Friday, February 29, 2008

The real con artists: Spengler recently wrote a column arguing that the lives of Barack "Inkblot" Obama's wife and mother reveal his true character--an anti-American huckster. America loves a conman, he says, pointing to our Elmer Gantry types.

Spengler then recommended watching Nightmare Alley (available online to subscribers at as a classic example of the American BS artist. I did watch it, and recommend it as well, but no so much for the story of the swindling psychic, but for a message that shows real wisdom for a movie made in the 1940s: the hucksters par excellence are psychoanalysts.
Elite ethno-religious group: I run across bloggers all the time who are extremely interested in a small but very elite ethno-religious group. Even though they are a tiny sliver of the total American population, they are found in disproportionate numbers in the highest echelons of society.

Always interested in precision, I wanted to see what the General Social Survey (GSS) had to say about this group. Compared to all whites, they are three times as likely to be in the highest income bracket. They are four times as likely to hold the single-most prestigious job (according to the GSS) in America--an MD. Their rate of earning graduate degrees is 3 times that of the average.

More than 80% believe that America should take an active role in world affairs. Almost 90% believe we should stay in the UN. More than 80% believe that immigration improves American society, and almost 60% feel that we should either increase or maintain current levels of immigration.

For decades, this group has worked relentlessly to undermine traditional America with its liberal agenda: immigration rights, human rights, anti-racism and anti-Semitism, homosexual rights, affirmative action, economic justice, and feminism.

Oh, by the way, the group is the Episcopal Church of America. (Okay, maybe I cheated a bit on the "ethno" part, but it is true that the ancestors of half of the current members were from Great Britain (GSS)).
Senior seminar class: For a number of years now, I have taught a senior seminar class where students summarize research articles of their choice. They are assigned a specific area of research, but within that topic they can bring in what they like. As an undergraduate and graduate student, I was bombarded by instructors with equal doses of race, class, and gender, but the discipline has reached a point where my students overwhelmingly bring in articles on race. Part of the reason for this is that most of my students are racially conscious blacks and Hispanics, and race is one of their favorites topics. They feel like they are "keepin' it real" by lecturing the teacher and the handful of white students in the class. But the students are not the main reason why my class is dominated by discussions of race. Many students are lazy and just grab the first interesting study they find, and there are SO many articles on race now, this is what they often find.

I'm sure that some of my drive-through readers think that something is wrong with this Ron Guhname guy because he analyzes so much data on race. If I there is anything to this charge, I respond in the same way the monster would: if you don't like me, blame Dr. Frankenstein. I simply think a lot about what my experience at the university has taught me to be interested in. My professors and now my students are obsessed with race, so what do you expect from me?

Ordinary white society has been trying really hard for decades to forget about racial distinctions, but elites and their only-too-willing minority constituencies won't let them forget. Well, even squishy whites can only take so much "you're the problem" before fighting back. Race hustlers have overplayed their hand, and I suspect that the recent furor over amnesty for illegals is a sign of things to come.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Young people are not getting beyond race: People keep saying that young people are so excited to vote for Obama because they don't care about race. I say, huh? If something doesn't matter, then it can't explain behavior. But what they seem to mean is that older people do care about race--in other words, that they're racists--and their prejudice is preventing them from voting for the candidate. This appears to be a mainstream perception, but actually it reveals a hostile view of America since the General Social Survey (GSS) shows that even more than a decade ago--1996 to be exact--93% of all Americans were willing to vote for a black president. They stopped asking the question, the number was getting so high.

So, has race become less important to young whites? GSS respondents were asked how they felt about blacks. Answer choices ranged from several degrees of cool, to neutral, to a number of degrees of warm. If race doesn't matter, we should observe more neutrals over time. This is obvious vis-a-vis cool attitudes, but it might be less clear with respect to warmth. If someone says he loves blacks, then race is important to him--he has warm feelings specific to a certain race.

Let's compare 1996 and 2006--the oldest and newest years available:

Percent neutral--ages 18-25

1996 44.2
2006 42.1

There is no evidence here that, compared to the past, race is less significant to young whites. We can see a shift, however, toward more people with warm feelings:

Percent with warm feelings--ages 18-25

1996 29.0
2006 42.8

Now, it's not difficult to argue that more warmth is a good thing. Bertrand Russell wrote that love benefits both parties, while hate profits neither. But the point here is that, according to these data, a majority a decade ago did not even claim to be colorblind, and this number has not changed.

