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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):

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):


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:


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:


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:

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.


King Charles I leading his Cavaliers in battle (source)


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


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


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.

May 23, 2014 / JayMan

Stop Saying North and South Koreans Are Necessarily Completely Identical Populations

To the same scale…

UK-Korea to Scale-A

Let’s look at the genetic differences on that scale…

UK-Korea-Genes to ScaleAnd for that matter, to the same scale as the previous map… (from M.G., see also Oh for a new risorgimento)Golden, map of corruption by region, ItalyAnd the differences in little old Britain gave us this:


(See my preceding post, More Maps of the American Nations.)

I’m just sayin’…

See also (via Peter Frost):

Japan Cline

Now, let’s be clear here: I am not saying that I know that North and South Koreans have significant differences in their genotypic characteristics. But, I am saying that you don’t know that, either!

I am also not saying that the differences in the situation between the two Koreas have nothing to do with the respective regimes each country happens to be under, or their historical circumstances. But, I am saying that we can’t use the two Koreas as some sort of pure example of a completely environmentally mediated difference in outcome, because we do not know that, and we have no way to know without at least getting some psychometric and/or genomic data from North Koreans.

Many in the space assume that if the North Korea regime were to disappear, and the Koreas were unified, the North would lift right up and in time the differences between the two countries would slowly disappear. But then, that hasn’t completely worked for Germany, as seen in 2011 unemployment rates there (via Peter Frost):

Germany unemployment rates

Also, as seen in my post Germania’s Seed? (by HBD Chick):

Indeed, as recalled here:

East-West German split still lingers on 22 years after reunification

Twenty-two years after the reunification of Germany – completed on 3 October 1990, nearly 11 months after the Berlin Wall came down – the differences between the two halves of the country are still apparent.

Mindsets are slow to change. According to a survey published by the daily Bild last week, one west German in five has never set foot in the east, and one in 10 of their Ossi (“Eastie”) counterparts has never travelled west. Three-quarters of the population think there are “different mentalities” between east and west. Only two-thirds of Wessis (but nearly four-fifths in the east) would consider marrying someone from the other side.

Two-thirds of those surveyed are quite indifferent to the fact that both President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are Ossis.

In economic terms there are still significant differences, albeit on the wane. At the time of reunification the gross domestic product per capita in the east was €9,400 ($11,800), as opposed to €22,000 in the west. Since then per capita revenue in the east has more than doubled to reach €23,700, whereas in the west it has only increased by half to €33,400 (still 30% ahead of the east). Thanks to various subsidies, the differences in purchasing power are smaller.

As seen also in my post Germania’s Seed, the differences within Germany pre-date World War II.

I’m just sayin


May 21, 2014 / JayMan

More Maps of the American Nations

Post updated, 6/10/14. See below!

As we saw previously (see My Most Read Posts), my post Maps of the American Nations is the single most popular post so far here on my blog. Americans all over are supremely interested in both their origins and the reasons for the cultural quirks of the different American regions.

Fundamentally, the reason for these regional differences is the inherited traits of the people who comprise the various ethnonational regions. In this post, I will further elucidate the existence and pervasiveness of these differences, as well as make the case for their ultimately genetic underpinnings. As well, I will tackle the persistent myth of “assimilation” that is often thrown about in discussion of American regional differences and other human differences.

The roots of these regional differences across the continent trace themselves to the people who settled them. This begins with the founding groups, whose typically explosive population growth seeded each area with a single large ethnic group, establishing the cultural foundation. This was then supplanted by demographic input of subsequent immigrants. Indeed, the character of each region – especially outside the current “Dixie” alliance – deviates from the character of each area’s founding stock thanks the contributions from the many immigrant groups that have come in.

Many believe that the eventual fate of immigrants is to “assimilate.” But, as has been discussed here, assimilation largely does not occur. Indeed, if it did, why would the different American nations be recognizable as separate ethno-cultural-political areas today? To the extent that any assimilation occurs, it is only in the most superficial ways, such as language, dress, or adoption of technology. Immigrant groups generally do not conform in less content-laden aspects, such as economic achievement/performance, criminality, or overall political/social/religious views. On top of this, intermixing can give the false impression of assimilation, as this causes the behavior of “native” and immigrant groups to converge over time. Later in this post, I will address this matter at length.

First, let us look again at the American nations as described by Colin Woodard:


Previously we saw that we could demarcate the various nations with voting habits:

American Nations 2012nationwidecountymapshadedbypercentagewonD

For more on the nature of each “nation”, see my previous post Flags of the American Nations and/or this piece by Woodard on his book with respect to the Tea Party. This political split is not new. Historically, each nation voted much as a bloc, although the current blue state/red-state coalitions don’t go that far back, and the alliances between different nations have shifted quite a few times in the country’s history (see the historic presidential election result maps results here).

We see a rather pronounced split, with Yankeedom (Greater New England), the Midlands, the Left Coast, New Netherland, and “El Norte” on one side, and the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, and the Far (Interior) West on the other team. These dueling alliances sit at the center of the present political battles in the United States, as we saw in my previous post Mapping the Road to American Disunion.

However, we also see some distinct deep “blue” regions across the Old South and Southwest. These underscore the importance of taking into account the racial divides across the country:

White Liberal Counties

…as seen in my previous post Colors and Lights. Of course, the racial division contributes considerably to the “cultural” divide – but politically, across the nation, the non-White vote tends to be pretty uniform, as noted by Audacious Epigone. Politically, the main divide exists among the country’s White population, as seen here (from here):

White Vote County US

As we see, the Tidewater, the historic seat of the Cavalier Lowland South, leans towards team blue mostly because of the large Black population there (however, some of the Tidewater is also being colonized by more liberal-leaning Whites spilling out from the Washington D.C. metro area). In addition to voting habits, language/dialect, average IQ, criminality, military zeal, and attitudes towards cannabis (as seen previously), the American Nations make themselves visible in other rather significant ways.

