Monday, January 23, 2012

An uninsightful look at racist attitudes

Below is an academic journal article which claims that "racists" have low IQs. I append some comments at the foot of it
Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes

Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact

Gordon Hodson et al.


Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.


What the article ignores is that the mental gymnastics required by political correctness are considerable. A simple soul who sees a lot of black crime is likely to have a low opinion of blacks and say so. But, as is often said, some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual would believe them. And concluding that chronic black criminality is all Whitey's fault is one such idea. So all the study really shows is that brighter people are more able to absorb the counterintuitive but politically correct cult that the elite have made normative in society. Only simpler people take their views from observable reality.

And we must also note that we are talking here about ADMITTED attitudes. And where some attitudes are much decried -- as are racially-denominated attitudes -- the truth of any admissions can only be speculated on. It could well be that attitude to blacks (say) is the same at all levels of IQ but only the simpler members of society are foolish enough to admit what they really think.

I could go on but I think it is already clear that this study proves nothing.


Are religious people better adjusted psychologically?

The academic article below offers some interesting facts but the perspective appears to be a Leftist one so I thought I might offer a different perspective. I add some comments at the foot of the article
Psychological research has found that religious people feel great about themselves, with a tendency toward higher social self-esteem and better psychological adjustment than non-believers. But a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this is only true in countries that put a high value on religion.

The researchers got their data from eDarling, a European dating site that is affiliated with eHarmony. Like eHarmony, eDarling uses a long questionnaire to match clients with potential dates. It includes a question about how important your personal religious beliefs are and questions that get at social self-esteem and how psychologically well-adjusted people are. Jochen Gebauer of the Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin, Constantine Sedikides of the University of Southampton, and Wiebke Neberich of Affinitas GmbH in Berlin, the company behind eDarling, used 187,957 people's answers to do their analyses.

As in other studies, the researchers found that more religious people had higher social self-esteem and where psychologically better adjusted. But they suspected that the reason for this was that religious people are better in living up to their societal values in religious societies, which in turn should lead to higher social self-esteem and better psychological adjustment. The people in the study lived in 11 different European countries, ranging from Sweden, the least religious country on the planet, to devoutly Catholic Poland. They used people's answers to figure out how religious the different countries were and then compared the countries.

On average, believers only got the psychological benefits of being religious if they lived in a country that values religiosity. In countries where most people aren't religious, religious people didn't have higher self-esteem. "We think you only pat yourself on the back for being religious if you live in a social system that values religiosity," Gebauer says. So a very religious person might have high social self esteem in religious Poland, but not in non-religious Sweden.

In this study, the researchers made comparisons between different countries, but another study found a similar effect within one country, between students at religious and non-religious universities. "The same might be true when you compare different states in the U.S. or different cities," Gebauer says. "Probably you could mimic the same result in Germany, if you compare Bavaria where many people are religious and Berlin where very few people are religious."


The original journal article is "Religiosity, Social Self-Esteem, and Psychological Adjustment: On the Cross- Cultural Specificity of the Psychological Benefits of Religiosity" by Jochen Gebauer et al.

Two things to note: 1). As is so common in psychological research, the "sample" is in fact no sample at all. We have no idea how representative of the community at large are "Lonely Hearts"; 2). The assessment of mental health appears to have been rudimentary. A few queries about self-esteem and depression are a poor substitute for a proper mental health survey such as the MMPI. So again, the results must be taken with rock-salt.

Setting aside those reservations however, the interpretation also seems to make an assumption that may not be correct. The assumption is that only positive rewards are at work. It may be the other way around. The difference in interpretation is not large but it may be important.

I live in Australia, which, like Norway, is a very irreligious place, where regular churchgoers are something of a rarity. So I may have some insight into the results from Norway above

So I would summarize the research findings above as showing that religion does normally make you happier but that only shows up in places where it is accepted. Where religion has little acceptance and may be mocked (as it not uncommonly is in Australia) the social "punishment" for religious belief may cancel out that happiness. It may be bias against religious people that was the key driver of the national differences observed above.


A Naughty Newt, A Bitter Ex and Misplaced Rage

Pastor Doug Giles

As a Christian, I will neither defend nor excuse Newt’s past adultery. That said, after watching his ex-wife Marianne go off on him on ABC, as a man, I now get why he supposedly wanted an “open marriage.” Holy crikey. That chick is scary! Hell hath no fury like a furry woman. That’s one angry, gangrenous ex-Gingrich chica right there, folks. Let’s see … what do we have here? Lonely and bitter? Table for one?

