Nonetheless, the study is willing to present findings like this:

What, exactly, does this tell us? What is the gravamen of a difference of 4.42 points in the average score of “red” vs. “blue” states? I have no idea. I don’t think the researchers do either.

Here is the criteria used to get the meaningless ranking:


To determine the most patriotic states, WalletHub compared the 50 states across two key dimensions, “Military Engagement” and “Civic Engagement.”

We evaluated those dimensions using 13 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the highest level of patriotism.

Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the states.

Military Engagement – Total Points: 25

  • Average Military Enlistees per 1,000 Civilian Adults Between 2013 & 2018 (No Prior Service): Triple Weight (~12.50 Points)
  • Veterans per 1,000 Civilian Adults: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Active-Duty Military Personnel per 100,000 Civilian Adults: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Share of Civilian Adult Population in Military Reserves: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)

Civic Engagement – Total Points: 75

  • Share of Adults Who Voted in 2016 Presidential Election: Triple Weight (~22.50 Points)

  • Share of Adults Who Voted in 2016 Primary Elections: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)

  • Volunteer Rate: Half Weight (~3.75 Points)

  • Volunteer Hours per Resident: Half Weight (~3.75 Points)

  • AmeriCorps Volunteers per Capita: Half Weight (~3.75 Points)

  • Peace Corps Volunteers per Capita: Half Weight (~3.75 Points)

  • Trial- & Grand-Jury Participation per Civilian Adult Population: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)

  • Share of Residents Who Participate in Groups or Organizations (Civic Life): Full Weight (~7.50 Points)

  • Civics Education Requirement: Double Weight (~15.00 Points)

I’ll leave a listing of the obvious omissions and dubious inclusions in this criteria for the comments.

The problem, of course, is that nobody can define what patriotism is in a way that suggests any kind of reliable quantitative analysis. WalletHub assembled a panel of “experts”—none of whom I had ever heard of, and they were all academics, which betrays a serious bias right there— who were asked to explain their definitions of patriotism. The first one I read said that protesting during the George Floyd Freakout demonstrates patriotism. Coincidentally, so does the Mayor of Seattle, an idiot, who tweeted,

She was talking about this mess,

….where there have been two shootings and a rape in the past 48 hours. I wonder how the study missed that criteria for patriotism?

Social science research like the state patriotism ranking have the validity of polls ranking the greatest movie stars or the best-tasting french fries, but  is  far more damaging. These are studies for the intellectually lazy who are likely to think such studies explain something. They don’t. They simplify complex  cultural issues to fake numbers and false authority, making us less discerning and enlightened rather than more.

6 thoughts on “And Today’s Worthless Study Is: “2020’s Most Patriotic States In America”

  1. I do wonder if Peacecorps/Americorps participants are double counted in the Corp members per capita and volunteer hours per capita catagories. Perhaps even triple counted in the “civic organization” participation category.

    Sloppiness, all the way down!

  2. Doesn’t patriot mean being loyal to the fatherland? If not what does it mean; loyal to a cause, loyal to a party? I don’t think so.

    What does volunteerism have to do with patriotism.

    Based on all the problems of the poor we are told of maybe Americorp is has exacerbated those problems.

    Civics education varies so wildly it is worthless as a criterion.

    Finally how could any woke person want to be a patriot when the very word is as much a derided word as is patriarchy.

    • pa·tri·ot (pā′trē-ət, -ŏt′)
      One who loves, supports, and defends one’s country.

      [French patriote, from Old French, compatriot, from Late Latin patriōta, from Greek patriōtēs, from patrios, of one’s fathers, from patēr, patr-, father; see pəter- in Indo-European roots.]

      You have touched on a pretty difficult topic. To be a patriot in early American terms meant loyalty to one’s state and region overall.

      One of the problems of the day — perhaps the main source of developing conflict? — has to do with allegiance. We all are aware of the later definition of American patriotism, an allegiance to a national entity. Not to one’s region, and not to one’s people, but to an abstraction.