If these attitudes predict behavior, then many young people might be voting for Obama because they like him for the color of his skin, not because they have gotten beyond race.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jews hate opera more than all other white religious groups: Below I list the percent of whites from various religions who really dislike opera, according to the General Social Survey. I was surprised to see that a high-status group--Jews--hate it more than anyone, even more than the much less intelligent Southern Baptists:

Percent who dislike opera very much

Jews 34.4

Southern Baptists 32.8

Baptists--unspecified 32.1

Catholics 17.5

United Methodist 13.6

Episcopalian 9.7

No religion 7.8

To be more precise, fewer Jews are neutral on opera since they are also overrepresented among those who really like it (15.6% versus 4.8% for all Americans).

One would expect an elite group to have a particular fondness for this type of music (in a previous post, I showed that the mean IQ of opera fans was higher than for any other genre) so why are Jews so polarized? Would more folks like it, but visions of Hitler enraptured while listening to Ride of the Valkyries ruin it for them?

This reminds me of the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry gets into an argument with another Jew because Larry likes Wagner, but the other guy thinks only a self-hating Jew would listen to that stuff.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Region, Religion, and IQ

Agnostic asked about the regional distribution of various Protestant groups, which is an interesting question, so I found a nice map shown above. It matches the IQ gradient very nicely: smart Lutherans in the north, average-intelligence Methodists in center, and lower-IQ Baptists in the south. You can't see it on the map, but the GSS estimates below show that (smart) Episcopalians are concentrated only in New England. I have listed below the percent of all white Protestants that are in a particular region if it is a recognizable category, and if it is at least 10% of the total:

Percent of all white Protestants in the region

New England
1. Episcopalian 14.2

1. Lutheran 12.5

East North Central
1. Lutheran 11.7
2. United Methodist 10.3
3. Methodist--no specification 10.2

West North Central
1. Lutheran 12.3

South Atlantic
1. Baptist--no specification 20.5
2. Southern Baptist 16.0
3. United Methodist 10.0
4. Methodist--no specification 10.0

East South Central
1. Southern Baptist 23.5
2. Baptist--no specification 21.0

West South Central
1. Southern Baptist 21.2
2. Baptist--no specification 18.3

Mountain States


Looking at the numbers, my first observation is that, throughout the country, most groups are small and varied. Not many are even 10% of all Protestants in the region. There is extreme fragmentation here. Presbyterians didn't reach 10% in any region--8.9% in the Mid-Atlantic states was as numerous as they got. And the West is worse than every place else. Mormons, of course, are concentrated in the Intermountain West. The GSS does not isolate this group; they are probably a big chunk of the 36.8% listed as "other." My guess is that they might be 10% of the whole region.

It might be worth mentioning that Catholics are concentrated the most in New England and the Middle Atlantic, and are thinnest in the East South Central region (the map doesn't show this very clearly).

So the pattern is consistent with Razib's comment about SES (and highly correlated IQ) and religious preference, and it also lines up nicely with Albion's Seed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Odd religions and IQ: The discussion of Mormonism connected to Romney's run for President confirmed what I had observed before: lots of people assume that members of small, odd religions must be dumb. How else could you believe that stuff? Well, data have a way of disconfirming as well as confirming stereotypes.

The General Social Survey, unfortunately, throws together many of these smalls sects into the generic "Protestant" category, so I will have to use the question about which religion you were raised in, on the assumption that most people do not switch. For some reason, they give a more specific breakdown with this question. Shown below are mean IQs for whites, and I've included some mainline churches for the sake of comparison:

Mean IQ for whites

Episcopalian 109.9
Lutheran 107.4
Mormon 105.7
Presbyterian 102.3
United Methodists 101.8
Southern Baptists 98.0
Assembly of God 94.5
Pentecostal 92.2

Episcopalians at the top is a real shocker, and other mainstream churches are also above average. But people who didn't know better might surprised to find that, in terms of intelligence, Mormons are very much like these other groups. They are not similar to Pentecostals or members of the Assembly of God, as the numbers above indicate. You can see a bit of a North-South contrast here, and Mormons are northerners. They are heavily English and Scandanavian.

