What is Pew Research Center?


Michael Dimock: There’s a sentence
in the founding documents of the Pew Research Center that I always think back to, which
goes like this, “Fact-based information is the fuel democracies run on. It’s the raw material from which societies
identify problems and formulate solutions.” Claudia Deane: We’re really looking for places
where society is about to make important decisions. So we study everything from new laws and norms
around digital privacy, how we lead our online lives to what people think about the potential
for gene editing. From changes in the way people are practicing
their religion and expressing themselves spiritually to how they feel about their racial identity
in a fast changing culture. And there’s a waterfront of topics in between. Mark Hugo Lopez: The work that we do at the
Pew Research Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy. And we want to understand the American public’s
viewpoints on a whole range of issues. Our work, because it’s non-partisan and non-advocacy,
gets at those questions from so many different angles. Besheer Mohamed: What we’ve been doing is
we’ve looked at topics that don’t have a lot of existing data. So we did a survey of U.S. Jews because there
hadn’t been one done in many years. We did surveys of Muslims in the United States
because no one had done that. We look at these communities that haven’t
had good analysis done, and then in doing that analysis we allow people to ground their conversations,
their speculations, their understandings in a set of facts. Neha Sahgal: For me being at Pew means being
part of something larger than myself. An opportunity to make a contribution to society,
to the public debate without being involved in the debate itself. I always tell my team to take that responsibility
very seriously. We don’t move fast and break things here. In fact, I joke with them that we move cautiously
and question ourselves at every step, because it’s a big responsibility to inform the public. Dan Morrison: I think part of the trick is
honoring where we came from, while at the same time evolving. Most recently through a new group that we
have called Data Labs, trying to marry established survey methodologies with new computational
social science tactics, big data for example. How do you put those things together in order
to give a greater surround sound to what citizens are thinking and feeling at any given moment? Michael Dimock: What I’m most proud of here
at the Center is, is the rigor. We care deeply about getting it right. And that might sound precious, but in today’s environment there are a lot of
ways to create numbers, but creating really good numbers, creating numbers that are sound
and grounded, that really are inclusive and representative of the full spectrum of inputs. And that are analyzed with caution and care
where people aren’t amping up the numbers to try to make a point, but simply letting
the numbers speak for themselves. That’s largely invisible, but it’s that that
really underlies all of what we can do here as an organization. Courtney Kennedy: I’m really proud to work at Pew
because I think getting good data about the experience of the public, their thoughts,
their fears, their reaction to what’s going on across the nation, what’s going on in their
lives. It’s important for us to measure that and
to measure it well and no place cares more about measuring that well than the Pew Research
Center. Claudia Deane: You know, when it comes down
to it, these are the things that matter at Pew. We want to be insightful, we want to be rigorous,
and we want to be transparent. And most of all in this current climate, we
want to be neutral and we work very hard every day to make that happen.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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