Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reader Mark nails it:

"If I put some of my cells in cold storage so that I can be cloned later after I die, would it be murder to destroy those cells?"

Each of your cells is one tiny part of your body, not an individual organism in and of itself. The sum of your cells - i.e., your entire body - *is* an individual organism, with the wondrous capacity to walk, talk, and make specious arguments on the comments section of blogs. Similarly, the sum of a human zygote's cells is an individual organism - a human organism - and the fact that this human organism has not yet developed the ability to walk, talk, or speak out in its defense doesn't make it any less of a human being -- any more than an infant's inability to, say, appreciate art makes it less of a human being.

"A zygote is a little closer to a full-fledged human."

No, a human zygote *is* a full-fledged human, merely at a very early stage of his or her development, just as a human infant is a full-fledged human, just at a slightly later stage of his or her development. Being a human being - i.e., an individual member of the human species - isn't something that we achieve as we age. Pro-choicers make the mistake of confusing their subjective prejudices with objective reality. Because they can't see or relate to an embryo, zygote or fetus as a human being, they think it's not a human being. Instead, it's a "potential human being." Really? What species of animal is a "potential human being?" What is that species' scientific name?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael and stuff: Along with everyone else, I was feeling bad about the death of Michael Jackson until black celebrities like P-Diddy and Jamie Foxx had to go all tribal and ruin it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you did us a favor and loaned him to us beat-needy white folks, and we are inadequately grateful as shown by the not-perfectly-worshipful media coverage.

Folks want to get nasty, let's talk straight. Michael Jackson was a blessing in my life for one decade and a curse for three. Farrah and Michael made me remember fondly my 1970s childhood. By the time of Thriller, I was old enough to be beyond the pop stuff and he was beginning to seem creepy to me. Well, that feeling escalated until the present day. Right, Elvis was pretty pathetic at the end, but he never gave me the creeps. Everything about Jackson except his talent became repulsive. I'm sad he went prematurely, but he was too disturbed to be a hero.

I don't know why I had the thought now, but I have this foreboding that the country's future is tribalism all the way around, and the thought is depressing. Perhaps I need to prepare myself for this in steps. Since I've got a wee bit of Irish ancestry, maybe I could join the Irish American Business Fraternity and then when I was used to that, I could work on becoming a full-blown white person.
Billions and billions of yawns: More than once, Carl Sagan's piece on abortion has been called a classic on the subject. Orders of magnitude more profound than what you normally get. I just had to read it to get the final word. But, alas, it was let down. Here are a few quotes and my reaction:

Sagan: Why, then, should it be murder to kill an infant the day after it was born but not the day before? As a practical matter, this isn't very important: Less than 1percent of all tabulated abortions in the United States are listed in the last three months of pregnancy.

Me: Around 20,000 late-term abortions are performed each year in the U.S. That's more than all the murders. It's like Sagan is saying murder isn't very important because that's a drop in the bucket compared to all the people who die each year from smoking.

Sagan: So if a sperm and egg are as human as the fertilized egg produced by their union, and if it is murder to destroy a fertilized egg--despite the fact that it's only potentially a baby--why isn't it murder to destroy a sperm or an egg?

Me: This is idiotic. What makes us distinctively human creatures is our genome. How far can I possibly go back? To when I was a zygote. I can go back no farther, but I do go back that far.

Sagan: When the unfertilized egg is expelled each month, has someone died?

Me: Again, idiotic. Billions and billions of arguments to make, and you choose this one? We're supposed to rely on THIS guy for deep thought?

Sagan: In its first decade, the AMA began lobbying against abortions performed by anyone except licensed physicians. New knowledge of embryology, the physicians said, had shown the fetus to be human even before quickening.

Their assault on abortion was motivated not by concern for the health of the woman but, they claimed, for the welfare of the fetus. You had to be a physician to know when abortion was morally justified, because the question depended on scientific and medical facts understood only by physicians. At the same time, women were effectively excluded from the medical schools, where such arcane knowledge could be acquired.

Me: So, advances in embryology turn doctors against abortion. Science begins to disapprove of the practice, and our esteemed scientist promptly turns into a flag-waving feminist.

Sagan: When does the fetus become human? When do distinct and characteristic human qualities emerge?

Me: That's an easy one, dipshit. The moment an organism contains a human genome that will build a fully formed person. Sagan continues the rest of his argument as if he were a first grader, describing pictures of an embryo. As you read his points, imagine the voice of little Carl:

Sagan: Every one of us began from a dot.

Me: Genius, and scientifically on the dot. I thought Sagan was an astronomer, but he was clearly an embryologist.

Sagan: By the third week...it looks a little like a segmented worm.

Me: Oh, does it wook like an itty bitty woom, Cawrl?

Sagan: By the end of the fourth week... it looks rather like a newt or a tadpole.

Me: Such a big boy, knowing what a newt is!