While you can find exceptions, evangelicals and fundamentalists don't believe in things that, to a mainline Protestant, are completely from another planet, yet these groups tend to have below-average IQs. Mormons, with beliefs that make some people really flip out, are a relatively smart group. There simply is no strong correlation between the perceived strangeness of beliefs and IQ. I'm sure many people think it's crazy to circumcise infant boys, but in case you haven't heard, Jews are smart as hell. (Keep in mind that samples are smaller than they should be for the small churches. Also--while a skeptic can claim that many of the smart folks have left the odd churches of their childhood, research shows that most Americans don't switch, and a child's IQ is positively correlated with that of his parents.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Forty percent of Americans want to stay out of world affairs--highest number in 35 years

Since 1973, the General Social Survey (GSS) has asked Americans the following question: "Do you think it will be best for the future of this country if we take an active part in world affairs, or if we stay out of world affairs?" Now, granted this is not an ideal measure of interventionism, but let's see where it takes us, anyway. GSS people were lame and didn't ask the question between 1995 and 2005--only sociologists would take five years to get around to asking an important post-9/11 question.

Support for involvement in world affairs has never been lower--39.2% of Americans in 2006 said we should stay out. We have to go back to 1982 to find a similar number (perhaps Americans were reacting to Iran during that period).

If you're a paleo like me, that's good news, but the bad news is that we are still a minority. Other surveys show that a clear majority of Americans want the troops to come home soon from Iraq, but that doesn't mean that most people want us to pull back the empire in general.

Iraq is a total mess, and yet I am amazed over how many moderates and conservatives have embraced John 'Make it a Hunderd' McCain. In a discussion the other day with a friend who is a huge McCain supporter, I asked him what do I get for the $9000 I have to pay in taxes for Iraq, and why do we need all these bases all over the planet? He answered, "Did you watch Spiderman?" I nodded yes, and he spoke as if quoting the Bible, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

So, my prediction is that the person who will win over our current generation of voters in November is the candidate who quotes the most comic books.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Are jocks conservative? Honestly, I haven't followed sports much since I was a kid, but I have a lot of respect for it since, at least when it is functioning as it should, sports teaches conservative values: self-discipline, work ethic, competitiveness, merit, personal responsibility, rejection of excuses, etc.

So, this makes me wonder if athletes are, as a group, politically conservative. Off the top of my head, I can think of more famous Republican athletes--Gerald Ford, Jack Kemp, J.C. Watts, Steve Largent--but then there is Bill Bradley on the other side.

The General Social Survey asked 1,210 white Americans two questions: whom they voted for in 2000, and how well the term "athletic" describes them. Below, I compare those who said "very well" and "not at all":

Percent who voted for Bush in 2000

Athletic men 63.5
Unathletic men 46.7

Athletic women 62.5
Unathletic women 54.9

The difference is more striking for the men--I'm getting a mental image of the wimpy liberal guy here--but athletic women are also more likely to vote Republican. There weren't enough blacks to analyze, but based on the few cases, it looks like the percent of them that votes Democrat falls into the 80-90 percent range if they're athletes. Evidently, there is some connection between sports culture and conservatism.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More on racial idealism: Agnostic made a good suggestion to look at General Social Survey data to see if white Democrats in the mountain states are more racially idealistic than in other regions because of inexperience. Just raise a question about data, and I come-a-runnin'.

The best I could do was a question about how warm do you feel toward blacks. Answers ranged from very warm (1) to very cool (9). I calculated the means for each of the nine divisions of the country for whites who voted for Gore in 2000. I subtracted the means from 9 so that high scores would indicate the most warmth toward blacks (N=1,442).

Mean score of warmth toward blacks

Pacific 5.94
Mountain 5.65
New England 5.63
East North Central 5.61

All white Gore voters 5.56

West North Central 5.51
Middle Atlantic 5.41
East South Central 5.25
West South Central 5.22
South Atlantic 5.18

These results, overall, support the idea that white Democrats are most positive toward blacks in regions with few blacks. The South is cool, while New England, the Mountain states, and the Pacific region are warmest. The West North Central (WNC) region (SD, ND, MN, IA, MO, NE, KS), however, doesn't have many blacks but is moderately cool.

The warmest states also tended to vote for Obama, with exceptions like Massachusetts. California is also warm but voted for Hillary, but Hispanic Democrats explain that. The Middle Atlantic states are cool, and have been likely to vote for Hillary. And of course, the cool South has voted for Hillary, except in states with many black voters. So, overall, the idea that white Democrats voted for Obama because of idealistic feelings towards blacks holds up, with the WNC region being an exception.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

People ain't never gonna be colorblind: I posed the question a few days ago, why Obama has done so well in places like Idaho and Alaska, and the best answer I found was Sailer's view that a white person in states with few blacks gets to feel like he has a hip black friend by voting for Barack. Growing up in that kind of a state, I would describe the person as racially green; someone who, for lack of experience, is filled with the kind of racial idealism that people across the North had in the 60s. The support Obama is getting from young voters can be explained in the same way.

