Friday, July 30, 2010

Immigrants and being a real American

General Social Survey respondents, both Americans and immigrants in America, were asked: "Some people say that the following things are important for being truly American. Others say they are not important. How important do you think it is to have American ancestry?"  I've listed the percent who answered "very important" by ethnic group (sample size = 1,184):


Amerindian 56.0
Black 47.4
Irish 40.7
Italian 34.7
English/Welsh 27.5
German 27.1
Mexican 23.3
Jewish 9.4
Chinese 0.0

I'm surprised how common it is to believe that you need to have American ancestors to be truly American (I shouldn't be surprised, given that just about every country in the world focuses on ancestry). "Ancestors" sound pretty old, but I take it that it means at least that your parents had to be born here. So it suggests that people who agree don't think that immigrants can be real Americans. I didn't put the numbers in the above table, but 54 percent of all respondents and 52 percent of whites feel it is very or fairly important to have American ancestors to be truly American.

In the table, you can see that old American groups with a history of mistreatment are most likely to think that immigrants cannot be real Americans.  Those of English or German ancestry, on the other hand, are more likely believe that Americanness is not an ancestral thing. Groups with many recent immigrants and (pro-immigration) Jews are least likely to place importance on ancestry.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Boy Scout Jamboree

The Boy Scouts are celebrating their 100th anniversary at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, the place where they've held their 10-day Jamboree every four years since 1981.  I was there in 1981. The trip cost me $1300.  My parents couldn't afford that, so I worked on a dairy farm after school for $1.50 an hour and moved irrigation pipe (with my illegal Mexican brothers) all summer until I saved enough money to go. (By the way, this American did do a job Americans won't do, and I worked just as hard as the illegals did, and I was a boy).

One of the highlights of my two week tour through Toronto, New York (New Yorkers mocked us in our uniforms--gotta love those folks), Philadelphia, and Virginia was when President Reagan arrived in a huge helicopter at a Jamboree gathering and spoke to all of us. I can't remember a word he said, but it was inspiring for a kid from the sticks. I'd love it if my boys could have the same kind of experience, but presidents these days seem to think appearing on The View is more important.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wisdom from our Fathers

"As our enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also."

Thomas Jefferson

Jews vs. those with no religion

My hypothesis is that Jewish Americans don't really differ from Americans with no religion on their political attitudes, except for on a small number of topics where Jewish experience may be unique. The thought is that Jewish folks, as a group, are about as secular as people with no religion, and secular people tend to be liberal. The table above compares the two groups. All the numbers are percentages except for liking Israel which is a mean score (with answers ranging from 0 to 9).  

There are quite a few significant differences (as indicated by the asterisks) but generally the differences are small, especially on the spending questions.  Both groups are liberals who want more spending for most liberal causes. Jews are more concerned with big city problems, probably because they are more urban.

Where the groups diverge the most is on a few unique issues. Jews are more pro-Israel, pro-immigrant, and pro-abortion. All three seem to be connected to Jewish culture, even abortion which has been viewed in the Jewish tradition more liberally than among Christians.  

Monday, July 26, 2010

Disgust and homosexuality

Here's a new article from Personality and Individual Differences entitled, "Disgust: A predictor of social conservatism and prejudicial attitudes toward homosexuals" :
Disgust is a universal human emotion that evolved to protect individuals from ingesting harmful substances such as toxins and pathogens. Recent research suggests that disgust is a component of a “behavioral immune system” that encourages individuals to avoid people and situations that could potentially result in bodily contamination. The purpose of the current research was to explore the role of social conservatism in the link between disgust and prejudicial attitudes toward homosexuals. The results of a correlational study (Study 1) indicated that disgust sensitivity was positively correlated with socially conservative values. However, the relation was specific to conservative values regarding intergroup relations and potential contamination. In Study 2, disgust was experimentally manipulated. Inducing disgust resulted in increased prejudicial attitudes toward contact with homosexuals for conservative individuals and reduced prejudice for liberals. The results of these studies support the claim that disgust is part of a “behavioral immune system” that promotes socially conservative value systems and can lead to increased negative attitudes toward outgroups.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

From Mao to Martin?

I like the sound of this:
Some recent surveys have calculated there could be as many as 100 million Chinese Protestants. That would mean that China has more Christians than Communist Party members, which now number 75 million.

NAMs much more optimistic about the future

Pew reported an interesting finding. A sample of Americans were asked: "When your children are the age you are now, will their standard of living be much/somewhat better, about the same, or much/somewhat worse than yours is now?" 

The racial differences are striking. While 69 percent of blacks and 64 percent of Hispanics answered much or somewhat better, only 38 percent of whites answered this way. Why are minorities so much more optimistic? 

