Some important Big Data milestones around gay rights, marijuana, and the U.S. role as a global cop

2014 is about 1.25 days old right now in the United States, and it feels pretty OK so far — with the exception of the passing of Uncle Phil, nothing majorly monumental seems to have happened (and I’m not sure that passing is monumental, although he was a good TV dad).

I thought we could take a moment to discuss some trend lines from 2013 into 2014, which I’ve done before on this blog. If you had to quickly name things that seemed to be bigger in 2013 then ever before, what would you go with? On the entertainment/pop culture side, it’d probably be Jennifer Lawrence and Pharrell Williams to start. On the societal issues front, it’d probably be notions about privacy, the use of marijuana, and gay rights. You’d also likely talk about inequality. I think those would be your big buckets, although other things could crop up, sure.

Here’s an article from Pew on 13 data milestones we reached in 2013. This list backs up some of the above, including the idea that just over half of the public (51%) now favors gay marriage. Only about 42 percent are opposed:


Similarly, 12 percent of people favored legalizing marijuana in 1969 — and now 52 percent do:


Now here’s something that’s interesting, in the form of two charts. First, 52 percent of those polled think that the U.S. should “mind its business internationally:”


And subsequently, the view of how powerful the U.S. is globally has fallen to a 40-year low:


This all goes together with a Gallup poll from the end of 2013 showing that 28 countries in the world overwhelmingly think that the U.S. is the biggest threat to world peace. The U.S. got three times the amount of votes as Pakistan in this poll (it should be noted that the U.S. also won for “If there were no barriers to living in any country in the world, where would you live?”).

Polls and surveys, even when done perfectly scientifically, have some drawbacks — and the ability to take a poll and execute it into action items may be limited. But if you’re reading this on surface, it seems like the U.S. should continue to focus on its issues at home — affording freedoms and loosening some of the puritanical aspects — and focus a little less on trying to keep order out there in the wild world, because a lot of others don’t really see us as doing that anyway.

Ted Bauer