Now, before I get my inbox stuffed with hate mail labeling me insensitive, calling Newt a cad, and painting Marianne as a damsel in distress, let me state up front that … I know … he was … and oh, please.

Someone help me here. When did Marianne start giving a crap about Gingrich committing adultery? She didn’t mind his “open marriage” policy when she was doing the fig Newton with him while he was married to his first wife, Jackie. I’m sure if the Speaker’s initial esposa were still around she’d have some choice words to share about this duplicitous dame. Alas, she is not. But I imagine that Jackie is in heaven right now watching this sordid ABC tabloid smack screaming, “Hey, Jezebel! Go sell crazy somewhere else, devil bird!”

Yep, this is the same Marianne who was spooning Newt while his wife was in the hospital. Oh, I forgot. I’ve transgressed. I cannot blame Marianne for her adultery. Only guys, especially conservative guys, are the villains in an adulterous affair. Women, according to the lame stream media and the loons on the Left, are helpless victims who are not responsible for their wanton ways. Hallelujah. Ain’t that convenient?

Now, Newt, according to his own admission, was a scallywag. But also according to his own admission, he has repented. Is it BS? I don’t know. All I know is that when people verbally repent we’re supposed to forgive them. I believe that’s how the Jesus movie went. And it looked as if lots of South Carolinians were ready to forgive Gingrich judging from the standing ovation they gave him after he horsewhipped John King when he brought up Newt’s past peccadilloes.

Oh, and by the way, I believe according to Christ that if you look at a woman lustfully you’ve committed adultery in your heart in His holy estimation. In other words, we’re all guilty, and Jesus is the only one ever to navigate that tightrope successfully. As Dennis Miller once said, “He that hath an empty hand, let him throw the first stone.”

Boy, the Left is grasping at straws, aren’t they? They think they have breaking news about Newt’s randy ways. Uh, hello. This stuff has been out there and dealt with now for fifteen years. Fifteen years. As in One Five. But that’s just it: divert, divert, divert—talk about Newt 15 years ago rather than about what Obama has been doing for the last 15 months! Also, you do know that if Gingrich were a Democrat and we found out he just had a chunky female volunteer shine his apple on his election bus 15 hours ago that he’d be hailed as a rock star and defended for his wang dang ways.

My final assessment of this puritanical witch-hunt against Gingrich instigated by the anti-puritanical Left is this: I’m concerned more about how Obama’s policies have radically screwed this nation more than who Newt bonked two decades ago.



Tax hikes encourage profligacy among the politicians

Two days ago, I explained that tax increases are bad policy. More specifically, I warned that giving more money to government exacerbates fiscal problems because politicians respond to the expectation of more revenue by spending more than otherwise would be the case. And since they usually over-estimate how much revenue a tax hike will generate, that creates an even bigger fiscal mess.

Not surprisingly, I cited Europe to bolster my case. The tax burden has increased enormously in Europe over the past several decades, but that obviously hasn’t prevented a fiscal crisis in nations such as Greece and Portugal. And tax hikes haven’t precluded deteriorating conditions in countries such as Belgium and France. But I also cited Illinois, which just got downgraded by Moody’s – even though state politicians just imposed a record tax hike.

This caused some angst for a lefty blogger in Illinois, who wrote that, “Operational spending is down since the Illinois tax hike.”

I gather he thinks this is some sort of gotcha moment, but two sentences later he admits that, “If Illinois hadn’t increased its taxes, it would’ve had to cut $7 billion more from spending to balance its budget.”

In other words, his post confirms my point about higher taxes translating into higher spending. He openly admits that the tax hike was a substitute for spending restraint.

What makes his concession so remarkable is that my argument wasn’t even based on one-year fiscal decisions. I”m much more concerned with trend lines, and you can see from the chart that Illinois politicians have been promiscuously profligate in recent years.

Indeed, I developed “Mitchell’s Golden Rule” to underscore the importance of restraining the burden of government so that, over time, it grows slower than the private economy. That obviously hasn’t been happening in Illinois in recent decades – and it’s not likely to happen in future decades if politicians figure out ways of grabbing more revenue.

Speaking of revenue, my accidental friend from Illinois also tries to debunk my point about the Laffer Curve by writing that, “The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has repeatedly said this year that revenues from the tax increase are coming in as the ‘politicians’ expected.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but this is not exactly a rigorous rebuttal. He doesn’t provide a revenue forecast from the pre-tax-hike era or a more recent forecast from the post-tax-hike era, so we can’t make any comparisons. Instead, we’re supposed to blindly accept vague assurances from some Commission.