Sagan: The trouble with these particular developmental milestones is not just that they're arbitrary. More troubling is the fact that none of them involves uniquely human characteristics--apart from the superficial matter of facial appearance. All animals respond to stimuli and move of their own volition. Large numbers are able to breathe. But that doesn't stop us from slaughtering them by the billions. Reflexes and motion are not what make us human.

Me: Probably a 5,000 word essay that never mentions the word... genome. Or genes. Or chromosomes. His principal approach to the question of what constitutes a human being is what an organism looks like. Betty Friedan doesn't look like a human, but I'm pretty sure she is.

I'm afraid that I failed to find a single fresh idea in the essay. In my view, I can advance the debate farther in 80 words, or with all the words I can say while hopping on one foot. Humans start out as zygotes with all the information needed to build a fully formed person, but there are important developments in between the two points. It simply can't be known at which specific moment the baby is close enough to you and me to count, and if you do not have the knowledge that an organism is not similar enough to deserve the same treatment as you and me, it is immoral to legally allow someone to kill it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Black anger: The General Social Survey asked respondents what the circumstance was the last time they got angry in the past month. I looked at the percentages by race:

Percent distribution

Involved work 39.7
Involved family 29.1
Involved government officials 9.4

Involved work 26.3
Involved family 41.7
Involved government officials 9.0

Evidently, the remaining respondents could not recall a specific event. My question is, why are blacks so much more likely to get angry at family than others?

If it were the pre-civil rights era, I might guess that blacks were afraid to show anger toward whites out of fear of getting into trouble, but that just doesn't seem credible now. More plausibly, blacks get treated better by others than they do by fellow blacks, an argument made by Michael Levin in one of the great 1990s race books--Why Race Matters. Read it if you haven't.
I liked Martin's comment over at Secular Right:

Lets look at abortion then:

The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th Ed.)(Keith Moore and T. V. N. Persaud, W. B. Sanders Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1998), which asserts:

“Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte is fertilized by a sperm.” (page 2)

More to the point, the authors write:

“Human development begins at fertilization [with the joining of egg and sperm, which] form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized…cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (page 10)

The authors of another embryology textbook:

Human Embryology and Teratology (Third Ed.)(Ronan O’Ramilly and Fabiola Muller (Willey-Liss, New York, NY, 2001), also state on page 8 that upon the completion of fertilization:

“a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed.”

So the pro-abortion position that a fetus is not human is anti-science; pro-abortionists maintain that a fetus at some arbitrary stage of development magically becomes human – this is a metaphysical claim, in principle unobservable and clearly against the empirical evidence. This position, therefore, does not reveal when a fetus becomes human but a personal preference for when we want to ACCEPT the child’s humanity. Abortion is therefore also anti-reason – it is the support of the killing of an innocent human and this is the absolute test case for rationality. If you do not know why it is wrong to take innocent human life then there is nothing I can say to you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Three cheers for The Super Domes

Have you ever noticed how the IQ guys have such huge noggins? I attended a paper presentation once in Toronto given by Phil Rushton, and I just sat there in the audience saying to myself, Damn that dude has got a big melon. I feel bad for their mothers. Like W.D. Hamilton wrote, thank God for modern obstetrics. A century ago these macrocephs might not have made it. Of course, all the nurturist extremists would have loved that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Killing the smart babies: Here are four sources that were listed by me and a reader named John over at Secular Right that suggest that abortion is dysgenic:

1. A study found that after an unwanted pregnancy has occurred, higher IQ couples are more likely to obtain abortions [Cohen, Joel (1971). "Legal abortions, socioeconomic status and measured intelligence in the United States". Social Biology 18(1): 55-63].

2. Umarried teenage girls who become pregnant are found to be more likely to carry their babies to term if they are doing poorly in school.[Olson, Lucy (1980). "Social and psychological correlates of pregnancy resolution among adolescent women: a review" American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 50(3): 432-445]

3. “The most striking differences were that women who had an abortion were much more likely than others to have been rated good students at age 9-11 and to have well-educated mothers (odds ratios, 2.0 and 1.7, respectively).” (Early predictors of nonmarital first pregnancy and abortion. By: Udry JR, Kovenock J, Morris NM, Family Planning) Perspectives, 0014-7354, 1996 May-Jun, Vol. 28, Issue 3)

4. http://inductivist.blogspot.com/2009/02/abortion-is-dysgenic-national.html

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Suckiologists: Isn't it funny that much of the skepticism about the validity of IQ tests has come from sociologists? These are people who often take ONE question from a survey as their measure of whatever it is they are studying, and then don't make any more effort to validate that it captures what they think it captures.

Psychometricians, by contrast, have obsessed for a very long time about questions of reliability and validity. IQ is typically measured with many, many items, each of which hase been tested extensively. There are subtests on top of subtests, and sophisticated statistical techniques like factor analysis and structural equation modeling have been developed to address these kinds of questions.

