Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Perceptions of intelligence by political orientation

The perceptions of intelligence among members of different racial groups was the focus of a recent post. I subsequently wondered how political orientation affected these judgments. The following table converts to IQ scores the responses given to questions on the intelligence of members of various groups under the assumptions that the mean intelligence value for whites represents the equivalent of an IQ of 100, with a standard deviation is 15 points:

93.8 101.3

The differences by political outlook are pretty marginal. Relative to conservatives, liberals perceive NAMs to be slightly more intelligent and whites, Jews, and Asians to be slightly less so. Moderates are actually the most vile, having depressed perceptions of non-whites across the board without a corresponding depression in their view of whites!

That there is minimal variation across the political spectrum is one point of interest. Perhaps more noteworthy, though, is the fact that self-described liberals tend to be consciously aware of group differences in intelligence (and probably other attributes like athleticism and personality as well). The chasm between what is permittable to say in a private, one-on-one interview and what may be said in the larger social sphere exists irrespective of politics.

Similarly, all racial groups are aware of this diversity. Blacks tend to think whites are more intelligent than blacks are. Hispanics think whites are more intelligent than Hispanics are. All groups perceive Asians to be at least as intelligent as whites are.

This is encouraging. As the knowledge of human genetics continues to accumulate, the blank slate will become increasingly vulnerable. The ignorant attacks on James Watson illustrate how threatened blank slatists already feel. The moment uttering hatefacts no longer carries with it the risk of personal destruction, the dam will have burst and realistic thinking will be able to replace disingenuous political correctness on a grand scale. In another sense, though, it is disheartening to consider that what most people know to be true is publicly held to be false by a substantial majority of the populous. Political correctness really is the great mental disease of our time.

Parenthetically, gender doesn't have influence. The largest group variance between men and women amounts to 1.1 IQ points. We appear to be from the same planet on this one.

GSS variables used: INTLWHTS, INTLBLKS, INTLHSPS, INTLASNS, INTLJEWS, SEX(1)(2), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), YEAR(2000-2008)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Perceptions of average intelligence by race

++Addition3++Blode gives a detailed breakdown of group self-perceptions, perceptions of 'outside' groups, and actual IQ averages in the comments. Rather than try to summarize, I recommend taking a look for yourself.

++Addition2++Steve Sailer wonders about Jewish perceptions of intelligence. Sample sizes for takes on Hispanics, Asians, and Jews are prohibitively small (N = 29), but with that disclaimer in mind, it's still an interesting question. Consequently, I've added a table for Jewish perceptions of the five groups considered and added a bar set for Jews in the graph presented in the body of the post.

++Addition++FeministX comments:
Average people seem to have almost perfectly identified intelligence as a reflection of income by race.

It seems people subconsciously know how much ethnic groups earn on average, except for the jews.
When Herrnstein and Murray published The Bell Curve in 1994, the racial 'hierarchy' for income followed the intelligence hierarchy. The massive influx of unskilled immigrants from Latin America over the last couple of decades (with first-generation Mexicans averaging an eighth grade level of educational attainment) has since pushed Hispanic earnings below that of blacks in the US. That working blacks earn more than working Hispanics do (and due to remittances, many Hispanics in the US appear even poorer than they are) likely plays into the higher intelligence ascribed to blacks compared to Hispanics.


Continuing with the interaction between self-described and actual intelligence, the GSS asks respondents to rate groups by intelligence on a scale from 1 (unintelligent) to 7 (intelligent). To gauge contemporary perceptions, the following table shows the mean value for all responses from the beginning of this decade on. The third column converts answers to IQ scores under the assumptions that the mean intelligence value for whites represents the equivalent of an IQ of 100 and that a standard deviation is 15 points:

Public perception of...MeanIQ

People push group averages in both directions toward the mean, but with the exception of rating the average intelligence of blacks higher than Hispanics (probably owing in part to the fact that there are far more black than Hispanic celebrities with household name recognition and also to the educational system's trumping up of black thinkers and inventors like Du Bois and George Washington Carver without any corresponding Hispanic intellectual giants), the American public sees through the blank slatist mythology. Groups are not identical, and it requires ignoring what you see with your own lying eyes to believe that they are.

Across all racial categories, people essentially see the group intelligence 'hierarchy' in the same way. The results, by race of responders*:

White perception of...MeanIQ

Black perception of...MeanIQ

Hispanic perception of...MeanIQ

Asian perception of...MeanIQ

Jewish perception of...MeanIQ

For ease of digestion, the following graph shows how intelligent each racial group perceives itself and the other racial groups to be. The white bars show how intelligent whites see each group (shown along the y-axis) to be, the black bars show black perceptions of each group, the brown bars show Hispanic perceptions, the yellow bars show Asian perceptions, and the baby blue bars show Jewish perceptions.

