Sunday, December 27, 2009

Burden of boredom borne by blockheads

Razib has previously wondered whether or not GNXP readers ever become bored:
Do readers of this weblog ever get bored? It seems that life is short, and there's so much to do and read. I understand that work can quite often be tedious and mind-numbing, but that's not quite what I'm talking about. What I'm referring to is having leisure or free time, and being bored because you don't know what to do with it.
The post struck me as a reminder of how different the relationship with time is for those with an insatiable need for cognition compared to those who are intellectually incurious. For the former, it's in perpetually short supply. For the latter, time often cannot pass by quickly enough. In the words of Roman general and Hannibal nightmare Scipio Africanus:
I'm never less at leisure than when at leisure...
I cannot recall the last time I've been in boredom. I always keep at least one book in the car and have my iPod in pocket at all times. Just getting to work on my backlog of books to read and podcasts to listen to guarantees I won't be twiddling my thumbs for months, and even if I did nothing else with my free time but these two things, I've reached a sort of singularity in which my to-do stack grows at a faster rate than my ability to shrink it down does. Yet I get texts and calls frequently enough from people I know asking what I'm doing at the moment, and if I want to go do something with them because they're bored sitting at home. I would never be the originator of such a text. Even if it's with a vivacious girl in her late teens, I can't imagine going somewhere without having already formulated a desirable plan about what I'm going to be doing.

I am quite confident in asserting that the same is true for the vast majority of readers, who are both intelligent and curious (the two are not synonymous, of course, but they are good proxies for one another). Most high IQ people always have something stimulating to engage in with their free time.

This isn't just me speaking from personal experience--the data confirm it. The GSS asked respondents in 1982 and again in 2004 how often they have time on their hands that they don't know what to do with. Using the familiar categorization method employed here before*, the following table shows the percentage of each group's members who reported to "almost never" be without something worthwhile to do in their free time:

Unboreable %
Really Smarts69.6
Pretty Smarts52.8
Pretty Dumbs39.2
Really Dumbs33.7

So much to do, so little time to do it. Now when are we ever going to get around to reproducing?

GSS variables used: WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), BORED

* Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Really Dumbs (0-3, 12%).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quip of the day

I didn't quite time things right on Christmas eve, so when I came up from downstairs after working out, a few extended family members were already at the parents' house. I was in grey boxer briefs and a beater, so my arse was noticeably wet. My least favorite cousin--a shrill leftist in her early thirties who's back in school on the east coast (on my uncle's dime) for disparate degree number three, this one in elementary education, who proceeded later to share how while student teaching she'd elected to have her kids make "winter holiday" posters instead of Christmas ones as suggested in the teacher's lesson plan--cried out from the living room, "Ew, that's disgusting," as I flew up the second flight of stairs otherwise unnoticed.

She's a plump one, and time isn't making things any better. So I stopped, turned, and shot back "Some people call it disgusting. Others would say not doing it is what's disgusting."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jund aggro-control, RDW, and 'Shroud Control'

The following post contains a discussion of the decks I'm working with in current competitive M:TG standard format. For the vast majority of readers it will consequently be of no interest, so if you are among them, don't waste your time. Maybe I should publish these niche posts at a different blogging location, but that would mean at minimum several weeks without a readership to speak of. It's taken time to earn the attention of those eyeballs, and I'll be damned if I'm going to squander rather than utilize my modest reach! Just forgo this post and forgive its author if you're not a fellow (or former?) planeswalker*.

For those still with me, I'm soliciting thoughts, critiques, and suggestions regarding the three deck types I'm currently tinkering with. I implore you to share them.

My top tourney deck is jund aggro, although I classify it as aggro-control because relative to the jund of the global meta, it puts heavy emphasis on the latter.

Jund Aggro-Control

Creatures (17)

4x Bloodbraid Elf
4x Sprouting Thrinax
4x River Boa
3x Broodmate Dragon
2x Garruk Wildspeaker

Spells (18)

4x Blightning
4x Jund Charm
4x Maelstrom Pulse
3x Bituminous Blast
3x Terminate

Land (25)

4x Rootbound Crag
4x Dragonskull Summit
4x Savage Lands
4x Verdant Catacombs
3x Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
2x Forest
2x Swamp
2x Mountain


3x Duress
3x Goblin Ruinblaster
3x Goblin Outlander
2x Lightning Bolt
2x Pyroclasm
1x Bituminous Blast
1x Terminate

River Boa is obviously less aggressive than Putrid Leech, the jund standard. I like boa better for a few reasons: 1) It's an more assured second turn drop than leech is. Jund's mana base is a wreck, as jund players who've played Spread 'Em have inevitably find out firsthand. Mountain, Rootbound Crag, and Oran-Rief to open doesn't feel as bad with boa as it does with leech. 2) Even late game, boa's valuable as a chump. Paths, terminates, and O-rings are the only ways it goes. The key to cascading is ensuring that whatever pocket the ball lands in, you're better off. leech is better than a rampant growth, but thrinax always feels better than leech. With boa, by contrast, I'm often more pleased than I would've been with thrinax. 3) I started out using leech, but became perpetually frustrated by removal on the stack after I pumped, especially in the mirror match. Take two and lose my 2-drop for a bolt? Awful.

States are still packed with leeches, while some are foregoing the 2-drop creature entirely, in favor of siege gang, so this contrarian is yet to be vindicated. The latter is usually accompanied by mana acceleration via rampant growth. That version of jund has the upperhand in mirror, but it's extremely vulnerable to RDW (see below), which is why I'm not keen on it.

An even more significant variation on my part is in electing to include charm maindeck at the expense of bolt, which I relegate to side in a diminished capacity. To play red and not use bolt is almost sacreligious, but so long as I have the mana for it, I'm almost always happier to see charm than I am to see bolt. Part of this is due to my local meta. Tokens (Conqueror's Pledge, Emeria Angel, Siege-Gang Commander) have an enormous presence, and jund charm is a crucial answer to them. In response to your dropping eldrazi, I'll jund charm. Eldrazi has a one turn clock and you're tapped out. Pwned! Cascading into a charm instead of a bolt also often means a +2/+2 pump on one of my creatures instead of throwing (away) 3 damage at his face.

Duress is a recent addition to the board for Mind Sludge, which wrecked me three games (first round) in a recent tournament. I got hit with it each game on his turn 5 (he won the roll, and also game 1 and 3)--twice my turn 4--for my entire hand. Jund wins on 2-for-1s and card advantage. Five for one in his favor is not how that is accomplished.

Outlander is for Green/White beast decks that are currently king in my meta. Yes, they are even getting the better of jund most of the time. I've not seen this deck with much of a presence yet in states, but I imagine that it's only a matter of time. It uses Noble Hierarch and Lotus Cobra for acceleration into Emeria, Knight of the Reliquary, Baneslayer, and Dauntless Escort (a stupidly overpowered card), as well as Thornling after game 1. Since it's only removal is path, slapping a jund charm on outlander presents a serious threat.

Pyroclasm is extra ammo for the token decks. It was tough to drop Great Sable Stag, but vampires look to be dead, and almost all the jund in my meta has dropped leech and most have added siege gang, so stag's gone from being game-changing to simply being good in the mirror match.

After the Zendikar pre-release, I got the bug. I'd been clean for six years, but a few old friends convinced me to go. A few weeks and one weekend of extensive Magic playing with several old friends back from all over the country later and 4x of the full common and uncommon library of each of the five current sets was on its way. I've still only played jund in tournaments, but the meta is so saturated with jund hate that I'm going to be mixing it up soon.

