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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. Matthew Williams

    I wonder if they are aware that there is a very popular club in Dallas named "The Church"? KInda changes things a bit.

    July 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Gas Predictor

      Now that you mention it, the word "beer" occurs in some Old Testament place names, and might be included in the name of a church!

      Clearly a flawed study. What were those sheep floating in?

      Beer, sometimes rendered as "be'er" is from a Hebrew word for "well." No etymological relation to the stuff made from fermented barley.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Adelina

      I'm baaaaaaack.
      Predictor, did you prophesy the farting preacher ?

      July 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  2. Gas Predictor

    Hmm ... Did they account for tweets about looking for the church key?

    July 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hahahah.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • enfilmigult

      Ha!

      July 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  3. bobby

    see...all the red is in the part of the country where a disproportional amount of the population is uneducated and phukkn stupid.

    July 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  4. JRYDAF

    Seems like the fattest, poorest, and stupidest states in the nation are the ones that are tweeting most about church.

    July 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • bobby

      EXACTLY...didn't mean to steal your thunder

      July 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  5. UK Dave & my fellow scientists

    We found most still need help for insecurity!
    Google(help for insecurity) in seconds!

    July 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • The Correctors

      We're now recommending Google(help for insecurity) to everyone!
      24.9 million results already!
      Thanks for your help UK Dave! 🙂

      July 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Uther Pendragon

      I know I will regret asking, but what is the point of your posts?

      July 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  6. Sam Yaza

    f4ck3n Orange county keeps dragging Cali down the path to heaven man when we started this state our phrase should have been no Christians allowed not Eureka!,..i mean don't people now this is the great state of Athena don't they know the christian name for Athena is Lucifer

    July 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Pete Kleinsfeld

      There are many fine rehabs in California for you to choose from.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      I'm a strait edge and i get to work before my Mormon co workers,.. i have no addiction

      July 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Pete Kleinsfeld

      There are many fine antipsychotic medications for people in your condition.

      One way or another, your chemistry is way off.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      last time i checked being awesome is not a mental illness, being christian on the other hand was in the registry

      July 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  7. Colin

    Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. Not sure which is worse, tweeting about beer or tweeting about houses that worship sky-fairies.

    An interesting study would be some indicia that gave a good, broad based measurement of IQ v. religiosity. Everybody knows that the better educated a person is, the less likely they are to believe in a god, but I would love to see a raw IQ v. belief in god graph. It woul be inverse, but I would love to know the correlation coefficient,, to the extent it can be measured. ,

    July 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Larry James

      Any kind of tweeting puts you in a particular demographic which isn't terribly amazing.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Hez316

      please don't forget our president is a processing Christian

      July 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • bobby

      you sir are an 1d1ot...beer is one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind, you sir need a Guinness right now.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Uther Pendragon

      This lists some specific stupies that show what you are asking about.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religiosity_and_intelligence

      July 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      ser i have many friends who are fairies and i just have to say this comparing fairies to the Abrahamic good is insulting fairies love freedom and he doesn't please refrain from doing so

      try calling him the big boogie-man in the sky no one cares about the boogie man

      July 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Gas Predictor

      Benjamin Franklin said that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Colin,

      2 Timothy 4:3-4

      3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
      4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)

      Amen.

      Sky fairies is what Jesus refers to as fables. Colin, you truly believe your thoughts are your own (LOL).

      July 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Barry Wom

      That's a misquote. Franklin said something similar about wine. You have to be careful with quotes, for a great many of them are spurious.

      July 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  8. The Four Fluffy Kittens of the Apocalypse All Went Down to Berlin, Joined the Ice Capades

    You know, if you consider the I.Q. of people who do twitter, you will understand perfectly why the word "church" would come up more often than "beer", and why both would come up far more often than any word with more than one syllable.

    July 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • TWITTER

      HEY

      HEY NOW

      I AM A VIABLE MEANS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND BELOVED BY MANY

      YOU TAKE THAT BACK

      July 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • opinionguru

      I take some offense to that: I am Lutheran... We have Beer IN Church! So there.

      July 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Tell them to stop at my house for a beer.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Frankie Yankovic & the Polka Chips

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb1MOCpAoaw&w=640&h=360]

      July 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  9. HappyMadison

    This will be great publicity for my new Church brand beer.

    July 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I like the beers made according to the recipes of Trappist Monks in Belgium.

      July 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Brother Bladderusky

      There is no sewer system at the monastery, but we're a creative bunch of monks.

      July 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  10. Jerry

    What's really scary about this is there's a system that can tell what you're tweeting about.

    July 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • ME II

      umm.... you mean twitter.com?

      July 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  11. JeffinIL

    I'm fortunate to live in a country where we can tweet about church while having a beer.

    July 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • James

      i was just typing in my fuutre brides name and would never came across this site if i had not met her but i have to say i am blown away by your talent ..i sit and think to myself alot about wow this would make a great picture of any moment in my routine of living from driving down the highway for example and seeing the nashville bell south building , refered to around here as trhe batman building , look it up ,youll see what i mean, anyways i was driving down the bypass the other evening and leaving nashville and caught some perfect shots in my minds eye but i had no camera you would have been impressed with that view too but of course there would be some clicking of the camera for you if you were in my place because you would be ready for the moment and taking the picture i only thought of doing ..what i am saying is you have a artistic talent ..and i think i may need to stay in touch with this kind of talent instead of taking it for granted so it you get a chance send me an email and i will send a picture of the name sake that got me to this site meaning my beautiful bride to be ..i am sure you can appriciate the irony of the names .is the word irony the best word to say this with .i think not but the better escapes me reasoning ability ..keep up the good work and never think you do not have a talent you are really great at what you do .hope to hear from you jim

      September 9, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  12. skalamoosh

    What if there are a lot of christians that really enjoy root beer? was this considered?

    July 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  13. skalamoosh

    What you fail to understand is that there are many who tweet the word church in the hip hop community.... for instance..

    If you're scurrred, go to church!

    July 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  14. dichotomydan

    Beer good! God bad!

    July 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • ME II

      That's false dichotomydan, beer can go bad too. : )

      July 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • L

      beer can lead to death.Car crashes etc...atheism not so logical.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  15. Bill

    Three are sooo many logical failures in such a study. First off, one is a place, the other something to be consumed. There are alternate words for both that needed to be scanned for like Synagogue and Mosque or brew and suds. And, the alternatives for beer are probably used more than the ones for church. If you are trying to determine which is a more prevalent activity, drinking vs worshipping then you would need to include many more key words like “drink” but then you would need to know context to determine if drink was an action or an activity. Horrible study. Shame on CNN for reporting such dribble.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      I'll drink in church to that!!!

      July 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • ME II

      ... but you can't argue with a highly respected organization like floatingsheep.org, can you?

      July 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  16. Byrd

    Great. Just great. Now even beer is failing in America.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  17. Sam

    #ilmc

    July 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  18. 1038

    This is f–king stupid

    July 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  19. Oppose Twitter Litter

    Tweets are for twits.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  20. Anomic Office Drone

    Feels good to be from a beer region. I'll take the inebriated over the delusional any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Don'tdochurch

      I agree Anomic, I'm in the beer region as well. The closest I get to a church is when I drink Blonde Ale from Mission Brewery. Yummy stuff.

      July 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
      • Anomic Office Drone

        The closest I get are beers from The Lost Abbey.

        Cheers!

        July 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Heaven Sent

      Isn't that in West Hollywood ?

      July 9, 2012 at 11:57 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.