Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gay marriage, religion, and accusations of hate

I watched Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rally yesterday and enjoyed it a great deal. My favorite part was Stewart's castigating liberals for calling people bigots at every opportunity. A lot less finger-pointing and a lot more data would be helpful.

A recent case in point is gay marriage. I see that it has become a mantra among liberals that people who oppose gay marriage do so out of hate. The fact is that many Americans look to their religions for direction on moral issues, so when you call them haters, you are saying that their church is a hate factory. You are saying that their faith creates panting beasts of hate. The problem is that for religious people their churches are among the most cherished things in their lives. People love their church like they love their children, like they love their parents. Calling their religious beliefs hate is like your mother being called evil. How are you going to react if every time the subject of your mother comes up, some person goes on about what a whore she is? Chances are, you'll start to hate that person.     

Friday, October 29, 2010

Religiosity and porn

When I was a young man, I remember friends telling me they were skeptical that I abstained from sex and masturbation. "It's not possible. The drive is too strong," they would say. I told them I avoided it because every time I started fooling around with a girl, I saw the flames of hell. It was an excellent disincentive.  I'm not saying it worked perfectly--I had to confess some things more than once. But even though I had girlfriends from age 16 on, I was able to remain a virgin until 24, and only then did I indulge after becoming convinced there was no God. 

This study of BYU students found that while all the young men believe that pornography is immoral, those who are less active in church and who have less religious families are significantly more likely to view porn. Thinking that something that you want to do is bad is not enough to stop you; there has to be some conviction. Personality, I'm sure, comes into play. Principles might not work very well on an unprincipled person, and a principled person who can't find any authoritative principles is in a quandary as well.         

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Level of identity in Europe by religion

As a follow-up to the last post, I used World Values Survey data and included the 25 countries from the sample that belong to the European Union. Next, I calculated the percent who identify first with one of various levels ranging from one's locality to the whole world. Results are listed by religion in the table above (sample size = 67,103). 

You can see that Jews and Hindus are less likely to identify with their localities and more likely to identify with the continent or the world. Muslims, by contrast, have a high number of people who identify with their locality or the entire world. Catholics and Protestants are more tied to the locality or the region.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Are Jews more likely to see themselves as "world citizens"?

The World Values Survey asked participants, "To which of these geographical groups would you say you belong first of all? Locality, region, country, continent, world." I calculated the percent who answered "world" for two groups: 1) Jews in a particular country, and 2) all people in that country. Results are listed in the table. 

Jews are a little more likely than their fellow countrymen to identify as world citizens, but only in France is the difference large.   

Three dopaminergic genes predict grades in school

This study finds that three polymorphisms in three dopaminergic genes (DAT1, DRD2, and DRD4) predict academic achievement among a sample of adolescents. The dopaminergic system has been found to affect attention, motivation, memory, and reward, and the authors hypothesize that behavior problems associated with the genes impair learning. On the other hand, the impact of the genes is weak, making findings hard to replicate.

I should note that the multivariate model includes race and gender, and the effect of race on grades remains when genes are entered into the equation. In fact, the impact of race is stronger than the three genes together.

Smarter people have better teeth

According to this recent study in the journal Intelligence, people with lower cognitive ability tend to have teeth that are missing or are in bad shape because they don't do the things that are necessary to have healthy teeth. This tendency was observed even after being adjusted for age, income, ethnicity, visits to the dentist, and smoking. The finding is consistent with the body of research showing that smarter people are healthier.   

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Non-Interventionist Tea Party candidates

According to this article, the following Tea Party candidates seem interventionist:


And these, non-interventionist.


