Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Self-righteous libs are the ones with underperforming hearts: Readers expressed interest about altruism by ethnic group and political views, so here are the percentages who donated blood in the past year:

Percent who gave blood in the past year

Vote in 2000
Bush 20.3
Gore 14.5

Ethnic group
Dutch 23.3
Norwegian 22.1
Mexican 21.0
Irish 19.4
English/Welsh 19.3
Scots 18.3
Italian 17.6

USA 17.5

German 17.0
American Indian 14.7
Puerto Ricans 13.3
Black 12.9
Swedish 12.1
Jewish 11.9
French 10.9
Poles 9.6

Let me begin with the less interesting first: Americans of northwestern European descent appear to be the most altruistic (with Swedes as an exception--the blood alcohol content is too high for donation, perhaps?). Since I am always running into data that make Mex-Ams look bad, they should get their props here. And blacks are low, as a reader suggested.

Now for the fun part: conservatives can't possibly donate a lot of blood because you have to have a heart to have blood, right? WRONG: those self-righteous libs are actually the ones with underperforming hearts.


  1. i think for jews you have to look at their pattern of donating/volunteering for specifically jewish causes. there are lots of those and i would imagine only jews donate to them, but that the both donate and volunteer for those a lot. therefore they likely ARE "compassionate" and "altuistic" only in a more narrowly parochial sense.

    i think the more universalist your ethne's religious base is, the more universalist its "giving" activity will appear.

  2. Anonymous8:22 PM

    Problem #1: Self-report measure?
    Problem #2: Social desirability bias influencing Problem #1.

    Might social desirability bias be unequal between "religious" and "non-religious"? Perhaps, perhaps not. Since you (ron) often interject your gut feelings along with the data you present, my gut tells me that the religious focus more on the value of acts of goodness and therefore would show an increased social desirability bias. Nope, no evidence, just a gut feeling from a psychologist. Probably wrong, but sure does cast a bit of doubt in my skeptical mind.

    Oh and can we have that sample size data here as well. I am just having the darndest time figuring out how your claims have the statistically significant stamp of approval after hearing about sample sizes of 30 being the cutoff in another post.

  3. Anon: You're correct in thinking that the social desirability point is probably wrong. I have a lot of experience with the thinking of the average religious person. (By the way, I don't generally step beyond the data with gut feelings--I do it based on my admittedly limited experiences and observations. In fact, most of the time I don't step beyond the data at all, and that gets me in trouble with readers more than anything). I do not see religious people bragging to each about things like their blood donations, let alone to some interviewer whose religious beliefs are unknown to a respondent. But a religious person knows that God is going to be pissed if they lie about anything.

    As for sample size, I'm not sure which comparison you are questioning since this post is about ethnicity and voting behavior, while you mention religion. I only have small samples for such things as small ethnic or religious groups. Sample size for large groups are usually in the hundreds.

    It is interesting how you doubt religious people donate blood more than others, but believe they value acts of goodness more.

  4. Anonymous11:41 AM

    But there's a confounding variable. maybe the libs have a higher incidence of HIV or indulgence in "high risk" behavior, making them ineligible to donate blood.

  5. I once tried to give blood. Unfortunately, I came up false-positive for syphilis and they refuse to take my blood anymore or at least until I've waited a few years and had a doctor certify that I am syphilis-free or something along those lines. The Red Cross mailed a notice informing me of my supposed syphilis infection to my mother's address (a secondary address I had to provide) rather than my campus mailbox. That made for some interesting conversation between mother and son.

    I'm not sure if they could take my blood anyway: I have thalassemia trait--a rather odd thing given my mostly German background.

  6. In addition to the possibility of more high-risk behavior among libs, there could be another confounding variable, different travel behavior. For example, perhaps they go more often to Latin America and other places where travel within the past year often makes one ineligible to donate blood. It might not be a big factor, but one nonetheless.

  7. Anonymous7:49 PM

    Social desirability influences all types of self-report data. My "probably wrong" was said tongue in cheek. It is there. The only part of "probably wrong" that is correct is how much of a differential influence it has on the data.

    And give me a break, people TALK a good talk without walking a good walk all the time. I always find it interesting how the religious claim that they are not judgmental (because that would be wrong, according to Christianity) when they are making judgments about the actions of others. It is as if they create their own, Christianity-safe definition of "judging."

    As for bragging, sure, it isn't bragging, it is still advertising. When the religious DO, they let people know that they do.

    Ron my comment about sample size was in reference to your initial comment. Re-read the current post. I was the one who disagreed with your commentary on the religious/blood donation post. If you follow my post, I ask for the sample size data "here as well."

    You admit you have small samples. Therefore, your estimate of the population value is subject to sampling error that is HUGE because the populations are also huge. If you had sample sizes of 500 or more, your might be justified in making your claims of group differences. 95% CIs for each of your estimates are almost completely overlapping and therefore, the likelihood that your values are statistically (significant) different from one another is nil. That is why I wanted to know your sample sizes.

  8. Anon: Sure, social desriability is a problem in survey research, but the issue is whether religious vs. nonreligious differ in the extent of the problem. My claim is that they do not.

    And sure, small difference among small groups are going to have overlapping 95% confidence intervals. If I had on blood donation data on 1,000 cases each of Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists, I would use it. It's boring to compare the 1400 cases of Protestants with the 700 cases of Catholics--on this website, I suspend strict scientific rigor (sometimes more than at other times), and try to find interesting items that are suggestive.

    So notice to folks reading: do not take any of this as Gospel truth. It is exploratory and suggestive, especially when small groups are being compared. Total samples are anywhere from several hundred to many thousands of cases, but small subgroups are going to be sampled in small numbers.

    But trust this stuff more than readers' data-free speculations.

  9. Anonymous1:15 PM

    "...perhaps they go more often to Latin America and other places where travel within the past year often makes one ineligible to donate blood."

    You are onto something here. These liberals are obviously performing charity work in these 3rd World nations. It makes for better conversation and moral one upsmanship. Not being able to donate blood is a small price to pay.


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