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June 21, 2014 / JayMan

Reader Poll Results

Here are the results of my reader poll. All told, it looks like I had about 450 respondents.

Sex M-FUnsurprisingly, it seems most of my readers are male.Education

Most of you (at least of the respondents, anyway) are smart, with over 80% claiming to be college educated, and 1 in 5 having a terminal degree. Age

Race

Now this is somewhat surprising to me. It seems the vast majority of my readers are White, and many are at least partly from “core” Europe, as HBD Chick considers it. Each voter could select multiple options, so that’s worth bearing in mind.

Social EconomicThere seems to be pronounced Rightward lean, more so economically than socially.American NationNow this was perhaps the most surprising result. It seems most of my North American readers are from the North. I haven’t crunched the populations numbers (I will soon), but by eye it seems the Deep South is rather underrepresented (I guess my posts on the Cavaliers did that in). The Far West appears overrepresented, unsurprisingly. I also seem to have a lot of voters from the Left Coast. I got slightly over 300 votes here, so the fraction of voters on this question is roughly in line with my blog traffic from North America.

FrequencyA little over half my readers (by the vote) are at least semi-regular.How long readIt seems most of my respondents have been here for a while, but I’ve been getting a decent smattering of new people.

Now, I didn’t get my intended goal of all readers to my blog over the past week. I’ve averaged about 500 unique visitors per day over that period, yet only 450 votes (I don’t know if “unique visitors” get distinguished in weekly totals, so I don’t know how many unique visitors I had over the week). So these survey respondents are only a small fraction of total readers, and likely the slightly more conscientious/less busy ones. But this also likely represents more reliable readers, as reported above. So, with these caveats considered, it seems my readers are largely middle-aged college educated White conservative men from the U.S. North and West Coast.

As for more complex analysis, unfortunately I can’t do it with the way this poll was done. Maybe another time. In any case, here we are. Thank you all for participating!

June 19, 2014 / JayMan

Neocons, Libertarians, and Economists – Misdreavus on These Mixed Nuts

I’ll let the tweets speak for themselves:

 

June 13, 2014 / JayMan

Who Are You?

http://www.iconarchive.com/show/oxygen-icons-by-oxygen-icons.org/Actions-office-chart-bar-stacked-icon.htmlI want to get an idea of who my readers are. I have a fair idea of where I get my readers, thanks to the WordPress stats, but I’d to know some things that they don’t tell me. I’d like all readers, including lurkers and occasional readers, to please answer the ALL the following polls. This should be completely anonymous, but feel free to add whatever info you want in the comments.

I want to get an idea of your racial/ethnic background. Multiple choices are permitted on this question. Use the map to the right as a guide for inside Hajnal line area:

Inbreed-IBD1

I want to get an idea of my readers’ political views. A simple one-dimensional scale isn’t the best representation of political views, so I will use two, social views (e.g., sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, religion, personal liberties, etc.) and economic views (e.g, free market, regulation, taxation/redistribution, etc.). Left-wing = liberal; right-wing = conservative.

If you’re from North America (i.e., U.S., Canada, and northern Mexico), I’d like to know what region you’re from. Otherwise, please skip. Use this map as a guide (note, Los Angeles County, CA = El Norte; Sacramento County, CA = The Far West; Fulton County, GA [Atlanta] = The Deep South; most of Suffolk County, NY, esp. the east = Yankeedom) Edit: I’ve added Newfoundland:

ColinWoodard_AmericanNations_map

 

Results will be shown after a week (i.e., 6/20/14). Again I want all readers, even the occasionally stumblers here, to please answer all the applicable questions. Thank you. I look forward to knowing who I’m reaching!

