Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hispanics vote Democrat because of economic concerns and health care, not immigration

Though it is persistently asserted by self-proclaimed 'Latino activists'*, media types, and Establishment Republicans alike that taking a restrictionist stance on immigration is to commit political hara kiri, Hispanics are not particularly concerned with immigration (and to the extent that they do care, their opinions are far more ambiguous than the casual observer has been led to believe).

Pew just released the results of a survey on Hispanics in the US headlining with their reactions to an uptick in deportations carried out under the Obama administration as compared to the Bush administration. The report also contains other points of interest, including the emphasis placed on the question of immigration. Of the six issues participants were asked about, immigration came in dead last in the percentage of Hispanic voters who say they are "extremely concerned" about it. From most to least important: Jobs (50%), Education (49%), Health care (45%), Taxes (34%), Federal budget deficit (!) (34%), Immigration (33%).

Hispanics primarily favor Democrats because of the party's policies on health care and economics--policies that seek to transfer wealth from middle class whites to the (disproportionately Hispanic) poor. The GOP would have to move to the left of the Democratic party on both of these fronts to beat it at its own game and have a chance at winning over Hispanics, a move that would necessarily entail the Republican party ceasing to be conservative in any meaningful way.

Calling for open borders alone doesn't aid the Hispandering cause. The survey was conducted when the three big names in the GOP field were Romney, Perry, and Cain. Romney, whose relatively tough stance on illegal immigration is only outdone by Bachmann, was found to be running neck-and-neck with Perry and slightly ahead of Cain among Hispanic voters, even though Cain was running at the front of the pack among Republican primary voters at the time.

Perusing the rest of the report, I was reminded of a one of my favorite Simpsons moments, when, as the family shovels down low-fat pudding, Marge remarks that she can just feel the pounds melting off. The report shows that while Hispanics who are fluent English speakers, make $75,000+ per year, and/or have a college degree feel the Republican party is more inclined towards Hispanics as a group than the Democratic party is (14%, 19%, and 14%, respectively) than are Hispanics who primarily or exclusively speak Spanish, make under $30,000 per year, and/or have less than a high school education (6%, 10%, and 7%, respectively), an increase in even the more assimilated and successful portion of the Hispanic immigrant contingent is obviously bad news for Republicans.

* Despite an apparent upsurge in preference for the term "Latino" over the term "Hispanic" by 'activists' and SWPLs in the media over the course of the last decade or so, more people descended from south of the border prefer the latter descriptor, Hispanic, over the former, Latino. This remains the case whether those Latinos/Hispanics in question were born in the US or outside of it, by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

As I proudly stand up next to you?

Reading Jared Taylor's most recent book, White Identity, I wondered how the seemingly endless number of examples provided to illustrate how widespread the disdain for the United States as a European-descended country is among non-whites translated into opinions offered by a representative sampling of the US population. Taylor's tone is thoughtful and sober, yet the book's content--intentionally or not--surely inflames racialist passions in many who read it (myself included). To use an example that doesn't happen to involve whites, consider the following (p82):
[Last year] in Manhattan, police arrested a group of black teenagers who specialized in beating up Asian women in their fifties to seventies. The boys acted as lookouts; it was the girls who attacked.
But in a country of over 300 million and a world of over 7 billion, anecdotes demonstrating just how vile acts of human depravity can be are always going to be abundant enough to fill a book like Taylor's from cover to cover. Taylor's book is not meant to be a comprehensively objective look at race relations in the West, however, and to criticize him for failing to present something he neither attempted nor claimed to be presenting is stupid. Having maintained a data-focused blog for several years, I'm well aware of the fact that it's not cold numbers but hot stories that move people to action.

That said, this post doesn't attempt to break the mold. It's true to TAE's tagline. Before tying into questions Taylor raises, we'll go there. In 2004, the GSS asked respondents how proud they are to be Americans. The following table shows the percentages who answered "very proud" by partisan affiliation. In all cases, non-citizens are excluded:

Party ID

Okay, so when Rush Limbaugh says Democrats are "anti-American" he's hardly being precise. Give them due credit for at least knowing they are free! Still, the conventional assertion by those on the right that conservatives are more patriotic (which, by definition, means to love, support, and defend one's country) than liberals are is accurate.

The differences are more politically-based than they are class-based:


Race, as it so often does, matters at least as much as almost anything else, although it's hardly clear that Hispanics in the US take more pride in Reconquista efforts than they do in the country they are citizens of:


Parenthetically, the Asian sample includes just 38 people (the only grouping in any of the tables with fewer than 100 respondents), so it should at most be interpreted as being merely suggestive. Incidentally, White Identity does include an unsettling chapter entitled "Asian Consciousness" that disrobes to some extent the 'model minority' conception of our yellow cohabitants.

When it comes to taking pride in their adopted homeland, the foreign-born largely assimilate to native norms:


Even wider than the partisan pride divide are the results of the generational invitational:


While I'm not ashamed of my ancestors--not those who came over from England four centuries ago nor those who came from Ireland and Germany after WWII--it's almost instinctive for millennials to be embarrassed by the thought of being asked whether or not we love our country (and not because of concerns like Mangan's, although those are the more relevant issues to me). For my grandfathers, the answer would've been an automatic, delivered without hesitation. In contemporary schools and in the media, the narrative has increasingly become one focused on the oppression and exploitation that are said to constitute not only America's past but also her present, a focus utterly devoid of historical context or comparative objectivity. This is not without consequence.

GSS variables used: RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), PARTYID(0-1)(2-4)(5-6), CLASS, AGE, BORN, AMPROUD1(1-4)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nihilistic Manosphere

In an argument with Ferd, OneSTDV characterizes the so-called Manosphere as nihilistic. Well, the GSS offers some insight into nihilism, so let's look at what it has to tell us.

The following tables display mean nihilism scores from the years 1998 and 2008, computed by taking participant responses to the 5-point scaled GSS item on perceived lack of purpose in life and inverting the averages for ease of reader comprehension. The higher the score, the more nihilistic the group is. One standard deviation is .76 points on the nihilism scale.

First, among men in their forties or older (who have thus had ample time to get married if they desired to do so) who are married (or widowed) and those who have either divorced or never married in the first place:

Marital status

About one-fourth of one standard deviation's difference, equivalent to the nihilism gap between the middle class and the underclass.

Some of those guys are inevitably unmarried not because they willingly choose to be flying solo but because they don't really have a choice, though. Some guys are just too unattractive to women to ever land one. C'est la vie.

So, consider the same by the number of lifetime notches in the belt, again aged 40+:

# of women

Those with one lifetime partner or whose lives have been characterized serial but long-term monogamous relationships are a little less nihilistic than the club hoppers are, but the men who don't (or can't) get any at all clearly are the ones who feel tend to feel that life does not serve much of a purpose.

This doesn't disprove One's assertion, of course--I'd guess a significant chunk of the Manosphere is comprised of bitter men who've faced unending frustration in their relationships (or lack thereof) with the ladies.

GSS variables used: NIHILISM, NUMWOMEN(0)(1)(2-5)(6-10)(11-20)(21-500), SEX(1), AGE(40-89)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The left's manly intelligence (distribution)

In a blatant but understandable attempt to gain electoral advantage (anything that makes voting more restrictive benefits Republicans, and anything that makes it easier to do benefits Democrats), the Justice Department rejected South Carolina's version of a voter-ID law requiring putative citizens to produce proof that they are indeed citizens eligible to vote in their respective state and federal elections:
The Obama administration entered the fierce national debate over voting rights Friday, rejecting a South Carolina law requiring photo identification at the polls after determining the statute discriminates against minority voters. ...