Red Deck Wins

Creatures (20)

4x Raging Goblin
4x Plated Geopede
4x Ball Lightning
4x Hellspark Elemental
4x Hell's Thunder

Spells (16)

4x Lightning Bolt
4x Burst Lightning
4x Quenchable Fire
4x Earthquake

Land (24)

12x Mountain
4x Teetering Peaks
4x Scalding Tarn
4x Arid Mesa


4x Swerve
3x Unstable Footing
3x Dragon's Claw
3x Volanic Fallout
2x Banefire

I built this thing independent of any knowledge of it existing as a top-tier deck. One of the two differences I opted for is the use of raging goblin instead of the more favored Goblin Guide. I play the dek in a very disciplined manner--direct damage is to be reserved for players, not creatures, except for in the most exceptional circumstances. Creature drops first. Ball lightning before Hell's Thunder and geopede before hellspark because of unearth in the face of blightning. The staying creatures, especially the 1-drop goblin (whether raging or guide) becomes a chump blocker after two or three turns. I'm not sold on giving a 1 or 2 card advantage for a couple extra points of damage. I'm potent enough mid-game to still threaten if his life total is in the single-digits.

The other variance with the standard RDW is in using quenchable fire instead of elemental appeal. Wizards is currently giving blue the middle finger. It is the color with the least presence in the current environment, to such an extent that I'm comfortable running quenchable fire maindeck. Elemental appeal doesn't drop until turn 4, at which point it's an easy target for removal. Plus, I want to be throwing direct damage rather than creatures from turn 4 onward (it's not unusual to win on turn 6 or 7). In friendly games, I get jund 2-to-1 pre-board, but I haven't had much exposure with it against other decks.

Unstable footing and banefire are both for mill. Although I've not play-tested against it yet, on paper it's a tough match for me. If those aren't enough, I'll find room for Lich's Mirror.

Swerves are for spread 'em. I can't wait for the first time I get to throw that down in tournament play!

Dragon's claw is for mirror.

The third of my ongoing projects is by far my favorite. It's an AE original (it's nonexistence in competitive play should probably be taken as an indication that it is not a top-tier deck, but nothing is until someone introduces it, right?) with a cute name. What's not to like? As a Type I player (now "vintage"), my home has always been mono-blue control. Ever since coming upon the Wall of Air/Prodigal Sorcerer 'combo' back in the halcyon days of Fourth Edition's reign (I've since grown to Power Ten/Morphling, but we all have to start somewhere), my heart has yearned for islands. Unfortunately, mono-blue simply is not a viable option in the current standard environment because of the pitiable state of counterspells.

Shroud Control

Creatures (11)

4x Deft Duelist
4x Wall of Denial
3x Sphinx of Jwar Isle

Spells (24)

4x Flashfreeze
4x Oblivion Ring
3x Path to Exile
3x Negate
3x Hindering Light
3x Mind Control
2x Day of Judgment
2x Mind Spring

Land (25)

8x Island
5x Plains
4x Fieldmist Borderpost
4x Sejiri Refuge
4x Glacial Fortress


3x Quest for Ancient Secrets
3x Celestial Purge
3x Baneslayer Angel
2x Luminarch Ascension
2x Devout Lightcaster
1x Negate
1x Day of Judgment

Because it renders terminate and bit blast dead cards while severely lessening the utility of pulse and bolt, this gets jund 2-to-1 in game 1. Deft duelist rapes bloodbraid, and wall of denial throws jund into slow motion. Hindering light is an amazing answer to blightning, turning a 1 card disadvantage plus 3 damage into a 1 card advantage without any loss of life. It also works to protect O-ring and mind control against the pulses jund is waiting for a target to throw at (flashfreeze and negate both work as well, without card advantage but with greater general utility). Sphinx can't be killed by anything in the entire deck save for a broodmate together with its, uh, broodmate.

Flashfreeze is dead against vamps and white weenie, neither of which have much of a presence in my meta (and deft duelist is amazing against both of them). But it's utility is huge against 80% or so of what's being run out there. It's a risk I'm comfortable taking.

Why baneslayer in board? To catch jund with its pants down game 2. Let him side out all his removal only to find I've brought a more potent (but removable) creature to pinch-hit for sphinx. Additionally, it's helpful against the green/white token matchup, which will be a tough one for me.

The quests are for mill. My kill is slow, but they allow it to still beat the mill clock, and at 1 cost, I have the counterspells to protect it even on the turn it is dropped (which is not turn 1 unless I happen to have two in hand).

* Using jargon associated with a nerdy activity in a public, generalist setting definitely marks one as a nerd, I know.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peter's notations on nerdiness reviewed

Half Sigma has previously discussed blogger Peter's working theory on how some activities invariably come to be classified as nerdy while others do not. Concisely put, non-athletic activities not traditionally regarded as masculine that are primarily participated in by men are nerdy.

That strikes me as a pretty good description, but as I'll get to below, there is an element Half Sigma and Peter leave out. Athletic and non-athletic activities need to be looked at separately, because the sex ratio effects them in different ways. The more male-dominated an athletic activity is, the less nerdy it is. American football is among the least (if not the very least) nerdy sport in existence. Female participation in the game is accordingly paltry. This is in some contrast to baseball, a relatively nerdier sport with a significant amount of female participation in the form of softball. Tennis, a sport in which female competitions garner something close to as much media attention as male competitions do, is nerdier still. Again, this nerdiness is relative to other athletic activities--by virtue of gauging some combination of dexterity, strength, physical endurance, and kinesthetic coordination (often referred to as "athleticism" in aggregate), athletic activities are virtually all non-nerdy.

In contrast, the greater the female participation in non-athletic activities is, the lower the level of perceived nerdiness among those partaking. Activities primarily participated in by women, like interior decorating, are not considered nerdy. If a man happens to take interest in them, he is often suspected of being gay or at least effete, but not nerdy. Nerdiness is the male's domain. To the extent that women can be nerds, it is in being exceptions to the rule and participating in male-dominated nerdy activities.

Where Peter is a bit off the mark is in focusing on the level of masculinity (in the sense of majority-male participation, not necessarily the amount of virility required) traditionally associated with an activity. As Half Sigma points out, if time is what's required to move a male-dominated non-athletic activity from the nerdy category into non-nerdiness, we've had to wait a long time for chess to come around, and I still don't see the train coming into the station.

A more useful parameter for gauging nerdiness among male-dominated activities is to consider the intelligence threshold required of participants engaging in them. After all, the commonly understood definition* of a nerd is "an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit".

Chess is nerdier than checkers is because it requires greater intelligence to fully comprehend the elements of the game than checkers does. IT guys are similarly nerdier than auto mechanics are. The same goes for classical music votaries in relation to those who like rap. That is not to say that intelligence is unhelpful in becoming a champion checkers player, a top-tier car mechanic, or a hip hop connoisseur, but the participant pool of these activities extends further into the left half of the bell curve than it does for chess players, ITers, and classical fans. By way of being brainiacs, those who participate in nerdy activities engage in and discuss it with other brainiacs. Because they're all cerebral types, the level of discourse is such that average folks are unable to follow what the participants are talking about and consequently are also unable to see how it could be enjoyable and fulfilling from a 'normal' person's perspective (that is, their own).

