Tuesday, November 30, 2010


This study I linked to in the last post is interesting. Based on trends in fertility, immigration, secularization, conversions, and religious fundamentalism, the authors project that the modal American voter 30 years from now will describe himself as a conservative Democrat. (Of course, the large projected growth in Catholic Hispanics contributes significantly to such a conclusion). The authors also estimate that in the U.S. the total number of Muslims will surpass Jews in a decade or so.   

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gays and Straights: No IQ difference

Using GSS data, I found in an earlier analysis that gay men and lesbians had higher average IQs. To check this, I examined mean IQs by sexual orientation for adolescents from the Add Health Study. IQ is measured with a vocabulary test. Students were asked if they were ever sexually attracted to a female and/or a male. I limited the analysis to whites: the overall mean is 104.3 (it is high because the mean for the whole sample that includes many NAMs is set at 100).

Mean IQ score (sample size = 6,145)

Bisexual female 108.1
Straight male 105.9
Lesbian 105.9

All whites 104.3

Bisexual male 104.3
Straight female 104.0
Gay male 102.6

There are a range of means, but the only statistically significant difference is between bisexual and straight females. It's close to one-third of a standard deviation difference, which is fairly small.

Unlike the GSS analysis, lesbians and gay males do not appear to be smarter than other groups. The GSS asked about sexual behavior, not attraction. It might be the case that smarter people are more likely to act on non-conformist desires.   

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do religious teens who have sex fail to use a condom?

Let's assess that argument that religious teens who have sex will be less likely to use a condom because they have not been taught to act rationally with respect to sex.

The Add Health Study asked teens: 1) if they have ever had sex; and 2) if so, did they ever use a condom? A sample of 516 youths admitted to sexual intercourse.  Here are the percentages who have used a condom by importance of religion to self:

Percent of those who've had sex who have used a condom

Very important 58.1
Fairly important 62.8
Fairly unimportant 64.6
Unimportant 64.7

The probability of condom use falls a little with greater religiosity, but none of the differences is statistically significant.    

Sunday, November 21, 2010

America still seems to do a good job of winning over its people

MIDUS Study participants were asked the following: "How closely do you identify with being an American, in the sense of being a U.S. citizen?" Answers ranged from "not at all closely" (1) to "very closely" (4). I calculated the means for each ethnic group with at least 30 respondents:
Mean American identity score (N = 4,561)
Lebanese 3.86 (n = 14)
Polish 3.86
Amerindian 3.86
Norwegian 3.86
Mexican 3.85
Czech 3.81
Irish 3.81
Swedish 3.80
French 3.79

All Americans 3.79

German 3.79
England 3.78
Italian 3.78
Russian 3.77
Scottish 3.77
Black 3.75

All groups score very high, with no significant differences among them. I included Lebanese Americans even though there were only 14 respondents. Most individuals from all ethnic groups closely identify with being American. This is true even of groups with many immigrants and connections to the Old Country (e.g., Mexican Americans) and for groups that were mistreated historically (i.e., Amerindians and blacks). Surprisingly, somehow, America still seems to do a good job of winning over its people. God bless her.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Religiosity, the Big 5, and jail time

In a number of analyses, I have found that greater religiosity is associated with a lower risk of ever having been arrested, but it is easy to conclude that the correlation is non-causal and simply due to some biologically-influenced personality trait (or traits) like conscientiousness.

The MIDUS study measured the Big 5 personality traits, along with religiosity (importance of religion to self) and having ever been in jail. With jail as the dependent variable and the other six measures as predictors, here are the estimates for a logistic regression model (sample size = 2,262):

Logistic regression coefficients

Religiosity -.60*
Extraversion -.14
Negative emotionality .26*
Conscientiousness -.63*
Agreeableness -.20
Openness to Experience .59*

* p < .05

All of the predictors except for extraversion and agreeableness are significantly related to jail detention. People who are less emotionally stable, less conscientious, and more open to experience are at higher risk.

Even after taking into account the influence of the Big 5 supertraits, religiosity significantly reduces the risk of time in jail. In fact, the coefficient for religiosity is almost the same size when the Big 5 measures are removed from the model. Moreover, it looks like religiosity is the most powerful predictor in the model (measures are in different metrics which doesn't make it easy to compare them). So according to MIDUS data, the lower criminality of religious people is not due to a greater likelihood of possessing crime-reducing traits (at least the 5 we looked at).

