Sunday, December 27, 2009

Burden of boredom borne by blockheads

Razib has previously wondered whether or not GNXP readers ever become bored:
Do readers of this weblog ever get bored? It seems that life is short, and there's so much to do and read. I understand that work can quite often be tedious and mind-numbing, but that's not quite what I'm talking about. What I'm referring to is having leisure or free time, and being bored because you don't know what to do with it.
The post struck me as a reminder of how different the relationship with time is for those with an insatiable need for cognition compared to those who are intellectually incurious. For the former, it's in perpetually short supply. For the latter, time often cannot pass by quickly enough. In the words of Roman general and Hannibal nightmare Scipio Africanus:
I'm never less at leisure than when at leisure...
I cannot recall the last time I've been in boredom. I always keep at least one book in the car and have my iPod in pocket at all times. Just getting to work on my backlog of books to read and podcasts to listen to guarantees I won't be twiddling my thumbs for months, and even if I did nothing else with my free time but these two things, I've reached a sort of singularity in which my to-do stack grows at a faster rate than my ability to shrink it down does. Yet I get texts and calls frequently enough from people I know asking what I'm doing at the moment, and if I want to go do something with them because they're bored sitting at home. I would never be the originator of such a text. Even if it's with a vivacious girl in her late teens, I can't imagine going somewhere without having already formulated a desirable plan about what I'm going to be doing.

I am quite confident in asserting that the same is true for the vast majority of readers, who are both intelligent and curious (the two are not synonymous, of course, but they are good proxies for one another). Most high IQ people always have something stimulating to engage in with their free time.

This isn't just me speaking from personal experience--the data confirm it. The GSS asked respondents in 1982 and again in 2004 how often they have time on their hands that they don't know what to do with. Using the familiar categorization method employed here before*, the following table shows the percentage of each group's members who reported to "almost never" be without something worthwhile to do in their free time:

Unboreable %
Really Smarts69.6
Pretty Smarts52.8
Normals39.9
Pretty Dumbs39.2
Really Dumbs33.7

So much to do, so little time to do it. Now when are we ever going to get around to reproducing?

GSS variables used: WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), BORED

* Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Really Dumbs (0-3, 12%).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quip of the day

I didn't quite time things right on Christmas eve, so when I came up from downstairs after working out, a few extended family members were already at the parents' house. I was in grey boxer briefs and a beater, so my arse was noticeably wet. My least favorite cousin--a shrill leftist in her early thirties who's back in school on the east coast (on my uncle's dime) for disparate degree number three, this one in elementary education, who proceeded later to share how while student teaching she'd elected to have her kids make "winter holiday" posters instead of Christmas ones as suggested in the teacher's lesson plan--cried out from the living room, "Ew, that's disgusting," as I flew up the second flight of stairs otherwise unnoticed.

She's a plump one, and time isn't making things any better. So I stopped, turned, and shot back "Some people call it disgusting. Others would say not doing it is what's disgusting."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jund aggro-control, RDW, and 'Shroud Control'

The following post contains a discussion of the decks I'm working with in current competitive M:TG standard format. For the vast majority of readers it will consequently be of no interest, so if you are among them, don't waste your time. Maybe I should publish these niche posts at a different blogging location, but that would mean at minimum several weeks without a readership to speak of. It's taken time to earn the attention of those eyeballs, and I'll be damned if I'm going to squander rather than utilize my modest reach! Just forgo this post and forgive its author if you're not a fellow (or former?) planeswalker*.

For those still with me, I'm soliciting thoughts, critiques, and suggestions regarding the three deck types I'm currently tinkering with. I implore you to share them.

My top tourney deck is jund aggro, although I classify it as aggro-control because relative to the jund of the global meta, it puts heavy emphasis on the latter.

