Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mexico vs. Israel

This match will determine which nation is the greatest on earth!

Repeating a point he's made on several occasions, Steve Sailer recently noted:
Mexico gets relatively little coverage in the United States English-language media despite its immense importance to the future of our country.
To assert that the major media are entirely ideologically driven without regard to consumer demand would be hyperbolic, but when it comes to the seemingly inordinate amount of coverage given to a small country on the other side of the Atlantic with fewer people in it than Virginia has relative to the amount of focus given to a country we share a border nearly 2,000 miles long with and that has a population three times that of California (and 14 times Virginia's), supply isn't adequately addressing demand.

The most recent Google Trends data shows that for every search in the US including the term "israel", there are nearly four searches including "mexico" (with searches containing the word "new" excluded to avoid counting the US state in the country of Mexico's column).

There are, not surprisingly, large geographic variations in search interests. New York leads all states (plus DC) in conducting the highest percentage of searches including "israel" in them (as does New York City when cities are evaluated instead of states), while California leads the pack in the percentage of searches containing "mexico" (sans "new"), followed closely by Texas and Arizona.

What do The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, and countless other major media outlets have in common? Why, headquarters in NYC, of course. Parenthetically, the nation's capital, home to NPR and The Washington Post, comes in fifth among states in terms of the percentage of searches originating there that include "israel" in them.

The following table ranks the states by their 'favoritism' towards Israel over Mexico in terms of percentages of Google searches that include either of the words in them, comprised by simply taking the "israel" search index number and subtracting the "mexico" search index number from it. The index figures used are on a 100 point scale for each term individually, with the most interested state setting the top value of 100 and the figures for the other 50 states being calculated in reference to the top search state in both cases separately. Consequently, even in Massachusetts, the most 'pro-Israel' state, searches including "mexico" still outnumber searches including "israel" in absolute terms. Search data are not case sensitive:

1. Massachusetts+63
2. New York+53
3. Maryland+28
4. New Jersey+26
5. District of Columbia+23
6. Connecticut+17
6. New Hampshire+17
8. Pennsylvania+16
9. Rhode Island+13
10. Hawaii+12
11. Maine+8
12. West Virginia+7
13. Florida+5
14. Ohio+3
15. Alabama+2
15. Delaware+2
15. South Carolina+2
18. Tennessee+1
19. Vermont0
20. Kentucky(1)
20. Oklahoma(1)
22. Montana(2)
22. North Carolina(2)
24. Alaska(3)
24. Mississippi(3)
26. Georgia(4)
27. North Dakota(5)
28. Louisiana(6)
29. Indiana(7)
29. South Dakota(7)
31. Arkansas(11)
31. Iowa(11)
31. Kansas(11)
34. Michigan(12)
34. Washington(12)
36. Missouri(13)
36. Nebraska(13)
38. Idaho(14)
38. Minnesota(14)
38. Oregon(14)
41. Illinois(16)
41. Wisconsin(16)
41. Wyoming(16)
44. Utah(18)
45. Colorado(24)
46. Nevada(29)
47. New Mexico(34)
48. Virginia(38)
49. Arizona(47)
50. California(48)
51. Texas(54)

A visualization of the data is available here.

The Virginia data may be corrupted, but I don't want to arbitrarily dismiss them outright without good reason. There are no metro areas in which the "mexico" index score is anywhere close to the state's total, while the city of Sterling, home to Dulles but fewer than 30,000 residents, comes in at the top spot for all cities in the entire country when it comes to looking up Mexico.

