Monday, July 31, 2006

Better state IQ estimates

Intrigued by Tickle's IQ test results by state, I created a regression formula for estimating state IQs based on infant mortality and life expectancy, as these two variables correlate strongly with national IQ (.84 and .85, respectively). It was roughly plausible, with a few exceptions (most notably in that Hawaii came out on top), but not satisfactory.

This time around is better. Taking the regression equations produced by running the numbers in the data table put together by Richard Lynn in Race Differences in Intelligence where he correlates IQ scores with international math and science test scores (pp 173-175) and then adjusting the nominal test score values (by running an IQ of 98 through the regression equation produced by Lynn's numbers) on the international tests to the NAEP math and science tests in the US, I gave it another shot. From the process described above and by applying equal weight to the science and math test scores by state, here are the results (rounded to one decimal place and color-coded by 2004 Presidential election results in the spirit of the IQ hoax):

1. Massachusetts -- 101.5
2. North Dakota -- 101.4
3. Vermont -- 101.2
4. Montana -- 101.1
5. South Dakota -- 101.1
6. New Hampshire -- 101.0
7. Minnesota -- 100.8
8. Wisconsin -- 100.3
9. Wyoming -- 100.2
10. Iowa -- 100.0
11. Idaho -- 99.9
11. Maine -- 99.9
13. Nebraska -- 99.7
13. Virginia -- 99.7
15. Washington -- 99.6
16. Ohio -- 99.6
17. Colorado -- 99.4
18. New Jersey -- 99.3
19. Kansas -- 99.2
20. Oregon -- 99.1
21. Utah -- 99.0
22. Michigan -- 99.0
23. Conneticut -- 98.8
23. Delaware -- 98.8
25. Missouri -- 98.7
26. Pennsylvania -- 98.6
27. Alaska -- 98.6
28. Indiana -- 98.5
29. Kentucky -- 98.3
30. New York -- 97.8
31. Illinois -- 97.8
32. South Carolina -- 97.5
33. North Carolina -- 97.4
34. Maryland -- 97.2
35. Texas -- 97.2
36. Oklahoma -- 96.9
37. Rhode Island -- 96.8
38. West Virginia -- 96.7
39. Tennessee -- 96.6
40. Arkansas -- 96.5
40. Georgia -- 96.5
42. Florida -- 96.1
43. Arizona -- 95.9
44. Nevada -- 95.2
45. Louisiana -- 95.0
46. California -- 94.7
47. New Mexico -- 94.5
48. Hawaii -- 94.4
49. Alabama -- 94.4
50. Mississippi -- 93.3
51. DC -- 88.0

Seems quite reasonable. I used the international tests for children aged fourteen and the NAEP results for eighth graders, so age discrepancies are not an issue. Lynn found that international math results correlate with IQ at .89, although that may be an error (or due to rounding), as running the exact numbers he has entered in the table yields a correlation of .87. He found that international science results correlate with IQ at .81 (replication yields the same). Accounting for attenuation, Lynn actually argues that the correlation is virtually 1.00. So these appear to be pretty accurate estimates.

Notice the states that come closest to realizing the open border crowd's quixotic utopia--Texas (#35), Florida (#42), Arizona (#43), Nevada (#44), California (#46), and New Mexico (#47). Compare them to states like North Dakota (#2), Montana (#4), and South Dakota (#5), where Americans still do the jobs that Americans won't do. Our future looks dumber.

(Human biodiversity)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Race matters (con't)

Previously I posted on the telling fact that the percentage of a state's population that is black and Hispanic reveals more about that state's rate of violent crime than a host of other variables combined. Mping, who runs the Fat Knowledge blog, threw out some devil's advocate factors to consider. I haven't been able to find anything on police per capita (please let me know if you are aware of available data). Some factors suggested that I did take a look at and their respective correlations with a state's rate of violent crime:

% of population using illicit drugs in the last month: .130 (not significant)
% of pop between ages 18-24: .185 (not significant)
Median age: .173 (inverse) (not significant)
% of households containing one male, no spouse, and no children: .541
% of single-mother households: .699

The first three are all outside reliability at 90% confidence, but the loose correlations they have with violent crime trend in the direction that conventional wisdom asserts they should (more drug use and more 18-24 year-olds means more crime, the older the state's population the lower its criminality).

Both measures of household composition are statistically significant, again trending in the expected direction. When men assume more responsibility, they tend to get into less trouble. This is an argument for policies that make housing prices affordable enough for men to raise families and make a monthly mortgage payment. Our immigration policies appear to do the opposite, however.

The lack of a father figure removes a traditional disciplinary figure from the equation. Single mothers, around 60% of whom are impoverished, must pull double-duty. When a male child reaches early adolescence, he is physically unchallenged by mom. The staggering increase in out-of-wedlock births over the last forty years is yet another tragic legacy of the most socially disastrous decade of the US' existence, the sixties. Propensity to commit violent crime is only one of several sad circumstances for children in this situation. But with an r of .699, it is a very real relationship.

Still, it's not as strong a predictor as the percentage of the population that is either black or Hispanic (r = .800). Antero Kalva tells me that at the county level the percentage of single-mother households trumps the percentage of the population that is black or Hispanic in predicting violent crime, rendering the latter statistically insignificant when single-mothers are included.

Unfortunately I'm not a prospective PhD student working on a dissertation so the thought of entering data for 3,140 counties is daunting. At the state level, controlling for race eliminates the statistical significance of single-mother households. Moreover, the percentage of the population that is black or Hispanic is a more powerful predictor of violent crime (recall r = .800) than the following factors combined: % single-mother households, % single-male only households, % of the population using illicit drugs in the last month, % of the population between 18-24, median age, poverty rate, % of the population with a bachelor's degree, % of the population having completed high school, the gini coefficient, the rate of gun ownership, and the rate of unemployment (combined r = .784).

