Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hispanics vote Democrat because of economic concerns and health care, not immigration

Though it is persistently asserted by self-proclaimed 'Latino activists'*, media types, and Establishment Republicans alike that taking a restrictionist stance on immigration is to commit political hara kiri, Hispanics are not particularly concerned with immigration (and to the extent that they do care, their opinions are far more ambiguous than the casual observer has been led to believe).

Pew just released the results of a survey on Hispanics in the US headlining with their reactions to an uptick in deportations carried out under the Obama administration as compared to the Bush administration. The report also contains other points of interest, including the emphasis placed on the question of immigration. Of the six issues participants were asked about, immigration came in dead last in the percentage of Hispanic voters who say they are "extremely concerned" about it. From most to least important: Jobs (50%), Education (49%), Health care (45%), Taxes (34%), Federal budget deficit (!) (34%), Immigration (33%).

Hispanics primarily favor Democrats because of the party's policies on health care and economics--policies that seek to transfer wealth from middle class whites to the (disproportionately Hispanic) poor. The GOP would have to move to the left of the Democratic party on both of these fronts to beat it at its own game and have a chance at winning over Hispanics, a move that would necessarily entail the Republican party ceasing to be conservative in any meaningful way.

Calling for open borders alone doesn't aid the Hispandering cause. The survey was conducted when the three big names in the GOP field were Romney, Perry, and Cain. Romney, whose relatively tough stance on illegal immigration is only outdone by Bachmann, was found to be running neck-and-neck with Perry and slightly ahead of Cain among Hispanic voters, even though Cain was running at the front of the pack among Republican primary voters at the time.

Perusing the rest of the report, I was reminded of a one of my favorite Simpsons moments, when, as the family shovels down low-fat pudding, Marge remarks that she can just feel the pounds melting off. The report shows that while Hispanics who are fluent English speakers, make $75,000+ per year, and/or have a college degree feel the Republican party is more inclined towards Hispanics as a group than the Democratic party is (14%, 19%, and 14%, respectively) than are Hispanics who primarily or exclusively speak Spanish, make under $30,000 per year, and/or have less than a high school education (6%, 10%, and 7%, respectively), an increase in even the more assimilated and successful portion of the Hispanic immigrant contingent is obviously bad news for Republicans.

* Despite an apparent upsurge in preference for the term "Latino" over the term "Hispanic" by 'activists' and SWPLs in the media over the course of the last decade or so, more people descended from south of the border prefer the latter descriptor, Hispanic, over the former, Latino. This remains the case whether those Latinos/Hispanics in question were born in the US or outside of it, by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

As I proudly stand up next to you?

Reading Jared Taylor's most recent book, White Identity, I wondered how the seemingly endless number of examples provided to illustrate how widespread the disdain for the United States as a European-descended country is among non-whites translated into opinions offered by a representative sampling of the US population. Taylor's tone is thoughtful and sober, yet the book's content--intentionally or not--surely inflames racialist passions in many who read it (myself included). To use an example that doesn't happen to involve whites, consider the following (p82):
[Last year] in Manhattan, police arrested a group of black teenagers who specialized in beating up Asian women in their fifties to seventies. The boys acted as lookouts; it was the girls who attacked.
But in a country of over 300 million and a world of over 7 billion, anecdotes demonstrating just how vile acts of human depravity can be are always going to be abundant enough to fill a book like Taylor's from cover to cover. Taylor's book is not meant to be a comprehensively objective look at race relations in the West, however, and to criticize him for failing to present something he neither attempted nor claimed to be presenting is stupid. Having maintained a data-focused blog for several years, I'm well aware of the fact that it's not cold numbers but hot stories that move people to action.

That said, this post doesn't attempt to break the mold. It's true to TAE's tagline. Before tying into questions Taylor raises, we'll go there. In 2004, the GSS asked respondents how proud they are to be Americans. The following table shows the percentages who answered "very proud" by partisan affiliation. In all cases, non-citizens are excluded:

Party ID
Proud
Republican
92.1%
Independent
78.1%
Democrat
73.6%

Okay, so when Rush Limbaugh says Democrats are "anti-American" he's hardly being precise. Give them due credit for at least knowing they are free! Still, the conventional assertion by those on the right that conservatives are more patriotic (which, by definition, means to love, support, and defend one's country) than liberals are is accurate.

The differences are more politically-based than they are class-based:

Class
Proud
Lower
86.2%
Working
79.7%
Middle
81.1%
Upper
84.7%

Race, as it so often does, matters at least as much as almost anything else, although it's hardly clear that Hispanics in the US take more pride in Reconquista efforts than they do in the country they are citizens of:

Race
Proud
White
83.2%
Black
74.1%
Hispanic
71.6%
Asian
56.2%

Parenthetically, the Asian sample includes just 38 people (the only grouping in any of the tables with fewer than 100 respondents), so it should at most be interpreted as being merely suggestive. Incidentally, White Identity does include an unsettling chapter entitled "Asian Consciousness" that disrobes to some extent the 'model minority' conception of our yellow cohabitants.

When it comes to taking pride in their adopted homeland, the foreign-born largely assimilate to native norms:

Ancestry
Proud
Native
81.3%
Foreign
77.5%

Even wider than the partisan pride divide are the results of the generational invitational:

Age
Proud
18-24
63.3%
25-34
73.6%
35-49
85.5%
50-64
84.5%
65+
90.9%

While I'm not ashamed of my ancestors--not those who came over from England four centuries ago nor those who came from Ireland and Germany after WWII--it's almost instinctive for millennials to be embarrassed by the thought of being asked whether or not we love our country (and not because of concerns like Mangan's, although those are the more relevant issues to me). For my grandfathers, the answer would've been an automatic, delivered without hesitation. In contemporary schools and in the media, the narrative has increasingly become one focused on the oppression and exploitation that are said to constitute not only America's past but also her present, a focus utterly devoid of historical context or comparative objectivity. This is not without consequence.

GSS variables used: RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), PARTYID(0-1)(2-4)(5-6), CLASS, AGE, BORN, AMPROUD1(1-4)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nihilistic Manosphere

In an argument with Ferd, OneSTDV characterizes the so-called Manosphere as nihilistic. Well, the GSS offers some insight into nihilism, so let's look at what it has to tell us.

