Saturday, August 30, 2008

What does it mean to be black in America? (You're going to hear derivations of that question for years, so start getting used to it)

++Addition++A reader did a better job finding this video via Steve Sailer that more clearly demonstrates how Obama can mix it up depending on the composition of his audience.

Also, as Dragon Horse points out, the lady who cheered Barack for marrying a black woman isn't incoherent, but she is phrasing her praise in a way that is technically self-defeating if taken literally. I was being a wise guy. Black men tend to favor women with European facial features and ligther skin over darker women with more prominent sub-Saharan African features. That in addition to black men being nearly three times as likely to marry and five times as likely to cohabitate with white women as white men are to marry/cohabitate with black women shows why her frustrations are understandable.


Ahead of the DNC in Denver last weekend, the WSJ ran an article about how Obama's candidacy "has sparked a debate about identity" in the black community. The thrust of the article revolves around what Steve Sailer has identified as Obama's quest to prove he is black enough. This underscores the assertion that Obama owned the black vote in the Democratic primaries because he was blacker than the other white candidates. Had Al Sharpton run again, Obama wouldn't have received the nomination on Thursday. The article also illustrates some generally accepted fallacious "conventional wisdom" that is worth pointing out, which is why I excerpt so liberally:
Sen. Obama embodies contradictions in the community that are starting to bubble to the surface -- largely out of the earshot of whites. He is the biracial son of an African father and a white mother in a community where most people are descended from slavery or whose ancestors had direct experience with segregation. He is the married father of two in a community in which more than 60% of children grow up in a single-parent household. He's a politician who isn't steeped in the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s and didn't grow up in the inner city or in a black neighborhood.
He is also half-Kenyan by descent. Other than pigmentation, he doesn't look like most American blacks, who are of West African descent. Both of his children were born in wedlock, something fewer than one-in-three American blacks enjoy. He went to a mostly white prep school in the blackless state of Hawaii. Not exactly the optimal profile of one who wants to show he is down with the struggle.

The article gives the impression that American blacks are undergoing the same transformation that other immigrant groups did upon arriving in the US (huh?):

Sen. Obama has "taken the discussion out of that box that America tends to put people in and given some additional light on us as a people," says Curtis Watkins, 52, who runs a social-service agency in Washington, D.C. "I don't think it was his intention, but it is what it is and he can't lessen that."

This dialogue isn't that different from discussions that other groups -- Jews, Italians, Asians, Irish -- have had as they have risen in America.
Those groups began rising in a generation or two. Blacks have been in the US longer than any other non-native, non-European group has, and they comprised a significant portion of the population for centuries before Jews came to represent one in 100 Americans. At the end of the Civil War, Jews comprised less than .5% of the US population.

Nevermind that, Obama is lighting the way just as Lierberman showed that at the turn of the century, the US had finally come to accept Jews in positions of power:
The 2000 vice-presidential nomination of Sen. Joe Lieberman, an observant Jew, provoked initial unease among some Jews but eventually was widely seen as proof of the widespread acceptance of Jews in America.
Because up until 2000, Jewish success in the US was so rare! In science, medicine, politics, and punditry (where, still struggling today, they make up less than half--only 27%, actually--of the top media talking heads), it took Lieberman's ascension to prod other Jews into finally having an impact on America!

Though Obama may have a tough time brandishing his street credentials, he shouldn't be rejected out-of-hand just because he didn't enjoy the luxuries growing up that 50 Cent did:
In his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," Sen. Obama wrote that in college, "I didn't have the luxury, I suppose, the certainty of the tribe.... I hadn't grown up in Compton or Watts. I had nothing to escape from except my own inner doubts."

Imagine if a white preppie (and Obama is closer to that than he is to 50) said the same. Yeah, I suffered from my two parent middle class home, soccer games on Saturday afternoons and church on Sunday mornings, barely ever able to escape the plushness and enjoy a good run on 13th and MLK boulevard!

Continuing on the curiously absurd theme of blacks as new arrivals to the US, the authors point to the success of black immigrants:
Immigrant blacks fare better for many of the same reasons as other immigrants:
They're often a self-selected, highly motivated group.
No, most other immigrants fare worse than their native counterparts do. Black immigrants are an exception to the general trend, not an example of it. Hispanics immigrants, representing nearly 50% of the foreign-born population, mostly fare worse than native Hispanics do.

Previously, I created an index to rank immigrant performance in the US by country using six factors including the percentage using one or more welfare programs, who are self-employed, without health insurance, have less than a high school education, have a bachelor's degree or greater, and who are in poverty. Immigrants from Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and most significantly Mexico (which, comprising two-thirds of the total foreign-born Hispanic population in the US ranked dead last among 25 countries*) do more poorly than native Hispanics (or native blacks, for that matter) do. In contrast, immigrants from the two majority black countries of Haiti and Jamaica outperform native blacks.