Psychologists have a reputation of going crazy over measurement issues on a puny sample of, say, 30 subjects. Sociologists, on the other hand, will measure their concept with one survey question asked of 10,000 respondents. And these jokers are complaining about IQ measurement?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The unrecognized ethnic group

This graph from Pew shows the religion of one's partner or spouse. Ethnocentrism is often discussed on this blog, but the religious aspect of it is usually left out. I've presented evidence in other posts that the following groups have above-average levels of ethnocentrism: blacks, Mexican Americans, Jews, Chinese Americans, and Asian Indians. In addition to a feeling of race, boundaries are also supported by religion in some groups; various Baptist and AME denominations for blacks; Catholicism for Mex-Ams; and various Jewish denominations for Jews.

As you can see in the graph, Hindus are very likely to marry each other, but it's more complicated than that. According to the GSS, only 19% of Indian Americans are Hindu (the modal category is Protestant--27%). Chinese Americans also lack a common religion: the largest group is people with no religion--44%.

But next is the interesting part: the unrecognized ethnic group--Mormons. There is a core whose family members have been intermarrying for several generations. Sure, they get lots of converts, but they lose a lot, too.

Many Mormons do genealogy and know their family trees and are always running into members who have a common polygamous great grandfather or some such connection. A large share of early converts were New Englanders, Englishmen, or Scandanavians, and their descendants have practiced endogamy for more than 150 years. Amy Adams who grew up Mormon has got the look.

American Mormons don't see themselves as an ethnic group, at least in the sense of blood. They have a strong sense of history, but it's a thought of as a religious connection. Theirs is a universalist religion. They won't end up like Jews. They think of those millions of Latino, Asian, and African members around the world as part of the family. They are very serious about marrying fellow members, but it doesn't matter much what a person's race is. Like with white Americans in general, though, marrying another white person is the rule (unless a missionary meets a brown hottie in the field).

The reality and future for the church seems to be a white core leading an increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-national organization. Like Catholics. Only on a smaller scale. And without fashion sense. And with bishops who get to reproduce like rabbits.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Forty percent of Americans say global warming is not caused by humans: I was surprised to see this at Rasmussion Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% of U.S. voters now believe human activity is the cause of global warming, while 40% say it is caused by long-term planetary trends.

How is it that so many doubt man-caused warming? Do right-wingers and evangelicals have that much influence? The opinion is certainly correlated with political orientation:

Republicans by nearly three-to-one say global warming is caused by planetary trends, while Democrats believe human activity is to blame by the same margin. Voters not affiliated with either party are almost evenly divided on the question.

To avoid teeing it up for someone, let me anticipate: Yes, we know that conservatives are stupid.
East Asian IQ variation: Over at iSteve, there is a discussion about why cultures stagnate, with quite a bit of attention devoted to Chinese stasis at the time when Europe was flowering.

One standard HBD explanation for higher Chinese IQ combined with lower cultural accomplishment is less IQ diversity. I haven't made a systematic study of it, but the IQ studies I have read do not indicate a smaller East Asian standard deviation.

Using GSS data, I combined Chinese and Japanese Americans (only those born in this country) and got a standard deviation (SD) of 2.04 across 50 respondents. For whites born in the country, the SD is 2.08--not different, basically. SD tends to increase along with higher means, so if we take that into account by using the coefficient of variation (CV), we get .30 for Asians and .33 for whites. No difference, or a trivial difference at best.

It would be better to have a sample from China, and even better to have samples from the period when Europe was surging ahead, but I take the GSS data as evidence that other kinds of theories are necessary to explain why China has not been on top. IQ, as important as it is, is far from everything.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mean IQs of the mother country and the wages of immigrants in the U.S.

I took the above table from this research article, which predicts an immigrant's wages in America based on the average IQ of his country of origin. It is based on Census data for 106,000 immigrants. The wages were adjusted for age and education, so any correlation between country IQ and wages is not to due schooling.

It turns out that the correlation is .47. That's borderline strong. Put differently, an immigrant makes an expected one percent increase in wages for each additional IQ point. That might not sound impressive but keep in mind that: 1) the prediction is not based on the guy's IQ but that of his country of origin; and 2) one's own IQ doesn't predict wages any better. Most studies find that IQ explains about 10% of the variation in wages. IQ is an important reality, not because it predicts everything perfectly, but because it predicts better than anything else, and because it is consequential for so many areas of life.

So, if want our immigrants to stay out of poverty, which countries do we want them to come from? Well, first it makes sense to look at educational levels of the immigrants, but this study wanted to identify talent above and beyond what education captures. Perhaps someone did not have good opportunities to stay in school, but has the IQ to thrive in American society. Or perhaps the school system at home educates people beyond their abilities. Keep in mind that the researchers are taking a conservative approach: of course, much of one's educational level is due to IQ.