The correlation between single-mother households and the percent of the population that is black or Hispanic is .829, affirming that the two serve as proxies for one another, as an anonymous commenter suggested (especially for blacks, where the correlation is an even higher .875).

Why would the 'causal' factor be single-mother households at the county level and race at the state level? The sheer number of counties that have almost no black or Hispanic population strikes me as the most plausible explanation. Since Antero presumably did not adjust for county population size, the bulk of the data examined will have been from Bush Country. As there is almost no black or Hispanic population to speak of in most of these counties, other non-racial factors move in to fill the gap for the whites living in them. Well, excluding race, the percentage of single-mother homes is the only factor that retains statistical significance when the others previously listed are included. So in places like, say, all of Kansas west of Topeka, single-mother households are probably the critical factor.

I wonder what the relationship looks like if only counties where the population of blacks and Hispanics comprise at least 5% of the population are included. Antero, if you are running your numbers on SPSS, this should be easy to find out (as I once again tell myself I need to get the full version so I can enjoy more statistical alacrity than Excel allows for). This would address the issue of race without artificially crippling it as an explanation by including data from counties from which it cannot be a factor because it doesn't exist (since the pertinent policy question has to do with the US' shifting racial composition).

An interesting aside: perusing through The Color of Crime, the criminality of Native Americans stuck out (see p9). Including the percentage of Native Americans with blacks and Hispanics and then correlating with violent crime, the r creeps up to .810, a seemingly trivial but actually rather substantial increase when it is considered that only 1% of the US population is Native American.

++Addition++Antero sent me his county level data and, as he said, the percentage of single mothers is a better predictor of violent crime than racial data.

A couple of interesting things: the correlations between crime and a host of factors, including race and single mother households, are much weaker on the county level than on the state level (% single mothers, for example, for the 2,702 counties with complete racial and criminal data sets, correlates with violent crime at .538 compared to .699 statewide; % black and Hispanic correlates with violent crime at .428 at the county level and .800 statewide). Thus, even as the apparently strongest single predictor of violent crime, the percentage of single mother households still only 'explains' less than 30% of a county's violent crime rate. In contrast, knowing the full racial composition of a state explains 70% of that state's violent crime rate.

Perplexing. I would expect the relationships to become progressively weaker, not stronger, as the source of data broadened. Maybe there are dilution effects on a local level that become neutralized on a larger level (like the effect of immigration on wages in local economies compared to its effect on the national economy), although I can't readily conceive what the causation would be. Also, there are many missing data on the county level. For example, New York (the highest population density in the nation), Bronx, Richmond, Cook (Illinois), and Queen counties all do not have violent crime data, and they represent a considerable number of people (twelve million) in rough areas of the country that are not being factored into the county level analysis (but presumably are included in the FBI statistics).

In any case, more reason to lament the breakup of the nuclear family and re-stigmatize illegitimacy.

(Human biodiversity)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Far from Mid East peace

Democracies do not necessarily have an affinity for other democracies:

Last week, al-Maliki said that Iraq was urging the international community "to take a quick and firm stance to stop this aggression against Lebanon, to stop the killing of innocent people and to stop the destruction of infrastructure."

"What is happening is an operation of mass destruction and mass punishment and an operation using great force that Israel has -- and Lebanon does not," he said.
While the skirmishes of the Cold War lend some credence to the assertion that democracies rarely go to war with other democracies, the days of large national contingents marching toward one another to do battle are becoming antiquated. The pertinent question now (from a Western security perspective) revolves around what form of government is most effective at controlling rogue elements within a state. Neither tribal societies nor societies based on an ecumenical religious worldview (of which the Middle East is largely both) make for effective representative democracies.

Olmert is overriding the US, which fingers Hezbollah, by laying blame on the seminal government in Beirut. Strategically, this makes sense. Going after Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon inevitably leads to civilian casualties and golden video footage for media outlets hostile to Israel. Israel sustains less PR collateral damage by putting pressure on governments with a static location and vested interest in satisfying a powerful Israeli state.

Unfortunately, in culturally disparate places like Lebanon (and Iraq), democratically elected governments enjoy little national unity. Representatives are supported only by the ethnic or religious groups they represent. The current conflagration risks plunging Lebanon back into the devastating civil war that ravaged the country for fifteen years during the seventies and eighties. Prime Minister Siniora, a Sunni, is too weak to confront the Shia south militarily. That kind of control needs an autocrat with an omnipresent military, like Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Threatening Assad, as Israel did symbolically by flying war jets over one of the ophthalmologist's homes at the beginning of the Israel-Lebanon conflict, has the potential of turning up the heat on an evanescent militant group like Hezbollah.

Al-Maliki doesn't want to be seen as a puppet of the US, or worse, of Israel. And as prime minister of Iraq, he has his finger on his country's political pulse:

Adding to the tensions, key Arab allies of the United States, predominantly Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, fear the rising power of Shiites in the region: Hezbollah militants who virtually control southern Lebanon, and who are backed by the Shiite theocracy that has run Iran for decades, which in turn has ties to Iraq's majority Shiite government.
Maliki, a Shiite, is well aware of where the majority of Iraq's population (60% of which is, like Hezbollah, Arab Shia) stands on the conflict. The US, originally more antagonistic toward Sunnis, is now being goaded into reinforcing them against expanding Shia influence, which is probably more hostile to the West than the ruling minority Sunnis in Iraq ever were.

On a mordant note, a silver lining in the fighting might be a broad rapprochement among Sunnis and Shia across the Middle East:

From Egypt to Kashmir, thousands across the Muslim world used Friday's Islamic day of prayer to protest Israel's attacks on Hezbollah, urging Sunni-Shiite unity to defeat the Jewish state and condemning Arab leaders' reluctance to show support for Hezbollah.

Leaders in some predominantly Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have criticized Hezbollah's actions. But many people from both sects in Muslim countries support Hezbollah because of its willingness to fight Israel. ...