Some of these differences can be quite surprising, such as reaction to adverse weather (in terms of the amount of snow needed to cancel school), as seen on my post Snow Nations:

Snow Nations 2

The American nations are also discernible in Americans’ enthusiasm for major league sports teams, here baseball (from here):original

Basketball (favorite NBA team, from here):


Football (favorite NFL team, from here):


For football, an older map from CommonCensus Sports Map Project produced a map of each region’s favorite NFL team based on internet votes, which it claims is “highly inaccurate”, yet, interestingly, conforms quite well to the American nations’ borders:


In addition to sports preferences, the American nations make themselves evident in another, much more serious way: attitudes towards crime and punishment. Particularly, the implementation of the death penalty shows a profound regional variation (from Pew):


Consistent with the more aggressive attitudes of the clannish Borderlanders of Greater Appalachia & the Far West and the Cavaliers of the Tidewater & the Deep South, the bulk of the country’s executions are concentrated in these nations. A look at the execution rate per capita equalizes the seeming rarity of capital punishment in the (sparsely populated) Far West (from here):


Indeed, as this makes clear, capital punishment is effectively banned in the Yankee states. The high number of executions across some parts of the Tidewater and the Deep South does reflect a somewhat higher crime rate, but that’s not the whole story: states, such as Tidewater/Appalachian Virginia and Texas, while having higher than average crime rates, also have much higher execution rates. These states clearly have a greater willingness to resort to the death penalty, indicative of their decidedly martial heritage.

Edit, 6/10/14:

[**To compliment the above maps, I've tracked down some interesting maps on guns in America:

First, gun ownership rates by state (from here):


I so far haven't been able to track down ownerships per county, but I have found a rough proxy, number of gun shops and dealers per capita by county (from patchwork nation):

Gun Shops per capita by county USThe Far West, with its vast emptiness and independent spirit, shows prominently. Greater Appalachia, and to a lesser extent, the Deep South and Tidewater, also come in strong. The northern areas of Yankeedom also are prominent. Here in Maine, for example, there are plenty of guns. However, they are primarily used for hunting, which is quite popular here (I frequently hear gun shots from my home). The embrace of gun varies quite a bit across the nations, but the reasons for having them vary considerably more. In Yankeedom, they are primarily for hunting. Across the Deep South, they are kept primarily for protection.

In keeping with the different attitudes of the different American nations towards punishment, we see that this is reflected in the legality and utilization of school corporal punishment:


Corporal_punishment_in_the_United_States.svgCorporal table



As seen previously in my post Another Map of the American Nations: School Corporal Punishment. (Red = allowed. Blue = not allowed). The red state alliance of Greater Appalachia, the Deep South, and the Far West are where this is practiced. However, as seen on the map, the states with the highest Black populations have the highest rates of physical discipline. But, as Audacious Epigone has established, Blacks are the most supportive of corporal punishment of all American racial/ethnic groups.

As well as punishment, the American nations differ fundamentally in their attitudes towards sharing and taking care of one another. As per HBD Chick's theory, and fitting the clannishness of the respective founding groups (see A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers”), the various American nations are predictably divided about Obama's health care law:

Medicaid ObamacareAs seen in my previous post, Healthcare and the American Nations, the various nations have responded to aspects of the law depending on their clannish characteristics. The more universalist Puritans and Quakers – along with their Scandinavian and German co-settlers of Yankeedom and the Midlands – have generally trended toward acceptance. By contrast, the clannish Scots-Irish and Cavaliers of Dixie alliance (as well as the clannish Mexicans of El Norte) have responded in a more self-interested manner. None of these nations are terribly interested in contributing to the system, but El Norte and Greater Appalachia correctly see themselves as being net recipients, so are happy to accept the policies that allow themselves to benefit. The Tidewater and the Deep South, on the other hand, with their large Black populations (seen by the Cavalier Whites as being "the other"), want no part of the policy.

In addition, the attitude towards social issues is decided split across the American nations, as seen here (from Wikipedia) in attitudes towards same-sex marriage (itself reflective of the general attitude towards homosexuality and non-"traditional" sexuality in general – Edit, 6/10/14: updated map to one current as of this date):

Same Sex Legend US

As seen previously in my post Gay Germ Fallout?, Yankeedom, the Left Coast, New Netherland, and to a lesser extent, the Midlands and El Norte have embraced same-sex marriage, while the other nations ardently reject it.

Edit, 6/10/14: [**Indeed, I managed to find a decent metric of support for gay marriage by county, as derived from data from Facebook:

Same-sex county US

photo.jpgThis is the fraction of Facebook users in each county that changed their profile image to the red equal sign in support of same-sex marriage, with the American nations borders overlain. Judging from this, support is strongest across Yankeedom, the Left Coast, and the Midlands (the German settled areas of Greater Appalachia straddling the Midlands are evident here, as well). On the opposing side, the Dixie nations, the Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, and the Deep South stand ardently against. The Far West appears a bit mixed; the more liberal areas, like those in Colorado, appear more supportive.**]

abortion support nationsOther social issues follow this pattern, such as attitude towards that perennial hot-button issue: abortion (from here).

In short, the “Culture Wars” are just the latest round in the ongoing cold civil war between the states, which is really a struggle between the various nations.