June 11, 2014 / JayMan

Guns & Violence, Again

With the recent spate of mass shootings, (at least four high-profile incidents occurring in the U.S. and Canada in the last two weeks), the issues of guns and violence inevitably come up. Naturally, the politically correct wisdom, which is founded on the blank slate (or at least, a bare slate), wants to blame these events on “environmental,” “cultural,” and “societal” factors. We saw much of this bullshit in action with the most high-profile of these shootings, Elliot Rodger’s rampage. I have commented on this (see Beware Armchair Psychoanalysis). In his case, crackpot theories weren’t limited to coming from the bare slate P.C. establishment, but came from within the “genetically-informed”* community itself. Few of these explanations likely have any truth to them, and my earlier post should have made the foolishness of cooking up these environmental theories obvious.

This is not to say that there aren’t environmental factors that play a role in these crimes, but they are hard to identify. Peter Turchin’s work may be the closest to fleshing some of these out.

However, most of the naive discussion on the matter ignores one incredibly important factor in rates of violence and the prevalence of guns: DNA.

Previously, in my post Guns & Homicide, Map Form, I showed that the relationship between the prevalence of guns and homicide, globally, was pretty weak:

World_map_of_civilian_gun_ownership_-_2nd_color_scheme.svgMap_of_world_by_intentional_homicide_rateHomicide rate per capita on bottom. I had hoped that at least settled the situation. But it did not. Now, let us just look at gun deaths (from here, additional information here):

global-gun-deaths-map
While it’s not totally clear if this map distinguishes gun homicides from gun suicides, it nonetheless shows that the association between the presence of guns and violence is pretty damned weak. This is true if even we limit ourselves to the high average IQ nations (i.e., the “developed” world).

Indeed, an interesting pattern emerges if we look within nations (at all homicides, not just firearm-related), as well (from here):

UupWMeA

There’s plenty of killing in Eastern Europe (even in Finland, apparently, in the Sami areas), mostly the former Soviet states. But even within Russia, rates of violence are higher in the far east. Note the pattern in North America. I will return to that shortly.

On the basic level, before you can postulate a causal relationship, you should at least have a correlation. The “guns cause violence” crowd doesn’t even have that. That didn’t stop one study from somehow finding one, though.

In Gun Ownership and Firearm-related Deaths (2013), the authors claimed a fairly strong (r = 0.8) correlation between the availability of guns in a nation and firearm related deaths it has. A look at their data illustrates this – and the problems with their methodology:

gr1

A look at the specific flags featured should make the problem clear: all the countries examined were in Western Europe and the Anglosphere, with Turkey, South Africa, Israel, and Japan thrown in. As we see from the above maps, including Eastern Europe would have thrown off their relationship just a bit.

Additionally, they lumped gun suicides in with gun homicides. It almost goes without saying that there will be a connection between the availability of guns and the rate of gun suicides. Guns make suicide attempts more likely to be successful, for starters.

Swiss-guns-and-bikes-85530937385-390x330Though I suppose it could be conceivable that one could argue that the presence of guns has some effect within different Northwestern European peoples. Does this argument make sense? Well, if you’ve been following along here, you might guess where I am going to go with that.

In my series on the American nations, particularly my earlier post, More Maps of the American Nations, I noted the great regional variation in guns and crime. Let us look at some of these again, closely:

StateGunsAnd here’s a map by with more granular data, gun dealers per capita per county:

Gun Shops per capita by county USNow let’s compare that with rates of gun homicides across the country (from the CDC):

All Race Age-Adjusted firearm homicides rates county 2004-2010-CWhile there is some missing data here, it is reasonably filled in when one looks at state-level gun homicide rates:

State level Gun homicideIt is clear that there is a huge disconnect between where guns are more common in America and where there is actually the most gun violence.

Now let’s compare these maps to Colin Woodard‘s American Nations map:

upinarms-map

Gun ownership appears concentrated in Yankeedom, the northern parts of the Far West, and in Greater Appalachia – with a somewhat smaller concentration in the Deep South. The last three of those “nations” clustering together is hardly unusual, because they are often clustered in many aspects, as I’ve previously discussed. But Yankeedom, which is often diametrically opposed to the Deep South, also seems to have plenty of guns. However, here in Yankeedom they are primarily used for hunting. The presence of guns and the existence of gun violence seems to coincide across Greater Appalachia and parts of the Deep South.