I think there are several possibilities. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that minorities feel better about the current administration which, in turn, makes them more positive about the future. 

Second, non-Asian minorities are poorer than whites, so perhaps kids moving up from poverty seems more feasible than middle-income white kids moving up to the upper-income bracket. 

Third, minorities sense, especially in the middle of a liberal administration, that government is always growing, and government is good for them and their kids. Whites, on the other hand, may see the same thing but are more likely to think that a growing government will impoverish their children.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cherry-picking Nazi ideology for political reasons

There are a number of problems with the argument that we shouldn't study the biological sources of behavior because such an approach led to Nazi atrocities against other races, but one criticism I haven't seen is that people arguing such a position are cherry-picking convenient Nazi beliefs. 

The core Nazi belief was public health--a healthy social organism in its proper relationship with nature. The social body will be healthier if people live healthier lifestyles; if they keep their bodies in shape through exercise and getting fresh air; if they eat wholesome, natural foods that are free of additives, preservatives, and other man-made toxins; if they avoid tobacco, alcohol, and meat; if air and water pollution are eliminated; if there are advances in private and public hygiene, advances in medical science, and access to current treatments. 

Concern for collective health was absolutely at the center. As one specific part of that, Nazis believed that the social body had to be treated for some illnesses by the elimination of diseased elements. They viewed the mentally handicapped, the mentally ill, and the terminally infirmed like cancerous cells. Likewise, Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, and Slavs were seen as pathogens attacking the German body. The social organism is made healthy by killing off the germs. 

As people who were focused intensely on nature, Nazis believed in respecting the ecologies they lived in. (Ernst Haeckel, a scientist whose ideas inspired Nazism, coined the term ecology)Nazis were conservationists. They advocated the preservation of fauna and flora. They fostered a love of nature. They passed laws against cruelty toward animals. Vegetarianism was encouraged. Researchers were forbidden from doing certain kinds of animal testing. The penality for killing an eagle was death. The social body could not be healthy in a sick environment. The overall theme was health through harmony with nature.

If Nazi ideology led inexorably to the gas chambers, the belief in goverment advancement of public health is much closer to the center of that ideology than is the belief that biology influences human behavior. The truth is that Lefties link human biological research to Nazism because such research works against their claim that society can be fixed by social and economic reforms. They cherry-pick the Nazi beliefs that advance their politics. An honest Lefty like Jonathan Spiro (from whose book Defender of the Master Race much of the above facts are taken) admits that collective health and harmony with nature was their obsession. I wouldn't claim that prioritizing public health logically leads to mass executions, but arguing like liberals do--that Nazi-like thinking leads to Nazi-like behavior--leads to that conclusion. (I will concede that some conservatives make these kinds of arguments too. Their reasoning stinks just as much).    

The totalitarian wish

In response to my posting a nostalgic song by Merle Haggard, an anonymous reader tells me to get out of education. She (I'm going to follow stereotypes and assume she is a she) didn't say, "You need to be fair, Ron. Show all sides of an issue to your students. Keep your own gripes out of it." Her call was for me to get out. Such a demand reveals the totalitarian wish--typical of the liberal attitude toward education (It's a sad joke that these people are called "liberals"). Almost total domination of schools by the Left is not enough for this women. She would have fit right in with the Nazi education purges. It's not enough to have 95 percent of educators Nazis. We won't rest until every last Communist and Jew is run out.

Well, ma'am, rest easy. Every one of the administrors above me would love to show the door to any subordinate who expresses opinions like I do on this blog.  Like any good resident at the Gulag, I do as I'm told. My liberal colleagues can indoctrinate kids with almost anything they care to. For (a mild) example, how whites are evil for displacing Indians, like you said. There are liberals who try to be neutral in the classroom, but many use their authority to brainwash unsuspecting youths. I've taught for 15 years and have met a few conservative educators. None--I repeat none--takes anything but a neutral approach to teaching. Some do it out of principle; others to avoid termination. So relax--your fellow liberals have got the concentration camp under control.          

Friday, July 23, 2010

Obama and the NAACP assume that black officials are anti-white

One observation about the Shirley Sherrod flap. As soon as the Obama administration and the NAACP got wind of a tape showing reverse discrimination by a black person, they assumed it was true. Sherrod was immediately forced to resign, and the NAACP issued a statement condemning her comments made at one of their meetings.

