Monday, January 31, 2011

Beautifully phrased civility

Richard Dreyfuss, as part of his campaign against incivility in public discourse, responded to the question of whether Ed Schultz's wish that Dick Cheney would "go to the Promised Land" was incivil by saying, no, it was a beautifully phrased comment.

I would like, then, in the spirit of civility, to request that Mr. Dreyfuss go make love to himself.  

Rivers of blood

Responding to liberal criticism of Haley Barbour's insensitive comments concerning violence against blacks during the Civil Rights era, One STVD writes about the exaggeration and hypocrisy on the issue. 

I officially condemn both men for their callousness. Every enlightened person knows that black lynchings were as common as corn. If we begin with the year that Barbour was born--1947--through 1968 when data collection ended, the Tuskegee Institute indicates that over the 22-year period, 14 blacks were lynched in a country of almost 200 million people. That's .64 victims per year. Over the same period, there were five white lynching victims. 

Fourteen black victims...isn't that the number for Washington DC last week? 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A majority of professors hate evangelical Christians

A major goal for many professors is to enlighten their students concerning the deep hatred that all-too-many Americans have for outgroups like blacks and homosexuals, and that this animus is concentrated among conservatives. They see discrimination as perhaps the greatest challenge facing the country. 

Typically, they document the hatred with rock-solid evidence like opposition to affirmative action programs. 

In his book What Americans Really Believe, Rodney Stark reports the results of a survey of professors: 53% admit negative feelings towards evangelical Christians, and 33% feel the same about Mormons. 

Imagine if a survey showed that a majority of some group have negative feelings towards blacks. Social science professors would interpret this as proof that the group would commit genocide if it could. Yet, this is exactly the state of affairs among professors with respect to conservative Christians. Projection is at work here: the real haters are the finger pointers.   

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Religion and politics among Western Muslims

Among Muslims living in the West, does an interest in politics go hand-in-hand with religious commitment?

Using World Values Survey data, I put together a sample of 120 Muslims living in Western countries. They were asked about frequency of religious attendance and "how important is politics in your life?" Of those who attend at least weekly, 46.9% say politics is very or rather important. The corresponding number for those who never or practically never go is 26.9%.

So for Muslims in the West, religion and politics tend to go together. 

On the other hand, there is a similar tendency among Americans in general. Of those who attend at least weekly, 59.4% say politics is important, compared to 41.3% who never attend. (Notice also how Americans as a group are more interested in politics than Western Muslims.) 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Attentional blink and general intelligence

The science of intelligence has just added another item to a long list of biological phenomena correlated with IQ. 

The journal Intelligence published this month a study which found that the ability to correctly identify two targets--letters of particular colors--out of a rapid stream of distractor letters is moderately correlated with IQ (r = .43) as measured by the Standard Progressive Matrices. This ability is called "attentional blink" and is thought to be connected to perceptual speed and working memory capacity.

The results of the study are consistent with Arthur Jensen's theory that intelligence is about mental speed. If you can process data more quickly, you are better able to successfully process complex information.  

This type of research reminds me how ignorant liberals are about the basics of IQ science. They claim that IQ is just a measure of culture or social class, as if wealthier people are magically better at identifying letters out of a rapid stream.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Premarital sex predicts a lower quality marriage

Every enlightened person knows you need to live like a married couple to know if a marriage is going to work. At least so says the liberal. Research has actually shown many times over that people who cohabit before marriage are more likely to subsequently get divorced. 

Now we the same kind of phenomenon with sexual intercourse. According to this study of 2,035 married people, waiting until after the wedding to have sex the first time is associated with greater subsequent communication, sexual quality, marital satisfaction, and perceived stability--see the above table for means. This was found after controlling for religiosity, race, income, education, and length of relationship.

It's funny how "scientific" liberals keep getting wrong and "superstitious" priests keep getting it right.

This study was conducted by BYU researchers. While the university has traditionally focused on undergraduate education (the average student has an impressive SAT), over the years I've noticed that it cranks out high-quality empirical research on family and religion. Good quantitative people, those Mormons.  

(H/T to Jason Malloy)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is virginity dead?

Looking at my students today, I wondered if any girls make it all the way through college still virgins. The General Social Survey (GSS) has 129 girls ages 21-22 who were asked sometime in the past decade about sexual partners. Unfortunately, they were only asked about partners since age 18. I eliminated any girls who reported no sex with males but some with females, and I limited the analysis to the never-married. The percentage I came up with is 15.5.