That brings me to my own recently rekindled nerdy passion, Magic: The Gathering. Stripped of its Tolkienesque themes (with several historical references thrown in, many of them delightfully politically incorrect), which are completely irrelevant to actual gameplay, Magic is a competitive card game. It is to poker what chess is to checkers, except the gap is an order of magnitude wider than it is between the two board games. As the official rulebook demonstrates, the game's complexity is intimidating (and also rewarding). Most people can learn to play Texas Hold 'Em in a matter of minutes. Magic, in contrast, takes a few hours just to get the basics, and many people are going to be lost if attempting to go beyond that. A hold'em conversation is consequently comprehendible to most people, while overhearing a Magic conversation is like eavesdropping on a couple of klingons. With the essential aspects of a nerdy activity in place--male-dominated, non-athletic, high IQ threshold--Magic is quintessentially nerdy.

* Like the words "peruse", "terrific", and "awful", "nerd" is often used in a manner at odds with its primary literal meaning, which describes a foolish, inept, and unattractive person.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sex ratio of teachers

In John Derbyshire's We Are Doomed (which I've enjoyed immensely thus far, especially the chapter on human nature), the Derb writes (p113):

The main problem with our public elementary schools is that they are feminized. The male elementary-school teacher is an endangered species, largely because of the child-molestation hysteria that seized the public imagination a decade or two ago, documented in Dorothy Rabinowitz's 2003 book No Crueler Tyrannies. A man who wants to teach small children is nowadays under suspicion of being a pervert.
Unfortunately, occupational coding in the GSS only extends back to about the time when this cloud of suspicion allegedly descended over aspiring male primary school teachers. The following table shows the percentage of male K-8 teachers, by range of years. Sample sizes among primary schoolers are comfortably over 100 for each range:

PrimaryMale %

For the last two decades, women have steadily outnumbered men among primary school teachers by more than 6 to 1.

This is in sharp contrast to the sex ratio among college and university instuctors, where men outnumber women 56% to 44%. The sex ratio among high school teachers is halfway between the two, with women outnumbering men 2 to 1 (66.1% to 33.9%).

It's difficult to quantifiably gauge how much more (or less, I suppose) desirable a balanced sex ratio among teachers in primary education would be for boys, or how female overrepresentation, rather than larger PC culture, influences curricula towards greater feminity (more emphasis on suffering, less on achievement; more on how war affects those touched by it, less on the military specifics of those wars; more group projects, fewer individual assignments, etc).

I had women throughout elementary school. My three favorite teachers in middle and high school were all men. Two of those were in honors classes and thus intellectually stimulating, and all three were in subjects I enjoyed, so these things might be skewing my perceptions. Yet my conscious affection for them largely arose because they engaged me whenever I offered opinionated and often 'contrarian' views (that I'm sure were idiotic at least as often as they were insightful) rather than discouraging me from deviating from the lesson plan. That men are more fond of argumentation and less concerned with uniformed consensus seems a plausible explanation for why boys might benefit from having more male teachers, in addition to their obviously being more virile than women are.

I've not read Rabinowitz' book and so am not acquainted with the evidence of child molestation hysteria deterring men from teaching careers, but suspect that trying to push more men into elementary school classrooms will be about as effective as trying to push more women into the non-biological hard sciences. Men simply don't enjoy watching over a pack of prepubescent kids who require elevated levels of patience and nurturing as much as women do. It's not in our genes. In this regard, it's probably not totally unwarranted to be a little more wary of pedophilia in aspiring male elementary school teachers than in men on the whole.

GSS variables used: OCC80(113-154)(155-156)(157), YEAR, SEX

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A few CAGW remarks

Media coverage of climate change has been ubiquitous over the past week. Some of it, like the video footage on CNN of ice falling into the ocean with the heading "Arctic glaciers melting" I saw at the airport, is silly--average summer temperatures are above freezing throughout most of the Arctic, so every year melting occurs. Accretion happens each winter. The annual net is what's at issue, and I'm necessarily agnostic on it out of ignorance, but the insinuation of such imagery is insulting.

An NPR story illustrates why it is almost instinctual for those on the right to push back against calls for international action to combat climate change. Some excerpts:
Kari Marie Norgaard at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, says even as scientists become more confident that climate change is a serious hazard, public opinion is shifting the other way.

Norgaard: This seems irrational. And in that sense, then it's challenging this basic premise that we have of an enlightened, democratic, modern society.

Harris [reporter]: She dug into that question and found, that as people start to feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, they simply turn away from the topic. It's denial - plain and simple.
Or it might be the poor record of predicting future climate conditions, attempts to hide data from potential skeptics, the absence of market signals that would suggest people are taking the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming prognostications seriously (seaside property isn't getting cheaper, but inland property is), or simply the desire for balmier days--humans have fared better in warmer weather than they have in cooler weather, so it's hardly surprising that we prefer it to the cold.

The contrarian view is surely off the mark more often than it is correct--the general functionality of modern western society seems evidence enough of that. But Establishment opinion has been and is blatantly wrong on several counts, like the blank slatist weltanschauung that presumes human populations do not vary in any systematic way and that personality factors like intelligence and conscientiousness are products of nurture rather than of nature, or the bromides about how homes were great investments since housing prices never fall, just to name a couple especially salient to the Steveosphere.

I have a friend doing graduate work in GIS who is certain anthropogenically-driven climate change* is occuring and is bad news. He laments how much of a political issue it has become. Fine, but it's sympathetic news reports like this one that are largely responsible for that. Evolution by selection 'suffers' from the same, but these two particular subjects are exceptions. As Dennis Mangan writes:
One way of looking at a statement like Goodman's [where CAGW 'deniers' are compared to Holocaust deniers] is to ask oneself, do particle physicists, zoologists, chemical engineers, or molecular biologists ever talk like that? Of course, these examples may be less directly relevant to human life, but on the other hand, the scientists in these fields usually feel no need to silence opponents.
Continuing with the NPR entry:
Harris: They're having a field day, right now, with the emails stolen from climate scientists. Skeptics have taken some suspicious-sounding statements in those emails as proof that climate change is a hoax. That's certainly not the view of mainstream scientists, but again, the public doesn't necessarily listen to scientists.

And Tim Wirth, a former Democratic senator who now runs the United Nations Foundation, says people trying to stir up doubt about climate change aren't working in a vacuum. There's a large and well-funded effort to block legislation that could hurt the industries most responsible for carbon emissions.
It has always struck me as curious why people should be expected to be suspicious of the industries that provide the stuff that allows our material standard of living to be as high as it is. It's intuitively difficult to see energy producers or electronics manufacturers as enemies and their critics, who create nothing, as friends.

As the Derb states, the political and economic implications of climate change are huge, but the intellectual stakes are small. Differences are by degree (heh) in interpretation of imperfect and often conflicting data, while the effort and energy expenditures required of lay people to glean something from primary sources are astronomical (if realizable at all). Consequently, I'm nothing more than a curious spectator, and like many onlookers, I wonder about seeming shortcomings in the CAGW narrative.

What about the potential benefits of warming? Around one-fourth to one-fifth of the globe's oil reserves are in the arctic, largely economically inviable at present, but perhaps not in the future if secular thawing continues. Russia east of the Urals is geographically larger than the US, yet its population is less than 5% of ours. Greenland has half as many people as Green Bay does, even though it's three times the size of Texas. We're a long way from people settling in significant numbers off the southern and western coasts, but even these are sparsely populated. Canada's population is clustered along the US-Canadian border. If areas like these become more hospitable, the people who will settle them will come from humanity's more advanced populations.

It seems plausible that if warming becomes more acute as the distance from the equator increases, the effect on human population patterns will be eugenic.

