Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Nearly three centuries ago, in Colonial New England in the midst of a religious revival now remembered as the Great Awakening, settled ministers in local congregations complained bitterly about itinerant revivalists sweeping into town and whipping their parishioners into a frenzy.
They had reason to be worried.
Most ministers at the time wrote their endless sermons in Latinate language and read them from the pulpit in monotone, with little effort to entertain their congregations (which they did not regard as audiences). Revivalists such as the “Grand Itinerant” George Whitefield, by contrast, often preached extemporaneously, in the open air, and in the salty language of everyday affairs.
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The First Great Awakening was a classic moment of what economist Joseph Schumpeter referred to as “creative destruction.” In this case, however, what was being laid to rest was not an old economic order but an old religious one.
Itinerant revivalists were threatening not only the income of the settled ministers (who relied economically on pew sales, for example) but also their exclusive authority to interpret the word of God. And guess who won?
Something similar is happening today in American politics. The revivalists in this case are “quants,” who, by introducing statistics into an arena previously ruled by hunches have already changed the way that baseball is played and stocks are traded.
And the new George Whitefield is Nate Silver, whose FiveThirtyEight blog at The New York Times has consistently predicted that President Barack Obama will likely be elected to a second term.
Over the past week, the punditocracy has pushed back, with what some are calling “the war on Nate Silver.”
Politico’s Dylan Byers, for example, called Silver a possible “one-term celebrity.” Sure, he correctly predicted how 49 of 50 states would go in the 2008 presidential election. But if he swings and misses in 2012, he may be sent back to the minor leagues.
David Brooks devoted a whole column to defending the proposition that “experts with fancy computer models are terrible at predicting human behavior.”
In the latest turn of the screw, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough went on an extended rant against Silver, arguing that both sides think it is a coin toss, adding that “anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes."
This prompted Silver to challenge Scarborough to put his money where his mouth is. “If you think it’s a toss-up, let’s bet,” he tweeted to Scarborough. “If Obama wins, you donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross. If Romney wins, I do. Deal?”
Scarborough demurred, tweeting back, “Why don’t we both agree to donate $1,000 to the Red Cross right now? Americans need our help now.”
What is going on here?
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
What we are witnessing is in my view a major shift in American political life not unlike the shift in American religious life brought on by the First Great Awakening.
In this case, the lofty perch of pundits, who for generations have taken to radio, television and the Internet to prognosticate about politics, are being displaced by “quants” who claim to have a better mousetrap.
How this plays out will depend of course on the result of this election. It shouldn't, since even Silver admits that Mitt Romney now has a 1-in-4 chance of winning. But if Romney wins, "gut" will have won a major victory over "data." If Obama wins, well, score one for the new revivalists.
As for me, I believe in math. I also believe, to paraphrase Brooks, that television pundits “are terrible at predicting human behavior.” So I rather like the idea of the Church of Joe Scarborough bending its knee to the Church of Nate Silver.
I also know a good bet when I see one. But Silver's $1,000 wager doesn't seem sufficiently presidential to me. How about a more Romneyesque number? To quote a former Massachusetts governor, “10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?”
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.
"In Greed We Trust"
In 1994, Bain invested $27 million as part of a deal with other firms to acquire Dade International, a medical-diagnostics-equipment firm, from its parent company, Baxter International. Bain ultimately made nearly 10 times its money, getting back $230 million. But Dade wound up laying off more than 1,600 people and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, amid crushing debt and rising interest rates. The company, with Bain in charge, had borrowed heavily to do acquisitions, accumulating $1.6 billion in debt by 2000. The company cut benefits for some workers at the acquired firms and laid off others. When it merged with Behring Diagnostics, a German company, Dade shut down three U.S. plants. At the same time, Dade paid out $421 million to Bain Capital’s investors and investing partners.
For 15 years, Romney had been in the business of creative destruction and wealth creation. But what about his claims of job creation? Though Bain Capital surely helped expand some companies that had created jobs, the layoffs and closures at other firms would lead Romney’s political opponents to say that he had amassed a fortune in part by putting people out of work. The lucrative deals that made Romney wealthy could exact a cost. Maximizing financial return to investors could mean slashing jobs, closing plants, and moving production overseas. It could also mean clashing with union workers, serving on the board of a company that ran afoul of federal laws, and loading up already struggling companies with debt.