So why did they jump the gun when doing so ended up hurting them?  Because they assumed that it was likely that a black woman had discriminated against a white man. Why would they assume that? Because they know how common it is among blacks to want to help their own over whites. They acted on the assumption that Sherrod was anti-white because they saw it as the smart bet with a black person in power. Whites would probably not make such an assumption, but whites do not know black leaders like Obama and the NAACP do.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

They got it comin'

I'm fed up. For awhile there I thought that liberals had a point that it was unfair of people like Glenn Beck or even Newt Gingrich to call Obama and his buddies socialists, revolutionaries, etc. Whatever Obama's personal views, he has operated like a liberal. For someone like me who has spent his whole career surrounded by Lefties, Obama has seemed pretty conventional.  

But after being reminded by recent events how liberals find ANY opportunity to brand conservatives as people who secretly want to string up blacks, liberals deserve ANYTHING and EVERYTHING they get. Using a word like racist puts Tea Partiers and Himmler into the same circle. Calling someone a racist is just as harsh as calling him a child molester or a street thug. In fact, being called a thug is not as bad because it is associated with a certain glamor. How many glamorous racists do you know?  Heck, even pedophilia has glamor--look at Hollywood's treatment of Roman Polanski.    

Liberals may be morons about many things, but they understand politics. It's not a gentleman's debate; it's a gotdamn street fight. If I can get votes by accusing you of sleeping with your mother, I'll do it--so says the liberal. If I can hear imaginary voices calling me the n-word as I head to the Capitol building, I'll accuse you of it. Just listen to Shirley Sherrod. According to this angelic media martyr, racism is worse now than in the past. That means that, despite appearances, more of us white folks are now itching to lynch somebody than in 1950.   

I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep if liberals are sometimes called communists or fascists or totalitarians or potheads or degenerates or mentally ill or subversives or traitors or cowards or civilization destroyers. In fact, I'll join in if the accusation seems to have traction because a punch in the nose deserves a punch in the eye.  

Another sign of American decline

In another sign of American decline, the number of Boy Scouts dropped by 600,000 over the past decade. But at least the dwindling numbers are not as bad as Europe: they now allow girls. Some of my fondest (wholesome) childhood memories are of scouting, but if I had shared a tent with a girl, my memories would be a bit different. And what's with female Scout leaders now? Is there no escape from women for a boy?  A life of Perpetual Mom. I'm sure the knitting merit badge is much more popular now than was firearms when I was a boy.   

Eugenic Eunuchs

The Nordicists, under the leadership of Madison Grant, could be criticized for many things, but I join with author Jonathan Spiro in mocking their sterility. In his book Defending the Master Race, Spiro must have mentioned 30 eugenicist leaders who died without fathering a single child. Nowadays (and perhaps even then) there would be nothing but whispers that these guys were closeted homosexuals. 

Yeah, yeah Grant devoted his entire life to doing what he thought was best for the country, but how about listening to your own lectures?  

I agree completely that society benefits when the most successful have lots of kids, and the less successful have few (although coercing people is fascistic). So in that spirit, I looked at General Social Survey data and calculated percentiles for the number of offspring had by smart people (WORDSUM of at least 8) who were ages 40-59 during the surveys conducted from 2000 to 2008. I also took the liberty to label guys by their productivity:

UPDATE: The eugenicists were like Shakers.  If you're starting something like a new religion, you have to either convert lots of people or breed them if you're going to last. The Grantians seemed to think their prestige and corner on the Truth was enough to make an enduring movement. Meanwhile, the Boasians cranked out PhD after PhD, and took over anthropology departments all across the country as well as the American Anthropological Association by sheer numbers. Their cultural determinism was no closer to the truth than Grant's biological determinism, but truth had nothing to do with who won.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Wish Things Were Simple Again

Here's the nostalgic first verse of "I Wish Things Were Simple Again" by Country/Western legend Merle Haggard:
I wish things were simple like they used to be,
When cowboys rode horses, and were heroes to me.
My Mother was a lady, and my Dad was a man,
And I wish things were simple again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Understanding Madison Grant

Reading Defending the Master Race by Jewish historian Jonathan Spiro--a biography of eugenicist Madison Grant--I'm struck by how odd reality is. The book documents how WASP elites like Grant succeeded in bringing immigration to a halt in the mid-1920s, and how a desire to stop Jewish immigration was at the center of their concerns.

WASP scientists from the most elite institutions were convinced that Jews were dumb, illiterate, culturally backward, unclean, genetically inferior, and unassimilable. Recent scholarship shows that these scientists were zero out of six. They were wrong about so many characteristics, but at the same time, many Jews did join with others to eventually turn the country into a PC basketcase. Jews did help change the country in ways that men like Grant wouldn't have wanted. (Of course, they also contributed positively in many unexpected ways.) So how do we explain that, on the one hand, the restrictionists were so wrong about Jews, but, on the other, there was something to their fears? 

