Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sex ratios of atheists, agnostics, and believers

Reading one of John Derbyshire's posts spotlighting the pathetic spectacle of some shrew bemoaning the lack of female representation among those in the "secularist movement" at Secular Right got me wondering about the gender breakdown by supernatural belief. Personal experience strongly suggests that most atheists are men, but to what degree does their dominance extend?

The following graphs show the sex distributions among whites surveyed since the turn of the century by (a)theistic outlook:

Putting aside all the other reasons that men tend be disproportionately overrepresented in the top spots of movements, organizations, fields of study, etc they belong to, it's still hardly surprising that the shrew detects a dearth of women leading the secularist charge into the public square. Atheists comprise less than 3% of the contemporary white adult population, and, by a 3-to-1 margin, they're overwhelmingly men. Agnostics comprise 5.6% of the white adult population, uncertain believers 33.9%, and firm believers 57.7%.

Parenthetically, while a solid majority--65.6%--of white women express certainty in God's existence, white men who feel the same way are, at 48.3%, actually in the minority among their own sex.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2010), SEX, RACECEN1(1), GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Idiocracy is an old friend

Jayman has an interesting post showing that the positive correlation between fertility and political conservatism has existed in the US for nearly a century. Rifting off of this (okay, okay, copying it!), presented below are similar graphs tracing the relationship between fertility* and a couple of other angles I'm interested in--intelligence and educational attainment. To allow for family formation to have occurred, racial confounding to be avoided, and linguistic problems to be evaded, all included respondents were at least aged 35 at the time of their participation, non-whites are excluded, and the foreign-born are disregarded, respectively.

Firstly, fertility and intelligence by decade(s) of birth:

The dysgenic trend isn't anything new. We've putatively been moving towards Idiocracy for a century now. I use the qualifier because it is by no means clear that the average IQ of white Americans has declined in the last 100 years--to the contrary, it has probably increased.

Parenthetically, I find it neat to see the phrase "baby boomer" really come alive with the data.

And fertility and educational attainment by decade(s) of birth:

The correlation between education and fertility is much stronger than the correlation between intelligence and fertility is. The sixties cohorts illustrate this particularly well in the two graphs presented above. Of the 25 bars displayed in the latter graph, only two buck the otherwise perfect pattern of more education resulting in fewer children, and they are minor ("some college" among those born 1900-1919 and "bachelor's" among those born in the fifties). In the former graph showing the interaction between intelligence and fertility, there are several exceptions.

Here's to the education bubble bursting and a much more efficient, industrious method of imparting skills and knowledge to those rationally seeking them rising out of the dampness. The current structure isn't just financially wasteful and morally destructive--instilling in young adults a sense of entitlement to go along with a heavy debt burden and little in the way of marketable capabilities or competencies--it also plays a starring role in the death of the west.

* The averages are systematically overstated here as the GSS instructs survey participants to count not only their biological children but also step-children and those they've adopted.

GSS variables used: COHORT(1900-1919)(1920-1939)(1940-1949)(1950-1959)(1960-1969), WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), EDUC(0-11)(12)(13-15)(16-17)(18-20), BORN(1), RACE(1), CHILDS, YEAR(1985-2010)(1995-2010)(2005-2010)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It gets better, er, more propitious, over time?

After reproducing a list of obscure vocabulary words, Steve Sailer wonders:
Do vocabularies continue to grow over a lifetime of reading? The 10 word vocab test on the GSS could of course be used for this, but most of my growth has evidently been at the high end of the range, which probably wouldn't show up on the GSS.
No one attempted to formulate a response in the post's comments, so here it goes. While Steve's reservations about the GSS' Wordsum are duly noted, what constitutes "high end" is relative. For the left half of the bell curve, "allusion" and "emanate" are indeed high end.

The following graph shows the mean Wordsum score for white respondents born in three separate decades by year of survey participation (because at present the survey 'only' spans 35 years, there's no simple way to track the entire adult lifespan of respondents born at the same point in time). My presumption was that a steady increase in scores would be evident from early adulthood through the years preceding retirement age, at which point they would peak and then begin declining as senility started wreaking havoc:

The black lines show when the middle of each age cohort hit 55 years old. While it's not as clearly the case as I'd imagined it would be, especially with regards to how marginally time causes scores to increase, the prediction does appear to describe the general pattern.

With the exception of the aberrational year 2006, the twenties cohort bounces around in a gradual descent as they become increasingly elderly. The forties cohort gradually climbs but appears to have started what may well be a continual decline in the present, while the fifties cohort, just now contemplating retirement, demonstrates continuous accretion in scores over time, most pronounced in their early adult years. Like personality, vocabulary probably grows steadily through adolescence and into early adulthood before becoming mostly static with a little shifting here and there over a forty or so year stretch through late adulthood before inevitably changing in unpredictable but generally negative ways in life's gloam.

