October 02, 2014

Correlation, Causation, and the Marriage Gap

Interesting stats on the correlation between voting patterns and marital status:

The storied election gender gap that for years has shown a broad political division between men and women is morphing into a marriage gap where married men and women are the Republican side of the new divide and unmarried men and women are Democrats.

The latest proof was revealed in a new Economist/YouGov poll that overall showed women back Democrats over Republicans, 48 percent to 30 percent. But when the population is divided, the poll finds that married women favor Republicans over Democrats 41 percent to 34 percent, unmarrieds prefer Democrats 52 percent to 22 percent.

“Democrats don’t get the support of all kinds of women,” said the poll analysis.

“There is also a marriage gap among men. Married men favor the GOP by more than two to one. Unmarried men support Democrats,” said Economist/YouGov.

So, does being married "cause" people of both sexes to lean right politically? And how about the pet theory of so many bloggers that women are somehow hard wired to vote for Democrats because... LADYPARTS!!!?

Analysts offer a number of theories about the marriage gap: married women are more financially stable and therefore less reliant on government assistance; they care less about reproductive issues than about their pocketbooks and security; when they marry, they adopt their husbands’ political preferences. But the obvious reason for the marriage gap is that for several decades now, married women have become likelier to be white, educated, affluent, and older—demographic groups that leaned Republican in this election. Romney lost the black, Hispanic, and Asian vote, while he won the college-educated vote (though not post-grads), the votes of those making over $50,000 a year, and the votes of older Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers, and voters over 65. In other words, married women voted less as part of a sisterhood than as part of a cohort of white people holding college diplomas, earning more than $50,000 a year, and wearing reading glasses.

Similarly, unmarried women voted just the way you’d expect them to, considering their age, income, education, race, and ethnicity. A large number of unmarried women are single mothers—and minorities are disproportionately represented among that population. More than 30 percent of single mothers are Hispanic, and 28 percent are black, even though Hispanics are just 17 percent of the population and blacks 12 percent. Single mothers are also likely to be younger, less educated, and poorer than married women are. Sure enough, all these groups went Democratic in this election. The category “single women” also includes childless women in their twenties and thirties. These are by definition part of the “youth vote,” which went heavily for Obama, regardless of gender.

Men, too, have a marriage gap, though it’s a less dramatic one. Sixty-two percent of married men voted Republican, while 55 percent of single men voted Democratic. No surprise: single men, like single women, are more likely to have lower incomes, to be young, and to be black or Hispanic. The question is whether younger voters are only temporary Democrats. If long-term trends continue, the large majority of Millennials will marry eventually. At that point, they may change their political habits and vote the way previous cohorts of married men and married women have. Or they may remain Democrats, representing a permanent generational shift. It’s an open question—but one in which gender plays only a tangential role.

All of this reminds the Editorial Staff of Obama's surety that old, white ladies clutching their purses in elevators is proof positive of racism. It couldn't possibly be that women in large cities are nervous anytime they're alone in an elevator with a man. Or that a black woman would probably react the same way.

Black men in large cities are afraid of other black men, and crime statistics show they're right to feel that way:

...there's also this false narrative being pushed out there by folks like Michael Eric Dyson and [Al] Sharpton and the rest of the hustlers is that black men live in fear of being shot by cops in these neighborhoods. That too is nonsense. I know something about growing up black and male in the inner city and it's not that hard to avoid getting shot by a cop. They pull you over, you answer their questions, you are on your way.

The real difficulty is not getting shot by other black people if you are a young black man in these neighborhoods and again that is something we need to talk more about. Cops are not the problem. Cops are not producing these black bodies in the morgues every weekend in Chicago, in New York and Detroit and so forth. That's not cops. Those other black people shooting black people.

We love to construct elaborate stories to make the world line up with our preconceived biases: white women uniquely fear black men because... racism! Women belonging to demographic groups that already vote Democrat do so because feminists have programmed them to reject men and replace husbands with the welfare state. Or because women are just wired that way.

There couldn't possibly be any other explanation.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 30, 2014

When Empathy Leads to Scapegoating

A study points out that empathy can make those who feel it more willing to hurt third parties who have done nothing wrong:

A paper just published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin provides evidence that feelings of empathy toward a distressed person can inspire aggressive behavior. For some people, at least, feeling another’s pain is insufficient: You also experience the urge to harm the person they are in conflict or competition with.