The quotes of the second group are very refreshing. I hope they win and don't change their tune.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't postpone marriage beyond mid-20s

From a study of one of the country's leading family researchers (and colleagues):
The research reported here used measures of marital success based on both marital survival and marital quality to assess how well first marriages entered at relatively late ages fare in comparison with those entered younger. Analysis of data from five American data sets indicated that the later marriages fare very well in survival but rather poorly in quality. The greatest indicated likelihood of being in an intact marriage of the highest quality is among those who married at ages 22–25, net of the estimated effects of time since first marriage and several variables that might commonly affect age at marriage and marital outcomes. The negative relationship beyond the early to mid-twenties between age at marriage and marital success is likely to be at least partially spurious, and thus it would be premature to conclude that the optimal time for first marriage for most persons is ages 22–25. However, the findings do suggest that most persons have little or nothing to gain in the way of marital success by deliberately postponing marriage beyond the mid-twenties.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Invasion of the fembots

Shannon Bream

Kirstin Powers

These are two girls from Fox News. I have a theory that all the Fox employees are robots.  The engineers usually do a good job of giving each person his own look, but I think they got lazy and designed these two the same. Each person has a switch on his back. Shannon's was set to "neutral--straight reporting" while Kirstin's was set to "conventional liberal." The talk show hosts are all set on "annoying neocon."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Down to the wire

Am I the only one who is loving the U.S. Senate nailbiter? Yeah, yeah, it might not make a difference whether the Republicans win the Senate or not, but I like a close one nevertheless. I check RealClearPolitics several times a day. I trust Rasmussen surveys more than others, and they typically show more support than other polls for the GOP. For the past couple months, my estimate has ranged from 49 to 51 Republicans. Just this second, Murray v. Rossi went from "Leans Democrat" to "Toss Up" which drops the Dems to an estimated 48 Senators, and raises the "Toss Ups" to six. (Rasmussen has Murray up 3 points.) I get my suspense here since I'm a nerd and don't follow sports.  

Mainstream conservatives are the happiest

Everyone is going on about how catty Maureen Dowd has gotten, and how she must be really unhappy. It makes me wonder if liberal women are more miserable than others.

The General Social Survey asks respondent's about their general happiness, and it turns out that mainstream conservatives have the lowest rate of unhappiness, and the pattern is the same for both sexes:

Percent "not too happy"

Extremely conservative 14.5*
Conservative 9.8
Slightly conservative 10.2
Moderate 12.2*
Slightly Liberal 12.1*
Liberal 12.8*
Extremely liberal 17.7*

*significantly higher than conservatives 

Why this pattern?  Happiness depends heavily on personality; happy people might be drawn to conservatism. A good marriage and a good job both predict being happy. More conservatives might have these. And they might also get a boost from greater religiosity. Extreme conservatives, by contrast, might have more disagreeable personalities and might be more alienated from contemporary society.

The truth about the Tea Party

Liberal arguments these days have been reduced to maligning the other side. They respond to the growth of the Tea Party, not with logic but invective. And this from people who claim it is their side that respects the scientific method. 

How do you rationally characterize a political movement? Well, you conduct a study and summarize your results. We can't rely on professional liberal analysts to do this:
Emily Ekins, a graduate student at UCLA, conducted the survey at the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington last month by scouring the crowd, row by row and hour by hour, and taking a picture of every sign she passed.

Ekins photographed about 250 signs, and more than half of those she saw reflected a "limited government ethos," she found - touching on such topics as the role of government, liberty, taxes, spending, deficit and concern about socialism. Examples ranged from the simple message "$top the $pending" scrawled in black-marker block letters to more elaborate drawings of bar charts, stop signs and one poster with the slogan "Socialism is Legal Theft" and a stick-figure socialist pointing a gun at the head of a taxpayer.

There were uglier messages, too - including "Obama Bin Lyin' - Impeach Now" and "Somewhere in Kenya a Village is Missing its Idiot." But Ekins's analysis showed that only about a quarter of all signs reflected direct anger with Obama. Only 5 percent of the total mentioned the president's race or religion, and slightly more than 1 percent questioned his American citizenship.
These numbers indicate that the Tea Party does not have more insensitive people than any other random group. They might have fewer. Once again, we see that liberals have little grip on reality--or they do but feel they have to lie because their arguments are so weak.