Excepting the Virginia anomaly, the geographic differences are stark. The Northeast, and especially the media establishments therein, are far more interested in their brethren--what? No, no, I meant that in a brotherhood of mankind kind of way, no ethnic insinuations from me!--than the rest of the country is, while the Southwest shows an unbecoming amount of interest in our neighbors to the south.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

GSS on Haidt's Moral Foundations theory

In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt describes a list of initially five, which he subsequently expands to six, moral foundations. In this theory of morality, there are six major dimensions of morality on which humans operate. Wikipedia provides a brief description of them here. Haidt's research shows that liberals in the US put more emphasis on the care/harm and liberty/oppression dimensions than conservatives do, while American conservatives give a bit more weight to the fairness/cheating foundation and considerably more focus to the loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation dimensions than liberals do.

As it so often does, the GSS allows us to put this theory to a general test by tapping data that was not specifically designed to measure what Haidt and company are after but that, conveniently, still manages to provide another measurement.

I've selected six items, each one approximating one of the six foundations, and compared average liberal and average conservative responses to them in standard deviations. Positive (negative) values indicate that conservatives care more (less) about assuring the positive expression of the foundation is condoned and/or the negative expression of the foundation is censured than liberals do.

The care/harm question asks respondents if they believe the government should help pay for medical expenses for those who cannot afford them; the fairness/cheating question asks if it is wrong for a person to hide income to avoid paying taxes; the liberty/oppression question asks if personal freedom is more important than marriage; the authority/subversion question asks if a cop is ever justified in hitting a citizen; the sanctity/degradation question asks if gay sex is immoral; and the loyalty/betrayal question asks if a person should support his country even if when it is acting in the wrong:


The GSS results largely support Haidt's divisions, with liberals putting greater emphasis on liberty/oppression and especially care/harm, just as he found to be the case. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more concerned with fairness/cheating, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and loyalty/subversion than liberals are. With the exception of the authority/subversion item, for which moderates and liberals are virtually indistinguishable, moderates fall in between liberals and conservatives on every foundation.

The gap between liberals and conservatives on fairness/cheating is larger than expected in the GSS relative to Haidt's findings on authority/subversion and loyalty/betrayal, and the sanctity/degradation gap is probably even wider than Haidt would expect it to be, but these questions are by no means perfectly calibrated to replicate his approach--the fact that they follow the overall pattern described by the moral foundations theory suggests it has descriptive value. Whether it is especially useful or overly cute and stylized is perhaps a separate issue, but that's not the point of this post.

Haidt has a simple, free site for those interested to gauge their own moral foundations within the framework of his theory, though it combines the fairness/cheating and liberty/oppression aspects into a single foundation on which liberals place greater importance.

My results (in green):

Mostly in line with conservatives on four of the five, my only deviation being on the sanctity/degradation foundation (which is, confusingly, referred to as "purity" in the online survey). Engaging in a little self-reflection, my results capture what sometimes borders on indifference towards the plight of others and also what they choose to do to themselves, and the high expectations of loyalty from friends, family, and colleagues. The purple would've suited me nicely, I think!


Friday, May 24, 2013

The rhetorical approach to selling eugenics

... is not to emphasize positive over negative iterations of the idea, or even, as I've done in the past, to focus on the consequent egalitarianism that these approaches, if put into practice, will presumably foster. No matter how delicately broached and amenably angled, it's inevitably received as being too harshly comparative, too judgmental, and we simply can't have that! Arguing that this guy should have five kids while this guy shouldn't have any is socially and politically intolerable in the contemporary Western world, irrespective of the merits of such an argument.

It needs to be about individual choice and self-improvement. Forget pushing (to a broad audience, anyway) for one group to do more procreating and another to do less of it. In vitro fertilization has come a long way in the last five decades, and embryo selection has progressed from being all about viability to include avoidance of undesirable traits, the most conspicuous of which is Down syndrome. And the inclusion of putatively desirable traits is somewhere just around the corner. Eugenics need not be about telling the best to breed more and the worst to breed less, but instead marketing it as a game anyone can play. If everyone begins systematically making the most of what they have, we get a rising tide raising all boats outcome.