Vehicles are less efficient in the cold than they are in warm weather. Check your car engine's rpm at 60mph when it's 10 degrees outside and compare it to the same when it's 80 degrees--you're engine will be working around 10% harder in the former scenario until your engine is fully heated (and there is also the issue of the fuel wasted letting the car warm up).

Of course, these benefits will be on the margins, since the most extreme forecasts only predict that average temperatures will rise by a few degrees over several decades. I find it difficult to believe that, in contrast, the negative effects of the same climate change will be drastic.

* The assertion that the phrase "global warming" has been replaced with the more all-purpose "climate change" is more than anecdotal. See a graphical representation of the shift over time here.

FemiX is Half Sigma? Doubtful

Apparently there are a number of Steveosphere regulars who think FeministX is actually Half Sigma. It's funny to think about a pseudonym being accused of posing as a different pseudonym, but FemiX's female lusting is at least on par with that of the average guy. Further, Half Sigma seemed to think the person behind Stuff White People Like would turn out to be an Asian man, so I suppose it is plausible to think he has a predilection for the idea of Asian internet anonymity. Both favor abortion--not just the right to abortion, but abortion itself--and both are quick to criticize Steve Sailer for his presumed affinity for Sarah Palin.

For what it's worth, though, I'm still highly skeptical on account of their interactions here. FemiX reads most or all of what I write--it's apparent on her blog and in my comment communications with her (the favor is returned, although sometimes I'm too late to contribute to the comment thread before it goes cold). Half Sigma has this spot on his blog roll as well, but is only an occasional reader and is usually unfamiliar with data presented to him that I've marshaled in previous posts, whether it backs up or challenges particular assertions he is making. Perhaps when wearing the Half Sigma hat he pretends not to have read what he actually has, but since we're on good terms and I've never mentioned anything that in the remotest way suggested he might be her, if he's pulling it off, his level of ubiquitous meticulousness in separating the two virtual identities is astounding.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Men more devoted to work than women are

A post by OneSTDV awhile back challenged the assertion that the gender egalitarian movement is more damaging to society than the racial egalitarian movement is. I view them as two heads of the blank slatist hydra. The primary devotion of this place concerns the latter, but that need not be to the exclusion of the former.

Reasons for wage differential are multiple. As OneSTDV points out, female intelligence distributions are narrower than male distributions are. Consequently, there are more men than there are women floating around in the intelligence stratosphere. Further, men do a much better job keeping themselves up to snuff on current events than women do. Men's range of intellectual interests are wider than women's are and men do a better job than women do learning about subjects that increase their employment marketability, and companies are pressured into offering more generous benefits for those taking maternity leave than for those taking paternity leave. Women's interests are closer to home and to those living in it.

Additionally, in certain occupations--specifically those requiring a great deal of physical exertion--the bar is set higher for men than it is for women, even though members of both sexes are treated (and potentially compensated) as though they are of equal value to their organizations in these positions. Take the PT for military enlistees. To pass once graduated from basic training, men (aged 17-21) must be able to do the following:

- 42 push-ups
- 53 sit-ups
- Run the two-mile in under 15:54 or faster

Less is expected of female soldiers:

- 19 push-ups
- 53 sit-ups
- Run the two-mile in 18:54 or faster

Further, women tend to have less tenure in positions than men do because men are more likely to seek full-time employment than women are and because female participation in the labor force continued to climb through the seventies, eighties, and nineties. A 40 year old woman who started working for a company in 1998 is, ceteris paribus, not going to be making as much as a 40 year old man who started at the same company in 1988. Much of the celebrated reduction in the wage gap is a consequece of this trend. With the current recession hitting men harder than women, expect further attenuation of earnings variance in the coming years.

The GSS provides another source of evidence for this, in addition to shedding light on some other attitudinal and behavioral reasons men earn more than women do for doing putatively 'equal work'. The following table shows data for men and women on four questions concerning work behaviors and attitudes. For contemporary relevance, all responses are from 2002 onward:

Mean number of years on the job7.56.8
Working other than day shifts (nights, swing, etc)31%26%
Work overtime at least once a month69%57%
Main satisfaction in life comes from work30%25%
Want to work additional hours to earn more money36%28%

On all of these aspects of work life, men tend to be more occupationally devoted than women are. They've been with their companies longer, are more willing to work overtime and on oddball schedules, and receive more satisfaction from their jobs than women do.

The differences are modest. That's generally the case when it comes to measuring gender variances on social attributes. In contrast, when racial groups are compared, they are much larger.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

GSS respondent interview comprehension over time

In response to the previous post, Steve Sailer suggested the slight but steady rise over time in the percentage of GSS respondents deemed to have "good" comprehension of the interview questions asked them could be an illustration of the Flynn effect at work. The following graph quantifies the rise. The value displayed is derived by taking the percentage of respondents judged to have "poor" comprehension and subtracting it from the percentage assessed as having good comprehension. The middling assessment ("fair") is left neutral:

There's a bit of apparently random variation from year to year (most conspicuously the 'spike' in 1985), but the general trend is upward until 2006, the first year those not fluent in English were included in the survey. The slide beginning after 2004 might be a result of the Spanish version of the Wordsum test being more difficult than its English equivalent, but it is more likely simply a consequence of the fact that among people residing in the US, thoseable to converse in the Anglo-Frisian subgroup are sharper than those who unable to .

Steve also wrote the following:

It would be interesting to see who is overrated and underrated relative to their test scores. My impression is that people in New York City seem mentally quicker than people elsewhere. Some of that is actually mean IQ difference, but some of it is different affect.
To calculate predicted comprehension by geography, I took the percentages of each of the five intelligence categories (wordsum scores of 0-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8, and 9-10) by region and determined what each region's mean comprehension would be if that region's five groups showed good comprehension at the national rate. The following table shows how respondents in each region were assessed by interviewers relative to what their wordsum scores alone predicted their aggregate assessments would be. Positive values indicate respondents being assessed as having better comprehension than wordsum performance predicts they should have (they appear sharper than they actually are); negative values indicate respondents being assessed as having worse comprehension than wordsum predicts (they appear duller than they actually are):

East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI)1.1
New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT)0.6
Pacific (AK, CA, HA, OR, WA)0.4
Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY)0.3
South Atlantic (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV)0.2
West North Central (KS, IA, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD)0.1
Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA)(0.3)
East South Central (AL, KY, MI, TN)(1.1)
West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX)(1.3)

The variances are extremely modest, to the extent that the table should be taken very lightly. There is no way to tell if individual states within each of the nine regions are representated proportionally to their respective populations. Further, the interviewers presumably tend to be from the areas they are conducted the surveys in, so should conceivably already have already factored in any artificial increase or decrease in perceived intelligence by differences in affect.

Despite all this, the results still strike me as having some face validity. When I come across someone with a distinct upper midwestern accent, it creates a bit of a competency halo, in the same way British accents do. Southern drawls, on the other hand, have the opposite effect. The Boston affect does it for me (though it also makes me wary--must be too much Simpsonian influence growing up), yet so does the rapidity of the New Yorker's word delivery. Consequently, the Middle Atlantic's position feels the most out of place. But I have NYC in mind, to the exclusion of the bucolic expanse between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Wordsum serves as valid IQ proxy

Periodically it is asserted (usually by one-time commenters who drop in through search engines here) that using wordsum scores as a proxy for IQ produces no relevant information since intelligence tests are much more than simple vocabulary tests. Looking at wordsum scores by region and comparing them to several other good-faith IQ estimates suggests the test is indeed a useful IQ proxy. In complement to that, the following tables show how wordsum scores interact with other uncontroversial intelligence proxies. For each variable, respondents are divided into five groups; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Really Dumbs (0-3, 12%).