      But that entity itself, it can be proposed and demonstrated, does not have allegiance to the people of that Nation! Its ‘interests’ have become global. America is, it can be said with some cynicism, someone’s *portfolio of interests*. Whatever the governing entity is, it is far more than a genuine national government. It is actually a management entity for an empire.

      People may have stayed the same — but it changed.

      <b<Jack wrote: "The problem, of course, is that nobody can define what patriotism is in a way that suggests any kind of reliable quantitative analysis."

      I would take the opposite view: that it is indeed quite possible to define patriotism but that to do so will highlight the fact that there is a great deal of confusion and conflict about what to be ‘patriotic’ toward. You could certainly arrive at terms for quantitative analysis, but it would point to the disturbing fact that we do not any longer agree about what it is and should be.

      Chris writes: “Civics education varies so wildly it is worthless as a criterion.

      Finally how could any woke person want to be a patriot when the very word is as much a derived word as is patriarchy.

      On another thread I posted this quote from E.M. Arndt’s Catechism for the Teutonic Soldier and Warrior, 1813:

      “Freedom is where you can live, as pleases a brave heart; where you can live according to the customs and the laws of your fathers; where you are made happy by that which made your most distant ancestors happy.”

      There really seemed to have been a time when a person, more often a man, could and did feel a link of this sort to his land and his ‘folk’. But as we all clearly see we no longer can think in terms remotely similar to this! “Blood & Soil” anyone?

      We are very definitely living in a time of crisis of conception about what to have allegiance to. I suggest that because this is a symptom of postmodern chaos that people do struggle to define their grasp for what they must have allegiance.

      To all appearances, those on the Radical Right — those terrible people on the fringes — hold to the former definitions that are now villainous. Take any of them: David Duke, Jared Taylor, Lana Lokteff. You could go through the SPLC list of evil ones and about 50% (I am guessing) would hold to nationalistic notions common and normal in the early 20th century.

      All over the world though there are people and groups who struggle with the same questions and problems. And this is why the whole world has its eyes riveted to America and what is going on here. But I suggest that many Americans cannot actually *see* what is going on here! They see through murky lenses and through haze and distortion.

      • Aliza
        Much of my commentary was tongue in cheek which you competently elaborated upon.

        The concept of patriotism seems for someone like me follows in line with your statement about freedom. (I can’t cut and paste on my phone).

        When I speak about civics classes varying wildly I suppose my real point is that they are mostly Clif Notes versions of why we sought independence and how it came to be that men of their day debated the priorities of each of their states or regions and settled upon that which we all take for granted today.

        That brings me to Robert E Lee. He too was a patriot. The claim was he was a traitor to the Union. He did the honorable thing and resigned his US Army commission before he became the Commander of Northern Va. forces. Lee was put in a difficult situation. To whom did Lee owe a greater loyalty; to a group that demanded such an oath, or to his state of his birth and that of his fathers. The latter made no such demands.

        Let’s come into 2020. Assume Leftists are elected and Congress chooses to abrogate the rights of citizens and the Executive branch and Congress are backed up by the Supreme Court. Would states that believe the Constitution is being violated right and left by the central government be deemed traitors to the US by history if they took up arms to protect and defend the original U.S. Constitution?

        The answer depends on whether historians tell the whole truth. Does anyone believe that slaves were bought simply to make white supremacists in the north and south feel better about themselves or was the abolitionist movement then the rough equivalent of the green new deal of today. What can we expect if the left imposes taxes on fossil fuels so high that it becomes less costly to shift to highly inefficient and more costly “green alternatives”.

  3. I should have added after “green alternatives” which collapse the states economy that relied on relatively inexpensive fuels to produce the hard goods that compete against foreign labor at a lower wage rate and fewer regulations.

    If the south does rise again it will have all the cheap energy and industrial might the north traded away for those nice clean Info tech jobs.

  4. Woot! Wyoming is #2 on the list! Good thing we only need to send about 3 people into the military to make us the highest per capita out of all the states… Notice how we ranked 5th in number of veterans per capita!

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