In its first ruling on the voter-ID laws, Justice's Civil Rights Division said South Carolina's statute is discriminatory because the state's registered minority voters are nearly 20 percent more likely than whites to lack a state-issued photo ID.
This is, of course, a predictable and inevitable consequence of treating 'disparate impact' as evidence of unequal treatment. The Establishment wants to maintain that isonomy is of paramount importance, but simultaneously (and incorrectly) assumes that all people--and by extension, all groups of people--are the same, so that any unequal outcome must necessarily be the result of unequal treatment (ie, an isonomic breach has occurred) irrespective of whether or not such an occurrence can be definitively proved.

In the case of a discrimination settlement with a mortgage lending company, this line of reasoning may go mostly unchallenged, but when it comes to something as simple as presenting a photo ID--something that most people do on a regular basis, be it to write a check or drive a car--the assertion that certain groups are being treated unfairly in being required to do as much strikes an overwhelming majority of the public as absurd.

Putting aside the question of intentional voter fraud, the reason voter-ID requirements hurt the left more than they hurt the right is because voters at the left end of the IQ and future time orientation spectrums are mostly Democrats, not Republicans. I've seen multiple facebook posts over the last couple of days in reaction to the Justice Department's actions along the lines of "liberals are too unorganized and stupid to vote".

In fairness, it's more because the left's intelligence distribution is wider than the right's is, with more lefties at the bottom and top and more conservatives in the middle, not because liberals are less intelligent on average than conservatives are (in fact, the IQ means by political orientation are essentially equal). That distributional difference, in turn, is due primarily to the left's racial diversity. So, if the FB posters wanted to be more precise (and more crass), they'd say "NAMs are too unorganized and stupid to vote". SWPLs, who would generally be happy to accuse conservatives of believing as much, are in tough spot if they assert as much though, because based on the Justice Department's accusations, it is transparently true. Oh how political correctness makes us stupid.

To dredge up a bit of evidence to back up the assertion that the disproportionately female political left sports a more manly intelligence distribution than the mostly male right does, consider that the GSS shows that one standard deviation in wordsum score for all liberals is 2.18 points, while for all conservatives it is only 1.99.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, POLVIEWS(1-3)(5-7), YEAR(2000-2010)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

She got shot, and... it's more than you ever did!

OneSTDV captures the societal shift away from celebrating accomplishment and towards celebrating suffering in discussing Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords and the coverage surrounding the Loughner shooting and her recovery from it. The PC orthodoxy leverages (and pushes for) this shifting to prop up favored groups at the bottom and minimize the laudatory attention that should rightly be given to those of great accomplishment. This inherently delegitimatizes the moral worthiness of middle class white kids from intact families while putting on a pedestal those who come from broken families and mean streets (as One demonstrated here).

It was not suddenly detectable for the first time in the 2008 election, when two potential sufferers-in-chief squared off (compared to, say, Winston Churchill or Dwight Eisenhower), of course. The Simpsons captured it nearly two decades ago in Radio Bart (which happens to be one of my top five episodes of all time):

Homer: That Timmy is a real hero!
Lisa: How do you mean, Dad?
Homer: Well, he fell down a well, and... he can't get out.
Lisa: How does that make him a hero?
Homer: [flustered and frustrated] Well, that's more than you did!

(Video clip here, albeit not in English)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Climate change and IQ

Although global warming climate change has been a "hot button" issue for several years, until the 2010 GSS surveys were completed, my favorite database for gauging American society hadn't pushed it. What spurred me to check the newest stuff was a post by Half Sigma a few months back where he lamented what he sees as the intellectual herd mentality among the brightest that leads them to buy into the CAGW narrative:
People with higher general intelligence (let’s call that fluid g) are better at reasoning, but they aren’t more likely to use their reasoning ability to figure out the actual truth of a matter, they are just better at figuring which group’s opinions to mimic. People with higher intelligence also have a greater degree of social conformity than people with lower intelligence. ...

Mitt Romney says he believes in global warming but Governor Rick Perry of Texas doesn’t. Rick Perry has the correct beliefs about global warming. It’s what people who are smart, are knowledgeable about physics, and who think for themselves believe. ...

Unfortunately, Rick Perry has the correct belief about global warming not because he’s smarter than Mitt Romney but because he’s stupider than Mitt Romney. We have reached the sad state in which the majority of smart people believe in global warming, and smart people figure out what to believe based on what other smart people believe, and that is how Mitt Romney has come to the wrong conclusion on global warming and why Rick Perry has failed to come to the wrong conclusion on global warming. Rick Perry isn’t smart enough to realize how stupid he appears to smart people when he says that he disbelieves in global warming.
HS' cynicism and self-assuredness aside, it's difficult to dispute that the popular conception is of more knowledgeable and well-educated people believing that human activity is driving changes in the climate in a significant and dangerous way and rubes denying it. Fortunately, the GSS lets us put that to the test, using wordsum scores as a proxy for intelligence. The following table shows the average responses by IQ group on the 5-point scale question in which respondents are asked how dangerous they think the rises in global temperatures from climate change are. For ease of comprehension, scores have been inverted so that the higher the score, the more dangerous the cohort thinks climate change is:

CC danger
Real dumbs*
Pretty dumbs
Pretty smarts
Really smarts

One standard deviation for the respondent poll is 1.17, so the difference between the most and least 'alarmist' groups is modest, at barely one-quarter of one standard deviation's difference between their averages. Still, if anything, the trend is towards more skepticism of the dangers of climate change as intelligence increases, in contrast to what HS seems to correctly identify as the popular conception of who believes in climate change and who doesn't.

That's misleading, though, because less intelligent people are probably more inclined to buy into the potential for all kinds of catastrophes than smarter people are, whether it be a flood of biblical proportions, an alien invasion, or the zombie apocalypse. When presented with a list of ten environmental concerns and asked to select which one of them is the most pressing, the percentages who select climate change shake out as follows:

CC worst prob
Real dumbs*
Pretty dumbs
Pretty smarts
Really smarts

As expected, the intellectually elite portion of the populous is significantly more likely to finger climate change as the biggest environmental problem the country faces than the rest of the population is.

To pick some low hanging fruit and validate stereotype that will come as no surprise to anyone of any persuasion, the average responses on the 5-point scale question about how dangerous climate change is, and the percentages of people who assert that it is the most pressing environmental problem of our time, by political orientation:

CC danger

CC worst prob

Self-described moderates tend to be less intelligent than either liberals or conservatives are, but the liberal-conservative gap is negligible, so that confound isn't much of a problem here. It's clear that opinions on climate change, rather than being stratified primarily by intelligence, track with political orientation (something HS mentions occurs often in his post, although he curiously does not carry this through to his discussion on climate change in particular). Because major media generally portrays liberals as open-minded and enlightened and conservatives as close-minded and hidebound, the move from liberals being worried about climate change to intelligent people being worried about climate change is an easy one to make in the popular mind.

As someone utterly lacking in credentials of any kind to offer an informed perspective on climate change and its consequences, I'm more skeptical of the calls for increased regulations on and centralized bureaucratic control over energy consumption than I am over whether or not we're experiencing appreciable warming. I'm unconvinced that warming, which has generally been beneficial for humanity, will (or would?) be a bad thing (and could be beneficial in many ways), especially the farther away from the equator one moves.