Edit, 6/10/14:

 [**I've managed to track down a map that shows more local data on attitudes towards abortion, an "isarithmic" map, based on ZIP code level data of a survey 30,000 Americans, from here. This gives results similar to county-level data, however, this map is also a function of population density (that is, the white vs. black shows population density, and the teal vs. purple, the local attitude over abortion), smoothed across the region. I have laid the American nations borders over top:

Abortion Support American Nations

It is apparent support for abortion is strong in "New Netherland," The Left Coast, Yankeedom (especially in the east), and the eastern section of the Midlands. El Norte is also supportive. Opposition is fierce across Greater Appalachia, the Tidewater, and the Deep South. Interestingly, the Far West is surprisingly supportive. This may be reflective of the strong tradition of equality between the sexes that has existed there, which I discuss below.**]

And of course, the “American” nations are hardly confined to the United States, but continue on, generally quite uninterrupted, into our neighbor to the north, Canada:

Canadian Nations

…as seen previously in my post Nations of Canada. Indeed, perhaps Woodard’s book should have been titled North American Nations. These national divisions color Canadian politics much as they do in the U.S., but perhaps less bitterly so (from Wikipedia):


wood_landingIn both Canada and the U.S., while the founding groups laid the foundation for the character of each nation, it is wrong to think that the genetic stock of these populations are the dominant force underlying today’s socio-political-cultural divisions. To give the most poignant example of this, Dutch genes are not the driving force behind the modern character of “New Netherland” (i.e., the Greater New York City metro area) – indeed, the Dutch weren’t a numerical majority in the colony to begin with. Rather, other genetic stock, from the subsequent migrants, continues to drive these divisions.

This is illustrated by this now fairly well-known map:




Immigration to the country, especially during the industrial boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and since 1965 has served to transform the country. In many of these areas, especially across the north of the country, the immigrants have overwhelmed the colonial stock and have, as such, transformed the country.  I will return to this point when I discuss assimilation, however, I first wanted to take a look at a matter that has complicated interpretation of this map.

A key problem with this map is that it was based on self-reported ancestry, and that entailed a certain degree of untrustworthiness, as Greg Cochran once discussed:

When responding to the Census, more than five million Americans claim to be of Dutch descent.  And they mostly are, at least a little. Now you might wonder how they compare with the Dutch back in the Netherlands: you might wonder about the relative academic or economic success of these two groups, which presumably have a common ancestry.  But you would be wrong to do so.   You would be comparing apples and House of Orangemen.

Why,  if there was any justice, Henry Harpending would own a fine farm on Manhattan Island right now. Of course, Henry isn’t all that Dutch.  His surname is.  He comes from an area of New York State that really did have some Dutch settlement. The thing is, white Protestants in this country have been intermarrying rather freely for several hundred years: it is rare to find someone in that category  whose ancestors all come from one ethnicity.

Most of the people who self-identify as Dutch-Americans are mostly something else.    Why?   Sometimes a family tradition, or a surname, but more than anything else, fashion.

Fashions change.  For example, the fraction of Americans who report English ancestry has dropped drastically since 1980 – so much that so that you would have to wonder about secret death camps if you took it seriously.  But it’s fashion.  I looked at the census numbers for my home county, and then looked at the phone book:  Census result was 20% English ancestry, real number was more like 80%.  Of course this means that people in the US claiming a particular ethnicity can not only have limited ancestry from that group, but be oddly unrepresentative as well.

This complicates the process of inferring the ethnic composition of the country. It seems that only genetic evidence could establish the reality. Fortunately, now we have some. has used DNA from their customers (N > 250,000) to estimate the national ancestry of Americans. They have produced a series of interactive maps on their site (white paper on their methodology here). Here I will display these maps side-by-side with maps of self-reported ancestry as gathered from the U.S. Census (from Wikipedia):


The genetic results for Scandinavian ancestry appears to line up very well with self-reported results, apparently even capturing the Danish converts in Mormon country.

Genetic results also confirm Italian and Greek self-reported ancestry, finding both being primarily confined to the Northeast.

Reported Eastern European ancestry (primarily Polish) also appears to be about right.

“Irish” ancestry is where we see our first disconnect between self-reported ancestry and the genetic data. We see a strong pulse in eastern New England. But the rest of the country lines up less well with the genetic data. Over at race/history/evolution notes, through surname analysis, “n/a” has found that self-reported Irish ancestry across the U.S. is likely inflated, although it’s probably accurate in Massachusetts and nearby.

And here is British ancestry. This is includes ancestry from England, Scotland, and Wales. Naturally, as per David Hackett Fischers Albion’s Seed, people from Great Britain are a major constituent in all 50 states. As Cochran noted, however, this is also the most “under-acknowledged” ancestry, perhaps considered too “plain” to even report by many. Indeed, across Greater Appalachia and much of the Tidewater and Deep South, this is relegated instead to a concocted “American” ancestry. However, the descendants of the Puritans – and their western offshoots, the Mormons – are apparently most apt to acknowledge their English heritage, as we see two pulses of British ancestry in the genetic data in northern New England proper and again in the Far West, centered on Mormon country. No doubt, especially in New England, the British component also includes Scottish Highlander ancestry hailing from the Canadian Maritimes. distinct relative “hole” in British ancestry is apparent in northern/western Yankeedom is evident however, as the other groups who have established themselves there have formed more of an ethnic majority over the Puritan settlers from eastern New England.


The areas of high reported Finnish ancestry appear to be confirmed genetically.

Map German 1870 USAnd here we have genetic data from “Europe West”, which primarily captures ancestry from Germany and France. The genetic data would seem to support the heavy German component in the country, especially along the Midlands and western Yankeedom. Some of the most heavily German states, such as Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas are heavily evident here.

