The results "are startling," the Coffee Party announced today. After conducting a 15-minute online survey with over 10,000 Americans, they unveiled results in an e-mail which they say shows "Americans are not as divided as we are led to believe.
"There is a lot of common ground. We are ready for dialog."
The respondents were surveyed on 58 issues -- "from education, health care, women's rights, minorities, the economy, the environment, politics" -- in an analysis called "the Coffee Sphere". Using a patented methodology (which he's also shared with the U.S. Army), author Phil Lawson developed this survey, and reports that, for example, its new results showed almost no gap between women and men. "They absolutely agree on all the issues" - with the exception of a small gap on one issue: whether women were treated equally. (Slightly fewer women believed that women were treated equally than men.) "Regardless of age, we see these trends very, very, very much alike."
And this surprising levels of agreement appeared between nearly every other groups too. (For example, the employed versus the unemployed or those with PhD vs GED degrees.) "When they looked at the issues, their education didn't really affect how they saw things. They shared very, very similar views. Locations -- urban, suburban, rural... We even include dorms, military bases. Again, we're not seeing this polarization that we've kind of been led to believe is here in America."
But most surprisingly, even liberals and conservatives came up with surprising levels of agreement. On the question of the government's effectiveness, "the conservatives don't think it's quite as effective. But the rest of the group didn't either!" And while there was a small gap on the issue of vouchers, and a larger gap on the value of the stimulus money, the two groups were trending "much more in agreement" on topics like healthcare.
"There's no polarization..."
In fact, both conservatives and liberals both find the current political process unsatisfactory -- and agree that politicians aren't putting citizens first. "How much do 10,000 Americans think things have to change? All of them -- conservative, liberal, centrist, no other group. They all think things have to change significantly."
On April 15th -- as the Tea Party rallied with Tax Day protests -- Phil discussed his surprising findings."It shows that Americans believe that they need to be more involved in the political process." Despite the difference between liberals and conservatives, "We as Americans -- those who participated in this are seeing things very, very similar. We have a lot to build upon."
Below is a complete transcript of Phil's remarks.
Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. In 38 days, 10,000-plus Americans spent at least 15 minutes -- most of them spent much longer -- answering a series of questions online, into what we call the Coffee Sphere, now. I've talked to a number of pollsters who've been quite surprised at the results, how many people did this -- there was no push to it. It was put up on the Facebook page, it was put up on the Coffee Party USA page, and it was made available, and they shared it, and they used it.
I'm going to show you the results of what we found from 10,000-plus people. As of today, it's 10,430-some people, last time I looked, as they are still taking it. I'm going to quickly run through the results, but first I want to explain a little bit about the methodology and what we're doing, because this is very, very different than anything you've seen before. This is not a traditional poll. It's not a survey, in the traditional sense, or an assessment. We call it a reflectment. It reflects the views of people.
So I want to give you a little background, real quickly, so you'll understand how to put this in proper perspective. We called it the Coffee Sphere. It's reflecting America's views. It takes about 15 minutes. It's what we call an issues barometer. It gives us some perspective on how people view things going on in America. The details are explained in my book, "Being Spherical," and the tagline is the important part: "Reshaping Our Lives and Our World for the 21st Century." So in 1999, I started -- dropped out, actually. Moved to a log cabin in the mountains, wrote this book, along with my co-author, Robert Lindstrom. And it's about how we look at the world from a systems perspective, instead of looking at as a mechanism. And from that, I
developed the technology that you're about to see that lets us look at things in a much larger manner.
So this is -- the concept of the book is in the title, "being spherical." And I've got a toy that makes the point really, really well. If we look at our lives as a sphere, and all of these are nodes -- aspects of our life that are all inter-connected. We start to have a concept of whole. So in America, we're looking at some of what makes the whole.
And it is all connected. When one part moves, everything moves. It's an inter-connected, interdependent, self-organizing system, a complex adaptive system. So that's the science lesson. No more of that. But that's what we talk about. We now turn this into a simple graphic, a way to look at it.