University at Buffalo psychologists Anneke Buffone and Michael Poulin found empathy can provoke such behavior even absent “traditional predictors of aggression” such as feeling threatened, or a tendency to act impulsively.

Participants were, to a surprising degree, willing to inflict pain on a second person to help a distressed individual they felt empathy for.

What’s more, it can be activated even “in the absence of wrongdoing or provocation from the target of aggression.” That party doesn’t have to be doing anything wrong; he or she simply has to pose a problem for the person you empathize with.

Kind of puts a whole new spin on the "us vs. them" rhetoric of the income inequality debate, doesn't it?

... participants were, to a surprising degree, willing to inflict pain on a second person to help a distressed individual they felt empathy for. This occurred in spite of the fact that (a) both were total strangers, and (b) the second person had done absolutely nothing wrong.

The results should put a damper on what the researchers call “recent enthusiasm for interventions that involve administering caregiving-related neurohormones or empathy training.”

“Just as the self-esteem movement was not a panacea leading to happy, successful, and well-adapted children,” the researchers write, “oxytocin and/or empathy interventions may not stop problems such as bullying and other forms of aggression and violence, because aggression itself may result from empathy.”

There's a reason justice is traditionally depicted wearing a blindfold.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Interesting Infographics

First up, what kind of blog princess would we be if we selfishly refused to share the hate?


Whilst we heartily agree that the Cards suck, we have two questions:

1. Where are the Yankees, Red Sox, and Braves?

2. No rating for the Most Annoying Mascot? Seriously???

Next up, anything to make that caption contest move down the page:


Finally, we have to say we enjoyed football more when there were more running plays:


Posted by Cassandra at 07:32 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

September 18, 2014

We Expect Big Changes....

...from you Testosterone-Having Folks:

Every man comfortable enough with his masculinity to squeeze into performance-enhancing lycra athletic body wear has sooner or later confronted the next frontier: The question of whether to shave his legs!

Aside from perhaps staunch feminists, female athletes don't face this social conundrum. Among male athletes, the otherwise socially uncool body-smoothing "manscaping" has long been a tradition. Cyclists will tell you that it might improve recovery from road rash or make leg massages better. They'll also admit that it's fashion. Tough, big-deal bike riders do it. Nobody races Le Tour de France with hairy legs. Male shaving is a form of machismo.

We are not sure what word comes to mind first when the subject of Manscaping comes up, but we are pretty sure it isn't "machismo".

But we digress...

It also has negligible performance benefits, or so the conventional wisdom goes. Now, new data from men on bikes in wind tunnels contradicts this view. Bicyclists were measured to move more quickly with shaved legs! In theory this makes sense. Generally, smooth surfaces are more aerodynamic than rough or uneven ones.

Aerodynamics is so important to cyclists because the practical limit of their speed is not their muscle power, but the aerodynamic drag of their ride: bike and body. Terminal velocity on level ground (on a properly geared ride) is determined by how cleanly the forward-facing shapes cut into the wind. The more carefully a surface cleaves oncoming air into parts without disturbing it into a chaotic turbulent mess, the faster it goes.

An everyday pleasure rider may hit 15 mph on a brisk ride, a commuter may cruise at 16-18, and a professional racer can hold speeds in the mid 20s. A rider on a bike with an extremely aerodynamic fairing like the nose of a rocket can reach speeds of more than 80 mph!

"Aero" has become a huge buzzword and selling point in the cycling industry. Most competitive races have actually banned certain bike designs for being too fast. Within a limited bicycle geometry range, the next gains to be made are those from the other half of the aerodynamics of the system: the rider himself. Riders often employ a hunched position, with the arms out and the head tucked down, to reduce aerodynamic profile. They may smooth even their natural body profiles with seamless skinsuits.

Here's where the hairy legs come in. Smooth legs should be slightly more aerodynamic than hairy or, heaven forbid, "stubbly" legs, right?

Previous tests said no, there was no measurable effect. Leg-shaving is just machismo. This new test says otherwise. A cyclist going into the wind tunnel for aero testing at the bike industry "Specialized" forgot to shave his legs first. His test showed significantly higher drag. Surprised, he came back days later with legs as smooth as a baby's cheek, in addition to a 7% gain in aerodynamic slipperiness!

Science has spoken! And the science is settled. Don't be a denier.