My hunch is that people feel something in the gut, and then try to explain it to themselves in a rational way. Madison Grant saw all these guys from Poland dressed in weird clothes, speaking a foreign language, and he sensed in his mammalian brain that something wasn't quite right. Ordinary ethnocentrism and wariness of the stranger is enough to lead a person to biased thinking, but add to it all to a sense of WASP superiority and a respect for science, and you end up with a pseudoscience about the inferiority of the Jew. 

I mean, after all, I wouldn't expect a person like Grant to see lowly bearded aliens as people who were as capable as himself. He rationalized his gut feeling of wariness into a fantasy of the inferior, verminous Jew.

It might be argued that elite WASPs knew very well that Jews were a strong, not a weak, group, and knew that many of these folks would some day pass them by. It could be a case of conscious ethnic competition, but I don't see it. (References to the contrary would be appreciated.) These elites really seemed to believe their own propaganda.

I suppose there are a couple of lessons to be learned. First, it is really hard to do objective science. Spiro tells a tale of Old American bias, and I harp all the time on the current leftist bias by mainstream social science. Objectivity is much more the exception than the rule. Second, gut reactions probably tell you something, but the useful message is not so obvious, and it is likely to be self-serving. On the other hand, if you're the dominant group, and you don't want that position to slip, you might want to follow your gut.

Black leadership in action

I need to remember to not give black students the "full force of my help" and "send them to their people for assistance" instead.

But, oh yeah, blacks can't be racists because they don't hold any positions of power.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Do cohabitors have more fun?

I've heard people claim that cohabitation is superior to marriage because life with a girlfriend or boyfriend is more romantic and exciting than life with a spouse. If this is true, then I would expect cohabiting couples to have sex more frequently than married people. 

The MIDUS Study asked people about their relationship status--cohabiting, married, etc.--and also asked about frequency of sex. Answers ranged from "two or more times a week" (6) to never (1).  Age matters so I limited the sample to people in their 30s. The mean for 250 married people is 4.58; it's 4.30 for the 20 cohabitors. The difference is not statistically significant, but keep in mind that married people tend to have the disadvantage of more years together.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blacks and whites agree: Hispanics are the least patriotic

GSS respondents were asked to rate the level of patriotism among different groups. Answers ranged from "patriotic" (1) to "unpatriotic" (7). You can see the means above as rated by black and white participants.

Both groups see Hispanics and then Asians as being the least patriotic. This probably comes from the perception that these groups have loyalties to the Old Country. 

Both groups also see Jews and especially blacks as being less patriotic than whites. Perhaps Jews are seen as having ethnic/religious loyalties that compete with patriotism, while blacks are more critical of the American experience (I'm sure many folks were angry like me when the president of the NAACP said, "Sarah Palin says, 'Let's party like it's 1776.' My white daddy would say be careful what you wish for because the 18th century, Sarah, wasn't good for nobody, even folks like you." By the way, what do we have to be careful about wishing for? Maybe slavery will come back, with blacks as masters this time?)

The southern white numbers surprise me: they're seen as less patriotic than all whites. Maybe that is due to the perception that affection for the Confederacy still lingers.

UPDATE: Let me add that GSS data do not indicate that Americans have some idealistic view of Hispanics (like that pushed by the open borders crowd). They are perceived as comparatively unintelligent, lazy, and unpatriotic.   

Friday, July 16, 2010

Idiocracy is now, baby

What is more pathetic than the 65 percent of American men who cannot name the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court? The 78 percent of women who cannot.

Gay couples teach us that open relationships are awesome!

As elite culture turns homosexuals into our heroes and role models (Do we have a gay superhero yet?), research is documenting that open marriage is common among gay men (shocker, I know). In a study of 566 gay couples, only 45 percent had even made the promise to be monogamous.The findings are so essential to the welfare of American society, the NIH forked out 3.5 million additional dollars to continue the study for five more years.  

And these coupled gay men generate catchy memes for the rest of us. Dean Allemang, who just started a new relationship, dispensed this gem: "I don't own my lover, and I don't own his body," he said. "I think it's weird to ask someone you love to give up that part of their life. I would never do it."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who's the laziest?

GSS respondents were asked to rate the laziness of various groups, giving them a score somewhere between hardworking (1) and lazy (7). The mean ratings given by blacks and whites are shown above (sample size = 1,226).

Blacks and whites rank other groups differently. For blacks, the laziest to the least lazy goes like this: Hispanics, blacks, whites, southern whites, Jews, and Asians. For whites, it's blacks, Hispanics, southern whites, whites, Asians, and Jews. Based on my own rankings, it would appear that I am a white person.  