But it's tough to reject the smarties out-of-hand when they encourage me with their support of nuclear power! The following table shows the percentages of people by IQ who think nuclear power should be the US' top energy priority in the future:

Nuclear future
Real dumbs*
Pretty dumbs
Pretty smarts
Really smarts


* Respondents are broken up into five categories that roughly forms a normal distribution; 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 Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A few comments on the Republican presidential nomination

With Herman Cain out, race isn't an issue in the Republican presidential nominating process. It never was among voters, of course, as GOP voters are overwhelmingly white. Age, educational attainment, income, sex, and religious affiliation are still there, but of the polling data I've combed through, the only characteristic outside of political orientation (is the respondent a conservative, moderate, or liberal Republican?) and support or lack thereof for the tea party that gets broken out is sex.

I hadn't given it much thought, but I guess it shouldn't come as a big surprise that women are a lot more supportive of Romney than men are. A Pew poll released earlier this week found that 40% of male likely GOP voters currently support Gingrich, compared to just 19% for Romney. Among women, however, the gap is only one-third as wide, with 29% for Gingrich and 22% for Romney. Gingrich is the ugly, adulterating doughboy; Romney the good-looking, athletic, devoted family man.

More alarming for those like myself who, while not enthused by the idea of a Romney nomination (Ron Paul's still my favorite, though if I had my way his son would be running in his stead), would much rather see the former governor get the nod than Gingrich get it comes from WSJ/NBC polling conducted last week. It asked Republican respondents likely to vote in the primaries to assume that their respective primaries were being held today, and only Gingrich and Romney were in contention for the nomination. Under this scenario, Gingrich cleans Romney's clock, 59%-36%.

The 25% ceiling Romney has been bumping his head on since the campaign began doesn't look like it will rise much even when the race is winnowed down to just two people. As Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry throw in their towels, their supporters will move into the Gingrich camp. Romney gets his best shot if the rest of the field continues to ride the roller coaster up and down. If he doesn't win in Iowa, he needs Ron Paul to. The sooner it becomes Romney vs. the anti-Romney, the worse his chances become.

The Derb has written that Mitt is the odds-on favorite. I wonder if he remains as confident as he did a couple of months ago. Randall Parker concisely stated why Romney is the best choice:
He's got very high analytical skills, understands finance, understands business management, and knows how to be a CEO. His Mormonism is not important. That he governed a liberal state from a moderate position was really the only choice he had as governor of Massachusetts. He's not a nut case or a dummy like some of the other Republican candidates. He harkens back to an earlier (and better) Republican party when executive competence mattered and ideological zeal was suspect.
While I couldn't have put it any better myself, his Mormonism, necessary centrism in a liberal state, and his lack of ideological commitment all do, in fact, matter to most Republican primary voters.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trust and violence

Agnostic has been marshaling a sundry series of posts that trace how shifts in the rate of violent crime are associated with changes in the behaviors and culture of broader society, from the rise and fall of shorts' length (heh) to disappearance and resurrection of drive-ins.

Initially, I figured, understandably enough, that trust levels would tend to rise as violent crime declined, and fall during times of increasing violence. Agnostic argues that this is not the case, however. Instead, increasing levels of trust propel people out of their cells and into the commons where they come into more social contact with other people than they do during low trust times, when people keep to themselves. It is this increase in social mingling that brings on an increase in violent crime, as the perpetrators of those crimes now have greater and more varied opportunities to strike (and it is not always necessarily a consequence of mendacious intent on their part--more social contact inevitably means more confrontations that may result in violent outcomes, even if neither party involved planned on having it end up that way).

Agnostic's trust-influences-violence-and-violence-influences-everything-else theory (my eloquent naming, not his!) is intriguing if not obviously convincing. How does the increasing racial and ethnic diversification of the US, and the consequent "hunkering down" it brings, play into this relationship? Robert Putnam shows that diversity dampens social participation, but it is also associated with higher rates of violent crime. Of course, despite increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the US, crime levels have fallen steadily for two decades now. As more diversity brings more social retreat and lower levels of trust, will violent crime rates continue to decline? Perhaps a continuing drop in violence should be thought of as a silver-lining in the balkanizing skies above.

Anyway, I wondered if any correlation between trust levels and violent crime could be detected in the US from the early seventies to today. Scaling the national rate of violent crime to responses to the GSS question over whether "most people can be trusted" or "you can't be too careful in life", I graphed the relationship:

The correlation is an insignificant .10. When violent crime is compared to trust levels a couple of years prior, the correlation becomes an inverse (which is to be expected in Agnostic's conception of the trust-violence relationship) .16 (p = .47). That's only slightly less easy to dismiss as meaningless.

By no means does this refute any part of Agnostic's theory, as the GSS survey question just gauges a general feeling among respondents, not how they actually behave, and is subject to some statistical noise (though the average annual sample size is over 1,400). Further, trust has been declining for three decades, violent crime for two. The lag might simply be considerably longer than two years, maybe closer to ten, something that is unfortunately not testable using the GSS. But it would've been neat if it clearly supported the theory, which it does not do.

GSS variables used: YEAR, TRUST(1-2)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mexican fatalism

I don't tap into the World Values Survey nearly as often as I'd ideally like to because it's more difficult to trust than the GSS is. Sometimes the problems are apparently just coding errors, but often the issues involve representative sampling (or the lack thereof), confusion in translation, or something else. Exacerbating this challenge, it's tougher for me to use my intuition as a first approximation of whether or not the results are flawed when the comparisons are between Slovenia and Andorra than when they're between Kansas and New York because I'm merely a citizen of the US, not of the world.

That said, Steve Sailer recently recounted the following childhood experience from Mexico:
Having traveled a modest amount in Mexico with my father when I was young, it seemed like a not badly behaved place. Mexico under the PRI was a police state, although only a small fraction of the large number of policemen were efficient and formidable. The populace was fairly cowed and meek, at least when sober. Bad driving and accidents were a major problem (presumably originating in Mexican fatalism), and petty graft was an annoyance, but outright crime wasn't a major problem for tourists.
People enjoying relatively high socio-economic status tend to be less fatalistic than people on lower rungs of the ladder do, and I suspect this pattern would manifest itself at the national level, but being the parochial guy that I am, I wasn't aware of Mexicans being particularly fatalistic.

The WVS (fourth wave) offers some potential insight into the question. The following table ranks the participating countries by how much control over their lives respondents in those countries feel they have. The higher the self-determination score, the less fatalistic the country is:

1. Mexico
2. Colombia
3. Argentina, New Zealand, Trinidad/Tobago
4. Sweden, Uruguay
5. Norway, Brazil, Andorra
6. United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Switzerland, Romania, Jordan
7. Finland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Guatemala
8. Turkey, Indonesia
9. Great Britain, Taiwan, Malaysia
10. Chile, China, Zambia
11. Peru, Ghana, Vietnam, Iran
12. Russia
13. Spain, Moldova, Thailand
14. Germany
15. France, the Netherlands, South Korea
16. Poland
17. Serbia, Rwanda
18. Georgia
19. Italy, Hong Kong
20. Ethiopia
21. Japan, Egypt, Mali
22. India, Ukraine
23. Bulgaria
24. Burkina Faso
25. Iraq
26. Morocco

With Egypt, Mali, Iraq, and Morocco at the bottom of the list, at first blush it appears that Muslim countries are more fatalistic than non-Muslim countries are, in accordance with the thesis put forth by the late Samuel Huntington. However, Turkey, Jordan, and Indonesia are among countries where the greatest levels of self-determination are perceived, in conflict with that observation.