Sitting in the shade as he sold figs in downtown Cairo, Hasan Salem Hasan, a 25-year-old Sunni, summed up a prevailing attitude of the so-called "Arab street":

"Although Hezbollah is a Shiite party, we are all Muslims, and all Arabs will defiantly support them and fight the Jews." ...

In Iraq on Friday, al-Sadr urged Sunnis and Shiites to unite so Muslims could defeat Israel. ...

Although currently locked in a sectarian civil war, Iraqis across the political and religious spectrum have voiced support for Lebanon and condemned Israel.

The Middle East is a miasma. We need to halt the Iraq bleeding at $300 billion and start pouring the $200-$400 billion the CBO estimates will be spent in Iraq over the next decade into making alternative energy viable so we can leave the place for good. Without a vital strategic interest in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran, the US will be able to more firmly support Israel, which, with an Ashkenazi (including some pseudo-Ashkenazism that wanted to get out of Europe) population with an IQ of at least 103, and strong financial, technology, and medical industries, is more beneficial to human progress than the 400 million Muslims surrounding it that have contributed nothing to the world but the suicide bomber in the last five centuries. And the support would be relatively painless. We could merely take a hands-off approach, letting Israel do what it needs to do to secure itself. There would be no need for equivocating over 'proportionality', or the method of insuring that your enemy only dies for his cause as often as you die for yours (causing General Patton to cringe).

Senator Chuck Schumer asks a rhetorical question our leaders can scarcely answer:

"Part of the reason that America was sold on Iraq was to have a staunch ally in the region -- a democratic ally that would back our policies," Schumer said. "Now if the prime minister can't condemn terrorism, which is ruining his country ... then where are we headed?"
Great question.

++Addition++Randall Parker has found polling results on Lebanese and Israelis, both of whom largely support fighting one another:
The stakes are high for Hizbullah, but it seems it can count on an unprecedented swell of public support that cuts across sectarian lines.According to a poll released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information [see another poll here that reports 83.5% of the Palestinian population agrees with Hamas that Israel does not have the right to exist], 87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.
And Israelis:
A new poll released in Israel confirms that Israelis are united in support of the fight against Hezbollah. 82 percent say the army’s offensive into Lebanon is justified, and 71 percent believe Israel should use even more force in attacking Hezbollah.
The rainining of missiles onto northern Israel hasn't resulted in staggering Israeli casualties. But they have not been insignificant either. Steve Sailer remarks that since the conflict began Israelis have been dying at a rate of 1.2 persons per day. Israel has a population of 6.35 million. The US of 298.44 million. Proportionally, that's like 56 Americans being killed per day. November '04, the worst month in Iraq up to this point, saw 4.5 Americans dying each day. And it's happening on Israel's own soil. Olmert can't give empty platitudes about freedom and self-determination and then withdrawal Israelis to the other side of the world. So it comes as little surprise that the Israeli public supports the extirpation of Hezbollah. When it feels like your life is on the line, satisfying international consensus doesn't mean much.

(Terrorism)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Multicult success in Britain

Brits get to experience the joys of expanding their cultural horizons:

Ali is one of an estimated 3 million women and girls who suffer female genital mutilation (FGM) each year.

The practice, also known as female circumcision, involves removing part or all of a girl's clitoris or labia. It is often carried out by an older woman with no medical training, using anything from scissors to tin can lids and pieces of glass. ...

The centuries-old practice, prevalent mostly in Africa, is now also being brought by immigrants to Western countries, like Britain.

"FGM is a huge problem in the UK," said Ensharah Ahmed, community development officer at the UK-based Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development
(Forward).

Forward estimates there are around 279,500 women living in Britain who have undergone FGM, with another 22,000 girls under 16 in danger of joining them.
The Occident is more favorably disposed to women's rights than the rest of the world. Women's advocacy groups should devote energy to preserving Western cultural norms. The easiest way to do so is to restrict immigration from places where cultural values are antithetical to those in the West. Include questions pertaining to cultural beliefs as part of an immigration application based on other merit-based attributes like years of schooling, IQ, means, occupation, age, health, etc.

The very stance such women's groups hold on the putatively natural rights of women are culturally conditioned:
Muslim women do not think they are conditioned to accept second-class status or view themselves as oppressed, according to a survey released Tuesday by The Gallup Organization. ...

When asked what they resented most about their own societies, a majority of Muslim women polled said that a lack of unity among Muslim nations, violent extremism, and political and economic corruption were their main concerns. The hijab, or head scarf, and burqa, the garment covering face and body, seen by some Westerners as tools of oppression, were never mentioned in the women's answers to the open-ended questions, the poll analysts said.
Multiculturalism is essentially the forfeiting of one's own values (and the value judgments that necessarily accompany them) and allowing other cultural values fill the vacuum. For it to be attractive, one's own cultural values must be perceived as lacking or inferior. What, then, is it about Western culture that is detestable enough to justify accepting the deviancy of foreign cultural values? That mutilating the genitals of seven year-old girls is unacceptable?

Cultural progressives need to realize that multiculturalism undermines their ultimate goals. Hispanics and Muslims are not going to tip the balances in favor of same-sex marriage or abortion-on-demand.

(Culture)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Race matters

At least when it comes to crime. Indeed, it matters a great deal more than a host of other social statistics that putatively lead to criminality. In the abstract to the second edition of The Color of Crime, the American Renaissance wrote that "The single best indicator of violent crime levels in an area is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic." Then, using single variable regression, they compared correlations by state including DC (see pages 11 and 12).