Notice I write "native blacks", not "native African-Americans" (wouldn't that be a contradiction in terms?). Whiter readers might have thought that indicative of my backward boorishness. Turns out I'm actually ahead of the curve:
The growing prominence of black immigrants is prompting some to favor the term "black" as more accurate, and inclusive, than "African-American."
When I was in high school, I played against the Barry Sanders-like Darren Sproles. As a D-end, I was told to wait for him to come back if he headed outside opposite. I don't think it did much good then, but in this case applying the advice worked out.

Moving on, the article offers some irony:
[Pat, a teacher from Nairobi who is visiting Vermont] turns to Prudence Carter, a Stanford sociologist and an African-American. "You talk about race all the time," she says. "I don't understand that."

Ms. Carter, 38, shakes her head sadly. "On the one hand it's beautiful we are diverse," she says. "But can we become so fragmented that we don't share anything?"
Diversity is celebrated when it means a reduction in the size of the white population and/or its cultural influence. That is the right kind of diversity. Other forms of diversity, especially those that reduce solidarity among NAMs, are the wrong kinds of diversity and so should be resisted.

Think electing Obama will be a cathartic experience that'll put an end to black community's resentment over the perceived restraining force of the white power structure like John McWhorter does**? Maybe not:
Yet even as they bask in the senator's success, some middle-class blacks remain uneasy about their own choices and wonder whether they have distanced themselves too much from poor blacks. They worry that Mr. Obama's success -- what many call being a "good black" -- could feed negative stereotypes among whites about blacks who don't succeed or who act in a more confrontational manner.
If a black guy becomes President, white society will expect us all to become Presidents. It'll turn the bigotry of low expectations on its head! And they'll expect us to play the game, too:
"Part of me has my fist clenched under the table," says Dawn Jefferson, a 31-year-old who teaches at a predominantly white private school outside Washington, D.C. "There is this feeling that black confrontational behavior won't be so acceptable. We have to all play the game now."

Welcome to the professional world. We all have to play the game.

... Oh, he meant that game:

Michael Patterson, 34, who owns a car-related business in Jena called Classic Shine and Detail, says he isn't sure if Sen. Obama has endured the "black experience." He describes this as being stopped by police and being afraid of what might happen even "when you know you've done nothing wrong," and "coming home from school and finding out the lights have been cut off."
To reassure people that he's seen policemen doing their jobs, Obama employs the thug hug, plays basketball, adopts a black inflection in his voice when speaking in front of black audiences (notice how every couple of sentences ends just short of a yell, and also how words ending in "y" roll of his tongue), attended Trinity and considered Wright a spiritual mentor, and married a black woman with West African, not European, features.

Michelle might wear the pants, but if most black women think gaining the upper hand is something just over the horizon, they are going to be waiting for it until they're blue in the face:

In conversations, many wonder why there aren't more men like Sen. Obama in their lives.

"You should see the emails I get from my girlfriends," says Makeba Lloyd, a real-estate agent in Harlem and campaign volunteer, who is 34 and single. "We all want someone who lifts us up and praises us. Obama is raising the bar for black men."

From 1950 to 2000, the percentage of black women and girls 15 and over who are married declined to about 36% from 62%, according to census data. Among white females, the decline was far less, to about 57% from 66%. Over the same 50 years, the percentage of black women who had never been married doubled, to about 42% from 21%.
Black men are thirteen times more likely to be imprisoned than black women are (p34). They are nearly three times more likely to marry white women than black women are likely to marry white men (and the non-married cohabitation ratio is even more skewed, with black male-white female couples occuring five times as often as white male-black female couples occur). Despite 5% of the black male population behind bars at any given time, black men are still more likely to be married than black women are. There are 106 married black men for every 100 married black women.

The supply of black women exceeds the demand by an estimated 8%^. On average, black women need to lower--not raise--their standards to snag a husband. A 34 year-old woman who cannot find a man and now thinks that demanding even more in a man than before will land her a husband is setting herself up for more disappointment.

Barack's choice of a spouse probably helped him in the primaries. Without competition from another black candidate, he had black men in the bag. But a sliver of black women might've gone the feminist route if he'd married a white woman:
Angering many black women is the perceived tendency of some successful black men to marry white women or lighter-skinned blacks. "Obama could have easily chosen a white woman," says Adrienne Dixon, an education professor at Ohio State University in Columbus and 40-year-old mother of two teenagers. "The fact that he didn't says a lot. It's important for my boys to see a love relationship that doesn't depend on skin types. They see they don't have to be with a light-skinned black woman to be successful."
As interracial unions consitute just under 4% of total marriages according to the 2006 Census estimates, Dixon's point doesn't make sense. Black men are still more likely to marry black women than they are to marry white women, so Obama having married a white woman would've done a better job showing her sons that love doesn't depend on skin types (assuming Obama is seen as a black man rather than a halfrican). But blacks tend to look at these things through a different prism than whites do (see the preceeding remark about diversity).

Anyway, it's good that black men are already in the bag, because this sort of thing definitely does not impress black guys who are keeping it real:

"I wouldn't give a damn about him if it wasn't for Michelle," she says. "He has enough fortitude and courage to let Michelle be Michelle."