The places with high levels of gun violence in America relates to another map:

White Liberal Counties

Gun violence in America is primarily concentrated in areas with large numbers of Blacks and Hispanics. Indeed, the continually ignored fact in these debates about American gun violence is that the reason for the outsized rates of violence of the United States, compared with the other Northwestern European and NW Euro derived countries, is the large Black and Hispanic populations in this country.

The disconnect between the availability of guns and violence also extends to our northern neighbor (from the RCMP):

Canada Guns-F

MurderRate2007(2007 murder rate, U.S. and Canada, from here). In Canada, there is no strong association between gun availability and murder – indeed, there appears to be a slight negative association, if anything (this appears to be also true in the U.S. to an extent). Indeed, just next door to me in New Brunswick, there is a fairly high rate of gun ownership, but little violence (the Moncton shooter notwithstanding), as is the case here in Maine as well. The high rate of violence in Nunavut can be traced to its predominantly Inuit population.

But taken together, rates of gun violence across Canada and the U.S. cannot be explained solely by certain racial minorities. Indeed, gun violence appears higher in some White areas as well, primarily Greater Appalachia.

This brings me to another topic thrown about in this whole discussion. That is the issue of “gun culture.” Even excepting certain non-European populations in the U.S., the country does have a considerably high rate of gun ownership. And indeed, guns are an integral feature of “American” culture. (While Canada has a fairly high rate of gun ownership internationally, it is comparable to rates in much of the rest of the NW Euro & derived world.) But, as Woodard would tell you, and as you’d know from following this blog, there is no one “American” culture, and there never was. Support for permissive gun laws and a heavily gun-centric focus are hallmarks of some of the American nations, particularly the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, and the Far West:

http://www.ammoland.com/2014/06/action-10-gets-open-carry-announcement-right/#axzz34NXoWkQW http://mahoganyrevue.com/texas-basic-open-carry-gun-law/

As discussed previously (see my posts A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers” and Flags of the American Nations), the ancestors of the people that live in these areas came from certain, more aggressive peripheral areas of the British Isles. In the case of the settlers of the Tidewater and the Deep South, the Cavaliers, their ancestors hailed from southwest England. The founders of Greater Appalachia were the descendents the aggressive Border Reivers of the rugged English-Scottish border area.

tumblr_m9rsb69ARh1qbohcko1_1280

King Charles I leading his Cavaliers in battle (source)

19894d840

Border Reiver cowboys (source)

The martial traditions of these groups live on in the nations of American South. Individuals from these nations, especially those from Greater Appalachia, also went on to found the Far West, as process which itself involved a strong degree of sorting for even tougher, more free-spirited people, as described in my earlier post.

This highlights an important fallacy on the matter of guns and the discussion of “culture” in general in most mainstream circles. People fail to consider where culture comes from. “Culture” is not some intangible, otherworldly agent. Culture is produced by people. More specifically, the traits of a society are the collective behavior of individuals which comprise it – the vector sum of individual temperaments, as John Derbyshire put it, referencing me (see about time 15:00).

republicanJesusThis is why commenters look on in puzzlement over the disconnect between the Dixie peoples’ embrace of Christianity and the actual tenets as taught by Christian tradition. These commenters are looking at it the wrong way. Christian teachings aren’t what motivates Southerners’ behavior and is not what shapes their views; they selectively embrace the parts of the religious traditions that “come naturally” to their way of thinking. In other words, religion is an effect, not a cause of behavior (see also The Atheist Narrative). This true of any cultural feature, of which religious behavior and belief are just examples.

This also, by the way, illustrates the futility of looking at one or another specific aspect of a nation’s – indeed even a local region’s – society and assuming that that aspect is the determining variable (in this case, gun availability). This violates one of hbd* chick’s cardinal commandments: “different peoples is different.” Even comparing White Americans in different parts of the country is essentially comparing apples to oranges (or, at least, apples to pears). Even if we found a strong relationship between gun violence and gun availability, the question would then become: why does gun availability vary from society to society (when it’s clearly not technological or economic factors in the way)?