It's interesting, given that immigration enthusiasts love to advertise the work ethic of Hispanics, that ordinary blacks and whites perceive them to be comparatively lazy. And you can't respond that blacks and whites are completely self-serving in their rankings: both groups feel that Jews and Asians are harder working than they are.  

GSS respondents were asked to rate the intelligence of various groups, giving them a score somewhere between untelligent (1) and intelligent (7). The mean ratings given by blacks and whites are shown above (sample size = 1,230). 

Blacks and whites agree that Jews are the smartest.  It's reassuring to see that people aren't completely clueless about reality. Blacks think Asians are smarter than whites, but whites think that they are a bit smarter. Blacks view themselves as being almost as smart of whites; whites disagree. Whites consider Hispanics to be less intelligent than blacks--that surprises me--it's possible that the fear of looking anti-black is being reflected here. The fact that whites don't give southern whites a score much higher than blacks might reveal the ease with which so many whites look down on their brothers in the South. Blacks also think they are smarter than southern whites.  

So, whites overestimate their IQs relative to Asians, while blacks do so basically with everyone. They do think whites are smarter, but by only a trivial amount.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The phenomenon of the "black angel"

From City Journal:

The first signs of the spiritual zeal that would eventually play a significant part in Obama’s election came not from Washington or Chicago but from Hollywood. Our moviemakers are adept at measuring the zeitgeist of the nation—of its liberal half, anyway—and are a powerful force in shaping it. And for more than a decade, they’ve been churning out what critics call “black-angel” movies. These films feature a white protagonist guided to enlightenment by a black character, usually of divine or supernatural origin or, at the very least, in touch with spiritual experiences that the main character lacks. With the black angel’s help, the white hero finds salvation.

The genre includes, to name just a few, The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), in which Will Smith—playing a caddie who is really, the film hints, God—restores Matt Damon’s golf game and love life; Bruce Almighty (2003), in which Morgan Freeman, as God, bestows his powers on a manic Jim Carrey; and the awful What Dreams May Come (1998), in which Cuba Gooding, Jr. is a wise soul guiding Robin Williams through the afterlife. These movies have been numerous enough, David Sterritt points out in the Christian Science Monitor, to confuse TV’s buffoonish Homer Simpson: in one episode, “Homer mistook a black man in a white suit for an angelic visitor, all because (according to his embarrassed wife) he’d been seeing too many movies lately.”

Far and away the best of the black-angel films is Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile (1999), based on a novel by Stephen King, whose knack for setting his finger on the cultural pulse has made him a multimillionaire. The basso profundo Michael Clarke Duncan plays John Coffey (note the initials), a gigantic black man wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of two little girls in Depression-era Louisiana and sentenced to death; Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, a prison guard who discovers that Coffey is not only innocent but also a Christlike miracle worker. Coffey’s laying-on of hands restores a dead mouse to life, cures Edgecomb of a bladder infection, and heals the warden’s wife’s brain cancer. Shortly before he is executed—the jeering of the girls’ anguished parents and the weeping of the prison guards who know the truth recall the account of the Crucifixion in Luke—Coffey has this exchange with a tortured Edgecomb:

Edgecomb. Tell me what you want me to do. You want me to take you out of here? Just let you run away? See how far you could get?

Coffey. Why would you do such a foolish thing?

Edgecomb. On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I—did I kill one of His true miracles—what am I going to say? That it was my job? . . .

Coffey. You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. . . . I want it to be over and done with. I do. . . . I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day.

The writer or director of a black-angel film recognizes the unspeakable injustices once perpetrated by his country on black people; he wants to be forgiven the sins of his fathers. If he is simply a comedian, he makes Bruce Almighty, casting a black man as God in a sort of lighthearted flattery. If his waters run deeper, he understands that no plum role can atone for the crimes that weigh on him. Instinctively, he realizes what thinkers from Aristotle to Marcel Mauss have known: that whenever a gift is given, the prestige of the giver increases and that of the recipient declines. So he tells a story in which a black man gives the greatest gift of all, suffering—like Jesus in Christian theology—for others’ sins, in fact demanding to suffer, and by demanding, forgiving. White America is pardoned its wrongs, while black America, by pardoning, is elevated to godhood.
Are these movies ultimately condescending to blacks? After all, the white protagonist, the person who will be saved or damned according to his decisions, is invariably more interesting than the serene black angel hovering nearby. Indeed, the condescension, if such it is, is a cinematic version of affirmative action—a denial to blacks of Everyman’s struggle for salvation; a magnanimous extension to them of paradise.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Immigrants are liberalizing the country

Conservative immigration enthusiasts point to the supposed social conservatism of immigrants. Using varous sources of data, I have shown that Hispanics are the weakest kind of social conservatives. They vote two-to-one for pro-abortion candidates all the time, and according to Pew data, they are more in favor of gay marriage than whites and blacks. 