"Does he rub his wife's back? Does he take out the garbage?"
Black guys I know have another word for that.

It doesn't really matter what blacks think of Obama's authenticity. They're going to vote for him. Obama's actual challenge will be to show that he is white enough without causing people to think he is a whiterperson in disguise.

If Obama wins in November, we get to look forward to an uptick in these sorts of articles for at least the next four years. That's 1,461 days. Yikes.

* Data on former Soviet countries were amalgamated into a single "country".

** To be fair to McWhorter, he also thinks the hazy conception of a 'racist America' will also be lifted among whites if Obama is elected, especially among younger generations. McWhorter has understandably taken a lot of flak for his apology of the Obama's Trinity Church membership, but from my experience he gets the middle class black attitude right in saying that many who immerse themselves in the Reverend Wright atmosphere are doing it for ritualistic value and cultural solidarity, not because their beliefs are actually that extreme. It's kind of like professional blacks who go to black comedy clubs to yuck it up even though they don't live the life the comedian is portraying, the life that many lower class blacks actually do live.

^ Assuming that the black prison population is entirely off the market (which isn't exactly the case) and that marriage disparities proxy reliably for relationship disparities.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quant bloggers, a precision division of the Steveosphere

Bruce Charlton (blogger identity BGC), writing in the science journal Medical Hypotheses, mentions a subsection of the Steveosphere, referred to as "quant bloggers". He singles out a few of us specifically--the GNXP crew, Half Sigma, and the Inductivist presumably for their needed "analysis and integration of [professionally gathered] data, for understanding its implications, and for speculating freely about the potential applications," and your correspondent for "chatty ‘opinion’ pieces".

The editorial is primarily concerned with the contemporary breakdown of the scientific Socratic method, with high status scientists no longer required to substantively defend their findings, address critics, or provide the underlying data employed to reach the conclusions they come to.

Quant bloggers come into play as a welcomed contrast to the new High Science. Quant bloggers, via their comment sections, are greeted with publicly viewable refutations, critiques, and suggestions from readers immediately upon publication. The data, if not presented in the body of the post or via links to the source, are available by request*.

It would be optimal to have professionals earning a living through the work undertaking what quant bloggers are currently doing. As BGC points out, however, the cultural climate doesn't permit it. If Steve struggles to keep his journalistic work economically viable, no one outside the protection of academic tenure is going to be able to pull it off.

So we'll make due with what we have. The best data sources are those able to be used for analyses unrelated to what the collector originally had in mind. Pew Research, for example, is an invaluable source not for the offered commentary accompanying the data (which I tend to skim) but for the raw numbers it consistenly makes available.

* If the Excel file I'm using lends itself to it, I make the numbers available via Swivel. If it exists online, I always link to the data source as well. And I have always and will continue to always make the data I'm using available to anyone who is interested in it. Just shoot me an email and it's on the way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Higher a country's IQ, the more likely women are to want someone their own age

Agnostic has an interesting post on female age preferences for men by country. The data are from the late eighties, so dust is a potential problem, especially in countries like China that have undergone major changes in the last couple of decades. Varying sample sizes also present a problem, as he discusses.

Nonetheless, suggestive correlations are still to be found, suggesting that real relationships are stronger than the data suggests--if a statistically significant correlation shines through rough approximations, better data will almost certainly reveal that relationship to be even stronger than it initially appears to be.

Those surveyed were asked how much younger or older than themselves they preferred their mates to be. The average age of the respondents varies by country, so Agnostic corrects for this by looking at the preferred age differences as a percentage of the age of the average respondent by country. I'm not sure that's helpful. Ceteris paribus, is a woman who at 20 prefered a man three years older than her likely to shift his preferred age advantage when she's 23? If not, then Agnostic's method decreases the preferred age difference percentage 2% (from 3/20=15% to 3/23=13%) for no reason, translating to a four or five spot change on the comparative rankings of the countries. Anyway, the inverse correlation between PPP and desired age difference among females is stronger if the absolute difference in years is used rather than the percentage method.

The inverse relationship between estimated average IQ* and desired age difference among females (.58, p-value of .0002) is also stronger if the absolute age difference is used (using the percentage method, it is .50, p-value=.002). The more intelligent the place, the more likely women are to want a mate nearer themselves in age. The extent that I see this pattern 'on the ground' mostly comes from girls in their teens and early twenties who are not in school dating men several years older than they are. It seems to be more of a working- and underclass behavior, but I don't have any domestic data to back that up.

This is, not surprisingly, similar to the relationship between wealth as measured in terms of purchasing power parity and desired age difference among females, as Agnostic shows. He attributes this to the greater presence of middle class values in developed countries, although the lack of emphasis put on chastity in the first world relative to less developed countries in Africa and Asia might complicate that presumption. It also strikes me as plausible that the Western cultural emphasis on egalitarianism plays some part in minimizing preferred age differences in Western Europe and the Anglosphere.

