Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hunting and income, educational attainment

After looking at what the GSS had to say about hunting and finding that it is, among whites, an activity exhibiting a moderately negative association with intelligence, it was suggested that the Wordsum vocabulary test used as an IQ proxy makes those with greater (lesser) verbal intelligence relative to mathematical and visuo-spatial abilities appear more (less) intelligent than a stricter g-loaded test would. Because a predilection for hunting is something more characteristic of people with relatively strong visuo-spatial abilities, the Wordsum measure risked a false reading, especially since the gap was just over 2 IQ points.

The concern is valid, and precaution is necessary when gauging patterns in intelligence from the GSS. But I still stand with Half Sigma and Agnostic in asserting that hunting is, on average, a lower IQ activity among whites. Looking at families of four, the average real household income (base year 1986, rounded to nearest $100, n = 1826) and average years of schooling (n = 2051) for white women who hunt and/or have a spouse who hunts, and for women who have nothing to do with hunting:

Women who have...Income Ed. yrs
Hunting involvement$37,20012.77
Nothing w/ hunting$43,60013.04

GSS variables used: HUNT, REALINC, SEX, RACE, EDUC (inspiration via Agnostic)


NorCal Cazadora said...

I saw your earlier post and didn't comment, but now I really have to ask: What is your point? What are you trying to show? A social phenomenon? It certainly can't be more than that - hunting is a sport of the aristocracy in Europe.

agnostic said...

Bullshit, until we see quantitative evidence. That's what someone said about the last post -- that it was a regional difference within the US.

It wasn't, as I showed on my blog, and which was obvious. I just found the same thing by looking at HUNT and EDUC, comparing red and blue states. Maybe will post a graph soon.

The red state line is a bit above the blue state line, but hunting as a function of education shows the same shape in both regions: rises from having 4 years of education to 11 to 12 years, then declines after that, with a slight reversal at 20 years of education.

Hunting is a sport of those who dropped out of high school or just barely squeaked through.

Stopped Clock said...

I know fox and badger hunts are big with the upper class in the UK, but I don't know how they feel about big-game hunting. I imagine there probably isn't much room for it, at least in the UK, due to how crowded the land is up there.

al fin said...

I also wonder about the point being made. Other than piling onto an earlier diatribe against an Alaskan politician, are you going anywhere with this?

Executive function is significantly better correlated to life success than IQ, how does EF correlate with hunting?

As NorCal remarks, in other locations, the norms are different. Alaska is certainly different from any other US state and would be better compared to Northwestern Canada.

If any of you gents claiming otherwise have spent considerable time in Alaska and would like to dispute that assertion, please do so.

togo said...

Hunting is a sport of those who dropped out of high school or just barely squeaked through.

Outliers, i guess, but there are some high-IQ hunters with blogs:

I'm not a hunter myself, but I wonder if they would agree (in private?) that their fellow hunters tend to rather dumb.

Audacious Epigone said...


Half Sigma asserted hunting is a low IQ activity. I queried the GSS to see what the evidence showed. It showed that hunters are, on average, moderately less intelligent than non-hunters are. Steve Sailer cautioned that the Wordsum vocab test the GSS uses, and that I in turn use as a proxy for IQ, might not be an adequate measure for an activity with such a visuo-spatial 'g' skew. So I looked at two other major measures that proxy for intelligence and that might corroborate or call into question the Wordsum results. Turns out the former is the case. I don't mean to sound flippant or supercilious, but I'm just following the evidence. I don't have anything against hunting or hunters.

Is hunting still a sport of the upper class in Europe? I would be surprised if that's the case. It would be helpful if your certainty was referenced by something. Corpulence used to be an upper class thing, but now it tends to be a marker of the lower classes.


As I've said before, I'm more ambivalent about Palin than HS is. I am, however, naturally skeptical. We on the empirical right need to be. Too many saw George Bush through rose-colored glasses. Too many gave McCain the (enormous) benefit of the doubt. They shouldn't have. Too many fell in love with Palin after the RNC speech. HS marshalls quite a bit of circumstantial evidence for why perhaps they shouldn't have been immediately swept of their feet.


Yes, there must be plenty of sharp hunters. Granting the validity of the IQ proxy, I found white hunters to be as intelligent as the average white guy from Nevada and non-hunters to be as intelligent as the average white guy from Utah. There are more than 50,000 people in Nevada with an IQ more than two standard deviations above the white mean (130). And there are more hunters in the US than there are people in the state of Nevada, so finding three intelligent hunters shouldn't be hard to do!

KevinM said...