So roughly 1 in 6 make it through graduation age maintaining their virginity (perhaps some of them slept with someone before age 18, but I doubt there are many). God bless 'em. You might be thinking they must be the fat, ugly ones, but when did that ever stop a guy? 

Monday, January 24, 2011

American Indian religion

After rolling my eyes at the Native American invocation given at the memorial service rally in Tucson, I wondered what percent of American Indians even belong to an indigenous religion.

According to the GSS, here is the distribution of religious affiliations for American Indians (sample size = 1,818--I didn't count the white wannabes)


Protestant  53.3
Catholic 17.8
None 13.2
Other 7.4
Native American 4.1
Christian 3.3
Buddhist 0.8

Wow! A whopping 4 percent of American Indians belong to an indigenous faith.

According to the most recent GSS Survey (2008), 0.7% of Americans are Amerindians. So the Tucson event catered to--what--about three people?  I've got more cousins. Organizers didn't give a damn about the wishes of real, live Indians (or they would have asked a Protestant minister to pray). They really care about their fashionable liberal buddies.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The March for Life

My wife and I stand with our brothers and sisters who will be marching for life in DC tomorrow. I've posted a clip by one of my favorite priests, Father John Corapi (you can watch him on EWTN). I like to call him General Corapi.  Would that all eunuchs for Christ had his cajones.

By the way, I need to get me a job on the East Coast so I can participate in all the great political events I miss. Did you get the word that the National Policy Institute is going to stream live the American Renaissance conference in North Carolina on Feb. 5-6? I plan to put on a suit and tie just so it feels like I'm there. I've never attended, but I remember when I first saw Jared Taylor on C-SPAN in 1996. I had read The Bell Curve but thought the AmRen folks were nuts. Later, I read Paved with Good Intentions and all the other great race realist books from the 1990s, and was convinced by 1998. If there were any lingering doubts, they were completely destroyed when I read Jensen's g Factor.

I just read Auster's Path to National Suicide and want to cry that I didn't not read it when it first came out in 1990. According to the book, "his appearance on CNN’s “Crossfire” in 1991 marked the first time the cultural impact of immigration was critically discussed on national television." I was just a kid at the time, and "Crossfire" got me interested in politics. Just my luck that I missed the program with Auster--I might have avoided years of liberal foolishness.

Berger on polyamorous unions

Sociologist Peter Berger writes about the increasing popularity of polyamourous partnerships and marriages--relationships which involve multiple people. Among his examples, we hear of the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamorous Awareness, an organization created in 1999. While he is not one of us, Berger concedes that cultural conservatives appear to be empirically correct that "once you legitimate same-sex marriage, you open the door to any number of other alternatives to marriage as a union of one man and one woman."

The moral theory underlying the push for gay marriage is what we might call "consensuality"--if a union is voluntary, it is good.  Following this principle, the list of possible arrangments is limitless. It is an invitation to moral choas, a road we have been on for half a century.   

I was stunned the other day when a very conservative friend of mine said she didn't have a problem with Mormon polygamous families. I didn't ask, but I presume she would be cool with Muslim polygamy as well. Moral libertarianism--or perhaps lifestyle liberalism is a better term--cripples conservative thinking.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A whopping 0.6% of Americans think Tucson shooting was a reflection of polarizing rhetoric

I had a good giggle today. Some stats from Pew show the ability of liberal slander to influence public opinion. After about a week of propaganda about how polarizing conservatives caused the Tucson shooting, a poll reveals the share of Americans that accept the liberal view:

The Tucson shooting reflects...

polarizing rhetoric 0.6%
media coverage of politics/talk shows 0.6%
extremists in the Republican party 0.6%

My guess is that about 0.6% of Americans are liberal pundits.

Americans are getting more and more sensible about these mass shootings:

Compared to 2007, more Americans are focusing on the individuals. 

And there's even growing support for the Second Amendment:

Who says the country is going to hell in a handbasket? (Okay, okay, much of the time I do).

Women, the Big Five, and feeling sexual pleasure

MIDUS respondents were asked how often they feel pleasure during sex. Focusing on the women, I wondered if pleasure varied with the Big 5 personality traits.  Here are the standardized OLS regression coefficients (sample size = 1,454):

OLS regression coefficients (standardized)

Age -.17*
Physical health .01
Emotional/mental health .07*
Extraversion .07*
Negative emotionality -.05*
Agreeableness .04
Conscientiousness .01
Openness to experience .13*

I included three controls: women enjoy sex less as they age; physical health is unrelated, but those with good mental health get more pleasure from it.