And remember: the catchphrase of the day is "aerodynamic slipperiness" :p

Posted by Cassandra at 07:12 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 26, 2014

Scientists Get the Sads

As if more evidence were needed, we present to you the ultimate appeal to authority: sad puppy eyes.


In his black-and-white photography series "Scared Scientists," Nick Bowers captures a raw element not often associated with scientific knowledge. For the series, Bowers interviewed a selection of scientists in varying fields, capturing the frightened looks on their faces while they contemplated their findings. The photos are minimalist but intense, each wrinkle and crease pointing to a human unease we can all connect with.

...On his website, Bowers combines a striking portrait with the specific field, educational background, and future predictions of each scientist. Although their powerful words provide an interesting context for their expressions, we think the faces alone say more than enough.

Indeed. Our greatest fear is of people who find this sort of nonsense convincing. But this also makes us feel very sad:

Like... inclusivity as an intentionality is Very Problematic when you don't understand the dynamics of power.

Twerking is a subject we should all treat more seriously.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:04 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

August 25, 2014

The Scientific "ManBearPig"

What do you do when you can't neatly separate out multiple influencing factors to establish causality? Run them all together and give the result a fancy name like... oh, we don't know... "neuropsychosocial":

When it comes to understanding ourselves, we tend to be splitters: mind and body, nature and nurture, or genes and environment. We take such a split for granted when we ask how the social becomes biological, but sometimes it’s not so useful to dichotomize the world into society and biology. Instead of looking for distinct social and biological influences (and believing that we can change one but not the other), we should recognize that the factors that drive our social behavior can, like a Zen koan, be two things at once.

Take the case of teen alcohol abuse. In a study published last week, an international team of researchers reported the “neuropsychosocial” factors that identify teens who are likely to abuse alcohol. The word “neuropsychosocial” does away with the common nature/nurture divide, and so did the researchers. Rather than asking whether teens abuse alcohol because of social influences or innate biology, the scientists looked at those variables that could be measured, regardless of whether the variables were social, biological, or a mix of both.

Yes, the Editorial Staff are making fun of this - a little. But it's actually a sensible approach to situations in which a large number of factors combine, in ways that are nearly impossible to predict, to influence an outcome:

As the authors write, their data “speak to the multiple causal factors for alcohol misuse,” and, in fact, any one variable, taken in isolation, had a small influence in their study. The predictive power of their computer model came from combining variables that were measurable—regardless of whether they could be neatly categorized as social or biological—into a single risk profile. This profile offers clues for how to find and help at-risk teens, and the most effective interventions may turn out to have little to do with directly treating some key social or biological cause of alcohol abuse. As we think about the connection between our social behavior and our biology, we should, like good scientists, be pragmatic, and abandon the distinction between society and biology when it’s not useful.

Part of what we do in our day job involves studying software productivity. Everyone wants to find a single, simple "fix" that will make teams and projects more productive (however that's defined: definitions seem to vary with the observer's priorities). But we're inclined to think that software development - like pretty much any other complex human endeavor - is influenced by a constantly shifting mix of management, technical, and human factors; none of which can be neatly separated out from the others and some of which are impossible to quantify with any objectivity.

At any rate, we found this amusing as well as thought provoking.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:52 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

August 19, 2014

But Then You Totally *Knew* This, Didn't You?

Cows. Their social lives are complicated:


The calves have the strongest social contacts while feeding on hay rather than on grain. This is probably because cattle spend longer feeding on hay to re-ruminate having eaten grain.

During feeding time the cattle compete with each other for food at the grain bunk and therefore cannot always eat with an intentionally chosen partner. So the contacts around the grain bank may not necessarily reflect social ties (!).

However, after feeding on grain there is less competition and the cattle can go with a chosen partner to the hay. "It is only the contacts around the hay bunk during feeding time that may attribute to the real social ties," the researchers conclude.

That should have significant implications for the way animal behavioral specialists study social networks of other animals, particularly in the wild…..What's more, the key finding is that it is important to distinguish between random contacts and social ones—although this can only be done with the aid of detailed knowledge of the animal habitat and behavior.


It's like a jungle out there
Sometime I wondah
how I keep from goin' under

And don't even get me started on horses. It's gettin' real on the mean meadows of western Maryland.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:24 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 21, 2014

Ignoring the Science, Immigration/Welfare State Edition

During the Evil Bu$Hitler Era, the plaintive cri de coeur of the Enlightened Progressive was often heard throughout the land. "Why, oh why! do those horrid conservatives ignore what Science tells us?"