Wanting to replicate for verification and introduce a few other factors that conventional wisdom often asserts as having a causal relationship to crime, I took the latest numbers available (the Kaiser Foundation has a fabulous, user-friendly site for state-by-state comparisons for several factors) and looked at the relationship of violent crime (murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults) by state and the following factors (with correlations; "inverse" indicates an increase in the factor reduces violent crime; statistically significant unless otherwise stated):

% of population in poverty: .399
% of population with a bahelor's degree: .289 (inverse)
State gini coefficient: .627
% of population owning at least one gun: .060 (inverse, not statistically significant)
% of population with a high school diploma: .388 (inverse)
% of population unemployed: .309
% of population black or Hispanic: .800

Very little variance with what Amren came up with for the measures they used. But most telling are the results of a multivariate regression to determine the combined effects of the first six factors listed (all but the racial categorization). Surely entering all of these factors together will be more predictive than simply knowing what racial box residents check on their Census forms! Actually, they're not. Including all of them yields an r of .689. Thus, knowing how many people in a state are black and Hispanic reveals more about the amount of violent crime than does knowing the number of people in poverty, holding a bachelor's degree, having graduated from high school, owning a firearm, who are unemployed, and the level of income inequality combined.

When the percentage of the population that is black or Hispanic is included and each factor is controlled for by the other variables listed, in addition to the percentage of the population that is black or Hispanic (p-value of .00000109), only the percentage of the population that has completed high school retains statistically significance (p-value of .025), but interestingly becomes positively related to the incidence of violent crime. Racial composition remains just as strong a predictor of crime as it does when the other factors aren't included. Not surprinsingly, the r value (correlation) only increases to .836 with the addition of the other six factors.

As people of European ancestry continue to hemorrhage away their numerical dominance, the US will become an increasingly violent place (or one that has an ever-growing prison population, the seemingly most effective way to cut down on crime being to throw people in jail). The detrimental effects of a browner population will be partially offset by an increase in Asians who, despite suffering higher poverty rates than whites and being a numerically less powerful ethnic special interest group than blacks or Hispanics, are far less likely to commit violent crimes than any other racial group (only a quarter as likely as whites). Every one percent increase in population represented by Asians reduces the number of violent crimes per 100,000 people by 25, a per capita effect stronger than that of blacks, whites, or Hispanics.

What should realists do with this information? Reject the sea of crap about the differences in geographical locations that fails to take into account each location's racial and ethnic composition. Vociferously argue for an end to unfettered, largely Hispanic, illegal immigration and the instituting of a merit immigration system that reduces the number of legal immigrants to a couple hundred thousand annually while insuring that those accepted will increase the quality of life for the current US citizenry.

Paraenthetically, genuine liberals concerned with the perpetually increasing wealth disparities in the US can argue against open borders by pointing to the deleterious effect it has on the wages of the least skilled natives and the strong relationship between housing unaffordability and the proportion of a location's foreign-born population. To insulate themselves from the charges of Hispanophobia and other ad hominen that scare whites into self-immolation, they should point out the moderately strong relationship between crime and wealth inequality referenced above.

(Human biodiversity)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mental health and politics

Since Chris Evans garnered a ridiculous amount of attention for his risible hoax entitled "IQ and Politics", why not try to garner some partisan acclaim by pointing out that red states are mentally more stable than blue states? Percent of population by state that does not suffer from poor mental health:

1) Louisiana 75.5
2) North Carolina 74.2
3) Tennessee 73
4) South Dakota 72.9
4) Kentucky 72.9
6) Kansas 71.4

7) Michigan 71.3
8) Iowa 70.8
9) Nebraska 69.9
10) Florida 69.2
11) Alaska 68.3
12) Arizona 67.8
13) Missouri 67.8
14) North Dakota 67.4
14) Georgia 67.4
16) Montana 67.2
17) Wyoming 66.8
17) Virginia 66.8
19) DC 66.7
19) Conneticut 66.7

21) Oklahoma 66.6
21) New Hampshire 66.6
23) New Jersey 66.4
23) Illinois 66.4

25) Colorado 66.3
26) Maine 66.2
27) Mississippi 66.1
28) West Virginia 66
28) Pennsylvania 66
28) Massachusetts 66

31) Arkansas 65.9
32) Texas 65.7
33) South Carolina 65.5
34) Indiana 65.4

34) Rhode Island 65.4
36) Ohio 65.1
37) Idaho 64.9

38) Maryland 64.8
39) Vermont 64.6
39) Alabama 64.6
41) New Mexico 64.5
42) Minnesota 64.4
43) Wisconsin 64
44) Delaware 63.6
45) Oregon 63.4
46) Washington 63.2
47) New York 63
48) California 62.8
49) Nevada 58.9
50) Utah 58.6


Sane Republicans, daft Democrats (and Mormons). One of the strongest arguments against polygyny is that such relationships inevitably breed feelings of envy, helplessness, and inferiority, especially among the less desirable wives. With almost half the state of Utah reporting poor mental health, the argument appears cogent.

Values surveys consistently find Republican voters to be more satisfied with their existence than their Democratic counterparts (Pew found that 45% of Republicans considered themselves "very happy" compared to only 30% of Democrats).

It's hardly surprising that Republican states are psychologically healthier than Democratic ones when happiness is delved into a bit. Married people are twice as likely to report being very happy than lone wolves are. The more people attend religious services, the happier they are (a critic might contend that ignorance is blissful; an attendee might respond that winning Pascal's Wager makes him quite happy). Apparently in contrary to the conventional wisdom that money cannot buy happiness, income and happiness are unequivocally positively related, with people making over $100,000 annually twice as likely as those making under $30,000 to report being very happy. And whites are more likely to be happy than Hispanics, who are in turn more likely to be happy than blacks. Well, each of the "more likely to be happy" groups are Republican stalwarts, whereas the unhappy groups comprise crucial pieces of the Democratic base.