The following tables display mean nihilism scores from the years 1998 and 2008, computed by taking participant responses to the 5-point scaled GSS item on perceived lack of purpose in life and inverting the averages for ease of reader comprehension. The higher the score, the more nihilistic the group is. One standard deviation is .76 points on the nihilism scale.

First, among men in their forties or older (who have thus had ample time to get married if they desired to do so) who are married (or widowed) and those who have either divorced or never married in the first place:

Marital status
Nihilism
Married/widowed
1.55
Unmarried
1.74

About one-fourth of one standard deviation's difference, equivalent to the nihilism gap between the middle class and the underclass.

Some of those guys are inevitably unmarried not because they willingly choose to be flying solo but because they don't really have a choice, though. Some guys are just too unattractive to women to ever land one. C'est la vie.

So, consider the same by the number of lifetime notches in the belt, again aged 40+:

# of women
Nihilism
0
1.93
1
1.53
2-5
1.52
6-10
1.61
11-20
1.67
21+
1.57

Those with one lifetime partner or whose lives have been characterized serial but long-term monogamous relationships are a little less nihilistic than the club hoppers are, but the men who don't (or can't) get any at all clearly are the ones who feel tend to feel that life does not serve much of a purpose.

This doesn't disprove One's assertion, of course--I'd guess a significant chunk of the Manosphere is comprised of bitter men who've faced unending frustration in their relationships (or lack thereof) with the ladies.

GSS variables used: NIHILISM, NUMWOMEN(0)(1)(2-5)(6-10)(11-20)(21-500), SEX(1), AGE(40-89)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The left's manly intelligence (distribution)

In a blatant but understandable attempt to gain electoral advantage (anything that makes voting more restrictive benefits Republicans, and anything that makes it easier to do benefits Democrats), the Justice Department rejected South Carolina's version of a voter-ID law requiring putative citizens to produce proof that they are indeed citizens eligible to vote in their respective state and federal elections:
The Obama administration entered the fierce national debate over voting rights Friday, rejecting a South Carolina law requiring photo identification at the polls after determining the statute discriminates against minority voters. ...

In its first ruling on the voter-ID laws, Justice's Civil Rights Division said South Carolina's statute is discriminatory because the state's registered minority voters are nearly 20 percent more likely than whites to lack a state-issued photo ID.
This is, of course, a predictable and inevitable consequence of treating 'disparate impact' as evidence of unequal treatment. The Establishment wants to maintain that isonomy is of paramount importance, but simultaneously (and incorrectly) assumes that all people--and by extension, all groups of people--are the same, so that any unequal outcome must necessarily be the result of unequal treatment (ie, an isonomic breach has occurred) irrespective of whether or not such an occurrence can be definitively proved.

In the case of a discrimination settlement with a mortgage lending company, this line of reasoning may go mostly unchallenged, but when it comes to something as simple as presenting a photo ID--something that most people do on a regular basis, be it to write a check or drive a car--the assertion that certain groups are being treated unfairly in being required to do as much strikes an overwhelming majority of the public as absurd.

Putting aside the question of intentional voter fraud, the reason voter-ID requirements hurt the left more than they hurt the right is because voters at the left end of the IQ and future time orientation spectrums are mostly Democrats, not Republicans. I've seen multiple facebook posts over the last couple of days in reaction to the Justice Department's actions along the lines of "liberals are too unorganized and stupid to vote".

In fairness, it's more because the left's intelligence distribution is wider than the right's is, with more lefties at the bottom and top and more conservatives in the middle, not because liberals are less intelligent on average than conservatives are (in fact, the IQ means by political orientation are essentially equal). That distributional difference, in turn, is due primarily to the left's racial diversity. So, if the FB posters wanted to be more precise (and more crass), they'd say "NAMs are too unorganized and stupid to vote". SWPLs, who would generally be happy to accuse conservatives of believing as much, are in tough spot if they assert as much though, because based on the Justice Department's accusations, it is transparently true. Oh how political correctness makes us stupid.

To dredge up a bit of evidence to back up the assertion that the disproportionately female political left sports a more manly intelligence distribution than the mostly male right does, consider that the GSS shows that one standard deviation in wordsum score for all liberals is 2.18 points, while for all conservatives it is only 1.99.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, POLVIEWS(1-3)(5-7), YEAR(2000-2010)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

She got shot, and... it's more than you ever did!

OneSTDV captures the societal shift away from celebrating accomplishment and towards celebrating suffering in discussing Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords and the coverage surrounding the Loughner shooting and her recovery from it. The PC orthodoxy leverages (and pushes for) this shifting to prop up favored groups at the bottom and minimize the laudatory attention that should rightly be given to those of great accomplishment. This inherently delegitimatizes the moral worthiness of middle class white kids from intact families while putting on a pedestal those who come from broken families and mean streets (as One demonstrated here).

It was not suddenly detectable for the first time in the 2008 election, when two potential sufferers-in-chief squared off (compared to, say, Winston Churchill or Dwight Eisenhower), of course. The Simpsons captured it nearly two decades ago in Radio Bart (which happens to be one of my top five episodes of all time):

Homer: That Timmy is a real hero!
Lisa: How do you mean, Dad?
Homer: Well, he fell down a well, and... he can't get out.
Lisa: How does that make him a hero?
Homer: [flustered and frustrated] Well, that's more than you did!

(Video clip here, albeit not in English)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Climate change and IQ

Although global warming climate change has been a "hot button" issue for several years, until the 2010 GSS surveys were completed, my favorite database for gauging American society hadn't pushed it. What spurred me to check the newest stuff was a post by Half Sigma a few months back where he lamented what he sees as the intellectual herd mentality among the brightest that leads them to buy into the CAGW narrative:
People with higher general intelligence (let’s call that fluid g) are better at reasoning, but they aren’t more likely to use their reasoning ability to figure out the actual truth of a matter, they are just better at figuring which group’s opinions to mimic. People with higher intelligence also have a greater degree of social conformity than people with lower intelligence. ...