The Anglophone nations are all bunched pretty close to one another, with the three largest British offshoots having the same self-determination scores. Along with Scandanavia, these countries are less fatalistic than eastern and southern European countries are.

One standard deviation is 2.3 self-determination points, so the gap between Morocco and Mexico is almost 1.5 standard deviations wide, suggesting that the average Moroccan is more fatalistic than over 90% of Mexicans are. That revelation stuns me, and I have no idea how accurately it reflects reality (see the opening paragraph!). Given that Steve has the opposite impression of Mexico, I'll withhold judgment. There does appear to be some geographical consistency with regards to Mexico, though--the other Latin American countries represented cluster near the top of the list as well. Peru is the most fatalistic country to our south, and it's in the middle of the pack.

Let's look a little closer to home. The GSS queried respondents on something similar in 2008, asking them to state whether or not they agreed with the statement that "there is little that people can do to change the course of their lives". Again, the higher the score, the less fatalistic and more self-determinative the group is (n = 1,356):


One standard deviation is 1.01 points, so the difference between whites and Hispanics is substantial, with Hispanics being considerably more fatalistic than other Americans are. Perhaps self-determination is one of the few things that does stop at the Rio Grande. Or maybe Steve is correct and the WVS is once again shown not to be very useful. In Sailer and GSS v. the WVS, my money is on the plaintiffs!

WVS variables used: V46 (excluding DK/NA)

GSS variables used: RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), FATALISM

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's a typical report in these typical times

Typical NPR reporter and pundit Mara Liasson filed a typical NPR story on the role of immigration in the GOP's presidential nomination process. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are said to differ starkly in their positions on immigration. To Liasson's (and Romney's!) credit, this is fairly accurate and goes largely unreported most of the time:
As for Gingrich, the predictions that his remarks on immigration would prove toxic to Republican voters haven't come true.
Rick Perry's don't-have-a-heart comment was "toxic" because it lacked any tact and was intentionally insulting towards restrictionists. Gingrich, in contrast, sold his similar Establishment stance as the necessary one on immigration to be integrated seamlessly into the Republican party's broader family values platform. While I think that's BS, it comes across as a difference of opinion delivered relatively respectfully (for an open borders proponent, anyway) in a debate setting among candidates vying for the nomination. At the risk of sounding obnoxiously partisan, maybe it's an illustration that the mainstream right is more tolerant of diversity of opinion than media outlets like NPR give it credit for! Heck, driving home from work the other day I heard Sean Hannity interviewing Rand Paul, something that, to my pleasure, I've come across on multiple times before. The occasion this time? For Rand to push his dad's presidential campaign.

Liasson also informs us that Republicans need at least 40% of the Hispanic vote to win in the general election. Bush won with 39% of it in 2004. It's not so much that the assertion is incorrect as it is almost irrelevant. In 2008, when the non-white turnout was high, Hispanics constituted 8% of the electorate. Whites made up 75% of it. Thus, increasing it's share of the white vote by 1% does as much for the GOP as increasing its share of the Hispanic vote by 10%. In a story about immigration and the presidential election, then, one might naively expect to hear about how candidates' positions on immigration influence white voters. But, alas.

In the last three elections, the GOP has received 54%, 58%, and 55% of the white vote, respectively. In 2004, with 58%, Bush won the popular vote. In 2000 and 2008, at 54% and 55%, the Republicans lost it. If the GOP manages to get 60% of the white vote, it'll win the next three presidential elections with relative ease. After that, the white percentage required will tick upwards as the percentage of voters who are white continues to decline.

That said, I'd love to hear someone like Liasson run through the logic of how it can be so confidently asserted that taking an open borders position will significantly help an aspiring Republican nominee with Hispanic voters. If that's the case, John McCain did as well any GOP contender can ever hope to do. The GOP had the highest-profile open borders member of the party's national leadership, who teamed up with Ted Kennedy in an amnesty attempt that united the public in opposition and who virtually barred restrictionists from the Republican National Convention on the ticket, running against Obama, who lost the Hispanic vote 64%-36% during the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton, a margin less favorable than Bush enjoyed among Hispanics in '04. What better way for "naturally conservative" Hispanics to show the Republican party they're on board with it if only it loses its restrictionism than to have backed McCain in 2008? Why, if immigration is Hispanics big hangup with the Republican party, would they not jump at the opportunity to back an open borders Republican? Yet McCain didn't even manage to garner one-third of Hispanic support.

Steve Sailer has noted that despite the fact that the politics of immigration doesn't seem to influence the Hispanic public in the US much, media outlets reliably tap self-appointed Latino activists for quotes saying that if so-and-so doesn't drop all his restrictionist rhetoric immediately, the Hispanic tidal wave that is forming really soon now will wash him out to sea:
The conventional wisdom is largely driven by New York Times and Washington Post reporters calling up self-appointed Hispanic spokesmen who get right back to them with quotes saying, yes, indeed, the coming Hispanic Electorate Tidal Wave wants nothing more than more immigration.
NPR does not disappoint:
"If you think about the so-called negative narrative on immigration ... it basically comes from Gov. Romney," says Alfonso Aguilar [who?], who runs the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. "In the last debate, it sounded like he was closing the door to any type of legalization. It does hurt him. ... And he does risk not being able to get enough Latino voters, if he's the nominee, to win back the White House."


"I think [Romney] has been ill advised, because he hears the traditional strategy from political pundits that say, you know, 'Forget about the Latino community during the primary."
Indeed, the strategy overwhelmingly pushed by pundits like David Brooks is for the GOP to forget about Hispanics and adopt the Sailer Strategy instead! That, of course, is the conventional wisdom that the GOP has been incorrigibly tied to since before the first Bush administration! If only they'd stop listening to the NYT and NPR and start paying attention Hispanics instead, they'd have both chambers of Congress and the White House in a landslide!

Finally, it's encouraging to look at the comment threads on stories like these. NPR's SWPL listenership clearly sympathizes with Romney's position, not Gingrich's. The American public just won't go along with Establishment opinion that it should replace itself as soon as possible.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Don't risk eating crow

Sam Harris' post (via RP) detailing practical steps to take and things to think about to minimize one's risk of becoming a victim of physical violence is a worthwhile read. A snippet:
Take this maxim to heart: Self-defense is not about winning fights with aggressive men who probably have less to lose than you do.
At the risk of invoking the naturalistic fallacy, I'll point out that Harris' prudent advice is not just applicable to humans, but exists instinctively in other parts of the animal kingdom. When it's time to stone the crows, take a cue from how raptors deal with them:

A red-tailed hawk, of course, could dispatch a crow in as instantly as it could get a talon on one. But the payoff is nil (for whatever reason, birds of prey don't eat them--vultures won't even take them as carrion), and it risks injury in doing so, especially if it's being pestered by a murder. An injury to the hawk is potentially fatal because of how he feeds (like a prominent lawyer being arrested for escalating beyond the legal notion of self-defense and making some hothead pay for trying to be a tough guy). The crow mostly scavenges so doesn't need to be as careful, even if he's aware of the hurt that the hawk could put on him (and he's probably unaware of it, anyway). The hawk has nothing to prove and nothing to gain from engaging the crows, so he just evacuates.

Parenthetically, the second part of the video is fictional narration by the person who captured it. This isn't the same bird (if it's a hawk at all, it's not a red-tail) and it doesn't give chase to the crow, it's simply leaving its perch as soon as the coast, er, air, is clear.