Politically, the Democratic party seems to have internalized this unhappiness. Whining about the Bush administration's Wilsonian liberalism hasn't worked largely because many on the left principally agree with the neocon position that exporting democracy and liberating peoples from tyranny even at the expense of American blood and treasure is a desirable foreign policy orientation. So they're left to moan about a lack of funding, tactical missteps, ineffective global PR, etc rather than marshalling potent arguments like Islam's incompatibility with liberal democracy, the problem of localism and inbreeding, Middle Eastern IQs in the eighties, and so on. They complain about tax cuts, global warming, increasing Presidential power, without providing palpable ways to remedy them. This whining is interpreted as unhelpful by Buchanan conservatives and treasonous by many independents and Republicans. As the minority party, Democrats have defined themselves in opposition to the majority, thereby staking the political future on the performance of the Republicans while taking pot shots from a safe distance.

Of course, by being the self-proclaimed party of the underdog, Democrats have a vested interest in making people less satisfied with their personal existence. When I was six my dad explained to me the basic philosophies of the two political parties. In a rare moment of precocity, I responded, "So when things are good the Republicans win and when things are bad the Democrats win. I'll be a Republican." Unfortunately, the RNC seems intent on doing everything it can to make life less joyful for its natural base by encouraging anti-merit immigration that raises the cost of living for natives, depresses wages, increases crime and pollution, increases cultural tensions, creates a Democratic dream (newly arrived Hispanics are relatively poor, uneducated, ethnic minorities concentrated in urban areas--the quintessential Democrat) voting bloc, ad infinitum.

Come on Bush, we just want to be happy. Make us so and we'll return the favor.

(Politics and Religion)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Every child deserves a sober start

Project Prevention kicked off a national awareness tour earlier this summer and has been criss-crossing the country in the non-profit's lumbering RV. Founder Barbara Harris hopes to keep at least 2,006 drug-addicted women from procreation over the long-term this year alone. The group pays addicts for using a variety of birth control strategies. Of course, the novel approach has plenty of critics:
Critics worry that the program is racist, disproportionately focusing on minority women, and preys on people ill-prepared to make life-altering decisions, or those easily swayed by an offer of fast cash.
According to Project Prevention's statistics, so far this year 913 of the clients have been white, 570 black, and 223 Hispanic. That aside, the argument that because a potential solution isn't proportionally distributed across demographic groups it is undesirable illustrates the sixties cultural revolutionary mindset that for half a century has failed dismally in solving the very problems it helped create (skyrocketing divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, and crime rates, a plateauing high school graduation rate, a bottoming out of the poverty rate, a beginning of US trade deficits, etc). The progress that has been made in some of these areas has come from the right: welfare reform drastically cut into the growth rate of illegitimate births and throwing more people in jail sent reversed the trend of increasing crime that had been in effect from the sixties all the way into the mid-nineties.

Using the same line of reasoning, any viable strategy to lower crime or reduce poverty is also 'racist'. As blacks are seven times more likely to commit murder than others and three times as likely as whites to be in poverty. It's impossible to create an adequate response if we refuse to point out that a problem exists. Blaming the messenger only accentuates the problem. But Harris isn't even doing that--indeed, she's married to a black man and the four children she adopted from a drug addict are all black.

There is nothing evincing that Harris has a eugenic purpose in mind. Her position of advocacy is from the perspective of the child:
“My children didn’t deserve to be given drugs for nine months,” Harris said. “No innocent child deserves that.”
Yet drug use, especially of urban substances like cocaine, serves as a proxy for poverty and lower IQ. Critics are quick to suggest that the organization is eugenist:

“She makes it all about individual blame,” Paltrow said. “She creates the mythology that if you could just get a certain group of people to stop procreating, some social and economic problems would go away. … That’s the same economic argument that was used to justify eugenics.”
It is fallacious to argue that because something has been flawed in the past, all future variations of it are doomed to failure. Physicists once believed an aether region creating electromagnetic waves surrounded the earth. Last year South Korea's Dr. Hwang shocked the world when it was revealed that his claims on therapeutic cloning had been falsified. Should we also, then, reject Newtonian physics and future benefits derived from stem cell research?

Eugenics, if the definition is made broad enough to include Harris' work, has many potential benefits:

- Eliminating the high costs of birth and hospitalization that 'crack' babies require. This report puts normal costs at $2,000 and costs for children of crack users at $11,000.

- Closing the wealth gap. This is putatively the raison d'etre of many on the left, yet more effective than wealth transfers or progressive tax rates are tactics that encourage wealthy people to have more children and poor people to have fewer children. If the Rich's, worth $1 million, have one child and the Modest's, worth $100,000, have five children, upon passing the Rich scamp gets $1 million and each Modest urchin gets $20,000. Now flip the fecundity. The Rich's have five kids, the Modest's a single child. At death, each Rich kid gets $200,000 and the Modest kid gets $100,000. Isn't the latter situation the more palatable of the two?

- Assuaging some of the financial burden that the government currently carries. Drug users are more likely than the general public to lack medical insurance. So that $11,000, if a crack baby is born, gets picked up by the net taxpayer.

- Improves the client's quality of life. Choosing from tubal ligation, Norplant (long-term contraceptive), Depo-Provera (injected every three months), Essure (permanent sterilization), or intrauterine devices, the drug addict is not burdened with the financial responsibility of raising a child. In addition, she receives $300 for at least one year (with duration varying depending on the method of contraception used). [Feigning surprise] I am startled to read that the ACLU opposes this freedom of choice for addicts, who are in no way coerced into accepting payment for undergoing one of the methods of birth control, since Project Prevention provides another option for destitute women who do not have many.

Paltrow, head of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, also complains that the Harris approach shifts focus away from drug counseling. But that's a non sequitur, as Harris can create incentives for drug addicts to forgo having children while Paltrow creates incentives for them to stop using drugs.

You can donate through paypal to Harris' cause here.