Jund Aggro-Control

Creatures (17)

4x Bloodbraid Elf
4x Sprouting Thrinax
4x River Boa
3x Broodmate Dragon
2x Garruk Wildspeaker

Spells (18)

4x Blightning
4x Jund Charm
4x Maelstrom Pulse
3x Bituminous Blast
3x Terminate

Land (25)

4x Rootbound Crag
4x Dragonskull Summit
4x Savage Lands
4x Verdant Catacombs
3x Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
2x Forest
2x Swamp
2x Mountain

Side

3x Duress
3x Goblin Ruinblaster
3x Goblin Outlander
2x Lightning Bolt
2x Pyroclasm
1x Bituminous Blast
1x Terminate

River Boa is obviously less aggressive than Putrid Leech, the jund standard. I like boa better for a few reasons: 1) It's an more assured second turn drop than leech is. Jund's mana base is a wreck, as jund players who've played Spread 'Em have inevitably find out firsthand. Mountain, Rootbound Crag, and Oran-Rief to open doesn't feel as bad with boa as it does with leech. 2) Even late game, boa's valuable as a chump. Paths, terminates, and O-rings are the only ways it goes. The key to cascading is ensuring that whatever pocket the ball lands in, you're better off. leech is better than a rampant growth, but thrinax always feels better than leech. With boa, by contrast, I'm often more pleased than I would've been with thrinax. 3) I started out using leech, but became perpetually frustrated by removal on the stack after I pumped, especially in the mirror match. Take two and lose my 2-drop for a bolt? Awful.

States are still packed with leeches, while some are foregoing the 2-drop creature entirely, in favor of siege gang, so this contrarian is yet to be vindicated. The latter is usually accompanied by mana acceleration via rampant growth. That version of jund has the upperhand in mirror, but it's extremely vulnerable to RDW (see below), which is why I'm not keen on it.

An even more significant variation on my part is in electing to include charm maindeck at the expense of bolt, which I relegate to side in a diminished capacity. To play red and not use bolt is almost sacreligious, but so long as I have the mana for it, I'm almost always happier to see charm than I am to see bolt. Part of this is due to my local meta. Tokens (Conqueror's Pledge, Emeria Angel, Siege-Gang Commander) have an enormous presence, and jund charm is a crucial answer to them. In response to your dropping eldrazi, I'll jund charm. Eldrazi has a one turn clock and you're tapped out. Pwned! Cascading into a charm instead of a bolt also often means a +2/+2 pump on one of my creatures instead of throwing (away) 3 damage at his face.

Duress is a recent addition to the board for Mind Sludge, which wrecked me three games (first round) in a recent tournament. I got hit with it each game on his turn 5 (he won the roll, and also game 1 and 3)--twice my turn 4--for my entire hand. Jund wins on 2-for-1s and card advantage. Five for one in his favor is not how that is accomplished.

Outlander is for Green/White beast decks that are currently king in my meta. Yes, they are even getting the better of jund most of the time. I've not seen this deck with much of a presence yet in states, but I imagine that it's only a matter of time. It uses Noble Hierarch and Lotus Cobra for acceleration into Emeria, Knight of the Reliquary, Baneslayer, and Dauntless Escort (a stupidly overpowered card), as well as Thornling after game 1. Since it's only removal is path, slapping a jund charm on outlander presents a serious threat.

Pyroclasm is extra ammo for the token decks. It was tough to drop Great Sable Stag, but vampires look to be dead, and almost all the jund in my meta has dropped leech and most have added siege gang, so stag's gone from being game-changing to simply being good in the mirror match.

After the Zendikar pre-release, I got the bug. I'd been clean for six years, but a few old friends convinced me to go. A few weeks and one weekend of extensive Magic playing with several old friends back from all over the country later and 4x of the full common and uncommon library of each of the five current sets was on its way. I've still only played jund in tournaments, but the meta is so saturated with jund hate that I'm going to be mixing it up soon.

Red Deck Wins

Creatures (20)

4x Raging Goblin
4x Plated Geopede
4x Ball Lightning
4x Hellspark Elemental
4x Hell's Thunder

Spells (16)

4x Lightning Bolt
4x Burst Lightning
4x Quenchable Fire
4x Earthquake

Land (24)

12x Mountain
4x Teetering Peaks
4x Scalding Tarn
4x Arid Mesa

Side

4x Swerve
3x Unstable Footing
3x Dragon's Claw
3x Volanic Fallout
2x Banefire

I built this thing independent of any knowledge of it existing as a top-tier deck. One of the two differences I opted for is the use of raging goblin instead of the more favored Goblin Guide. I play the dek in a very disciplined manner--direct damage is to be reserved for players, not creatures, except for in the most exceptional circumstances. Creature drops first. Ball lightning before Hell's Thunder and geopede before hellspark because of unearth in the face of blightning. The staying creatures, especially the 1-drop goblin (whether raging or guide) becomes a chump blocker after two or three turns. I'm not sold on giving a 1 or 2 card advantage for a couple extra points of damage. I'm potent enough mid-game to still threaten if his life total is in the single-digits.

