Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race and attitudes toward crime

The stacked bar charts show attitudes toward various types of crime for college-age males who are white, black, or some other race (Longitudinal Study of Violence Against Women). Across the board, blacks and those of some other race think crime is more acceptable and are more likely to say they would commit a crime if they knew they could get away with it. (I threw in infidelity as well).

In a society with large numbers of blacks and Latinos (most of the "other race") there is greater need for a punitive criminal justice system since there are fewer people who would not commit crimes in the absence of punishment.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mainline denominations are worthless

These results from this Gallup poll are pathetic. Look at how Catholics are either more or equally accepting of behaviors the Church teaches are sinful. This, in spite of the fact that non-Catholics include many who claim no religion! And this isn't even behavior, just values. Mainline denominations are worthless.
Love that hip hop: My neighbors are moving furniture as I write this, and they're playing at about 120 decibels hip hop music that appeals to someone who was dropped on his head as a child. Obviously black folks, right? Wrong. Mex-Ams. I'm not surprised. People of similar IQs gravitate to the same music, and as Steve Sailer reported recently, young immigrants from Mexico weigh in at 82. We're stuck with our lower-class blacks and whites: do we have to import another problem population? Welcome to America the Future. I need a Corona to numb the pain.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Present and future Democrat strategy: In spite of a black man in the White House, it looks like Democrat strategists will continue to use claims of widespread racism among whites to demonize Republicans and their policies. And they will probably do it forever.

In the Political Brain, Drew Westin argues that Democrats must reveal the Right's very effective metanarrative for the racist ideology it is. While Republicans talk about limited government, low taxes, controlled immigration, states rights, etc., it is actually code for, "Join us and stick it to the Black Man."

Westin uses neuroscience research to show that people have conscious and unconscious motivational networks, and then links what Republicans say about race, and what they really feel about it deep down. In order to win elections, Democrats have to always bring this hatred to light. When Trent Lott praised Strom Thurmond, for example, he revealed his true feelings for blacks.

Westin says that this sort of revelation must be exploited mercilessly. According to the author, Republican strategists are such geniuses, they have been decades ahead of the science, and have been activating racist unconscious networks since Nixon. He uses the 2006 Harold Ford race to claim that Republican mad scientists knew exactly what they were doing when they ran an ad with the words, "He's just not right." The strategists knew that the phrase would activate neural networks, causing whites to interpret the phrase as "He's just not white."

With all the recent science showing that that racial bias is hardwired, we can expect Democrats to find hatred in every meaningless thing Republicans do or say. Their message will be that all conservatives are haters--fallen men, in fact--and the only way to redemption is to, say, support universal health care.

Guys like Westin want his party to use this strategy much more, not less in the future. I think they will--we saw plenty of it in 2008--and all I can hope is that it backfires in the long run. If many whites are like me, being browbeaten long enough will turn a person of good will into a rebel.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Faith in science and social conservatism: In the comments of the first post on evolution and barbarism, Jason Malloy reported his analysis of GSS data which showed that faith in science is correlated with favoring abortion, independent of the influence of a liberal political orientation.

That made me wonder if social liberalism in general is common among those who really trust in science. I found six GSS questions concerning social issues:

Logistic Regression Coefficients, IV = Faith in science

Dependent variable
Prayer in schools -.872**
Suicide if disease is incurable .387**
Favors gun permit law .179
Marijuana should be legalized .416*
Homosexual sex is wrong -1.687**
Courts are not tough enough -.260

** p < .01, two-tailed test
* p < .05, two-tailed test

Except for crime and gun control, faith in science is associated with socially liberal positions. For guns and crime, the direction of the relationship is liberal, but the relationships are not statistically significant.

It looks like there is a strong tension between faith in science on the one hand and traditional morality on the other. Guns and crime are perhaps seen as practical matters, but the rest of these are morally tinged. Perhaps secularists are drawn to science while being turned off by religion.