(Health)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Democracy on the march

The quixotic neocon plan of forcefully spreading democracy continues to be evinced as a dismal failure:
Israeli troops launched a major offensive in southern Lebanon after Hezbollah militants kidnapped two soldiers in a cross-border raid, escalating regional fighting and underscoring the growing ability of Islamic extremists to provoke a broader security crisis.
That is, unless the ultimate objective is conflagration not just in Iraq but in the across the broader Middle East. Hezbollah and Hamas, now with positions inside of Lebanon and control of the Palestinian government, respectively, are throwing down fisticuffs with Israel. US insistence on democracy is propelling these groups into positions of legitimate authority and influence.

As Hezbollah nabs Israeli soldiers, Israeli fighters fly over Assad's residence. Hopes for the stabilization of Lebanon's fragile democracy have been dashed. While Bush and Rice blame Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in Gaza, Olmert doesn't force distinctions between 'the terrorists' and all the rest of the Islamic 'good guys':
Olmert called an emergency cabinet meeting for later today to decide on further military action in Lebanon. "The murderous attack this morning was not a terrorist act, it was a war-like act by the state of Lebanon against Israel in its sovereign territory,'' he said at a press conference in Jerusalem.
Bush can keep pounding on the supposedly progress purple thumbs inherently reveal, but the sympathetic WSJ tersely sums up reality:
Through elections, militants have gained power, Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon. They have been bolstered by the high-profile insurgency in Iraq -- which has offered tactical lessons in fighting a powerful military force, but also fueled broader anger among Arabs against what many see as an Israeli-U.S. regional alliance. Their opposition is fed by regional TV networks that broadcast images of damage and Arab deaths.
The Muslim brotherhood won over a fifth of parliament in recent Egyptian elections while officially barred from balloting and suppressed during voting. Hamas wrested control from Fatah in the Palestinian territories. Iran elected Ahmadinejad. The Shia majority in Iraq is more sympathetic to Islamic extremism than Saddam ever would have been. None of this is making us better off. Not only do these things have a detrimental effect (albeit often overblown) on Western security, they shake the economy:
The unfolding crisis also rattled financial markets. The specter of broad Middle East instability boosted crude oil for August delivery 2.3% to a nominal record of $76.70 a barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange. That helped push stocks lower, wiping out more than half the Dow Jones Industrial Average's gains so far this year as the blue-chip average slid 166.89 points, or 1.5%, to 10846.29 [10739 as of this posting].
The US is placing responsibility on nefarious targets, trying to reinforce the idea of a struggle between good and evil while minimizing the scope of aggression against Israel in an attempt to deflate a situation that a divided 'world community' cannot possibly handle with any dexterity at all.

Olmert is pinning responsibility on Beirut because that's the best recourse Israel has in combatting asymmetrical warfare. Going tit-for-tat against sporadic raids and missiles fired some thirty miles into Israeli's interior is a sparring match Olmert will have a tough time winning. Israeli retaliation and further provocation will inevitably lead to imprecise carnage that media outlets and populists in the Middle East will harness to foment further anger against Israel. Olmert seems to think the best option available is the application of pressure on Beirut and Damascus to control the situation or face the wrath of the world's highest per capita military spender.

A simpleton, I've fancifully thought (fully aware that my level of knowledge is hopelessly lacking the rigor required to be considered valid) since 9/11 back in my high school days that the US should fight the terror war by starkly warning problematic regimes that if terrorist activity threatening America is uncovered on their soil and they fail to utterly and immediately quash it, we'll topple their governments, kill their families, and devastate their countries. Generally, Olmert appears to be doing something similar.

We need to divert the remaining $200 to $400 billion the CBO estimates will be sunk in Iraq over the next decade (with $300 billion already gone) into alternative energy research to wean ourselves and then the world of Middle Eastern oil so we can leave the miasma altogether. In that happier situation we would be able to help Israel more than we ever can now by simply taking our hands off the desert arena and letting Israel do what it needs to do to secure itself.

(International)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Arabs and Muslims in the West

More reason the Occident should be asking itself whether or not it needs to take a chance on migrants from the Islamic world:
The Lebanese man arrested in an alleged plot to bomb New York transit tunnels under the Hudson River had been recruited by al-Qaeda three years ago and members of his cell had been attempting to seek help from the organization for the attack, U.S. and Lebanese officials said yesterday.
Economically and educationally, they lift the national average with incomes 8% higher than the US mean. They're twice as likely as the middling American to have a bachelor's degree, and they're more heavily represented in professional and managerial positions. As with immigrants from other places lacking close proximity to the US, we're getting the cream of Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria.

Only one-fourth of the Arab-American population (totalling 1.2 million) is also Muslim (most are Lebanese Christians), a category comprising a little over 300,000 people according to US Census numbers, although Arab groups believe that number to be significantly understated, putting the total Arab-American population at 3.5 million. Most American Muslims (even more highly educated than Arab-Americans) are actually from South Asia and Iran. Many of them have come to America to escape from the miasma that is the contemporary Muslim world.

Still, the putative belief that destitution causes terrorism is hardly airtight. Former CIA agent Marc Sageman conducted an analysis on 400 terrorists connected in some way to the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania:
The 400 terrorists on whom I’ve collected data were the ones who actually targeted the “far enemy,” the U.S., as opposed to their own governments. I wanted to limit myself for analytical purity to that group, to see if I could identify anything different from other terrorist movements, which were far more
nationalistic.

Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing - the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they’re just plain evil.

Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority—90 percent—came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.

Al Qaeda’s members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi-professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate. Bin Laden himself is a civil engineer, Zawahiri is a physician, Mohammed Atta was, of course, an architect; and a few members are military, such as Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, who is supposedly the head of the military committee.
This crucial difference between relatively unsophisticated localized terrorist movements and well-financed, elite terrorist cells is drastically underreported by traditional media sources. A news consumer has to be pretty diligent to find thoughtful discussion on it.