Looking at the inherited natures of different human populations makes the poor relationship between guns and violence less mysterious. The Swiss can have their guns without much incident. My own people, Jamaicans, not so much. As I said on Twitter:

We do indeed have a lot of work to do to identify what environmental factors (to whatever extent those are relevant) contribute to individual outbursts of gun violence, and indeed, all violence. We certainly aren’t going to get there very quickly if we keep scrambling around recycling the same tired old inadequate explanations every time there’s some attention-grabbing incident.

See also:

JayMan’s Race, Inheritance, and IQ F.A.Q. (F.R.B.)

My previous posts on the American nations:

A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers”
Flags of the American Nations
Maps of the American Nations
More Maps of the American Nations

Also:

Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality

 

*I struggle with a name for this collection of people. None of the popular labels, such as “HBD,” “Dark Enlightenment,” “Alt-Right,” etc fit because none of those labels fits every member – nor should it.

June 10, 2014 / JayMan

Key Updates to Posts and Random Notes

I have recently updated two key posts, my post More Behavioral Genetic Facts and More Maps of the American Nations.

In More Behavioral Genetic Facts, I have expanded on an analysis on the meta-analysis of the heritability of criminality. This meta-analysis, a seminal work, represents the single best treatment of what we know of the genetic and environmental impact on criminality to date. Their all-inclusive analysis, combining children and adults, self-report, parent report, and criminal records together, seemed to produce a small shared environment estimate of 0.16. This dropped to 0.09 in adults. However, as the gist of the post illustrated, and as any veteran of behavioral genetics knows, methods matter. Studies on children often produce a transient effect of the shared environment. Self-report tends to be highly noisy. Parental report is often quite biased. As I noted there:

Rating method a2 d2 c2 e2 Total no. of pairs in category
Self-report 0.39 - 0.06 0.55 13,329
Other report (usually parents) 0.53 - 0.22 0.25 6,851
Criminal records 0.33 0.42 - 0.25 34,122

The total, or broad-sense heritability, H2 , is the sum of the additive (the narrow-sense heritability) and the non-additive genetic components. As we can see, when actual criminal records (a semi-objective metric) are used, as we’ve seen, the heritability shoots up to the usual range, at 0.75, and the shared environment estimate vanishes. The criminal record analysis also captures the largest number of subjects, bolstering its reliability.

(For the record, the countries spanned by the studies in the meta-analysis include the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Denmark, and Sweden.)

This (along with the other studies discussed there and previously) should end the argument on the effect of parents to influence the course of their children’s lives. “Good” parenting simply can’t rescue the genetically predisposed from delinquency, and neither can “bad” parenting (provided it’s not too extremely so) hold back the genetically gifted. These should serve as final nails in the coffin for the case for the efficacy of parenting. There is simply no more to debate.

In my post More Maps of the American Nations, I have made substantial additions. I have added local-level breakdowns for support for same-sex marriage, abortion, and gun ownership. As well, I break down national suicide rates by county by race.

Go there for more on this matter.

Additionally, while this has not been added to any posts, I wanted to comment on another recent find. This one is on the topic of obesity. I recently found a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of diets for the intent of weight loss. With a combined N > 60,000 and a study duration of 2.5 – 10 years, it found that diet was completely ineffective for weight loss. The subjects showed no aggregate permanent weight loss at the end of the study period. It also showed that there was no effective improvement in health outcomes nor were there fewer deaths during the study period for those in the treatment groups. Diets don’t work!

In reporting this, one objection that I’ve encountered is that the diets used in the study were traditional low-fat or low-calorie types, and not the purportedly superior “low-carb” diets. However, this has also been studied. A meta-analysis of RCTs found that low-carb diets don’t work much better:

Combined N: 712
Duration: 1-2 years
Total average weight lost with low-carb diets at study end: 8 lbs!