Of course, we could focus on the religious side of the coin. Ever since Scopes, evangelicals have felt assaulted by science. When told by elites that you must make a choice, science or superstition, religious folks will throw the former overboard. It looks like Dawkins is doing the same thing to Muslims that Mencken did to evangelicals.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Atheism, evolution, and the death penalty: Speaking of the last post, I'll concede that I picked a conservative version of a barbarism. Let's pick a liberal one this time: the death penalty. The argument was made in the documentary Expelled that belief in atheism and evolution tend to reduce the value of humans, especially unproductive ones. The whole question becomes, does a person improve the population or not? People become economic units, and the door is opened to eliminate those who are a drag on society.

Murderers are certainly undesirable, so do atheism and acceptance of Darwin make us want to get rid of them? I followed the same strategy as in the last post and included a liberal outlook as a control.

Logistic regression coefficients

Acceptance of evolution -.042
Atheism .045
Liberalism -.252**

p < .01, two-tailed test

In analyes not shown, both atheism and acceptance of evolution are significantly related to being against the death penalty, but you can see in the results above that when liberalism is entered in the model, the effects of the other two fall to non-significance. So atheists and Darwinists tend to be against executing criminals, but only because they tend to be liberals. No whiff of Hitler here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Atheism, acceptance of evolution, and atrocity: When it was in the theaters, I wasn't interested enough in Ben Stein's Expelled to go see it, but I saw that it was available online at Netflix.com. It was more stimulating than I expected, and it made me wonder if there was something to the idea that atheism and belief in Darwin were associated with various forms of barbarism. My sense of the historical record would lead me to say no--I mean, haven't elites in all developed countries accepted the science--but you folks know I like data.

The General Social Survey asked the following questions: 1) confidence in the existence of God, 2) likelihood that humans evolved from animals, 3) political orientation, and 4) favoring abortion for any reason. I chose the last one because it is an attitude in favor of a barbarism. To approve of abortion at any time for any reason would include killing a baby right before birth because at the last minute Mom decided she couldn't afford an iPhone if she had to buy diapers.

I doubted that mere adoption of atheism or acceptance of evolution would lead one to accept any kind of abortion; I suspected that a liberal worldview might explain any correlation. To assess this, I estimated a logistic regression model with abortion attitude as the dependent variable and the other measures as predictors:

Logistic Regression Coefficients, DV = Favoring abortion for any reason

Liberalism .302**
Skepticism about God .294**
Acceptance of evolution .383**

**p < .01, two-tailed test

Atheism and belief in evolution both significantly predict favoring abortion on demand, independent of the influence of a liberal worldview. I don't like to admit it, but some of the people who seem to be most devoted to Darwinism and atheism are neo-Nazis, and many of them have adopted barbaric attitudes. When, in an online debate forum, I was told that an autistic family member of mine should be euthanized, I wanted to reach through the Internet with a switchblade and slit the guy's throat. Some readers, I'm sure, will suggest that I examine the correlates of a real atrocity like denying racial preferences to less qualified minorities--the American equivalent of gassing Jews.

Blacks think they are the smartest

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health asked 310 teens to rate their intelligence. You can see in the graph that blacks are more likely than any other group to say they are moderately or extremely above average. By contrast, no Asians put themselves in the smartest category. Here are the means:

Mean self-perceived intelligence

White 3.74
Blacks 4.19
American Indian 3.52
Asians 3.79
Other 3.60

The black mean is four-tenths of a standard deviation higher than the Asian mean. As I showed with levels of national pride and national achievement, self-assessed IQ seems to be inversely related to actual IQ.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Religion and intermarriage: Reader Desmond Jones asks an interesting question: "Are the religious more or less likely to marry outside their ethnic/racial group?" Church is a common way for marriage-minded people to meet, and it is certainly true that people of different races often belong to the same religion. On the other hand, churches are quite segregated. In my town for instance, Catholic Hispanics gravitate toward the same parishes while whites do the same.

The Houston Area Study asked 809 people about the race of themselves and their spouses, and asked how important religion was to the respondent.

Percent who are married to someone outside their ethnic/racial group

Religion is not very important 10.0
Somewhat important 6.7
Very important 11.3

Religion is not very important 44.4
Somewhat important 14.6
Very important 13.7

(The black sample is not large enough). Church doesn't matter for whites, but look at Hispanics--huge differences. It looks like religious involvement keeps Latinos from assimilating.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Race and accidental infant deaths: Blacks and whites are identical, except for whites being racists and blacks suffering from it, right? Well, whites must also differ in being evil geniuses, because they have figured out some way to cause black babies to die accidentally at much higher rates than whites.