There is a caveat to the trend mentioned above. With the exception of self-deprecating whites, each group sees itself as more intelligent relative to other groups than the population as a whole sees it. That is, blacks see blacks as more intelligent than anybody else does. The same holds true for Hispanics, who see Hispanics as more intelligent than anybody else does, and Asians, who see Asians as more intelligent than all but Hispanics do (and Asian perceptions are depressed relative to the population across the board, so their high self-perceptions stand out).


* Because the question concerning Hispanic, Asian, and Jewish intelligence was only asked in 2000, Hispanic, Asian, and Jewish sample sizes for these three groups is small (34, 43, and 29, respectively). Consequently, they should only be seen as suggestive.

Notice that the Hispanic sample is more generous across the board than other racial groups are. This could be random optimism in the small Hispanic sample. Comparitive, rather than absolute, values assigned to a group by members of each racial group are what is most worthy of consideration.

Hispanic also includes "some other race", as it is a method of racial identification used almost exclusively (97% of the time) by Hispanics. The Asian category includes Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and "other Asian".

Young, dumb, and proud

A few months ago, Inductivist showed that blacks rate themselves as more intelligent than other racial groups do. This presents a problem for the cultural explanation that underachieving stereotyping and low self-esteem depress black performance. If anything, blacks need a more sobering culture that checks their relative cognitive hubris.

He also notices an interesting interplay:
Self-assessed IQ seems to be inversely related to actual IQ.
He arrives at this observation from the insight on elevated black self-perception and also on the seeming inverse relationship between national pride (as measured by the percentage of a country's populace who say they are "very proud" of their nationality) and actual reasons for pride across more than seventy countries.

A nation's average IQ as estimated by Lynn and Vanhanen in IQ and Global Inequality is by no means a perfect proxy for achievement, nor should national pride be tied directly to it. But the relationship between pride in one's nationality and that nation's average IQ is interesting in that it is so robust. The two correlate inversely at .61 (p=0).

The most prideful populations are not only those of the most modest intelligence, they also comprise the youngest nations. As average IQ and median age are inversely correlated at .83 (p=0), it comes as little surprise that national pride and median age inversely correlate at .63 (p=0). These young, confident societies are the nations of tomorrow.

Crudely, the future looks like one in which humans, at least on a per capita basis, think more highly of themselves while pulling off less than they have in the past.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Percentages of countries' native populations residing in US

++Addition++John Derbyshire, who like Razib Khan epitomizes everything our approach to immigration should aim for, takes note at The Corner. I should point out, as Alex brings up in the comments, that the percentages are not of a country's total worldwide population that lives in the US--I do not have sufficient data for that. Instead, the table shows the population living in the US as a percentage of the total population currently living in the home country.


The following table shows the the number of each country's native populace--by place of birth, not simply by descent--that is currently residing in the US as a percentage of that country's own resident population. Data are available here. All figures are from 2007:

CountryUS population% in US


Trinidad & Tobago225,23921.32
El Salvador1,108,28915.95
Dominican Republic747,8857.99
Hong Kong200,7342.88
Bosnia & Herzegovina119,7682.63
South Korea1,050,7302.14
Costa Rica87,2202.11
Great Britain662,5301.09
The Netherlands92,5730.56
South Africa78,9790.18

Relative to size on the international stage, Western hemisphere countries to our south are not surprisingly represented most heavily. Ireland has a considerably larger portion of its native population living in the US than anywhere else in Europe, something people in New England are most aware of.

The acerbic criticism that whiterpeople newspapers like the LAT are slitting their own throats in their support of open borders should be expanded to include their foreign focus. Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, and North Korea are frequently in the news even though few people living here actually call any of those places home. To the extent that Hispanic immigrants with eighth grade educations find interest in American newspapers, it's not because of their coverage of the Middle East "Peace Process". Meanwhile, Mexico, which should interest everybody in the US, is short-shafted.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chris Simcox to run against McCain in Arizona Senate primary

Minuteman Project co-founder Chris Simcox has officially announced that he is seeking to bump John McCain as the GOP's nominee for Arizona Senate in 2010. His campaign and donation pages are both now operational.