It is the most erudite Muslims that are potentially the most threatening to American security. Do we trade general prosperity for security via statistical discrimination? Considering the performance of Asian-American immigrants (20% higher incomes and twice the percentage of bachelor's degrees compared to the national average) and northwestern European immigrants (those from Norway, Denmark, and Switzerland all have incomes averaging more than $60,000 annually), an argument can easily be made that simply instituting a proportional increase from these areas of the world and a corresponding decrease from the Muslim world would neutralize the productive detriment.

Perhaps more tasteful than simply disallowing all immigration from certain countries would be to follow in the footsteps of Germany and the Netherlands and require tests to be passed prior to the granting of legal residency status that focus on cultural issues where the West and the Islamic world are starkly at odds (homosexuality, the role of women in society, and liberalism in general). But that's not a very strong filter. Besides, gender equality is currently on the march in the lands of Sharia:
A group belonging to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party announced on Monday that it had recruited 100 Palestinian women to launch suicide attacks against Israel.

A woman who identified herself as Um al-Abed told reporters in Gaza City that so far about 100 women had expressed their desire to carry out suicide attacks against Israel. She claimed she was a spokeswoman for the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah.
Fatah, the more secular of the two Palestinian forces, provides Muslim women with more opportunity for advancement than does Hamas:
Since September 2000, Palestinian women have carried out seven suicide bombings inside Israel, in which 37 people were killed and more than 250 were wounded. ...

Four of the female suicide bombers belonged to Fatah, two belonged to Islamic Jihad and only one belonged to Hamas.

Indians need to be asking themselves similar questions. While India does not have 'imperial' extensions comparable to those of the US, Kashmir provides plenty of pretext for bitter Pakistani Muslims. Although poor by Western standards ($3,300 PPP), the country is wealthier than neighboring Muslim Pakistan ($2,400) and Bangladesh ($2,100). Europe, the US, and India should mutually support one another as they are all forced to take harder looks at Muslims at their doors. Hindi civilization and Christian civilization share a common threat in 'radical' Islam.

In any event, we should at least reject those choosing academic career paths that definitely do not fall into the category of subjects Americans won't do:
Hammoud [arrested Lebanese man from above] attended Concordia University in Montreal from 1995 to 2002, graduating with a bachelor's degree in finance and international business.
(Terrorism)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What can soccer teach us about immigrants?

Oh, oh, let me answer before that pedant from Wachovia or whatever financial management company he represents can chime in. Um, that getting the best soccer players helps make a good soccer team. It doesn't teach us that immigrants are usually good or bad soccer players.

With even more insouiciance than usual, the WSJ op/ed board treats immigration as an ecunemical good. Employing the standard non sequitur, the board uses the benefits of (extreme) merited immigration as an argument for universal open borders:
Europeans often express marked ambivalence, if not outright hostility, to immigrants in their countries, particularly from Arab and African states. Yet watching the World Cup these past few weeks, it's hard not to marvel at how quickly such feelings dissipate when the fortunes of the "national" squad are on the line. ...

At least in sports, where local or national glory is on the line, most countries seem to recognize that talent isn't always native-born and act accordingly. ...

So it's all the more amazing how often the same people who require no persuading about the benefits of a free and global market for athletic talent seem to think the same does not apply for other fields.

Many people do not like the free market in sports--the MLB's lack of a salary cap is part of the reason it is perpetually overshadowed by the always-competitive NFL. An international market for soccer players does not bode well for the prospects of teams from the third- and developing world. Although soccer is among the most simple and least cost-prohibitive sports in the world, making it ubiquitous in poor nations, the World Cup has been dominated and will continue to be dominated by a Brazilian powerhouse (pulling the best from Latin America) and developed Europe (at least until the US gets serious about the game). Athletic brain-drain is bad news for aspiring developing and underdeveloped countries.

But for the nations doing the draining, the (short-term at least) benefit is obvious. Yet that is only an argument for a specific, exacting merited immigration, not immigration in general. Obviously French fans will benefit less from receiving ten thousand Islamic youths with marginal soccer skills than they will in receiving a single Zidane, although in the end even the latter situation may prove deleterious if French natives forego soccer altogether.

So it goes with immigration. I will welcome as permanent residents Abrikosov, Hershko, and Paul Nurse. I will not, however, welcome legions of destitute Hispanics with enormous externalities that include everything from higher crime rates to less affordable housing. The WSJ seems incapable of separating the two statements. Yet it is through the institution of a merit immigration system that permits residency only to those of the utmost desirability to the US (increasing ppp, upping the national IQ, innovating, and bringing other positives while balancing the potential deflation of incentives for young natives through the restricting of the total number to no more than a couple hundred thousand per year) and the halting of net cost immigrant liabilities (decreasing the standard of living in a host of ways) that the US can best retain its position as the most desirable immigrant destination on earth.

Congratulations, by the way, to the ethnic Italian squad that overcame the French salmagundi in Monday's World Cup final.

(Immigration2)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Another state IQ estimate

The IQ hoax revealed how state average IQs pique widespread interest. Some graduate student should be trying to find out what they actually are, for curiosity's sake if nothing else (Randall Parker suggests trying to ascertain them through schoolmatters.com) Though after some satisfaction at pointing out the lower scores in the NASCAR states, the propagators of the big lie would have to revert to feigning no interest in IQ when an astute internet user discovers a powerful inverse correlation between a state's demographic composition and its average IQ.

In the meantime, I'll throw an estimation out there based on the regressions I've run on national IQs, picking two strong variables that don't lose statistical significance when others are controlled for: infant mortality rates and average life expectancy. Like any multivariable regression, the formula produced is linear and is data entered into it are estimated at a 'perfect fit'. Consequently, the estimated IQs (adjusted to a mean national average of 98 and rounded to the nearest decimal place) are probably a bit too tight (while it's unlikely that any state enjoys an average IQ over 100 since the score approximates the non-Hispanic white average, DC's average is probably too high given that it is almost two-thirds black). More 'important', then, is the ranking.