UPDATE: I retract my statement. The NAACP is going to release a "study" of rampant Tea Party racism one week before the election.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Asian Indians have the largest ears

According to this study, Asian Indians have the largest ears, followed by whites, then Afro-Caribbeans. The authors also report that ears grow with age, a phenomenon I have always found amusing. I'll be singing a different tune when I'm old and look like Dumbo.

The limitations of IQ

Many who read this blog consider cognitive ability to be extremely valuable. It is. But let's not go overboard. In my view, brain horsepower sometimes gets us in trouble. 

Youthfulness illustrates this. IQ peaks among young people and gradually declines over the lifecourse. I've never been a mental powerlifter, but I was stronger 20 years ago. 

Only an ideologue would deny that young people are often foolish. They do and think foolish things. Prudence, wisdom, judgment--all these require more than the ability to reason abstractly. 

Reasonable people would agree that it's a bad idea for 14 year old kids to be having sex. Most people don't arrive at that position through rational argument, but it seems to me wise nevertheless. Problem is, the people who agree with me tend to be dumb and uneducated. 

The General Social Survey asked participants if it's wrong for young teenagers to have sex. I estimated a model of the relationship between the answer to that question and three predictors: age, IQ, and educational level (sample size = 11, 359).     

Here are the results:

OLS regression coefficients (standardized)
Age .20
IQ -.02
Education -.05

All the relationships are statistically significant (although the IQ and education effects are weak). Older, dumber, and less educated people are more likely to think it's wrong. Of course, the discomfort that many intelligent people have with the concept of wrongness is at play here.

I can imagine myself as a teen arguing, "No harm is done if two young people have sex. It's consensual. They're giving each other pleasure--how can that be bad?" I can also see me debating my parents and winning. Their arguments would go something like, "It's just wrong. God says so."  With maybe a "the girl might get pregnant"  thrown in. On rational grounds, I would probably win the debate, but the inarticulate grownups are right. Teen sex is a bad idea--they arrived at the reasonable view through tradition and by sensing it. This ability needs to be understood and valued alongside mental ability. Conservative thought, of course, has always recognized the wisdom found in instinct and tradition.     

Friday, October 15, 2010

London blacks have higher pedestrian injury rates

According to this study of London children, blacks are found to have higher rates of pedestrian injury from cars. Living in wealthier neighborhoods tends to protect Caucasian and Asian children, but not blacks. The authors are baffled over this finding. Since group-difference explanations are out-of-bounds--ethnicity must always be a proxy for something else--they can offer no explanation. In a intellectually responsible world, we might be able to suggest cultural or biological differences, but the authors won't whisper a word about such possibilities. I guess the answer is that the cars and/or their drivers are racist.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Does virginity radicalize men?

Do men who cannot get a date take it out on the system? Do they become alienated and politically radical?

Using General Social Survey data, I compared white male virgins 25 years of age or older with other males. (I limited the sample to heteros only). Radicalization could conceivably be to the left or the right, so I calculated the number of men who identified themselves as extremely liberal or extremely conservative (sample size = 7,020) 

Percent extremely liberal
Virgins 2.0
Non-virgins 2.3

Percent extremely conservative
Virgins 4.7
Non-virgins 3.9

Neither of these differences is statistically significant. I see no radicalization here.

Submissive men are more sensitive to cues of male dominance

According to this 2010 study, less dominant men are more sensitive to physical dominance cues in other men. By dominance cues, the authors mean masculine features like a prominent jaw or brow. They conclude that this sensitivity is adaptive since it is more costly for a submissive man to misperceive the dominance of another man. Their findings are consistent with another study which showed that shorter men notice signs of dominance more than tall men.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is the growing Hispanic population driving whites to the right?

I'm interested in the question of whether whites have shifted at all toward the Republicans in regions of the country that have seen a sizeable proportion of the population become Hispanic over the past four decades. 

The table shows the percent of whites who voted for the Republican candidate for President for: 1) voters in West South Central region of the country, which is dominated in terms of population by Texas, combined with the Pacific region which is dominated by California; and 2) the rest of the whites voters throughout the country.