According to the CDC, non-automobile accidental death rates for infants are 39.8 per 100k for blacks and only 16.8 for whites. The difference is due to the following specific kinds of accidents: smothering, electrocution, being left in a hot car, contact with something hot, and consuming poisonous substances. These accidental deaths are obviously caused by factors like lack of supervision and judgment. Did white people suck common sense out of the heads of black folks?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Women and marriage: Doesn't it seem that never-married women get grumpier as they get older? The stereotype of the mean nun comes to mind. My wife tells me that life hardens a woman but a good man softens her. Let's look at GSS data to see if there is a difference among women of various marital statuses as they age. Respondents were asked how happy they are in general, and the possible answers are "very happy" (1), "pretty happy" (2), and "not very happy" (3). I calculated the means, and what we actually have here is a scale of unhappiness.

Mean sadness scale--women

Ages 18-24
Married 1.72
Divorced 2.01
Separated 2.24
Never married 1.88

Even at these very young ages, married women are the happiest group. On the other hand, young women in a failed relationship are not as happy as those who did not marry.

Ages 25-29
Married 1.65
Divorced 2.00
Separated 2.17
Never married 1.91

At this age range, married women have gotten a bit happier. The other groups are about the same. The mean sadness for the married group is about four-tenths of a standard deviation lower than for the never-marrieds.

Ages 30-34
Married 1.65
Divorced 1.99
Separated 2.02
Never married 1.98

Never-marrieds are now as unhappy as women who have been through the trauma of a broken marriage. The married/never-married gap is now one-half a standard deviation. I'll dispense with the older ages since the pattern holds.

So, marriage and happiness for a female go hand-in-hand starting at the earliest ages. Don't say that marriage is risky because it might not work out and then you'll be miserable. You'll be miserable anyway.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A whole country of little girls: We live in a bad age. President Obama is prostrating himself after comparing his bowling to the Special Olympics, and everybody is jumping on him for it, including so-called conservatives like Sarah Palin who is supposed to be so tough she wrestles bears in her free time.

I get to weigh in here--as if I needed a reason--because I have a close family member who is special needs. It was a joke, people. Lighten up, bitches. I'm sick of living in a time when a person gets scolded for every tiny little thing, and then he follows up with a tearful apology and probably some huge financial commitment to a special interest.
Religious people are less hedonistic: When I became an atheist in my early 20s, I saw a change in my general outlook. Before, I had always thought in terms of doing the right thing. Even though my family was conservative, I was convinced by liberalism because it seemed the most moral.

After losing my faith, I began to see life not as a place to be good, but as a place offering nothing valuable but pleasure. If I had an ambitious personality or a strong need for money, I might have seen achievement or economic success as the goal to live for. But for me, a life of simple comfort was the best you could do. Instead of respecting some principle, it made sense to me for the atheist to follow his personality, even if his personality sucked.

Of course, it's not rational to be a short-term pleasure seeker, because if you were in every way, your life would quickly be ruined. But I could never convince myself to be a perfect long-term hedonist. The psychology of "take it easy" was too powerful. It would be easy to argue that much of my train of thought described above was not rational; much of it, indeed, was driven by the interaction between thinking and personality.

But was this experience limited to just me? I have been called an oddball more than once, I assure you.

The Longitudinal Study of Violence Against Women asked male college students how much they agreed with, "I often do whatever brings me pleasure here and now, even at the cost of some distant goal." Answers ranged from 1 for "strongly disagree" to 4 for "strongly agree." Students were also asked how much influence religion has on them.

Mean instant gratification score by influence of religion

None 2.17
Some 2.09
Fair amount 1.93
Great deal 1.56

The difference between the "nones" and the "great deals" is two-thirds of a standard deviation. Looks like I'm not alone.