Since the inception of the GSS, interviewers have recorded their impressions of respondents' apparent ability to comprehend the questions being asked them. The percentages, by wordsum intelligence groupings, who had a "good" grasp comprehending the questions being asked them (n = 24,111):

Comprehended questions
Really Smarts96.9
Pretty Smarts93.5
Pretty Dumbs77.8
Really Dumbs49.8

Language barriers do not present issues, as respondents not fluent in English were excluded from the GSS until 2006, when a Spanish version of the survey was also dispatched. This is evident in the gentle but steady increase over time in the percentage of respondents deemed to have "good" comprehension and a corresponding decrease in the percentage of respondents said to have "poor" comprehension--if a lack of English fluency was obfuscating the relationship, the average level of comprehension would be declining, not rising.

The effective range on the scale used to record respondents' socioeconomic status runs from 17.1 on the low-end to 97.2 on the high-end. Mean values by grouping:

Average SES
Really Smarts61.4
Pretty Smarts52.7
Pretty Dumbs42.6
Really Dumbs37.2

And mean number of years of education:

Educational years
Really Smarts15.3
Pretty Smarts13.8
Pretty Dumbs11.9
Really Dumbs10.5

Scarcely distinguishable from the distributions documented in The Bell Curve. The wordsum test is a relevant and incredibly useful proxy. Without it, GSS yields would be much less copious than they are.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

White and Hispanic voting compared at the state level

Commenting on the post suggesting that exit polling appears to systematically underrepresent Asians as well as whites, Steve Sailer expressed a desire for data on Asians in red states. Because of population size and concentration, Hawaii and California are the only two states for which they are currently available. Consequently, it is difficult to determine much about regional variations in Asian political outlook.

I wonder also about Hispanics. Do they parrot whites at the state level, albeit shifted 20 or so points to the left, or is it just in aggregate that Hispanics tend to differ from whites by a fairly consistent amount? That is, are Texas Hispanics considerably less leftist than California's are, or do Hispanics, like blacks, vote predictably irrespective of geography?

The following table shows the percentages of whites and Hispanics who voted for Obama in 2008. The third column displays his advantage among Hispanics relative to whites. Nationally, Obama did 24 points better among Hispanics than he did among whites:

New Jersey497829
New Mexico426927

Hard to say much definitively one way or the other. To answer one of the questions posed above, California's Hispanics are more inclined toward Democrats than Texas' are (74% to 63%). This is similar to the 2004 gap between the two states (63% to 50%, respectively). Yet Hispanics in Texas do not shift as far to the right as would be expected if they stayed parallel with whites. Even in a solidly white Republican state like Texas, Hispanics are left of center. In no state during the '08 election did a majority of Hispanics back McCain, the embodiment of open borders Republicanism (if Hispanics are natural GOPers save for immigration, of course, they should've flocked to McCain in droves).

But there are conservative white states like Indiana and Nevada where Hispanics vote more heavily Democratic than they do nationally. This isn't simply a case of the mortgage meltdown being especially severe in Nevada, either--the state's Hispanics voted more strongly for Kerry in '04 than Hispanics did nationally (they did so in Indiana as well). Also, Hispanics in Arizona--another "sand state" that suffered severely from the drop in residential real estate prices--came fairly close to splitting their presidential votes on account of having a 'native son' running on the Republican side. An identical 56% also voted for Bush in '04. Conversely, there are pretty liberal white states like Colorado and Michigan where Hispanics voted to the right of the national total.

This is not to say that Hispanics don't tend to trace white voters at a more localized level, just that the '08 Presidential election does not make it clear that they do. Even for states where data are available, the samples are small and there is not much history to compare it to.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Supplementals on Lady Leftism

The treatment potentially accorded those who make a Watson- or Summers-esque comment in a public setting usually limits my discussion of HBD issues to face-to-face conversations or pseudonymous online postings.

There are times when discipline fails me, though. A friend answered in a facebook social interview question asking what she'd talk to Barack Obama about by responding that she hoped the two of them wouldn't do much talking. Trying to maintain levity, I commented:
Great illustration of another reason it was a mistake to give women the vote! Because politicians of prominence tend to be in their early forties at the youngest, female politicians are sexually invisible to most men (with rare exceptions like Sarah Palin, who apparently puts lead in the pencils of many middle-aged guys). Women fall for social dominance, which consists primarily of financial affluence, social prestige, good frame (physical attractiveness, deep voice, facial symmetry, etc) and occupational success--all hallmarks of successful politicians (our current President being no exception). And men don't wilt in their twenties, occasionally remaining in full bloom into their senior years (see Silvio Berlusconi). So we have women voting for politicians in the hopes that it'll somehow bring their personal fantasies to fruition!
Even though I've known for several years most of the people who unleashed it, two minutes of hate awaited my next login. After addressing specific charges, this:
The gender ratio of politicians in the US alone makes it obvious that women are more likely to be influenced by the sexual appeal of their elected leaders than men are. This is not inherently a bad thing, but it is unique. In fact, it's about the only instance in which female behavior is more influenced by sex drive than male behavior is. In every other situation, we're the ones who are calculating how this move or that remark will move us closer to the girl nearby. And that is hardly an evil thing. As the joke (to which there is more than a kernel of truth) goes: "Civilization is man's attempt to impress women."

There is something to the argument that the more expansive suffrage becomes, the further to the left the electorate as a whole will calibrate, since you're moving further 'down' the productivity/power structure, and people (especially those on the economic margins) tend to vote for their own monetary interests (read redistribution). But the civic cost strikes me as too high to assent to that position, despite the fact I'm generally opposed to Robin Hood policies.
A guy a few years younger than me, of whom I used to be a sort of mentor and who is now a grad student in environmental science, subsequently made a comment that deserves consideration here:
If even you, AE, can respect the civic significance of women's suffrage, then you shouldn't act surprised when someone like me tells you to get your head out of your ass.
That people like him either miss the significance of (or enjoy the results too much to put them at risk by) pointing out the systemic consequences of a leftward shift was my point about the expansion of the vote, in this particular case to women. As John Derbyshire notes in We Are Doomed (p88-89), the sex variance in political attitudes was identified as far back as 4th century BC, in Aristophanes' play Assemblywomen. Taking power in Athens, women vote in socialism:
Everyone is to have an equal share in everything and live on that; we won't have one man rich while another lives in penury, one man farming hundreds of acres while another hasn't got enough land to get buried in... No one will be motivated by need; everybody will have everything.
In Freedomnomics (p160-165), John Lott traces the relationship between female suffrage and per capita government expenditures in the US at the state level (several states 'preempted' the 19th amendment, Wyoming and Utah by half a century) and finds that as the percentage of women voting increased, the amount of per capita governmental spending rose as well, at faster rates than it did in states where women were prohibited from voting.

