Saturday, July 31, 2010

Profile of a female philanderer

++Addition++Roissy notes that he previously discerned what the GSS shows. When the data agree with you...


The indefatigable Randall Parker of Parapundit and Futurepundit has been wondering about characteristics of women who cheat on their husbands relative to those who remain faithful. He suspects that women who are shy, religious, smart, and rural are the surest bets, the opposites presumably being archetypal floozies. Further, he thinks it likely that there are occupational differences as well.

In 2006, the GSS did deploy ten items to gauge Big Five personality traits, but they are not cross-referenced with data on marital fidelity. I have not been able to find anything else in the survey's library to get at shyness.

The relationships between faithfulness and religiosity, intelligence, community type, and occupation are all open to query, however.

In the proceeding tables, the value displayed is the percentage of women in the relevant category who report to have cheated on a spouse at some point.

CommunityCheat %
Big city14.2
Small town11.7

The differences are modest. Not surprisingly, closer proximity to other people and the perpetual bustle of city life is more conducive to running around. Sex and the Countryside doesn't quite get there.

ChurchgoingCheat %
Once a year18.2
Less than monthly12.8
Monthly but not weekly12.1
Almost every week9.3
At least weekly8.9

My advice stands: Marry someone who loves Jesus (and her father, too). Those who put forward some variation of the Pascalian Wager as an argument for why a man should attend services would benefit from including, at least tangentially, that church girls are golden.

Female respondents are divided into five groups of roughly equal size; 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%).

IntelligenceCheat %
Really smarts16.4
Pretty smarts11.5
Pretty dumbs11.7
Really dumbs6.9

I'm not sure that I would've predicted this, but openness to experience and intelligence are positively correlated. Especially unintelligent people are generally not savvy enough to pull off an extramarital fling even if they wanted to. Seems like the best bet is to go with the girl who is sharp enough to be an accountant or a school teacher, but not a high-powered senior partner of a law firm. Who wants a woman whose prestige is higher than yours, anyway?

Using the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO88), the following table includes those for which the GSS recorded at least 60 females responses:

Occupation as/in...Cheat %
Real estate agents and appraisers26.3
Writers, sculptors, painters, actors, and other artists21.5
Sales and finance16.6
Engineers and technicians16.3
Social work15.8
Human resources 15.7
Store stockers15.3
Certified nurse assistants14.8
Operations department managers14.7
Domestic help14.3
Machine operators14.0
Building maintenance13.9
Personal care13.7
Hairdressers and beauticians13.2
Retail/wholesale managers12.2
Life sciences12.0
Medical assistants12.0
Secretaries and other office clerks10.3
Retail sales9.4
Sewers and knitters9.1
Office department managers8.3
Bank tellers3.0
Teaching assistants0.0*

Despite the common image of the office secretary doing more for the boss than just taking calls and completing paperwork, it is women in traditionally female job roles who are the most trustworthy. The teaching environment is ideal, with women surrounded by kids, thus fostering the maternal instinct, shared with colleagues who are predominately also women. Excepting accountants, the women who play the man's game as lawyers, financial consultants, property selling, and sales are the most likely to stray. Artsy careers, requiring a high level of openness, are also risky bets. The sheer number of men waitresses inevitably come into contact with means opportunities for flings abound.

GSS variables used: SEX(2), EVSTRAY(1-2), ISCO88, WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), COMTYPE(1)(2)(3)(4-5), ATTEND(0)(1-2)(3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)

* Sixty-nine female teaching assistants either currently or previously married answered the question on marital infidelity and not a single one of them reported having strayed. That's not a typo (at least not on my part--I can't speak for the GSS' data entry team!).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Men have same amount of sex and number of partners today as they did 20 years ago

Previously, I've looked at the relationship between the number of sexual partners a man accumulates over time and the number of children he has. It's clear that men with fewer partners (but at least one, obviously) are the most procreatively successful. I'm not a big fan of the conceptualized alpha-beta dichotomy, but when it comes to reproduction, the betas are coming out on top. I've also attempted to measure alpha traits by race, finding a far higher percentage of alpha traits among black men than among white or Hispanic men, and have shown that men who say they would suffer in the place of their lovers (surely a beta move) have more children than men who say they would not (why suffer for a girl when I can just as easily find another one?)

