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Study: People tweet more about church than beer
July 9th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Study: People tweet more about church than beer

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – In an effort to look at cultural differences across the United States, a data analysis company selected two words that it felt exemplified an American cultural divide and analyzed their usage on Twitter.

The words: “beer” and “church.”

And according to the study by Floatingsheep.org, Americans tweet more about church than beer, and there is a distinct regional divide between the tweets.

Church tweets were most common in the Southeast United States, while tweets about beer were most prevalent in the Northeast.

“We found out that there is a geography to what people tweet about, and there are some geographic differences to Twitter,” said Dr. Matthew Zook, a geography professor at the University of Kentucky and co-founder of Floating Sheep. “You have these offline cultural differences that are being replicated in information space like Twitter.”

The group went through roughly 10 million geotagged tweets from June 22 to June 29 and found that 17,686 tweets were sent with the word “church,” while 14,405 tweets were sent containing the word “beer.”

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Zook and his group selected the words because they believed religion and drinking have rich differences.

“We have been doing this for a while, and we have a set of favorite words that really capture regional differences,” Zook said.

According to the report, which was first reported by Britain's Guardian newspaper, San Francisco was the most beer-focused city in the country, while Dallas was the most focused on church.

“San Francisco has the largest margin in favor of ‘beer’ tweets (191 compared to 46 for ‘church’) with Boston (Suffolk County) running a close second,” the report says. “In contrast, Dallas, Texas wins the FloatingSheep award for most geotagged tweets about ‘church’ with 178 compared to only 83 about ‘beer.’ ”

The study also found that “counties with high numbers of church tweets are surrounded by counties with similar patterns and ... counties with many beer tweets are surrounded by like-tweeting counties.”

The social networking site Twitter allows users to note or highlight their locations with a service called geotagging, which utilizes the GPS feature on mobile phones or computers to precisely determine the location. Though the report cautions that geotagged tweets are rare on Twitter – they account for only 1% to 3% of tweets – that small percentage yields a large number of tweets to use, the analysts say.

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The results of the "church or beer "study validate past studies by Floatingsheep.org, the analysts say.

In 2010, the group found that there is a larger than normal concentration of bars in the Northeast United States.

And in 2009, a study titled “The Virtual ‘Bible Belt’” found a larger than normal concentration of churches in the American South and Midwest, especially compared with the Northeast United States.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Church

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Robbie Pruitt

    I tweet about both church and beer. . . but only at the same time. . .

    September 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs:!

      July 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Eman

      Atheism is particularly not healthy for birds, dogs, pine trees, the Ebola virus and camels (other living things)...it is much healthier for them to be at least agnostic.

      July 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  3. darth immaculate

    what about tweets regarding malt beverages, wine, liquor, cigarettes, weed,.... good to know church is now doing better than a sub category of alcohol. and no i do not go to church, i just think this whole article is funny.

    July 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  4. nw4life

    mmmmmmmm ipa......... the northwest. a natural place to be. :)

    July 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Union Workers Solidarity

      STOP Obama's war against Medical Marijuana Patients – Support UFCW Local 770
      http://www.ufcw770.org/cannabis

      July 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @nw4life,

      Yes .... beervana!

      July 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Hershan

      Thanks for posting these upatdes—I really wish my schedule had allowed me to attend this year. This presentation is of particular interest, since as you know I do work on how TV news creates its online presence. Did she mention CNN's TV Everywhere strategy at all? That, to me, is one of in what's coming next for these folks. I'll be on the lookout for the video of this presentation.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  5. Terry T

    You can see where they twit more about church too. The land of the perpetually ignorant. Chuch controlled school systems keep them on the dumb side so they are easier to fleece.

    July 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Jonathon

      have you ever been to the south? Church-controlled school system? You're dumb.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  6. Singh the Obese

    In my culture we get to drink our beer twice, a great saving.

    July 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  7. Do not

    even on a long road trip, insert your pe*nis into the spout of a beer bottle in an attempt to ur*inate on the fly, only bad things can happen.

    July 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  8. Lilith

    What the tweet says: "God is great, praise an honor him he who is the most high."

    What the tweet REALLY says: "Hey everyone look at me .. I'm saying things about God ... God gives me brownie points for this ... look at meeee!"

    July 10, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  9. Beernut

    Everytime I see the name Michelle Obama, I want to go to the fridge and get a Michelob beer.

    @BG – Didn"t you drive truck for a beer distributor in Florida?

    July 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • BG

      Yeah. Something like that. I held a GS grade in an advisory capacity to a defense contractor. We worked on, as @ Reality likes to say, "little wingy thingies, " only these weren't very angelic.

      We 'delivered' Heineken on weekends – mostly to my house.

      July 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  10. Move to Schedule 2

    STOP Obama's war against Medical Marijuana Patients – Support UFCW Local 770
    http://www.ufcw770.org/cannabis

    July 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  11. Craig Doug

    Easily explained. The truly brainwashed Christians tweeted "church" while your normal hypocrites tweeted "beer" on saturday night then tweeted "church" on Sunday.

    July 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Chris

      Easily refuted. The Christian who had beer Saturday never told anyone else to do otherwise, thus would not be a hypocrite, in that regard. A more likely hypocritical scenario is that someone preaching about brainwashed religion actually has no knowledge of what he's criticizing, resulting in the regurgitation of brainwashed cliches.

      July 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.