GSS variables used: YEAR, COHORT(1920-1929)(1940-1949)(1950-1959), WORDSUM, RACE(1)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Charles Murray on (the) Pew (quiz)

Criticizing a joint effort by PBS and Pew Research to construct a 12-item party identification quiz, Charles Murray makes a few questionable assertions. Firstly, his commentary on the "I never doubt the existence of God" item:
So let’s say you’re the Pew researcher making up the test, you know that conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals, and you want an item that will capture that tendency. So far so good. But then do you say to yourself, “The very most religious people are the ones who never doubt the existence of God”? “Lack of doubt in the existence of God has a statistical correlation with conservatism”? This item is clueless. Clueless about the nature of deep religious faith, clueless about the relationship of conservatism to religiosity, and clueless about the different tendencies of libertarians and conservatives regarding religious faith.
Murray's elitism (and I say that not with derision but with admiration, as the best minds are almost by necessity elitist) causes him to be overly pedantic and demanding of too much semantic precision. Blaise Pascal and Mother Theresa may have perpetually struggled with doubt, but generally speaking, the most pious tend to leave the least room for an existence in which God isn't extant, as the GSS clearly illustrates. The percentages of people who express certainty in God's existence by political orientation and then by frequency of church attendance (with no double counting, so "monthly +" includes only those who attend less than weekly but at least once a month, etc), from 2000 onward and among whites exclusively for contemporary relevance and to avoid racial confounding:


Less than annually33.6%

If we really want to pile on, we can criticize the availability of four responses (completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, completely disagree) to a clearly dichotomous question. How is it possible for one to "mostly agree" that he never doubts the existence of God? If he has ever doubted God's existence, he must choose "completely disagree" as his answer; otherwise, he must choose "completely agree".

This is the nature of most of Murray's criticism, and he could've gone a lot deeper on several of the items if he'd wanted to. For example, the item "Gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally" could easily be answered in the affirmative by someone entirely opposed to same-sex marriages. Yes, gays should be able to marry but no, we should not change the definition of marriage to include incestuous, multiple, or same-sex partners. A gay man is allowed to marry a woman he is not related to just as a heterosexual man is! However, the sliver of the population that might logically interpret the question and proffered response in this way is going to realize what the survey is intending to measure and thus answer that they completely disagree with the item even though, strictly speaking, they may completely agree with it.

But that's not the point of surveys like these. Look, social survey data aimed at the general public are inevitably going to be found lacking in nuance and precision, but that's more of a feature than a bug. Better to have informed (and those who read Murray are in the top decile of the population) respondents scoff at the simplicity or semantic sloppiness of a question yet answer in the same way as they would have had it been worded more cogently than risk having a substantial slice of the relatively uninformed masses become confused by the question and offer random or bemused responses that confound the entire data pool.

Murray also utters this doozy on the question about immigration, a subject for which I recall John Derbyshire having noted causes otherwise perspicacious pundits to momentarily lose several IQ points upon discussing:
Hasn’t anyone at Pew or PBS noticed that unions, mainstays of Democratic party funding, are among the most vocal critics of immigration?
The AFL-CIO's official position on immigration:
The U.S. immigration system is broken—and U.S.-born workers as well as aspiring citizens are paying a heavy price. America needs to create an immigration process that works for working people—not a system that benefits corporate employers at the expense of everyone else.

 Current U.S. immigration policy is a blueprint for employer manipulation and abuse, and both new American immigrants and American-born workers are suffering the consequences.

 We say, “¡Basta Ya!” or “Enough Already!” That’s why the AFL-CIO supports a comprehensive, worker-centered approach as part of a common-sense immigration process.

Click here to read the union movement's framework for creating a roadmap to citizenship.
To the right of the page linked to are a couple of 'statements and resolutions' explaining the union's support for "in-state tuition of undocumented youth" and "the devastating effects of state anti-immigrant laws". The language used by the nation's largest unions are indistinguishable from the words employed by La Raza. The rank-and-file might not be big fans of open borders, but, like their non-union brethren, their appointed leaders are.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2010), RACECEN1(1), GOD(1-5)(6), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), ATTEND(0-1)(2-3)(4-6)(7-8)

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Calorie burning corpulence

Reading Razib in my hotel room in God's country over the long weekend moved me to check out the fitness room. Here she is:

Editorializing a bit, it's repetitive, low intensity equipment, exclusively. And it's typical. This stuff burns muscle and causes the body to store fat in the kangaroo pouch. Diet is the primary cause of the obesity 'epidemic', but this non-dietary prescription is about as helpful as the call for more education is when it comes to trying to equalize economic outcomes.

Parenthetically, I pack a weight vest and a medicine ball when travelling and go to work in the room. It's enough.