This kind of analysis typically focuses on Hispanics since they are the largest group of immigrants, but what about the most elite groups? They enjoy power of another sort. Here are the percentages of people who want abortion to be legal for any reason for the five immigration groups with the most prestigious jobs (according to the GSS):   

Percent of immigrants in favor of abortion for any reason

1. Indian 51.4
2. Chinese 49.3
3. Russian (non-Jewish) 78.6
4. Jewish 69.1
5. English 64.7

Forty percent of native-born American favor abortion for any reason. All of the elite immigrant groups are significantly more pro-abortion. The fact is that immigrants are liberalizing the country, not making it more traditional.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Jews and gardening

Reading The Jewish Century made me wonder if Jewish Americans (Mercurians) are less likely to "love the soil" than other groups (Apollonians) because non-agrarian occupations have been a big part of their history (notwithstanding Fiddler on the Roof).  I've noticed that people with farming backgrounds often have a real affection for gardening.

The General Social Survey asked people if they've done any gardening in the past year:

Percent who garden (N = 1,242)

Irish Protestant 71.0
German 67.8
Scandinavian 65.0
Scottish 64.0
English/Welsh 63.0
Italian 62.7
Polish 59.0
Irish Catholic 57.4
Mexican 53.6
Black 43.7
Jewish 39.4

Jews are less likely than other groups to garden, but it looks like living in urban areas is a factor. I ran a logistic regression model with gardening as the dependent variable and Jewishness and population size of residence as predictrors. Even after taking into account the effect of population size--and it does matter--Jews are still significantly less likely to garden.

Where people choose to live seems to depend on a love of the land. My dad grew up on a farm and moved us out of a town of 50,000 people when I was 13 because there wasn't enough elbow room! He liked cornstalks for neighbors and was willing to commute to work for the privilege.    

In a similar vein, Jews aren't into guns and hunting either. (This is a trend for all Americans--as Slezkine wrote, we're all becoming Jews.) It was cool (and weird) that the guy who taught me to target shoot was Jewish, and he berated me for not being sufficiently anti-gun control.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hispanic crime according to the CDC

I ran across another excellent data source that can help answer the question of whether Hispanics have higher crime rates than whites. It's homicide data from the CDC that is based on coroner's reports. I present below homicides per 100,000 per year averaged over the eight most recent years of data--1999 to 2006. Keep in mind that most homicides are intra-racial, so the rate of victimizations mirrors the rate of offenses:

Homicide rate

Blacks 22.5
Amerindians 9.3
Hispanics 8.3
Asians 3.1
Whites 2.9

The Hispanic rate is almost three times that of whites. How is it that Hispanic-white differences don't always look this large when looking at other sources of data, like incarceration rates?

I suspect the answers lies with the fact that most crimes never come to the attention of the criminal justice system if no one reports the crime. And even if someone calls the police, many crimes, to be prosecuted, require victims who are willing to press charges and credible witnesses who are willing to testify. Immigrant communities are famous for their unwillingness to report crimes and to cooperate with the criminal justice system (CJS). 

Blacks, for all their criticisms of police, are quick to call them. It makes sense to focus on homicide data since dead bodies testify for themselves, and the rates shown above suggest that crime in the Hispanic community (and the Amerindian and Asian communities as well) is worse than CJS data indicate. Many of those Hispanic victims are illegals killed by illegals--once again, homicide is typically intra-group. Hispanic illegals are probably more criminal than the CJS data suggest.       

Few Hispanic dropouts earn their GED

From Pew:

Just one-in-ten Hispanic high school dropouts has a General Educational Development (GED) credential, widely regarded as the best "second chance" pathway to college, vocational training and military service for adults who have not graduated from high school. By contrast, two-in-ten black high school dropouts and three-in-ten white high school dropouts have a GED, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of newly available educational attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey.

The relatively low level of GED credentialing among Hispanic high school dropouts is especially notable because Hispanics have a much higher high school dropout rate than do blacks or whites. Some 41% of Hispanics ages 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, versus 23% of comparably aged blacks and 14% of whites.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

High-status blacks more violent than low-status whites?

The high rate of violence by blacks is commonly explained with the fact that African Americans are poorer than whites. Ordinary folks don't think about it any more deeply than that. They never ask, for example, why blacks are poor. They never ask, is there some common denominator that makes them poor and violent.  Or they never ask, why a lack of resources would make a person assault somebody. A quick glance at the statistics reveals that people rarely kill each other for money. 

