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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. rjp34652

    In Heaven there is no beer
    (No beer?!)
    That's why we drink it here
    And when we're all gone from here
    Our friends will be drinking all the beer.

    its just me, hollering from the choir loft...

    July 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      The FSM heaven has a beer volcano and a stri-pper factory. And even if you don’t go there, their heII is the same as their heaven except the beer is flat and the stri-ppers all have V D.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      There's a keg in the closet up there. The key is in the organ bench.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Watch out for the organist. He likes to pull out all the stops!

      July 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  2. Rob

    Big surprise! People in the southeast are brainless cowards that fall back to the church so as to not have to use their own brains. People in the northeast use their brains and shun mythological bullcrap.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Huebert

      But apparently you still haven't learned how to avoid stereotyping.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Rob

      If the stereotype fits...

      July 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      I know the type of stereo I have....which ones should I avoid?

      July 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Huebert

      I'm born and raised in the south, college educated, liberal, well read and an atheist. Fcuk your stereotype.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • sam

      Avoid anything with a 8 track player.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Guest

      actually it is the beer that kills brain cells ;o)

      July 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Lux

      And that's much better than filling them with nonsense.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  3. Don

    If you use Twitter you are a twit.
    Get a life!!
    I'm eating an egg salad sandwich.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • sam

      WHAT! Do you know how many almost-chickens had to die for that sandwich? Those chickens had potential before you aborted them with a total disregard for life!!

      July 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      This entire thread is a Python sketch.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  4. genebrady

    propaganda bs

    July 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  5. Honey Badger Dont Care

    If I'm going to believe things that aren't there I would rather it be becuase I'm drunk than because I believe in a god.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Rido

      This is excellent, tknahs for the work done! Just a quick remark. Under the tab movers and shakers in page requests , the column language+project only shows language to me (not project), which makes it difficult to understand.

      September 9, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  6. blah9999

    I ❤ beer

    July 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  7. LOL Religion

    Beer>Religion

    10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.

    9. Beer doesn’t tell you how to have s.ex.

    8. Beer has never caused a major war.

    7. They don’t force Beer on minors who can’t think for themselves.

    6. When you have a Beer, you don’t knock on people’s doors trying to give it away.

    5. Nobody’s ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over his brand of Beer.

    4. You don’t have to wait 2,000+ years for a second Beer.

    3. There are laws saying Beer labels can’t lie to you.

    2. You can prove you have a Beer.

    1. If you’ve devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Answer

      Awesome and comedic.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Ten Reasons Why Beer Is Better Than Religion

      I already did that joke on page one.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Ten Reasons,
      Yeah, but LOL Religion's list is funnier.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Mortalc01l

      OK.... Absolutely LOVE this... !

      July 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  8. usermon

    So...

    In other words, try to avoid going, living in, or supporting any of the areas in RED.

    RED = A large percentage of insane people.

    The best we can do, is to not contribute to their growth.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Petercha

      You aren't one of those 'tolerant' liberals are you, user mom? Because you sure don't sound very tolerant.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  9. lg

    how does one separate proper religion from beer? uh... German Lutherans cant.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      German Lutherans' Kant?

      Might I refer you to the 'Philosophers' Song' by Monty Python?

      Ohhhh .... Immanuel Kant was a real p.ssant etc.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  10. MyTake

    Dafaq did I just read?

    July 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  11. Jake

    What a completely uninteresting waste of time.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  12. Rational Libertarian

    America drinks and goes home.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Jake

      what the hell is a rational libertarian?

      July 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • RE687

      I wish people would tweet more science that beer and church.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I an Jake.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Am, sorry.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @RE687,

      how do you know they don't? Not from this 'analysis'.

      Mind you, I'd be very surprised if they actually did.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Jake

      "Rational libertarian" is an oxymor-...oh...I see the gag.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      How is it an oxymoron? Wanting a small goverment and individual liberty are inconsistent with rationalism, are they?

      July 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Anti-indoctrination

      America drinks at church. They hand out free wine, people!

      July 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  13. asdf

    how about this for the next one: Who is wasting all this money on stupid studies?

    "Though the report cautions that geotagged tweets are rare on Twitter – they account for only 1% to 3% of tweets"

    July 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • SSampson

      Ahhh – this these numbers are available in seconds.... Twitter isn't about offering services... it is about collecting data such as this....

      Knowing that there are SO many people tweeting about imaginary things, means the opportunities in religion may be in a growth trend....

      Since it is legal – just call yourself Bishop (something) – rest a hall and start preaching – there is money in religion – actually there always has been, thats why it still exists –

      July 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  14. Chris

    Am I the only one who now wants to just constantly tweet... "Going to church and drinking beer!" just to skew the data?

    July 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      No... I want to tweet "no time to drink beer until after church"

      July 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • ME II

      Just curious, but how would mentioning both 'beer' and 'church' skew the data?

      July 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • asdf

      But how many "church" tweets were about pregaming church and just didn't mention the beer?