Of the Big Five, three predict sexual pleasure. Women who are more extraverted, more open to experience, and slower to experience negative emotions get more out of sex.  Agreeableness and conscientiousness, on the other hand, make no difference. Openness (after age) is the best predictor.

Friday, January 21, 2011

More on ethnicity and voting among whites

In the comments of the last post, The Cold Equations raises a good point that region should be controlled in a model of how whites vote. Here are the results with region added to the model (all the regions are being compared with New England, chosen as the reference group because it is a particularly blue region):

Logistic regression coefficients

English .39*
Scottish .16
Scots Irish .17
Dutch 1.18*
German .57*
Swedish .35
Income .09*
Town size -.01
Mid-Atlantic .27
East North Central .61*
West North Central .35
South Atlantic .95*
East South Central .84*
West South Central .1.28*
Mountain .75*
Pacific .28

*statistically significant

Even after adjusting for region (and income and population size), Americans of English/Welsh, Dutch, and German descent are significantly more likely to vote Republican, compared to other whites. Implicit ethnicity at work? 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

White ethnic groups more likely to vote Republican than whites in general

Looking at GSS data, I noticed that there were a few white ethnic groups who were more likely than whites in general to vote for Bush in 2004 (the most recent year available): English/Welsh, Scottish, Scots-Irish, Dutch, German, and Swedish. Why?

I checked to see if perhaps income or small-town residency might explain the tendency. Here are the logistic regression coefficients (sample size = 1,773):

Logistics regression coefficients

English .53*
Scottish .22
Scots Irish .30
Dutch 1.23*
German .62*
Swedish .43
Income .10*
Town size -.01

*statistically significantly

Even after adjusting for income and population, Americans of English, Dutch, and German descent are more likely than other whites to vote Republican. (All groups have positive coefficients). I wonder if these people tend to be attracted to conservatism because it is more backward-looking, and many from the groups have American ancestors that go way back. They might feel a stronger connection because of having deep American roots to the Founding Fathers who are associated with limited government and conservative values.  Their voting tendencies might be subconsciously influenced by their ethnicity. One the other hand, perhaps its just the default position for Americans who have been completely stripped of ethnicity.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do religious people lie?

This blog has shown over and over again that religious people tend to be better-behaved than secular folks. Is this due to a tendency among church attenders to exaggerate, perhaps because they care more about what others think of them?

The Add Health Study asked participants if they never get sad. A fully honest people would not answer that they never get sad. I calculated the percentages of those who agree or strongly agree with the statement (sample size = 3,667, whites only):

Percent agreeing that they never get sad

Never attends 15.1
Less than once a month 12.0
Between once a month and once a month 12.7
Once a week or more 13.3

Those who never go to church have the highest percentage of people not telling the truth, but none of the differences is statistically significant. There is no evidence here that religious people are prone to give socially desirable answers.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK National Memorial

Is is just me, or does the MLK National Memorial statue--a symbol of modern-day liberalism--have an Oriental despot kind of feel to it?

More on IQ and delinquency

Using the more appropriate Gamma statistic, I recalculated the relationships displayed in the last post between IQ and 15 types of delinquency. Gamma is similar to Pearson--it ranges from -1.00 to +1.00.

Gamma measure of association

Graffiti -.02
Vandalism .10
Lied to parents .08
Shoplift .03
Serious fight -.14
Seriously injured someone -.10
Ran away from home -.07
Stole a car -.01
Stole something > $50 -.01
Burglarized a building -.04
Used or threatened with weapon -.10
Sold drugs .10
Stole something < $50 .08
Group fight -.16
Rowdy in public .08

The associations are perhaps a bit sharper, but the only consistent negative relationship is between IQ and types of violence. The link is weak, however.

In this new study in the journal Intelligence, the authors find that low-IQ U.S. counties have higher crime rates. Macrolevel studies evidently show stronger correlations than microlevel studies. Maybe this is due to reduced measurement error. Also--official statistics capture much more serious behavior. Self-report data is swamped with minor misbehaviors, which smart kids are frequently guilty of. Keep in mind, too, that my analysis is of whites only. Including all races might strengthen the correlations.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

IQ and delinquency

To HBD folks, the idea that low IQ explains criminality is attractive since intelligence is important in many areas of life, and racial rankings on IQ match those of crime involvement. 

