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.