Mitt Romney says he believes in global warming but Governor Rick Perry of Texas doesn’t. Rick Perry has the correct beliefs about global warming. It’s what people who are smart, are knowledgeable about physics, and who think for themselves believe. ...

Unfortunately, Rick Perry has the correct belief about global warming not because he’s smarter than Mitt Romney but because he’s stupider than Mitt Romney. We have reached the sad state in which the majority of smart people believe in global warming, and smart people figure out what to believe based on what other smart people believe, and that is how Mitt Romney has come to the wrong conclusion on global warming and why Rick Perry has failed to come to the wrong conclusion on global warming. Rick Perry isn’t smart enough to realize how stupid he appears to smart people when he says that he disbelieves in global warming.
HS' cynicism and self-assuredness aside, it's difficult to dispute that the popular conception is of more knowledgeable and well-educated people believing that human activity is driving changes in the climate in a significant and dangerous way and rubes denying it. Fortunately, the GSS lets us put that to the test, using wordsum scores as a proxy for intelligence. The following table shows the average responses by IQ group on the 5-point scale question in which respondents are asked how dangerous they think the rises in global temperatures from climate change are. For ease of comprehension, scores have been inverted so that the higher the score, the more dangerous the cohort thinks climate change is:

IQ
CC danger
Real dumbs*
3.62
Pretty dumbs
3.41
Normals
3.39
Pretty smarts
3.30
Really smarts
3.44

One standard deviation for the respondent poll is 1.17, so the difference between the most and least 'alarmist' groups is modest, at barely one-quarter of one standard deviation's difference between their averages. Still, if anything, the trend is towards more skepticism of the dangers of climate change as intelligence increases, in contrast to what HS seems to correctly identify as the popular conception of who believes in climate change and who doesn't.

That's misleading, though, because less intelligent people are probably more inclined to buy into the potential for all kinds of catastrophes than smarter people are, whether it be a flood of biblical proportions, an alien invasion, or the zombie apocalypse. When presented with a list of ten environmental concerns and asked to select which one of them is the most pressing, the percentages who select climate change shake out as follows:

IQ
CC worst prob
Real dumbs*
6.7%
Pretty dumbs
8.6%
Normals
9.1%
Pretty smarts
10.8%
Really smarts
18.3%

As expected, the intellectually elite portion of the populous is significantly more likely to finger climate change as the biggest environmental problem the country faces than the rest of the population is.

To pick some low hanging fruit and validate stereotype that will come as no surprise to anyone of any persuasion, the average responses on the 5-point scale question about how dangerous climate change is, and the percentages of people who assert that it is the most pressing environmental problem of our time, by political orientation:

Orientation
CC danger
Liberal
3.85
Moderate
3.54
Conservative
2.92

Orientation
CC worst prob
Liberal
14.9%
Moderate
10.5%
Conservative
6.8%

Self-described moderates tend to be less intelligent than either liberals or conservatives are, but the liberal-conservative gap is negligible, so that confound isn't much of a problem here. It's clear that opinions on climate change, rather than being stratified primarily by intelligence, track with political orientation (something HS mentions occurs often in his post, although he curiously does not carry this through to his discussion on climate change in particular). Because major media generally portrays liberals as open-minded and enlightened and conservatives as close-minded and hidebound, the move from liberals being worried about climate change to intelligent people being worried about climate change is an easy one to make in the popular mind.

As someone utterly lacking in credentials of any kind to offer an informed perspective on climate change and its consequences, I'm more skeptical of the calls for increased regulations on and centralized bureaucratic control over energy consumption than I am over whether or not we're experiencing appreciable warming. I'm unconvinced that warming, which has generally been beneficial for humanity, will (or would?) be a bad thing (and could be beneficial in many ways), especially the farther away from the equator one moves.

But it's tough to reject the smarties out-of-hand when they encourage me with their support of nuclear power! The following table shows the percentages of people by IQ who think nuclear power should be the US' top energy priority in the future:

IQ
Nuclear future
Real dumbs*
9.3%
Pretty dumbs
6.3%
Normals
6.7%
Pretty smarts
14.9%
Really smarts
20.5%

GSS variables used: FUTENRGY, TEMPGEN1, ENPRBUS, WORDSUM, POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)

* Respondents are broken up into five categories that roughly forms a normal distribution; 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 Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A few comments on the Republican presidential nomination

With Herman Cain out, race isn't an issue in the Republican presidential nominating process. It never was among voters, of course, as GOP voters are overwhelmingly white. Age, educational attainment, income, sex, and religious affiliation are still there, but of the polling data I've combed through, the only characteristic outside of political orientation (is the respondent a conservative, moderate, or liberal Republican?) and support or lack thereof for the tea party that gets broken out is sex.

I hadn't given it much thought, but I guess it shouldn't come as a big surprise that women are a lot more supportive of Romney than men are. A Pew poll released earlier this week found that 40% of male likely GOP voters currently support Gingrich, compared to just 19% for Romney. Among women, however, the gap is only one-third as wide, with 29% for Gingrich and 22% for Romney. Gingrich is the ugly, adulterating doughboy; Romney the good-looking, athletic, devoted family man.

More alarming for those like myself who, while not enthused by the idea of a Romney nomination (Ron Paul's still my favorite, though if I had my way his son would be running in his stead), would much rather see the former governor get the nod than Gingrich get it comes from WSJ/NBC polling conducted last week. It asked Republican respondents likely to vote in the primaries to assume that their respective primaries were being held today, and only Gingrich and Romney were in contention for the nomination. Under this scenario, Gingrich cleans Romney's clock, 59%-36%.

The 25% ceiling Romney has been bumping his head on since the campaign began doesn't look like it will rise much even when the race is winnowed down to just two people. As Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry throw in their towels, their supporters will move into the Gingrich camp. Romney gets his best shot if the rest of the field continues to ride the roller coaster up and down. If he doesn't win in Iowa, he needs Ron Paul to. The sooner it becomes Romney vs. the anti-Romney, the worse his chances become.

