Monday, July 4, 2011

Harvard study finds participating in Independence Day parades makes you a Republican

Might as well go register Republican right now.
Really - this Harvard University study concludes that the more a youth participates in Fourth of July activities, the more likely he is later in life to identify as a Republican, vote for Republicans, contribute to political campaigns, and go to the polls. 

Some key findings for those attending Independence Day celebrations:
  • When done before 18 years of age, it increases the likelihood of a youth identifying as a Republican by at least 2 percent.
  • It raises the likelihood that parade watchers will vote for a Republican candidate by 4 percent.
  • It boosts the likelihood an attendee will vote by about 1 percent.
  • It increases the chances a reveler will make a political contribution by 3 percent
The study also suggests that Democrats gain nothing from Independence Day parades, stating "there is no evidence of an increased likelihood of identifying as a Democrat, indicating that Fourth of July shifts preferences to the right rather than increasing political polarization."

I find this study to be tremendously hilarious.  I mean, did Harvard have to waste time and money "discovering" something we all knew all along, like that Democrats weren't patriotic or that Republicans were goose-stepping fascists who need parades for recruitment drives?

Seriously, though, this study is hilarious, but for a much different reason than its result - look at its methodology.  What do the authors of the study use to determine whether "participation" in Fourth of July activities have taken place?


Wait, what?

Rain.  When I heard the results of this "study" was linked to the number of rain-free Independence Day celebrations, I was immediately skeptical.  I couldn't even begin to guess how many rain-free Independence Days I've experienced. . .but that's OK, because we can look up the old weather reports and see exactly when it rained.  So that leaves our only problem with figuring out exactly how many times I went to a Fourth of July celebration, which could be especially problematic for me, since I oftentimes went down to my Grandma's over summer break.  How did the authors of the study solve this hurdle?


Wait, rain, again?

Yep.  In what I can only describe as a "level-4 advanced pseudoscience maneuver," the authors of the study effectively concluded that if it rained on July 4 in the county you resided, you didn't attend Independence Day celebrations.  If it did NOT rain, then you went.  Simple as that.  The rest is all words and graphs.  Really, read the study; it's slightly more complex than I've made it sound (I was leaving out the part where they try to explain how, even though they are making tremendous assumptions about the basis for the study, they attempted to control for "other" variables, thus making it more accurate), but you'll see that I'm right.

And, Happy Independence Day!  Did it rain today?  Do you feel more Republican?


  1. No offense to your post, but this is possibly the most useless research anyone has ever done. Certainly the most useless I've ever seen.

  2. @Byakuya - I'm guessing you didn't read down towards the end where I make fun of the study.

  3. I face-palmed hard at those results.