To the extent that outlook and values matter, I can think of few things more valuable than a culture of self-discipline. But the plot thickens: the other one that immediately popped into my head was devotion to the pursuit of truth, a commitment I think atheists can make a strong claim to.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Americans with a religion have more self-worth

In God and the State, Mikhail Bakunin wrote that since man gives God every positive quality, he becomes the embodiment of everything low. God's possession of all value leaves man worthless. The restoration of our self-worth, therefore, requires rejection of belief in the divine.

So is it true that the irreligious have more self-esteem? GSS respondents were asked if they sometimes feel like they are no good (N = 2,184). Answers ranged from "strongly agree" (=1) to "strongly disagree" (=4). A question about belief would be ideal, but we'll have to use affiliation instead. The graphs shows that Americans with no religion value themselves less than people with a church.

To get another angle on it, I calculated means:

Mean self-esteem score

Protestant 3.24
Catholic 3.26
Jewish 3.16
None 3.10

The no religion/Christian gap is about two-tenths of a standard deviation.
From Rasmussen:

Seventy-three percent (73%) of U.S. voters believe that a police officer should automatically check to see if someone is in this country legally when the officer pulls that person over for a traffic violation. Only 21% disagree, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters also say that if law enforcement officers know of places where immigrants gather to find work, they should sometimes conduct surprise raids to identify and deport illegal immigrants. Twenty-four percent (24%) oppose surprise raids.

The Republican Party should capitalize on the strong anti-illegal immigration sentiment that is still felt in the country, and that should grow as long as the economy is in the tank. Steele sounds okay here--I don't see why a black Republican would have any special reason to take the open borders view--but so far, my overall impression of him is mildly negative.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's the Irish with no religion who drink too much: In honor of St. Patrick's Day, let's test the stereotype that the Irish drink more than they should. GSS respondents were asked if there are occasions when they drink too much.

Percent who drink too much

Catholic Irish 41.6
Protestant Irish 40.6
Irish with no religion 54.8
All white Americans 37.8

So, compared to other whites, Irish Americans are more likely to overdo it, but the difference is large only for those with no church. Maybe the stereotype comes from a comparison with WASPs: only 33.5 percent of them say they drink too much.

While we're at it, I see that 49.6 percent of all white Americans with no religion say they drink more than they should. That's significantly higher than everyone else: Protestants (37.6), Catholics (36.1), Jews (26.4), and others (34.5).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Indian American IQ? Not to get into all the specifics, Steve Sailer reported a study that put the mean IQ of young, recent Indian American (IA) immigrants at 112. I calculated it for the GSS's 20 IA's born in the United States. It is 95.2 (!), nowhere close to this other figure that, by the way, was calculated using a backward digit span test. Chinese Americans born here, by contrast, averaged an IQ of 105.0, according to GSS data.

Update: The GSS estimate of IA's match up with Rushton's summary.

Cleanliness is next to godliness



Since atheists are non-conformists, I suspected that they would more often reject the convention that a home should be kept clean. A GSS interviewer judged the cleanliness of the homes of respondents. The graphs above summarize the data for men (top) and for women (bottom).

Along with those squishy people who believe sometimes, it looks like atheists are messier, but the small sample size doesn't help. If we look at means instead and combine sexes, we get:

Mean messiness score

Atheists 2.14
Agnostics 1.64
Some higher power 1.72
Sometimes believes 2.27
Believes but doubts 1.82
Knows God exists 1.78

Same story here. The gap between believers and atheists is four-tenths of a standard deviation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Atheists, gays, and depression: I finally got around to seeing the movie Milk. One theme that emerged is that many homosexuals are suicidal. Mr. Milk said that most of his lovers had thoughts of killing themselves because of how society rejects gay men.

Reader Jason Malloy suggested in the comments section of previous post that atheists might be more depressed than believers. I'm a relatively happy person, but my dreariest times were certainly the years when I was an atheist. Anyway, let's tackle the depression issue for both of these groups at the same time.

GSS respondents were asked how much they felt down and blue in the past month. Answers ranged from "all of the time" (=1) to "none of the time" (=6) so the higher the score, the more depression-free the person.