Since we're on the subject of selling the idea of eugenics for public consumption, Razib Khan recently pointed out the seemingly obvious point (which I nonetheless have never explicitly acknowledged until he spelled it out for me) that eugenics, rather than being a way for the patricians to further distance themselves from the plebes, is actually a means of moving towards that good old American ideal of everyone having an equal--or at least less significantly unequal--shot:
Steve [Hsu] has much to lose in a selfish zero sum sense because he’s already rather assured of intelligent offspring. He’s smart. His wife is smart. Standard quantitative genetics implies that even if they regress to the mean his offspring will be quite bright. There may not be much more juice to squeeze out of that genetic background. It may be very different for a couple with more average endowments. So sorry to turn this upside down, but personal eugenics may in fact be a boon for the ugly, stupid, and psychologically unstable, because it gives them a opportunity to close much of the gap with those who were lucky in the genetic lottery. Some of you may object to terms such as “ugly,” “stupid,” or “psychological unstable.” But people with these issues have to deal with them in their day to day. One can make all the platitudes one wants to make about “inner beauty,” but very few people live by this ideal.
Anyhow, these rhetorical considerations are probably going to become moot in the future. Prospective parents are going to take advantage of technologies that give their children an edge in life regardless of braying from opinion makers. Elites can crow all they want about the need for racial and socioeconomic integration in schools; couples are still going to do their damnedest to get their own kids into the iciest, most affluent schools they are able to.

There is already good deal of conceptual acceptance of eugenic practices on the individual level, especially on the political left. From 2004, the most recent year in which the dichotomous question was posed, the percentages of GSS respondents who say they'd have an abortion or want their partners to have one if a test revealed "the baby has a serious genetic defect", by political orientation (n = 2,451):

PoliticsYes abort

Though the major media regularly treats eugenics as being under the aegis of the right, I suspect the subset of the right to which it actually applies is about as large as the population for which "secular right" is an accurate descriptor.

GSS variables used: GENEABRT, YEAR(2004), POLVIEWS(1-2)(3-5)(6-7)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stabbing through the shroud at welfare and drug usage

I recall a couple years back reading about the state of Florida's implementation of a plan requiring aspiring recipients of welfare cash assistance (TANF, specifically) to take and pass a drug test to become eligible for said benefits. If successful, the state reimburses the welfare recipients for the cost of the drug test. If they fail, benefits are withheld and the test-takers are on the hook for the cost of having it administered.

Media coverage insinuated that drug usage among welfare recipients was, contrary to Florida governor Rick Scott's claim that welfare recipients have higher rates of drug use than non-recipients do, quite low--perhaps lower than that of the broader population--as less than 3% of those who went ahead and had a test administered on themselves failed to pass it clean. The hole in this implication, of course, is that many of those who qualify for welfare but have recently used drugs aren't going to drop the cash to take a drug test they know they're going to fail. One could make the argument that the more surprising result is that 1 in 40 willingly paid to have a drug test administered on themselves for no reason. Maybe they thought the test would fail, or perhaps these are people on the bottom rungs of the societal ladder and are consequently not well known for high conscientiousness or foresight.

There's a little bankshot in Scott's plan, as it disincentivizes drug usage among the poor while simultaneously reducing the number of people who are eligible to receive benefits by putting another hurdle in their way.

Since then, I stumbled across the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, with free online access available through the SDA interface. Unfortunately, the closest the study gets to querying respondents on welfare recipiency is whether or not they (or their families, for minors) are eligible for Medicaid (20% of participants said they were, 80% said they were not--I suspect those potentially eligible but who've never actually used Medicaid are mostly unaware of their eligibility or unwilling to take advantage of it for whatever reason, so I'd guess we're doing more than just proxying for low income here), and that question can only be cross referenced with "have you ever used X?" inquiries, not "have you used X in the last month?" questions.

Thus the following attempt to get a feel for whether welfare recipients are more or less likely to use illicit drugs than non-recipients are is a pretty rough approximation, but we work with what we have. To give participants a chance to have used the various stuff if so inclined to do so, I excluded respondents under the age of 20.