Other interesting tidbits from the Buss paper Agnostic founds his post upon:

- Of the 37 countries**, in every single one women put a greater emphasis on a potential partner being a "good financial prospect" than men did. European-descended women are moderate in their gold digging tendencies relative to Asian, South American, and African women.

- Conversely, in all 37 places men put more emphasis on "good looks" than women did. The playing field seems more even for men, who widely have the opportunity to overcome an uninspiring appearance by applying their minds and busting their tails (although that requires some genetic 'luck', too, like high intelligence, low time preference, high executive function, etc). Women's prospects are less malleable. It's little wonder homely women in their twenties and beyond seem so bitter. This replaces some of the natural disdain I have for them with empathy. I should make it a point to acknowledge that they're not invisible for moral reasons, even though they'll remain so for practical reasons.

- "Ambition and industriousness" moves Americans, both men and women, more than it does Europeans. Of the 23 majority-European groups, only Estonians had a higher net score (men and women combined, the higher the score the more important the traits in a potential partner) for the category than the US did.

- In most cases, men prize virginity more than women do. There are a few exceptions among the Euro-descended, but they are marginal, as the Euro-groups care much less about chastity in general (with the exception of Catholic Ireland) than do Asians and Africans.

* IQ scores for South African whites and blacks come from Philippe Rushton. Yugoslavia's average IQ comes from Richard Lynn's finding of 89 for Serbia. Jordan's average of 84 is used for the Palestinians. Israeli Jewish IQ is estimated to be 99, arrived at by assuming the 23.6% of the population that is non-Jewish (mostly Arab) averages 84 and plugging 99 for the Jewish population (74.6% of Israel's total) to fit with Lynn and Vanhanen's national estimate of 95. Hawaii's IQ of 94.4 comes from my NAEP-based state estimates. All others come from Lynn and Vanhanen's IQ and Global Inequality.

** Actually, the data come from only 33 countries, but 37 groups. Two groups each come from the US (the mainland and Hawaii), Canada (French and English), South Africa (whites and Zulus), and Israel (Jews and Palestinians).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Whiterest story yet comes from NPR's Weekend Edition

I owe much of the pleasure I got from reading Stuff White People Like to NPR, where the tastes and purviews of whiterpeople are on full display. Last weekend, a story was aired (less than five minutes in duration) about how sluggish retail spending is effecting Whole Foods that contains in it ten--ten--of the things whiterpeople like. Most come in the first two minutes. They are (in addition to public radio):

- Whole Foods (the tour takes place inside of one)
- Manhattan (... one located in Manhattan, NY)
- Organic food (of course WF is full of it, and even those who are value-conscious can afford to buy)
- Sushi (the WF contains four sushi bars!)
- Vegetarianism/Veganism (the daily special is a kind of tofu burger)
- Two last names (the tour guide's name is Allie Crone-Smith)
- Having been poor before (only in the book; accompanying reporter Robert Smith are two people on a thin budget--because they're college students!--who need the value tour)
- Buying local (one of the college kids explains she's coming to WF's for this reason)
- Recycling (the value vouchers being handed out are printed, using soy ink, on recycled paper)

As a bonus, the reporter asks Crone-Smith if the store has considered posting a crazy spokesperson at the front of the store who shouts, "We stack it deep, we sell it cheap!" She delicately explains that such a tactic is not really the store's style, insinuating of course that the wrong kind of white people are into those sorts of gimmicks.

If you're unfamiliar with whiterpeople's cultural sensibilities, NPR is a prudent way (much more so than actually doing the things they enjoy, like going to plays or film festivals) to become less so.

Do make sure you flip back to talk radio regularly, however, to keep yourself abreast of what is actually going on in the world. As Clander points out on multiple occasions, whiterpeople are into psuedo-intellectual pursuits that appear sophisticated without requiring much cognitive effort (like the aforementioned film festival or books on architecture). What do John Stewart's, Stephen Colbert's, and Bill O'Reilly's viewerships/listenerships have in common? They're all better-informed than NPR's listenership is.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dem support for McCain greater than Rep support for Obama

"Republicans for Obama" and the various media reports that Obama will appeal to many GOPers aside, McCain has greater support among Democrats than Obama does among Republicans. A Pew survey taken earlier this month shows 10% of registered Democrats supporting McCain, while 7% of registered Republicans support Obama.

Those figures are nearly identical to what occured in the '04 Presidential election, when 11% of Democrats voted for Bush and 6% of Republicans voted for Kerry, and also in '00, when 11% of Democrats voted for Bush and 8% of Republicans voted for Gore.

Obama is no more attractive to Republicans than other Democratic Presidential candidates have been over the last decade and McCain is no less attractive to Democrats than other Republican candidates have been over the same period of time. Those who insinuate otherwise are being disingenuous.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama, McCain international fans similar to domestic supporters

In June, Pew released a report containing survey data on opinions of the two US Presidential contenders in 22 countries from all six populated continents. Not surprisingly, Obama is more popular than McCain is. A greater number of respondents in every country except one* have confidence in Obama than do in McCain. However, their respective popularities don't trend reliably in the same direction with the only difference being the magnitude of that support.