Friday, November 19, 2010

People see you more positively than how you see yourself

This is interesting:
Consensus studies from 4 cultures—in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Germany—as well as secondary analyses of self- and observer-reported Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) data from 29 cultures suggest that there is a cross-culturally replicable pattern of difference between internal and external perspectives for the Big Five personality traits. People see themselves as more neurotic and open to experience compared to how they are seen by other people. External observers generally hold a higher opinion of an individual's conscientiousness than he or she does about him- or herself. As a rule, people think that they have more positive emotions and excitement seeking but much less assertiveness than it seems from the vantage point of an external observer. This cross-culturally replicable disparity between internal and external perspectives was not consistent with predictions based on the actor–observer hypothesis because the size of the disparity was unrelated to the visibility of personality traits. A relatively strong negative correlation (r = −.53) between the average self-minus-observer profile and social desirability ratings suggests that people in most studied cultures view themselves less favorably than they are perceived by others.
I doubt that others are seeing you more accurately than you do. More likely, you project an image that is better than the truth. For example, I clean up before company comes over so they don't know how messy I am.
Why is everybody getting so worked up about groin pat downs at the airport?  I usually have to pay to get felt up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do NAMs want to tax the rich because they're poor or because they're NAMs?

Predictors of wanting to tax the rich, N = 4,743.

Compared to whites, non-Asian minorities (NAMs) are more likely to favor the government reducing income inequality by taxing the wealthy. Is this because they are poor and liberal, or because they are NAMs?

The table displays unstandardized OLS coefficients. The first model includes only two predictors: whether or not the respondent is black and whether or not the respondent is Hispanic.  Both groups are significantly more likely than whites and Asians (the reference group) to favor taxing the rich. In the second equation, income is added. Not surprisingly, higher-income people are less likely to favor being taxed to reduce inequality. This is the same finding reported in the last post. The coefficients indicate that the influence of income reduces the effect of race, but even with the adjustment, blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely to favor income equalization. And you can see that even when the extent of one's liberalism is added to the model, the racial gap persists, just in a reduced form.

In other words, blacks and Hispanics want to tax the rich: 1) because they are poor; 2) because they are liberal; and 3) because they are minorities. Each of the variables has an independent effect, but of course, income and liberalism may just be mediating the relationship between race and taxes. It is not unreasonable to conclude that NAMs are poor and liberal because they are NAMs.

But even if we partial out the effects of income and politics to see what is left of race, income and liberalism reduce the racial effect by less than half (just compare coefficients across the models). The pattern of results is consistent with the view that NAMs want high taxes for the wealthy because they perceive them as privileged and white, and this feeling goes beyond simply being poor and liberal .     

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The GSS speaks on taxing the rich

TGGP was so right in the last post to ask, "Where's the data?"

GSS respondents were asked the following question: "Some people think that the income differences between the rich and the poor ought to be reduced, perhaps by raising the taxes of wealthy families or by giving income assistance to the poor. Others think that the government should not concern itself with reducing this income difference between the rich and the poor. Here is a card with a scale from 1 to 7. Think of a score of 1 as meaning that the government ought to reduce the income differences between rich and poor, and a score of 7 meaning that the government should not concern itself with reducing income differences. What score between 1 and 7 comes closest to the way you feel?" 

Unfortunately, the question is double-barrelled, asking about taxing the rich and helping the poor, but if anything, the wording should tilt responses toward government intervention.

I divided the sample of whites from surveys from the past decade into three equally sized groups: low-income, middle-income, and high income. The mean responses to the question look like this:

Mean score

Low-income 3.66
Middle-income 3.72
High-income 4.28

The low- and middle-income groups are significantly more in favor of equalizing, but the differences are fairly small (Cohen's d for the low/high comparison is .32).

Plus, the typical response for the poorest group is close to 4, which is the neutral answer. Even poor whites are pretty indifferent about reducing inequality. I don't see stick-it-to-the-rich sentiment here.    