Using Add Health data, I calculated the Pearson correlation coefficients between a measure of IQ (a vocabulary test) and frequency of 15 different delinquent behaviors. Here are the results (sample size = 4,082, whites only):


Graffiti -.01
Vandalism .06
Lied to parents .09
Shoplift .04
Serious fight -.11
Seriously injured someone -.06
Ran away from home -.03
Stole a car -.01
Stole something > $50 -.01 
Burglarized a building -.01
Used or threatened with weapon -.03
Sold drugs .04
Stole something < $50 .07
Group fight -.10
Rowdy in public .08

These correlations offer little support for the view that low intelligence is a major cause of crime.  Most of the measures of delinquency are very skewed (which is a problem I will try to look at later) but the correlations aren't consistently negative, and even the less skewed behaviors like being rowdy in public are not negatively related to IQ in a consistent way.   

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More than one-half of atheists are dumb

Richard Dawkins thinks atheists should be renamed "brights." The problem is that, according to the GSS, 56.8 percent of American atheists have IQs below 100. The percent for agnostics is 38.9. I'm sure that many of my readers won't believe it, so go to this website, type "god" in the column field and "IQ" in the row field, then hit the "Run the Table" button. Then just add up the column percentages.

But those of you who know there is a God, don't start getting cocky: 64.1 % of your comrades are stupid (IQ < 100).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Religiosity and enjoying sex

I lived with my aunt and uncle for a summer when I was attending college, and my aunt got comfortable enough with me to tell me that she had seen a therapist because she didn't enjoy sex. The two decided that religion was to blame. My aunt had felt that sex was bad and had to learn to enjoy it. 

Is this a general phenomenon? The MIDUS Study asked about how often people go to church and how much of the time do they get pleasure from sex. The correlation for 1,188 men is .05, and it's -.05 for 1,200 women. Neither association is statistically significant. There's basically no link between religiosity and enjoying sex.   

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

IQ and what you are looking for in a friend

GSS respondents were asked: "I'm going to read seven qualities one might look for in a personal friend. All of the qualities may be desirable ones for a personal friend, but I'm interested in those that are most important to you. As I read each one, could you tell me whether it is extremely important (1), very important (2), fairly important (3), not too important (4), or not at all important (5): Intelligent."  For four sex-race groups, I correlated this measure with the WORDSUM measure (a vocabulary test) which serves as a proxy of IQ:

Correlations (sample size = 1,009)

White males -.03
White females -.21
Black males -.03
Black females .24

Weird results. Wanting a smart friend is basically unrelated to IQ for white and black men. I wonder if the non-correlation is due to the fact that many people have inaccurate views of their own intelligence. 

There is a tendency for intelligent white women to want smart friends, but more intelligent black women are more likely than dull ones to say that having a smart friend is not important. I might be tempted to interpret this as anti-intellectualism among blacks, but black men do not show the same pattern. Your thoughts?  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Should we practice glacial profiling?

If a fat job applicant waddles into your office, should you assume he is lazy?

The MIDUS Study measured the body mass index (BMI) as well as personality characteristics of a large sample of adults. Here are the BMI/personality correlations for men and women:


Men (white, ages 40-59, n = 830)
Conscientiousness -.07
Achievement -.07
Control -.10

Women (white, ages 40-59, n = 978)
Conscientiousness -.21
Achievement -.12
Control -.06

The correlations are weak; they are a bit stronger for women. So there is a slight tendency for heavier people to be less achieving, less conscientious, and lacking in self-control, but no more than a slight tendency.
The liberal drumbeat for the past 48 hours has been, "Conservatives are accessories to mass murder. They have a rhetoric problem."

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Shameless, shameless liberals

Liberals disgust me. The bodies weren't even cold in Tucson before they exploited the opportunity to put the blame on conservatives. Early signs point to the shooter being schizophrenic, but that didn't give the media pause. The talk shows this morning were obsessed with "tone" and "violent rhetoric." The spectacle yesterday of the Pima County sheriff refusing to answer question after question (he didn't know anything), and then giving a big speech about how all the bigotry must stop (he knows everything) was truly disgusting. Shameless, shameless people, these liberals.

If we want to turn this tragedy into a political discussion, let's focus on the naivete of liberalism. Congresswoman Giffords was repeatedly threatened, her office was shot up, and after the attack the sheriff said she could have had security at any time if she wanted it. But the dangerous liberal ideology that people are inherently good led the Congresswoman to continue to have meet-and-greets with absolutely no protection. Tragic misjudgment caused by an unrealistic ideology. I looked in vain on the talk shows today for discussions of liberal naivete.     