The other variance with the standard RDW is in using quenchable fire instead of elemental appeal. Wizards is currently giving blue the middle finger. It is the color with the least presence in the current environment, to such an extent that I'm comfortable running quenchable fire maindeck. Elemental appeal doesn't drop until turn 4, at which point it's an easy target for removal. Plus, I want to be throwing direct damage rather than creatures from turn 4 onward (it's not unusual to win on turn 6 or 7). In friendly games, I get jund 2-to-1 pre-board, but I haven't had much exposure with it against other decks.

Unstable footing and banefire are both for mill. Although I've not play-tested against it yet, on paper it's a tough match for me. If those aren't enough, I'll find room for Lich's Mirror.

Swerves are for spread 'em. I can't wait for the first time I get to throw that down in tournament play!

Dragon's claw is for mirror.

The third of my ongoing projects is by far my favorite. It's an AE original (it's nonexistence in competitive play should probably be taken as an indication that it is not a top-tier deck, but nothing is until someone introduces it, right?) with a cute name. What's not to like? As a Type I player (now "vintage"), my home has always been mono-blue control. Ever since coming upon the Wall of Air/Prodigal Sorcerer 'combo' back in the halcyon days of Fourth Edition's reign (I've since grown to Power Ten/Morphling, but we all have to start somewhere), my heart has yearned for islands. Unfortunately, mono-blue simply is not a viable option in the current standard environment because of the pitiable state of counterspells.

Shroud Control

Creatures (11)

4x Deft Duelist
4x Wall of Denial
3x Sphinx of Jwar Isle

Spells (24)

4x Flashfreeze
4x Oblivion Ring
3x Path to Exile
3x Negate
3x Hindering Light
3x Mind Control
2x Day of Judgment
2x Mind Spring

Land (25)

8x Island
5x Plains
4x Fieldmist Borderpost
4x Sejiri Refuge
4x Glacial Fortress

Side

3x Quest for Ancient Secrets
3x Celestial Purge
3x Baneslayer Angel
2x Luminarch Ascension
2x Devout Lightcaster
1x Negate
1x Day of Judgment

Because it renders terminate and bit blast dead cards while severely lessening the utility of pulse and bolt, this gets jund 2-to-1 in game 1. Deft duelist rapes bloodbraid, and wall of denial throws jund into slow motion. Hindering light is an amazing answer to blightning, turning a 1 card disadvantage plus 3 damage into a 1 card advantage without any loss of life. It also works to protect O-ring and mind control against the pulses jund is waiting for a target to throw at (flashfreeze and negate both work as well, without card advantage but with greater general utility). Sphinx can't be killed by anything in the entire deck save for a broodmate together with its, uh, broodmate.

Flashfreeze is dead against vamps and white weenie, neither of which have much of a presence in my meta (and deft duelist is amazing against both of them). But it's utility is huge against 80% or so of what's being run out there. It's a risk I'm comfortable taking.

Why baneslayer in board? To catch jund with its pants down game 2. Let him side out all his removal only to find I've brought a more potent (but removable) creature to pinch-hit for sphinx. Additionally, it's helpful against the green/white token matchup, which will be a tough one for me.

The quests are for mill. My kill is slow, but they allow it to still beat the mill clock, and at 1 cost, I have the counterspells to protect it even on the turn it is dropped (which is not turn 1 unless I happen to have two in hand).

* Using jargon associated with a nerdy activity in a public, generalist setting definitely marks one as a nerd, I know.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peter's notations on nerdiness reviewed

Half Sigma has previously discussed blogger Peter's working theory on how some activities invariably come to be classified as nerdy while others do not. Concisely put, non-athletic activities not traditionally regarded as masculine that are primarily participated in by men are nerdy.

That strikes me as a pretty good description, but as I'll get to below, there is an element Half Sigma and Peter leave out. Athletic and non-athletic activities need to be looked at separately, because the sex ratio effects them in different ways. The more male-dominated an athletic activity is, the less nerdy it is. American football is among the least (if not the very least) nerdy sport in existence. Female participation in the game is accordingly paltry. This is in some contrast to baseball, a relatively nerdier sport with a significant amount of female participation in the form of softball. Tennis, a sport in which female competitions garner something close to as much media attention as male competitions do, is nerdier still. Again, this nerdiness is relative to other athletic activities--by virtue of gauging some combination of dexterity, strength, physical endurance, and kinesthetic coordination (often referred to as "athleticism" in aggregate), athletic activities are virtually all non-nerdy.