Marc Wolpow, a former Bain partner who worked with Romney on many deals, said the discussion at buyout companies typically does not focus on whether jobs will be created. “It’s the opposite—what jobs we can cut,” Wolpow said. “Because you had to document how you were going to create value. Eliminating redundancy, or the elimination of people, is a very valid way."
Bain closed GST Steel plant in 2001 laying off 750 workers.
Controlling share owner Bain Capital closes BRP plant (Southern Illinois) so the 340 jobs there could be outsourced to Mexico.
Not more "prof" Stevie P? Boston U should pink slip this guy since apparently he not teaching these days. And if he is showing up at all, he definitely is not prepared.
And add Nate Silver to other wacky predictors like 7-11 coffee drinkers, Washington Redskin home victories, on-line gamblers, elementary school kids, the stars, world series winners, nut eating squirrels, cookie recipes, and the tallest guy always wins.
Human, no one wants to accept my open challenge to play Buzkashi or goat dragging game, so I Taliban declare myself a champion goat dragger.
prolapsed.net has the answers you seek
Slow day on the belief blog. ...
Prof. Prothero's written three 'My takes' this week. (Yesterday's was very good.) Is school out already? We haven't heard from him in a while.
Capn' xenophobe's all along the watchtower on the 49th parallel
My favorites today:
"Romney's been sold out for 30 pieces by Silver
"Montezuma's revenge ism
"A moose once bit my sister
Happy Friday one and all.
In five days we can get back to normal (NY, NJ, PA etc, excepted)
Gone with the wind, hindu's, deniers of truth absolute, out to hind, absurd every one in following of hindu Lucifer, criminal atheist, denier of truth absolute, PROVE YOUR hINDUISM, DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD IN PUBLIC, OR VANISH FOR GOOD, HUMANITY TO LIVE IN PEACE, ISLAM.
Awww how cute. The delusion troll is now slipping deeper into complete insanity. The spiral into complete irrelevancy will only speed up for it now.
Nothing but hinduism, deviation from challenge, stay with subject, may be a hindu, ignorant has nothing to substantiate his hinduism, racism.
sorry we have no religious pundits here to take your open challenge, now get lost.
I don't think this stuff translates as clearly as you think it does.
Mor Mann ism = self center ism= atheism= Judaism= pig ism= Lucifer ism= secular ism, way of hindu, ignorant followers of hindu Moran ism. BOTTOM LINE DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD, hidden agenda of hinduism, denial of truth absolute God, tool of hinduism, corruption of truth called religions. Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Han, great, Hun, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. To learn hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu's, crooks visit limitisthetruth.com.
Can I get some cultist love in the dizzy?
I like to cuddle with Mitt, on the inside.
A Mormon vote is a vote for anti-Christ.
so you're saying it's a vote for nothing? for the imagination?
there is no such thing as the boogie man... er, i mean anti-christ. just like there's no such thing as god.
Once again footybunk is wrong
truth be told, aka and as always, aka nope is false
snopes butts in and is as useless to fact as footybunk is. snopes has yet to offer an accurate opinion on anything.
and as always, you may want to look up what "opinion" means and how given its definition; all are correct.
Thanks for posting this. I thought I was the only one who had this thought. Certainly no one in the media has had the nerve to ask the questions that would expose the man's real beliefs and reveal what he is. If the general public actually knew what his theological beliefs are, we would not be bombarded with polls because NO Christians of any denomination would want him in any office.
Not all opinions are correct. Some are obviously incorrect when compared to empirical evidence. Everyone in America has the right to hold any opinion. The rest of us have the obligation to ignore the wrong ones and prevent them from becoming public policy.
1250–1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin opīniōn- (stem of opīniō ), derivative of opīnārī to opine
a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
a personal view, att.itude, or appraisal.
the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second medical opinion.
Law . the formal statement by a judge or court of the reasoning and the principles of law used in reaching a decision of a case.
a judgment or estimate of a person or thing with respect to character, merit, etc.: to forfeit someone's good opinion.