Friday, December 09, 2011

If you don't let yourself fail, you're going to fail

It's my understanding that the media mass exhorting people to stick to this or that various difficult diet and exercise routine is incalculably large, and a google search confirms as much. I've never so much as glanced at it, let alone dived in, though, because for whatever reason--propitious or not--physical prowess has at least since high school been incorrigibly desirable to me. I've never smoked, drank, or used other illicit drugs, largely because of this. Yet running stairs or doing clap pushups are not mentally effortless activities for me by any stretch. A few tips from personal experience that are applicable (and hopefully helpful) to readers who want to improve quality of life through their outputs*:

- The first step is always the hardest of all. Not feeling sprite? Tell yourself you're just going to knock out ten minutes worth of work and then call it a day. I've done this forever and still do, and I suppose if I really did feel like throwing in the towel after a few minutes, I would. But I never have. Once I get the blood flowing, the lungs opened up, and let the adrenaline pumping, it's go-time.

- To facilitate this, dispense with the predetermined number of exercises and reps. This was difficult for me to do at first, but it makes finding fail a lot more realistic, and failing is how you get results. If you tell yourself you're going to do this progression of exercises and X number of reps for each one, tricking yourself with the ten minute trial won't work. As you're slugging through, you'll be apt to start thinking about how you're going to have to do 30 squat presses in half an hour and how fatigued you'll be then, so let's not push beyond 10 Y-presses now.

And some days are simply going to be better than others. Sometimes I'm able to get beyond 10 one-arm pushups per side, other days I'm collapsing at 6 or 7. If I obsessed over rep counting, I'd almost have to conclude that I was backsliding, which is a demotivating thought I need to avoid. I've broken the same rib three times playing football, and some days my right obliques are really tight with the consequence that my V-ups on that side are pathetic. That doesn't matter. What matters is that I do as many as I'm able to.

- Which segues nicely into an important phrase to remember: The mind always gives out before the body does. I say "remember", but it's actually something you don't want to think about while you're pumping, because if you rely on your mind to consciously tell you its thinking is flawed, well, that's a flawed strategy. Working out with others (even if they are on a screen) helps keep your mind from focusing on this and instead focuses it on surpassing (or at least keeping pace with) them, which you're a lot more capable of doing than your mind wants to tell you that you are!

If you're working out alone, have some sort of external stimulus to distract your mind from the exertions of your body. For cardio, I run stairs in a commercial stairwell I have access to, north of 200 flights per session. It's when I get my weekly Radio Derb and EconTalk podcasts in, or listen to an NFL game is my timing is right. Only once have I forgotten my iPod (and after that, I bought an AM/FM radio that sits in the car just in case), and decided to try to pull it off with nothing but the sound of my feet pounding and my lungs sucking. Frustrated, I finished earlier than usual and took multiple 30 second water breaks in between. I guess if you're going for mastery of mind over matter and want to override the signals your mind is receiving to let up through sheer force of will, go the Zen route. But if it's physical results you're after, don't engage the quit signals--distract your mind from receiving them in the first place.

* I'd convey what I've gleaned regarding eating what you want to be eating instead of what you want to eat, but the best I can come up with is don't have access to what you don't want to be eating (ie, don't buy it), and know that if you eat the right stuff, you are allowed to eat as much as you want (my daily calorie intake is around 4,000). Also, avoid calories in liquid form, because with a few exceptions, those calories are going to come almost exclusively in the form of sugar. Water (at least two gallons per day, in my case), a sugarfree energy drink or two (Rockstar is my personal favorite--and this is admittedly a personal indulgence, probably not something I should recommend), a cup of black coffee or tea, and low sodium V8 is all I do. Fruit juices, colas, beers--that's going to turn right into dough.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

White, Caucasian, or Anglo?

Take lessons in class and character from Steve Sailer. He graciously praises Andrew Sullivan, who has shown no compunction in the past for nailing people to the wall for political incorrectness in the past, for a qualified public defense of HBD realities with regards to average IQ differences between different groups. That's laudable intellectual leadership on Steve's part.

Facetiously, Steve finishes that post with the following:
In 1972, it looked like the rank order of average intelligence was Oriental, Caucasian, Chicano, and black. But, in 2011, of course, we now see from endless studies and real world examples that the actual rank ordering appears to be Asian, non-Hispanic white, Latino, and African-American. So, everything has changed!
"Asian" has been preferred over "Oriental" since the late 1930s, but the gap was narrower in 1973 than it is today. "Black" has always been and is still today more common than "African-American", though the gap has been closing over the last two decades. I've not traced the usage history of "Chicano", so I can't comment there.

What about "White" versus "Caucasian"? As far as I'm aware, the latter has never been the preferred term for referring to people of European descent in casual conversation--"white" always has been. Of course, always extends back to around 2000 or so for me, and though it may slip my mind from time to time, history in fact began before then.

To gauge the popularity of each term, in addition to "Anglo", the other recognizable descriptor for those of European descent (well, those who speak English, anyway), the percentage of total articles in The New York Times containing the terms "Whites", "Caucasians", and "Anglos" (capitalization doesn't matter), is graphed below (via NYT's handy archival site), by decade from 1851 to 1959, and by year after that:

The "Caucasians" and "Anglos" lines are not missing--they both run flat along the bottom of the graph for the entire 160 year period being considered. "Whites" is orders of magnitude more common than either of the others and has been since at least Lincoln's presidency. I could remove "Whites" from the graph and just contrast "Caucasians" and "Anglos" to bring them into better focus, but both consistently get only a handful of articles each year (around 11 and 7, respectively) compared to "Whites", which gets anywhere from several hundreds to thousands, so there's little point in doing so.

"White" is such a bland adjective or noun to use for a person, nearly as bland as the people it represents. This is, of course, in contrast to the various terms used to describe non-whites that have come in and gone over the years, a diversity in descriptors that parallels the vibrancy of non-white cultures, compared to the predictability of white 'culture', if we can even call it that!

Parenthetically, "Caucasian" tends to appear in articles mentioning Asians, while "Anglos" travels alongside Hispanics/Latinos, especially those involving Texas in some way. The latter is not surprising, since Anglo is (at least partially), like Hispanic, a linguistic characterization. It seems unnecessarily confusing to use "Caucasian" and "Asian" repeatedly in the same article though, when "White" and "Asian" would make distinctions easier, but alas, it is what it is.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Who's the $#@!ing nihilist around here?!

From City Slickers to The Great Labowski and from The Purpose Driven Life to The Selfish Gene, the question of purpose in life is not just one for philosophers, theologians, and psychologists--it has strong popular appeal as well.

It's perhaps easiest to define purpose by looking at its absence. The Inductivist recently reported on nihilism (as defined by agreeing with the statement that "life does not serve any purpose") and ethnicity, and that post served as the impetus to dig a little deeper into what the GSS reveals about nihilistic sentiment.

So, let's run the standard demographic gauntlet. The following tables display mean nihilism scores from the years 1998 and 2008, computed by taking participant responses to the 5-point scaled GSS item on perceived lack of purpose in life and inverting the averages for ease of reader comprehension. The higher the score, the more nihilistic the group is. One standard deviation is .76 points on the nihilism scale.

The first image that comes to my mind when conceptualizing a person who finds life devoid of meaning is of a person who is unhappy. But I attribute my own sense of contentment with what I see as purposes for my existence, so I have an obvious bias. The GSS also asks a question on self-described general happiness that was cross-referenced with the nihilism question:

Very happy
Pretty happy
Not too happy

Biased as I am, my intuition appears to be accurate. People who feel life has no purpose are more likely to be miserable people than those who see purpose in their lives are.