The Derb has written that Mitt is the odds-on favorite. I wonder if he remains as confident as he did a couple of months ago. Randall Parker concisely stated why Romney is the best choice:
He's got very high analytical skills, understands finance, understands business management, and knows how to be a CEO. His Mormonism is not important. That he governed a liberal state from a moderate position was really the only choice he had as governor of Massachusetts. He's not a nut case or a dummy like some of the other Republican candidates. He harkens back to an earlier (and better) Republican party when executive competence mattered and ideological zeal was suspect.
While I couldn't have put it any better myself, his Mormonism, necessary centrism in a liberal state, and his lack of ideological commitment all do, in fact, matter to most Republican primary voters.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trust and violence

Agnostic has been marshaling a sundry series of posts that trace how shifts in the rate of violent crime are associated with changes in the behaviors and culture of broader society, from the rise and fall of shorts' length (heh) to disappearance and resurrection of drive-ins.

Initially, I figured, understandably enough, that trust levels would tend to rise as violent crime declined, and fall during times of increasing violence. Agnostic argues that this is not the case, however. Instead, increasing levels of trust propel people out of their cells and into the commons where they come into more social contact with other people than they do during low trust times, when people keep to themselves. It is this increase in social mingling that brings on an increase in violent crime, as the perpetrators of those crimes now have greater and more varied opportunities to strike (and it is not always necessarily a consequence of mendacious intent on their part--more social contact inevitably means more confrontations that may result in violent outcomes, even if neither party involved planned on having it end up that way).

Agnostic's trust-influences-violence-and-violence-influences-everything-else theory (my eloquent naming, not his!) is intriguing if not obviously convincing. How does the increasing racial and ethnic diversification of the US, and the consequent "hunkering down" it brings, play into this relationship? Robert Putnam shows that diversity dampens social participation, but it is also associated with higher rates of violent crime. Of course, despite increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the US, crime levels have fallen steadily for two decades now. As more diversity brings more social retreat and lower levels of trust, will violent crime rates continue to decline? Perhaps a continuing drop in violence should be thought of as a silver-lining in the balkanizing skies above.

Anyway, I wondered if any correlation between trust levels and violent crime could be detected in the US from the early seventies to today. Scaling the national rate of violent crime to responses to the GSS question over whether "most people can be trusted" or "you can't be too careful in life", I graphed the relationship:


The correlation is an insignificant .10. When violent crime is compared to trust levels a couple of years prior, the correlation becomes an inverse (which is to be expected in Agnostic's conception of the trust-violence relationship) .16 (p = .47). That's only slightly less easy to dismiss as meaningless.

By no means does this refute any part of Agnostic's theory, as the GSS survey question just gauges a general feeling among respondents, not how they actually behave, and is subject to some statistical noise (though the average annual sample size is over 1,400). Further, trust has been declining for three decades, violent crime for two. The lag might simply be considerably longer than two years, maybe closer to ten, something that is unfortunately not testable using the GSS. But it would've been neat if it clearly supported the theory, which it does not do.

GSS variables used: YEAR, TRUST(1-2)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mexican fatalism

I don't tap into the World Values Survey nearly as often as I'd ideally like to because it's more difficult to trust than the GSS is. Sometimes the problems are apparently just coding errors, but often the issues involve representative sampling (or the lack thereof), confusion in translation, or something else. Exacerbating this challenge, it's tougher for me to use my intuition as a first approximation of whether or not the results are flawed when the comparisons are between Slovenia and Andorra than when they're between Kansas and New York because I'm merely a citizen of the US, not of the world.

That said, Steve Sailer recently recounted the following childhood experience from Mexico:
Having traveled a modest amount in Mexico with my father when I was young, it seemed like a not badly behaved place. Mexico under the PRI was a police state, although only a small fraction of the large number of policemen were efficient and formidable. The populace was fairly cowed and meek, at least when sober. Bad driving and accidents were a major problem (presumably originating in Mexican fatalism), and petty graft was an annoyance, but outright crime wasn't a major problem for tourists.
People enjoying relatively high socio-economic status tend to be less fatalistic than people on lower rungs of the ladder do, and I suspect this pattern would manifest itself at the national level, but being the parochial guy that I am, I wasn't aware of Mexicans being particularly fatalistic.

The WVS (fourth wave) offers some potential insight into the question. The following table ranks the participating countries by how much control over their lives respondents in those countries feel they have. The higher the self-determination score, the less fatalistic the country is:

Countries
SD
1. Mexico
8.4
2. Colombia
8.0
3. Argentina, New Zealand, Trinidad/Tobago
7.9
4. Sweden, Uruguay
7.8
5. Norway, Brazil, Andorra
7.7
6. United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Switzerland, Romania, Jordan
7.6
7. Finland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Guatemala
7.5
8. Turkey, Indonesia
7.4
9. Great Britain, Taiwan, Malaysia
7.3
10. Chile, China, Zambia
7.2
11. Peru, Ghana, Vietnam, Iran
7.1
12. Russia
7.0
13. Spain, Moldova, Thailand
6.9
14. Germany
6.8
15. France, the Netherlands, South Korea
6.7
16. Poland
6.6
17. Serbia, Rwanda
6.5
18. Georgia
6.4
19. Italy, Hong Kong
6.3
20. Ethiopia
6.2
21. Japan, Egypt, Mali
6.1
22. India, Ukraine
6.0
23. Bulgaria
5.8
24. Burkina Faso
5.7
25. Iraq
5.4
26. Morocco
5.3

With Egypt, Mali, Iraq, and Morocco at the bottom of the list, at first blush it appears that Muslim countries are more fatalistic than non-Muslim countries are, in accordance with the thesis put forth by the late Samuel Huntington. However, Turkey, Jordan, and Indonesia are among countries where the greatest levels of self-determination are perceived, in conflict with that observation.

The Anglophone nations are all bunched pretty close to one another, with the three largest British offshoots having the same self-determination scores. Along with Scandanavia, these countries are less fatalistic than eastern and southern European countries are.