In contrast, the greater the female participation in non-athletic activities is, the lower the level of perceived nerdiness among those partaking. Activities primarily participated in by women, like interior decorating, are not considered nerdy. If a man happens to take interest in them, he is often suspected of being gay or at least effete, but not nerdy. Nerdiness is the male's domain. To the extent that women can be nerds, it is in being exceptions to the rule and participating in male-dominated nerdy activities.

Where Peter is a bit off the mark is in focusing on the level of masculinity (in the sense of majority-male participation, not necessarily the amount of virility required) traditionally associated with an activity. As Half Sigma points out, if time is what's required to move a male-dominated non-athletic activity from the nerdy category into non-nerdiness, we've had to wait a long time for chess to come around, and I still don't see the train coming into the station.

A more useful parameter for gauging nerdiness among male-dominated activities is to consider the intelligence threshold required of participants engaging in them. After all, the commonly understood definition* of a nerd is "an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit".

Chess is nerdier than checkers is because it requires greater intelligence to fully comprehend the elements of the game than checkers does. IT guys are similarly nerdier than auto mechanics are. The same goes for classical music votaries in relation to those who like rap. That is not to say that intelligence is unhelpful in becoming a champion checkers player, a top-tier car mechanic, or a hip hop connoisseur, but the participant pool of these activities extends further into the left half of the bell curve than it does for chess players, ITers, and classical fans. By way of being brainiacs, those who participate in nerdy activities engage in and discuss it with other brainiacs. Because they're all cerebral types, the level of discourse is such that average folks are unable to follow what the participants are talking about and consequently are also unable to see how it could be enjoyable and fulfilling from a 'normal' person's perspective (that is, their own).

That brings me to my own recently rekindled nerdy passion, Magic: The Gathering. Stripped of its Tolkienesque themes (with several historical references thrown in, many of them delightfully politically incorrect), which are completely irrelevant to actual gameplay, Magic is a competitive card game. It is to poker what chess is to checkers, except the gap is an order of magnitude wider than it is between the two board games. As the official rulebook demonstrates, the game's complexity is intimidating (and also rewarding). Most people can learn to play Texas Hold 'Em in a matter of minutes. Magic, in contrast, takes a few hours just to get the basics, and many people are going to be lost if attempting to go beyond that. A hold'em conversation is consequently comprehendible to most people, while overhearing a Magic conversation is like eavesdropping on a couple of klingons. With the essential aspects of a nerdy activity in place--male-dominated, non-athletic, high IQ threshold--Magic is quintessentially nerdy.

* Like the words "peruse", "terrific", and "awful", "nerd" is often used in a manner at odds with its primary literal meaning, which describes a foolish, inept, and unattractive person.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sex ratio of teachers

In John Derbyshire's We Are Doomed (which I've enjoyed immensely thus far, especially the chapter on human nature), the Derb writes (p113):

The main problem with our public elementary schools is that they are feminized. The male elementary-school teacher is an endangered species, largely because of the child-molestation hysteria that seized the public imagination a decade or two ago, documented in Dorothy Rabinowitz's 2003 book No Crueler Tyrannies. A man who wants to teach small children is nowadays under suspicion of being a pervert.
Unfortunately, occupational coding in the GSS only extends back to about the time when this cloud of suspicion allegedly descended over aspiring male primary school teachers. The following table shows the percentage of male K-8 teachers, by range of years. Sample sizes among primary schoolers are comfortably over 100 for each range:

PrimaryMale %
88-9114.0
93-9613.0
98-0210.7
04-0815.5

For the last two decades, women have steadily outnumbered men among primary school teachers by more than 6 to 1.

This is in sharp contrast to the sex ratio among college and university instuctors, where men outnumber women 56% to 44%. The sex ratio among high school teachers is halfway between the two, with women outnumbering men 2 to 1 (66.1% to 33.9%).

It's difficult to quantifiably gauge how much more (or less, I suppose) desirable a balanced sex ratio among teachers in primary education would be for boys, or how female overrepresentation, rather than larger PC culture, influences curricula towards greater feminity (more emphasis on suffering, less on achievement; more on how war affects those touched by it, less on the military specifics of those wars; more group projects, fewer individual assignments, etc).