Mean lack of depression score

Straight men 5.04
Gay men 4.86

Doesn't believe in God 4.91
No way of knowing 4.86
Some higher power 4.92
Believes sometimes 4.54
Believes but has doubts 4.95
Knows there is a God 4.90

Gay men do suffer from more depression than straights, although the two-tenths of a standard deviation difference is not large. Milk probably exaggerated the problem, although there was more homophobia in the 70s than in 2000 when these survey questions were asked.

Belief, on the other hand, seems to be unrelated to depression. The only group reporting greater sadness is "believes sometimes." We saw in the last post that atheists suffer less from mental health problems overall; it is probably the case, as readers have suggested, that it takes a strong mind to be an atheist, so there might be few non-believing psychotics. Some of those folks even think they are God, right?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Belief in God and mental health: In Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton argued that atheism is associated with mental illness. Is it? There are two relevant questions from the General Social Survey: 1) How confident are you in the existence of God? 2) In the past month, how many days was your mental health not good?

Mean days of bad mental health in past month (N = 1,703)

Doesn't believe 1.88
No way to find out 3.44
Some higher power 4.86
Believes sometimes 2.95
Believes but doubts 3.01
Knows God exists 2.67

As I've shown in several other posts on wellness, it seems like it's healthiest to be confident, one way or the other. And Chesterton, as much as I like the guy, is wrong.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Religion and gay sex don't get along

This graph from Gallup shows a universal tension between religion and homosexual sex. The disapproval does vary--Hindus, for example, don't feel as strongly as Muslims--but if homosexual rights were a high priority for me, I'd wish for a secular world.

Even non-Abrahamic religions are less tolerant than secularists. This across-the-board opposition to gay sex suggests a biological basis, doesn't it? Could it be as simple as the widespread revulsion that heteros feel at the thought of this type of sex? Sexual scenarios of all sorts generate strong emotional reactions: how many times have you heard people say "gross" at this or that image?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are country folks happier?

Any guy like me who spends time in both rural and urban areas can't help but notice that people in the cities look less happy. Now, it could be nothing more than "city face": the look that lets other people know that you are not to be bothered. Or it could be the need to detach to avoid stimulation overload.

Myself, I've always been a city hater. I lived in NYC for a couple years. Hated it. To my eyes, cities are ugly unless hidden by the night. If areas are run down, my mood follows. The noise, the bad air. We were made to live in small groups. And I'm a bit of a misanthropist--I can only handle a few humans at a time. I realize that cities are essential. Somebody's got to live there, just not me.

Anyway, according to the GSS, small town folks are happier. Just look at the graph. I thought the lives of hicks were supposed to be so dull and meaningless that they'd be one step away from a shotgun in the mouth. The pro-city bias starts when we're kids. Everybody knows that everything cool and fun is in the city. Never trust a teenager.
People do not age out of their secularism: Recently, Razib and I both used GSS data to show what other surveys have been showing: compared to older Americans, the young are less religious. But it is possible that this is due to an aging effect. One might tend to grow more religious as one gets older and finds a secular life unrewarding. I have seen research before (don't recall where) that found support for this.

I did not. Taking 18-22 year olds in 1990-1994, I followed them up until 2008 when they would have been in their mid-30s:

Percent who never go to church

1990-94 14.7
1995-99 21.1
2000-04 17.4
2005-08 21.0

Any changes just look like noise to me. It's possible that religiosity might develop in one's forties or older, but I doubt it. If the current cohort of twenty-somethings stay consistent like this older group has, their share staying completely away from the pews will be almost 30%.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Nietzsche and Christianity

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche claimed that Christianity accomplished two things. First, it gave solace and dignity to the poor. They might have to spend their lives cleaning toilets, but they do so knowing they are sons of God just like the boss. Second, and more importantly for the author, Christianity neutered the men at the top of society. Nietzsche's antipathy for the faith seems to stem from this.

But the question is, how manly did he need European men to be? Looking across the centuries when Christianity dominated the continent, do those guys seem womanly to you?

Christianity is useful precisely because it can restrain the alpha males. If Nietzsche is right that the world is divided into two types--master and slave--then all the rest of us benefit if we can convince the masters to go easy on us.