As well, the French pulse across New England is also evident. This French pulse also brings me to another interesting point when we look at ancestry and the American nations.

As we’ve seen previously in my post, HBD is Life and Death, the health outcomes of many American regions can be correlated to ethnic ancestry. Most poignant among these were the many pathologies that plague the Scots-Irish, evident by how Greater Appalachia (and often the Far West, and sometimes the Left Coast) tended to stick out in many of these maps:

As well, there are these maps. First, of suicide rates (age-adjusted, by 100,000 population, 2000-2006, from the CDC), where Greater Appalachia and the Far West pop out:

usmap_2009_mdEdit, 6/10/14: [**Thanks to the CDC's interactive system, I have managed to compile maps of suicide rates by race:

White Age-Adjusted Suicide rate county 2004-2010

The Far West especially jumps out with an exceptionally high suicide rate. Greater Appalachia also stands out, and the Tidewater and Deep South are evident as well. However, an interesting modification emerges with you separate firearm from non-firearm suicides:

When non-firearm suicides are considered, suddenly Yankeedom, the Midlands, and the Left Coast become more strongly represented. The Far West, however, features a high rate in both cases. When firearm suicides are examined, Greater Appalachia, the Tidewater, and the Deep South become more visible. Apparently the strong culture of guns in these nations boosts the success of those seeking to take their own lives. **]

Prescription drug overdoses (in good part opiates, from here):

Here again, the areas with high Scots-Irish ancestry – Greater Appalachia itself, the Far West, and often the Left Coast – pop out.

Edit, 6/10/14: [** Also, see this rather interesting map of traffic fatalities per county (all races; non-Hispanic White alone is little different): All Race Age-Adjusted traffic death rates county 2004-2010

Greater Appalachia, the Tidewater, the Deep South, and the Far West pop out, again. Perhaps this speaks to a preponderance of wreckless drivers in these nations. Note the interesting bubble in Mormon country, however. **]

As well, this map of poverty across America (largely a function of average IQ, from Wikipedia):

1000px-US_Poverty_Rates.svgpoverty legend

As per the racial distribution map, the counties with lower average IQ populations (i.e., Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans) are evident. However, in addition to these groups, here again, we see that largely White Greater Appalachia is comparatively impoverished.

However, interestingly, also joining the Scots-Irish in poorer outcomes are the French Canadians, particularly those found in the northern areas of Yankeedom. Maine, which is heavily New French in descent, consistently does poorly compared to the other Yankee states. Indeed, economic historian Gregory Clark in his surname analysis (see my earlier post The Son Becomes The Father) found that the French Canadians in the United States exhibited unusually low upward mobility and were underrepresented among elite professions, quite like Blacks and Native Americans.

Maine governor Paul LePage (source)

Maine governor Paul LePage (source)

I found this quite interesting. The average IQ of France is essentially identical to that of Britain, so that’s not the issue. And even better, according to the PISA test results (from 2000-2012), Quebec does as well as the rest of Canada, typically scoring close to the national average. So the problem isn’t an initial deficit among the colonial New French. Indeed, as Peter Frost noted, some of the French Canadians may have underwent a period of intense selection for intelligence. That their descendants in the United States would then have a lower average IQ than other White groups would seem strange. I decided to take a look at French Canadian migration to the U.S.

As it turns out, during the heyday of Euro immigration to the U.S. (the industrial boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries), over 900,000 French Canadians came to the United States. In good part, this was largely demographic spillover, as the French Canadian population underwent explosive growth and New France was beginning to fill. Many of these excess New French ventured to the factories jobs in the U.S., most across northern Yankeedom. Indeed, during the 100 years from 1840-1940, Quebec sent an average of 7% of its population per decade to the United States.

And, quite unlike other Euro immigrants to the States, the New French could in effect skip right across the border to reach their new homes. Most every migration event involves some sort of sorting process, and it appears in this migration the sorting process was pretty intense. Indeed, not only was access to travel comparatively easier compared to venturing across the Atlantic, the opportunities that awaited them in the New England factories “frequently required no formal skills or education and often would employ children and women.” The bulk of the emigrants to the U.S. were poor rural dwellers, (although a few middle class types did go to make a living offering their services to the migrants who left before them). The New French elite characterized the migrants thusly:

The clerical elite frequently misidentified the reasons for emigration laying the blame on the laziness of the emigrant or the extravagant desire for luxury of his wife. They were portrayed as weak people, incapable of effort or sacrifice, self-centred and inconsiderate of others.

While this source portrays this as propaganda meant to downplay and/or discourage the exodus, there may have been some element of truth to it. Perhaps the New French emigration to the U.S. was overly composed of the bottom rungs of Quebec and Acadian society.

In addition, overall goal among the emigrants was to eventually return to Canada, and a considerable fraction did so, albeit often only temporarily. It would appear likely, then, that the migration process involved two selective elements for the less able: those least successful in Canada in the first place were most likely to leave, and those unable to quickly make something of themselves in their new home were the least likely to be able to permanently return. Contrast this with other migrations events from greater distances, which tended to select for those quite above the bottom in both the initial migration and eventual retention in the States.

The “cultural” impact of the migrants, and by that, I mean the genetic impact, is strong and continues to be felt to this day. For example, see these of the impact of the beer-loving German migrants (from here) Edit, 6/10/14, updated the map with one showing frequencies:


Note correspondence to the German distribution above.