I had women throughout elementary school. My three favorite teachers in middle and high school were all men. Two of those were in honors classes and thus intellectually stimulating, and all three were in subjects I enjoyed, so these things might be skewing my perceptions. Yet my conscious affection for them largely arose because they engaged me whenever I offered opinionated and often 'contrarian' views (that I'm sure were idiotic at least as often as they were insightful) rather than discouraging me from deviating from the lesson plan. That men are more fond of argumentation and less concerned with uniformed consensus seems a plausible explanation for why boys might benefit from having more male teachers, in addition to their obviously being more virile than women are.

I've not read Rabinowitz' book and so am not acquainted with the evidence of child molestation hysteria deterring men from teaching careers, but suspect that trying to push more men into elementary school classrooms will be about as effective as trying to push more women into the non-biological hard sciences. Men simply don't enjoy watching over a pack of prepubescent kids who require elevated levels of patience and nurturing as much as women do. It's not in our genes. In this regard, it's probably not totally unwarranted to be a little more wary of pedophilia in aspiring male elementary school teachers than in men on the whole.

GSS variables used: OCC80(113-154)(155-156)(157), YEAR, SEX

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A few CAGW remarks

Media coverage of climate change has been ubiquitous over the past week. Some of it, like the video footage on CNN of ice falling into the ocean with the heading "Arctic glaciers melting" I saw at the airport, is silly--average summer temperatures are above freezing throughout most of the Arctic, so every year melting occurs. Accretion happens each winter. The annual net is what's at issue, and I'm necessarily agnostic on it out of ignorance, but the insinuation of such imagery is insulting.

An NPR story illustrates why it is almost instinctual for those on the right to push back against calls for international action to combat climate change. Some excerpts:
Kari Marie Norgaard at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, says even as scientists become more confident that climate change is a serious hazard, public opinion is shifting the other way.

Norgaard: This seems irrational. And in that sense, then it's challenging this basic premise that we have of an enlightened, democratic, modern society.

Harris [reporter]: She dug into that question and found, that as people start to feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, they simply turn away from the topic. It's denial - plain and simple.
Or it might be the poor record of predicting future climate conditions, attempts to hide data from potential skeptics, the absence of market signals that would suggest people are taking the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming prognostications seriously (seaside property isn't getting cheaper, but inland property is), or simply the desire for balmier days--humans have fared better in warmer weather than they have in cooler weather, so it's hardly surprising that we prefer it to the cold.

The contrarian view is surely off the mark more often than it is correct--the general functionality of modern western society seems evidence enough of that. But Establishment opinion has been and is blatantly wrong on several counts, like the blank slatist weltanschauung that presumes human populations do not vary in any systematic way and that personality factors like intelligence and conscientiousness are products of nurture rather than of nature, or the bromides about how homes were great investments since housing prices never fall, just to name a couple especially salient to the Steveosphere.

I have a friend doing graduate work in GIS who is certain anthropogenically-driven climate change* is occuring and is bad news. He laments how much of a political issue it has become. Fine, but it's sympathetic news reports like this one that are largely responsible for that. Evolution by selection 'suffers' from the same, but these two particular subjects are exceptions. As Dennis Mangan writes:
One way of looking at a statement like Goodman's [where CAGW 'deniers' are compared to Holocaust deniers] is to ask oneself, do particle physicists, zoologists, chemical engineers, or molecular biologists ever talk like that? Of course, these examples may be less directly relevant to human life, but on the other hand, the scientists in these fields usually feel no need to silence opponents.
Continuing with the NPR entry:
Harris: They're having a field day, right now, with the emails stolen from climate scientists. Skeptics have taken some suspicious-sounding statements in those emails as proof that climate change is a hoax. That's certainly not the view of mainstream scientists, but again, the public doesn't necessarily listen to scientists.

And Tim Wirth, a former Democratic senator who now runs the United Nations Foundation, says people trying to stir up doubt about climate change aren't working in a vacuum. There's a large and well-funded effort to block legislation that could hurt the industries most responsible for carbon emissions.
It has always struck me as curious why people should be expected to be suspicious of the industries that provide the stuff that allows our material standard of living to be as high as it is. It's intuitively difficult to see energy producers or electronics manufacturers as enemies and their critics, who create nothing, as friends.