Now when I say it's a reflectment -- just like in a mirror. A mirror reflects a person and their perspective -- er, a person. But the person has to give meaning to it. What we do is we give it a graphic visualization, as my toy -- you just saw. And then we turn it into an actual computer graphic. So we can show a sphere chart, is how we refer to it, that represents a person's view about a community or, in this case, it's about the entire country.
But beyond looking at our individual views, it allows us to go the next step, because we can compare our views to the community's. And we can look at what the entire community sees, and see where we're in sync with them, where we see things differently, how we're looking at matters. And now we can start a civil, productive dialogue, once we know where everyone is. It brings us together onto the same page.
Now there's four points of this. We don't spit out an answer and say 73% feel this or feel that. It's not about that. It's about four things. First, it puts complex issues in context. The issues that we face as a nation, and the world face, are complex. There's many, many different issues that are interconnected. You change one, it changes everything else. This helps us visually put them into some sort of context. It helps individuals to increase their awareness of these issues and their connection to each other. So we now start to look at it. This is really vital, because working memory, in psychology, neuroscience, shows we can deal with four to seven things at a time in our mind. In that period of time, we can't deal with all the kind of issues we're facing. This is a little cheat sheet that helps up quickly look at all these issues with some context, and put it all together.
And then the sphere visualization is a dialogue map. It helps to start that dialogue and discussion in a civil manner when we see how each feels about things, so that we can start working in a rational way to discuss them. And finally, it aids diverse groups to come together on the same page to collaborate, so we can actually take action. So we can do something. So at the end of the day, it's about being engaged. So that's the essence of the sphere -- where it comes from, what it's about. So let's get right down to it.
When you take it -- and most of you, I understand, have taken it -- you get a shape that initially doesn't make any sense. It doesn't have any meaning. You have to spend a few minutes to study it and know what's going on. Now each one of us have a unique shape. And I'm just showing you some of these random people that I picked out of the database. Every person has a unique shape, just like when you stand in front of a mirror. We're unique in our reflection. Here, our views on America are unique.
We need to now think what does it mean to us? How do we share this with someone else? Now in that, we have this "Understanding Your Sphere." We had this little four-minute, multimedia program explain to you how you could understand your own, so you could start making sense of it. You could start looking at these issues as they were connected, and what they meant.
The other piece is we allowed you to share your views with someone else, anyone in the world who was online. So this then creates an overlay, as we refer to it. These are two different people -- these are real people.
And they're able to see instantly areas where they match, where there's gaps, and they're able to use this as a dialogue tool, for what does this mean. How -- why do you think, over here in the environment, why does the blue person think things are a little more serious than what the red one does? They have an ability to put this in context. Although they agree in many areas -- health care, there's a lot of agreement. There's some areas of agreement in equality. politics, they trended the same. This now lets you have that map for dialogue. Because how do you sit down and have a discussion about politics with people that you don't know? It's very difficult. That's what this helps do.
So in that use, we can see -- we've got videos of people that showed up in the Coffee Spheres. This is Miles and Jonah. They showed up, marked it up. They used it for dialogue and discussion. It's on YouTube. So it's been used by that manner. Then of course, there's the final results. This is 10,000 people. How did we as America see this? And I'm going to explain more about that in just a moment.
But then, it was used -- this was a video that Eric shot -- in Virginia. They showed how they came together. They used that for dialogues at their Coffee meetings, and we can use this in our discussions on a national level. So remember, it's not a survey. It's not a poll. It's about dialogue.
It's about awareness. It's about discussion. It's about engagement. It's about collaboration. To start that in a civil, non-emotional manner.
So that's a little bit of the background. Let's get down right to it. This is how it worked.
Most of you have seen it, but just so that everyone's on the same page. There was a welcome page. You answered a few demographic questions. You clicked on a one to nine to answer a question. So if the question asked your current involvement in assisting America to address its challenges -- question number three -- my involvement is low, it's a one, my involvement is high, it's a nine. No judgment to it. It's not saying it's good or bad.