One standard deviation is 2.3 self-determination points, so the gap between Morocco and Mexico is almost 1.5 standard deviations wide, suggesting that the average Moroccan is more fatalistic than over 90% of Mexicans are. That revelation stuns me, and I have no idea how accurately it reflects reality (see the opening paragraph!). Given that Steve has the opposite impression of Mexico, I'll withhold judgment. There does appear to be some geographical consistency with regards to Mexico, though--the other Latin American countries represented cluster near the top of the list as well. Peru is the most fatalistic country to our south, and it's in the middle of the pack.

Let's look a little closer to home. The GSS queried respondents on something similar in 2008, asking them to state whether or not they agreed with the statement that "there is little that people can do to change the course of their lives". Again, the higher the score, the less fatalistic and more self-determinative the group is (n = 1,356):

Race
SD
Whites
4.14
Asians
4.04
Blacks
3.74
Hispanics
3.38

One standard deviation is 1.01 points, so the difference between whites and Hispanics is substantial, with Hispanics being considerably more fatalistic than other Americans are. Perhaps self-determination is one of the few things that does stop at the Rio Grande. Or maybe Steve is correct and the WVS is once again shown not to be very useful. In Sailer and GSS v. the WVS, my money is on the plaintiffs!

WVS variables used: V46 (excluding DK/NA)

GSS variables used: RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), FATALISM


Monday, December 12, 2011

It's a typical report in these typical times

Typical NPR reporter and pundit Mara Liasson filed a typical NPR story on the role of immigration in the GOP's presidential nomination process. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are said to differ starkly in their positions on immigration. To Liasson's (and Romney's!) credit, this is fairly accurate and goes largely unreported most of the time:
As for Gingrich, the predictions that his remarks on immigration would prove toxic to Republican voters haven't come true.
Rick Perry's don't-have-a-heart comment was "toxic" because it lacked any tact and was intentionally insulting towards restrictionists. Gingrich, in contrast, sold his similar Establishment stance as the necessary one on immigration to be integrated seamlessly into the Republican party's broader family values platform. While I think that's BS, it comes across as a difference of opinion delivered relatively respectfully (for an open borders proponent, anyway) in a debate setting among candidates vying for the nomination. At the risk of sounding obnoxiously partisan, maybe it's an illustration that the mainstream right is more tolerant of diversity of opinion than media outlets like NPR give it credit for! Heck, driving home from work the other day I heard Sean Hannity interviewing Rand Paul, something that, to my pleasure, I've come across on multiple times before. The occasion this time? For Rand to push his dad's presidential campaign.

Liasson also informs us that Republicans need at least 40% of the Hispanic vote to win in the general election. Bush won with 39% of it in 2004. It's not so much that the assertion is incorrect as it is almost irrelevant. In 2008, when the non-white turnout was high, Hispanics constituted 8% of the electorate. Whites made up 75% of it. Thus, increasing it's share of the white vote by 1% does as much for the GOP as increasing its share of the Hispanic vote by 10%. In a story about immigration and the presidential election, then, one might naively expect to hear about how candidates' positions on immigration influence white voters. But, alas.

In the last three elections, the GOP has received 54%, 58%, and 55% of the white vote, respectively. In 2004, with 58%, Bush won the popular vote. In 2000 and 2008, at 54% and 55%, the Republicans lost it. If the GOP manages to get 60% of the white vote, it'll win the next three presidential elections with relative ease. After that, the white percentage required will tick upwards as the percentage of voters who are white continues to decline.

That said, I'd love to hear someone like Liasson run through the logic of how it can be so confidently asserted that taking an open borders position will significantly help an aspiring Republican nominee with Hispanic voters. If that's the case, John McCain did as well any GOP contender can ever hope to do. The GOP had the highest-profile open borders member of the party's national leadership, who teamed up with Ted Kennedy in an amnesty attempt that united the public in opposition and who virtually barred restrictionists from the Republican National Convention on the ticket, running against Obama, who lost the Hispanic vote 64%-36% during the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton, a margin less favorable than Bush enjoyed among Hispanics in '04. What better way for "naturally conservative" Hispanics to show the Republican party they're on board with it if only it loses its restrictionism than to have backed McCain in 2008? Why, if immigration is Hispanics big hangup with the Republican party, would they not jump at the opportunity to back an open borders Republican? Yet McCain didn't even manage to garner one-third of Hispanic support.

Steve Sailer has noted that despite the fact that the politics of immigration doesn't seem to influence the Hispanic public in the US much, media outlets reliably tap self-appointed Latino activists for quotes saying that if so-and-so doesn't drop all his restrictionist rhetoric immediately, the Hispanic tidal wave that is forming really soon now will wash him out to sea:
The conventional wisdom is largely driven by New York Times and Washington Post reporters calling up self-appointed Hispanic spokesmen who get right back to them with quotes saying, yes, indeed, the coming Hispanic Electorate Tidal Wave wants nothing more than more immigration.
NPR does not disappoint:
"If you think about the so-called negative narrative on immigration ... it basically comes from Gov. Romney," says Alfonso Aguilar [who?], who runs the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. "In the last debate, it sounded like he was closing the door to any type of legalization. It does hurt him. ... And he does risk not being able to get enough Latino voters, if he's the nominee, to win back the White House."

...

"I think [Romney] has been ill advised, because he hears the traditional strategy from political pundits that say, you know, 'Forget about the Latino community during the primary."
Indeed, the strategy overwhelmingly pushed by pundits like David Brooks is for the GOP to forget about Hispanics and adopt the Sailer Strategy instead! That, of course, is the conventional wisdom that the GOP has been incorrigibly tied to since before the first Bush administration! If only they'd stop listening to the NYT and NPR and start paying attention Hispanics instead, they'd have both chambers of Congress and the White House in a landslide!