As the Derb states, the political and economic implications of climate change are huge, but the intellectual stakes are small. Differences are by degree (heh) in interpretation of imperfect and often conflicting data, while the effort and energy expenditures required of lay people to glean something from primary sources are astronomical (if realizable at all). Consequently, I'm nothing more than a curious spectator, and like many onlookers, I wonder about seeming shortcomings in the CAGW narrative.

What about the potential benefits of warming? Around one-fourth to one-fifth of the globe's oil reserves are in the arctic, largely economically inviable at present, but perhaps not in the future if secular thawing continues. Russia east of the Urals is geographically larger than the US, yet its population is less than 5% of ours. Greenland has half as many people as Green Bay does, even though it's three times the size of Texas. We're a long way from people settling in significant numbers off the southern and western coasts, but even these are sparsely populated. Canada's population is clustered along the US-Canadian border. If areas like these become more hospitable, the people who will settle them will come from humanity's more advanced populations.

It seems plausible that if warming becomes more acute as the distance from the equator increases, the effect on human population patterns will be eugenic.

Vehicles are less efficient in the cold than they are in warm weather. Check your car engine's rpm at 60mph when it's 10 degrees outside and compare it to the same when it's 80 degrees--you're engine will be working around 10% harder in the former scenario until your engine is fully heated (and there is also the issue of the fuel wasted letting the car warm up).

Of course, these benefits will be on the margins, since the most extreme forecasts only predict that average temperatures will rise by a few degrees over several decades. I find it difficult to believe that, in contrast, the negative effects of the same climate change will be drastic.

* The assertion that the phrase "global warming" has been replaced with the more all-purpose "climate change" is more than anecdotal. See a graphical representation of the shift over time here.

FemiX is Half Sigma? Doubtful

Apparently there are a number of Steveosphere regulars who think FeministX is actually Half Sigma. It's funny to think about a pseudonym being accused of posing as a different pseudonym, but FemiX's female lusting is at least on par with that of the average guy. Further, Half Sigma seemed to think the person behind Stuff White People Like would turn out to be an Asian man, so I suppose it is plausible to think he has a predilection for the idea of Asian internet anonymity. Both favor abortion--not just the right to abortion, but abortion itself--and both are quick to criticize Steve Sailer for his presumed affinity for Sarah Palin.

For what it's worth, though, I'm still highly skeptical on account of their interactions here. FemiX reads most or all of what I write--it's apparent on her blog and in my comment communications with her (the favor is returned, although sometimes I'm too late to contribute to the comment thread before it goes cold). Half Sigma has this spot on his blog roll as well, but is only an occasional reader and is usually unfamiliar with data presented to him that I've marshaled in previous posts, whether it backs up or challenges particular assertions he is making. Perhaps when wearing the Half Sigma hat he pretends not to have read what he actually has, but since we're on good terms and I've never mentioned anything that in the remotest way suggested he might be her, if he's pulling it off, his level of ubiquitous meticulousness in separating the two virtual identities is astounding.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Men more devoted to work than women are

A post by OneSTDV awhile back challenged the assertion that the gender egalitarian movement is more damaging to society than the racial egalitarian movement is. I view them as two heads of the blank slatist hydra. The primary devotion of this place concerns the latter, but that need not be to the exclusion of the former.

Reasons for wage differential are multiple. As OneSTDV points out, female intelligence distributions are narrower than male distributions are. Consequently, there are more men than there are women floating around in the intelligence stratosphere. Further, men do a much better job keeping themselves up to snuff on current events than women do. Men's range of intellectual interests are wider than women's are and men do a better job than women do learning about subjects that increase their employment marketability, and companies are pressured into offering more generous benefits for those taking maternity leave than for those taking paternity leave. Women's interests are closer to home and to those living in it.

Additionally, in certain occupations--specifically those requiring a great deal of physical exertion--the bar is set higher for men than it is for women, even though members of both sexes are treated (and potentially compensated) as though they are of equal value to their organizations in these positions. Take the PT for military enlistees. To pass once graduated from basic training, men (aged 17-21) must be able to do the following:

- 42 push-ups
- 53 sit-ups
- Run the two-mile in under 15:54 or faster

Less is expected of female soldiers:

- 19 push-ups
- 53 sit-ups
- Run the two-mile in 18:54 or faster

Further, women tend to have less tenure in positions than men do because men are more likely to seek full-time employment than women are and because female participation in the labor force continued to climb through the seventies, eighties, and nineties. A 40 year old woman who started working for a company in 1998 is, ceteris paribus, not going to be making as much as a 40 year old man who started at the same company in 1988. Much of the celebrated reduction in the wage gap is a consequece of this trend. With the current recession hitting men harder than women, expect further attenuation of earnings variance in the coming years.