Indeed, Steve Sailer recently commented on the decided more German character of the U.S. vis-a-vis Britain:

I had lunch yesterday with a donor who is an Englishman who has lived all over the world. He brought up the topic of how a lot of aspects of American life strike him as more German than English, such as American newspapers, which have traditionally aspired to be serious, informative, and responsible, while British newspapers like being outrageous and fun.
He then went off to meet with some German friends and writes:

Good brainstorm over a beer with my buddies on the Germanness of America, some of which I already mentioned:

1. TV advertising (slapstick, not subtle)

2. The Army (are there more German generals than German politicians in the US — which states does army recruit from?)

Pershing, Eisenhower, Schwartzkopf

3. Attitude to self improvement

The German poet Rilke’s mantra “You must change your life” caught on a lot faster in America, especially California, than Britain. For example, my Swiss German paternal grandfather was a health food nut who moved to Southern California 85 years ago to grow his own food in his yard.

4. Easy to scare (see Hollywood), lack of natural scepticism

5. Taking things serious (the brit needs to be seen not to be trying)

6. Lack of irony

7. American English — tendency to use longer words eg. Transportation rather than Transport, tendency to use “The” ie. “The Congress” rather than just “Congress”

8. Law abidingness eg. attitude to jaywalking

9. Food

A lot of quintessentially American food items, such as the hot dog (which FDR famously served to the King of England in 1939), were popularized at the quite German 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Of course, many of these expanded from the Midlands and the German sections of Yankeedom.

This pointed example of cultural legacy shows the impact that new populations bring to the lands they settle. We can see the legacy of these in the distribution of personality across the country:

Regional-personality Personality Clusters Big 5 US

These are from Rentfrow et al (2013). Drawn from internet personality tests with a combined N of nearly 1.6 million (84% White), they were able to devise the distribution of personality across the country. Now, there are all sorts of problems with personality data, especially for making cross-cultural comparisons. See Staffan’s discussion of the matter. One American nation is conspicuously apparent in these data, and that is the Left Coast. It fits well with the “Relaxed & Creative” cluster. I will discuss this region again shortly. The other two clusters appear to correlate more with specific eithnicities; the German and Scandinavian areas correlate well the “Friendly & Conventional” cluster. As well, the heavily Irish and Italian Northeast fits the “Temperamental & Uninhibited” cluster.

As I discussed previously in my post Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality, historic selective forces can be correlated to personality traits. For example, openness to experience, neuroticism, agreeableness, etc all reflect the effects of genetic pacification and especially the degree of clannishness. High neuroticism, as the Northeast is notorious for, (at least as it’s measured by the Big Five system) is  a hallmark of cla Certain clannish populations (e.g., Irish, Southern Italian) reside in the Northeast, and may be ultimately responsible for these results.

The Friendly & Conventional cluster seems to simply represent an otherwise pretty average population except for low levels of openness to experience. A closer look at the distribution of each individual personality dimension, however (from Rentfrow, Gosling, and Potter, 2008) helps to clear things up:

The “Friendly & Conventional” Germano-Scandinavian area is high on agreeableness, only modest on conscientiousness, which is more in line with expectations. Curiously, the area is depleted in openness to experience and enriched in extraversion. Considering that much of this area descends from pretty liberal and highly open stocks (e.g., Scandinavians), this represents sorting, either through initial immigration or (more likely) “boiling off,” likely losing the more “open” individuals to the Left Coast.


Relaxed & creative…

And it is this that brings me to the next important factor is the forging of the behavioral character of each region. The “second generation” nations – the Left Coast and the Far West – unlike the other nations – are defined more by sorting effects than ethnic composition. This is plainly evident on the Left Coast, which is notoriously introverted and known for being unconventional (being high on openness to experience). As the settlers here (initially Yankees from New England augmented by various waves of Scots-Irish) were putting the most distance between themselves and any ties back East, one would imagine that this would select for a certain type of individual. The reputation that the Left Coast developed would have further served to attract a certain type of individual, as it continues to do today.

Sorting played an important role in the rise of the Far West, the last of the American nations to take shape. The eastern edge of the Far West (and the western reaches of the Midlands and Greater Appalachia) straddles the vast Great Plains:


Politically, this area, even the Midlands section, is staunchly conservative. Indeed, it is this area where conscientiousness appears to peak. Much of this area, especially the Midlands section, does appear to be heavily German. Yet it is thoroughly red. Indeed, as we saw in my earlier post Rural White Liberals – a Key to Understanding the Political Divide, I noted that the Plains are the area where Steve Sailer’s “affordable family formation” theory appears to work best: the effective cost of living is low and political conservatism is high. I believe two sorting events might explain this.

First, the area seems to be a region where there was a distinct religious element to settlement. Several religious movements seem to have progressed through here (as seen previously in my post Religions of the American Nations), particularly the Methodists and the Restoration Movement Christians:

These movements may have followed settlement along the Santa Fe Trail, (as pointed out to me by an observant commenter), perhaps populating the area with staunch religious/conservative types. This, coupled with a pocket of devout Lutheranism farther north in the Scandinavian zone combine to leave the Great Plains one of the most religious areas of the country (maps from Valpo):


However, this is only one factor explaining the deep political red of the Great Plains. The personality data point to another factor, which reflects a key event the area’s history: the flight from the area during the Dust Bowl. Since 1920, the area lost a third of its population, and the population continues to decline to this day. However, the Plains has some of the highest White fertility rates in the country. Perhaps this process represents a “boiling off” type scenario that Cochran & Harpending have described for the Amish. The more “open” folks left and continue to do so, heading west and east to places more suited to their proclivities. This would have served to concentrate the religious and conservative character of the region.