This doesn’t mean that forecasts don’t exist or that the bureaucrats were wrong about their short-run projections. But that’s not the main issue. The key question is what will happen to revenue over a period of years, particularly once entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses have time to adjust their behavior in response to the more onerous tax regime.

The changes can be enormous, as demonstrated in this post showing how rich people paid five times as much federal income tax after Reagan cut the top tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent.

It will take a few years before we have a decent idea about the consequences of the Illinois tax hike. But since Illinois is copying European-style fiscal policy, don’t be too surprised if the result is European-style economic malaise.




Gingrich steals Romney's cloak of electability as president: "Newt Gingrich didn't just beat Mitt Romney in Saturday's South Carolina primary, the former House speaker kicked away one of the main pillars of his rival's election campaign. Exit polling data shows Gingrich convinced voters he would be the toughest Republican opponent against President Barack Obama in the November general election. Electability - Republican campaign-speak for a candidate's ability to beat Obama - had been one of Romney's top selling points until Saturday."

Croats vote in EU membership referendum: "Croatians are voting in a nationwide referendum on whether to join the debt-stricken European Union. The Sunday vote is a test of how much the 27-nation bloc has lost its luster with its troubled economies and bickering leaders. A pre-vote survey suggests that between 56 and 60 percent of those who take part will answer "yes" to the question: "Do you support the membership of the Republic of Croatia in the European Union?" Those who support the EU say the Balkan country's troubled economy could only profit from entering the bloc's wider markets. Opponents say Croatia has nothing to gain by entering and will only lose its sovereignty and national identity."

Finnish presidential election headed for runoff: "Ex-finance minister Sauli Niinisto holds a clear lead in a field of eight candidates but surveys indicate he will not capture the required majority to win the first round. The vote comes as the Nordic country braces for cutbacks amid a European financial crisis that threatens the economy and the top credit rating of the eurozone member. The president has a largely ceremonial role and is not involved in daily politics, but is considered an important shaper of public opinion in the nation of 5.3 million on the fringes of northeastern Europe. Among those challenging Niinisto is Timo Soini, the stocky, plain-talking populist leader who has become the face of Finland's growing doubts about the euro. His True Finns party made stunning gains to win 19 percent of votes in parliamentary elections last year"



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1 comment:

Steve said...

In response to "An uninsightful look at racist attitudes"

- "What the article ignores is that the mental gymnastics required by political correctness are considerable."
So you're saying that one has to have a certain level of intelligence to be politically correct. Not that I'm a fan of much PC nonsense myself.

- "A simple soul who sees a lot of black crime is likely to have a low opinion of blacks"
Yes, that's the point the results of study make - being simple (unintelligent) leads to racist attitudes.

- "concluding that chronic black criminality is all Whitey's fault is one such idea."
The study made no such conclusion.

- "Only simpler people take their views from observable reality."
As opposed to what - making stuff up upon which to base one's views?

- "It could well be that attitude to blacks (say) is the same at all levels of IQ but only the simpler members of society are foolish enough to admit what they really think."
Speculation doesn't do much good if you're trying to perform a qualified dissection unless you go on to make some effort to either back it up or dismiss it based on the investigation that said speculation should prompt, but:
It could well be, but it's not. No really, it just isn't. Taking my view on this from observable reality (cos that's all I have to go on), I know.

To say that the majority of a certain type of crime is perpetrated by people of a certain ethnic background is not racist if the statistics bear that out, but to then conclude that therefore all members of that ethnic group are likely to be criminals is. Ultimately you can only blame the perpetrator for their crimes, but the reasons can be manifold. If I'm poor and hungry enough to steal food it's me who took the decision to do that, but maybe I lost my job because the company was forced to make cuts due to recession in the economy and I'm waiting for my first welfare check because there aren't any other jobs to go straight into. None of those things would be my fault, and it just so happens that the higher up the hierarchy you go, the whiter it gets, but I wouldn't BLAME those people or that system for my crime.

At no point in your short, throwaway "dissection" do you make any reference to the abstract you've presented, so I don't understand how you can even suppose to think of it as a qualified dissection or debunking, and there is a noticeable lack of logic in what you have written (as pointed out above).
In conclusion I'd say that the study is correct.

I have a serious question for you though: do you consider yourself to be a racist?