Liberals are a real treat. They sneer at anyone so foolish to believe that media (e.g., Hollywood) causes violence, only to turn around to make the exact same argument when the topic is political violence. What a treat. 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ethnicity and mental disability

Respondents in the 2000 Census 1% Sample were asked if they have any mental disability. Prevalence grows with age, so I limited the sample to people ages 30 to 49. Here are the percentages who answered yes by race/ethnicity:

Percent with mental disability (sample size = 847,061)

Hmong 12.0
Cambodian 8.5
American Indian 7.6
Puerto Rican 6.1
African American 4.8
Laotian 5.2
Eskimo 4.5
French 4.0
Vietnamese 3.5
Scotch Irish 3.4
Irish 3.3
Finnish 3.3
French Canadian 3.2
Dominican 3.1
Dutch 3.1
English 3.0
Portuguese 3.0
Cuban 2.9
Lithuanian 2.9
Spaniard 2.9
Swedish 2.8
Scottish 2.8
Italian 2.8
Polish 2.7
Israeli 2.6
Russian 2.6
Welsh 2.6
Austrian 2.6
German 2.6
Mexican 2.4
Greek 2.3
Swiss 2.3
Ukrainian 2.4
Belgian 2.4
Danish 2.4
Hungarian 2.4
Honduran 2.4
Arabic 2.4
Norwegian 2.2
Lebanese 2.0
Guyanese 2.0
Egyptian 2.0
Slovak 1.9
Jamaican 1.9
Haitian 1.9
Iranian 1.9
Nicaraguan 1.8
Ecuadoran 1.7
Japanese 1.7
Yugoslavian 1.5
Korean 1.5
Chinese 1.5
Guatemalan 1.4
Salvadoran 1.4
Columbian 1.4
Peruvian 1.4
Pakistani 1.4
Filipino 1.4
Trinidadian 1.3
Brazilian 1.3
Turkish 1.3
Nigerian 1.1
Taiwanese 1.1
Asian Indian 1.0
Syrian 1.0
Venezuelan 0.4
Each estimate is based on hundreds if not thousands of respondents.
Those from mainlaind Southeast Asia tend to have the highest rates. Mental disability is also prevalent among American Indians, Eskimos, Puerto Ricans, and blacks. 
Most European-descended people are in the middle; southern Caucasians tend to be lower.
Eastern and Southern Asians have low rates, as do Hispanics (not from the Caribbean) and black immigrant groups. Most immigrants groups look good--these data again reinforce the view that non-Caribbean Hispanics are comparatively healthy--but I wonder if SSI fraud inflates the percentages among some groups (I know there are restrictions if you are not a citizen). The data do not support the liberal view that racist America drives immigrants crazy.    
My three-year-old son is funny. I didn't know I was setting up a joke today when I pointed to my bald head and asked him, "Where did my hair go?"  He answered, "That's easy--to your underarms!"

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Men and traditional religion

Men in this corner of the blogosphere complain that Christianity is too feminine. I liked this article by Frederica Mathews-Green. She surveyed one hundred Eastern Orthodox men, most of whom converted as adults, why their church is appealing to guys. I can summarize their answers with a list of adjectives:


Okay, but is the Orthodox sex ratio actually tilted toward men?  Here are the percentages of members who are male by religion (I limited the analyis to people born in America to eliminate a male surplus of immigrants):

Percent male (sample size = 43,632)

Muslim 68.2
Buddhist 60.3
Eastern Orthodox 47.4
Southern Baptist 47.3
Jewish 45.6
Roman Catholic 43.5
Lutheran--Missouri Synod 42.8
Methodist 42.8
American Lutheran 42.3
United Methodist 40.6
Episcopal 37.9
Interdenominational 32.3

It looks like there is a tendency for more traditional religions to appeal to men.

That's so primitive

The use of the word "primitive" is revealing. Here is a partial list of things that are labeled primitive as opposed to modern:

Violent sports
Fist fighting

Funny, but you never hear love or compassion or altruism or generosity or cooperation described as primitive even though they are certainly as old as the other items. What people are really saying when they use the word primitive is "old stuff that we don't like but can't seem to get rid of."  All the energy devoted to eradicating these barbarisms, but they never die.  These folks don't know it, but their use of the word primitive is basically making a case for a biological view of man. Show me a behavior dismissed as primitive, and I'll show you a behavior rooted in evolution and biology.    