That women vote to the left of men is indisputable. Exit polling confirms it, as the gender breakdown of modern presidential elections illustrate. The percentage of men and of women who voted for the Democratic candidate:

1980 (Carter):
Men -- 38%
Women -- 46%

1984 (Mondale):
Men -- 38%
Women -- 42%

1988 (Dukakis):
Men -- 42%
Women -- 49%

1992 (Clinton):
Men -- 41%
Women -- 45%

1996 (Clinton):
Men -- 44%
Women -- 55%

2000 (Gore):
Men -- 43%
Women -- 54%

2004 (Kerry):
Men -- 44%
Women -- 51%

2008 (Obama):
Men -- 49%
Women -- 56%

The sex gap is not only observed at the presidential level. When electing House representatives, women are reliably more supportive of the Democratic party than men are. The percentage of people voting Democratic:

Men -- 45%
Women -- 52%

Men -- 50%
Women -- 55%

Men -- 52%
Women -- 56%

The sex differences are more pronounced on economic issues than they are on social issues. Given a dichotomous choice between the government reducing taxes or spending more on social programs, quite a chasm is evident:

Gov't should...MenWomen
Reduce taxes48.6%32.8%
Spend more51.4%67.2%

That's a 16 point sex gap. Women are more risk-averse than men are. This likely has an evolutionary basis in the fact that women are the limiting factor in reproduction. Males have more incentive to roll the dice whenever they are able to do so. With potentially unlimited reproduction capabilities, procreation is a question of quantity more than it is of quality. For females, the male's prospects of good genes and future material provision are crucial, since mating opportunities are at maximum restricted to a little more than once a year for a steadily closing window that shuts completely after a few decades.

In contrast, on social issues, the sex variances are less pronounced. On the question of abortion, it amounts to little more than a gap in the sidewalk:

Abortion for any reasonMenWomen

Death penalty?MenWomen

Same-sex marriage?MenWomen

Legalize weed?MenWomen

Compared to the 16 point gap on the issue of taxation and socialism, the abortion spread is nil, for the death penalty it is 9 points, 7 points on same-sex marriage, and 8 points on legalization (with men holding the more conventionally leftist view).


Monday, November 23, 2009

2008 Presidential election electoral maps, circa 1870

If my mom has ever voted for a Democrat, it was before I'd become a twinkle in my dad's eye. She's not especially political, but was so disgusted by McCain's "rush back to Washington" that she sold her vote to me (vote 199,314 for Baldwin/Castle). Yet at the Republican caucus last February, she reacted as viscerally as I expected she would to my extending a hand toward the people filing into the auditorium* and remarking to a friend, "This is why the Republican party should do whatever it can to keep this country as white as possible".

As embarrassed as she was by her son's gross impropriety, the visual spoke for itself. In the same spirit, here for consideration are some hypothetical electoral maps for the 2008 Presidential election:

If adjustments are made to reflect only white state populations, McCain handily beats Obama, 325-213. Based on the contemporary electoral count, he wins 316-222. In the worst Presidential election for the GOP since Clinton's first term, and the worst election for the right since Goldwater's defeat, the Republican candidate obliterates his Democratic opponent by 100 electoral votes.

If the US looked like Nebraska, it wouldn't necessarily follow that we'd have a two-party system consisting of a perpetual majority and an ever-defeated opposition. Instead, general election campaigns would be as competitive as they are today. But they'd look like Republican primaries do now. The demographic transformation the US is currently undergoing is driving a stake through the heart of political conservatism. Indeed, we are doomed.

So Euros are incorrigibly bigoted. Unless you stepped out of a time machine from the 1950s, this is surely not news! The truly interesting stories, of course, are found among the vibrantly diverse political ideas of the vibrantly diverse segments of our society. While white America looks straight ahead, marching along in the solidarity inherent in its groupthink, the rest of the citizenry eagerly darts this way and that, leaving no thought or idea unturned across the vast plane of modern political discourse:

Well, hope and change runs the entire gamut, doesn't it? Under the current electoral distribution, Obama wins 538-0. If population adjustments are made to exclude whites from state population counts, Obama comes out on top, uh, 538-0.

Various thinkers on the right have explored how female suffrage has steadily pushed the US leftward. Men and women vote similarly by ancestry, geographic position, and station in life, with the latter being shifted five or six points to the left. This matters in setting the parameters and deciding outcomes at the margins, but it's not nearly as determinative as race is:

Banishing the double-Xs would not have been nearly enough to keep the country's first community organizing President out of the White House. Had the 19th amendment been revoked last November, Obama would have still easily won, 325-213. If Xanth's harpies ruled the roost, with the rare males serving as cultural princes, he would've won 393-145.

What if the worst of both worlds were the only ones granted the ballot, as had been the case when the country elected slave owners to the Presidency?

What a hideous cartographic image that makes! For sadistic pleasure, I awarded Minnesota, Iowa, and Rhode Island to McCain, though exit polling showed their voting white men to be evenly split. With population adjustments, the vet wins by some margin between 416-122 and 441-97, depending on how the three toss-up states go. As the electoral map is currently comprised, McCain wins by somewhere between 408-130 and 429-109.

And so the progress takes away what forever took to find.

* Kansas' caucus process allows representatives for each candidate to give a short speech prior to ballots being handed out to those in attendance at the designated voting locations.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sea marshals?

No need for a dramatic rescue this time around:

The Maersk Alabama, the American-flagged ship captured briefly by pirates in April before a dramatic rescue of its captain, came under fire early Wednesday morning off the Somalia coast, but evaded the attackers.

Four men in a skiff sped within 300 yards of the container ship, firing automatic weapons in an attempt to board it, according to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. A security team aboard the Alabama fired back and managed to fend off the attack, the Navy said.
My instinctive reaction is to cheer the virility the Maersk has acquired over the last year. Whether or not it is economically prudent for cargo ship operators to hire private security forces is another question for which it is difficult to get precise data. Annually, around 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden, the globe's piracy hotspot. From January to September of last year, there were 63 attempted or successful ship hijackings. That translates to 1 in 235 trips resulting in a pirate encounter. The WSJ article excerpted above also reports on an apparently successful piracy operation:

On Tuesday, pirates released 36 crew members from a Spanish tuna trawler after
holding them hostage for more than six weeks. A man who told the Associated Press he was a pirate said the captors had been paid a $3.3 million ransom.
If the average hijacking attempt results in half that payoff, it comes to $7,000 per ship journey through this susceptible area heading toward the Suez canal. A week's worth of a ten-man security team is going to cost more than that. Obviously these are very rough calculations, but presumably the ultimate conclusion is the same--a cargo ship with firepower doesn't make financial sense for ship operators, else most of them would load their ships up. Other deterrents like arming crew members or randomly equipping some ships with security could conceivably be more cost effective than putting security forces on all of them would be. The problem with the latter tactic is that those who don't lock-and-load become free riders of those who do, like I benefit from several neighbors who own guns, even though I don't have any.

If the free rider problem exists and it is not cost-effective to equip every ship with a security detail, I wonder if something akin to sky marshals for cargo ships would be desirable (the US Coast Guard has a sea marshall program, but it involves boarding searches by identifiable military personnel to ensure in-bound ships do not pose a threat to the harbors receiving them). The current generation of Navy servicemen haven't seen the action those in the Army and Marines have. The capacity is there, so why not use it? These pirates are legitimate military targets. After all, they have official spokesmen:

"It narrowly escaped and opened fire on us," said the man, who identified himself as Abdullahi Nor, a pirate spokesman. "One of our colleagues was injured in the attack." Mr. Nor said he had spoken to the would-be hijackers by satellite phone.
If you're aware of the subject being addressed in detail, please point me to the source in the comments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Black churches create hostility toward whites, or merely cater to it?