This superficial level of thinking is found even among professional sociologists and criminologists. I once told a sociologist that, according to Marvin Wolfgang's famous study of Philadelphia crime, middle-income blacks were more violent than low-income whites. The guy was completely discombobulated. He asked me, how do we explain it and said sarcastically, "Is it the amount of melanin in the skin?" I told him that I didn't really know (I didn't at the time).    

The ironic fact is that everyone thinks poverty explains black violence, but there are few studies that actually assess the hypothesis.  In 2010, if there is a big hole in the research literature, it is not an accident.

We can take a step to plug that hole by looking at Add Health data. Based on Wolfgang's study, I'm confident enough to predict that the violence of high-status blacks is at least as high as that of low-status whites.  There is no perfect measure of social class, but I will use mother's education. "Low-status" is having a mother who, at most, finished high school or got her GED. "High status" is some college all the way up to grad school. Most of the black sample has mothers with at least a 4-year degree. (By the way, this analysis showed me that ADD Health selected for high-end blacks, so the overall black-white difference in violence in the real world is surely larger than that indicated by Add Health data). Here are the percentages of teenagers who admit to committing the act at least once in the past year:

The percentages are similar.  Where we see a significant difference, high-status blacks are more violent: they are more likely to have pulled a gun or a knife on someone. That is, they are more likely to do this than lower-class whites--you know, "white trash" teenagers.

These findings parallel those seen in IQ studies: poor whites score as well or better than privileged blacks.

I thought social class was everything; so vital, an entire discipline--sociology--was built around it. We've been hoodwinked by ideologues masquerading as scientists.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

When does a human organism begin?

From pages 69 to 73 in The Clash of Orthodoxies by Robert P. George:

 A human being is conceived when a human sperm containing 23 chromosomes fuses with a human egg also containing 23 chromosomes (albeit of a different kind) producing a single-cell human zygote containing, in the normal case, 46 chromosomes that are mixed differently from the 46 chromosomes found in the mother or father. Unlike the gametes (that is, the sperm and egg), the zygote is genetically unique and distinct from its parents. Biologically, it is a separate organism. It produces, as the gametes do not, specifically human enzymes and proteins. It possesses, as they do not, the active capacity or potency to develop itself into a human embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent, and adult.

Assuming that it is not conceived in vitro, the zygote is, of course, in a state of dependence on its mother. But independence should not be confused with distinctness. From the beginning, the newly conceived human being, not its mother, directs its integral organic functioning. It takes in nourishment and converts it into energy. Given a hospitable environment, it will, as Dianne Nutwell says, "develop continuously without biological interruptions, or gaps, throughout the embryonic, fetal, neo-natal, childhood and adulthood stages--until the death of the organism." 

Some claim to find the logical implication of these facts--that is, that life begins at conception--to be "virtually unintelligble." A leading exponent of that point of view in the legal academy is Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School... Rubenfeld argues that, like the zygote, every cell in the human body is "genetically complete"; yet nobody supposes that every human cell is a distinct human being with a right to life. However, Rubenfeld misses the point that there comes into being at conception, not just a clump of human cells, but a distinct, unified, self-integrating organism, which develops itself, truly himself or herself, in accord with its own genetic "blueprint." The significance of the genetic completeness for the status of newly conceived human beings is that no outside genetic material is required to enable the zygote to mature into an embryo, the embryo into a fetus, the fetus into an infant, the infant into a child, the child into an adolescent, the adolescent into an adult. What the zygote needs to function as a distinct self-integrating human organism, a human being, it already possesses.

At no point in embryogenesis, therefore, does the distinct organism that came into being when it was conceived undergo what is technically called "substantial change" (or a change of natures). This is the point of Justice Byron White's remark in his dissenting opinion in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that "there is no non-arbitrary line separating a fetus from a child." Rubenfeld attacks White's point, which he calls "[t]he argument based on the gradualness of gestation," by pointing out that, "[n]o non-arbitrary line separates the hues of green and red. Shall we conclude that green is red?"

White's point, however, was not that fetal development is "gradual," but that it is continuous and is the (continuous) development of a single lasting (fully human) being. The human zygote that actively develops itself is, as I have pointed out, a genetically complete organism directing its own integral organic functioning. As it matures, in utero and ex utero, it does not "become" a human being, for it is a human being already, albeit an immature human being who will undergo quite dramatic growth and development over time.