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Religiosity and crime

I was stunned to read in We Are Doomed by John Derbyshire the argument that since the crime rate is high in religious Mississippi and low in irreligious Oregon, religion does not reduce crime. I wouldn't be surprised to see that kind of reasoning by a superficial culturist thinker, but by the Derb?! (Heather Mac Donald, a normally strong analyst herself, has made similar comparisons). Just as I regained composure, he goes on to make the same argument comparing Nigeria and Japan! Holy crap! I expected the next comparison to be between humans and Martians!

(Perhaps Derbyshire is thinking that religion is impotent since Oregon and Mississippi show that other factors like race, ethnicity, and subculture can overpower religion, but that is not clear in his writing.)

If we follow Derbyshire's logic, then religious individuals in Oregon or Mississippi should be more likely to be criminals. After all, persons, not states, commit crimes. 

I can't isolate Oregon and Mississippi with the GSS, but I can look at the Pacific and East South Central divisions--the least and most religious regions, according to the church frequency question on the GSS. I calculated logistic regression cofficients for the relationship between frequency of church attendance and ever having been arrested. The coefficient for the Pacific region is -.18 (N = 1,353, p < .001). For the southern region, it is -.33 (N = 666, p < .001).

Perhaps we should focus on a northern region instead of the Pacific region which includes the high crime state California (a very irreligious state, by the way). The coefficient for New England is -.30 (N = 460, p < .001). All of the coefficients are the same or larger if we limit the analysis to whites. When we focus on real-life individuals, the irreligious ones are at higher risk of arrest.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Is Russia becoming more religious?

Bruce Charlton writes that Russians might have "turned a corner and reversed their decades-long civilizational decline." He points to Russia's return to Orthodoxy as an explanation. But is it true that Russians are becoming more religious?

The World Values Survey has asked Russians since 1990 about the frequency of their church attendance. I limited my analysis to Russians with university educations since the actions of leaders are most important. I calculated the percent of people who go to church at least for major holidays:

Percent attending on major holidays or more frequently

1990 13.8
1995 23.6
1999 24.4
2006 37.1

That's a pretty big increase. And let us not forget that Russians stand for the entire service (pews are available only for the sick and elderly) which runs about 2 1/2 hours. That's dedication.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Atheism associated with acceptance of HBD?

A reader at iSteve's thinks that many atheists accept HBD. The logic seems to be that atheists are clear-thinking, tough-minded people who see through sentimental views.

A large sample (6,613) of whites were asked by the GSS about their belief in God, and about whether or not they believe that blacks are innately less intelligent than whites. 4.6 percent of atheists answered yes; 13.6 percent of those who "know God exists" said they believe in innate racial differences.

This pattern is consistent with the view that atheism encourages liberalism, not realism.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

At the core of conservatism

What is the ideological center of contemporary conservatism?  In his book We Are Doomed, John Derbyshire described the phenomenon of the "metrocon"--urban conservatives who sympathesize with conservatives who live in the sticks--authentic conservatives--but who have lifestyles more similar to cosmopolitan liberals. To illustrate real conservatives, he writes about people from small-town America who believe that homosexuality should be illegal. Now that is a true conservative. Derbyshire doesn't know a single metrocon who thinks that homosexual behavior should be against the law. 

Is there something to this idea that anti-homosexuality shows us what is at the heart of rank-and-file conservatism? Many liberals would argue this; that hate is at its core.  Actually, the truth is that love is at the center of it; love of tradition, love of one's fathers. 

At the same time, the recent debate over raising the taxes of the rich led some liberals to contend that the Holy Grail of conservatism is protecting wealthy Americans. Conservatives are obsessed with economic freedom for the privileged. 

So which is it? I don't have access to a question about favoring laws against homosexuality, but the GSS does ask if homosexual sex is wrong. Respondents are also asked about taxes on the wealthy with answers ranging from "much too low" to "much too high." I correlated these measures with the degree to which one is politically conservative. The correlation between conservatism and wanting lower taxes for the rich is .16. The conservatism/anti-homosexual sex correlation, by constrast, is .39--much stronger. 

Another way of looking at it is percentages. Seventy-nine percent of those who describe themselves as conservative think homosexual sex is almost alway or always wrong. Only 49 percent of conservatives say that the taxes paid by the wealthy are "too high" or "much too high." Opposing homosexual sex captures conservatism better than concern about high taxes for the rich.  

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 ...