++Addition++OneSTDV asks:
To consider my specific argument, wouldn't you have to look at those that actually attend BLACK churches?
From Pew's religious landscape survey, a breakdown of blacks by religious affiliation in the US:

Black churcher52.6
Protestant (Evangelical)16.2
Protestant (Mainline)4.2
Jehovah's Witness1.3
Other (Christian)0.4
Other (non-Christian)0.3

The majority of American blacks belong to black churches, but it isn't overwhelmingly so. Among Christians (including Witnesses), two-thirds are members of black churches.

It is conceivable that active black churchers are more racialist than blacks in aggregate are. The corrolary to this, though, is that other active churchgoers are far less racialist than their black churcher counterparts are, to an extent that they move the religiously active average further toward the non-racialist side than black churchers (and presumably black Muslims) move it toward the racialist side, despite being outnumbered by black churchers. Or, as OneSTDV also suggests, there could be an issue with representativeness among GSS samples.

I'm not aware of data that would offer a conclusive answer one way or the other.


In a post on the practical benefit of piety among the less endowed, OneSTDV concludes that the primary consequence of the black church experience tends to be an accentuation of black animosity toward whites:

The black church creates a racially charged cohort eagerly blaming failure on
white racism and lacking any impulse control in what they perceive to be an
unfair society.
I know a lot of underclass blacks, and I've found those who go to church tend to be a cut above the rest as far as middle class values are concerned (expressing moral outrage rather than personal vindictiveness when insulted, preferring hip hop artists whose fortes are love (Outkast, Mario) over those whose trade is the glorification of violence (50 Cent, Young Jeezy), inquiring about how things have been going in my life--my interactions are limited in scope, but I think the patterns I recognize have more than just a subjective basis).

I've speculated in the past that the South's religiosity might be especially beneficial for blacks. The data underlying that line of thinking--that the white-to-black imprisonment ratio is higher there than in the rest of the country--are vaguely suggestive at best, and could well be the consequence of the ethnic composition of southern whites more than anything else.

Whatever the case, is there evidence that religiously active blacks are more racialist than are non-religious blacks? The following table compares the attitudes and perceptions of religiously active (defined as attending at least nearly every week) and religiously inactive blacks (attending less than once a month to never at all). The side with the higher value is relatively less racialist than the other. The variables are more fully defined in the endnote*:

AA hurts whites44.7%48.3%
Blacks should not push38.6%32.8%
People rewarded for intelligence, skills65.9%57.5%
Feelings towards whites6.906.48
Feelings towards blacks8.117.48
Feel high level of personal freedom in US63.8%54.6%
Americans freer today than in the past63.6%55.3%
Discrimination doesn't explain differences35.2%34.7%

The first thing that jumps out is the lack of much difference between blacks who attend church and those who do not, other than on the issue of feelings towards others. Like blacks who don't go to church, churchgoers feel considerably warmer toward their fellow blacks than they do toward whites. Churchgoers, however, feel considerably warmer about both blacks and whites than non-churchgoing blacks do. The command to love your neighbor gets more play in the pews than it does on the street.

The question concerning whether or not affirmative action hurts whites is the only one in which non-attenders hold a less racialist view than attenders do. What to take from this response isn't clear, though. It could be that benefitting blacks at the expense of whites is viewed as affirmative action functioning optimally. Thus, the question might be a measure of wishful thinking--the number of blacks who approve of whites being hurt by affirmative action--more than regret that whites suffer through positive discrimination. Another question queries respondents on whether or not they support programs giving special preferences to blacks in hiring and promotional considerations. Among attenders, 40.5% support such programs. Among non-attenders, it's a majority at 52.3%.

That non-attenders are even a bit more racially aggrieved than are attenders does not invalidate the assertion that black churches are racially-charged perpetuators of a narrative that sees blacks as forever victims of an oppressive white society. But black churches do not create this perception--they cater to what already exists. Black culture actively works to separate itself from mainstream American culture to the extent that sports (football, really, as the NBA is no longer front-and-center in the world of the white man's sports, and blacks continue to turn away from baseball) are too often the only shared experience white guys and black guys find easy to talk about. The perception is as prevalent on the FM hip hop station, at the local council meeting, or on the front porch as it is in the sanctuary.


* AA hurts whites: "What do you think the chances are these days that a white person won't get a job or promotion while an equally or less qualified black person gets one instead?" The table includes those who responded with "very likely" or "somewhat likely".

Blacks should not push: "Negroes/blacks/African-Americans shouldn't push themselves
where they're not wanted." The table includes those who responded with "agree strongly" or "agree slightly".

People rewarded for intelligence and skills: "In America people get rewarded for their intelligence and skills." The table includes those who responded with "strongly agree" or "agree".
Feelings towards whites (blacks): "In general, how warm or cool do you feel towards white (black) or Caucasian (African) Americans?" On an inverted scale of 1-9, higher values indicate warmer feelings. One standard deviation for the question regarding whites is 1.90. For blacks, it is 2.05.

Feel high level of personal freedom in US: "Would you say right now that you have complete freedom, a great deal of freedom, a moderate degree of freedom, not much freedom, or no freedom at all?" The table includes those who responded with "complete freedom" or "a great deal of freedom". This question does not concern the issue of free will vs. predestination--it is part of a module on personal rights and liberties in contemporary American society.

Americans freer today than in the past: "Do you think Americans today have more freedom, less freedom, or about the same amount of freedom as in the past?" The table includes those who responded with "more freedom".

Discrimination doesn't explain differences: "On the average negroes/blacks/African-Americans have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are mainly due to discrimination?" The table includes those who responded with "no".

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Political orientation by partisan affiliation over time

In response to a recent post, The Undiscovered Jew writes:

The partisan divide has increased because the Republicans have become much more conservative (and the Democrats more liberal) than they were between 1933 and Reagan's victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980.

People will scoff at the idea that the GOP post-1980 is much more conservative than before 1980, but the facts prove my case.
He continues on to present a general overview of how the Presidents of the last fifty years illustrate this shifting.

Fortunately, there exists an empirical method for examining this assertion. The GSS asks respondents about both their political orientations and their partisan affiliations. The following graph shows the mean political index values of white Democrats and Republicans by year. Positive values indicate conservatism and negative values indicate liberalism, with zero representing exact political moderation. One standard deviation is 1.35 index points.

Indeed, the political gap between Democrats and Republicans has trebled to become a chasm over the last few decades.

My working narrative is largely confirmed by this. With Reagan's asendancy, conservative Democrats began drifting away from the Democratic party and liberal Republicans backed away from the increasing social conservatism of the Republican party. After Reagan and the effective end of communism, the blue-blooded George HW Bush came to signify a more centrist GOP resembling what had existed before Ronnie (with the Iran-contra affair, for which Reagan's popularity suffered, playing a role in tarnishing the conservative label). In a few years, that had faltered and conservatism again came to define GOP voters with the 'Republican Revolution' of 1994. We continue on this political trajectory today.

GSS variables used: PARTYID(0-2)(5-6), POLVIEWS, YEAR, RACE(1)

Hope your job will be saved next!

This White House press release:
The Obama Administration today reported that recipients of Recovery Act funds have informed the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that they have created or saved 640,329 direct jobs in reports covering approximately $160 billion, which represents a little less than half of the funds put to work through September 30, 2009. These reports, covering only directly created jobs and less than half the funds spent thus far, support government and private forecaster’s estimates that overall the Recovery Act has created or saved over one million jobs to-date. The majority of the jobs reported were in the construction and education sectors, indicating the Recovery Act is not only bolstering private sector companies during the economic downturn, but also making critical investments in keeping America competitive in the 21st century.
... brings to mind this release from the Ministry of Plenty:
"Comrades!" cried an eager youthful voice. "Attention, comrades! We have glorious news for you. We have won the battle for production! Returns now completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard of living has risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past year. All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Partisan positions on social issues over time

A month ago, the polymath looked at changes in the religious composition of the two major US political parties over time. The short version is that Catholics are becoming a relatively smaller piece of the Democratic party, while Protestants are taking it in the chin in both parties to make room for those who lack any religious affiliation.

As someone whose firsthand memory of politics extends back only to the 2000 Presidential election, I'm interested in how partisan positions on major social issues have shifted over the last several decades. The accusation is commonly made by libertarian types and those on the 'religious left' that the Religious Right has steadily moved to overtake the GOP. Implicit in this charge is the insinuation that the socially conservative positions these theocons hold have come to be shared by a greater percentage of Republican voters than before the hijacking. Conversely, National Defense Democrats of a pious disposition, like Zell Miller, are said to have been abandoned by an increasingly secular, progressive Democratic party.

The social positions of the two parties feel pretty static to me, but that's a result of my limited frame of reference. I realize history didn't start yesterday, or even the turn of the last millenium. Fortunately, the GSS is a useful tool for helping me fill myself in. The change over time in positions on five major social issues can be tracked back to the seventies. The following graphs depict those changes among self-identified Republicans, Democrats, and indepedents* over the last 35 years.

Other than on the issue of school prayer, the partisan divide has increased modestly over time, lending some truth to the oft-repeated claim that the US is becoming increasingly polarized along political lines, though things do not appear to have changed that much. Partisan alignments on four major social issues have remained pretty stagnant over the last few decades.

The issue of abortion, by contrast, has undergone some shifting along partisan lines. Up to the end of the eighties, there was scarcely a distinguishable difference between Republicans and Democrats on the question, with Republicans actually tending to be slightly more supportive of the right to an abortion for rape victims than Democrats were. That has changed over the last couple of decades, to the extent that one in three Republicans now support granting human rights to the developing fetus of a woman impregnated via rape (and in my view imprudently serving up the rapist with a Darwinian success he shouldn't be permitted to enjoy).

Support for marijuana legalization has crept up across the board from its lows during the crack epidemic of the eighties and early nineties. Independents are generally more supportive of legalization than even Democrats are. Views on capital punishment and wealth redistribution** have reliably retained their partisan alignments, and the distance between Republican and Democratic positions on them have increased. Opposition to the 1963 US Supreme Court ruling in favor of Schempp has declined a bit for each group but the slight partisan divide has held fairly steadily.

GSS variables used: YEAR, PARTYID(0-1)(2-4)(5-6), GRASS, ABRAPE, CAPPUN, EQWLTH, PRAYER

* Respondents are asked to describe their party affiliation by choosing among eight possible options. "Other party" is ignored for the purposes of this post. I've elected to include "Independent, near Republican" and "Independent, near Democrat" in the independent category, with "Not strong Republican/Democrat" and "Strong Republican/Democrat" the two potential choices earning inclusion under the Republican/Democrat classifications. This yields a 36% Democrat, 25% Republican, and 36% indepdent split, which seems preferable to only classifying unadultered independents (15%) as, well, independents. And the respondents are, after all, self-describing as independents leaning toward one party or the other, not partisans leaning toward the center.

** The representation is computed from responses on an inverted (to facilitate viewing the graph) seven-point scale, with a 7 representing the highest level of support for the government reducing income differences and a 1 representing the lowest level of support for it. Annual responses are averaged by year for each political classifcation.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Religious affiliation by ethnicity in the United States

++Addition++In the comments, "silly girl" suggests:
Maybe more than 2/3's of those who identify as Native Am. are also more than 2/3's white themselves.

What percentage of people who identify as Native American are actually at least 51% Native American? I don't know but there are incentives for identifying as Native.
Very relevant point. Nearly 5% of GSS respondents self-described their ethnicity as Native American, far higher than the 1% or so of the total US population the Census lists as being Native Americans of only one race. There are probably some people with a Cherokee great grandmother who are telling GSS interviewers they are ethnically Native American. Adds a nice mystical element to one's constitution!


I'm regularly vexed by my inability to seamlessly rehash empirical data in conversation when I'd assumed it would easily stick as I came upon it for the first time. It's hardly a frustration unique to me, and the conventional explanation that it takes ingesting information three times to internalize it seems to be generally accurate in my experience. Sometimes, though, I am surprised by the inaccuracy of my preconceived notion--which tends to be embarrassing, given how starkly actual data contradicts it--to such an extent that I know without a doubt that a single exposure is sufficient to permanently equip myself with it. Razib's parenthetical remark in a post considering why Catholics are Democrats is the latest instance:
The majority of people of Irish descent today in the United States are Protestant, but I suspect they’re less obviously “Irish” in their cultural markers in part because of their religious break from tradition.
The explanation for why this isn't popularly obvious strikes me as spot on. It describes why I was under the impression that it the split was roughly 60%/40% in Catholicism's favor among those claiming a religious affiliation, with much of the Protestant minority coming from British-controlled northern Ireland (that my maternal grandfather was an Irish Catholic probably had some influence, too). Among those of Irish descent, Catholic church attendance is higher than it is among Protestants (34.6% to 28.8% attending services at least once a week). The variances are minor, but this is in contrast to frequency of attendance among American Catholics and Protestants at large (30.0% to 31.8% weekly or more). Irish Catholics are slightly more pious than their co-religionists in the US are, while Irish Protestants are a bit less so.

As for my errant conception, I had the Catholic/Protestant ratio backwards. It's actually 57%/43% in Protestantism's favor.

The following table shows the Protestant/Catholic/Jewish/unaffiliated breakdown by ethnicity. To balance the desire for contemporary relevance with adequate sample sizes, data are from the last two decades. Sample sizes are at least 100 (okay, technically 98 so that Austrians can be included) for all ethnic groups shown:

ProtestantCatholicJewishNo affiliationOther
Canadian (British)
Canadian (French)19.371.
Puerto Rican24.157.20.714.23.8
Native American70.

In the case of the Chinese, Greek, and Indian, "other" primarily consists of Buddhist, Orthodox, and Hindu (and to a lesser extent Muslim), respectively. Americans largely consist of Appalachian whites (referred to as Ulster-Scots or Scots-Irish) whose ancestors formed the basis of David Hackett Fischer's fourth set of British folkways.

Perusing* the table, I'm relieved to see that only in the case of Irish descent was I way off the mark. I've tended to regard those of Russian descent as Jewish unless they happened to be Eastern Orthodox, but a sizable minority (28.5%) have Protestant or Catholic affiliations.

The size of the Catholic contingent among non-French Canadians (for clarity, I term them British Canadians here rather than using the GSS label "other Canadians") is higher than I expected it to be, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised as nearly half of Canadians are at least nominally Catholic.

Also a bit surprising is that more than two-thirds of Native Americans are Protestants, with fewer than 1 in 20 maintaining adherence to traditional tribalistic beliefs. Aggregating all Protestant denominations under a single heading is an oversimplification, of course, but the Native American affiliation profile is nearly identical to the Swedish one! I would not have expected to be able to say that.

As a Catholic of Indian descent, Bobby Jindal wins the rarity award among politicians with some level of national prominence. He's 1 in nearly 2,000 on these two dimensions, easily beating out other affirmative action GOP big shots Sarah Palin and Michael Steele.

GSS variables used: ETHNIC, RELIG, YEAR(1988-2008), ATTEND

* Pursuant to the correct meaning of the word!