And then you get the results. And so it displays the questions starting at the 12:00 spot, going around clockwise. They're grouped into what we call sectors, about participation, education, healthcare, equality, economy, the environment, politics, and the future. And then there's the node labels, so you know what the questions about. When you're live, and you roll over the answers, the question actually comes up, so you can look at it live. And the answers, one to nine, one is near the center, nine is near the outer edge.
And the point that I emphasize over and over again -- and I'll emphasize it, and you'll forget it, but I'll emphasize it again -- there's no right or wrong spot. One is not good, is not bad. Nine is not good, nine is not bad. It's just a matter of low to high, how do you respond to these. So it's your perspective about what's going on. So there's no right or wrong answers, and we call it that reflection of your views.
So how did we view all of these issues? This is the overlay of 10,000 people. I'll show you what it means in more detail in just a minute, but I want to show you this first. Because we're going to break this out by men and women -- how much do men and women agree on 58 issues, from education, health care, women's rights, minorities, the economy, the environment, politics --
how much would they agree? The data -- they split pretty close to even. It's 54% men, 46% women. And this is what we get when we look at the two groups. They absolutely agree on all the issues.
We see a slight gap, and fascinating, because this is -- men and women split it -- only a little-bitty gap, on women's equality. Men think that they get more equal treatment than the women did. Other than that, they're almost right there, perfect match.
Look at this one. Age. This is from our lowest group, 12 to 17 is blue, all the way up to 65. Regardless of age, we see these trends very, very, very much alike. The equality, we see a little gap, where these -- those that are 17 or younger. But that's also one of our smallest groups. We didn't have but about a hundred or so in that group. It was a really small group. The rest of these are several thousand in most of these.
Education, all the way from a GED to a PhD is plotted on here. These are the people that responded in America, 10,000 of them. When they looked at the issues, their education didn't really affect how they saw things. They shared very, very similar views. Locations -- urban, suburban, rural. We looked at it that way. We even include dorms, military bases. Again, we're not seeing this polarization that we've kind of been led to believe is here in America, 10,0900 Americans. Now, they're self-selected to participate in this, but they're not showing anything close to that level of polarization.
And let's get to employment -- unemployed, full-time employed, if they stay at home. Again, agreement. Now, it doesn't hold all the way true. Now let's look at the one most people are interested in. Right here, we're talking about our political views, from conservative, centrist, liberal, very liberal, something different, "I don't identify with any political party," "I prefer not to answer." The blue are the conservatives, the red are the liberals, and then kind of a break-out.
The yellow is the very liberal, and the rest kind of fall in that other group. This is what we have when we look at this.
Now, conservatives represented about 4% of our database. We worked really, really hard to get more and more conservatives to participate. Annabel contacted as many people as she did. I contacted everyone I could. And we're still looking for me. We can take them at any time. But if you look at this -- look at the future, how they see the future. How they -- their participation.
What they view about education. A little gap when it comes to vouchers in there. When it comes to health care -- now, with all that's gone on in the past year, we would think healthcare would be a pretty big gap, but here the conservatives are trending the same direction, above a five. They're not down a 2's -- they're not a 1, 2, or 3. They're at 7, 7.2, they're 7, 6.4, 5.4. They actually are trending much more in agreement.
Same thing with equality. And we see the gap in equality, as far as, uh, women, the minorities, how well things are going for them -- some there. We see one of our biggest gaps right here, the stimulus money, its value. The conservatives have -- don't think it had as much value. The government's effectiveness -- the conservatives don't think it's quite as effective, but the rest of the group didn't either.