Edit, 6/10/14: [**Indeed, I have tracked down a map that shows when each county in the nation ceased growing in population (from here):


As we can see, the vast area of the Great Plains, as well as areas to the east in Greater Appalachia and the Midlands, have been losing people since the beginning of the 20th century. Many of these people went west to the Far West and the Left Coast. If we imagine that this represented a sustained loss of people with a certain cognitive profile – as seen from the fact that this area is depleted in individuals open to experience and introverted –  then the conservative bent of the area makes more sense. Indeed, even the more eastern section of the Midlands may be more conservative than it once was thanks to this sustained out-migration. **]

Sorting has been key to the genesis of the Far West. The obligatorily pastoral living favored the Scots-Irish from Greater Appalachia to settle the region, and the distance, isolation, and harsh climate (and hostile Native Americans trying to resist the conquest of their territory) selected for an individualistic, tough-minded type of person. There was a reason the West was Wild. This has left a special mark of the personality of the area, as Staffan once discussed:


This is a map of the distribution of “entrepreneurial” personality type (from Obschonka et al, 2013). As we see, it clearly peaks in the Far West (as does entrepreneurial activity). This is interesting evident on the ABC show Shark Tank, a reality show were budding entrepreneurs seek investment from a panel of venture capitalists. The Far West, despite being the least populated of the American nations, seems to produce more than its fair share of entrepreneurs on the show.

Despite its relative conservatism, women have long held a high place in Far Western society. The harsh environment favored wives that were competent full partners to their husbands. That is, when men could find wives. Women were often in short supply, and subsequently become highly valued. Indeed, the lack of women created a huge demand for prostitution, and this allowed prospecting women to capitalize on this as brothel madams, many managing to become quite wealthy. These madams were actually key to building important parts of Far Western society (and it is a Far Western state, Nevada, where prostitution remains legal today). Indeed, the Far West was where women first gain the right to vote, something that was resisted in the Tidewater and the Deep South to the end (from here):


These data and historical events serve to underscore the importance of the character of the people to leading to the character of a nation. Each and every population is unique, and, as the Far West (including the Great Plains), the Left Coast, the French Canadians demonstrate, what begins as one population and one people can produce several quite distinct daughter populations, if they are subjected to strong and ongoing assortment. The character of a nation can be altered permanently if new people move into it, as happened to the many of the northern American nations.

Indeed, this brings me back to the whole topic of “assimilation.” It is largely considered a given in today’s society that immigrants eventually “assimilate” into their new home societies and even adopt the customs of their new lands. This is a canard. As I said, assimilation generally doesn’t happen. Rather, people have mistaken the adoption of things like language (which, as Judith Rich Harris demonstrated, is heavily dependent on childhood peer groups) to be evidence that immigrants adopt the behaviors of their hosts group in everything else. A little closer inspection can show that that plainly  does not happen. Indeed, is the New England of today the same as the New England of the Civil War era before the Irish, Italians, French, and Portuguese came? M.G. gave a detailed answer to that question. She noted the higher crime rates and higher levels of endemic corruption among the Catholic Irish, Italians, and other immigrant groups. Some of this likely abated over time as the least successful individuals returned home. However, today, we see in areas across the North where these clannish groups have settled, corruption remains a serious problem (map of political corruption conviction rates per 100,000 population – which likely woefully underestimates the true incidence of corruption because it doesn’t catch “legal” corruption nor offenders who don’t get caught, from here):


The general non-existence of assimilation is further elucidated when one looks at the performance of certain long-resident groups. Here, we can look at the core of the oldest American nation, El Norte. The core of this nation, New Mexico, is one place that is still home to a large fraction of nortenos, including descendants of White Spaniard colonists. There are 7th generation “Hispanics” here. And, as Greg Cochran (here and here) and Chuck have analyzed, these Hisapnics have not converged with the broader White American mean. As Cochran put it:

in a fair-sized data set (1576 people) collected in 1965 … The original respondents and their adult children were interviewed. It shows quite clearly that although second-generation Mexican-Americans averaged more education and higher SES than the first generation, presumably because they knew English, there was no further improvement in the third and fourth generations. The gap remained substantial: the fourth generation had a college completion rate of 6%, compared to a rate of 35% for whites of that same era.

Which is pretty much what you see in New Mexico too, except that here we’re often talking about the fifth, sixth, and seventh generation living in the US

T. Greer once commented on the matter of assimilation for long-time Asian immigrants (not as much as you think – From Foreigners to Countrymen: How Many Generations Until Immigrants Think Like the Rest of Us?). (There is some discussion about possible IQ & educational convergence of 3rd+ generation Asian Americans, but it’s far from clear that a such finding is reliable).

As another example, the case of the Finnish-Americans of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula:

Tourists to the remote towns of the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan may be puzzled by the many Finnish flags adorning local businesses and homes. Evidence of Finnish culture and ancestral pride is ubiquitous in Michigan, which is less surprising when taking into account that Michigan is home to more Finnish Americans than any other state

Most of these Finnish settlers arrived on American soil during the “Great Finnish Immigration.” Between 1870 and 1929 an estimated 350,000 Finnish immigrants arrived in the United States, many of them settling in an area that would be come to known as the “Sauna Belt”….

The geography of Finland and Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula, are uncannily similar.

With such a high proportion of Finnish Americans in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it is no wonder that even today Finnish culture is so intricately intertwined with the UP.

The word “Yooper” means several things to the people of Michigan. For one, a Yooper is a colloquial name for someone the Upper Peninsula (derived the acronym “UP”). Yooper is also a linguistic dialect found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that is heavily influenced by Finnish due to the masses of Finnish immigrants who settled in Copper Country.

Generations later many of their descendants remain in this peninsula that looks eerily like their motherland; Finnish culture is still a very strong influence in the UP.

