Patterns In Data Realization: Maps Depicting Social Ills Look Eerily Familiar

Update (8/27/13): 
The website PornHub has just released a trove of data on America's porn habits. I couldn't help but notice that, once again, it's THAT MAP. I have added the map to the bottom of this previously-published post.

I'm fascinated by data realizations in map form. They say a picture's worth a thousand words.

I'm not going to make any statements about cause and effect, as we all know that correlation does not imply causation. But there certainly is much to be gleaned from correlation.

The below map has been making the rounds recently. It depicts the largest participating religious groups by county in the United States -- basically which religions are most represented in each county.

As fascinating as it is, it probably doesn't come as much of a surprise:
See that large swath of red across the South? That's the Bible Belt. It has a lot in common with many other maps (some of which have been discussed here before).

Here's a map depicting life expectancies for females, by county:

And here's the same for males:

Here we have a map of religiosity in America, with the darker green depicting the most religious areas:

Here we have a map depicting well-being in America. The lighter areas indicate those areas in which residents report a lower sense of well-being.

Here we have a map depicting poverty in the US. Darker portions of the map indicate higher rates of poverty.

In the below map, we can see the divorce rates for men by state (darker colors indicate the highest rates of divorce):
Here we have the same map for women:

The following colorful map depicts the state of same-sex marriage in America. The darker red states are those which are most hostile towards gay-marriage (see key).

And here we have teen birth rates:
Noticing a pattern here?

Here we have a map of active hate groups:

The following map shows the treatment of evolution in schools, by state:

How about the states accepting abstinence education funds (those in orange denied federal abstinence education funds)?

What about high school diplomas?

And here we have the 2008 presidential election red state/blue state map:

Here's a map showing which states spend the most time on PornHub, the third largest porn video site on the internet. Could it be that the most religious, most conservative, most anti-gay, most anti-evolution, most pro-abstinence education states are also the states spending the most time viewing hardcore pornography?

Again, there are many, many factors that play into each of these maps. There are certainly many complex correlations and causations (and some factors perpetuate others). For example, we know that areas of high poverty will likely (for obvious reasons) experience less well-being, lower rates of education, and lower life expectancies.

The religious and political correlations, however, are more curious.

Do lower levels of well-being and lower life expectancies cause higher rates of religiosity?

Are blue-leaning states more likely to deny evolution? Or are evolution-deniers more likely to vote conservative?

Does abstinence education lead to higher teen pregnancy rates? Or do high teen pregnancy rates lead to more abstinence education?

Are hate groups more likely to be comprised of religious conservatives?

Do lower rates of high school graduates play into higher rates of religious conservatism?

Would an increase in graduation levels decrease the number of religious conservatives, evolution denialists, and hate groups?

Is it offensive to ask these questions? If so, why?

Do you have the answers? Please share.


  1. This is a fantastic and potentially important post!


  2. Certainly thought-provoking. I can't help but wonder what the same charts would look like with Canadian statistics.

  3. The SPLC classifies neo-Confederates as a hate group? Wow, they truly don't care how much they hurt their own credibility, huh?

    1. "Neo-Confederacy also incorporates advocacy of traditional gender roles, is hostile towards democracy, strongly opposes homosexuality, and exhibits an understanding of race that favors segregation and suggests white supremacy. In many cases, neo-Confederates are openly secessionist....Overall, it is a reactionary conservative ideology that has made inroads into the Republican Party from the political right, and overlaps with the views of white nationalists and other more radical extremist groups. " SPLC

      Seems legit. How does it hurt their credibility?

  4. Here is another one to add to the mix--Cesarean Delivery rates by state. When I saw it, it immediately struck me how similar it looked to the maps in this post. don't know what it means, but interesting nonetheless.


    1. Really interesting (a year later!). Thanks for this.

    2. This might be the link to a correlation between a type of red state mentality (not so conservative at dinner time) and the increase in cesarean rates (often the best choice in high risk pregnancies where obesity is a concern).


  5. Does correlation equate to causation?

    1. Did you even read the text below the maps?

  6. The SPLC is a frenzied left-wing advocacy group that does not acknowledge the racist "La Raza" group's existence, much less it's open, treasonous advocacy of "reconquista"---which has been accomplished in California. All you liberal darlings are going to get a lesson when the Mexican system of property rights prevails in the blue states.
    I find it interesting that none of the maps reflect any racial profiles. It they did they would display the most horrific concentrations of every social disorder being associated with black and brown. Oops I know you're not supposed to say that!

  7. This is awesome! Thanks for compiling!

  8. As if Macro-evolution is anything but a theory. Scary how many have been so eagerly spoon fed something that does not have one, ONE!, peice of linking evidence in the fossil record to support that one species can become another. And with all the time that must have passed for all these species to develop, there should be billions upon billions of transitional fossils everywhere. If there not there, and who are we kidding, there not, then that really shoots the theory all to hell doesn't it?
    Are we starting to wake up yet?