The report also polls sentiments on US economic influence. It is in places where the view of US economic influence is most negative that Obama is most popular. The percentage of a nation's population that is confident in Obama and the percentage of its population that believes the US' economic influence in the world is negative correlates at a statistically significant .48 (p=.02).

Tanzania, bordering the homeland of Barack's father, is a major outlier, ebullient about Obama but also a big fan of the American economic machine. If it is removed from the analysis, the correlation jumps to .56 (p=.01). For every 1 point increase in support for Obama, negative feelings for US economic influence increase by .65 points.

No such relationship exists between McCain's levels of support and the desire for US economic influence to wane (the p-value is .72!).

Pew released another report last year gauging, among other things, foreign opinions of the US entertainment industry (specifically movies, music, and TV). Using the 21 countries included in both reports suggests that Obama fans are moderately more degenerate (heh) than McCain's are, at least internationally. Obama's support and positive views of US entertainment correlate at .56 (p=.01). For McCain, the relationship is .45 (p=.04).

But when it comes to buying into US "ideas and customs" as opposed to Hollywood fare, McCain is the one to look to. The percentage of those in a country expressing confidence in him and the percentage of those who have a positive view of spreading US ideas correlate at .42 (p=.06). There is no relationship between Obama's level of support and the support of US ideas (p=.61).

The take-home message is that those who'd likely vote for Obama if they were stateside are also relatively more likely to be in tune with the political and cultural messages coming from the entertainment industry and more likely to feel the US is a negative influence in the world. Those who'd back McCain are more inclined towards US global influence and like what we've done with it. That's commonsensical I suppose, but the vigor of the relationships might be surprising.

* Stultifyingly, the exception is Jordan (by one point, indicating a statistical tie with a standard margin of error). Given Obama's associations with Palestinian 'sympathizers' and the reluctance of Jews in the US to get behind him like they've gotten behind Democratic Presidential candidates in the past coupled with McCain's support for the neoconservative remaking of the Middle East, I'd have thought Obama would be more popular than McCain.

Monday, August 18, 2008

When the hermit kingdom comes out of its shell

What a sad state of affairs:

BEIJING -- North Korea is heading toward its worst food crisis since the 1990s because of flooding, successive crop failures and worldwide inflation for staples such as rice and corn, the United Nations World Food Program said Wednesday.

The agency shied away from predicting another famine like the one that killed as many as 2 million people in the 1990s, but said its field staff was observing some of the same warning signs.

People are again foraging for wild plants, grass and seaweed to supplement their meager diets. Hospitals are reporting an increase in chronic diarrhea and illness that are often linked to malnutrition. Many families have cut back from three meals a day to two.

If we just had to knock out one member of the Axis of Evil, it should've been North Korea. With a presumed average IQ around 106, possibly depressed a few points from nutritional deficiencies, what prevents it from becoming a smaller version of South Korea a generation or two from now?

Using a simple linear equation built from IQ estimates and '06 purchasing power parity numbers provided by the CIA Factbook predicts PPP to be $38,200, assuming an average IQ of only 100. That's obviously a very simplistic way of formulating a prediction, and South Korea, forty years ahead of the North, is only a little over halfway to that level of economic prosperity. But in terms of distance from potential, contemporary North Korea is much further away than either Iraq or Iran are.

Friday, August 15, 2008

White is "some other race" according to Census?

Commenter Peter's insight from a previous post in which he pointed out that my estimate that 85% of Hispanics were choosing "white" as their race struck him as too high led me to look at it more closely. Given that I was estimating for affluent small cities, it seems reasonable to expect a greater proportion of Hispanics to have European features than do in the country as a whole.

My thought process wasn't that sophisticated, though. I was under the impression that 85-90% of Hispanics do choose "white" as their race in the Census. The Census QuickFacts page is a resource a use regularly for reference, and it suggests as much.

Nationally, the Census reports for '06 that whites (including Hispanics) represented 80.1% of the total population, while non-Hispanic whites comprised 66.4%. The difference is 13.7%, presumably accounted for entirely by Hispanics who chose "white" as their race. I presume this because the white, black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and two or more races categories sum to 100% of the national total--there is no "other" catchall category presented. Hispanics (14.8% of the total population) are falling into one of these categories, the vast majority (92.6%) being classified as white.

At the city level, however, QuickFacts does not include a non-Hispanic white classification. The other categories presented fall short of 100% when summed, with the difference presumably being made up by those who went with the "other" category (which is also not presented).

This NYT article reports that 97% of those who self-describe as members of some other race are Hispanic. The other category is, then, essentially a Hispanic category that represents 42% of the Hispanic total. The article also reports that 48% of Hispanics define themselves racially as being white (only 2% choose black, with the remainder choosing two or more races). Together, that represents 90% of Hispanics, awfully close to the percentage of Hispanics QuickFacts reports to be white at the national and state levels.

So it looks like unless an "other" category is explicitly presented or implicitly implied due to the stated categories not summing to 100% of the population, it should be assumed that Hispanics who elected "some other race" are being grouped in with those who've chosen white as their race.