Today these Finnish-Americans appear to be generally more Left-leaning, much like their cousins across the Atlantic.

Staffan gives us perhaps the most biting example of the general non-existence of assimilation (emphasis added):

My favorite example of assimilation is southern Sweden, called Scania. It was taken from Denmark 1658, and they still behave as Danes, more ballsy and politically incorrect, more into visual and performing arts etc. Many even want to belong to Denmark and have a referendum about it. And that’s after living in Sweden for 356 years. That’s between two similar countries who have no special ethnic or religious conflicts, disputes over natural resources or anything of that sort.

As I said, many processes can give the false appearance of assimilation over time. Language acquisition and the attainment of skills and education in subsequent generations can give the impression that the newcomers are completely leaving their homeland behind. As well, we have seen the importance of sorting. Immigration is a heavily selective process. At the very least, it selects for a desire (or at least a willingness) to leave home and enter a foreign land. Over and beyond this, it may select for ability, either positively (usually, as we see with modern African immigrants) or negatively, as we see with the New French. Since many immigrants often ultimately return home, retention imposes another selective sieve. And finally, personal taste is a factor. This aspect was involved in the genesis of the Left Coast. Indeed, self-assortment maintains the character of each of American nations, as people born in one nation more suited to the ways of another often find themselves there. This process is just as important for immigrants from overseas as well. To give you an example, I will use myself. I live in Maine – but I am not a Yankee. Though I have ancestry from the British Isles, none of it (as far as I know) is Puritan. Yet here I am. Indeed, before this, I lived for many years in rural eastern Connecticut. While I enjoy visiting New York, I have long since found the New England way of life more to my liking. Many others have similar experiences.

As we’ve seen previously in my post The Son Becomes the Father, twin and adoption studies have established that the heritability of political attitudes, religiosity, and personality are all very high…Political chart heritability…and are not measurably impacted by the environment – including the things one things should matter like one’s surroundings. Indeed, the heritability of political orientation approaches 100% when one accounts for measurement error. Political beliefs respond to local circumstances, each person’s behavior adjusting to the landscape of the day. This explains rapid secular trends, as detailed in my post Why HBD. But the fundamental make-up of people doesn’t change – they just respond accordingly to the shifting reality of the day.

As attitudes and views are so heritable, and verifiable environmental impacts have been hard to turn up, it is clear that the differences we see between all these groups – between groups originating from the same country – have genetic underpinnings. No two human populations are genetically identical, and indeed, the “four British folkways” of David Hackett Fischer are evident in the genetic data (via Razib Khan):


Each human population is unique (indeed, each is composed of unique individuals). While each population exhibits great similarity to related groups (similarity broadly mediated by the degree of relatedness), small but highly significant differences can make all the difference in the world depending on the situation. This was the case with the enduring struggle between two English groups: the Puritans and the Cavaliers. This struggle lives on in Britain’s daughter country, the United States, each side now joined and energized by allies – settlers that have come from across Europe and the world.

This is hardly unique; indeed, the current turmoil in Ukraine should make that unquestionably obvious:


I’ve got your assimilation right here (source)


Eastern Ukraine was settled by Russians – immigrants – who have maintained their identity despite being in the area in since the 16th century in some cases. Today, these two highly related populations, Ukrainians and Russians (both East Slavs) maintain distinct differences, differences that fuel the current turmoil.

But we see similar divisions within countries elsewhere: between England and Scotland; within Spain; within Germany (see my post Germania’s Seed?); and within Italy.

The American nations will outlive us all.

These genetic rifts, within races, even within ethnic groups serve to counter an oft-cited nonsense charge leveled with the release of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance: that human group differences can’t have any genetic basis because we see differences within groups – as if that fact weakens the case. Indeed, if anything, it serves to show the power of heredity, and absolute insanity of most of these critical claims. To be sure, I will resume addressing this nonsense shortly, but I sure hope this post serves as a potent illustration of human group differences.

Please, if you haven’t seen it, and are new to this topic, see my page:

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

For the theme for the post, I once again use the French song “La Terre Tremblante” from the film In the Electric Mist (see my earlier post Acadie), about the plight of the Acadian-derived Cajuns of Louisiana. This is the version of the song used in the film. The American country influence makes this a fitting theme for this post:

May 17, 2014 / JayMan

Heritability, Changeability, and Cultural Shifts – A Quickie

My previous post – “Squid Ink” – has spawned a little discussion about the role of the “environment.” However, I’d argue what all the discussion is about – what it is always ever about when people invoke “environment” – is changeability.  This is what people really want to know about that, and they see heredity – rightly or wrongly – as an impediment to that. So, spurred by some tweets by “Misdreavus”, I’m going to leave a few bits here that touch on that matter.

In reality, a thorough discussion on this matter deserves a longer post – perhaps something even longer than a post. I refer people to my previous posts Environmental Hereditarianism and Why HBD for some of my earlier thoughts on the matter.

First, Elijah Armstrong has responded to my previous post with a post of his own (What racial differences are wholly environmental? ). See the discussion over there. But I wanted to especially highlight a comment by Meng Hu:

Every debate of nature-nurture is fruitless, purposeless, time-wasting, if the discussants do not include malleability in the equation. In fact, the nature-nurture question is not relevant at all. Those who have read The Bell Curve probably know what I’m talking about. Let’s cite the authors then :

For practical purposes, environments are heritable too. The child who grows up in a punishing environment and thereby is intellectually stunted takes that deficit to the parenting of his children. The learning environment he encountered and the learning environment he provides for his children tend to be similar. The correlation between parents and children is just that: a statistical tendency for these things to be passed down, despite society’s attempts to change them, without any necessary genetic component. In trying to break these intergenerational links, even adoption at birth has its limits. Poor prenatal nutrition can stunt cognitive potential in ways that cannot be remedied after birth. Prenatal drug and alcohol abuse can stunt cognitive potential. These traits also run in families and communities and persist for generations, for reasons that have proved difficult to affect.