It wasn't -- there's no polarization. It's what I keep emphasizing. Look at how much we agree when it comes to this political sector over here. They don't -- none of the groups think that the politics is putting the citizens first. They're not satisfied with the political process. Over here -- let me just draw on it, because -- "Do the politicians have the fortitude to make the changes that are needed?" All groups didn't rate them very high on their view that the politicians have the fortitude to make the necessary changes. The next question asks do the people have the will to make the changes? A little higher.
But how much do 10,000 Americans think things have to change? All of them -- conservative, liberal, centrist, no other group. They all think things have to change significantly. See we're seeing a very, very high level of agreement that may be a little bit surprising.
So let's break it out. This is where we saw some of our biggest gaps. Now there's a little bit bigger gap in the very conservative and very liberal, but we don't have enough very conservatives to make it valid, so we're not showing that. This is looking at conservatives and liberals. Participation, education -- look how much they're trending. We've already talked about healthcare. We've talked about the equality. Even when it comes to gays, lesbians having equal rights -- they're both above five. They're at a 7 and an 8.3, as I recall the two are. They're sharing a lot of views.
Now I want to tell you one thing about the Sphere. We use this for all kinds of applications. So last year we developed a special application that's for the U.S. Army. It's used now by chaplains in marriage counseling for the troops. So marriage counselors around the world use it. We do this all the time. This is exactly how it works. A couple answers a series of questions about their relationship, and you get a sphere chart, just like this. When we deal with couples -- and we've dealt with thousands of them -- if we saw a shape like this, of a couple, the marriage counselor would say, "This couple has got a great deal to work with. They're really on the right road."
There are shapes that we see that you instantly know that this couple has got some serious problems. If we look at America as a family, and this family has some more conservative-leaning people, and some more liberal-leaning -- when we look at this particular sphere of 10,000 -- a representation from 10,000 -- there is a lot we have in common, a lot to build upon so that we can move forward to address the challenges that we face.
I want to show you just one more Sphere chart. We asked the question about faith -- how important is faith to you? Because a lot of times we've been led to believe that people who are of faith, and people who would say they're not people of faith, would have very different views. On our legend, faith is extremely important, somewhat, all the way down to "I don't consider myself a person of faith" or "I prefer not to answer," with more than 1,000 in each category -- really about 2,000 in most of these categories, this is the actual overlay.
So it didn't matter. When we talked about gays and lesbians, whether they are a person of faith or they're not a person of faith, we talked about women's issues -- all the way through, enormous agreement. And we see some little gaps over here on how -- what's the probability of a terrorist attack, how well the government's preventing it, the importance of stabilizing Afghanistan, and the importance of the military -- little bit, something to discuss. But we're agreeing.
So let me kind of close for you. Four of the key things that we found. First of all, that Americans are not as far apart, ideologically, as we've been led to believe. Now people have an advantage to divide us, because they get elected, they get their cause to get supported, they get people to come to their church, whatever it may be. But we're not seeing that here.
Now America, second, believes that there needs to be change in the political system, but we don't
really have confidence that the politicians have the will to make these changes. And third, it shows that Americans believe that they need to be more involved in the political process. We recognize that ourselves -- that we need to be more involved. In fact, the third question asked about our current involvement, and it was about a 4.6, 4.8 as I recall. Then we ask about our future involvement, and we rated that as a group at 6.4. We had planned to be more involved in the future. Now we don't know when the future is. Is that tomorrow, next week, or when we retire? But we said we want to be more involved.
The very last question repeats question 4 -- our future involvement to make America a better place? As a group, 10,000 of us -- we moved 14%, to a 7.2. We said we would be more involved after 10 minutes of just answering questions. We started to see the issues. It had an impact, just answering the questions.
And our last point, point 4, is despite the differences on some of the major issues between liberals and conservatives, the Sphere shows many similarities. We as Americans -- those who participated in this are seeing things very, very similar. We have a lot to build upon. This idea that we're two different camps, that we're going to be throwing grenades at each other and all this nonsense we hear about -- we don't find any support. None. We don't find trends that way.
There's some gaps, absolutely. There's some issues.
But we've got a lot to build upon.