It is in that spirit that I wondered what could be gleaned from the data regarding male sexual activity over time in the US. Unfortunately, the relevant GSS items only extend back to 1989, so the timeline here just covers the last couple of decades. Still, if the social narrative insinuated by Roissy and other PUAs--that the sexual coliseum is increasingly becoming a winner-take-all arena where the guys at the top continue to get more and more while those at the bottom are deprived of the little they used to have--is proceeding apace, it would presumably be quantitatively detectable. Seems to me that is evolutionary history, something that humanity is leaving behind alongside our hunter and gatherer past.

The following graph shows the percentage of all men aged 21-45 by the number of different partners they've had through the course of their adult lives. It's a bit difficult to decipher at first blush, but the ranges are mutually exclusive so that in each year the total percentage of all men falling into one of the six categories based on number of partners comes to 100:

What stands out is how, excepting the expected random bouncing around from year to year, the percentages have been quite stable over the last two decades. A plurality of men fall in the 2-5 partner range, safely assumed to be beta territory. The 20+ category did hop up quite a bit in 2008 from 2006, which could conceivably be the first signs of a trend that is currently spreading across the country, but everything else presented in the graph is steady state. The virgin portion of the population is not growing.

The next graph shows the frequency with which men aged 21-45 have had sex over time.

Again, steady as she goes is the story here. Men report having virtually the same amount of sex at virtually the same frequencies today as the men who preceded them did two decades ago.

To the anticipated objection that the graphical measures include married men, it seems to me that they necessarily should. If changes in sexual activity are detectably changing in the US, that said changes are confined only to the quarter of the population that hasn't yet (or ever will become) married, and those shifts are offset entirely by married men moving in the other direction, no real change is occuring. Tracking only unmarried men presents another problem as well--men in long-term relationships are presumably closer to married men in their sexual behavior than they are to single men.

GSS variables used: SEXFREQ(1)(2)(3-4)(5)(6-7), NUMWOMEN(0)(1)(2-5)(6-10)(11-19)(20-250), AGE(21-45), SEX(1)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'm reasonably certain that's where we're at

By nitpicking, I'm opening the door for "pot calling the kettle black" and SWPL quips. Further, I'm of the opinion that commentators who add substantively meaningless phrases designed to show humility when making assertions are unnecessarily making their readers read more than they need to. We know you're not the ultimate arbiter of all things to all people. It's your take based on the reason you've employed, the data you've marshaled, and the passion you've embedded in your delivery. The "in my opinion, ..." is stating what is already assumed unless you've indicated otherwise.

That said, I listened to two podcasts today, one via EconTalk with Bryan Caplan and the other via AltRight Radio with Trace Mayer. Caplan said (starts at 54:25) the following in a discussion about F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and The Fatal Conceit:
It's not that businesses need certainty about the rules, but a reasonable amount
of certainty.
A "reasonable amount of certainty"? The standard definition of certain being "free from doubt or reservation; confident; sure", the question of certainty is a dichotomous one. Something is either certain or it is uncertain; it cannot be somewhat certain.

In a span of less than 40 minutes, Mayer demonstrates poor English language usage not just once, or only twice, but thrice, in each case saying "...that's where we are at" instead of "that's where we are".

While we're on the topic, a couple other frequent errors I regularly come across:

- "Nevermind" instead of "never mind". The former is close to an antonym of the latter. Used correctly, it is approaching obsolescence. Parenthetically, I was made aware of this several months ago by an astute reader who called me out on my frequent use of "nevermind" when I meant "never mind".

- "Peruse" as an indication of brevity when it should be expressing the giving of great attention to detail. When I peruse an article, I'm not just skimming it but instead am reading through it thoroughly.

And yes, despite being guilty of it, I'm aware that freely switching between first-, second-, and third-person is considered bad, er, poor form.

* In the Steveosphere, that is. In the texting and Facebook worlds, these complaints would be dwarfed by far more elementary mistakes such as the use of "your" as the contraction of "you are" and "there" as the contraction of "they are".

