However, like much of social “science,” one has to read it with an open mind. Some of Pew’s results run counter to those in other well-respected studies, and we’ll likely see other viewpoints supported by additional studies in the near future.
… a simple but compelling fact from the General Social Survey: in the past twenty years, the number of Americans who have talked to no one about something of importance to them during the previous six months has skyrocketed. That number is now a quarter of the population.
However, the new Pew study says…
We find that the extent of social isolation has hardly changed since 1985, contrary to concerns that the prevalence of severe isolation has tripled since then. Only 6% of the adult population has no one with whom they can discuss important matters or who they consider to be “especially significant” in their life.
So… 25% or 6%? Or some other fraction? Is social isolation in this country skyrocketing or holding steady?
Did the two surveys ask the same questions to similar population samples in the same way? Doubtful. Do the parties involved have special interests at play that may inadvertently steer the results toward a desired conclusion? Likely… we’re all human. (Here’s the Pew authors’ take.)
(See other posts for additional points: one and two.)