Monday, November 15, 2010

Elite liberals don't get us

These elite liberals are completely mystified about why ordinary Americans don't want to tax the rich aggressively. These supposedly creative people even lack the imagination to come up with a good answer. So as the son of a retired maintenance man, let me help them out. The problem is that they assume that we rubes are naturally good at hating, so how in the world could we not want to stick it to the people who clearly deserve our hostility? They make the mistake of believing that we think like them.

The reality is that ordinary American assume that they are just as good as rich people; they are just people like ourselves. They are not cardboard monsters like liberals want us to believe. They are just folks. And just like we don't want blacks or Hispanics or Jews or regular white guys to get hosed, we don't want anyone to get hosed. If I don't get angry that some rich guy pays the same for a lawnmower at Sears as I do, why am I going to get worked up if he doesn't pay taxes at a higher rate?  He's paying much more into the system than I am as it is. If the government is giving him sweet deals that I don't get, then that should be stopped. But why squeeze more out of him?

I see soaking the rich as a little like gang robbery. We take his money because we've got the numbers to get away with it. And then liberals make us feel righteous about our crime. "Social justice" sounds so noble, doesn't it? We don't want to bleed the guy because we're not criminals. If he stole the money, then he needs to rot in prison.  But we don't believe capitalism is organized theft. If he didn't break any laws to get it, then I'm the thief if I join the mob to strip him of his cash.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jews like Muslims more than Muslims do

The World Values Survey asked people all around the world the following question: "On this list are various groups of people, could you please sort out any that you would not like to have as neighbors?" It was a long list of many religions and ethnic groups. Here are the percentages by religion who mentioned that they did not want to live next to Muslims (sample size = 102,674):

Percent mentioning Muslims

Hindu 31.8
Buddhist 28.6
Ancestral religion 25.0
Orthodox 24.1
Jain 21.6
Independent African Church 21.3
Seventh Day Adventist 21.3
Pentecostal 19.5

World 19.3

Protestant 18.8
Roman Catholic 18.0
Evangelical 17.0
Born-Again 15.9
Muslim 15.6
Jew 15.1
C&S Celestial 15.0
Other 14.9
Non-denominational 14.0
Church of Sweden 13.6
Jehovah's Witness 13.5
Independent Church 11.9
Mormon 9.9
Baptist 8.4

Do I detect a tendency for those who intereact with more Muslims to be less in favor of living by them? If so, that goes against the PC doctrine that to know the other is to love the other.

This is further confirmed by the fact that nine religions -- one of them being Jews -- like Muslims more than Muslims do. Amazing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gay men are disgusted by lesbian sex

I didn't know that gay men are not necessarily disgusted by depictions of heterosexual sex but are disgusted by lesbian sex (check out the study here). It makes sense though: If there is at least one actor whom you find sexually attractive, you will focus on him or her and be able to find the scene arousing; otherwise, it will disgust you.    

Decline in family values continues unabated

The Family/Gender/Sexual Revolution is a complex phenomenon, but there are signs that the rejection of traditional values continues to spread--50 years after it began.

Here are the percentage of Americans who think that various actions are morally acceptable, measured at the beginning and the end of the last decade (from Gallup):

Percent thinking the behavior is morally acceptable

Sex between unmarried man and woman
Beginning 53
End 59
Change +6

Beginning 59
End 69
Change +10

Having a baby outside of marriage
Beginning 45
End 54
Change +9

Gay marriage should be valid
Beginning 27
End 44
Change +17

Attitudes toward gay marriage have changed most dramatically, but this issue is just the most recently-grown leg of a monster that was born in the Sixties. The new ethic replacing the traditional one claims that any kind of relationship is good as long as it is honest, voluntary, and egalitarian (infidelity and polygamy are as condemned now as 10 years ago). Any limitations beyond that are considered judgmental. Questions of what is good for children or what is good for the country are irrelevant. Freedom from sexual rules, self-fulfillment, accommodativeness, egalitarianism, and androgyny are the new idols. The new Prophet is half Beatnik, half Woman.       

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Antisocial behavior more heritable for girls and the wealthy

According to this Swedish twin study, heritability for teenage antisocial behavior is higher for females and people from high-income homes. This pattern indicates that environments are more uniformly prosocial for girls and wealthy kids, so the impact of genes becomes more powerful. By contrast, men and poor people inhabit more diverse environments which can either encourage or discourage bad behavior, so genes end up comparatively less important.