Now, of course, we live in a more respectful age, when public servants obligingly decide which scientific debates are "settled" and which should simply be ignored:

Many young progressives think they have found a fail-safe way to end poverty: a universal basic income (UBI). The idea is very simple, they say: Every month, the government cuts a check to everyone. Period. That way, no one has to fall below the poverty line.

The UBI is an old idea, which also has a storied history on the right. Many conservatives like the idea of a simple welfare system that would replace arcane programs and nosy bureaucracies.

And indeed, right-winger that I am, I was for a very long time a strong proponent of a UBI. But now I oppose it.

What happened? I looked at the best science, and changed my mind.

Social science has been plagued with amateurish studies featuring non-random samples, missing control groups, and dubious attempts to conflate correlation with causation. Only one method - repeated, randomized field trials - addresses these deficiencies. And the repeated conclusion of numerous randomized field trials is that the guaranteed basic income creates dependency and dysfunction, weakens economic growth, and erodes the work ethic:

...the UBI is one of the very few, if not the only, domains of social science policy where we have exactly that: extensive, long-term, repeated RFTs, which are the gold standard of evidence in social science.

As RFT expert Jim Manzi writes, these experiments "tested a wide variety of program variants among the urban and rural poor, in better and worse macroeconomic periods, and in geographies from New Jersey to Seattle"; more than 30 experiments were done in the U.S. from the '60s to the '90s and there was another set of experiments done in Canada in the '90s. The universal basic income is one of the few areas of social policy where we can say with some confidence "science says..."

And science says the UBI doesn't work.

As Manzi writes, one of the few consistent findings across all these experiments is simply this: the only type of welfare policy that reliably gets people who can work into work is a welfare policy with work requirements. All the evidence strongly suggests that if you have a UBI, the outcome is exactly what many conservatives fear will happen: millions of people who could work won't, just listing away in socially destructive idleness (with the consequences of this lost productivity reverberating throughout the society in lower growth and, probably, lower employment, in a UBI-enabled vicious cycle).

This is not a minor concern. As Megan McArdle has noted, the latest research suggests that work is a central part of human flourishing. Long-term unemployment is worse for self-reported well-being than divorce or the death of a spouse.

A related study finds that countries with less generous social welfare programs benefit more from immigration than those with more generous programs. Why? Because relatively weaker social safety nets encourage immigrants to become net contributors to the economies of their adopted countries:

Life can be tough for immigrants in America … And if you can’t find work, don’t expect the taxpayer to bail you out. Unlike in some European countries, it is extremely hard for an able-bodied immigrant to live off the state. A law passed in 1996 explicitly bars most immigrants, even those with legal status, from receiving almost any federal benefits. That is one reason why America absorbs immigrants better than many other rich countries. … The opposite was true in some countries with generous or ill-designed welfare states, however. A one-point rise in immigration made the native-born slightly worse off in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. In Belgium, immigrants who lose jobs can receive almost two-thirds of their most recent wage in state benefits, which must make the hunt for a new job less urgent.

Part of the reason progressive public policy is so popular is that - in theory at least - it sounds so kind and caring. But at some point, it has to matter whether these policies actually produce the intended results. What results has this administration's announced refusal to vigorously enforce our immigration laws produced? Ignoring repeated warnings didn't make the problem go away:

During the president's 2012 reelection campaign he announced plans to defer the deportations of certain immigrants brought to the country illegally as children before June 2007.

Critics now argue that the administration chose to ignore reports about the growing number of immigrant children and instead focused on trying to push his reform bill through Congress.

'Was the White House told there were huge flows of Central Americans coming? Of course they were told. A lot of times,' one former government official told the Post.

As many have noted, this problem is neither new nor unique to this administration:

The U.S. faced a similar challenge in the mid-2000s, when border patrol was caught unawares by a surge of Brazilian illegals. The Bush administration determined that word had gotten back to Brazil that people apprehended at the border would be released and able to stay, so the Department of Homeland Security initiated an operation dubbed "Texas Hold 'Em."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff explained the results during a Senate hearing in 2005. "We prioritized the existing space, dedicated bed space and began detaining and removing all of the illegal Brazilians we apprehended," said Mr. Chertoff. "The word spread surprisingly swiftly; within its first thirty days, the operation had already begun to deter illegal border crossings by Brazilians. In fact, the number of Brazilians apprehended dropped by 50%. After 60 days, the rate of Brazilian illegal immigration through this sector was down 90%, and it is still significantly depressed all across the border. In short, we learned that a concentrated effort of removal can actually discourage illegal entries by non-Mexicans on the southwest border."