The GSS lumps together all hunters. This makes inference of specific hunter's statistical attributes invalid.

The average deer or small game hunter would be overwhelmed by the logistical requirements of waterfowl hunting.

As a waterfowl hunter, I would be overwhelmed by the logistical requirements of elk, moose, or caribou hunting. I'd love to do it, but making it happen would be a once in a lifetime effort for me.

Fishing is a good analogy. Most fishers go to the nearest creek or pond, throw a hook in, and catch what bites. Others (me) charter a 46' fishing boat 70 miles offshore to fish for ling, mahi-mahi, and tuna. Still other jet into Anchorage and charter a floatplane 500 miles into the wilderness to fish for arctic char.

The numbers in group 1: millions of individuals, group 2: 100,000s, group 3: low 10,000s. I posit the attributes of groups 1,2, and 3 differ.

al fin said...

Interesting points, Kevin.

This is the sort of bad statistics that allows phony "climate change" to threaten the economic structure of Europe. Politics taints any branch of science or analysis that it touches.

Audacious Epigone said...


What are the big differences between deer, elk, and moose hunting? I good friend of my dad's travels to Alaska annually (I've been four times, but have only done trout fishing, no hunting) to hunt. From what I can tell, it looks like he basically brings the same stuff that he uses to hunt deer and turkey in SE Kansas.


No, these statistics are not 'bad', unless the GSS is bad. You are insinuating motives on my part that have no basis in anything I've written. Half Sigma is correct in asserting that hunting, on average, is not a mark of intelligence, and certainly not to the extent that teaching a college law class is.

Hans said...

Al, you are being too hard on AE. You are correct that the statistics are too crude to be taken seriously, however.

Your point about political motives polluting statistical reasoning seems quite valid, and it is a serious problem in Europe.

How is the hunting in Alaska, by the way? I am considering a trip next summer.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Mrs. Clinton claim to be a hunter? Do you think she was lying?

KevinM said...

The big difference between deer, and large game is logistics.

Anyone almost anywhere in the country can drive 70 miles and hunt deer. Usually not that far. In most parts of the country, deer are hunted at short ranges (50-75yd), with inexpensive guns (e.g. .270, .30-30) - even shotguns. Practice at that range is not nearly as demanding. Deer are small enough to be easily manhandled and butchered with common kitchen utensils. The only extra garment you are likely to purchase is a $10 orange vest.

Elk, caribou, and moose are large game. They are remote from most of the population, so most who hunt them jet in and are picked up by an outfitter. You then 4wheel to a lodge. In late fall/winter in places where the snow can kill you. So you have bought some special clothes, I hope. Then you snowmobile or horse to a camp. Then you stalk you prey - in the case of Elk you take shots in the 2-300 yd range. If you're lucky. With a big gun(.338 min), good scope. You better have practiced to a knives edge, because you'll likely get just one shot. If you've made a good shot, you now have a carcass the size of a cow in the middle of nowhere. So the outfitter will provide some slaughterhouse instruments to portion your kill out into manageable chunks. You then reverse the process to get home.

Hunting deer costs $3-400 setup cost(clothes and gun), plus less than $100 a season for ammo and license for 3-5 animals. Typical deer hunters spend a few hours a few days hunting deer.

Hunting elk costs $3-6,000 setup cost, plus $6-10,000 a season for 1 or 2 animals. You'll have to dedicate at least a week.

I'm stretching a bit on both of these - many deer hunters spend a fair amount of money for access to game. And a lot of big game hunters live where the big game is, so don't have to spend as much.

My point is your friends Dad is likely in a different SES than my Uncle Leroy, the blue collar, rural, high school grad deer and quail hunter, who is the typical hunter.

The GSS HUNT variable doesn't tell you much about someone who hunts moose or caribou, just as the FISH variable doesn't tell you much about trophy marlin fishermen.

al fin said...

Hans, I was not attacking AE, but rather the idea of using sloppy classification schemes in a roundabout statistical attempt to attack political figures.

As far as Alaska hunting, if you've been to the Yukon or to Kamchatka, you'll find that Alaskan terrain and wildlife has a lot in common with either.

Kevin's comments pertain to the classification problem, as do NorCal's comments.

Steve Sailer said...

A quarter year less schooling for hunters than nonhunters sounds about right -- they are a little less educated on average, but it's not much. The larger income gap is probably explained mostly by hunters tending to live in less developed areas. You need more empty -- and thus cheap land -- to shoot guns. In places where land prices are higher, the kind of guy who might hunt if he lived in a less dense locale tends to play golf instead. (Obviously, I'm not talking about super-dedicated hunters or golfers, just people who could go either way depending on their surroundings.)