Finally, it's encouraging to look at the comment threads on stories like these. NPR's SWPL listenership clearly sympathizes with Romney's position, not Gingrich's. The American public just won't go along with Establishment opinion that it should replace itself as soon as possible.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Don't risk eating crow

Sam Harris' post (via RP) detailing practical steps to take and things to think about to minimize one's risk of becoming a victim of physical violence is a worthwhile read. A snippet:
Take this maxim to heart: Self-defense is not about winning fights with aggressive men who probably have less to lose than you do.
At the risk of invoking the naturalistic fallacy, I'll point out that Harris' prudent advice is not just applicable to humans, but exists instinctively in other parts of the animal kingdom. When it's time to stone the crows, take a cue from how raptors deal with them:



A red-tailed hawk, of course, could dispatch a crow in as instantly as it could get a talon on one. But the payoff is nil (for whatever reason, birds of prey don't eat them--vultures won't even take them as carrion), and it risks injury in doing so, especially if it's being pestered by a murder. An injury to the hawk is potentially fatal because of how he feeds (like a prominent lawyer being arrested for escalating beyond the legal notion of self-defense and making some hothead pay for trying to be a tough guy). The crow mostly scavenges so doesn't need to be as careful, even if he's aware of the hurt that the hawk could put on him (and he's probably unaware of it, anyway). The hawk has nothing to prove and nothing to gain from engaging the crows, so he just evacuates.

Parenthetically, the second part of the video is fictional narration by the person who captured it. This isn't the same bird (if it's a hawk at all, it's not a red-tail) and it doesn't give chase to the crow, it's simply leaving its perch as soon as the coast, er, air, is clear.

Friday, December 09, 2011

If you don't let yourself fail, you're going to fail

It's my understanding that the media mass exhorting people to stick to this or that various difficult diet and exercise routine is incalculably large, and a google search confirms as much. I've never so much as glanced at it, let alone dived in, though, because for whatever reason--propitious or not--physical prowess has at least since high school been incorrigibly desirable to me. I've never smoked, drank, or used other illicit drugs, largely because of this. Yet running stairs or doing clap pushups are not mentally effortless activities for me by any stretch. A few tips from personal experience that are applicable (and hopefully helpful) to readers who want to improve quality of life through their outputs*:

- The first step is always the hardest of all. Not feeling sprite? Tell yourself you're just going to knock out ten minutes worth of work and then call it a day. I've done this forever and still do, and I suppose if I really did feel like throwing in the towel after a few minutes, I would. But I never have. Once I get the blood flowing, the lungs opened up, and let the adrenaline pumping, it's go-time.

- To facilitate this, dispense with the predetermined number of exercises and reps. This was difficult for me to do at first, but it makes finding fail a lot more realistic, and failing is how you get results. If you tell yourself you're going to do this progression of exercises and X number of reps for each one, tricking yourself with the ten minute trial won't work. As you're slugging through, you'll be apt to start thinking about how you're going to have to do 30 squat presses in half an hour and how fatigued you'll be then, so let's not push beyond 10 Y-presses now.

And some days are simply going to be better than others. Sometimes I'm able to get beyond 10 one-arm pushups per side, other days I'm collapsing at 6 or 7. If I obsessed over rep counting, I'd almost have to conclude that I was backsliding, which is a demotivating thought I need to avoid. I've broken the same rib three times playing football, and some days my right obliques are really tight with the consequence that my V-ups on that side are pathetic. That doesn't matter. What matters is that I do as many as I'm able to.

- Which segues nicely into an important phrase to remember: The mind always gives out before the body does. I say "remember", but it's actually something you don't want to think about while you're pumping, because if you rely on your mind to consciously tell you its thinking is flawed, well, that's a flawed strategy. Working out with others (even if they are on a screen) helps keep your mind from focusing on this and instead focuses it on surpassing (or at least keeping pace with) them, which you're a lot more capable of doing than your mind wants to tell you that you are!

If you're working out alone, have some sort of external stimulus to distract your mind from the exertions of your body. For cardio, I run stairs in a commercial stairwell I have access to, north of 200 flights per session. It's when I get my weekly Radio Derb and EconTalk podcasts in, or listen to an NFL game is my timing is right. Only once have I forgotten my iPod (and after that, I bought an AM/FM radio that sits in the car just in case), and decided to try to pull it off with nothing but the sound of my feet pounding and my lungs sucking. Frustrated, I finished earlier than usual and took multiple 30 second water breaks in between. I guess if you're going for mastery of mind over matter and want to override the signals your mind is receiving to let up through sheer force of will, go the Zen route. But if it's physical results you're after, don't engage the quit signals--distract your mind from receiving them in the first place.

* I'd convey what I've gleaned regarding eating what you want to be eating instead of what you want to eat, but the best I can come up with is don't have access to what you don't want to be eating (ie, don't buy it), and know that if you eat the right stuff, you are allowed to eat as much as you want (my daily calorie intake is around 4,000). Also, avoid calories in liquid form, because with a few exceptions, those calories are going to come almost exclusively in the form of sugar. Water (at least two gallons per day, in my case), a sugarfree energy drink or two (Rockstar is my personal favorite--and this is admittedly a personal indulgence, probably not something I should recommend), a cup of black coffee or tea, and low sodium V8 is all I do. Fruit juices, colas, beers--that's going to turn right into dough.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

White, Caucasian, or Anglo?

Take lessons in class and character from Steve Sailer. He graciously praises Andrew Sullivan, who has shown no compunction in the past for nailing people to the wall for political incorrectness in the past, for a qualified public defense of HBD realities with regards to average IQ differences between different groups. That's laudable intellectual leadership on Steve's part.

Facetiously, Steve finishes that post with the following:
In 1972, it looked like the rank order of average intelligence was Oriental, Caucasian, Chicano, and black. But, in 2011, of course, we now see from endless studies and real world examples that the actual rank ordering appears to be Asian, non-Hispanic white, Latino, and African-American. So, everything has changed!
"Asian" has been preferred over "Oriental" since the late 1930s, but the gap was narrower in 1973 than it is today. "Black" has always been and is still today more common than "African-American", though the gap has been closing over the last two decades. I've not traced the usage history of "Chicano", so I can't comment there.

What about "White" versus "Caucasian"? As far as I'm aware, the latter has never been the preferred term for referring to people of European descent in casual conversation--"white" always has been. Of course, always extends back to around 2000 or so for me, and though it may slip my mind from time to time, history in fact began before then.