It'd be less confusing if "Hispanic" could be an exclusive racial category, maybe "gold(en)" to go along with black and white. That wouldn't represent the diversity of the Latino community in the US, of course, so I'll perish the thought.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Regional intelligence estimates; Wordsum appears a reliable IQ proxy

If the GSS reported data by individual state, it'd offer another valuable data source for getting at average IQ at the state level in the US.

That isn't the case, but data by region does allow GSS results to be compared with other good-faith IQ estimates. Do they corroborate or contradict GSS WORDSUM scores?

A table follows listing the average IQ by region as arrived at through multiple approaches, with population adjustments made and the national average IQ adjusted to 98 for ease of comparison*. The Wordsum scores are converted using a standard deviation of 15. Additionally, estimates based on '05 eighth grade NAEP science and reading scores, averages from the half-century old Project Talent study of 366,000 9th-12th grade students, averages from 38 year-old Vietnam veterans obtained in '85/'86, and's (which offers a free putative IQ test that isn't timed) state averages are presented:

RegionGSS NAEPProj TalViet VetsTickleAverage
New England101.6100.4101.3103.298.7101.0
Mid Atlantic99.798.699.9100.998.499.5
E-N Central97.799.099.5100.297.898.8
W-N Central99.799.9100.4101.998.3100.1
South Atlantic96.097.194.592.697.795.6
E-S Central92.496.393.490.896.693.9
W-S Central96.096.897.492.897.296.1

States included in each regional category, with the region's national rank and average IQ as suggested from the five methods presented in the table in parentheses:

New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont (1st, 101.0)
Middle Atlantic: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania (3rd, 99.5)
East North Central: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin (6th, 98.8)
West North Central: Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota (2nd, 100.1)
South Atlantic: Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia (8th, 95.6)
East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee (9th, 93.9)
West South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas (7th, 96.1)
Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming (5th, 98.9)
Pacific: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington (4th, 99.1)

The nine geographic regions correspond to US Census definitions. It's not exactly how I'd slice up the country, especially the Mountain region, which groups the aptitudinally disparate states of Montana and New Mexico together. I'd prefer a distinct Southwest region covering Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and the southern half of California. But I suppose these regions are not comprised with HBD realists in mind. Damn time zone and postal code considerations! Anyhow, click on the graphic to see it more clearly.

Returning to the question posed, they corroborate quite impressively. Regional numbers from the GSS correlate with Project Talent, Vietnam Vets, and Tickle in the .90-.98 range, meaning the rankings by region are ordered pretty similarly to one another. If you had lurking concerns that the simple Wordsum test was too rough a measure of intelligence to be so readily proxied for IQ by GSS miners Half Sigma and Inductivist, you should put them to rest**.

The only major exception comes from the NAEP-derived estimates in the Mountain and Pacific regions, which are lower than the other sources suggest. The NAEP numbers correlate in the .50-.70 range with the others when these two are included. When they are removed and only the remaining seven regions are considered, the relationships become strong, in the .90-.97 range (the GSS and NAEP do so at .92).

My speculation is that the NAEP numbers, gleaned from the test results of 8th graders just a few years ago augur the future more than they reflect the present. The Southwest (captured by the Mountain and Pacific regions) has undergone extensive racial/ethnic demographic changes in the last couple of decades unparalleled by any other area of the country. The average age of those surveyed in the GSS is 44, the Vietnam vets were middle-aged in the eighties, and the striplings who provided data for Project Talent are now comparing various retirement communities.

Tickle's numbers are based on internet users who decide to take the free test. Pew reports that Hispanics are less likely to use the internet than whites or blacks are. This results entirely from Spanish-only speakers:

78% of Latinos who are English-dominant and 76% of bilingual Latinos use the internet, compared with 32% of Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults.

So the newest arrivals must be significantly underrepresented.

I wonder also if the Tickle numbers don't offer some insight into the relative size of a state's "smart fraction". DC is at the very top despite in all likelihood having a lower average IQ than any state in the country, probably because one of its intelligence distributions is doing most of the testing. Homogenous places like the Dakotas, meanwhile, come in nearer the bottom. If it is primarily from the right side of the bell curve that Tickle test takers come (and if the test has value, that's tautologically true, as the national average is over 112), the northern half of California could be inflating the state's average.

* In the case of's averages, a significant adjustment is clearly necessary. Without any such adjustments, the national average is 112.6. As flattering as that might be, we don't want to give our friends in the Middle East any more reason to think that the US is a Jewish behemoth than they already have! Without adjustments, the Project Talent data suggests a national average 99.8 and the Vietnam veterans numbers suggest an even 100. With more than one-quarter of the population either black or Hispanic, these seem too high, as 100 is supposed to indicate the white mean. Presuming that 100 is the national average, however, is easy--just add 2 points to all the numbers for all the regions in the preceding table.