The percentages who have ever smoked marijuana by whether they are eligible or ineligible for Medicaid:




Cocaine (powdered):








Negligible differences between those eligible for Medicaid and those ineligible when it comes to weed and powdered cocaine, higher rates of having used crack, heroin, and meth among the eligible, and higher rates among the ineligible when it comes to having ever tripped on acid.

Crack is a black drug and meth is a white trash drug. Powdered cocaine and heroin are a little, uh, classier, acid is for the college-aged children of the middle class and the affluent who are on existential missions to find themselves, and weed is something people from all walks of life have used sometime in their adolescent and early adult years.

Parenthetically, if I'm able to use the data at hand to validate some of the stereotypes I'm asserting in the body of a post, I better do so. The percentages of respondents, by race, who've ever smoked crack:


And used meth:


GSS variables used: NEWRACE2, AGE2(9-17), MJEVER, COCEVER (fag!), CRKEVER, HEREVER (...better), LSD, METHDES

* I realize the usage figures for meth and LSD strain credulity, apparently being more experimented with than even marijuana. I'm unsure of why this is the case, but I doubled-checked the figures and that's what the results show, so take the meth data with a grain of your favorite substance. It's probably still worth noting the disparity between those eligible and ineligible for Medicaid, though.

++Addition++Dan shows how wildly off the meth (and by extension LSD) numbers are. The LSD and meth questions are grouped in under larger categories for hallucinogens and amphetamines, respectively, so it's probably "if you have ever used a hallucinogen, have you used LSD?", etc. Consequently, the racial distribution for meth use likely only applies to those who've used amphetamines of some kind. I'm fairly confident about the figures for the other drugs, though.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fruitcakes and fertility

The correlation between the percentage of a state's population that identifies as LGBT and its fertility rate is an inverse .31 (p = .03). This modest relationship means that one-tenth of a state's fertility rate is 'attributable' to the proportional size of its LGBT population. Conjecturing irresponsibly, with about 3.5% of the population identifying as LGBT nationally, let's say one-third of that 10% queer push comes from the gays themselves and the other two-thirds comes from the environments they prefer and help create which are not especially conducive to procreative family formation.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bureaucratic partisanship

With the admission by the IRS that it targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny in their petitions for tax-exempt status and put red tape in their way to bog down their operations in the headlines, I thought it'd be a nice time to take a look at the party affiliations of  government (federal, state, and local) employees and compare them to the affiliations of the rest of the country that has yet to heed the Derb's advice. The following table shows the party affiliation distribution among those who work or have worked for the government and those who have not. For contemporary relevance and valid comparisons, only responses of those of working aged (18-65) who were surveyed between 2010-2012 are included (n = 3,144):

Third party1.9%2.7%

Government employees are more politically committed at both ends of the spectrum, which shouldn't come as that big of a surprise since their jobs are inextricably connected to politics in one way or another. Unfortunately we can't turn the tables and isolate IRS employees for particularly close scrutinizing, but I suspect that those whose jobs rely upon the collection of tax revenues are going to be more negatively predisposed towards groups supporting reduction in the taxing (and spending) power of leviathan than other people--and even other government employees--tend to be.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2010-2012), WRKGOVT, PARTYID(0-1)(2-4)(5-6)(7), AGE(18-65)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

More men than women harassed in the military, often by other men

With the government-media complex highlighting sexual abuse in the US military as The Issue that now must be addressed straight, with gun control being a political loser, amnesty being undercut by the blatant immigration undertones of the Boston marathon bombing, and the taxing of online interstate sales having it's best chance of congressional approval if no one knows the critters are pushing it through--I thought I'd take a look at the primary source. With gays now being allowed to serve openly in the military, I also sensed an opportunity to cause some mischief.