Peter said...

My point is your friends Dad is likely in a different SES than my Uncle Leroy, the blue collar, rural, high school grad deer and quail hunter, who is the typical hunter.

Isn't quail hunting quite upscale?

Audacious Epigone said...


Duck hunting is what she claimed, right? I think you just need a big pistol and a dog for that, right?


Since elk and moose are less widespread than deer, guys like my dad's friend who travels annually is in a higher SES class than most hunters who just drive outside their metro areas. In Alaska, it's basically a bigger gun and more butchering equipment that are required. Would someone hunting deer in Alaska not also try to bring down a moose if the opportunity presented itself? And would someone moose hunting not bring down an 24 point buck if it wandered into range? Or is that not something that would typically be done?


If the drive is similar for someone in suburbia, I suspect the guy who goes golfing tends to be more upper class than the guy who goes hunting, but the GSS doesn't offer an insight, because it doesn't isolate golfing from other sports.

Stopped Clock said...

If you don't mind telling, are you personally opposed to hunting because of your belief in nonviolence towards animals? I remember reading long ago on your blog that you're a vegetarian and a practicer of ahimsa.

Personally, I could never pick up a rifle and kill an animal, but I have no moral opposition to hunting because I believe that animals have adapted to a life of constantly running from death, and being killed by a human isn't all that far removed from their basic life experience; after all a lot of deer will be killed by bears as it is.

This is a very uncomfortable belief to hold; it leads to a lot of unanswerable ethical questions, among them the idea that we should just simply kill all big-game animals, and their predators, now, since that would prevent them from living such horrible lives, and since the total number of animals killed over the long term will be much higher than it would be if we just kill them all now and get it over with. That's called "negative utilitarianism" if I'm not mistaken.

The basement of the house I live in is surrounded by windows set in pits. Sometimes when it rains, frogs get stuck in the pits after jumping in thinking they'll be able to continue on in to the basement, but instead getting stuck on glass which they can't climb up. The first time this happened, I rescued every frog that got trapped there as soon as I noticed them, even though I realized that in some cases the same frog would come back later and get stuck a second time. Eventually, though, my patience began to run out, and I've stopped doing it. Even though I'm not sure I really buy the argument that smaller-brained animals "feel less pain" somehow, I can't quite bring myself to believe in an ethical system which would hold the life of a frog equal to that of a human ... where would the "equality" break down? Insects? Worms? The originators of ahimsa believed that insects were the smallest living things, and did not foresee the extension of their doctrine to microscopic germs, worms, and bacteria. (And all humans are really just large colonies of bacteria anyway; that leads to yet other unanswerable problems.)

When you have time I would be curious to hear how you apply the principle of nonviolence in your daily life, if you're willing to talk about it. (This could be a thread all its own.)

Audacious Epigone said...


I'm not opposed to others hunting, although I'd never do it recreationally. AF has remarked that it is a useful skill in his own postings, and I have no doubt that is true. I live in a semi rural area, and many (most?) of my neighbors own firearms in addition to being hunters. Well, I don't own a gun nor have I ever hunted. But I respect them for doing both. In an apocalyptic societal breakdown scenario, befriending both my next door neighbors might turn out to have been the wisest move I ever made!

I'm generally a vegetarian and haven't bought meat in seven or so years, but if I'm in a social situation where it is disruptive, I'll play the carnivore. The ahimsa I practice doesn't pass muster as a Kantian universal law. When I cup the wolf spider in my kitchen and take him either to my basement or into my front yard, I'm increasing the likelihood I'll run into the same situation again soon. Still, I feel like my hands are clean, so-to-speak, in so doing. That's not to insinuate doing otherwise would be morally staining, but since refraining from crushing creepy crawlers or from having meat prepped on my behalf doesn't strike me in anyway as unethical, it works for me. And, parenthetically, FK agrees that vegetarianism is probably the single most substantial thing a middle class person living in the developed world can do to reduce his carbon footprint.

Half Sigma's assertion that hunting is a low IQ activity brought some protestation, so I wanted to look at it empirically. I wasn't certain if it'd turn out to be true--as I said in the first post on the subject, it strikes me as a blue collar, working class activity, but it's relatively expensive (not just economically, but also in terms of the time investment) and overwhelmingly white, so on balance hunters might be slightly sharper than average Joe American. Turns out the GSS provides evidence backing his claim. Then Steve suggested the GSS wordsum might not be a precise enough measure when the issue at hand is something so heavily skewed towards visuo-spatial aspects of 'g'. So I looked at two of the most obvious proxies for reassurance, and both suggest that the wordsum results are very plausible. Further, Agnostic found the same trend I did.