To gauge the popularity of each term, in addition to "Anglo", the other recognizable descriptor for those of European descent (well, those who speak English, anyway), the percentage of total articles in The New York Times containing the terms "Whites", "Caucasians", and "Anglos" (capitalization doesn't matter), is graphed below (via NYT's handy archival site), by decade from 1851 to 1959, and by year after that:


The "Caucasians" and "Anglos" lines are not missing--they both run flat along the bottom of the graph for the entire 160 year period being considered. "Whites" is orders of magnitude more common than either of the others and has been since at least Lincoln's presidency. I could remove "Whites" from the graph and just contrast "Caucasians" and "Anglos" to bring them into better focus, but both consistently get only a handful of articles each year (around 11 and 7, respectively) compared to "Whites", which gets anywhere from several hundreds to thousands, so there's little point in doing so.

"White" is such a bland adjective or noun to use for a person, nearly as bland as the people it represents. This is, of course, in contrast to the various terms used to describe non-whites that have come in and gone over the years, a diversity in descriptors that parallels the vibrancy of non-white cultures, compared to the predictability of white 'culture', if we can even call it that!

Parenthetically, "Caucasian" tends to appear in articles mentioning Asians, while "Anglos" travels alongside Hispanics/Latinos, especially those involving Texas in some way. The latter is not surprising, since Anglo is (at least partially), like Hispanic, a linguistic characterization. It seems unnecessarily confusing to use "Caucasian" and "Asian" repeatedly in the same article though, when "White" and "Asian" would make distinctions easier, but alas, it is what it is.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Who's the $#@!ing nihilist around here?!

From City Slickers to The Great Labowski and from The Purpose Driven Life to The Selfish Gene, the question of purpose in life is not just one for philosophers, theologians, and psychologists--it has strong popular appeal as well.

It's perhaps easiest to define purpose by looking at its absence. The Inductivist recently reported on nihilism (as defined by agreeing with the statement that "life does not serve any purpose") and ethnicity, and that post served as the impetus to dig a little deeper into what the GSS reveals about nihilistic sentiment.

So, let's run the standard demographic gauntlet. The following tables display mean nihilism scores from the years 1998 and 2008, computed by taking participant responses to the 5-point scaled GSS item on perceived lack of purpose in life and inverting the averages for ease of reader comprehension. The higher the score, the more nihilistic the group is. One standard deviation is .76 points on the nihilism scale.

The first image that comes to my mind when conceptualizing a person who finds life devoid of meaning is of a person who is unhappy. But I attribute my own sense of contentment with what I see as purposes for my existence, so I have an obvious bias. The GSS also asks a question on self-described general happiness that was cross-referenced with the nihilism question:

Happiness
Nihilism
Very happy
1.44
Pretty happy
1.58
Not too happy
1.85

Biased as I am, my intuition appears to be accurate. People who feel life has no purpose are more likely to be miserable people than those who see purpose in their lives are.

The next stereotype that comes to mind is a person who is irreligious but vaguely "spiritual" and likes to claim to be into mysticism, etc. They're awash in the sea of life, without anything firm to hold onto. Conscious atheists tend to be adamant that God is unnecessary for meaning or morality in life, not that, having disabused themselves of the notion of God, meaning and morality have consequently disappeared for them as well. And those who firmly believe in the supernatural have had the purpose of existence spelled out explicitly for them:

Happiness
Nihilism
Atheist
1.60
Agnostic
1.76
Uncertain believer
1.69
Firm believer
1.50

Two for two. But the differences are more modest than I'd have guessed. Parenthetically, to give a little more purpose (heh) to blogging, I always write up impressions of the issues at hand before looking at the relevant data as a way of trying to maintain transparency and also because it's more fun (drilling down through the numbers can have a numbing effect if one isn't careful about how he approaches it).

Bruce Charlton, professor, former medical journal editor, and Christian apologist, colorfully contrasts non-believers with believers:
For the modern hedonic atheist nihilist - to look at the Universe is to feel insignificance, despair, meaninglessness...

But the uncorrupted man sees the heavens as the work of God, is overwhelmed by gratitude, delight, amazement - is moved to praise and worship.
To state with certainty that God exists is still the most common response to the question regarding God's existence (at least in the US), with nearly two-thirds of GSS participants doing so. But acknowledging the big guy in the sky and trying to live one's life in accordance to his wishes are hardly the same thing. Let's look at belief in the supernatural from a different angle, by comparing those who are "moved to praise and worship" with those who are not:

Worship frequency
Nihilism
Weekly or more
1.45
More than once a month
1.59
At least once a year
1.55
Less than once a year
1.70

Each classification is exclusive, so the second should actually read "More than once a month but less than weekly or more", etc.

The differences are a bit more pronounced here, and trend in the expected direction, with those who make it a point to go to church regularly sensing more purpose in life than those who do not.

How about children? It's said that once you have them, your life changes forever. What's more important than the well being of one's own children, on both the emotional and biological levels?

# of kids
Nihilism
0
1.62
1
1.53
2-3
1.53
4+
1.66

Swing and a miss. The number of kids a person has doesn't appear to influence the amount of purpose in existence. I guess passing the hot potato around a few more times before getting burned out doesn't necessarily give the silly game any additional meaning.

How about that beautiful organ, the brain, that separates us from beasts in the field? Excepting the supernatural, what thing possesses capabilities for discovering purpose that outranks those of the human mind? SWPLs love being driven by the things they are passionate about, the things that give their lives meaning. If life is devoid of meaning, engaging in abstract thinking begins to seem pretty pointless (even in a world where everything is already pointless, and... never mind). Or, turning it around, the ability to think abstractly allows one to perceive (or more creatively construct?) purpose. The inability to do so makes it difficult to see beyond immediate impulses and the steps needed to satisfy them. Do unintelligent people see a reason for existence? I don't know, do dogs?

Intelligence*
Nihilism
Real Dumbs
2.34
Pretty Dumbs
1.63
Normals
1.39
Pretty Smarts
1.35
Really Smarts
1.44

The differences between those of middling to high intelligence and those at the left end of the bell curve are large, with averages that are more than a standard deviation apart. Some of the gap gets closed by those of modest but limited intelligence. Intelligence, more than anything else, appears to influence whether or not a person feels that life has no meaning.