      July 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Steve

      Messing surveys is so rewarding.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • ME II

      It might be more humorous, since their talking about geo-tagged tweets to go to a church and tweet about beer, a lot. Or go to a bar/brewery and tweet about church.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • derp

      Last time I was in a church I was drunk.

      July 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      derp = filthy person who sleeps with Asians

      July 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  15. AGeek

    Because nobody needs to tweet about beer to make themselves seem like such nice, pious #(*&ers. Tweeting about 'church' just screams "Oh, look at how good a person I am! I go to church!"

    July 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      How do you know that all the tweets about church were positive? Just look at your comment which would have qualified for both beer and church.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Petercha

      Did it ever occur to you, AGeek, that some people go to church because they are sorry for their sin and they want to be better people?

      July 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Libb

      If you want to be a better person, then you need to be out in the real world acting better, not sitting around a dusty little room.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  16. Oliver Off-Grid

    I wonder if people realize how much things like twitter and facebook are being used to mine specific personal information. It's bad enough that you can be tracked by your cell phone, and that your store cards tell them everything you buy and where you were when you did it, and your computers and phones and all tell them the things you look at and are interested in.

    People are happily creating the perfect Big Brother database. All you need is a police state willing to use those things against you.

    July 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • sam

      Politically themed mass comment freakout in 3...2...1.....

      July 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Bill

      Most people don't care. They want Big Brother! It makes them safer...and besides, they have nothing to hide. Just ask 'em.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  17. Bill

    Ah yes, the Southeast...the region that brought us slavery. Makes perfect sense.

    July 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Petercha

      Slavery was outlawed in 1865. Get over it. And you drop your prejudice against Southerners while you're at it.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • ABC

      Ah yes, the alcoholics, makes perfect sense.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Snagglepuss

      Congrats you’re an idiot. You should think about retaking Geography 101.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Petercha
      I don't think it is prejudice of southerners when I am fearful of letting them know where I am from because they havn't figured out the civil war is over. I see first hand the morons that still fly that rediculous flag and say what they would do to "one of them damn yankees"
      I'll drop the prejudice of southerners when they join the rest of us in this century.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Libb

      The South is the only part of the country where I regularly hear white people say "nigger".

      July 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Petercha

      Who invited me – That's funny, I have no problem telling people down here that I was born up North. They don't give me any problems at all. Oh, and get this – my wife is black, and they don't give me any problems with that, either. And we've been living in the South 14 years now. As for those who fly the Confederate battle flag, I've chatted with them about it – they are flying it to honor the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. There's no hatred involved, at least from the folks I've taken the time to talk to about it.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Petercha
      Then you are from an area of the south that is likely close to cities. If I were you I would be VERY careful which road you choose to take if you are going to take the scenic route if you take your wife for a drive. Having been in rural areas for a great deal of time, I have seen things that make deliverance look like disney.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Petercha

      Who Invited Me – My wife and I love to travel. We refuse to live in urban areas due to the crime rate being so high, and we want to raise our son in an environment that has traditional moral values. We have driven through many rural areas in our 14 years of marriage, and the one (count it, exactly ONE) area we have been shown prejudice is in Miami, the biggest city in the South outside of Atlanta. I don't know what rural areas you've lived in or been through, but the folks have all been polite as pie where we've lived and been through.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  18. T-Max73

    We could all tweet about Santa and his 8 reindeer-it doesn't mean the fat guy actually exists.

    July 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Kyle Dasan

      What?! There's no Santa?! My hopes and dreams are shattered....

      ...at least I still have Beer...

      July 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  19. Ned

    Why in the world is CNN reporting on this completely unscientific, anecdotal and largely meaningless "study"?

    July 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Ned,

      because they know that you and people like you will read it.

      And yes, as 'analysis' it is next to worthless.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  20. Unknown

    Beer is better than religion?

    Hmm.Atheists joke about things they make up to attack the "religious" to feel better about themselves.

    *Facepalm*

    July 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • sam

      Tired, boring troll. Buzz off – we're trying to make fun of this, and you're being an asshole.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Unknown

      Right..what a lie!

      July 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • sam

      Is that the standard answer that came up in your bot program, or are you actually trying to say you're not an asshole? Because you are most definitely an asshole.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Unknown

      It's so hard to be 18 and have no friends.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • sam

      You could have plenty of friends...if you'd stop being an asshole.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Unknown

      Ahhh name stealing.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Bill

      Sorry Unknown, NOBODY on the 3rd planet from the sun makes up more things than the "religious".

      July 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Unknown

      So do many many atheists.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Unknown

      I'm not really 18. And I have bad teeth.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • SSampson

      Unknown = not real –

      Religion is a bunch of excuses covered in a guise of hope for everlasting life... It can't even follow the rules it wrote down itself (regardless of specific religion)

      Religion is a tool to eliminate the need for responsibility; to eliminate the need for education....

      Beer – on the oter hand – is useful – and amazingly, it is real – if consumed responsibly it does no harm (unlike religion, which does harm regardless)

      Religion – lemmings off a cliff

      July 9, 2012 at 3:51 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.