Here are the countries of the immigrants with the highest level of ability beyond educational level: Japan, South Africa, Australia, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland. The wages number may not look that different, but notice how they are in log form.

As for the bottom: Ghana, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and Phillipines. Filipinos do better than their numbers show because they come with relatively high levels of education. But there is no potential not captured by education.

The prediction model confirms another stereotype: immigrants from smart countries succeed in the United States; those from less intelligent places struggle.

One other point. Immigrants in the sample came from 59 countries all around the world, and the IQ means of their mother countries predicted their incomes here in the U.S. with impressive accuracy. If the IQ tests given around the world were invalid because of cultural differences and just produced noise, there should be no correlation with wages. So, this study offers more empirical support for the view that IQ tests measure cognitive ability cross-nationally in a valid way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sailer at Taki's: In case you haven't heard, Steve Sailer--fearless explorer of uncharted racial waters--the Vasco da Gama of HBD--the... okay, enough effervescence--will be doing a Wednesday column over at Taki's. His first piece draws connections between the humor of Lewis Carroll and Larry David, of all people.

Let me add that, along with obsessing over arbitrary social norms, David, in Curb Your Enthusiasm, creates funny situations by innocently shocking the sensibilities of proper people by doing things like taking a black prostitute to a Dodgers game, where he runs into two priggish WASPs who are deciding whether or not to let Larry into the country club. Or when he is discussing with a Catholic barber who is cutting his hair a mutual friend who just miscarried, and Larry says, "Oh well, she's already got nine kids, anyway," followed by the barber thrashing him with a towel.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hispanics and affirmative action: According to a recent Pew survey:

Majorities of both African Americans (58%) and Hispanics (53%) favor preferential treatment to improve the position of blacks and other minorities; just 22% of whites agree.
I'm interested in why whites and Hispanics diverge so much on this issue. Unlike blacks, Hispanics can't claim they deserve preferences to compensate for a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

Put yourself in the place of a recent Hispanic immigrant. "America invited me here or at least doesn't care enough to kick me out (if I'm illegal). Not only did they allow me to move here and take a job, they actually hired me over a white just because I'm brown."

If it were me, my attitude would be, hey, you've done more than enough allowing me to work here; I don't see why I deserve the royal treatment. And yet Hispanics are 2.4 times more likely to favor preferences than whites.

How do we explain this? It could be pure opportunism: "If these suckers want to hand out jobs to me over a white guy, who am I to say no?" They might simply have no faith in whites, even though they have not had a history like blacks that might tempt a person to be so suspicious. Or they might look at their poverty and accept the sociological narrative that such a condition is proof that America is a deeply racist nation that keeps certain groups down. The latter seems most likely to me.

It will put a big smile on my face when the evidence becomes indisputable that all the white-hating, America-hating sociologists are charlatans.
I'm heartened to see that Americans still have good sense, even if elites don't:

Eighty percent (80%) of U.S. voters oppose providing government health care coverage for illegal immigrants as part of the health care reform package that is working its way through Congress.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 11% disagree and think coverage for illegals is a good idea.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Hangover: Speaking of funny, I saw "The Hangover" this weekend and laughed myself silly. Yes, I know it's wild and vulgar, but funny is funny.

There are two kinds of funny movies: funny-stupid and funny-clever. When I say clever, I don't mean some intelligent message. That's asking too much. I mean creative and well-crafted like Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." This movie is funny-clever.

If you're sensitive about vulgarity, skip the photos that are shown during the credits. Depraved guy that I am, I can take just about whatever is thrown at me, but Zach Galifianakis' erect penis was a bit much.
Radio Derb: Reading Audacious' post reminded me that I needed to check out John Derbyshire's "Radio Derb." It's a weekly program offering commentary on the latest political and cultural news. I just finished the latest, and folks--I laughed my ass off. Those English bastards are funnier than hell. I'm English too, but I figure my Puritan heritage combined with my Danish grandmother killed off any sense of humor I might have had.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. According to the Gates of Vienna, Danes are very funny. Here is a joke from the website:

It seems that little Ahmed had been studying very hard in his elementary school Danish language class, and when he took the exam, he got a perfect score.

The teacher made a big fuss over Ahmed when she presented him with his certificate.

“Congratulations, Ahmed!” she said. “You are now a Dane!”

Ahmed was so excited and happy and proud that he ran all the way home. Bursting into the house, he cried to his father, “Papa! Papa! Look: I got an A! Now I am a Dane!”

His father became very angry and slapped him across the face. “You filthy little boy! You have shamed our entire family!”

Ahmed burst into tears. “I don’t understand,” he wailed; “I was so proud! I will have to show my certificate to Mama.”

He found his mother in the kitchen. “Mama! Mama! Today I am a Dane!” His mother scowled at him and slapped his face. “You should be ashamed of yourself! You have brought dishonor to your whole family!”