The next stereotype that comes to mind is a person who is irreligious but vaguely "spiritual" and likes to claim to be into mysticism, etc. They're awash in the sea of life, without anything firm to hold onto. Conscious atheists tend to be adamant that God is unnecessary for meaning or morality in life, not that, having disabused themselves of the notion of God, meaning and morality have consequently disappeared for them as well. And those who firmly believe in the supernatural have had the purpose of existence spelled out explicitly for them:

Uncertain believer
Firm believer

Two for two. But the differences are more modest than I'd have guessed. Parenthetically, to give a little more purpose (heh) to blogging, I always write up impressions of the issues at hand before looking at the relevant data as a way of trying to maintain transparency and also because it's more fun (drilling down through the numbers can have a numbing effect if one isn't careful about how he approaches it).

Bruce Charlton, professor, former medical journal editor, and Christian apologist, colorfully contrasts non-believers with believers:
For the modern hedonic atheist nihilist - to look at the Universe is to feel insignificance, despair, meaninglessness...

But the uncorrupted man sees the heavens as the work of God, is overwhelmed by gratitude, delight, amazement - is moved to praise and worship.
To state with certainty that God exists is still the most common response to the question regarding God's existence (at least in the US), with nearly two-thirds of GSS participants doing so. But acknowledging the big guy in the sky and trying to live one's life in accordance to his wishes are hardly the same thing. Let's look at belief in the supernatural from a different angle, by comparing those who are "moved to praise and worship" with those who are not:

Worship frequency
Weekly or more
More than once a month
At least once a year
Less than once a year

Each classification is exclusive, so the second should actually read "More than once a month but less than weekly or more", etc.

The differences are a bit more pronounced here, and trend in the expected direction, with those who make it a point to go to church regularly sensing more purpose in life than those who do not.

How about children? It's said that once you have them, your life changes forever. What's more important than the well being of one's own children, on both the emotional and biological levels?

# of kids

Swing and a miss. The number of kids a person has doesn't appear to influence the amount of purpose in existence. I guess passing the hot potato around a few more times before getting burned out doesn't necessarily give the silly game any additional meaning.

How about that beautiful organ, the brain, that separates us from beasts in the field? Excepting the supernatural, what thing possesses capabilities for discovering purpose that outranks those of the human mind? SWPLs love being driven by the things they are passionate about, the things that give their lives meaning. If life is devoid of meaning, engaging in abstract thinking begins to seem pretty pointless (even in a world where everything is already pointless, and... never mind). Or, turning it around, the ability to think abstractly allows one to perceive (or more creatively construct?) purpose. The inability to do so makes it difficult to see beyond immediate impulses and the steps needed to satisfy them. Do unintelligent people see a reason for existence? I don't know, do dogs?

Real Dumbs
Pretty Dumbs
Pretty Smarts
Really Smarts

The differences between those of middling to high intelligence and those at the left end of the bell curve are large, with averages that are more than a standard deviation apart. Some of the gap gets closed by those of modest but limited intelligence. Intelligence, more than anything else, appears to influence whether or not a person feels that life has no meaning.

I may be reading too much into marginal differences, but perhaps those at the right end of the bell curve have some tendency to fully grasp their seeming insignificance in the larger universe and hence minimize what otherwise is seen to give their lives purpose.

Maybe it's better that the least intelligent amongst perceive the least purpose in existence. When they opt out of the conventional, established methods of discovering meaning in their lives through religion or professional success, they are liable to create harrowing identities like the ICP-inspired juggalo 'movement'.

More practically, influential people with prestigious careers are in positions to make decisions and engage in behavior for which the magnitude of consequences is much greater than people in the underclass are, and both groups are aware of as much, at least to some extent. Well, maybe greater meaning in one's own personal actions relative to other people translates into the perception of greater meaning in life more generally:


Makes sense to me.

Liberals want to turn Western Civilization on its head, conservatives want to bring Calvinism back into vogue, and wishy-washy moderates don't know what they want! As noted earlier, those who don't know what they believe in or what they want don't know what Fate wants for them, either:

Political orientation

Another miss. Maybe politics just don't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Inductivist found that those of Mexican ancestry tended to be the most nihilistic of any ethnic group in the US. As the bulk of Hispanics in the US are of Mexican descent, we'd expect non-Hispanics of various races to be less nihilistic than Hispanics are:


Two-thirds of a standard deviation between the US' founding stock and its Great Society additions. Well, Manifest Destiny definitely insinuates purpose. The Great Cultural Mosaic or whatever the multicult mess will end up being called, on the other hand, is its own end-game, without much definable purpose beyond celebrating itself. We're the ones we've been waiting for, and when we get here, then... (Do I hear crickets chirping?)

I suspect women are less nihilistic than men for a couple of reasons. One, from an evolutionary perspective males are more expendable than females are, so there is less instinct for men to see a purpose in it all. Hell, even if there is a purpose, a bunch of them had no part in serving it! Two, the conventional societal response to the question of whether or not life is meaningful is yes, of course it's meaningful, and women are less comfortable violating social norms than men are:


Small difference in the averages, but as predicted men are more nihilistic than women are.

It's comforting to think that over time, as wisdom accrues and experiences accumulate, I'll increasingly come to perceive meaning in life. That vaguely seems to be the case so far. Yet I'm not oblivious to what the decaying process that is aging can do to a person's spirit. Once a week I spend a few hours with the elderly, and it's obvious that more than a few of them are donning thin disguises with happier visages that appear to be more at ease with what's in the not-so-distant future than the faces underneath those disguises betray. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. What's the point in that?


Looks like while we're young, we're still searching. As we settle into middle age, we come to terms with what we've found and accept it. Then, as the aches and pains creep up and the thrill of living recedes, backsliding begins.

In summation, happy, intelligent, middle-aged upper class white women who are found in the pews on Sundays (and sometimes Wednesdays) tend to see the most purpose in life. Young, dumb, pissed off underclass Hispanic guys who wouldn't be caught dead in a church unless it was to grab a handout see the least. Purpose is so passe! The future is nihilism!

* Respondents are broken up into five categories that come to roughly resemble a normal distribution; 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 Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%)

GSS variables used: NIHILISM, HAPPY, WORDSUM, GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), ATTEND(0-1)(2-4)(5-6)(7-8), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), KIDS(0)(1)(2-3)(4-8), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), CLASS, SEX, AGE

Friday, December 02, 2011

Locke Cole's proviso

NES and SNES era rpgs are close to my heart, an inseparable part of my childhood. Hey, we're talking about the early nineties here, so I could've been doing a lot worse. As I'm always happy to point out, these games are the reason why I knew, as a third grader, what the words "zenith", "troglodyte", and "mercurial" meant.

While I was going through high school and college, always working, playing sports, and maintaining multiple committed long-term relationships (not simultaneously--I'm not that alpha!), I went on an extended hiatus from gaming, but a few years ago as I settled into the same kind of lifestyle that sent Guile Frost off on a hunt for M. Bison's head, it was easier to make time to indulge myself again.

Still, as precocious as I like to fancy myself having been as a stripling, I missed a lot. Several months ago, I played through Final Fantasy VI on Game Cube using the GBA accessory. That Locke personifies a caricature of what Robert Nozick coined as the Lockean Proviso (I say as a caricature because he does not do so in an affirming way, as the things Locke seeks out are not in abundance and his gain is some other explorer's potential loss) is one of the many things that flew right over my head when I was younger. As defined in the Second Treatise on Government:
Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough and as good left, and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself. For he that leaves as much as another can make use of does as good as take nothing at all. Nobody could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst. And the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.
The accusation, first stated indirectly by way of the fascistic Empire he is resisting through Terra, that Locke is a thief and his riposte that he is a treasure hunter is a recurring theme in the game. Occupationally, though, what Locke sets out to find lacks ownership (at least presently--some of the things are relics and other treasures lost to civilization), so it's not as though he is blatantly stealing property clearly and contractually owned by another entity--which is exactly why the proviso is relevant, since it presents a way of evaluating how private ownership should be determined. And the work of a treasure hunter who is motivated by gain does not satisfy the proviso, even when that gain is not of the vain material variety, but is instead Lazarusian in nature.