What is the kinder policy in the long run? To stubbornly ignore the tragic consequences of well meaning but completely unrealistic public policy decisions on the real people they were designed to help? To craft policies that encourage people to lie to and cheat each other? Is it socialism itself that encourages the erosion of reciprocity and social trust? Or is it the poverty and scarcity endemic to life in these so-called worker's paradises?

The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.

The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example. All the same, when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one.

As Hillary Clinton is wont to say, "What difference does it make?". The outcome is the same.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:12 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 16, 2014

Why Are Colleges Ignoring the Science on Trigger Warnings?

Could it be that confronting triggers (rather than avoiding them) is the best way to cope with trauma?

Trigger warnings are designed to help survivors avoid reminders of their trauma, thereby preventing emotional discomfort. Yet avoidance reinforces PTSD. Conversely, systematic exposure to triggers and the memories they provoke is the most effective means of overcoming the disorder. According to a rigorous analysis by the Institute of Medicine, exposure therapy is the most efficacious treatment for PTSD, especially in civilians who have suffered trauma such as sexual assault. For example, prolonged exposure therapy, the cognitive behavioral treatment pioneered by clinical psychologists Edna B. Foa and Barbara O. Rothbaum, entails having clients close their eyes and recount their trauma in the first-person present tense. After repeated imaginal relivings, most clients experience significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as traumatic memories lose their capacity to cause emotional distress. Working with their therapists, clients devise a hierarchy of progressively more challenging trigger situations that they may confront in everyday life. By practicing confronting these triggers, clients learn that fear subsides, enabling them to reclaim their lives and conquer PTSD.

It would be just awful if it turned out that all these trigger warnings were actually hurting abuse victims:


Many women who have experienced sexual assault reject the label victim in favor of survivor. But although the latter term connotes empowering agency, having trauma become central to one’s identity bodes poorly for one’s mental health. The psychologists Dorthe Berntsen and David C. Rubin developed a short questionnaire called the Centrality of Event Scale (CES) that assesses how important a specific event is to one’s personal identity. The CES captures how integrated the event is in one’s autobiographical memory, the extent to which it marks a turning point in one’s life story, and the degree to which it shapes one’s expectations for the future. My Ph.D. student, Donald J. Robinaugh, and I found that among 102 women who reported histories of childhood sexual abuse, the more central their abuse was to their identity—as measured by the CES—the worse their PTSD symptoms. In particular, seeing one’s future through the lens of one’s abuse was especially associated with the severity of PTSD symptoms. These data suggest that acknowledging one’s abuse but not allowing it to dominate one’s sense of self may foster resilience against the long-term psychologically toxic effects of childhood sexual molestation.

If only there were a way to get all this Science out to the science-friendly Left. Can we get a ruling from Obama? He's been so successful at declaring other scientific debates "settled" by executive fiat.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:13 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

May 19, 2014

The "Weapons-Grade Cuteness" of Babies

Amusing phrase from a fascinating WSJ piece about the relationship between a baby's physical health/robustness and its ability to charm other humans and the evolution of the human species:

Humans also have "alloparents"—other adults who take care of babies even when they aren't related to them. In forager societies, those alloparents are often young women who haven't yet had babies themselves. Caring for other babies lets these women learn child-care skills while helping the babies to survive. Sometimes mothers swap caregiving, helping each other out. If you show pictures of especially cute babies to women who don't have children, the reward centers of their brains light up (though we really didn't need the imaging studies to conclude that cute babies are irresistible to just about everybody).

Dr. Hrdy thinks that this cooperative breeding strategy is what let us develop other distinctive human abilities. A lot of our human smartness is social intelligence; we're especially adept at learning about and from other people. Even tiny babies who can't sit up yet can smile and make eye contact, and studies show that they can figure out what other people want.

Dr. Hrdy suggests that cooperative breeding came first and that the extra investment of grandmothers, fathers and alloparents permitted the long human childhood that in turn allowed learning and culture. In fact, social intelligence may have been a direct result of the demands of cooperative breeding. As anybody who has carpooled can testify, organizing joint child care is just as cognitively challenging as bringing down a mastodon.