As Kevin and others have suggested, amalgamting all hunters into a single category isn't as precise as separating hunters into various categories based on the kind of hunting they engage in. That's always going to be a potential problem when looking at GSS data (and survey data of most kinds).

tommy said...

Can urbanization be controlled in this analysis? Living in an urban area is likely to reduce opportunities for hunting and require greater incomes.

KevinM said...

Quail hunting varies.
Walking fencelines for bobwhites- lowscale.

Working bobwhites behind a pointer/retriever you trained yourself - mid. That's Uncle Leroy. Dr. Bob was an amazing dog.

Driving a quail buggy in West Texas for blue quail over a guide's team of dogs - upscale.

Most guys hunting for deer are going to be undergunned for big game. I wouldn't take a shot at a moose with a 30-30 because a) it would be cruel and b) it would be dangerous.
I can see a guy from Alaska carrying a bigger gun just to make the most of his opportunities.

A moose hunter might take a deer, but probably not as doing so would completely ruin his chances of taking a moose that day. An Alaska native might, but if I flew up for moose, I'll take my deer back at home.

Btw My Uncle Leroy from piedmont Virginia would consider himself a more avid golfer than hunter. I knew if Steve showed in this thread, he'd bring golf into it.

Mercer said...

I am not a hunter but I don't think these stats provide strong evidence of hunters lower IQ. In there areas I have lived in the gaps in income and college education between urban and rural areas is stronger then these stats.

If you want evidence that Palin has a low IQ I think the fact that she has a tanning bed might be better. I have not seen any data on it but think that tanning is similar to smoking - an very unhealthy activity more popular with lower class whites.

nzconservative said...

Having meet a few hunters, I'd imagine the average hunter would be a guy of average intelligence with a stronger performance than verbal IQ, and a introverted but practical orientation.

An obvious exception though would be fly-fisherman who would typically be of above average intelligence.

Hunters of game birds like pheasants and quail would also probably be relatively intelligent, as this kind of hunting has a more refined middle class type of hunting than say, pig hunting with dogs.

nzconservative said...

sorry, that last sentence was supposed to read: this type of hunting has a more refined middle class vibe than say, pig hunting with dogs.

maximum water sports said...

And the fact that Palin ran a prostitution operation out of the basement of her house suggests a low IQ as well. Oh, wait! That was Barney Frank. Never mind.

SFG said...

I'm less concerned about Palin's IQ--she seems to have enough common sense and street smarts to wrangle her way to governor, even of a small state--than about her lack of concern about the rest of the world. But that's a political thing.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Audacious, thanks for answering the question. I was just curious.

Agnostic: Re: Hunting is a sport of those who dropped out of high school or just barely squeaked through. Nasty, nasty!

According to the 2006 U.S. Fish & Wildlife National Survey, 47 percent of hunters are college educated (click here for the report and go to Table 10, p. 70 of the PDF). Not a majority, but only 3 percentage points behind the general population.

KevinM, I hadn't thought about the differences in types of hunters. The USFWS data indeed shows that big game hunters are among the least college educated (45 percent), and migatory bird hunters (waterfowlers) are the most (59 percent, 9 points higher than the general population).

Togo: I'm a hunter (a duck hunter, I hasten to add, lest anyone think me stupid), and the hunters I hang out with are pretty damned smart. But of course, I don't willingly spend time with idiots. I would agree, though, that stupid hunters stand out more than your garden-variety idiot because they have guns, and no one likes to see guns in the hands of stupid people.

togo said...

Somewhat related: a small maker of high-end guns has chosen FBI Ruby Ridge assassin Lon Horiuchi as its celebrity endorser:

The story broke in blogs before Thanksgiving but no respectable (hah) print media outlets have picked it up. Searching "google news" i only found a story from the nazi-friendly American Free Press.

Audacious Epigone said...


Thanks for the USF&W survey. I'm looking forward to giving it adequate attention later in the week. The GSS suggests a gap of a couple of IQ points, on average, among those who hunt some sort of game and those who do not. To presume someone who hunts is stupid, knowing nothing else, is about as reasonable as a guy from Massachusetts assuming someone is stupid because he's from Virginia.

Audacious Epigone said...

Looking at that USF&W survey, migratory bird hunters are the wealthiest and most educated of hunters, while big game hunters are the least. That meshes with the comments that have been made here.