Ahmed cried even harder. “This is awful! Why is this happening to me? I have only been a Dane for twenty minutes, and already I have been attacked by two immigrants!”
Increases in black IQ: In an earlier post, I showed that white Baby Boomers are smarter than earlier and later cohorts. What about blacks? Here are Wordsum means:

Mean Wordsum scores--blacks

1920-39 birth cohort 4.31
1940-59 birth cohort 5.22
1960-79 birth cohort 5.37

Blacks born in the forties and fifities are significantly smarter than the older cohort. Those born in the sixties and seventies have an even higher average, but the increase is not statistically significant.

How do we account for this? Offering an explanation for the post-Baby Boom IQ decrease among whites, Agnostic wrote that there was a dietary shift away from fat and protein and toward carbohydrates in the 1970s. "Fat and cholesterol are crucial for learning and memory, so when people start relying more on potatoes, pasta, bread, and fruit juice, compared to bacon, eggs, cheese, and milk, we'd expect them to have somewhat lower vocabulary scores."

Could it be that black Baby Boomers enjoyed the richer diet that whites had in 40s and 50s, and that in more recent decades they have been slower to switch to high-carb diets? My impression is that lower-class folks to this day worry less about their fat and cholesterol intake (although they are fatter).

Historical gains in IQ have been observed mostly among the left-half of the bell curve, and Americans at the highest vocabulary levels have been dwindling. The post-war prosperity improved the diet of those with modest incomes more than the wealthy, and in more recent decades higher-income people have avoided fatty foods more than everyone else. The facts seem to support Agnostic.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


THIS is the type of candor about ethnic groups I was talking about! Fun stuff. Never mind whether it's accurate or not. It's honest.

UPDATE: Skip to about 8:45 if you only have a minute. If you like that and have time, watch parts 2 and 3.

Declining American exceptionalism? Using the World Values Survey (WVS), I calculated mean scores for the United States on the following questions given several times over the past two decades:

How much freedom of choice and control

1982 7.4
1990 7.6
1995 7.6
1999 8.0
2006 7.6

We need larger income differences as incentives

1990 6.8
1995 5.5
1999 5.7
2006 6.1

Competition is good

1990 6.8
1995 6.8
1999 6.6
2006 6.4

A sense of freedom has perhaps gone up a bit since the early 80s. Feelings about income differences match conservative-liberal swings. In the era of Oprah and Obama, an appreciation of competition may be slipping. This is the one sign of declining Americanism.
American exceptionalism, Part III: Continuing our examination of American values, we are putatively a competitive people. The World Values Survey (WVS) asked people from many countries which statement they agree with. The first is: "Competition is good. It stimulates people to work hard and develop new ideas." The second is: "Competition is harmful. It brings the worst in people." They were scored a 1 if they completely agreed with the former and a 10 if they agreed 100% with the latter. If their feelings were mixed, they could give a number somewhere between the two extremes. I reversed the means by subtracting them from 10 so that high numbers reflect an approval of competition.

Mean score for belief in competition

Jordan 7.5
Ghana 7.3
Egypt 7.3
India 7.2
Iran 7.0
Romania 6.9
Mexico 6.8
Georgia 6.7
New Zealand 6.7
Sweden 6.6
Peru 6.6
Indonesia 6.6
Trinidad 6.6
Burkina Faso 6.6
USA 6.5
Bulgaria 6.5
China 6.5
Switzerland 6.4
Colombia 6.3
Mali 6.3
Canada 6.2
Australia 6.2
Slovenia 6.2
Taiwan 6.2
Vietnam 6.2
Hong Kong 6.2

World mean 6.2

South Africa 6.1
Ethiopia 6.1
Germany 6.1
Finland 6.0
South Korea 6.0
Morocco 6.0
Rwanda 6.0
Zambia 5.9
Russia 5.9
Great Britain 5.8
Brazil 5.8
Spain 5.8
Moldova 5.8
Cyprus 5.8
Turkey 5.8
Malaysia 5.8
Japan 5.7
Italy 5.6
Serbia 5.6
Andorra 5.6
Ukraine 5.4
Netherlands 5.3
Argentina 5.3
Thailand 5.2
Poland 5.1
Chile 5.1
France 5.0

Once again, America is well above average, but there are 14 countries that give competition a higher rating, and two of them are developed countries--Sweden and New Zealand. If we also consider the other two values we've looked at--a sense of autonomy and lack of class envy--Sweden and New Zealand score higher than the U.S. in two out of three cases. And if we use the criterion of scoring higher than America on two out of three attitudes, we would add the following countries to the list: Ghana, Indonesia, Trinidad, Georgia, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Jordan, and the most interesting to me--Mexico.

There might not be much of a correlation between values and system characteristics, but the results are interesting, nevertheless.