The GSS provides another source of evidence for this, in addition to shedding light on some other attitudinal and behavioral reasons men earn more than women do for doing putatively 'equal work'. The following table shows data for men and women on four questions concerning work behaviors and attitudes. For contemporary relevance, all responses are from 2002 onward:


MenWomen
Mean number of years on the job7.56.8
Working other than day shifts (nights, swing, etc)31%26%
Work overtime at least once a month69%57%
Main satisfaction in life comes from work30%25%
Want to work additional hours to earn more money36%28%

On all of these aspects of work life, men tend to be more occupationally devoted than women are. They've been with their companies longer, are more willing to work overtime and on oddball schedules, and receive more satisfaction from their jobs than women do.

The differences are modest. That's generally the case when it comes to measuring gender variances on social attributes. In contrast, when racial groups are compared, they are much larger.

GSS variables used: JOBYEARS, WRKSCHED, MOREDAYS, WKTOPSAT, HRSMONEY, SEX(1)(2)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

GSS respondent interview comprehension over time

In response to the previous post, Steve Sailer suggested the slight but steady rise over time in the percentage of GSS respondents deemed to have "good" comprehension of the interview questions asked them could be an illustration of the Flynn effect at work. The following graph quantifies the rise. The value displayed is derived by taking the percentage of respondents judged to have "poor" comprehension and subtracting it from the percentage assessed as having good comprehension. The middling assessment ("fair") is left neutral:


There's a bit of apparently random variation from year to year (most conspicuously the 'spike' in 1985), but the general trend is upward until 2006, the first year those not fluent in English were included in the survey. The slide beginning after 2004 might be a result of the Spanish version of the Wordsum test being more difficult than its English equivalent, but it is more likely simply a consequence of the fact that among people residing in the US, thoseable to converse in the Anglo-Frisian subgroup are sharper than those who unable to .

Steve also wrote the following:

It would be interesting to see who is overrated and underrated relative to their test scores. My impression is that people in New York City seem mentally quicker than people elsewhere. Some of that is actually mean IQ difference, but some of it is different affect.
To calculate predicted comprehension by geography, I took the percentages of each of the five intelligence categories (wordsum scores of 0-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8, and 9-10) by region and determined what each region's mean comprehension would be if that region's five groups showed good comprehension at the national rate. The following table shows how respondents in each region were assessed by interviewers relative to what their wordsum scores alone predicted their aggregate assessments would be. Positive values indicate respondents being assessed as having better comprehension than wordsum performance predicts they should have (they appear sharper than they actually are); negative values indicate respondents being assessed as having worse comprehension than wordsum predicts (they appear duller than they actually are):

Region
East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI)1.1
New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT)0.6
Pacific (AK, CA, HA, OR, WA)0.4
Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY)0.3
South Atlantic (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV)0.2
West North Central (KS, IA, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD)0.1
Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA)(0.3)
East South Central (AL, KY, MI, TN)(1.1)
West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX)(1.3)

The variances are extremely modest, to the extent that the table should be taken very lightly. There is no way to tell if individual states within each of the nine regions are representated proportionally to their respective populations. Further, the interviewers presumably tend to be from the areas they are conducted the surveys in, so should conceivably already have already factored in any artificial increase or decrease in perceived intelligence by differences in affect.

Despite all this, the results still strike me as having some face validity. When I come across someone with a distinct upper midwestern accent, it creates a bit of a competency halo, in the same way British accents do. Southern drawls, on the other hand, have the opposite effect. The Boston affect does it for me (though it also makes me wary--must be too much Simpsonian influence growing up), yet so does the rapidity of the New Yorker's word delivery. Consequently, the Middle Atlantic's position feels the most out of place. But I have NYC in mind, to the exclusion of the bucolic expanse between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, COMPREND, REGION

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wordsum serves as valid IQ proxy

Periodically it is asserted (usually by one-time commenters who drop in through search engines here) that using wordsum scores as a proxy for IQ produces no relevant information since intelligence tests are much more than simple vocabulary tests. Looking at wordsum scores by region and comparing them to several other good-faith IQ estimates suggests the test is indeed a useful IQ proxy. In complement to that, the following tables show how wordsum scores interact with other uncontroversial intelligence proxies. For each variable, respondents are divided into five groups; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Really Dumbs (0-3, 12%).