But these primaries are just more data points supporting the idea the people just can't be colorblind. Blacks across the country voted for Obama because he's black; race-fatigued southern and northeastern whites cast ballots against him because he's black; Hispanics everywhere voted against him because of his color; and idealist whites from Minnesota to Alaska thought of all the good it will do to vote for a black man.

The question is, is there anyone out there that voted for him, and didn't see race? I don't think so.

Whether genes has much to do with it or not, race has always been a potent social reality, and it will continue to be one.
The Flynn Effect among Mexican Americans: Using General Social Survey data, I calculated the mean IQs for each of the past four decades for people of Mexican ancestry who were born in the United States. Here are the numbers:

Mean IQ

70s 85.2
80s 84.4
90s 91.8
00s 95.1

The 1990s saw more than a 7 point increase over the previous decade, and the gains continued into the 21st century. Let's compare them to white Americans:

Mean IQ

70s 99.1
80s 99.2
90s 100.5
00s 101.3

I'm not sure why increases are seen for the groups--the white gain might be explained, in part, by increases in mean age (vocabularies expand a bit with age)--but higher IQs indicate that people will thrive, so this is a good sign for Mexican Americans. (Keep in mind that the analysis concerns people born here, so immigrants, legal and illegal, are excluded.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mom's IQ and family size: I analyzed data on more than 2,500 American women to look at the relationship between IQ and completed family size. Here are the mean number of children for women age 40-50 averaged within various decades:

Mean number of children

Low IQ
70s 3.84
80s 3.30
90s 2.49
00s 2.33

Medium IQ
70s 3.44
80s 2.76
90s 2.13
00s 2.03

High IQ
70s 2.96
80s 2.23
90s 1.68
00s 1.74

Not surprisingly, completed fertility has fallen over recent decades, and it has done so across all three IQ groups. Unfortunately, during any given period the smartest women have the fewest kids. There is one bit of encouraging news (highlighted in red): the only reversal in the above table is that high-IQ women ended up with more children in this decade than in the 1990s. Evidently, placing top priority on a career has slipped a little.

Update: I compared the mean number of children had by native-born Americans versus immigrants in this decade and found 1.68 and 2.29, respectively. So, fertility went up among smart women in America only because of the high numbers among immigrants.
Question: Obama has won in states with many blacks, or with few Hispanics, and not in southern states that are mostly white. I get that. But why has he also won in mid-western and western states, but not in the northeast? For example, 80% of Idahoan and 73% of Alaskan Democrats voted for him. What is going on there? Perception that Obama is not a Washington insider, not part of the Establishment? Or racial idealism?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A study conducted in line at the supermarket

In this blog's brief life, the most frequented post by far addressed the question of whether black men prefer white women. My tentative conclusion was that they like light-skinned blacks with European-ish features, but I haven't run across the data to test the idea.

Standing in line at the supermarket last night, I opened the latest issue of Ebony which featured an article on "Who is Dating Who?" [sic]. The magazine also featured other famous couples. I counted 19 couples, and the darkest, most African looking women by a wide margin was Mrs. Barack Obama shown in the top photo. (Evidently, Barry wanted to prove he was black enough when he chose Michelle). She really was an outlier.

Much more common were women like Porschla Coleman who is dating Russell Simmons (shown in the bottom photo). So, my second (unscientific) stab at the same question produces the same results.

This pattern is consistent with my tastes, by the way, only in the reverse direction. Lighter white women can be beautiful, indeed, but beautiful like a painting. It's the darker white women who really stir the blood, as if a little dose of the exotic is necessary. There were few black men with pasty girlfriends. Too much exotic can turn someone off.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

"Make it a Hunderd" McCain: Here on YouTube, in case there is any doubt, is John McCain saying that we've been in South Korea and Japan for decades, and it's perfectly fine with him if we stay in Iraq for 100 years.

How is it exactly that this guy is supposedly the most the most electable of the Republican bunch when the vast majority of Americans are turned off to the War, while this guy has a obvious hard-on for it (along with wanting to put troops anywhere around the world where there are bad guys)?

The Dems will successfully use this against him, and will portray him (accurately) as a scary warmonger.

I don't need to pursue reasons to not support McCain since there are people who can say it much better than I; namely, the one and only Pat Buchanan.

Are gun owners mentally ill?

  Some anti-gun people think owning a gun is a sign of some kind of mental abnormality. According to General Social Survey data, gun owners ...