What's more, Dr. Hrdy suggests that in a world of cooperative breeding, babies became the agents of their own survival. The weapons-grade cuteness of human babies goes beyond their big eyes and fat cheeks. Babies first use their social intelligence to actively draw dads and grandmoms and alloparents into their web of adorableness. Then they can use it to do all sorts of other things...

You think that adorable infant is lying in its crib dreaming of warm milk. But really, it's doing the same thing it does every day.

Plotting to take over the universe.

The linked video is quite good if you're interested in this topic.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 19, 2014

What We Know (That Isn't Necessarily So) About Sex

A few tidbits on this list of "gender myths" also amused our reverse side away extremely.

1. On the question of whether men desire more sex partners than women... well, it depends on whether you're interested in what the typical man/woman wants or an average calculated from what all men/women want. We would guess what most people really want to know is what the typical person wants. The average doesn't map to an "average person":

If you ask a lot of men and women how many sex partners they'd want in a given period of time, the numbers provided by men average higher than the women's numbers. But it seems that a few randy fellows at the top are skewing the results as a whole.

Calculating an average does not always give you the clearest view of the data. (If, for example, researchers asked 10 men how many sex partners they wanted in the next year and nine said "one," while one said "20," the average would be 2.9, and you might expect that any given man wants about three sex partners in a year.)

If you look instead at the "typical" response to the question of how many partners people want, you find that the majority of both men and women offer the same answer: one.

Again, survey responses may be more about what people believe they should say, rather than what they really want, Conley said. That issue may be exacerbated because most sexual preference studies are conducted using college students, she added, and the young men are eager to conform to expectations of masculinity.

How about how many sexual partners men and women actually have? Studies generally find that men report more partners than women. But in 2003, researchers reported in the Journal of Sex Research that if you trick research participants into believing that they are hooked up to a lie-detector test, men report the same number of sexual partners as women.

2. On whether men think about sex more than women do... Yes, but then they think about other things more too:

In a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Sex Research, psychologists asked research participants to record their thoughts throughout the day. They found that men pondered sex 18 times a day to a woman's 10 times a day, but men also thought about food and sleep proportionately more than women. That suggests sex doesn't hold as vaunted a position for men as you might expect.

3. On the whole hypergamy/hypogamy thing:

An underpinning of evolutionary psychology is that men look for sexy women who are likely to provide them with attractive, healthy offspring, while women are more concerned than men about getting a high-status mate who can be a good provider.

When psychologists ask research subjects (mostly college students) to imagine their ideal mate, that is indeed what they typically find. But when people in an actual speed-dating event rated the importance of attractiveness and status, these gender differences evaporated, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

When the research participants met potential dates face to face, there was no difference in the way they rated their romantic interest based on those people's attractiveness and earnings. So it seems real-world attraction may go beyond simple stereotypes.

Shocking, isn't it?

4. Women are more selective than men. Is this biology? Or culture? Or some combination?

A 2009 study published in Psychological Science found that people are choosier when they're approached by a potential partner, and less choosy when they're doing the approaching. The experiment, conducted in a real-life speed-dating environment, showed that when men rotated through women who stayed seated in the same spot, the women were more selective about whom they chose to date. When the women did the rotating, it was the guys who were pickier.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:09 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 17, 2014

Another Beautiful Liberal Narrative Slain by "Science"

Aren't these religious folks supposed to be burning scientists at the stake or something?

The supposed rift between science and religion has led to the commonly held view that Christians overtly dismiss the sciences. But a new study released by Rice University actually finds that evangelicals are more likely than the general public to believe that science and faith can work together.

Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund recently conducted the study, titled, “Religious Understandings of Science,” which found that only 38 percent of the general public believes that “science and religion can work in collaboration.”

That said, the proportion of evangelicals was even higher.

“We found that nearly 50 percent of evangelicals believe that science and religion can work together and support one another,” she said in a press release announcing the results.

This wasn’t the only fascinating find. The results also indicated that scientists aren’t far off from the rest of the public when it comes to attendance at weekly religious services. While 20 percent of the U.S. attends church each week, so do 18 percent of scientists.

Additionally, while 19 percent of the U.S. considers itself very religious, 15 percent of scientists report feeling the same. Similar results were found when it comes to the weekly reading of religious texts (17 percent versus 13.5 percent).