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Of the corpulent and their kids

Last Thanksgiving, Half Sigma posted about an enjoyable online FAQ regarding turkey farming. In reading it, one discovers that domesticated turkeys have become too fat to mate naturally and consequently have to be artificially inseminated. HS wonders if there's anything for the turkies' persecutors to take away from this:
People have also been, allegedly, getting fatter. I think we need to look into whether there’s a genetic explanation. Are fat people having more children than thin people? It’s well established that married people weigh more than single people, and traditionally married people have children and single people don’t. Maybe people are getting fatter for the same reason that turkeys have gotten too fat to mate. It’s all in the breeding.
Jokah Macpherson looked at the GSS for confirmation or lack thereof, but only briefly summarized what he found, so I'll quantify it. In 2004, interviewers assessed participants' weights, placing them in one of four categories. The following table shows the number of children members of each category average:


Among women, there is little difference across weight groups. To the extent that we're breeding ourselves into corpulence, it is on account of the Y's contribution. Guys who are thin as rails get a lot less action and have far fewer kids than men with meat on their bones do. Two-thirds of skinny guys do not have any children at all. Women want men who are able to bench press them, not be bench-pressed by them!

Parenthetically, notice how women report having more children in aggregate than men do. Women are always aware of when they procreate. In contrast, some guys will go to their graves without knowing.

GSS variables used: INTRWGHT, SEX(1)(2), CHILDS

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Androgynous names and which gender they're closer to

I recently got into a dispute with a friend over whether or not Skyler was primarily a boy's or a girl's name. Based on my own experience, I told her that the reason she thought of it as a girl's name was purely anecdotal; I, on the other hand, was not so subjective (of course!).

Of course, indeed. Turns out I was wrong. Well, technically I am still able to argue that I was correct, since I had the spelling above in mind when we were talking about it, but Skylar is a more common homophone variant of the name. While Skyler is 56/44 in boys' favor, Skylar is overwhelmingly feminine at 79/21.

I've spent a fair amount of time in onomastic contemplation about the children it seems I'll never get around to having. To add a little rigor to that vain pondering, I turned to Baby Naming Wizard, a neat site that shows the frequency of baby names given over time and by sex. The following table shows how relatively masculine an arbitrary but fairly inclusive list of androgynous names (based on those I've known to be given to both boys and girls) are by showing the percentage of each name given to boys during the name's most popular point in time for boys compared to the name's most popular point in time for girls*. Thus those on the top of the list are most skewed in favor of males; those on the bottom are most heavily female:

Name% Boy% Girl

Two-thirds of the androgynous names on this list are primarily girls' names. I'm not sure if that's simply the result of the list being based on my own personal experience, or if most names (at least in English) applicable to either sex tend to be given to females.

Despite long, successful acting careers, Morgan Freeman, Drew Barrymore, and Cameron Diaz have not been able to affect a shift in the feminine and masculine tendencies of their respective first names. Peyton has rocketed upwards among boys since the turn of the century, in concert with Peyton Manning's decade-long position as one of the best quarterbacks in football. However, it also hasn't been enough (at least not yet, and at best Manning realistically only has another five years or so at the top of the pile).

Lindsey/Lindsay, Loren/Lauren, and Sean/Shawn probably don't merit inclusion on this putatively androgynous list. The guys I know named Lindsey and Loren and the girls I know named Shawn, Logan, and Christian (not short for anything) are apparently all aberrations. Setting the androgyny threshold at no fewer than one in every ten names being given to the minority sex, Kennedy should also go.

The only women named Pat I've known are old enough to be my grandmother, but in tribute to the infamous SNL character, I looked it up. To my surprise, Pat has historically been a feminine name. Only in the latter half of the 20th century did the name Patrick rise in popularity, displacing female variants of Pat that all began falling off precipitously in the forties to such an extent that by the time Julie Sweeney began sketching the unappealing creature in the early nineties, Pat (or some extension of it) was being given to boys at a 5-to-1 ratio.

If some sick bastard wanted to reincarnate a contemporary Pat-like character, Casey/Kasey would be the best name to give it (although the audience would necessarily never have view of its written name).