Since the inception of the GSS, interviewers have recorded their impressions of respondents' apparent ability to comprehend the questions being asked them. The percentages, by wordsum intelligence groupings, who had a "good" grasp comprehending the questions being asked them (n = 24,111):

Comprehended questions
Really Smarts96.9
Pretty Smarts93.5
Normals88.0
Pretty Dumbs77.8
Really Dumbs49.8

Language barriers do not present issues, as respondents not fluent in English were excluded from the GSS until 2006, when a Spanish version of the survey was also dispatched. This is evident in the gentle but steady increase over time in the percentage of respondents deemed to have "good" comprehension and a corresponding decrease in the percentage of respondents said to have "poor" comprehension--if a lack of English fluency was obfuscating the relationship, the average level of comprehension would be declining, not rising.

The effective range on the scale used to record respondents' socioeconomic status runs from 17.1 on the low-end to 97.2 on the high-end. Mean values by grouping:

Average SES
Really Smarts61.4
Pretty Smarts52.7
Normals47.2
Pretty Dumbs42.6
Really Dumbs37.2

And mean number of years of education:

Educational years
Really Smarts15.3
Pretty Smarts13.8
Normals12.9
Pretty Dumbs11.9
Really Dumbs10.5

Scarcely distinguishable from the distributions documented in The Bell Curve. The wordsum test is a relevant and incredibly useful proxy. Without it, GSS yields would be much less copious than they are.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, COMPREND, SEI, EDUC

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

White and Hispanic voting compared at the state level

Commenting on the post suggesting that exit polling appears to systematically underrepresent Asians as well as whites, Steve Sailer expressed a desire for data on Asians in red states. Because of population size and concentration, Hawaii and California are the only two states for which they are currently available. Consequently, it is difficult to determine much about regional variations in Asian political outlook.

I wonder also about Hispanics. Do they parrot whites at the state level, albeit shifted 20 or so points to the left, or is it just in aggregate that Hispanics tend to differ from whites by a fairly consistent amount? That is, are Texas Hispanics considerably less leftist than California's are, or do Hispanics, like blacks, vote predictably irrespective of geography?

The following table shows the percentages of whites and Hispanics who voted for Obama in 2008. The third column displays his advantage among Hispanics relative to whites. Nationally, Obama did 24 points better among Hispanics than he did among whites:

StateWhitesHispanicsAdvantage
Texas266337
Indiana457732
Nevada457631
New Jersey497829
New Mexico426927
Virginia396526
Pennsylvania487224
California527422
Illinois517221
Arizona405616
Florida425715
Michigan516413
Colorado55616

Hard to say much definitively one way or the other. To answer one of the questions posed above, California's Hispanics are more inclined toward Democrats than Texas' are (74% to 63%). This is similar to the 2004 gap between the two states (63% to 50%, respectively). Yet Hispanics in Texas do not shift as far to the right as would be expected if they stayed parallel with whites. Even in a solidly white Republican state like Texas, Hispanics are left of center. In no state during the '08 election did a majority of Hispanics back McCain, the embodiment of open borders Republicanism (if Hispanics are natural GOPers save for immigration, of course, they should've flocked to McCain in droves).

But there are conservative white states like Indiana and Nevada where Hispanics vote more heavily Democratic than they do nationally. This isn't simply a case of the mortgage meltdown being especially severe in Nevada, either--the state's Hispanics voted more strongly for Kerry in '04 than Hispanics did nationally (they did so in Indiana as well). Also, Hispanics in Arizona--another "sand state" that suffered severely from the drop in residential real estate prices--came fairly close to splitting their presidential votes on account of having a 'native son' running on the Republican side. An identical 56% also voted for Bush in '04. Conversely, there are pretty liberal white states like Colorado and Michigan where Hispanics voted to the right of the national total.

This is not to say that Hispanics don't tend to trace white voters at a more localized level, just that the '08 Presidential election does not make it clear that they do. Even for states where data are available, the samples are small and there is not much history to compare it to.