"I'll tell you what, ten-thousand bucks? $10,000 bet?" –Mitt Romney, attempting to make a wager with Rick Perry during a Republican presidential debate to settle a disagreement about health care (December 2011)
Put toe your shoe, where it belongs, in mouth of hindu Pundith, criminal trickster, and burn his hindu Pandora box to fool humanity, follower of none other than, his hindu santan, criminal goon, Lucifer, secular, self centered, to have peace, Islam among humanity.
Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Han, great, Hun, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. To learn hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu's, crooks visit limitisthetruth.com.
lol! from the mouth of low cast Hindu convert. funny.
check out Nate silvers pie charts pertaining to this years election at prolapsed.net.
Romney's been sold out for 30 pieces by Silver!!!
Good one. :D
(Imagine an awesome thumbs up in aski art here)
The dems got Reid on sale for how much? 3 pieces?
That's the problem with socialized medicine. Nobody knows what the true market price is between a willin doctor and a willing patient. What is the cost to put a cast on my little old broken arm? The strike price, and I'm not talking about the goons in the AMA.
I've lived all over the world. And nowhere was the health care as good as it was in Germany. And the Obama care model is very close to the Germany one. That being said England was horrible and that is a government run system. Where Germany is a private but mandatory system
"Politico’s Dylan Byers, for example, called Silver a possible “one-term celebrity.” Sure, he correctly predicted how 49 of 50 states would go in the 2008 presidential election"
wow! how amazing! he guess cali would go democrat and texas would go republican. amazing!
only about 10 states are a toss up. so he actually guess 9 out of 10. the other 40 are always red or blue. here's the author giving more credit than is due to prove his point. bad prothero.
"so he actually guess 9 out of 10" Thank goodness, I thought 49 out of 50, thats way too good to be true, I mean, thats like 98% correct and i'm sure 9 out of 10 is like half of that...oh, wait, it's still 90%...
if you talk percentages, yeah, that looks good. that's like saying i got asked one question and got it right - so that means i'm 100% accurate. you can use percentages to obscure what i was saying, but 9 out of 10 isn't as impressive as 49 out of 50, is it?
especially when you consider everyone would get at least 40 right. then even if you flipped coins, you would likely get half right, since there are only 2 answers per question. so knowing which states are blue and which are red and then using a coin, you would average about 45 out of 50. so he got 49 out of 50 and that's supposed to be impressive?
I'm not disagreeing that 98% is better than 90%, i'm saying that 90% is still an impressive number, even if they were total coin flips, getting head's nine times in a row is still impressive and against the odd's. For Nate to have correctly picked the 9 out of 10 swing states is still an impressive feat and should not be poo poo'd because he didn't get 10 out of 10 correct. There wree many others who were making predictions in 2008 but none were as consistantly correct as Mr. Silver. I think that is the larger point of the article, that looking at the numbers isn't fool proof, but it sure does give us some insight into whats likely to happen come Nov 6th.
considering with a coin you would get 5 out of 10, getting 4 more right isn't that impressive, sorry. there are plenty of people who guessed all 10. but even that's not that impressive. you need a much bigger number, like 50 to be impressive. 50 out of 50 would be impressive. so would 49 out of 50, as prothero triumphantly trumpeted that silver had gotten. i was pointing out that 49 out of 50 does sound impressive - until you factor in that he really only got 9 out of 10 since 40 were already known. wasn't that dishonest of prothero? since as i pointed out, with a coin, you would get 45 out of 50, which is still 90% - sounds pretty impressive to you, huh Truth? i mean with a coin, i can get 90% right, since you apparently just look at percentages and not how you got the percentage.
" i'm saying that 90% is still an impressive number"
footybunk is way off base and totally misses the point. If it's footybunk you just know it's wrong !
@hinduism, hey goon, did you know that you yur Taliban Pa and yur mother are full of sh!t?
great awakening, lol. should be called what it is, great cult indoctrination.
Prayer changes things
actions cause change; prayer wastes valuable time.
Every second that is spent "praying" is a second not spent "doing".
Doing without a plan is useless and counter productive. Prayer provides the best plans. God bless
Doing without a plan is useless and counter productive. Prayer provides the best plans, God bless
I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
by the Alzheimer's Disease Society
The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:
"pervert alert" degenerates to:
"Taskmaster" degenerates to:
"Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
"truth be told" degenerates to:
"Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
"tina" degenerates to:
"captain america" degenerates to:
"just sayin" degenerates to:
"nope" degenerates to:
"WOW" degenerates to:
"!" degenerates to:
and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.
Actions change things. Get off your knees and go help people that need it.
nope is false
Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things is false
nope is a dope
snopes is wrong.
I'm sorry, "and as always", but "snopes" is in fact correct.
"Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
"Salvatore" degenerates to:
"Douglas" degenerates to:
"truth be told" degenerates to:
"and as always" degenerates to:
"Thinker23" degenerates to:
"Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
"another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
"Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
"tina" degenerates to:
"captain america" degenerates to:
"Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
"Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
"just sayin" degenerates to:
"ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
"Kindness" degenerates to:
"Chad" degenerates to
"Bob" degenerates to
"nope" degenerates to:
"2357" degenerates to:
"WOW" degenerates to:
"fred" degenerates to:
"!" degenerates to:
"pervert alert" degenerates to;
This troll is not a christian.
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.
So, have you ever threatened YOUR children with eternal dam nation? I haven't, but I'll bet you have!
Prayer changes nothing.
I challenge you to take the George Carlin Prayer Test. Pray to your imaginary god friend for a month, then pray to Joe Pesci for a month. You'll find the percentage of prayers answered by god, and those by Mr Pesci, will be about the same (50/50).
"There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon
hindu's blinded leading hindu, blinded, game of hindu Magi's, criminal tricksters to stay in business of hinduism, denial of truth absolute, let it be hindu's, ignorant preachers, speaking not of truth absolute GOD, nor hindu atheist, ignorant self centered, secular s. rode with a hindu blinded driver, BET ON A WRACK, YOU WILL NEVER LOOSE.
Expect nothing better but mayhem among humanity by following of hinduism, denial of truth absolute, Allah, and following of hindu pagan Mithra ism, savior ism, neither commanded, nor allowed in Islam as a religion, but Theen Allah, consti tution of truth absolute. Foundation of American consti tution.
hindu Mithra ism, savior ism invented little over 100 years after Sydana Mohammad pbh by tribes of Kujar of north Africa and imposition as Fatmid Khalaphit by force by denial of Hidth and Quran, justified by hindu Judaism, pagan secularism to impose hinduism, racism by hindu, fabricated relationship with Family of Syadana Mohammad pbh to justify existence of hindu criminal Kings, a violation of fundamental commandment, human equality under the LA. truth absolute Allah. Cause of conflict among Muslim's and cause of down fall of Muslim's and Islam in Spain.
Sunisim, invented by Turk's by corruption of Quran and hidth to justify existence of hindu King's as Khalipha, after death of Ruler Mohammad, but later renamed, Mehmmat, wisdom of spirit of truth by siblings from his Armenian wife, follower of hindu pagan Mithra ism, savior ism in 13th century.
Christianity, invented by hinduism,. corruption of truth absolute by hindu Pharisees, pagan self centered, follower of hindu filthy pig ism by corrupted Torah, known as Greek Torah, translated and commented by Ben Asheer in 250 AD in Yiddish, secularist, self centered language, also known as Old Testament, part of book of Mithra ism labeled as Bible. A way to justify hindu criminal Kings and self proclaimed Prophets, fortune tellers as god's to rule over humanity.
JUDAISM, Self center ism, pig ism, or Atheism, invented by hindu's pagan's of Egypt by corruption of truth absolute in Torah to Justify hindu pagan Pharaoh's and their hindu pagan Santans, goons as god's to rule over humanity with impunity.
HAVE hINDUISM, CORRUPTION OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE, RELIGIONS AND LIVE WITH MAYHEM, AS HAS BEEN THE CASE FROM hIND, DARK AGES TILL TODAY. FOLLOW THEEN ALLAH, CONSTI TUTION OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE, ALLAH , GOD AND THE LORD, FOUNDATION OF CONSTI TUTION OF AMERICA TO HAVE PEACE AMONG HUMANITY. To learn more please visit truthisthelimit.com
word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity.
Visit limitisthetruth.com to learn about hinduism, criminality of hindu's, criminals to impose hinduism, racism on humanity by hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by force.
iPhones, invented by appleism,. corruption of level playing field fourth quarter earnings by madison avenue suites, money grubbing self interested, follower of madison avenue filthy cellular ism by corrupted executives, known as think tanks, translated and stolen by steve jobs in 1978 AD in HTML, cross platform, SML XML language, also known as extensible, part of book of ASP php ism labeled as middle ware. A way to justify madison avenue criminal Kings and self promotion Prophets, fortune grubbers as apple’s to rule over humanity.
Oh your god, please stop. Your "writing" does nothing but take up valuable space on the boards.
word fondu is based on Latin word dippity doo, hot gooey, chips, great, chip dip, to be in greatness, pita chip, to be creamy to both of them, fondu, a noun in yummy, fonduism, way of yumminess.
Visit dippingisfun.com to learn about fonduism, deliciousnessity of fondu's, deliciousness to impose fonduism, veggie dipping on humanity by fonduism, cheese skin of truth absolute by dipper. Be a dipper, not a fondu, lactose intolerant like a fondu, double dipper.
Mohomadman was an SBNR. Man was created in God's image with a spirit. Some become alive and most don't.
Pickle juice is just another name for cuc.u.mber pickle-ism, dill weed ism, sour tart of back yard garden, old cuc.u.mbers with another pickled lid mason jar, feed humanity based on how many jars-ism of pri.ckly beef steak ism 180 tomatoes, okra, tomatoes too absolute american dill pickles in support of American bar food ism.
Last call, Isly?
hinduism, trickery of hindu's, lairs from hindered gutter of hinduism, illegality called india, nothing new, how about talk about hinduism, denial of truth absolute God, than hiding behind hinduism, trickery, hindu, crooks. Shame on you hindu, ID thief.
Dalai tweeted "A mind wishing to benefit other people and other sentient beings is the very basis of peace and happiness."
what did you? Let me guess, ummm Hindu this, Hindu that, kill people here, kill people there. SKUNK, get off the CNN blog.
hindu this, hindu, that, hinduism, is negativity and their is nothing wrong to identify hinduism, racism, as a hind, crime, unless you are hindu, negative to the truth, Every one has right to condemn hinduism, criminality, so do I. What is your problem hindu, ignorant.
Word Puke is based on Latin absurd word Puki, Pe or Pa, Te, or Ta, meaning from stomach ism 180 and throat base word for Sick in English, Upchuck, blowing chunks or spewing ism, meaning, worshiping at the porcelain throne or a sweaty, infection of puke absolute ism, such as flu, or Food poisoning, in disregard diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge ism , One who takes a s.h.i.t to be in violation of his body without his consent, considering himself to be dying, the truth you drank too much tequila ism 180, same as in barfing, denier it doesn’t work, word projectile abused vomiting is based on Latin word vomi, icky, smelly, horrible, icky, to be in a pool of sick and HeavenSent, to be dumber than the fluids leaking from your absurd ravished body ism to both of them, watery eyes, a noun in missing work, puke in your nose, way of making absurd filthy you even sicker, as in word “ralph”, a self-violating or a ja.panese p.o.r.n.o, otherwise known as a freak, a sadist. Puking is not an accident but a way to clear the crud ism 180 from your mutilated digestive system, defiance to the Lysol and filthy towels you will use ism absurd 180 filthy ism.
and we have right to lock your rotten ass up in Gitmo too, ignorant.
If Islamic boys keep kidnapping Hindu girls and making them their wives, they can kiss off their doctrine. It will be a diluted bar drink.
@Anybody – FYI – these goons were never pure blooded, they are forced converts from low cast Hindus by muslim bar'barians, so these hog wash don't qualify for diluted bar drink, sorry.
hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, ignorant ID thief.
@Eliminated low cast Hindu, shut up you half blood.
The pundits play a game of musical chairs and he wants you to know he's a player.
Don't hate the player son, hate the game.
Why hate any of it? It keeps em off the street. Those are shovel ready jobs. Just keep it handy.
I used a shovel to plant the azaleas but then the Brood Witch tried to posses me.
Meat, like I said keep it by your side. Waste not , want not. Newspapers used to be handy for the bird cages.
Do what now?
Stevie gets paid by the word, no pun intended.
Typo, meat. thanks for the correction.
Interesting article, but I'm not sure what it has to do with belief.
My thoughts exactly.
Topher, have you ever had a cogent thought?
Why are you attacking me? I just agreed with Huebert.
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.