These findings are consistent with a claim made by Emile Durkheim a century ago that social conditions make or break men more than women.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Abortion is Communist-inspired

Oh this is fun. I see that the International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences says:
Abortion was almost universally illegal in the early twentieth century. This first changed in the early years of the Soviet Union, where from 1920 to 1936 abortion was legal, widely available, and encouraged as the primary method of fertility control.
I guess contraceptives were not bloody enough for Bolsheviks.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Marilyn Monroe knew what she was doing: Feminine voices are sexy

In this new study, researchers found that men find feminine female voices more sexually attractive, especially for short-term mating.  Women also perceive femininity in other female voices to be more flirtatious and attractive to men. The authors conclude that women use vocal femininity to track the threat potential of competitors.   

Smart people think like economists

From a study by Bryan Caplan and Stephen Miller, published in the latest issue of Intelligence:
Education is by far the strongest predictor of whether a non-economist will share the economic beliefs of the average economist. (Caplan, 2001) Is the effect of education as large as it seems? Or is education largely a proxy for cognitive ability? Using data from the General Social Survey (GSS), we show that the estimated effect of education sharply falls after controlling for intelligence. In fact, education is driven down to second place, and intelligence replaces it at the top of the list of variables that make people "think like economists." Thus, to a fair degree education is proxy for intelligence, though there are some areas—international economics in particular—where education still dominates. An important implication is that the political externalities of education may not be as large as they initially appear.

Do Muslims differ from other Americans on gender-and-politics questions?

Sample size = 25,284

This GSS graph shows the percent of Americans separated by religion who would vote for a female for President. You can see the Muslims are not out of the mainstream (there are 16 Muslim respondents). Thirteen percent of them say no compared to 14 percent of all Americans. Muslims are a young population, and younger people have more modern views of gender roles.  

Sample size = 26,970

People were also asked if they agreed with, "Most men are better suited emotionally for politics than are most women." (In other words, are men better liars). Muslims are more somewhat more traditional on  this question: 40 percent of them agree compared to 31 percent of all Americans. (There are 47 Muslims in this sample.)

Friday, November 05, 2010

The relationship between religiosity and infidelity differs by religion

Using General Social Survey data, I calculated the relationship between attending religious services and cheating on your spouse for people of various religions. (The sample is whites only, except in the case of Hindus).  

Logistic Regression Coefficients

Protestant -.12*
Catholic -.15*
Jewish -.21*
Buddhist .22
Hindu .26
Muslim -.10
No religion .04

*p < .05

More attendance of religious services predicts remaining faithful for the Abrahamic religions only, and the effect for Muslims is not statistically significant. Buddhists, Hindus, and people with no religion who are active in religious activities are just as likely to cheat as those who never attend. Being a religious Jew is the strongest predictor of fidelity.  

Thirty percent of Episcopalian women fail to have any kids

In a recent post, I showed that approval of abortion for any reason is widespread among Jewish women, and that almost one-quarter fail to have even a single child. The situation is even worse with another elite American group--Episcopalians. Sixty-three percent of women of that faith believe in unlimited abortion, and a whopping 30 percent end up having zero children (GSS data). Politically and culturally, it may be a good thing that our elites are not replacing themselves because they have been a disaster.

American Muslims

From the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture: 
In this essay the author gives an historical overview of Islam in America from its earliest beginnings in pre-Columbia America until the present. Details on the origins, growth and spread of the three largest American Muslim groups - African American, Arab and South Asian - are explored as are the tensions and frictions between the three communities, which undermine the unity of these adherents and their potential influence on the United States' domestic and foreign policies. Also explored are the ideological struggles some Muslims - perhaps a large percentage in the three groups - have regarding their position in the American mosaic. Are they “Muslims in America” or are they “American Muslims?” Some African Americans, many of whom have adopted Islam and the “new” identity it provides as an antidote to this group's long history of ostracism and marginalization, are alienated from any wholesale embrace of their American heritage and identity. Among Arab and South Asian Muslims, some feel a loyalty to their homelands and are often opposed to U. S. policies related to them. Others see the U.S. as morally bankrupt and beyond redemption and are therefore unwilling to totally embrace an American identity. Post 9-11 events in the U.S. in which Muslims with immigrant backgrounds have been targeted have further alienated those who already had their doubts and pushed others who were on the fence into the camp of those who see no real place for Muslims in the American body politic. Lastly, the author lays out her views on how all three Muslim communities can find ways to unite internally and why it is to their advantage to fully embrace their American identity and citizenship in order to influence her future policies, both domestic and international.
So Muslims as a group are alienated from America's heritage; they think she is morally bankrupt and beyond redemption; they are more worried about the Old Country's welfare than American interests; and so they do not fully identify as Americans. But the author thinks they should, not out of affection, but as a means to make America more pro-Islam. I, for one, am reassured by this essay. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Compared to their light-skinned compatriots, dark-skinned Mexicans are much poorer