These considerations undermine the familiar argument, recited by Rubenfeld, that "the potential" of an unfertilized ovum to develop into a whole human being does not make it "a person." The fact is, though, that an ovum is not a whole human being. It is rather, a part of another human being (the woman whose ovum it is) with merely the potential to give rise to, in interaction with a part of yet another human being (a man's sperm cell), a new and whole human being. Unlike the zygote, it lacks both genetic distinctness and completeness, as well as the active capacity to develop itself into an adult member of the human species. It is human cellular material, but, left to itself, it will never become a human being, however hospitable its environment may be. It will "die" as a human ovum, just as countless skin cells "die" daily as nothing more than skin cells. If successfully fertilized by a human sperm, which, like the ovum (but dramatically unlike the zygote), lacks the active potential to develop into a human adult member of the human species, then substantial change ( that is, a change of natures) will occur. There will no longer be merely an egg, which was part of the mother, sharing her genetic composition, and a sperm, which was part of the father, sharing his genetic composition; instead, there will be a genetically complete, distinct, unified, self-integrating human organism whose nature differs from that of gametes--not mere human material, but a human being.

These considerations also make clear that it is incorrect to argue (as some pro-choice advocates have argued) that, just as "I" was never a week-old sperm or ovum, "I" was likewise never a week-old embryo. It truly makes no sense to say that "I" was once a sperm (or an unfertilized egg) that matured into an adult. Conception was the occasion of substantial change (that is, change from one complete individual entity to another) that brought into being a distinct self-integrating organism with a specifically human nature. By contrast, it makes every bit as much sense to say that I was once a week-old embryo as to say I was a week-old infant or a ten-year old child. It was the new organism created at conception that, without itself undergoing any change of substance, matured into a week-old embryo, a fetus, an infant, a child, an adolescent, and finally, an adult.

But Rubenfeld has another argument: "Cloning processes give the non-zygotic cells the potential for development into distinct, self-integrating human beings; thus to recognize the zygote as a human being is to recognize all human cells as human beings, which is absurd."

It is true that a distinct, self-integrating human organism that came into being by a process of cloning would be, like a human organism that comes into being as a monozygotic twin, a human being. That being, no less than human beings conceived by the union of sperm and egg, would possess the human nature and the active potential to mature as a human being. However, even assuming the possibility of cloning human beings from non-zygotic human cells, the non-zygotic cell must be activated by a process that effects substantial change and not mere development or maturation. Left to itself, apart from an activation process capable of effecting a change of substance or natures, the cell will mature and die as a human cell, not as a human being.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

TCM: Happy Sweet Sixteenth

Ted Turner has managed to do one positive thing in his long career--he started Turner Classic Movies 16 years ago. TCM is far and away my favorite channel. It connects me to an America I recognize. You can have all your idiotic reality programming. 

Friday, July 02, 2010

Once again, stereotypes turn out to be true

A study published in the current issue of Evolution and Human Behavior shows us, once again, that people should respect stereotypes and the sub-rational gut. 

The authors found that college students could look at photos of sex offenders for only two seconds and then predict whether the person was a violent or non-violent offender. 

Analysis revealed that students were focusing on signs of testosterone and masculinity (e.g., heavy brows, apparent physical strength, youth). 

Women were more likely than men to perceive the the offenders to be violent. The authors concluded that results support the view that humans have evolved the ability to quickly size up the physical threat of another person because heavy costs would accompany the inability to do so, and that women would be particularly likely to perceive a man as a physical threat because of the risk of sexual violence. 

These stereotypes find their way into fiction all the time. Marv in Sin City (shown above), played by Mickey Rourke, might be a good example from the past few years. Someone who looks like Marv might actually be a pussycat, but I'm not going to call him an asshole to his face.  

UPDATE: Two other points: 1) Non-violent sex offenders are typically depicted as small, weak weasels. Think of the pedophile played by Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children. 2) The study deliberately avoids race, stating that research indicates a bias against photos of non-whites. But the study's findings can easily be used to explain the fear that people feel toward blacks. African Americans are perceived as having higher levels of testosterone as indicated by physical traits. Size and apparent physical strength; hard muscle tone; narrow hips and broad shoulders; long limbs--all are masculine characteristics.

John Manning in The Finger Book also claims that dark skin is a sign of testosterone. Men are darker than women, and he presents the case that abundant melanosomes and melanin inhibit the invasion of bacteria and fungi through the outer surface of the skin and are found in people whose immune systems are weakened by high levels of testosterone. 

Nurturists would explain the perceived dangerousness of blacks as a myth taught to kids by prejudiced parents and peers. But Asians are racial outsiders: why don't whites have any fear of them? Why are blacks afraid of blacks? Why are race-virgin immigrants--white or Asian--afraid of blacks?    

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 ...