Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not afraid to die, just don't want to be there when it happens

++Addition++Initially, I forgot to include Italians because I was asleep at the wheel. Looking through all the GSS categories for sample sizes sufficient to include, I apparently just missed them, and though people of Italian descent are on the low end (n = 81), it's still worth including them, for suggestive reasons if nothing else. Thanks to St. Louis for pointing it out.


Commenting on an article by Daniel Smith in the NYT about the putative nervousness of Jews, Steve Sailer brings up the collective angst associated with Germans, in contrast to say, Slavs, and discusses what distinguishes inward-looking Teutonic anxiety from entertaining, professionalized contemporary Jewish-branded anxiety. That Smith concedes without objection to the notion that Jews are "the only ethnic group I know of that members of other ethnic groups will unabashedly declare to be suffering from collective neurosis," (never mind the veracity of the claim, which is more about accentuating Jewish victim status than representing reality. You know, reality, that place where non-NAMs are terrified of saying anything negative about Jews and only Jews like Daniel Smith are allowed to write articles discussing Jewish tendencies), shows that it's a stereotype elite Jews are more proud than ashamed of, a point Smith makes explicit later in the piece. Our minds are always racing, juggling all the concerns of the world, that we can't ever just relax in the backyard on the hammock on a lazy summer afternoon. How horrible that we must suffer so!

The archetypal Woody Allen character (not the actual man, as Steve points out) didn't just fashion a stereotype out of thin air, though, it constructed the golem's traits based on real life attributes. Perceptions usually persist because there is at least some element of truth to them. The GSS posed a couple of questions relevant to the topic in 1996, on anxiety, and 1998, on nervousness, to survey participants. The following table shows the average number of days respondents, grouped by religious affiliation, reported feeling "anxious and tense" over the last week and also shows how they assessed their own levels of nervousness over the previous month*:

No affiliation2.40Other2.26
Other2.04No affiliation2.01

There's justification for Woody Allen's character. One standard deviation is 2.21 days and 1.02 points, respectively, so we're looking at differences of less than one-fourth a SD between Jews and Protestants on both measures, however. Political differences between Jews and Gentiles are a lot more pronounced, for example, than differences in anxiety levels are.

Since we're here, let's do the same, this time by ancestry:

Italian3.03Native American2.36
Native American2.58Italian2.31

That Native Americans collectively show nearly the highest levels of angst doesn't surprise me. Taciturn, yes, and in my experience also demure, insecure, and always up for a sedative.

I don't have much intelligent to say regarding the high Italian numbers. Sample sizes aren't large enough for any other Mediterranean groups. Would we expect Greeks and the Turks to be similarly high on the anxiety scale?
Excepting Italians, it's difficult to distinguish much between people of European stock, other than English oppressors tending less towards neuroticism than the oppressed Irish do.

While blacks often play the leading role when SWPLs talk about things like diversity and minorities, Jews, with whom they often compete for most oppressed status, are capable of willfully forgetting them. After all, other than conceived distinctness from the white majority, Jews and blacks don't have much in common. Case in point, Smith, in attempting to universalize Jewish tendencies as the tendencies expressed by minorities of all stripes, writes:
As Jewish-Americans, the participants were highly susceptible to the kind of ironic, self-deprecatory ethnic pride that many American minorities — not just Jews — like to indulge in. ... Ask a Korean-American or a Greek-American or an Italian-American or an Arab-American who the nuttiest, most nervous, most irreparably self-conflicted people in the world are, and he will invariably point to the members of his own tribe.
Blacks are notably absent. As the preceding table shows, they aren't anxious or nervous, and they aren't self-deprecating, either. When blacks do poke fun of themselves, other blacks are the intended recipients, as even the audience of a Chris Rock (who's about as racially self-deprecating as blacks get) stand up routine illustrates.


* Scores, on a 5-point scale, are inverted for ease of viewing. The higher the mean value, the more collectively nervous the group is.


Anonymous said...

Jews are "the only ethnic group I know of that members of other ethnic groups will unabashedly declare to be suffering from collective neurosis,"

Yeah? My impression is that Jews are the one ethnic group that members of other ethnic groups are afraid to say anything about.

pat said...

Seeing Africans at the bottom of both lists reminds me of a song.

"I ain't a worried 'bout hell, till the time arrives. Never worry longs as I's well. Never one to strive - to be good, to be bad, what the hell.

Oh, I got plenty o' nuttin and nuttin's plenty fo me".


Saint Louis said...

No Italians?

Audacious Epigone said...

Sain Louis,

Oops, thanks. I've updated the tables.

Steve Sailer said...

There are two quite different stereotypical Italian males: the Berlusconi-like showboat and the taciturn, penny-pinching peasant. I'm not sure how they fit together.