Obesity remains impossible to effectively treat without surgical intervention. Unfortunately, this matter is clouded by wishful thinking and flat out irrational thought. People recount success stories – indeed, there are studies tabulating those that have successful lost weight and kept it off. However, the belies the enormous amount of selection bias involved in collecting these “success” stories. Proponents of the practical feasibility of long-term weight loss collect all the hits and discount the orders of magnitude greater number of misses. It’s often easy to get success if one cherry-picks enough. But so many are simply unable to see that.

As for that matter of surgical intervention: one can successfully treat obesity on a long-term basis with bariatric surgery. One might imagine that this speaks to the intrinsic danger of excess body weight. However, a meta-analysis of clinical trials – NOT randomized – found questionable results on that front. Improvements in health and lifespan were small and often not significant. Indeed there was a consistent pattern: the larger studies produced weaker results, indicating that publication bias is likely in play. This is in addition to the fact that the selection for treatment was not random. There are many criteria doctors place on who receives bariatric surgery, and it’s almost a given that the decisions to perform surgery were biased to their healthier patients.

The causes and nature of obesity remain a mystery, but we won’t make much progress if we stick to invalidated models, which foolishly stress blame and “personal responsibility.”

June 4, 2014 / JayMan

Know-It-Alls…

I’ve been getting a lot of this lately, especially during the ongoing discussion about Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance (like this joker here – or maybe some of my detractors at my now restored comment over at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hit piece).

But let me tell you, it’s hardly limited to that. You folks that I’m talking about, you know who you are. In some cases (though by no means all, I’d say), it seems the Dunning-Kruger effect is in play. It is at times entertaining and at times quite annoying. But what can you do?

May 30, 2014 / JayMan

Beware Armchair Psychoanalysis

Thanks to certain recent events, I wanted to have you guys look at an excerpt from Judith Rich Harris’s The Nurture Assumption. This is here to serve as a reminder to certain people (you know who you are, if not, don’t worry):

In Chapter 3 I recounted some stories of identical twins separated in infancy and reared in different homes. The Giggle Twins, both inordinately prone to laughter. The two Jims, who both bit their nails, enjoyed woodworking, and chose the same brands of cigarettes, beer, and cars. The pair who both read magazines back to front, flushed toilets before using them, and liked to sneeze in elevators. The pair who both became volunteer firefighters. There was also a pair who, at the beach, would only go into the water backward and only up to their knees. And a pair who were gunsmiths, and a pair who were fashion designers, and a pair who had each been married five times. These are not the imaginings of tabloid journalists; they were reported by reputable scientists in reputable journals. And there are too many of these stories for them all to be coincidences. Such spooky similarities are seldom found in the case histories of fraternal twins separated in infancy and reared apart.5

Behavioral genetic studies have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that heredity is responsible for a sizable portion of the variations in people’s personalities. Some people are more hot-tempered or outgoing or meticulous than others, and these variations are a function of the genes they were born with as well as the experiences they had after they were born. The exact proportion— how much is due to the genes, how much to the experiences—is not important; the point is that heredity cannot be ignored.

But usually it is ignored. Consider the case of Amy, an adopted child. It wasn’t a successful adoption; Amy’s parents regarded her as a disappointment and favored their older child, a boy. Academic achievement was important to the parents, but Amy had a learning disability. Simplicity and emotional restraint were important to them, but Amy went in for florid role-playing and feigned illnesses. By the time she was ten she had a serious, though vague, psychological disorder. She was pathologically immature, socially inept, shallow of character, and extravagant of expression.

Well, naturally. Amy was a rejected child. What makes this case interesting is that Amy had an identical twin, Beth, who was adopted into a different family. Beth was not rejected—on the contrary, she was her mother’s favorite. Her parents were not particularly concerned about education so the learning disability (which she shared with her twin) was no big deal. Beth’s mother, unlike Amy’s, was empathic, open, and cheerful. Nevertheless, Beth had the same personality problems that Amy did. The psychoanalyst who studied these girls admitted that if he had seen only one of them it would have been easy to fetch up some explanation in terms of the family environment. But there were two of them. Two, with matching symptoms but very different families.