The survey in question asks active duty personnel who have experienced "unwanted sexual contact" in the past year to focus on the most egregious incident when answering subsequent questions. Jumping out immediately is the fact that while the 2012 figure is higher than it was in 2010, results for 2006 are worse (as in a higher percentage of personnel reporting unwanted contact) than they were in either 2010 and 2012. This looks more like random year-to-year variation than an 'epidemic'. Personnel also report higher rates of unwanted sexual contact prior to becoming active duty military than they experienced after having enlisted. Lots of young, adventuresome singles in putatively stressful situations and there's less sexual harassment than there is in civilian life--when the percentage of people one comes into contact with who are potential sexual partners is often much lower than when on active duty--feels like a manufactured crisis to me.

Perhaps apprehensive that access to data broken down by sex of both offender and victim might give homophobes something to ream gays in the service with, data on offenders among female victims is reported but data on offenders for male victims is, inexplicably, not. The report simply reads "results for men are not reportable" (p32). Uh huh.

Fortunately, the data were broken out in 2010, and by employing a little algebra, we're able to glean from the latest report results from surveys conducted in previous years. The ratio of men-to-women who reported unwanted contact was nearly identical in both 2010 and 2012, with the latter showing an uptick of one-third more than 2010 for both men and women, so the following ratios almost certainly hold in 2012 even though I calculated them using data from 2010.

Things you're unlikely to see or hear reported from major media sources or pondered from the bully pulpit regarding sexual harassment among our active duty personnel:

- More men than women are on the receiving end of unwanted sexual contact--10,571 and 8,949 in 2010, respectively. Of course this is in absolute terms--women are still more likely to be victims of unwanted sexual contact than men are.

- According to the survey--conducted by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), operating under the Department of Defense--women are more than twice as likely as men are to perpetrate unwanted sexual contact, at least in situations in which the perpetrator(s) were of the same sex (a situation comprising 85% of all designated worst situations, the other 15% consisting of both men and women in a group making unwanted sexual contact with a victim). It strains credulity at first blush, but working from the tables provided on pages 34-36 and active duty personnel figures, we arrive at 12,326 total male offenders and 4,353 total female offenders* in an active duty service in which only about one-in-seven members are women. That translates to about 1 in 47 female personnel perpetrating unwanted sexual contact compared to just 1 in 95 male personnel doing so. Women are more likely to victimize and to be victimized than men are. Yet another reason that having them serve in the armed forces is such a swell idea.

- Relatedly, one-quarter (26%) of all unwanted sexual contact among active duty personnel involves women harrying men. One-half (52%) involves men getting after women, less than 1% consists of women sexually harassing other women, and the remaining cases (22%) involve men engaging in unwanted sexual contact with other men. I don't want my son's scout leader to be a gay guy or a woman. Heterosexual, please and thanks.

- Parenthetically, even if offending women in the military had a predilection for other female targets for their advances, it wouldn't be widely reported on. However, they don't. Offending women are more than eight times as likely to go after men as they are to go after women.

Beyond causing skepticism about the way the military goes about tracking sexual harassment, there are some potential story lines to go with these results--active duty women have clits as big as your di especially low digit ratios and the corresponding libidos to match, while men aren't that into these GI Janes. At least not for being red-blooded, mostly healthy trained killers, anyway.

Even less appealing, the number of active duty men who annually experience unwanted (homo)sexual contact from other men is in the high thousands (extrapolated to 6,307 in 2010, or around 8,500 in 2012). Yes, in our hypersensitive age, some non-trivial amount of identified unwanted contact--across all four offender-victim gender mixes--is innocuous badgering or having fun at someone else's expense, but still, like the priest abuse scandals that have 'rocked' the Catholic Church, there's a very real and very much downplayed homosexual element in play here.