I used GSS data to see if religion makes low-status people happier. Limiting to sample to whites with jobs no higher than working-class, the graph above shows that more frequent church attendance is associated with greater happiness (N = 3,585).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Emergency: The Idiocracy begins

The graphs show the trend in scores on a ten question vocabulary test (WORDSUM) given by the General Social Survey (N = 24,196). This test is a good measure of IQ, and you can see how the share of the country in the highest IQ bracket has fallen. In 1990, it was 7.4%, and by 2008 it was almost half that--3.8%. The area of gain has been with the middle scores of 6 and 7.

Suspecting that the shrinking of the smartest group might be due to a larger number of immigrants--a group with a poorer English vocabulary--I removed them, but found the same trend. It looks like we're seeing Idiocracy in action.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Then there's the moral recession

The General Social Survey has put up its 2008 data. When it provides new stuff, I like to look at the latest trends among young people in order to give us a glimpse of the future. Looking at the graphs above for 18-29 year olds, you can see that everything is moving in the wrong direction (at least if you think like I do). Sample sizes are between 6,300 and 11,300.

The first half of the decade made me think things were getting better (you can see that in the graphs) but trends reversed, and 2008 data are supporting the view that more young Americans approve of homosexual sex, abortion-on-demand, and never go to church. Throwing in Congress and Obama, the Left is kicking our asses at the moment.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Religiosity and assimilation: Razib, over that Gene Expression II, shows that Muslims are better integrated in America than England or France because there is a better fit here in terms of religiosity. Muslims tend to be religious, and so do other Americans.

I wanted to see if there was a general pattern of religiosity and assimilation. The General Social Survey asked 202 immigrants how often they attend religious services, and how proud they are of America's history. It's high time I used the proper statistic, so I calculated gamma, which turned out to be .16. So there is a positive association, albeit a small one. On average, religious immigrants have a better attitude about America.

I think I just found an area where Mexican immmigrants look good, or at least seem like a good match with American culture. They are more religious than immigrants in general, more religious than American-born people of Mexican ancestry, and they attend church more often than native-born Americans in general. They are as likely as other immigrants to be proud of America's history, and Mex-Ams born in this country are more likely than the typical American to be proud of the country's past. (Results are not shown 'cuz I got no damn time!)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mr. Darwin, my hero: Razib Khan's interview of Greg Cochran rocks, but what REALLY impressed me is that Cochran says that he has 5 children. Now, a guy who shows real intellectual virtuosity earns my admiration. And I say "right on" when I see a guy successfully raise a large family--I know how tough it is. But when I see THE SAME guy do both--damn, the respect goes up multiplicatively. That's a real man.

It's probably the case that Darwin is my favorite scientist because he was: 1) a genius and a gentleman, and 2) a devoted father of ten kids. We need a moral continuum for men with Travis Henry on one end and Mr. Darwin on the other.
Do fertile women produce gay sons? Let's do a test of the "Beautiful Wives/Gay Sons" theory. According to Dienekes, sexual orientation is a combination of masculinity/femininity genetic factors inherited from parents. Gay men thus have more feminine parents, and for their mothers this means greater attractiveness and fertility. If this is true, homosexuals should come from larger than average families. Here are the mean number of siblings by gender and sexual orientation (GSS data).

Mean number of siblings

Straight 3.47 (N = 8,106)
Bisexual 4.93 (N = 54)
Gay 3.61 (N = 261)

Straight 3.71 (N = 9,314)
Bisexual 3.93 (N = 61)
Lesbian 3.43 (N = 187)

Gay and especially bisexual men come from larger families. While bisexual women also come from larger families, lesbians come from smaller families. More masculine mothers?

Normally with this kind of survey question, there is concern that traditional folks are underreporting their homosexuality, but here we see that more people from large and presumably more conservative families are admitting homosexual behavior (except for the lesbians).

One puzzle is that all the means seem too high. But keep in mind that this question has been asked since 1972 of people of all ages, so many folks come from families formed several decades ago. Plus, respondents are asked to include stepsiblings and adopted children. I checked and the means are skewed by the top few percent reporting huge family sizes, but even if they are removed, the pattern of the results stays the same.