The column farthest to the right shows the difference between the two groups for each election. Using whites from the rest of the country as a comparison, whites in Texas and California do not appear to be moving right.  I see little evidence here that a growing Hispanic population turns more and more whites into Republicans.

The only parents who fail to teach kids to not discriminate are black and Hispanic

According to this study of American youths of African, Arab, European, and Latino descent, Arab and white parents teach their children to not discriminate against members of other groups. Black and Hispanic parents, by contrast, do not.

I thought the real villains in America's racism melodrama were bad parents, but we'll have to rewrite that story since it's turns out that the guilty moms and dads are black and brown.  

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Hispanics are as pro-Democrat now as in 2008

From Pew Hispanic:
In a year when support for Democratic candidates has eroded, the party’s standing among one key voting group—Latinos—appears as strong as ever. Two-thirds (65%) of Latino registered voters say they plan to support the Democratic candidate in their local congressional district, while just 22% support the Republican candidate, according to a nationwide survey of Latinos. If this pro-Democratic margin holds up on Election Day next month, it would be about as wide as in 2008, when Latinos supported Barack Obama for president over John McCain by 67% to 31%.
Even in a political climate that is horrible for the Dems, we still see the magic ratio among Latinos of 2 to 1 in favor of Democrats that we always see. Hispanics are not swing voters.  They are part of the Democratic base. As the Hispanic community grows, the Republican Party shrinks--unavoidably. (Okay, okay, the browning of the Democrat Party might drive some whites to the Republicans, but that is another phenomenon.)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Is going to church a low-status or high-status activity?

In the last post, there was some discussion about the relationship between race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), and church attendance. Among some in the HBD community, involvement in church seems to be a low-status activity.

My first step was to divide General Social Survey respondents into low-, middle-, and high-status groups based on a measure of job prestige (one third of the sample in each group). Then I calculated mean church attendance for the years 2000 through 2008 for each SES category for whites, blacks, and Mexican Americans separately.  

Mean church attendance score by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status

Low 3.15
Middle 3.49
High 3.73

Low 4.27
Middle 4.47
High 4.90

Low 3.81
Middle 3.73
High 3.79

As HBD-ers know, whites are the least churchgoing, and blacks are the most. If you assign a ranking to races and are comparing them, religiosity seems low-status.

But the plot thickens. Of all groups, the least religious category is low-status whites. Among whites, religiosity increases with SES. This is also the case with blacks. By contrast, low-status Mex-Ams go to church as often as their high-status counterparts.  So, for blacks and whites, if you are comparing yourself to other members of your race, religiosity is a high-status activity.

I should note that part of what is going on here is that young folks are both less religious and have less prestigious jobs.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Religious folks don't like body scarification

I'll probably offend some of my readers since many of them are young, but I loathe tattoos. Every time I see one, I envision the encroaching jungle.

This is probably another subconscious reason I like religious people. According to this study, religious people are significantly less likely to sport a tattoo. God bless 'em. The body is a temple.

Creative people have shorter associative pathways

A study published in the December 2010 issue of Personality and Individual Differences reported evidence that creative people have more flexible and efficient association networks. For example, an uncreative person might easily see that a connecting word between cat and cheese could be mouse. But a creative person sees less distance between even seemingly unrelated words like subject and marriage. (The connecting word that popped into my head was novel. How about you?)  So creative people see connections where others do not, and they are less rigid in how they look at things. Similarly, Eysenck hypothesized that they have low cognitive inhibition. Shall we call it "mental sluttiness"? 

According to this study, the heritability of creativity is moderate.

Muslim Americans most supportive of terrorism

Americans were asked on the World Values Survey: "Terrorism is everyday news. In principle, most people are against it, but there is still room for differences of opinion. Which of these two statements do you tend to agree with?  A) There may be certain circumstances where terrorism is justified.  B) Terrorism for whatever motive must always be condemned."