Next, I want to see if America has lost some of its "Americanism" since the WVS was first given in 1990.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

IQ and altruism

N = 695 whites

N = 731 whites

I'm very interested in the relationship between altruism and intelligence. Is it positive, negative, or zero? The graphs present evidence of a positive association. Smarter people are more likely to have volunteered to help someone in an informal way (not as part of an organization) in the past year, and they are also more likely to think that cheating on taxes is seriously wrong. The tax question is interesting because Jews--a smart group--are less likely than others to think that cheating on taxes is wrong.

We also know from research that street criminals--an unaltruistric group, if there ever was one--have lower average IQs.

Reasons for the American fertility decline

A reader in the post on Jews and white fertility argued that second-wave feminism is responsible for high levels of female education, which has been shown to be a strong predictor of low fertility. (By the way, the education-fertility pattern is not limited to the United States--it is worldwide). No doubt that many prominent feminists have been Jews, but feminism had little to do with the historical decline in fertility.

The colored graph shows trends in education for women in their seventies over four decades (GSS data). The bar on the left shows the degrees earned by women born in the first decade of the last century. The next bar shows the same for women born in the second decade, the third for women born in the 20s, and the one on the right is women born in the 30s. The graph shows that there was a dramatic increase in the number of women who finished high school in the first half of the century. Parallel to it was a rapid decline in the total fertility rate (shown in the top graph). Second-wave feminism had nothing to do with it.

Demographers consider the Baby Boom to be an exception to a long-term decline in fertility. Of course, the movement away from the farm was a key part of the early 20th century decline (as children went from being economic assets to liabilities) but Jewish influence was not.

Even the post-Baby Boom decline can't be blamed on feminism. The 70s was the feminist decade, but the graph shows that birth rates started their dramatic decline in 1958. Women were getting educated and moving into the workplace in droves before feminists got a broad hearing.

I imagine some white nationalists might want to cherry pick Gregory Pincus out of the scientists who developed the pill, but it was not widespread until around 1965, seven years after the beginning of the decline. And any type of argument like this falters anyway because such developments have hurt Jewish fertility more than the fertility of others.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

American exceptionalism, Part II: A second characteristic of American society that makes it unique, according to a recent speech given by Charles Murray, is a lack of class envy. Supposedly, this trait of ours drives the class-conscious Europeans mad. The World Values Survey asked respondents if incomes should be made more equal (1) or if incomes differences need to be larger to create incentive (10) or to choose a number in between the extremes.

Mean scores

Ghana 7.8
Mali 7.5
Indonesia 7.4
Trinidad 7.2
Thailand 7.1
Burkina Faso 7.1
Georgia 6.9
Ukraine 6.9
Poland 6.8
Egypt 6.8
Jordan 6.8
Taiwan 6.7
Malaysia 6.7
Ethiopia 6.6
South Korea 6.5
Russia 6.4
Zambia 6.2
USA 6.1
Japan 6.1
Mexico 6.1
Sweden 6.1
Serbia 6.1
Andorra 6.1
Vietnam 6.0
Rwanda 6.0
Italy 5.9

World mean 5.9

Canada 5.8
China 5.8
Moldova 5.8
Australia 5.7
Netherlands 5.7
Spain 5.7
Brazil 5.7
Bulgaria 5.7
South Africa 5.5
Colombia 5.5
Great Britain 5.4
New Zealand 5.4
Argentina 5.3
Morocco 5.3
Cyprus 5.2
France 5.1
Finland 5.0
Turkey 5.0
India 4.8
Hong Kong 4.8
Chile 4.7
Slovenia 4.7
Romania 4.7
Germany 4.5
Iran 4.2
Switzerland 3.6

Notice how quite a few developing countries agree that income inequality is necessary, and it is particularly interesting how Russians believe this. It looks like Africa tends to agree, but developed Europe, the region Murray is comparing us with, does not. Mexico seems to accept large income differences, which is an indication that immigrants from that country might not have an intense desire for income redistribution here.

So, the picture is similar to the last post: the U.S. is different from Europe, but some developing countries seem to be more American now than America--at least in sentiment, if not reality.
Jews and low white fertility: As a follow-up to the last post, not only should we candidly discuss ethnic groups, we should also engage in debate with white nationalists (WNs). If people want me--a conservative--to become more moderate, they need to show me where I'm wrong. It sure as hell won't happen if they get me fired or lock me up. That would probably just radicalize me. Well, the same goes for white racialists.

In that spirit, let's address a central white nationalist concern (the anti-Jewish version): white fertility. WNs worry that the white race will is going extinct, and low fertility is a major reason.

Question: what is the number one predictor of low fertility? The answer is female education. The more years of school, the fewer the kids. I have a good imagination but cannot envision how mass female education can be attributed to Jewish influence. Who hasn't been in favor of universal education for a very long time? The father of American education was Horace Mann, not Harold Hoffmann.