** Such concerns were the impetus of this post!

Friday, August 08, 2008

San Fran's self-sustaining restrictions on cigs, sugary stuff

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to further limit personal behavioral choices:
Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to make the city the first in the country to ban the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies such as Walgreens and Rite Aid.

And that's only the city's latest effort to make us all healthier.

The supervisors also voted to require chain restaurants to post nutritional information, including calories and fat content, on menus. This follows the creation of a program to recognize restaurants that don't use trans fats and an idea by Mayor Gavin Newsom to levy a fee on retailers of sugary sodas.

The board is also taking up legislation to dramatically curb where smokers can light up, including prohibiting puffing in taxis, lines for ATMs and common areas of apartment buildings. And Newsom wants to close some streets to cars on select Sundays so people can jog, hula-hoop and lay out their yoga mats on the pavement.
Because the madness of the Sunday morning rush hour simply makes hula-hooping an impossibility!

These moves strike me as self-preserving. Liberal leftism is most viable in a high IQ, industrious population whose members have a meaningful stake in their society.

Make it more difficult and expensive for people to get their smokes or starchy fructose by restraining the retailers who provide it, and people who consume that stuff will find the place less livable. They can be replaced by whiterpeople who love the idea of punitions on such sinful, er, unhealthy behaviors. This puts further upward pressure on property values (making the city even less affordable for the wrong kind of white people) and adds even more liberal-left heft to the city's Board. This leads to more votes that make life ever less tolerable for the left half of the bell curve. You see, we want you to be as rectitudinous as us, that's all. (And if you aren't up to it, you should probably hit the road, although we'd never explicitly tell you so!)

With a high IQ, whiterpeople population, generous welfare policies, libertine laws on social behavior and drug consumption, bike lanes on every road, economically unviable public transportation, and the like all become possible. It is permissible to allow people to do potentially self-destructive things when most of them are in little danger of hitting the self-destruct button.

By permitting these things, the population is able to look down on other municipalities for not only being more repressive than they are, but for also being objectively less successful. It's the "I smoked up from high school through college and now I manage several mutual funds, while that dullard Jim, who wouldn't even drink carbonated stuff, works in construction." ("Yes, you had other advantages--most notably a lot of firepower upstairs--to make it in spite of being a pothead.") . This posturing doesn't need to be stated explicitly to be tacitly understood.

Demographic changes can be the death knell for all of these things, however, as crackdowns on prostitution and drug use in the world's most liberal city, Amsterdam, demonstrate.

The presence of people who will make liberal use of welfare benefits and who are most likely to fly off the tracks when anything goes must be minimized if the whole thing isn't to collapse on itself. Subsidizing "undocumented, unaccompanied and monolingual" immigrants might seem self-immolating. But the immigrants will be hard-pressed to permanently stay in a whiterpeople city. Additionally, they make the place less livable for the wrong kind of white people who are more likely to live near them than whiterpeople are. They are also more politically marginalized than the wrong kind of whites are.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Instead of comparing world's largest company to Joe Buckeye, let's make an apples-to-apples comparison

Senator Obama, on Exxon-Mobil in an attack on John McCain's energy proscriptions:
A company that, last quarter, made the same amount of money in 30 seconds that a typical Ohio worker makes in a year.

AE, on Obama in a ridicule of Obama's rhetoric:
A politician who, last year, made the same amount of money in three days that a typical Ohio worker makes in a year.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Final Fantasy X frustration

Below is an email I just sent to a friend of mine who is also a single player RPG votary (if you're not one, please don't waste your time reading any further). I wonder if any of those who've expressed some interest in my other game reviews have some reaction to this. I'm feeling pretty underwhelmed. Spoiler warning, of course.


Just beat FFX. That final dungeon/boss/ending sequence was a MAJOR letdown. I'm really disappointed. For some reason, I spent 30 minutes running around grabbing all of these items as spears jutted up at me for absolutely no reason at all, since I was launched into the final battle of the game immediately afterwards (after I'd grabbed I think 9, it stopped me and took me to Jecht).

Then Jecht appears, I summon Bahamut immediately, and I kill him in a single hit. He comes back again as "Braska's final aeon" which is an easy fight that takes maybe 20 minutes, only because I'm being overly cautious (using haste, mighty guard, pulling my entire party in and out even though my A-team is Kimahri, Yuna, and Tidus, etc). Jecht's strongest attack does about 3,000 to each of my characters. Tidus and Kimahri have just under 9,999, and Yuna has about 4,500. And after he uses that attack, he doesn't do anything for like 10 character turns on my side. And that's really his only attack besides petrify. Surely that's not it, I think, no way that could be the final boss.

So it kicks me into a scene where I have to kill my own aeons. Talk about loyalty. Wow, one Holy per aeon and it's dead. Then I 'fight' Yu Yevon, which isn't even a fight, because he can't kill you and anyway all your characters have auto-life.

Tidus and Auron both die/sent/whatever, and I guess Spira lives happily ever after, or something.