* In reality, some of these offenders surely offended on more than one occasion and offenders may be individuals or members of an offending group, but the victims were not asked to identify the offenders by name, so for sake of clarity and consistency, I'm counting each offender as a separate individual. Consequently, these are lower-bound estimates of reported offender rates by sex.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Momma's in the kitchen, daddy's in the field

Upon further inspection it has come to my attention that the GSS is even more oblivious to PC etiquette than I gave the survey credit for. In 2012, it queried respondents on what they conceived of as the most ideal situation for a family with a young child to organize their family and work lives (and even more controversially, the question is written with the assumption that a "family" consists of one man and one woman married to each other). Despite all the putatively egalitarian feminist-inspired blathering about how parenting roles are fungible across sexes (and orientations), contemporary Americans trust biological realities more than they rely on the harping of the harpies. The distribution of responses among the broader population (n = 1,004):

Arrangement, all responsesDist%
Mother home, father full-time39.7
Mother part-time, father full-time41.6
Both full-time11.3
Both part-time6.8
Father part-time, mother full-time0.2
Father home, mother full-time0.5

Perhaps it's skewed heavily by the patriarchal enforcers of patriarchy, the patriarchs themselves. The response results, this time considering women only (n = 527):

Arrangement, women onlyDist%
Mother home, father full-time33.6
Mother part-time, father full-time45.7
Both full-time11.7
Both part-time8.5
Father part-time, mother full-time0.2
Father home, mother full-time0.3

The vast majority--we're talking 4 out of 5--of Americans conceive of the ideal family environment being one in which a man works full-time and a woman works either part-time or not at all. It's as though they recognize some sort of special bond between a mother and the child her body spent nine devoted months bringing into the world.

Maybe the patriarchs have brainwashed their own barefoot wives slaving away in the kitchen into falling for the breadwinner-homemaker ideal, but what about women who think for themselves? Liberal women only (n = 130):

Mother home, father full-time23.1
Mother part-time, father full-time48.4
Both full-time12.9
Both part-time15.0
Father part-time, mother full-time0.0
Father home, mother full-time0.6

Okay, but many of these women went through their formative years before third-wave feminism really got going. Let's see what the Sandra Fluke generation thinks. ... Oh, she's in her thirties? I got the impression that she was a college student or something. Ah, she recently graduated and will be starting her career soon. After a decade establishing herself professionally, she might even procreate one unaborted, down-free kid of her own, provided she outraces menopause or has her eggs frozen--soon. Anyway, the preferences of women under the age of thirty (n = 118):

Mother home, father full-time26.3
Mother part-time, father full-time47.7
Both full-time7.7
Both part-time18.2
Father part-time, mother full-time0.0
Father home, mother full-time0.0

Not a single woman surveyed thought it desirable for a mother to spend more time working than her husband does. Suck the marrow from the men, let work drain their souls, not ours! Good for them.

Given their illegitimacy rates, welfare utilization rates, and their positions on marijuana legalization, one may be forgiven for scoffing at the neocon assertion that Hispanics are "natural conservatives", but he should also be willing to give credit where credit is due. They are even more traditional than their white, black, or yellow brothers and sisters are (n = 73):

Mother home, father full-time45.4
Mother part-time, father full-time36.3
Both full-time2.3
Both part-time14.9
Father part-time, mother full-time0.0
Father home, mother full-time1.1

I'm throwing in with the plurality on this one, since our conceptual approach is one in which I'll assume the role of primary breadwinner/secondary caregiver and she the role of secondary breadwinner/primary caregiver. This is as good a time as any to pass along the happy news that my fiance and I are expecting a child just a few days before Christmas. No, I'm not so audacious as to herald the coming of a savior, but I am thrilled by the thought of combining birthday and Christmas into a super day in which (s)he gets 150% of what (s)he'd separately get on either day if the two gift glut days were further apart from one another, ha!

GSS variables used: FAMWKBST(1-6), SEX(2), RACECEN1(15-16), AGE(18-29), POLVIEWS(1-3)