I may be reading too much into marginal differences, but perhaps those at the right end of the bell curve have some tendency to fully grasp their seeming insignificance in the larger universe and hence minimize what otherwise is seen to give their lives purpose.

Maybe it's better that the least intelligent amongst perceive the least purpose in existence. When they opt out of the conventional, established methods of discovering meaning in their lives through religion or professional success, they are liable to create harrowing identities like the ICP-inspired juggalo 'movement'.

More practically, influential people with prestigious careers are in positions to make decisions and engage in behavior for which the magnitude of consequences is much greater than people in the underclass are, and both groups are aware of as much, at least to some extent. Well, maybe greater meaning in one's own personal actions relative to other people translates into the perception of greater meaning in life more generally:

Class
Nihilism
Lower
1.78
Working
1.58
Middle
1.54
Upper
1.43

Makes sense to me.

Liberals want to turn Western Civilization on its head, conservatives want to bring Calvinism back into vogue, and wishy-washy moderates don't know what they want! As noted earlier, those who don't know what they believe in or what they want don't know what Fate wants for them, either:

Political orientation
Nihilism
Liberal
1.60
Moderate
1.61
Conservative
1.50

Another miss. Maybe politics just don't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Inductivist found that those of Mexican ancestry tended to be the most nihilistic of any ethnic group in the US. As the bulk of Hispanics in the US are of Mexican descent, we'd expect non-Hispanics of various races to be less nihilistic than Hispanics are:

Race
Nihilism
White
1.53
Black
1.55
Hispanic
2.02
Asian
1.80

Two-thirds of a standard deviation between the US' founding stock and its Great Society additions. Well, Manifest Destiny definitely insinuates purpose. The Great Cultural Mosaic or whatever the multicult mess will end up being called, on the other hand, is its own end-game, without much definable purpose beyond celebrating itself. We're the ones we've been waiting for, and when we get here, then... (Do I hear crickets chirping?)

I suspect women are less nihilistic than men for a couple of reasons. One, from an evolutionary perspective males are more expendable than females are, so there is less instinct for men to see a purpose in it all. Hell, even if there is a purpose, a bunch of them had no part in serving it! Two, the conventional societal response to the question of whether or not life is meaningful is yes, of course it's meaningful, and women are less comfortable violating social norms than men are:

Sex
Nihilism
Men
1.64
Women
1.51

Small difference in the averages, but as predicted men are more nihilistic than women are.

It's comforting to think that over time, as wisdom accrues and experiences accumulate, I'll increasingly come to perceive meaning in life. That vaguely seems to be the case so far. Yet I'm not oblivious to what the decaying process that is aging can do to a person's spirit. Once a week I spend a few hours with the elderly, and it's obvious that more than a few of them are donning thin disguises with happier visages that appear to be more at ease with what's in the not-so-distant future than the faces underneath those disguises betray. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. What's the point in that?

Age
Nihilism
18-29
1.70
30-44
1.49
45-64
1.55
65+
1.61

Looks like while we're young, we're still searching. As we settle into middle age, we come to terms with what we've found and accept it. Then, as the aches and pains creep up and the thrill of living recedes, backsliding begins.

In summation, happy, intelligent, middle-aged upper class white women who are found in the pews on Sundays (and sometimes Wednesdays) tend to see the most purpose in life. Young, dumb, pissed off underclass Hispanic guys who wouldn't be caught dead in a church unless it was to grab a handout see the least. Purpose is so passe! The future is nihilism!

* Respondents are broken up into five categories that come to roughly resemble a normal distribution; 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 Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%)

GSS variables used: NIHILISM, HAPPY, WORDSUM, GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), ATTEND(0-1)(2-4)(5-6)(7-8), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), KIDS(0)(1)(2-3)(4-8), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), CLASS, SEX, AGE

Friday, December 02, 2011

Locke Cole's proviso

NES and SNES era rpgs are close to my heart, an inseparable part of my childhood. Hey, we're talking about the early nineties here, so I could've been doing a lot worse. As I'm always happy to point out, these games are the reason why I knew, as a third grader, what the words "zenith", "troglodyte", and "mercurial" meant.

While I was going through high school and college, always working, playing sports, and maintaining multiple committed long-term relationships (not simultaneously--I'm not that alpha!), I went on an extended hiatus from gaming, but a few years ago as I settled into the same kind of lifestyle that sent Guile Frost off on a hunt for M. Bison's head, it was easier to make time to indulge myself again.

Still, as precocious as I like to fancy myself having been as a stripling, I missed a lot. Several months ago, I played through Final Fantasy VI on Game Cube using the GBA accessory. That Locke personifies a caricature of what Robert Nozick coined as the Lockean Proviso (I say as a caricature because he does not do so in an affirming way, as the things Locke seeks out are not in abundance and his gain is some other explorer's potential loss) is one of the many things that flew right over my head when I was younger. As defined in the Second Treatise on Government:
Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough and as good left, and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself. For he that leaves as much as another can make use of does as good as take nothing at all. Nobody could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst. And the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.
The accusation, first stated indirectly by way of the fascistic Empire he is resisting through Terra, that Locke is a thief and his riposte that he is a treasure hunter is a recurring theme in the game. Occupationally, though, what Locke sets out to find lacks ownership (at least presently--some of the things are relics and other treasures lost to civilization), so it's not as though he is blatantly stealing property clearly and contractually owned by another entity--which is exactly why the proviso is relevant, since it presents a way of evaluating how private ownership should be determined. And the work of a treasure hunter who is motivated by gain does not satisfy the proviso, even when that gain is not of the vain material variety, but is instead Lazarusian in nature.

His work does, however, assist in the ultimate downfall of the Empire and eventually of Kefka. So while Locke is a humorous caricature of one of John Locke's central ideas on the moral distribution of property, he's still a sympathetic protagonist.

Taking it a step further and making editorial presumptions of Kitase and crew, one might assert that Locke serves as a vehicle for the argument that while the ambition for wealth is inherently selfish--and not the unadulterated force for the common good that is impervious to being impugned as the most stringent libertarians might argue that it is--it is, on net, a positive force for humanity (while the ambition for power, personified by Gestahl and to a more perverted extent, Kefka, is not).