His work does, however, assist in the ultimate downfall of the Empire and eventually of Kefka. So while Locke is a humorous caricature of one of John Locke's central ideas on the moral distribution of property, he's still a sympathetic protagonist.

Taking it a step further and making editorial presumptions of Kitase and crew, one might assert that Locke serves as a vehicle for the argument that while the ambition for wealth is inherently selfish--and not the unadulterated force for the common good that is impervious to being impugned as the most stringent libertarians might argue that it is--it is, on net, a positive force for humanity (while the ambition for power, personified by Gestahl and to a more perverted extent, Kefka, is not).

Monday, November 28, 2011

The protocols of religious Jewish advocacy groups in the US

In a recent report on religious advocacy groups in the US, Pew lists the top 40 organizations by advocacy expenditures and policy makers and other government agencies and officials. Unsurprisingly, AIPAC comes in at number one.

The top 40 groups account for 85% of all dollars spent by religious groups for the purpose of influence peddling. Because I tend to use the term "neocon" disparagingly, it follows that I must harbor an envious hatred of Jews and consequently am wondering what percentage of the $330 million spent came out of the coffers of explicitly Jewish advocacy groups!

As it turns out, just over one-third (34.1%) of it. For constituting less than 2% of the nation's total population, with a constituency that is notoriously secular to boot, it would sure seem that 'religious' Jewish groups carry a lot of sway!

And yes, I realize I'm not the first person to make this observation. To those with that reaction, I kindly direct you to the blog's header.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Which division is the NFL's best?

The NFC North is arguably (in sports, what's inarguable, after all?) the best division in the NFL this year. There's a good chance both of the conference's wild card teams will come from it if Detroit is able to steal a big win against the Saints next week and Hanie is able to make things happen the way Cutler does. If the Packers are able to protect Rodgers against the Giant's front four in East Rutherford, it's not difficult to see Green Bay going 19-0. The 49ers have a soft enough schedule to conceivably finish the regular season 14-2, which will be enough to keep the Pack from making preseason games out of their last couple (although the Bears and especially the Lions could both benefit if the 49ers falter down the stretch--before one of them falls to their division foe in the divisional round and maybe the other in the conference championship).

For the NFC North to be so dominant feels unusual. As someone who learned the game while living in Dallas during the early and mid-nineties, I've seen "my" team (which I begrudgingly have to share with the rest of America!) take some tough breaks due to the strength of their division rivals over the years. Every division has its dog except for the two Easts. Talking to a friend last night who lives in the DC area, he suggested what I deem the Redskins (and Bills) "lost decade" was in large part due to the same (though it's hard not to argue that Dan Snyder's capriciousness deserves a lot of blame, too).

To give some relevance to the above, let's use it as a segue into the purpose of the post--creating an empirically determined ranking of the eight NFL divisions since the league tidily realigned itself in 2002 up through the end of last year. The following table shows regular season win percentage among the four teams in each respective division, after backing out all divisional play and excluding the handful of ties that have occurred over those nine seasons:

Win %
1. AFC South
2. NFC East
3. AFC East
4. NFC South
5. AFC North
6. AFC West
7. NFC North
8. NFC West

No surprises in the way the rankings shake out, except perhaps for how far down the list this year's top division falls and that the AFC South rather than the AFC East is king of the hill. Detroit has just been really, really bad for a really long time (they were 37-107 from 2002 to 2010). That, and to a lesser extent the mediocrity of the Vikings, is why. And the Colts have been as stellar as the Lions have been terrible over the same period of time. It's not absurdly hyperbolic to say that Peyton Manning, almost single-handedly, lifted the division to the top. Without him, we're witnessing the division come crashing down. But hey, at least the Texans will finally get that elusive playoff berth and rid the league of its last postseason virgin.

The NFC West's showing is awful. That the Seahawks won it last year despite a losing record typifies what has been unending ugliness since Kurt Warner, Tory Holt, and Marshall Faulk (remember the "greatest show on turf"?) were at their best.

It's worth noting that the geographic dominance of the SEC that shows up in college football (those guys are blacker faster!) also exists to a noticeable extent in the NFL. The South and East divisions are better than the North and West divisions are in both conferences (the AFC North is somewhat exceptional, with two regularly good and two regularly not-so-good teams). I don't follow college football closely enough to have a sense of how much of a role, if any, geographic proximity to where they played in college ends up influencing where the bulk of new professional players sign, though, so maybe this is just coincidental.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

AE on facebook

To avoid privacy issues and still maintain an effortless archival system, I've created an Audacious Epigone facebook account. When I initially began using facebook for blog archiving, the social network still required a unique university email address to be tied to each account to keep it from becoming a myspace where spam accounts proliferated. That was sufficient (and effortless), but awhile back, the privacy settings that had kept the archives private were altered in such a way that it was impossible to continue with that method. Now that it is open to anyone to create as many accounts as they'd like to, this is the obvious solution. It's also another feed option for those who are interested in as much.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More on the demographics of mental health

In the previous post, we looked at the likelihood to have received treatment for a mental health problem by political orientation based on GSS data. It turns out that self-described political liberals are twice as likely to have been treated for mental health issues as conservatives are, with moderates falling in between*. This spurred several intriguing comments that I'll turn to the GSS again to address.

Firstly, the inevitable racial issue. An anonymous commenter writes:
This generalization is too broad, since I'm sure Caucasian Liberals will have superb mental health compared to Caucasian Conservatives. Since there's studies that shows that those in higher Academia has the least stress and hence the best health.
It turns out he was being tongue-in-cheek, and whites are more prone to experience mental health issues than non-whites are. The percentages who have been treated for mental health problems, by race (n = 1,412):


As blacks are only slightly more likely to identify as liberal than they are as conservative, despite consistently voting Democratic by overwhelming margins, it's conceivable that race obfuscates the association between liberalism and mental health issues. In actuality, however, the relatively good mental health of non-whites attenuates political differences that are even more stark when only whites are considered (n = 1,033):

Whites only

While only 1 in 10 white conservatives have been treated for mental health problems, nearly one-quarter of white liberals have. I am not qualified to explain why this is the case, but perhaps God has something to say about it. In clearing up the confusion about his first comment, the anonymous commenter later writes:
Conservatives should be mentally healthier, because they tend to be more religious, hence making it easier for regulation of mental health.

Liberals worry so much that they actually care about people they don't even know.
Whether or not liberals have more mental issues to deal with because they want to put the weight of the world on their own shoulders, God's most ardent followers tend to come from the conservative ranks, and one of the rewards they receive in return is better mental health. To avoid racial confounding, only whites are included (n = 1,064):

Worship frequency
Weekly or more
More than once a month
At least once a year
Less than once a year

Each classification is exclusive, so the second should actually read "More than once a month but less than weekly or more", etc.