If there is some mysterious way that Jews are a critical source of a low white fertility, the gun is being pointed at one's own face: according to the GSS, Jewish women currently in their forties have an average of 1.5 kids, while the white gentile mean is 1.9.
Honest talk about ethnic groups: CNN can't seem to get enough of the Holocaust museum shooting. I've been learning all about the layout of the building, the details of the incident, and have been treated to White Nationalism 101. If folks are concerned about this type of violence, I recommend we ignore those who suggest we look to Europe and its punishment of bad speech.

How about a fresh idea? The culture offers Americans who are curious about Jews two options: Stormfront or nothing. The topic has been driven underground, and nothing but fungus grows in the dark.

Growing up in a small town, I learned all sorts of things about blacks and Hispanics, but the only thing I was ever told about Jews was that they are cheap--one, shallow stereotype--and that millions were killed by Nazis. And the few words that were uttered were in hushed tones.

The most basic facts are that American Jews are an incredibly accomplished group who are about as ethnocentric as Mexican Americans. Scary as hell to read in print, isn't it? My response to such facts is, so what? I've already expressed my disapproval of ethnocentrism and my wish that Jews found conservatism more persuasive (their embrace of abortion bugs me) but these folks have enriched the country in many ways, and even if they hadn't, they are citizens who are entitled to believe whatever they want.

All the whispers and taboo only feed paranoid thinking. How about some honest talk about ethnic groups? Let's try candor, for once.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

American exceptionalism, Part I: In a recent AEI speech, Charles Murray described what makes America unique and how it might slip away unless elites fall in love again with what makes us different. Using the World Values Survey, I wanted to see if we really do stick out in certain areas. I want to cover the cultural characteristics one at a time, and my first choice is freedom and control over one's life. People were asked how much freedom of choice and control they have over their lives. Answers ranged from "none at all" (1) to "a great deal" (10). Here are the means for the countries where the question was asked:

Mean freedom of choice score

Mexico 8.4
Colombia 8.0
Trinidad 7.9
Argentina 7.9
New Zealand 7.9
Sweden 7.8
Andorra 7.7
Brazil 7.7
USA 7.6
Canada 7.6
South Africa 7.6
Australia 7.6
Switzerland 7.6
Romania 7.6
Jordan 7.6
Cyprus 7.5
Slovenia 7.5
Finland 7.5
Turkey 7.4
Indonesia 7.4
Great Britain 7.3
Taiwan 7.3
Malaysia 7.3
China 7.2
Chile 7.2
Zambia 7.2
Vietnam 7.1
Peru 7.1
Ghana 7.1
Iran 7.1

World mean 7.0

Russia 7.0
Moldova 6.9
Spain 6.9
Thailand 6.9
Germany 6.8
France 6.7
Netherlands 6.7
South Korea 6.7
Poland 6.6
Serbia 6.5
Rwanda 6.5
Georgia 6.4
Italy 6.3
Hong Kong 6.3
Ethiopia 6.2
Japan 6.1
Egypt 6.1
Mali 6.1
India 6.0
Ukraine 6.0
Bulgaria 5.8
Burkina Faso 5.7
Iraq 5.4
Morocco 5.3

Murray was comparing the U.S. with Europe, and it is the case that only Sweden and New Zealand have higher numbers. But there are several European countries with estimates as high or close to the American mean. English-language countries in general feel self-efficacious.

Look how citizens of Latin American countries feel like they have a lot of autonomy. Fred Reed, who lives in Mexico, has written that the country is significantly freer than the regulation-riddled United States.

These numbers indicate that America scores well on a sense of freedom, but is not exceptional.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

There are more lesbians, but not more gay men now: For this decade and the 1990s, I compared the percent of American men and women who said they have sex exclusively with members of the same gender (GSS data):

Percent who are homosexual (N = 17,295)

Nineties 2.8
This decade 3.6

Nineties 1.8
This decade 2.5*

* p < .05, two-tail test

While homosexual prevalence went up for both sexes, only the lesbian increase is statistically significant.

Acceptance of homosexuality also increased significantly over the past two decades. The percent of Americans who feel that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality rose from 23.6% in the nineties to 32.5% in this decade.

With the growing acceptance, why didn't the number of gay men increase due to a greater willingness to admit it? And if willingness to report is not a factor, perhaps the growth among lesbians is real growth and not just a change in being more honest. I take this as evidence that female sexual orientation is flexible enough to be influenced by social acceptance, whereas male homosexuality may not be. As American society continues to embrace lesbianism, we might get more of it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Does atheism make a person wealthier? Atheism might be associated with higher or lower income. Religious folks, for example, might network more which might translate into better money-making opportunites. On the other hand, non-believers might earn more for some reason. Perhaps they see more clearly how one achieves Y and are less encumbered with irrational thinking. Maybe belief and income are unrelated. Myself, I suspect skeptics make a little more because they tend to be smarter.