Until the early 1900s, Sidney/Sydney was a masculine name, but by the 1950s, the Sydney variation had nearly gone extinct, and Sidney continued to decline steadily. Until the early 1980s, it was virtually unheard of for a girl to be given either variation of the name. Since that point in time, it has exploded in popularity among girls. Consequently, among those born in the last three decades, the name should not be considered androgynous at all--it is now almost exclusively a girls' name. And for the better, I say. Sydney Carton is one of the most pitiful male characters in all of English literature (Dickens couldn't even give him the decency of being named "Sidney")! Let the ladies have it.

* The following table shows the distributions for androgynous names and their variant spellings. For the two names included in the list that are frequently used as shorthand for something fuller, those frequently occuring fuller names are counted in the shorter name's total tally. "Pat" includes Patrick for boys; Patty, Patricia, Patsy, and Patti for girls. "Alex" includes Alexander and Alexis for boys; Alexandra, Alexandria, Alexus, Alexis, Alexa, and Alexia for girls.

Name% Boy% Girl



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Americans have always thought of their own as nation of immigrants?

++Addition++Patrick Cleburne makes note over at VDare.


In the July 2nd broadcast of Radio Derb, John Derbyshire delivers a beautiful cliche-by-cliche refutation of open-borders appeals delivered by President Obama earlier in the same week. Responding to the "nation of immigrants" bromide, the Derb remarks:
Barack Obama's assertion that, quote: "We've always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants," is just false. No we haven't. The phrase "nation of immigrants" was thought up by John F. Kennedy in 1958. To my knowledge, nobody in the previous 180 years of the republic's existence ever uttered that phrase. It certainly wasn't commonplace. Funny use of the word "always" there, Mr. President.
Harry Truman had actually made use of it six years earlier, in a speech commemerating "Citizenship Day" and celebrating the alleged beating communism had taken within the US:
These are the ideals to which this Nation of immigrants dedicated itself 165 years ago when our Constitution was signed. These are the ideals which we are still striving-imperfectly at times, but with increasing success--to carry out in this wonderful country of ours.
I wasn't sure if Truman was the orginator of the phrase or not, but assumed he wasn't, since it's unlikely that a durable cliche like that would originate from the top of the executive branch. I wanted certainty so decided to turn to the New York Times online archive, which extends back all the way to 1851. Granted, that only gets us two-thirds of the way to our nation's founding, but if it traces that far back in time, I'm willing to give Obama credit for his assertion.

The following graph shows the number of articles containing the phrase "nation of immigrants" as a percentage of the total number of articles published by the gray lady over the same time period:

Turns out the Derb was on the money in noting that the phrase certainly has not been commonplace throughout most of the country's history and Obama is simply incorrect. It makes its first appearance in the NYT in 1923 ahead of the Immigration Act of 1924 that was followed by a four-decade long lull in immigration into the US, and pops up a few more times throughout the latter half of the twenties. So if the graph were to extend back to the nation's founding, the trendline would slide along at zero for the first two-thirds of the US' history as an indepedent country.

For the duration of the Great Depression, it does not make a single appearance--it's difficult to get people to support admitting more competition for work into the country when one-in-four current residents are unemployed. "Nation of immigrants" returns in 1940 at the behest of immigrant leaders concerned about perceived injustices facing the foreign-born as the US moved towards entry into WWII.

It wasn't until the late sixties, when the massive demographic transition we're still experiencing today had begun, that the phrase might be deemed recognizable (in large part, as the Derb mentions, because of John F. Kennedy's regular usage of it--at the time of his assassanation, a book with exactly the cliche's title was being worked on in his name).

As a third-generation immigrant on the maternal side and of founding stock on the paternal side, I've never taken seriously claims to right of settlement based on historical trends. From my perspective, those who are now here legitimately get to decide who may come and who must stay out. I haven't owned my house since it was built, but now that I have title to it, I get to decide who is welcome and who isn't.