Recently, Richwine in “IQ and immigration policy” made the same kind of argument. They are both right. You also have another insightful comment from Sesardic (2005) Making Sense of Heritability :

… when we say that Alzheimer’s disease is incurable, we mean, roughly, that no current medical intervention can stop the degenerative process in the brain that leads to death in about seven to ten years. What strengthens the claim of incurability is that there have been intensive attempts to find a cure, which have produced no results so far. So, the existing environmental variation includes the measures that were deliberately introduced in the hope that they might be effective. It is precisely the fact that these measures were unsuccessful that justifies the modal claim that the disease is incurable (i.e., that it cannot be cured, rather than that it is just not cured).

… But as explained above, the expression “local modifiability” gains on strength and relevance if “existing environments” involve many attempts to influence the trait in question. If these attempts are unsuccessful and if the heritability remains high, then we will know not only that redistribution of existing environments will have little effect on phenotypic differences but also that all the concerted efforts undertaken so far to influence the phenotype have failed. In that case, “locally non-modifiable” would move closer to what common sense understands as “nonmodifiable.”

To let you see, let’s examine those studies :

Haworth et al. (2009). A Twin Study of the Genetics of High Cognitive Ability Selected from 11,000 Twin Pairs in Six Studies from Four Countries.

Brant et al. (2013). The Nature and Nurture of High IQ: An Extended Sensitive Period for Intellectual Development.

You see that heritability is lower among high IQ people. But everyone knows that it is easier to boost low IQs, and there are empirical proofs to that. The relevant question is how much you can boost IQ. If, in advanced countries, every attempts so far have failed to produce meaningful and sustainable gains among low IQs, it does not matter whether h2/e2=0.60/0.40 or h2/e2=0.00/1.00. When low IQs [cannot] be improved sustainably, it is more than justified to place environmental effects on the genetic side of the ledger.

Heritability is irrelevant. Environment is irrelevant. GE correlation is irrelevant. All what matters is malleability.

To which I responded:

While I get the spirit of your argument, and broadly I think it is correct that malleability, in many arenas at least, trumps heritability, we have to be rather careful with that criterion.

Let me give two examples: height and BMI. Both of these are just as heritable as IQ. In both cases, however, we have a certain degree of “malleability.”

In the case of height, we’ve seen secular changes, primarily an increase in the mean in the 20th century (which followed an apparent decrease in the U.S. in the 19th century). Much of this change appears to have been environmentally mediated. This would mean that height is technically “malleable.” However, height isn’t really malleable “after the fact”, say in adults, regardless of your environmental intervention. This means that it is apparently some intervention that occurs at some point in early development – likely childhood – that makes the difference. But how malleable is that, then?

The problems with the malleability criterion becomes even more acute when one considers BMI. There has been a great secular increase in BMI in the last few decades across much of the world, one that is apparently wholly environmental in origin. And indeed, the “malleability” of BMI is the focus of a secular religion in modern society, because some environmental interventions can change it, especially on the short term. But, it appears to be rather stubbornly resistant to change on the longer term. So what I’m asking with this is how malleable is it, really then? How do we call that one?

But BMI especially demonstrates a problem in conventional language when we talk about heredity, because people often assume heritability (inversely) = degree of malleability, when that is not the case. This is why you have foolish people going about how BMI cannot be “due to genes” when it is in fact incredibly heritable.

I get your point, that from practical point of view, at the end of the day, heritability is secondary to degree of malleability – because it doesn’t make a difference if a phenotype is wholly environmental if we are unable to change it. The single best example of that is probably homosexuality. This is mostly environmental in origin. But is essentially unchangeable once established.

However, I think homosexuality also serves to demonstrate the importance of decomposing the “heritable” from the “environmental” source of trait variance: it tells you where to target if you want to “change” the trait. In the case of homosexuality, for example, attacking the pathogen, perhaps with a vaccine, is your likely best course. In the case of IQ however, likely only changing the genes, with some form of eugenics, is your best shot if that’s your goal (various adverse environments in the developing world and their potential impacts notwithstanding).

And yes, I agree that “malleability” in this fashion is a function of technological limitations. It is not necessarily outside the realm of possibility that future interventions might be able to alter these currently less malleable traits. But, since we don’t know if and when that will happen, it makes more sense to exclude that from our discussion for now.

I will add that the BMI example shows the limitations of understanding that there is an environmental component – because in that case, we still don’t know what that is and hence, how to modify the trait of interest. This is despite a lot of searching for these factors.

I often regard this matter as “an advanced” topic, as in rather difficult to properly understand even for those versed in this topic. I’d expect it would be even more confusing for lay people. However, it is supremely important, in that this is a topic where making the fine distinctions is quite often warranted in discussion.

Now, add Misdreavus’s recent tweets to the matter:

And the KEY point:

As well:

I’m hoping that this post clears up – at least somewhat – the situation with genes, environment, and change, both evolutionary and non-evolutionary. It might not; this is a somewhat complicated topic. Or I guess, more accurately, it’s not that it’s that complicated, it’s just that it requires laying aside a lot of priors in order to understand (kind of like free will). As we know all too well, people have a hard time doing that.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I know they’ll be many.

Previously: A Quick Note on Heritability and Changeability, Courtesy “misdreavus”



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