1. Hawaii--99.7
2. Minnesota--99.5
3. Utah--99.3
4. New Hampshire--99.2
5. Massachusetts--99.1
6. Iowa--99.1
7. California--99.0
8. Colorado--99.0
9. Conneticut--99.0
10. Washington--99.0
11. North Dakota--99.0
12. Vermont--98.9
13. Nebraska--98.8
14. Rhode Island--98.8
15. Oregon--98.8
16. South Dakota--98.7
17. Idaho--98.7
18. New York--98.7
19. Wisconsin--98.7
20. Maine--98.6
21. New Jersey--98.5
22. Arizona--98.4
23. Kansas--98.3
24. New Mexico--98.3
25. Florida--98.3
26. Montana--98.2
27. Wyoming--98.2
28. Texas--98.0
29. Virginia--98.0
30. Pennsylvania--97.9
31. Alaska--97.9
32. Illinois--97.8
33. Ohio--97.6
34. Michigan--97.6
35. Maryland--97.6
36. Nevada--97.6
37. Delaware--97.5
38. Missouri--97.5
39. Indiana--97.5
40. North Carolina--97.2
41. Kentucky--97.1
42. Oklahoma--97.0
43. Georgia--96.9
44. Arkansas--96.8
45. West Virginia--96.8
46. Tennessee--96.6
47. South Carolina--96.6
48. Alabama--96.4
49. Louisiana--96.2
50. Mississippi--95.7
51. District of Columbia--95.0

Appears pretty reasonable, although there are a few curiosities, like Hawaii being on top (Asians live forever, and Hawaii's full of them). California seems high, likely in part due to the actual effects of illegal immigrants on the predictors used not being fully reported (first generation Hispanics probably don't live as long as native Californians and reliable birthing statistics are probably hard to come by for that segment of the population).

The color-coding to the 2004 Presidential election results is to keep with the spirit of the hoax. If it taken as plausible, it doesn't tell us much about the IQ of Republican or Democratic voters. As income rises so does the propensity to vote Republican. And as income rises so does IQ (albeit moderately). Kerry picked up 800% more black votes than Bush, even though the blackest states went strongly for Bush (red states, in fact, average a 24% higher proportion of blacks to total population than do blue states). It quickly becomes muddled.

(Human biodiversity)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bit more on Tickle IQ scores

Infant mortality correlates more stongly with national average IQ as estimated in Lynn and Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations than any other variable I'm aware of except for life expectancy (.84 and .85, respectively).

Does that relationship hold domestically? Unfortunately, the data on IQ by state are sparse. Tickle's results may approximate better than anything else out there--they correlate with GSP per capita at .53, white NAEP science scores at .63, Project Talent scores at .70, and my 'education index' (state's percentage of bachelor's degree and beyond minus state's percentage of less than high school diploma or equivalent) at a very high .86 (all statistically significant). They also correlate inversely with white infant mortality rates by state at .61 (unfortunately there are no recent data for white infant mortality in DC, the Tickle Test paragon).

The Tickle range for the fifty states plus DC is only five points, all presented as whole numbers. That the correlations remain so robust seems to evince the general accuracy of the results. I can only speculate on how they would be enhanced with numbers expanding out a couple of decimal places, but when I followed a friend's suggestion and contacted Tickle, a customer service rep told me it was proprietary information and then, sensing my frustration, advised me to see if I could find out more at Mensa. But he didn't expound and I found nothing there.

(Human biodiversity)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Team Mexico!

What World Cup match drew the greatest number of tv viewers in the US thus far (prior to the quarter-finals)? A game involving England's conservative boy-toy David Beckham, who would later be brought to tears? The trials of the putatively invincible Brazilians? A game the US team was part of?

Nope. Try Argentina against Mexico. Since none of the networks want much to do with soccer (yet), the Catholic Church should team up with MLS. On the political side, the new bedfellows can push for open borders. On the operational side, they can yank the elucidating Dave O'Brien and replace him with a taciturn Scot who will let the game drone on with minimal commentary, close-ups, or cut shots.

Or maybe the play-by-play will need to speak fluent Spanish. Just like traditional Mass, people outside soccer's core won't know what's going on!

(Culture)

Cutting gas consumption

Since I've been in the process of buying a home, I've become increasingly parismonious in several areas of existence. Most of notable of those has been in the arena of driving. After looking up and coming up with ways to trim fuel usage while covering the same geographical distance, I decided to fully institute what I'd come up with to see how much I could do to stretch each drop of gasoline.

The results were quite satisfying. I've a '97 Ford Taurus with over 100,000 miles on it. On my last tank I went 372 miles on 11.73 gallons. That's 31.7 mpg. The EPA puts the car's average fuel economy at 23 mpg (I do slightly more highway, somewhere close to 60%). To bump up my efficiency 38%, I:

- Inflated all tires to 42 psi.
- Never topped 55 mph.
- Kept engine rpms under 2,000 at all times.
- Never used the AC.
- Cracked the driver's side window an inch, leaving all others up.
- Eased the accelerator slightly during accelerations to cause a premature gear shift (it's an automatic).
- Studied traffic signals assiduously as I approached from a distance, attempting to minimize the use of braking by speeding up or coasting depending on the point in the intersection's cycle.

Maybe undertaking all of that is absurd to get an extra 100 miles out of a tank, thereby saving me a whopping $12 per tank. So you're financially healthier than I am--rub it in why don't you! Particularly unacceptable to the average driver is the abstention from the AC or windows, especially in the thick of a Kansas summer (and the ride is a bit longer due to slower highway speeds, although that can be compensated for by timing traffic signals if you're zealous enough to do so).

Still, 40% of oil consumption in the US goes to passenger vehicles. Conceivably, if all drivers got a third more from each tank without driving any fewer miles, we'd be able to shave a couple million barrels of daily oil consumption--more than we import from either Mexico or Saudi Arabia.

(Personal use)

Saturday, July 01, 2006