What about Jews? TAE is, loosely defined, part of the alternative right blogosphere, so the question has to be asked! Jews, after all, are as a group more leftist than white Democrats are. Again, God's hand is shown! Not just any god, but our God, an awesome God who reigns from heaven above (n = 1,405):


Unfortunately, the GSS is understandably unable to track ethnic Jewishness among survey participants. Instead, we're looking at Judaism by way of self-described religious affiliation. As Jews are considerably more likely than other Americans to be irreligious, there is presumably a sizable contingent of ethnic Jews in the "none" category.

Another trait that requires attention is intelligence. Writes Ed Tom Kowalsky:
[There is a] need to control for IQ inasmuch as I suspect mental illness tracks with intelligence.
Disappointingly, the best GSS proxy for IQ, Wordsum score, is not cross-referenced with the mental health question so controlling for it is a difficult thing to do. Educational attainment is of course correlated with intelligence, but the relationship is far from perfect. Instead of moving out several degrees by using education to estimate wordsum performance to estimate IQ scores, let's just consider differences in rates of mental health issues by educational attainment, again among whites alone to avoid problems with racial confounding (n = 1,067):

Educational attainment
Less than high school
High school graduate
Some college
Bachelor's degree
Post-secondary education

As was the case with worship attendance, each classification is exclusive, so the second should actually read "High school graduate but no college", etc.

While conservatives are, on average, slightly more intelligent than liberals are, white liberals have an edge over white conservatives, so the association between greater intelligence and more mental health problems might go a little way in explaining why liberals have poorer mental health than conservatives do (though for what my uninformed opinion is worth, I suspect differences in personality traits other than intelligence are far more determinative).

Silly girl contemplates the relationship between criminality, political orientation, and mental health:
I wonder whether folks who have ever been arrested or incarcerated are more likely to be liberal.

I would say that being anti social enough to end up in prison is a pretty good indicator of mental issues.
As Jokah points out, small sample size is a huge (heh) issue here, as the mental health question was only posed in one year of the survey, and the number of people who spend time in prison is in the middle single-digits range. This GSS well is dry.

For what it's worth, in Freedonomics (p182-184), John Lott--who it should be noted is clearly unsympathetic to the Democratic party--reviews multiple studies showing that to the extent that they express political preferences, felons tend to vote even more heavily Democratic than their demographic statistics (which are very Democratic) would predict.

Since we're running the conventional demographic gamut, let's look at marriage and children. To give respondents a chance to have tied the knot if their plans include as much, those under the age of 30 are excluded, while again only whites are considered (n = 926):

Marital status

And finally, kids. We're looking at the number white adults aged 30 and older have had (n = 927):


So, mental health issues are most commonly experienced among well-educated, unmarried, irreligious white liberals who don't procreate (or do the SWPL thing and have one kid after both parents are firmly established in their professional careers). Mental health problems are progressive, baby!

GSS variables used: MHTRTSLF, RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), MARITAL(1)(2-5), EDUC(0-11)(12)(13-15)(16-17)(18-20), CHILDS(0)(1)(2-8), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), ATTEND(0-1)(2-4)(5-6)(7-8), RELIGION

* As previously noted, the GSS item being utilized here asked respondents if they had ever received treatment for a mental health problem. That's not exactly the same as asking whether or not they had ever suffered from mental health issues, but it's pretty close.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Conservatives are mentally healthier than liberals

Ed Tom Kowalsky asks:
I've often wondered if mental illness is more common among those who self identify as liberal than those who self identify as conservative. I suspect the answer is a resounding "yes," but I don't know if there is solid evidence justifying my suspicion.
I'm not familiar with the relevant science, but a bit of googling turns up some survey results showing that Republicans are more likely than Democrats are to describe themselves as being in good mental health. Another commenter, JOhn, asserts that liberalism and neuroticism are correlated. From what I'm able to gather, the evidence for that is pretty mixed, but again, I'm really not qualified to speak on the subject.

The GSS is another natural place to turn to in seeking an answer, however, and I am qualified enough to report what its data show! In 2006, it asked respondents if they had ever received treatment for a mental health problem. That's not exactly the same as asking whether or not they had ever suffered from mental health issues--I'd guess, ceteris paribus, liberals are more likely than conservatives are to seek out medical treatment for perceived problems that cover all aspects of personal health, whether they be physical, emotional, or psychological--but it's pretty close.

The question is binary, with respondents simply answering "yes" or "no". The following table shows the percentages of people who report having received treatment for a mental health problem at some point in their lives by political orientation (n = 1,356):


So the GSS provides Ed with at least some evidence that his suspicion is correct.

GSS variables used: MHTRTSLF, POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Old Republican white men know what's going on in the world

Over the last four years, I've tracked the results of Pew's "News IQ" quizzes that are periodically administered to a random sample of around 1,000 Americans. A couple of remarkably consistent results are how men are better informed than women are and that the average American is far less informed than readers of this and similar blogs are.

Unfortunately, as honest as Pew is when it comes to the reports it commissions, politically correct acts of omission are far more common than they should be, if imparting honest information to its readers is truly Pew's primary motivation. Consequently, these quizzes never provide demographic data by race or ethnicity, the categories being limited to sex, age range, educational attainment, and partisan affiliation.

In the official report accompanying the latest survey results released a few days ago, the sex category has been scrubbed as well. When something becomes as depressingly mundane as the fact that men are better informed on current events than women are, it's past time to stop talking about it.

However, sex differences are still available at the political quiz index page that is accessible once a user has completed the quiz. Same old, same old, of course--men averaged 8.5 correct answers, while women answered 6.8 questions correctly on average. Even on the item asking quiz takers to identify a picture of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, men outperformed women, although only by a 6 point margin, the narrowest of the 13 questions. The widest sex gap, of 21 points, was on the question about the number of US military fatalities that have occurred in Afghanistan. It involves war, Asia, and numbers--so no surprise there.

The second consistency remains in clear view, however. Take a minute to complete the quiz yourself. Per usual, I scored a perfect 13 of 13 because for someone who follows the news, it's not a difficult thing to do. Yet the average American missed 5 or 6 of them. Most people simply don't pay much attention to what takes place outside of their own personal lives beyond some degree of exposure to various forms of popular entertainment.

As those things are blase, let's consider another aspect of the results that inexplicably don't ever garner media attention, even though they are a lot less threatening to the egalitarian zeitgeist than racial or sex disparities are, since they involve propositional categories. That is, they are not fixed, so with more education and greater awareness, this gap can be closed! The aspect at issue here is partisan affiliation (see p5). On every question posed (including the one asking participants to identify Hillary Clinton by photo that should presumably be skewed in the Democrats' favor), Republicans outscored Democrats, by double-digit margins on a majority of them.

Race presumably accounts for much of the Republican advantage, which is why it would be more interesting to see a partisan breakdown among whites alone. As perverse as it is, in this facet of the status-mongering game, conservatives have a vested interest in ignoring HBD. Because NAMs identify by overwhelming margins more with the Democratic party more than they do with the GOP, measures of knowledge, behavior, and life outcomes inevitably cast Republicans in a better light than they do Democrats.

Finally, take a gander at the results by age range (p6). The online version of the quiz only includes 13 of the 19 items administered in the official survey, but of the full 19, younger people outscored their elders on only two: The ability to correctly identify the crescent star as being associated with Islam and the capability to point out Brazil on a map of South America. In our ever diversifying future, though, these two items are of greater importance than the rest, like who the secretary of state is, what percentage of Americans are unemployed, or where the DJIA is!

* Which, in my case, simply consists of listening to the top of the hour news updates on one of the local AM talk stations or NPR at some point during the day--that limited amount of effort is sufficient to ace these quizzes.