New Gallup poll finds that Americans overestimate gay population

This is from Joe Carter at First Thoughts.


Let’s take a survey: Are Americans (a) really bad at estimating, (b) really gullible, (c) both really gullible and really bad at estimating? After seeing the results of this Gallup survey, I think the answer is obvious:

U.S. adults, on average, estimate that 25% of Americans are gay or lesbian. More specifically, over half of Americans (52%) estimate that at least one in five Americans are gay or lesbian, including 35% who estimate that more than one in four are. Thirty percent put the figure at less than 15%.

As the Gallup articles points out, demographer Gary Gates recently released a review of population-based surveys on the topic which found 1.7% of Americans identify as lesbian or gay and another 1.8% (mostly women) identify as bisexual. Yet, as economist Karl Smith notes, “most Americans believe that there are significantly more gays and lesbians than blacks (12.6%) or Hispanics (16.3%) and 35% of Americans believe there are as many or more gays than Catholics (~25%).”

Why do Americans think there are so many gays in the U.S.? Maybe they are basing their estimations on what they see on television.

At the launch of the 2010-2011 television season, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) examined the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC) and found that 41 characters on 84 programs were homosexual. An additional 53 homosexual characters appeared on 30 scripted cable programs. That’s a total of 94 characters on the 114 shows that were counted.

Yipes. The actual number has to be 2-3% or something like that.

You can see more of the results here.

3 thoughts on “New Gallup poll finds that Americans overestimate gay population”

  1. Given the overwhelming presence of those classifying themselves overtly as homosexual on television, in the movies, in the music realm, in every media outlet you’d care to mention, it would be easy to miscalculate those numbers. We don’t seem to realize that the loudest voices aren’t always the most numerous.

    1. I heard about this story on the Michael Medved show, and he said it was due to an effort by people on the secular left to get rid of the idea of what is normal. I think it is related to Evan Sayet’s idea of the left – they always want to denormalize the good so that no one can make moral judgments. They think that having definite ideas of what is right and wrong causes people to feel bad and so it must be stopped.

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