And while 26 percent of the general populace prays several times per day, so do 19 percent of scientists.

Bonus question: does this make Bill Nye a "Science Denier"?

Posted by Cassandra at 11:01 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

November 21, 2013

Once Again, Science Has Spoken....

...and its voice is Imperial:

...why is it important that we have a multitude of desperate law school graduates and many more politically ambitious rich than 30 years ago?

Past waves of political instability, such as the civil wars of the late Roman Republic, the French Wars of Religion and the American Civil War, had many interlinking causes and circumstances unique to their age. But a common thread in the eras we studied was elite overproduction. The other two important elements were stagnating and declining living standards of the general population and increasing indebtedness of the state.

Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of cooperation, which is followed by ideological polarization and fragmentation of the political class. This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions. Consider the Antebellum U.S.

From 1830 to 1860 the number of New Yorkers and Bostonians with fortunes of at least $100,000 (they would be multimillionaires today) increased fivefold. Many of these new rich (or their sons) had political ambitions. But the government, especially the presidency, Senate and Supreme Court, was dominated by the Southern elites. As many Northerners became frustrated and embittered, the Southerners also felt the pressure and became increasingly defensive.
Slavery had been a divisive force since the inception of the Republic. For 70 years, the elites always managed to find a compromise. During the 1850s, however, intra-elite cooperation unraveled. On several occasions Congress was on the brink of a general shootout. (As one senator noted about his “armed and dangerous” colleagues, “The only persons who do not have a revolver and a knife are those who have two revolvers.”)

Hmm. Hard to argue with that. We know this is Scientific, because there's a diagram. With lots of ... arrows. And cartoon figures.


With the End of Times so near at hand, can baby killing and puppy bouncing be far behind? Science asks, you decide:

Abstract: Background: Infant mortality rates in the US exceed those in all other developed countries and in many less developed countries, suggesting political factors may contribute.

Methods: Annual time series on overall, white and black infant mortality rates in the US were analyzed over the 1965-2010 time period to ascertain whether infant mortality rates varied across presidential administrations. Data were de-trended using cubic splines and analyzed using both graphical and time series regression methods.

Results: Across all nine presidential administrations, infant mortality rates were below trend when the President was a Democrat and above trend when the President was a Republican. This was true for overall, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality, with effects larger for postneonatal compared to neonatal mortality rates. Regression estimates show that, relative to trend, Republican administrations were characterized by infant mortality rates that were, on average, three percent higher than Democratic administrations. In proportional terms, effect size is similar for US whites and blacks. US black rates are more than twice as high as white, implying substantially larger absolute effects for blacks.

Conclusions: We found a robust, quantitatively important association between net of trend US infant mortality rates and the party affiliation of the president.

Meh. Needs arrows to tighten up the causal connection, wethinks.

OH THANK GOD. Andrew Sullivan weighs in: Grim. Challenging. Persuasive. Crude. Powerful. Elite Fratricide.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:31 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

November 19, 2013

Once Again, "Science" Conflicts with Liberal Public Policy

An interesting study concludes that diversity doesn't actually bring communities closer together. In fact, increasing diversity erodes civic trust and social harmony:

After 20 million-plus simulations, the authors found that the same basic answer kept coming back: The more diverse or integrated a neighborhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes, while the more homogenous or segregated it is, the more socially cohesive. As they write, “The model suggests that when people form relationships with similar and nearby others, the contexts that offer opportunities to develop a respect for diversity are different from the contexts that foster a sense of community.”

The graph below, from the study, plots quite plainly the negative relationship between community cohesion and diversity.

These findings are sobering. Because homophily and proximity are so ingrained in the way humans interact, the models demonstrated that it was impossible to simultaneously foster diversity and cohesion “in all reasonably likely worlds.” In fact, the trends are so strong that no effective social policy could combat them, according to Neal. As he put it in a statement, “In essence, when it comes to neighborhood desegregation and social cohesion, you can't have your cake and eat it too.”

But, of course, this is the result of computer simulations of reality, not reality itself.

That's a valid point, but this isn't the first study to conclude that increasing diversity doesn't make us more tolerant, trusting, or engaged. Numerous studies of real people have come to exactly the same conclusion:

I'm not sure public trust can long survive in a sprawling, multicultural environment where we're constantly being told there are no differences (or no differences that ought to concern us) between cultures or interest groups? Some studies suggest that increasing diversity erodes civic trust:
... the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.