Needless to say, this is an enormous opportunity for restrictionists to essentially end the political career of the Republican party's national champion for open borders. If you need reminding, as Presidential nominee, McCain refused to allow anyone at last year's Republican National Convention to speak critically of US immigration policy and enforcement, receives a lifetime grade of 'D' by Americans for Better Immigration (7th worst of the 201 current Republican Congressmembers who have been assessed), and with Ted Kennedy co-sponsored the amnesty bill of 2007 that despite almost uniform support among The Establishment (Big Business, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Education, Big Government, and Big Media), was overwhelmingly rejected by the American citizenry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Slovenia, what do you tell a woman with two black eyes?

Ladies, if a guy tells you he wants to marry you and move to Slovenia because it's scenic, low-cost living in Europe, be suspicious.

The World Values Survey (WVS) asked participants in 49 countries about the justifiability of a man beating his wife. In Slovenia, 82.4% responded that it is "always justifiable"--far and away the nation most favorably inclined toward corporal punishment for a problematic termagent (the next closest country is Serbia, with 26.1% asserting that wife-beating is always justifiable).

1,003 Slovenians responded, so small sample size is not an issue (although a representative sample may be). More than half were female--this ethos cuts across gender lines. The survey was conducted between 2005 and 2008, so it's not a relic of the past, either.

Is this an accurate reflection of the culture in a country bordering Italy and Austria, or is there something else going on here?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Immigration associated with low unemployment? Not when recession hits

++Addition++In the comments, Agnostic gives a brief but informative overview of unemployment in the US and its association with immigration from the 1920s to the current decade.


On today's WSJ op/ed page, Jason Riley, author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, comments in passing:
Historically, higher levels of immigration to the US are associated with lower levels of unemployment. Immigrants are catalysts for economic growth, not job-stealers.
Using the phrase "associated with" is a way to circumvent the question of causation. Potential immigrants head to places undergoing rapid economic expansion, not depressed areas without a market for excess menial labor.

This is akin to the strategy Richard Nadler used in his attempt to sell the political right on open borders in his paper entitled Immigration and the Wealth of States--the states immigrants are heading to are the states where economic growth is occurring, so just guarantee a steady stream of eighth grade graduates from Latin America and watch as the good times roll. After these immigrants stopped buying the houses they were paying for by building houses for other immigrants, and the sand states (also top destinations for illegal immigrants) led the rest of the country in mortgage defaults, Nadler stopped (at least temporarily) pushing this argument.

Granting that economic prosperity tends to attract relatively improsperous immigrants, what happens when that economic prosperity dissipates? Are large numbers of unskilled and uneducated immigrant laborers "associated with" higher or lower levels of unemployment? A snapshot of our current situation suggests that what Riley and Nadler insinuate in observing their associations is incorrect. In a recently released report, the Pew Hispanic Center provides estimates (p40) for the percentage of each state's workforce that is comprised of illegal immigrants. This correlates with the state unemployment rates at .29 (p=.04). The relationship is modest but statistically significant--and it runs in the opposite direction of what Riley and Nadler would hope for. To the extent that the two are related, the more illegal immigrants there are working in a state, the more natives there are out of work.

Nothing to contemplate here, though. It's best to have an excessive labor supply so that those who work for peanuts will have little choice but to be thankful that they work at all. Lower labor costs mean higher business profits right now. Government subsidy is there to cover the net liability that each member of this expanding underclass represents. Well, who creates the wealth in this country, after all? Not government! Better, then, for it, rather than industry, to pay. Let restrictionist nations like Japan go the mechanizing route--America's competitive advantage has always been in providing ever-cheaper labor. Low-wage countries are the ones with the highest standards of living, after all, aren't they?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gender and magic in rpgs

I have criticized the gender egalitarianism inserted into role playing games to allow for martial female protagonists who inexplicably still retain their femininity.

One way this is done is by confusing flexibility with agility (or dexterity). Women have greater range of motion than men do, primarily because they have smaller muscles. To confirm this in your own mind, think of the people you knew (or know) who could do the splits--they're probably all girls. Flexibility doesn't help much in a fight, though. Agility does, but men are faster than women are. In the virtual world, however, female characters regularly have greater agility than males do*.

Another method of achieving this is by giving women better luck than men. The attribute is fantasy, so it's hard to argue. Since men are better fighters than women are, let's just make up attributes that women excel in to move toward parity.

Similarly, females tend to be made better magic users than males are. Previously, I'd seen this in the same light as luck--a fantastical skill to give to women in greater abundance than men as a means of closing the martial gender gap. But maybe it's better conceived of as confusing real-world religiosity (or spirituality) with fictitious magic. By every measure, women are more religious than men are:

Reading Discovering God by Rodney Stark, it occured to me that magic is essentially an effort to influence supernatural forces (or supernaturally manipulate natural forces) to obtain some desired effect. So with a little suspension of disbelief, it sensible to assume females should be better magic wielders than males are. Have to believe in and be attuned to the supernatural to subject it to your commands, no?

* Relatedly, strength and agility are often contrasting attributes in the virtual world (think the lumbering warrior versus the hasty hunter). In reality, they are positively correlated. Boxers, wrestlers, and mixed martial artists are both strong and fast.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Among white, black, and Hispanic men, more children means fewer partners

Turning again to the relationship between the number of female partners a man has and his total fertility, following are how things shake out by race. Ranges are shown for non-whites due to small sample sizes. Full data are available here.





For whites, blacks, and Hispanics, the trend holds. Men who have only been with one woman are more likely to have more children with her than men who've been with multiple women are to have with all of those women combined. Asians cannot be said determinatively follow suit. The sample size is too small to put much stake in, although it trends the same way up to five partners, the only portion of the range approaching a useably-sized sample.

The fecundity of black men who've only had one partner stands out as being particularly high relative to the percentage of non-black men who've only had one. Considering the percentage^^ of men from each racial group who've only had a single partner helps clear up why that is the case. Black men are less likely than non-black men to have only had one female partner. The percentage of men in each racial group who've only had one partner:

Whites -- 20.4%
Blacks -- 8.9%
Hispanics -- 18.0%
Asians -- 38.7%

Left-handed black men and Republican black men are both more common than are black men who've stayed true to a single woman! Further, black men are more likely to have had 16 or more partners than they are to have only had one. This is not the case for whites, Hispanics, or Asians.

The rare black man who has only had one partner tends to hold more fundamentalist religious views than do black men who've had multiple partners. Among black men who've been true to a single woman, 79% describe the Bible as the "Word of God". Among all black respondents, only 52% of black men describe the Bible in this way.

Relatedly, for white, Hispanic, and Asian men, the mode (most frequently occuring) for total number of female partners is one. For black men, however, it is five.

I don't imagine any of these statistical descriptions unique to black men come as a surprise to most readers.

* Includes some percentage of Hispanics. I estimate that about 6% of those represented here are Hispanic based on the fact that just fewer than half of Hispanics in the US identify themselves as white when an "Other race" alternative is available, and that the time period included spans from 1972 to 2006, meaning Hispanics represent a smaller percentage of the GSS population than they represent in the US today.

** This classification is not based on racial-self identification. It is in response to the survey question "Are you Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino?"

^ Includes those who identified as their first race one of the following: Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Other Asian, or Native Hawaiian.

^^ Excluding those who are celibate or homosexual.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

God and evolution; friends or foes?

In the 'debate' over the legitimacy of intelligent design as an alternative explanation to evolution in the development of life on earth, the media portrayal is generally of creationists trying to give scientific legitimacy to the fifth of Aquinas' five arguments for the existence of God versus empirically-minded, atheistic scientists.

I find such characterizations irritating. Sanctimonious leftists who proclaim the indisputability of Darwinian evolution are often the same people who castigate men like James Watson, Gregory Cochran, or Steve Sailer for extending the theory to explain human differences. Richard Dawkins could exhibit true courage by tackling the orthodoxy that guards the blank slate, but instead he rides the soft circuit approved by elite opinion makers almost everywhere, proclaiming the ignorance of religious people in front of highly sympathetic audiences.

Worse, by turning rejection of evolution into a political litmus test, the right not only makes itself look unscientifically primitive, it shoots itself in the foot politically, since human biodiversity realism tends to mesh with the popular right's worldview much better than it does with the worldview of the popular left.

Further, theism and evolution by natural selection need not be mutually exclusive. The natural genetic and fossil evidence for evolution does not bear on the possibility that the supernatural guided the process along or at least set it into motion. By definition, the supernatural cannot be definitively proven or disproven by the natural. The Humian response that miracles conceivably could happen but apparently never do is not absolute but probabilistic in nature. Since piety and demographic sustainability appear to go hand-in-hand, it seems practically worthwhile to give theists an option that is both consistent with their spiritual beliefs and compatible with modern science.

And oh how unique have I felt holding the position laid out above! Turns out, a substantial minority of Americans, on the order of 130 million people, are already there. The unique tastes of millions, indeed. The GSS asked participants about their views on the origin and development of man:

OriginsN = 1440
God created man42.5%
Man evolved, God guided41.6%
Man has evolved12.2%

This question was only asked in 2004, so the results are skewed by time. It might serve as a reality check for readers (as it did for me) that in the contemporary US, approaching half of the citizenry are creationists who deny natural selection, at least as it applies to humans. Among blacks, that is the majority opinion. Responses, by race*:

God created man41.4%56.0%34.1%21.6%
Man evolved, God guided41.7%34.4%56.1%56.9%
Man has evolved13.2%6.0%7.3%19.6%

In the future, it looks as though the conciliatory response is going to gain even more ground. It may well become the majority view, and not only because it is apparently already favored by Hispanics. Responses, by age range:

God created man33.3%47.7%41.2%48.8%
Man evolved, God guided51.0%39.8%39.6%36.9%
Man has evolved12.5%9.1%14.3%12.5%

GSS variables used: AGE(18-29)(30-44)(45-64)(65-89), CREATION, RACECEN1

* Hispanic also includes "some other race", as it is a method of racial identification used almost exclusively (97% of the time) by Hispanics. The Asian category includes Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and "other Asian". The sample sizes for each are small (41 and 51, respectively) and consequently should only be taken as suggestive.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thinking about The War on Christmas in April

With spring finally banishing a frigid winter, Christmas is far from most people's minds. Not mine, though. While doing isometrics in my basement this morning, I noticed my roommate had finally packed up the 7-foot Christmas tree he had displayed since December. Nothing is better for halting time than a stalemate with gravity, so my eyes were free to roam over the cardboard box. In so doing, I noticed the conspicuous absence of the word "Christmas". "Holiday", "fir", and "tree" are used more than ten times a piece, but not a word on the actual holiday the thing is used to celebrate.

Has a tactic in the 'War on Christmas' been to phase out the holiday all the shopping is putatively done in anticipation of? I'm not privy to marketing information on changes in product packaging over time, but I am able to see what the news leader in print has to offer on the question. Using the New York Times' archival page, I looked at the number of stories containing the phrases "Christmas shopping" and "holiday shopping" by year. These are used because although many people travel and are away from work over the multiple holidays that take place over the last couple weeks of December, we only shop for one* (click for higher resolution):

The trend among opinion makers over the last couple of decades is clear.

"Christmas" is being abandoned in favor of the generic "holiday". I've heard (almost exclusively from those who are glad to see the diminuition of Christmas) that this is just a superficial populist issue for demagogues to use in attacking multiculturalism, secularization, and other progressive trends. To the extent that is the case, it's not my focus here. That there has been an identifiable shift in the emphasis given to what has probably become the most anticipated Christian holiday on the calendar in the US gives credence to forces like Bill O'Reilly and VDare that take up arms in the War.

What about the common folk? Have they recoded their annual moneyletting as the NYT has? Google trends provides the answer: No. Shopping for Christmas gifts still tends to be referred to as "Christmas shopping", with about a 2-to-1 advantage over "holiday shopping" (although each year the Christmas advantage is shrinking a bit).

* Over the 27-year period for which the search was conducted, "Hanukkah shopping" returns a total of six stories. "New Year's shopping" yields two, and "Kwanzaa shopping" brings one. People are shopping for Christmas, not a medley of holidays.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Constructing a smarty party platform

I am working on constructing a "Smarty party" political platform based on data from the GSS. So far, I've dug up responses on what follows below. These are merely shorthand for the questions as they are posed, not the answers high IQ respondents necessarily give.

- Abortion for any reason?

- Prayer in public schools?

- Taxation: Too high on poor, too high on middle class, too high on rich, progressive tax structure?

- Gov't spending: More or less on education, environmental protection, stem cell research, law enforcement, culture and the arts, housing for poor families with children, childcare for working parents, disabled children, prenatal care, military/national defense, health care, in general more emphasis on reducing taxes or increasing spending, government should insure jobs and stable prices?

- Welfare: Reduce benefits so working becomes more attractive, working or trying to find work to receive welfare, in general spend more on welfare?

- Legality of distributing pornography?

- Gun rights: Police permit to carry, background check required prior to sale?

- Immigration: Illegal immigrants keep people in my family from getting desired jobs, legal immigrants eligible to receive welfare benefits, immigration levels to the US are too high, birthright citizenship, illegal immigrants to be given work permits, immigrants pushing for too many rights in the US, English to be the official language of the US, bilingual education to be supported?

- Support free trade?

- Multiculturalism: Ethnic organizations promote separationism, speech deemed harmful to specific ethnic groups banned, government involved in keeping different cultures distinct?

- Affirmative action favored?

- Divorce to be made easier?

- Birth control information made easier to obtain?

- Corporal punishment for children?

- Same sex marriage allowed?

- Military: Confidence in, if a draft arises out of necessity in the future should conscientious objectors be exempt?

- Freedom: Gov't classifies too many documents as secret, importance for freedom of limiting government involvement in lives of citizens?

- Capital punishment for murder?

- End of life: People with terminal diseases allowed to die, person "tired of living" be allowed to die?

- Humans evolved or created by God?

- Automobiles required by government to increase gas mileage efficiency?

We're working within the limits of the GSS, especially as it relates to foreign policy, for which there is very little to go on. Also, there does not appear to be anything on positions toward drug use or the war on drugs in the database. That said, I'm sure I've overlooked at least a few other important political issues up to this point, so please point out those potential oversights on my part.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Per capita remittances to Latin America, by country

Remittances to Latin America are likely to drop in 2009 from the year before. The following table shows the per capita dollars sent home by emigrants working in foreign countries in 2008, and also per capita remittance dollars received as a percentage of purchasing power parity for each receiving country:

CountryRemits per capitaRemits as PPP
El Salvador$527.198.50%


Dominican Republic$322.383.98%
Costa Rica$146.691.26%
Trinidad & Tobago$105.700.57%

In 2008, total remittances grew marginally from 2007, so this probably represents the maximum amount of money that will annually be received over the next couple of years.

Notice how although the issue of immigration primarily focuses attention on foreign Hispanics in the US, it is the African-descended nations like Haita, Jamaica, and Guyana (which is about one-third black) that economically depend the most on remittances. Generally, the smaller the contribution remittances make to a country's total GDP, the more desirable that place is. If I had to live in Latin America, I'd want to be somewhere in Chile. Failing that, either Argentina or Uruguay.

This raises the question of why the putatively most industrious migrants from the poorest countries should be allowed into the US in large numbers. We should take primarily from Western Europe and East Asia--those nations can spare these human resources!

The differences in the economic consequences of remittances are only in degree, however. All of these places share a support for open immigration to the US and Europe. Send out the restless types who might otherwise cause trouble at home and allow them to be taken care of at the receiving country's expense. In return, receive billions of dollars sent home to be circulated in local economies in addition to both greater cultural and greater political influence in the receiving country. What a deal!

Data are here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Extramarital sex wrong? Gays and supporters of same sex marriage less likely to think so

One of the arguments against same sex marriage is that it will fundamentally weaken the institution by opening it up to groups who do not take the vows as seriously as they should, thus cheapening the whole enterprise and leading more people to forgo it entirely. Stanley Kurtz is probably the most widely known advocate of this view. Of specific interest to this post is the following excerpt:
Many thoughtful gay activists see same-sex marriage as a chance to redefine marriage itself — stripping marriage of what they see as its outdated and constricting connection to monogamy. And of course, even more powerfully than openly non-monogamous gay marriages, legalized group marriage would destroy the taboo against adultery.
I do not feel confident commenting on the validity of the argument summarized above. Untangling definitional issues surrounding the conception of marriage from a host of other social trends that potentially influence the health of marriage as an 'institution' exceeds my modest capacities.

However, the distrust those who advocate a traditional definition of marriage feel toward those who support same sex marriage is understandable. The GSS queried 4,146 people on their support for same sex marriage and level of moral acceptance of extramarital sex. Since marriage vows don't allow much room for that, the belief that extramarital sex is anything other than always wrong can reasonably be seen as an 'attack' on the institution itself.

The percentage of people who feel extramarital sex is always wrong, by level of support for same sex marriage:

Homosexuals should marryXmarital sex always wrong
Strongly agree70.7%
Strongly disagree91.1%

Whether or not expanding the definition of marriage to include same sex couples will materially effect the institution's success rate, those who support expanding its definition are less likely to see a problem with married people running around on one another.

In 2008, the GSS included a direct query on sexual orientation for the first time. At only 33, the sample size for gays and bisexuals who responded to the question on extramarital sex is small. But it does little to assuage the concerns of those who are worried about the weakening of marriage bonds. Only 47.4% (16 of 33) of gays and bisexuals deem extramarital sex as always wrong. In contrast, 84.8% (966 of 1,139) of heterosexuals see it that way.

GSS variables used: XMARSEX, SEXORNT(1-2)(3), MARHOMO

Friday, April 03, 2009

Extramarital sex increasingly seen as wrong

++Addition++Jason Malloy shows that the improvement is one more of words than of actions:
When matched for age, those who became adults before or surrounding WWII cheated little (pre sexual revolution, b. 1900-1939). Those who became adults during the 60s and 70s cheated the most (sexual revolution, b. 1940-1959). Those who became adults in the 80s, 90s, 00s began cheating less (post sexual revolution, b. 1960-1990).

Have cheated on spouse:
Age 18-29
b. 1976-1990 - 12.5%
b. 1960-1975 - 12.4%

Age 30-40
b. 1960-1979 - 13.8%
b. 1950-1959 - 17.1%

Age 45-50
b. 1960-1969 - 16.3%
b. 1950-1959 - 21.6%
b. 1940-1949 - 21.4%

Age 60+
b. 1940-1949 - 22.6%
b. 1920-1939 - 14.5%
b. 1900-1919 - 7.3%

Cheating doubled for men between the 1900 and 1940 cohort, but quadrupled for women. They apparently had to move faster to catch up.

All those corny 50s kids on Leave it to Beaver grew up to be the most debauched generation.

The answers on XMARSEX also reflect this generational difference, with the SexRev cohort saying it is the least wrong. The post SexRev-ers are bigger hypocrites though. Their moral answers are almost identical to the 1900-1919 cohort, even though they cheat a whole lot more. The numbers above don't indicate the youngest generation are getting better behavior-wise, even if they are high in moral lip service.

Cheating always wrong
b. 1910-1919 - 84.5%
b. 1920-1939 - 79.2%
b. 1940-1949 - 71.9%
b. 1950-1959 - 70.8%
b. 1960-1979 - 79.0%
b. 1980-1990 - 83.4%
Hypocritically censuring a pathological behavior that is engaged in is still an improvement over embracing that pathology.


A month ago, Inductivist revealed a "moral recession" among young Americans by pointing to the increased acceptance of homosexual relations, a drop in church attendance, and a growing acceptance of abortion for any reason (it's difficult to detect this last one in the data he presents, however) over time. From a socially conservative point of view, these trends are surely disheartening.

But there is a bright spot regarding an issue that is less poralizing--the declining moral acceptance of extramarital sex. The following graph includes the same age range of 18-29 examined by Inductivist. The first year presented is 1973, with responses for every year or two after that, ending with 2008. The average annual sample size is 348.

Agnostic has repeatedly argued that sexual promiscuity (or as he terms it, "slutiness") among the young has been trending downward for years. It looks like that holds not just in terms of actual behavior, but also in professed beliefs of what constitutes acceptable sexual behavior in the first place.

GSS variables used: XMARSEX, YEAR, AGE(18-29)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

How to scale the social crags of an age gap?

I'm soliciting thoughts and advice. I realize this post is far from the content most readers come here for, but it'd be imprudent of me to leave such a thoughtful 'community' untapped.

I've been friends with a girl eight years my junior for awhile. She's had a sustained crush on me for over a year. I've been playfully flirtative from the beginning, but always conscious of the need not to come off at all as being overly assertive. I've entertained, added to, and kept alive our inside 'jokes', but have always let her create them in the first place (I'm talking about things like getting married, how often we will travel, what the content of our vacations will be, etc). While I never gave any confirmation to the mutual part of our social circles that I was going to act on her interest in me, for most of the time we've been friends, I've wanted to marry this girl. So I've cultivated the relationship pretty actively, showing up unexpectedly when she was volunteering somewhere (intentionally pleading unconvincing plausible deniability as to why I was there) or calling her ahead of big events like taking the ACT to playfully demand she do well.

In other words, I'm emotionally invested in her. I obviously can't show any pictures, but I've found the vulgar consensus to probably be an eight. She's very pretty. Although there are a few girls my lust inclines me more strongly toward, even as we are just dating, she has me so captivated that checking and owning it is a non-issue. Not just checking the action, but smothering the desire itself. I read that as an indication that I truly want this one to be The One.

As to the problem, I'd intended on waiting a few months for her eighteenth birthday before making my move, but circumstances beyond my control forced me to act sooner. After settling down from the initial emotional high, she's become worried about the age gap. At first, the concern was entirely over how I probably had a problem with it that I was suppressing for now, but soon would not be able to. Heh, she's nuts for thinking that, but it's expected. Insecurity is common for teenage girls, even the hot ones who are socially adept.

Then it moved to what my family would think. They'll love you (never mind that I moved out years ago). Next issue.

What will her parents think? What about her friends (most of whom I don't know)? Uh oh. These are doubts I can't afford to let foster. It's almost over, but she's still in high school, and the seismic social shifting that occurs transitioning from it to life afterwards (in this case, college) is at best only vaguely sensed before that threshold is actually crossed. She's still in the high school world, which means her social circle of friends and family are her entire universe. Their collective influence is a tide I can't swim against alone.

So first, I have to give her closure on the age gap. Men in the US are on average a couple years older than their women are. So we're a few couples beyond that couple. Big deal. It's not like I'm old enough to be your father or anything.

Age ain't nothing but a number! Don't look at me like that, I know I heard you mutter it once. You didn't think I heard, but I did.

Abraham was a full decade older than Sarah, and look how well they did together! Unfortunately, I'm not following my own advice about finding a girl who loves Jesus, so that just gets a giggly eyeroll and a "you're such a nerd". I'll take that consolation prize. I won't let her know it, but I live for those moments.

We're not letting an age difference that'll progressively matter even less down the road destroy this special bond you've pointed out we have more times than I can count. Think of it as adding a Romeo and Juliet element to the whole thing! Oops, not wise. That makes it sound serious. I need it to feel trivial. Man, what a tough spot.

My plan is to be introduced to the parents shortly after her birthday. I'll take her dad out for a bite to eat, put all the probity, charm, and genuine long-term interest in his daughter I can muster on display to try and win his approval. I'm tight with her best friend, and her best friend is close to her mother, so I'll approach mom more indirectly. So long as she's not overcome by doubt before moving on to college (and she's made a sports team, so she'll be pulled out of the high school universe as soon as graduation hits and practice immediately begins), the seemingly all-important high school cliques will disappear.

Relatedly, Agnostic, who makes an avocation out of this stuff, struck home hard recently:
That's how powerful adolescents are -- when you're in your mid-20s and suspect that your libido is shifting from youthful exuberance to middle-aged mellowness, all it takes is a nubile darling like this one to re-open the volcano of hormones.

Part of the reason you don't feel so awestruck by girls when you're past 25 is that your body is naturally changing to a less volatile state. But the other big part is that the females who surround you simply aren't as capable of provoking the same out-of-control dizziness as all those girls who kept you up late at night in high school and college.
I slept terribly last night.


Per capita federal welfare expenditures by state

Commenter Jesuswarehouse helpfully dug up several links, including federal expenditures by state on a host of things. Sifting through them, I've figured total per capita federal welfare spending--defined here as childhood nutrition programs, food stamp programs, WIC benefits, and TANF benefits--by state. Such a table does not appear to be floating around anywhere else on the web. For that reason, it is presented here. The latest year all necessary figures appear to be available from is 2005. Consequently, all data are from that year:

StatePer capita $
1. District of Columbia291.55

2. New York

3. California173.46
4. New Mexico168.13
5. Alaska165.27
6. Vermont146.16
7. Louisiana139.98
8. Michigan135.89
9. Oklahoma133.89
10. Rhode Island132.39
11. Pennsylvania127.59
12. Mississippi127.57
13. Georgia121.78
14. West Virginia119.89
15. Kentucky119.51
16. Oregon119.30
17. Hawaii118.86
18. Connecticut117.29
19. New Jersey117.04
20. Washington115.73
21. Maine113.70
22. Arizona113.44
23. North Dakota111.08
24. Massachusetts108.79
25. Wisconsin108.05
26. Wyoming107.58
27. South Dakota106.80
28. North Carolina106.61
29. Texas105.87
30. Kansas104.59
31. Illinois102.06
32. Iowa101.68
33. Delaware100.67
34. Minnesota100.61
35. Arkansas97.95
36. Montana97.89
37. Missouri95.81
38. Nebraska95.42
39. Alabama95.08
40. Utah93.25
41. Tennessee92.96
42. Ohio91.13
43. South Carolina89.69
44. Idaho84.76
45. Maryland77.92
46. Indiana77.85
47. Colorado68.06
48. Nevada65.23
49. Virginia59.61
50. Florida59.19
51. New Hampshire53.42

Vermont's high take stands out, as the state generally fares well on quality-of-life measures. I would have expected it to show similarity to New Hampshire. However, per capita expenditures only weakly correlate* with the usual suspects--with the poverty rate at .33 (p=.02), with the non-Asian minority (NAM) percentage of the population at .22 (p=.13), and inversely with estimated average IQ at .22 (p=.13). Blue states receive a little more than red states do, but a state's political persuasion doesn't reveal much--federal welfare expenditures correlate inversely with Bush's '04 share of the vote at .24 (p=.09).

Not surprisingly, there are factors other than 'need' at work in determining how much the federal government doles out to its tributaries.

A visualization of the table is available here. Data are here.

* All correlations exclude the District of Columbia.