Awful, just awful. Terrible wrap up that leaves lots of questions still hanging in the air, like, uh, what the hell 'Sin' was in the first place, and why Tidus has to be sent into a big ocean in the middle of nowhere since he never even died. Apparently Mika, who has been dead for years, gets to live on though. Uh huh. What becomes of the temples, the other summoners, those who were 'sent', the rest of your party that isn't sent? What becomes of the Al Bhed? Cid drives the airship in a big sequence to get you to Sin, and then the ending doesn't even make reference to/show him or any of the other Al Bhed!? At all? Are you kidding me?

I might be too disgusted to try the bonus stuff, but since the battle system is so good, I'll probably play through.

That story was HORRIBLE though. One of the worst of the FF series, in my opinion.

Monday, August 04, 2008

In contrast to US, Chinese more satisfied with country than with own personal lives

++Addition++Pat Buchanan's recent article on the same subject is here. He raises the interesting question of how democratic capitalism will fare going forward against its most potent rival, autocratic capitalism.


At Parapundit, Randall Parker has recently been churning out several posts dealing with the continued rise of China. As US exceptionalism fades away and the world's epicenter shifts back to Asia, Chinese public opinion will have an increasingly stronger influence on what takes place in the world. A Pew survey ahead of the Olympics reveals a few things worth thinking about.

In contrast to the US, the Chinese public is more optimistic nationally than it is on the individual level. When asked if they were satisfied with the direction their country is moving, 82% of Chinese respondents said they were. Personal satisfaction is also high--81% expressed satisfaction with family life, 64% with their jobs, and 58% with their income--but still lower than national satisfaction is.

In the US, Harris shows that fewer than one in four (23%) report feel optimistic about where their country is headed. Yet more than three in four (76%) say things in their own personal lives are headed in the right direction. The opening sentence of the Harris report captures this sentiment:

The closer to home one gets, the more likely people are to think things are going pretty well.

I suspect some of the perceived pessimism on the national level has to do with political partisanship. Nearly half of Republicans (45%) think the US is on the right track, while only 14% of Democrats and independents do. If Obama is elected, the Republican and Democratic numbers will probably swap spots. Without cultural and political schisms perpetually featured in Chinese media, personal ideology doesn't influence the perception of national prosperity near as strongly as it does in the West.

Why else do the different patterns of satisfaction exist in China as compared to the US? Given where they are now and we're they'll be in ten, twenty, and fifty years down the road, the Chinese have objective reasons to be more positive than Americans do. Are the contrasts between Chinese collectivism and US 'rugged individualism' also explanatory? That is, the individual and the collective are linked closely from a Chinese perspective, whereas the American take is that I know what's best for me and am able to take care of myself, but the bureaucracies always screw things up.

A couple of other interesting bits from the Pew survey of China:

- The Chinese have bought into market capitalism. By a 5-to-2 ratio, the Chinese believe people are better off in free market systems (than centrally-controlled economies presumably, although the actual question (Q11ba) doesn't explicity state an alternative).

- Although the percentage has decreased as China has grown, 77% still assert that children must learn English to succeed in the world. No word yet on what Senator Obama thinks about that.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Are white-collar shorts necessarily gay?

Half Sigma points to a NYT article on the 'emerging' acceptance of shorts as legitimate white-collar attire. His take:

The “shorts suit” looks downright gay. I can’t imagine a straight man wearing that to work.
Following the link, it's hard to disagree with that sentiment.

The first image that greets the reader is displayed nearby. Is that visage of human emaciation prominent enough among whiterpeople in New York City to be justified as one of the three men whose pictures are featured, or is this a manifestation of the NYT's alleged gay agenda? The limp posture and concave back broadcast impotence, not virility. My biceps are thicker than his neck. To top it off, he's sodomizing the cowboy pose (below) with the positioning of his hands.

I'm afraid that if the black guy took a seat opposite myself, and we were facing each other without a table or some other barrier between us, I'd be able to see his scrotum. That is gayness by default.

The third guy moves away from overt homosexuality and more towards metrosexuality, but if he's the manliest on the shorts suit spectrum, it's doomed as a niche that the mainstream cannot touch.

The use of less androgynous models take away from the overt gayness of the look. Ridiculous maybe, but not necessarily gay. The nearby shot is more fair (though he also refuses to stick his damn hands in his pockets).

Located in the heart of flyover country, I suppose the look won't become widespread here if it dies on the coast. For pragmatic reasons, I hope it survives.

I have to operate within the parameters of what is socially acceptable for what I do, but within those parameters, it's a straight shot to whatever is most comfortable. When I'm not working out or playing ball, being hot sucks. Concentration is more difficult, my patience wears thin, my consideration and conscientiousness both drop, and I start to feel claustrophobic. As the heat and discomfort overtake me, I feel myself transitioning from erudite English to irascible Irish. It's not conducive to my social or professional careers to be in an overheated state of mind.

Fortunately, depending on the situation, I'm sometimes able to get away with the business casual khaki shorts, golf shirt, and clean running shoes athletic look. If this trend weakens the dominance of slacks, I'm for it. Yeah, who said I was instinctively conservative on all things?