But the Derb makes a valid point regarding the large proportion of Americans who trace their ancestry back to the nation's founding. The four waves of settlers chronicled in David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed and their cohorts who found their way onto American soil prior to 1776--constituting the ancestry of close to half of all US citizens today--were settlers, not immigrants. One might ask Native Americans how that turned out for them. I sure as hell don't want Mexican settlers staking out territory in my country.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Trust and atheism

In Nicholas Wade's book The Faith Instinct, the NYT science writer argues that religion is a human evolutionary adaptation and that through at least the Industrial Revolution, groups, polities, and later entire states in which religion played a prominent role in the life of its members prospered while irreligious ones failed.

Disappointingly, he devotes virtually nothing to the contemporary Darwinian successes of religious states and groups within states relative to the low fertility of their secular counterparts. The reasons he identifies for religion's evolutionary advantages--that of altruism, loyalty, and sense of duty on behalf of co-religionists, social cohesion, and shared morality--may be why he chooses not to do so. These factors are likely not as important today in determining genetic prosperity as they were 50,000 years ago. In downplaying the theological and philosophical precepts of religion and focusing instead on the the practical benefits it bestowed on the community, he locks himself out of a potential explanation for the fecundity of fundamentalists today, generally some variation of a religious imperative to multiply and spread across the earth.

That's a digression from what I wanted to look at in this post, though. In contemplating the viability of morality without religion, Wade asks (p207):
Was Locke correct that atheists cannot be trusted?
The best I can come up with is the GSS item on extramarital activity. The table below shows the percentages for each group who report having cheated on a spouse at some point in their lives:

Uncertain believer19.7%
Firm believer14.6%

As we've established previously, if you're looking to minimize the chance of being cuckolded, marry a conservative girl who loves Jesus.

That said, it's difficult to gauge whether or not atheists are trustworthy relative to theists, but the GSS also offers insight into how trusting atheists and theists are of people generally. The following table shows the percentage of respondents in each group who say that in general most people can be trusted (as opposed to thinking one "can never be too careful"):

Uncertain believer39.3%
Firm believer32.4%

The differences are modest, but atheists do appear to be more trusting (and possibly less deserving of trust!) than firm believers are. This could be interpreted as suggesting that religiosity does not lead to higher levels of trust in society or alternatively that religion offers a way for people to build trust who are not naturally inclined towards it. That's reading a lot into a little, though--it could also be that firm believers have greater in-group trust than atheists do, but lower levels of trust for outsiders.

GSS variables used: GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), EVSTRAY, TRUST

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Testing the faith of ignorant blacks

A friend recently told me in his Spring anthropology 101 class at KU during, the state's flagship public university, the professor, in briefly outlining earth's histoical timeline, condescendingly joked that the alternative view is that dinosaur fossils do not actually date from at least 65 million years ago, but are instead there to test the faith. SWPL gold!

How I wish I could've been present to interject that blacks are considerably more likely to believe that God created man within the last 10,000 years than whites are. In fact, according to the results from a GSS question asked in 2004, a majority of blacks (56%, compared to 41% of whites) profess that belief rather than either of the other possible responses, both of which have something to do with evolution. So are we learning today, professor, that most blacks are ignorant?

Squirm, squirm!

GSS variables used: RACECEN1, CREATION

Thursday, July 01, 2010

How common is the 40 year-old virgin?

I'm talking to a friend (yeah, via M:TG, predictably enough) the other day and he comments in resignation that he's going to be a 40 year-old virgin.

"Becoming one in a million, baby. If you didn't have that damn Y chromosome, being able to say as much would give you a little extra luster." (To try and help him avoid that oh so 'terrible' fate, I should've quipped something along the lines of "if you envision it, so indeed it shall be." Oh well).

Later, I wondered how exaggerated the one in a million presumption was.

Thank triviality for the GSS! Turns out the 40 year-old virgin isn't a mythic rare, but at one in fifty, he's at least an uncommon. Of the 2,288 respondents surveyed*, 49 identified themselves as cherries. Because of the stigma attached to sexless men, this probably understates the true prevelance of middle-aged male virgins existing in our midsts. It could plausibly be as high as 5%, or one in twenty.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2008), SEX(1), NUMMEN(0), NUMWOMEN, AGE(40-89)

* Limited to straight men at least 40 years of age who participated in the survey between 2000 and 2008.