The GSS asked white Americans about their income and belief in God. I regressed personal income on belief and added Wordsum as a control:

OLS Regression Coefficients (Betas), N = 587

Atheist -.05
Agnostic .07
Believes in higher power -.02
Believes sometimes -.05
Believes but sometimes doubts .08
IQ .18**

** p < .01, two-tail test

The five belief variables are dummies, and the reference category is those who know there is a God. Before IQ is entered into the model, agnostics and believers who sometimes doubt earn significantly more than those who have no doubts. But as you see above, there is no significant assocation between belief and income once IQ is controlled.

So, agnostics and believers with doubts make more, but only because they are, on average, smarter. Atheists do not have higher incomes, even at the bivariate level. This, in spite of the fact that they are more intelligent. Maybe the networking does pay off. Or perhaps disbelief is associated with other characteristics that work against economic success: lack of social skills, for example.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A word on ethnocentrism: With all of the fuss over the comments of Sotomayor and leading Republicans, along with the exchange over at Taki's concerning white nationalism, I cannot resist a comment. Long-term, I think America will adopt one of two systems: a stable one with minimal ethnocentrism for everyone, or an unstable one where group loyalty is the rule, even for whites. White ethnocentrism is currently on the fringes, but it was taken for granted for most of American history (as were many ethnicities within the white race), and trust me, it will easily return as soon as whites feel surrounded.

As Jared Taylor writes, there is nothing inherently immoral with having affection for one's ethnic group. It's irrational, but natural. If America were 100% white today, I would probably be in favor of keeping it that way. (The United States can at least claim naivete; Europe's turn to multiculturalism makes me question Lynn's claim that whites have an above average IQ). But one-third of the country is non-white, and those folks own this soil as much as I do.

To make America work better, all citizens need to give up the luxury of ethnocentrism. Rush and Newt have caught a lot of heat for calling Sotomayor on her racialism, but this is exactly what responsible citizens need to do. Whites and everyone else treat non-whites like children by indulging their ethnocentrism. Message to minorities: You are equal to me, so the rules that apply to me apply to you. If I act illegitimately when I root for my race, then so do you.

Nobody calls non-whites on this, and it's high time we did. I've felt plenty of distance from the Republican Party for several years, but the comments from prominent conservatives like Gingrich and Limbaugh, and the more diplomatic words from leaders like Graham make me respect the party a little more. They are acting like grown-ups, while liberals are fighting to keep us on a road of non-white racialism and eventual white racialism and social instability.

White birth cohorts and Wordsum

The table shows mean Wordsum scores for whites born in various decades and measured each decade starting in the 1970s through 2008 (GSS data). Looking at whites born in the 1950s, the mean jumps up from 6.01 when they were in their twenties (in the 70s decade) to 6.55 in their thirties. You see a similar increase for the 60s birth cohorts from the 1980s to the 1990s. (Increases for both groups are statistically significant). This shows that voculabary grows during one's twenties. There are not significant increases as people move into their thirties and beyond (although the 30s-40s increase for the 1950s cohort is close to statistical significance).

This is an interesting finding. I knew that vocabulary was loosely correlated with age, but it looks like the gains are made specifically in one's twenties. People are probably expanding their vocabularies as they are required to learn less common words in college and at the workplace. Also, this finding reminds us that cohort, period, and age effects complicate the study of the Flynn effect.

White Americans born in the 40s and 50s end up with Wordsum averages that are significantly higher than that of the 1930s birth cohort. Those born in the 1960s, however, end up with a mean not significantly different than for those born during the Depression.

Something happened to people born in the 40s and 50s--the Baby Boomers, roughly--that gave them larger vocabularies than the cohorts before or after them. The improvement over the 30s cohort seems understandable, but why the decline in the 60s cohort? The 70s cohorts looks like it will end up the same as those born in the 60s. It seems like something has slipped among whites in the past few decades. Explanations like nutrition don't seem to work. I'm not sure how family change would make a big difference. Declining educational standards? Less reading?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ethnicity and confidence in the scientific community: Americans (GSS respondents) were asked how much confidence they have in the scientific community. The following are the percentages who answered "a great deal":

Percent saying they have a great deal of confidence in the scientific community

Asian Indian 62.5
Chinese 61.9
Romanian 60.5
Arabic 59.3
Jewish 55.6
Greek 53.3
Danish 52.9
Filipino 50.9
English/Welsh 50.5
Hungarian 50.0
Norwegian 49.8
Scotland 49.8
Russian 49.4
French 47.8
Italian 47.7
Polish 47.3
Irish 47.2
Japanese 45.9
Swedish 45.3

All Americans 44.1

German 43.5
Finnish 43.1
Mexican 40.0
Amerindian 35.6
Puerto Rican 35.2
Black 28.9
West Indian 25.0

The numbers vary quite a bit. Compared to West Indians, East Indians are 2 1/2 times as likely to have a lot of confidence in scientists. Asians in general are much more positive than NAMs. Look at the high estimate for Arab Americans. It looks like there is a direct correlation between education, IQ, and confidence.

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 ...