The computer model in the first study came to the same conclusion as Putnam's real world survey of nearly 30,000 people of all races:

The results of his new study come from a survey Putnam directed among residents in 41 US communities, including Boston. Residents were sorted into the four principal categories used by the US Census: black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. They were asked how much they trusted their neighbors and those of each racial category, and questioned about a long list of civic attitudes and practices, including their views on local government, their involvement in community projects, and their friendships. What emerged in more diverse communities was a bleak picture of civic desolation, affecting everything from political engagement to the state of social ties.

... After releasing the initial results in 2001, Putnam says he spent time "kicking the tires really hard" to be sure the study had it right. Putnam realized, for instance, that more diverse communities tended to be larger, have greater income ranges, higher crime rates, and more mobility among their residents -- all factors that could depress social capital independent of any impact ethnic diversity might have.

"People would say, 'I bet you forgot about X,'" Putnam says of the string of suggestions from colleagues. "There were 20 or 30 X's."

But even after statistically taking them all into account, the connection remained strong: Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes.

These two studies aren't the only ones to find a negative correlation between increasing diversity and civic trust and involvement, which is amusing given the liberal mantra about conservatives being anti-Science. There are scores of studies showing strong positive correlations between marriage, sacrifice, hard work, the ability to delay gratification, and pretty much every outcome liberal public policy claims to promote (happiness, household income, better health, better educational outcomes for children, lower delinquency) and yet for reasons passing human understanding, progressive public policies reward choices that make people less affluent and secure and demonize or even punish people who make choices that reliably maximize success, prosperity, and happiness. Shouldn't public policy aim to maximize the welfare of the polity instead of rewarding behavior that makes it harder to succeed? Maybe "success" isn't the real goal, after all:

The very word "achievement" has been replaced by the word "privilege" in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called "privileged" individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.

The length to which this kind of thinking -- or lack of thinking -- can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most "privileged" group there, because they had the highest average income.

What made this claim of "privilege" grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.

If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat.

We know that the correlation between marriage and household income is extremely strong:

America's most prosperous households do one other thing differently from their poorer neighbors: they are, to an overwhelming degree, married:
One frequently overlooked dimension of the gap between the "rich" and the "poor" is how much it is affected by marital status.20 As Chart 10 shows, only about 30 percent of all persons in Census's bottom quintile live in married couple families; the rest either live in single-parent families or reside alone as single individuals. In the top quintile, the situation is reversed: Some 90 percent of persons live in married couple families. In this case, equalizing the numbers of persons within the quintiles makes little difference; even after each quintile is adjusted to contain the same number of persons, 85 percent of persons in the top quintile continue to live in married couple families compared with one-third in the bottom.

So why do progressive policies, from our highly progressive tax code to ObamaCare subsidies, actively discourage marriage and reward singlehood and single parenting?

Any married couple that earns more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level—that is $62,040—for a family of two earns too much for subsidies under Obamacare. "If you're over 400 percent of poverty, you're never eligible for premium" support, explains Gary Claxton, director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But if that same couple lived together unmarried, they could earn up to $45,960 each—$91,920 total—and still be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges in New York state,

It's almost as though, having learned what choices most reliably maximize prosperity and stability, progressives are determined to discourage them.

Why, O why are progressives so anti-science? For what it's worth, I don't actually believe that progressives are anti-science any more than conservatives are anti-science. We humans just like to cherry pick studies that confirm our pre-existing beliefs and ignore the rest.

A few months ago, the Justice Department brought charges against Oklahoma oil company Continental Resources as well as six others in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds in violation of the Bird Treaty Act. ...Continental was accused of killing one bird “the size of a sparrow” in its oil pits. “It’s not even a rare bird. There’re jillions of them,” Hamm said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Yet in central California, 70 golden eagles were killed by wind turbines at Altamont Pass, without prosecution. The findings follow a 2008 study by the Fish and Wildlife Service that estimates wind farms kill nearly a half million birds per year in the United States.

Most scientists (and mathematicians) would tell us that half a million birds - every year! - or 70 endangered eagles killed by turbines have a greater impact on the environment than a single bird drowned (possibly) by Evil Fossil Fuels.

Ah, but that one tiny bird.... what an unsupportable loss!

Posted by Cassandra at 07:36 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack