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Yet another American divide: 'crunk' vs 'bible studies'

How deep are America's cultural fault lines? Depends on which data you crunch.

Image courtesy of Boyd L Shearer Jr / OutrageGIS
  • America is a divided nation, but perhaps its divisions are as much in the eye of the beholder.
  • This map charts the geographic fault lines between 'crazy drunk' America and 'bible study' America.
  • Strangely, Las Vegas falls in the latter category – and Salt Lake City in the former.


American fault line

These United States of Crunk & Bible Studies

One nation, divided between the bible and the bottle

Image courtesy of Boyd L Shearer Jr

America is not one nation – not even two, but a seemingly endless procession of opposites: red vs. blue, black vs. white, coastal vs. heartland, Hispanic vs. Anglo, millennials vs. analog natives. Of course, the precise course and depth of each of those fault lines depends on which type of data you decide to crunch, and how.

Here is a map of the United States divided into two very different – though perhaps not entirely mutually exclusive – demographics. In one corner: 'crazy drunk' – or 'crunk', if you're into the whole brevity thing. In the other: 'bible study'. The raw data for this map was spooned out of the bubbling vat of megatrends and metadata that is Twitter.

"The goal was to determine the mood of the country's population," the mapmakers explain, "whether they were tweeting more about getting drunk or about going to bible study." One might question the methodology of their survey: perhaps the national mood has more than just those two settings; but let's run with this and see what happens.

Sentiment analysis

'Crunk' and bible studies in Texas and environs

A Texas three-way: bible, drinking, and neither (or both?)

Image courtesy of Boyd L Shearer Jr

"Roughly 8,000 tweets were collected for each population. The 'crunk' population was created from tweets that said 'Let's get drunk', 'let's get f***ed up' and 'Let's get crunk'. Minor variations were also added to this population, e.g. 'Let's get crazy f***ed up!' The second population was created from tweets that said 'bible study'."

Not every mention in either category was genuine. In their sentiment analysis, the surveyors found an error rate of 4% in the 'crunk' category (i.e. "a mocking or derisive tone about getting drunk"), and 2% in among 'bible study' tweets.

The map shows the results of the survey, plotted in various shades of colour: light and dark orange for a slighter or stronger preponderance of 'crunk' tweets, light and dark blue for a smaller or larger plurality of 'bible study' tweets, and grey for areas where both categories were equal in number, or where too little data was available either way.

Bible belt blues

Map of 'crunk' vs. 'bible studies' in the Deep South.

The South is overwhelmingly blue, for 'bible studies'

Image courtesy of Boyd L Shearer Jr

Not entirely unsurprisingly, "the Bible Belt is clearly shown (in blue), and large urban areas in the South easily favour the 'bible study' tweets". On the other hand, "the greatest concentration of 'crunk' tweets tend to exist in college towns and military bases, both of which are populated by younger twitterers."

Interesting to note are the general rules, and their exceptions.

  • Blue dominates in the South, from east Texas all the way to North Carolina and down to Florida.
  • Orange holds sway in the Northeast, around the Great Lakes, in the Southwest and on the West Coast.

Trending towards piety

Aroostook County, the largest county east of the Mississippi, is atypically blue.

Crunk Megacity: a zone from Boston to Washington DC is dark orange

Image courtesy of Boyd L Shearer Jr

  • Texas seems split down the middle, with orange ruling in the southern and central parts, blue in the east and scattered throughout the north and west, and what seems like a slight majority of counties undecided between the two.
  • Florida also has its fair share of both shades, but - surely to the surprise of some – seems to trend towards piety rather than hedonism.
  • The urban corridor from Boston to Washington is shaded dark orange, representing a large concentration of crunk-leaning tweets.
  • Yet despite the general orangeness of the entire area, some areas in the northwest stand out as bible-proof islands in a sea of crunk – notably Aroostook County, the northernmost part of Maine (also because it is the largest county east of the Mississippi).

Orange Utahns and praying in Vegas

Even in hedonistic California, significant areas prefer bible study over binge drinking

Orange Utahns? Yes, and: Who stays in Vegas, prays in Vegas

Image courtesy of Boyd L Shearer Jr

  • Similarly, flecks of blue are scattered among the overwhelming majority of orange on the West Coast, for example a rather large area just inland of the San Francisco Bay.
  • Curiously, Clark County, Nevada is blue rather than orange. Apparently, who stays in Vegas, prays in Vegas.
  • On the other hand, Salt Lake County, the most populous county in Utah (and home to its capital, Salt Lake City) is solidly orange, despite the state's devout reputation.

This map, created by outrageGIS.com, was sent in to a competition back in 2013 for the best visualisation using a dataset relating to the seven deadly sins. The competition was launched by Floating Sheep, a (now dormant) online magazine devoted to the analysis cartographic representations of geolocated data.

Map and excerpts reproduced with kind permission of Boyd L Shearer. Find his website at OutrageGIS.com.

Strange Maps #985

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

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Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
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