(pp. 276-277, emphasis mine)
There you are. Yet how many armchair psychoanalyses have you seen about Santa Barbara murderer Elliot Rodger, blaming some or another aspect in his life for his rampage, including his parents? And these are from people who know about heredity and hence should fucking know better! We can all point to some aspect in someone’s life circumstances we think is the thing (or things) that led to whatever outcome they happen to have. But as this should make clear, it is not so simple. That’s the whole reason behavioral genetic methods were invented!

On that, I refer you once again to this video (from here) featuring behavioral geneticist Nancy Segal (as previously seen in my post No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why). Pay close attention to the tests the twins had to take:

25graymatter-superJumboIndeed, as featured lately in Segal’s recent article about reunited twins:

Consider the case of the identical twin Brent Tremblay. Inadvertently switched with another baby at birth, Mr. Tremblay grew up with adoptive parents and their adopted son, while his twin brother, George Holmes, was raised by their biological parents with a child the family believed to be his fraternal twin. In a remarkable twist of fate, the real twins met by chance at age 20 and eased into a friendship that Mr. Trembley described as “natural and effortless.” They were friends for more than a year before discovering they were twins.

twins patent-imagesOf course, as Steven Pinker put it in The Blank Slate (p. 51, emphasis mine):

Imagine that you are agonizing over a choice — which career to pursue, whether to get married, how to vote, what to wear that day. You have finally staggered to a decision when the phone rings. It is the identical twin you never knew you had. During the joyous conversation it comes out that she has just chosen a similar career, has decided to get married at around the same time, plans to cast her vote for the same presidential candidate, and is wearing a shirt of the same color — just as the behavioral geneticists who tracked you down would have bet. How much discretion did the “you” making the choices actually have if the outcome could have been predicted in advance, at least probabilistically, based on events that took place in your mother’s Fallopian tubes decades ago?

Of course, none of this is to say (contrary to the accusations repeatedly leveled against me) that “genes are everything.” Though identical twins aren’t actually genetically identical, there are other factors, such as developmental stochasticity (noise) in utero, pathogenic and other biological insults, and plain old randomness that contribute to the differences between twins – and hence, the differences between all individuals. As well, the situation at hand (and the incentives in play) are also hugely important. Genes are the cards in your hand; the landscape of the day is the rules of the game.

But, this should make clear the foolhardiness of trying to identify causal factors – especially those from life experience – that are responsible for any given individual’s behavior. How interesting would it be if Elliot Rodger had a twin brother with similar difficulties – including one or more violent episodes – but was raised in some far away place in quite different circumstances?

But none of that stops people from trying, cooking up all manner of explanations for Elliot Rodger’s killing spree, and in so to doing, executing, broadly, the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy in the process.

These include Heartise (who couldn’t resist blaming the dad despite the clear folly of this as per my earlier posts The Son Becomes The Father and More Behavioral Genetic Facts), who has his own 8-factor causal proclamation. It doesn’t occur to many of these people that Rodger had a special kind of crazy, and that his long diatribe describing his life and his motivations for the killings could have essentially blamed anything, but wouldn’t necessarily nail down the relevant factors for us. Indeed, the serial killer Ted Bundy blamed, among other things, pornography for his killing spree. Are we to believe that these things were more of a factor than the fact he was a murderous psychopath? It’s easy for people to make claims of what motivates their actions – which they themselves might actually believe. But as we see here, the true causes have more to do with the type of person the individual in question is. Elliot Rodger’s fictitious murderous twin brother might have given us a fairly different list of reasons for why he came to the same result.

This little article sums the problem up nicely:

As shots rang out across the courtyard, I ducked behind my desk, my adrenaline pumping. Enraged by the inexplicable violence of this complex and multi-faceted attack, I promised the public I would use this opportunity to push my own pet theory of mass shootings.

Only a few days have passed since this terrible tragedy and I want to start by paying lip service to the need for respectful remembrance and careful evidence-gathering before launching into my half-cocked ideas.

The cause was simple. It was whatever my prejudices suggested would cause a mass shooting and this is being widely ignored by the people who have the power to implement my prejudices as public policy.

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