Nobel Mathematics Prize details
Co-Winners of the 1994 Ig® Nobel Mathematics Prize
The 1994 Mathematics Prize was awarded to:.
The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama, mathematical measurers of morality, for their county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to Hell if they don't repent.
Here is some additional information about the questions:
(1) How Many Alabama Residents are Going to Hell?
(2) Are You Going to Hell?
Photo: A portion of the earliest newspaper account, in the Birmingham News, about this mathematical achievement.
How Many Alabama Residents are Going to Hell?
-- a County by County Estimate
(Based on 1990 data. Note the original Birmingham News article which presented this data contained a typographical error, wrongly indicating that the data were from a different year.)
COUNTY / PERCENTAGE OR RESIDENTS WHO ARE
St. Clair 51.6
STATE AVERAGE 46.1
Are You Going to Hell?
If you want to know your chance of going to hell, here's how to find out.
If you live in Alabama, simply see the section "How Many Alabama Residents are Going to Hell?" (above).
If you live anywhere else in the United States, here's how to crack the Southern Baptist Church's secret mathematical code, and calculate your chances of going to hell.
If you live in a country other than the United States, see the section "Countries Other than the United States" (below).
How to Calculate
To crack the code exactly takes a small amount of mathematical skill, but anyone who has a little patience and is adept with computer spreadsheets can come very close.
FIRST, choose a handful of Alabama counties.
SECOND, for each of those counties, look up (in the chart above) the Southern Baptist Church's estimate of how many residents there were unsaved in 1990.
THIRD, for each of those counties, get the 1990 list of how many county residents were adherents to the each religious denomination. You can obtain this list from the Glenmary Research Center (www.glenmary.org) or from the American Religion Data Archive (www.thearda.com).
FINALLY, Using whatever method you prefer (simultaneous equations, or a computer spreadsheet, or good old seat-of-the-pants rough estimation) figure out the Unsaved-Souls Percentage (USP) for each denomination. When you've got the correct percentages, then this equation will add up properly:
((Episcopalians' USP) * (number of Episcopalians))
+ ((Catholics' USP) * (number of Catholics))
+ ((Jews' USP) * (number of Jews))
+ ((Muslims' USP) * (number of Muslims))
+ ((Agnostics' USP) * (number of Agnostics))
+ ((Atheists' USP) * (number of atheists))
= Total number of unsaved souls
estimated by the Southern Baptist Church
Once you've cracked the secret formula, you can look up the religious breakdown of any county in the United States and apply the formula to see how many people there will go to Hell.
Countries Other than the United States
You can also do this for any other country or region. Just obtain the religious
breakdown for citizens of that country or region (the web site www.adherents.com
is a good first place to look for this). Then apply the formula to it.
Note for Teachers
This is an interesting and instructive exercise for any school mathematics class.
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