Seventeen percent of respondents answered A; 80 percent gave B as an answer; and three percent said neither.

Looking at people by religion, Muslim Americans were most likely to answer A--34 percent. The second-most supportive group was Jews at 32 percent. (Warning: sample sizes are small).

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Male extraversion and mating effort linked to testosterone

This study of Senegalese men from the December 2010 issue of Personality and Individual Differences shows that extraversion predicts mating effort and that extraverted men have higher levels of testosterone. By contrast, other Big 5 personality traits (i.e., neuroticism, openness and agreeableness) are unrelated to mating effort and testosterone levels. It looks like the dominance component of extraversion--linked in other studies to testosterone--is crucial.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Religion and finding fault

One of the tenets of my religion that I like is self-criticism. It checks the human tendency to focus on the faults of others by saying, "Okay, but what about you, pal?" In the last post, I railed against extreme liberals for their dirtiness, but then looked around and had to admit my place wasn't looking so hot. My impulse is to vanquish enemies, but the message is always in my head that the world that needs fixing is inside. Self-esteem is thought to be so important nowadays, but the attitude of "I'm a sinner--wise up" does me a lot of good.

The General Social Survey asked respondents if they tend to find fault in others. Answers ranged from "strongly disagree" (1) to "strongly agree" (5).  Here are the means by religion (sample size = 1,505):

Mean "finding fault" score

Protestant 2.50*
Catholic 2.58*
Jewish 2.88
No religion 2.76

*significantly lower than those with no religion

Christians are significantly less likely than people with no religion to see themselves as tending to find fault in others. The Jewish sample size is very small which works against reaching statistical significance, but the phrase that popped into my head at seeing the high mean was "culture of critique."  I should mention the usual caveats that the numbers do not identify cause and effect, nor do we know the validity of the measure.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Leftist pigs

Back in the day, hippies liked to call cops pigs, but this video shows that it's leftists who deserve the title. 

Interviewers rated General Social Survey participants' homes for dirtiness. Ratings varied from "very clean" (1) to "dirty" (5). I calculated means by political orientation (sample size = 2,260):

Mean dirtiness score

Extremely liberal 2.15
Liberal 1.87
Slightly liberal 1.68*
Moderate 1.85
Slightly conservative 1.79
Conservative 1.67*
Extremely conservative 1.71

*p < .05, two-tail test, significantly cleaner than extreme liberals

Extreme liberals are significantly dirtier than either slight liberals or conservatives.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I was saddened to hear about the death of Joe Sobran. Would that all of us had as much courage. 

HBD on the big screen

It's fun to see life and art conforming to the HBD view of social reality. The script for The Social Network could have been written by someone from this corner of cyberspace. We see Internet innovation dominated by young white males. Especially Jewish ones. Not a woman or NAM in sight. But the innovators are nerds who cannot get a date until their creativity brings recognition and social status. They hit it off with smart Asian girls in particular. Ethnic differences are portrayed as well. You have high-minded, athletic WASPs and shrewd Jews. Good stuff--didn't look at my watch even once.     

A significant drop in seeing oneself as white

General Social Survey participants were asked: "From what countries or part of the world did your ancestors come?" The answers listed in the table above include ethnicities with substantial numbers of white and non-white people (self-identified). The first column of numbers are the percent of the group who self-dentified as white when surveyed some time in the 1970s or 1980s, while the second column of numbers are the corresponding numbers for the past two decades. Finally, the last column is the difference between the first two. (Most of the categories have large sample sizes, with a few exceptions like Arabs in the earlier period having only 29).  

You can see that, with the exception of American Indians, fewer people now consider themselves to be white.

The drop over the two periods is substantial in all other groups. If American society is so racist against minorities, why is whiteness so much less desirable than 20 years ago? If whiteness carries with it so many advantages, why are fewer people trying to pass as white?  Liberal researchers tell us that living among white bigots forces minorities to give up trying to be white. For this to be the case, recent conditions would have to be dramatically worse than in the past. That is untenable.      

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 ...