In the latest issue of American Sociological Review--the flagship journal of U.S. sociology--Andres Villareal finds that even after a number of factors are taken into account (i.e., gender, age, indigeneity, educational level, region, and rurality) darker skinned Mexicans--in Mexico--are poorer than their paler counterparts. The poverty gap is roughly as large as the American black-white difference. Even though the main ethnic division in Mexico is between indigenous people and mestizos, and skin tone variation among mestizos is not socially emphasized, Villareal concludes that the results are strong evidence for intense discrimination based on color. 

Keep in mind that this research has appeared in the best quantitative sociology journal in the United States; perhaps in the world. The author is interested in discrimination, but treats skin tone variation as his measure of discrimination. Why not measure discrimination directly? At least ask respondents concerning perceived instances of mistreatment. Is that too difficult to ask about? Why doesn't he save himself a lot of work, skip the data collection and analysis, and simply write a speculative paper asserting discrimination?

The relationship between skin tone and poverty could be explained in many different ways. If I claimed that the link is explained by genes associated both with economic success and skin color, my assertion would be just as plausible as his. But it goes without saying that he wouldn't admit (and doesn't mention in the paper) that a genetic explanation is possible since it is morally out of bounds. This trick of not measuring what you are studying and ruling out other explanations as unacceptable has been used in a thousand similar studies. Instead of relying on data, a whole discipline is based on moralistic faith. If we're going to defund NPR, let's do the same to sociology.     

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A critique of Charlton's "clever sillies"

In this paper, Michael Woodley critiques Bruce Charlton's hypothesis that "clever-sillies" use their high IQs and openness to experience to construct social and political views that are farther from the truth than views generated be common sense and social intelligence. According to Woodley: 1) smart people are not necessarily less socially intelligent; 2) smart people might tend to be politically correct only in cultures where liberalism is the dominant view; 3) high-IQ individuals who score high on conscientiousness (and conformity) will adopt PC views in a liberal environment and conservative views in a conservative environment; 4) traditional cultures value dominance, while the modern West values counter-dominance (or egalitarianism); and 5) adopting politically correct views is a way to signal to others that you are altruistic and support egalitarianism, which is then rewarded with enhanced social status and greater access to resources.

Woodley draws on Inglehart's work that has found that, as Western societies have become wealthy, a focus on material concerns (e.g., wealth, security) gives way to an emphasis on post-materialist values, which include self-expression, autonomy, and equality. Social status come less from wealth and more from "higher" pursuits like altruism. This is an evolutionarily novel state of affairs. While men have traditionally been admired for dominant behaviors, now they are rewarded for self-effacement. Believing, for example, in a natural hierarchy among men might have at one time been seen as the mark of a dominant and thus admired man. Now it seems arrogant and ungenerous, and is consequently penalized. High-IQ folks understand this more clearly than others and thus adopt politically correct views.       

Monday, November 01, 2010

Abortion reduces the number of our most talented

Jews approve of abortion more than almost any demographic group in America. Using GSS data, I calculated that 75 percent of Jewish women believe a woman should be able to have an abortion for any reason. I don't have data on the percentage of unwanted Jewish pregnancies that are terminated with abortion, but it should be higher for a group of people who don't see anything wrong with it. This might help explain why 23 percent of Jewish women ages 40 to 59 have no children (GSS data).

Our country needs all the scientifically gifted people we can get, and Jews contribute disproportionate numbers of talented people. It's a shame that almost a quarter of Jewish women fail to have even a single child.  

How much has mean IQ declined in the US?

 I looked at General Social Survey data to see how much IQ has declined in the US since the early 70s when the GSS was started. I set whites...