our political nature and human biodiversity

just started reading avi tuschman‘s Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us. so far it’s very good! mind you, i’ve only read the first two chapters (there are twenty-three altogether). (~_^)

according to tuschman, his goal in writing this book is [from the preface – my emphasis]:

“[T]o paint a compelling and accurate portrait of our nature as political animals. Today’s political commentators would have us believe that we vote based on our views about the main issues of the day, on our economic circumstances, or on our longtime affiliations with this political party or that. That’s wrong, or at least incomplete. Step by step, I will explain that our political orientations are not simply intellectual constructs, flowing from our upbringing, our schooling, our peer groups, or which newspapers we read. No, our political orientations are actually natural dispositions, molded within each of us by powerful evolutionary forces.

excellent!

in the first two chapters, tuschman reviews some of the major research out there which has found that personality is largely innate and that personality strongly influences our political orientations (left-wing or right): the blocks’ study showing that personality at age four strongly correlates with political orientation as an adult (in one’s 20s) [pdf], for example, and alford et al.’s twin studies which showed that identical twins reared apart have very much the same political orientations [pdf], and so on.

well, he doesn’t need to persuade me! (~_^) left and right — we are “born this way.”

furthermore, tuschman says we’ll find these innate left/right personalities in all societies. he draws, though, what i think is a slightly awkward comparison between all of the rebellious folks in the arab spring and the occupy wall street movement in the western world [chapter 1]:

“[I]t was precisely Basboosa’s [the tunisian man who immolated himself triggering the so-called arab spring] moral *rejection of inequality* that activated one of these universal hot buttons residing within him, and within so many of his compatriots. And this is why his story resonated with a critical mass of people in the Middle East, for whom Basboosa symbolized the humble, well-meaning common man systematically abused by government fiat and corruption.

“Now, the story of Basboosa might seem rather remote to many American readers. But the same hidden trigger at play in the Middle East underlies the concurrent transformation of the political landscape in the United States. As the Arab Spring was unfolding, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement emerged on the far left of the US spectrum. The demonstrators in New York shouting, ‘We are the 99 percent!’ were railing not against Middle Eastern dictators, but rather against bankers and large corporations. And yet the same issue that ignited the Arab Spring had inspired and galvanized their movement: a moral rejection of economic and social *inequality*.”

well, yeah … sort of … maybe. but i’m not certain that there are equally as many individuals in tunisia — or north africa — concerned about equality for everybody as there are in the united states or western europe. there might be a lot of people p*ssed off in the arab world/middle east/north africa that they, personally, experience so much corruption in their daily lives and that they and their families are often cheated by others, but are they really morally rejecting economic and social inequality to the same degree that, say, a swede does? i dunno, but it’s worth asking.

just looking quickly at one set of responses from the world values survey [1981-2002 waves] to the question…

“How would you place your views on this scale? – Incomes should be made more equal vs We need larger income differences as incentives.”

…we find that north africans are very much for GREATER income inequality [click on chart for LARGER view]:

wvs - income equality

i think it would be very safe to bet that different populations will vary not only in the numbers/proportions of leftists vs. rightists found within them but also in how liberal or conservative their left- or right-wingers are.

but i think i’m getting ahead of tuschman and that he’s actually going to get to this later in the book. for instance, in chapter two, he does say:

“What happened when groups of very different genetic backgrounds live in the same environment? In this case, each group’s average personality scores differed according to the *origin of their ancestors*. For example, the personality traits of white South Africans clustered closer to the Swiss, while black South Africans had personalities more similar to Zimbabweans. Likewise, groups that have traditionally lived in geographically adjacent territories have more similar average personalities than groups separated by large distances.”

so i should prolly finish reading the book before i say any more on this. (^_^)

previously: well this sounds familiar…

(note: comments do not require an email. yo!)

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68 Comments

  1. not sure the left/right divide is so clear in continental europe, …not that our personalities are less heritable, but more that the political lines are maybe little more muddled. In my case for example, I do not have changed much in my general opinions since kindergarten afair, but there are things I like and dislike in left and right wind political programs (more dislikes than likes actually ;-) ), so my choice is difficult. Mainly, i try vote along my financial interests, so I feel I would be much more left-inclined should I be less well off….
    Now, as income is itself linked to IQ and largely heritable (doubly so, given the wealth transfer from your biological parents, added to the also-heritable capacity of income), maybe the point is moot ;-)

    Reply

  2. “OUR POLITICAL NATURE”: PAPER MACHE INTELLECTUALISM.
    (book review) (criticism)

    ========

    This review is from: Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us

    Trivial, biased regurgitation of Haidt’s work without credit.,
    October 29, 2013
    Amazon Verified Purchase
    1.0 out of 5 stars

    I understand the business of writing money-making books by regurgitating the works of others for fun and profit. And I understand the need to simplify works for less academic readers. But I also understand not giving credit to the people who you’re copying. Especially when it’s by attempting to avoid references to them. I also understand the use of obscurant language, bias as propaganda, and oversimplification via analogy as a means of inserting deception.

    This is a weak attempt by an also-ran author to insert his political bias into the political discourse as a substitute for scholarship. It’s not plagiarism per se. Because that would add insult to the prior work.

    Read Haidt instead. It is a balanced work by the leading academic in the field. If you read “The Righteous Mind”, “Explanation of Ideology: Family Structure & Social System”, “The Red Queen”, and “Demonic Males” you will know pretty much the moral origins of human beings. If you read Andrew Heywood’s “Political Ideologies : An Introduction” that will explain political discourse.

    The fact is, that moral codes are largely genetic. What isn’t genetic is determined by the structure of the family (absolute nuclear, nuclear, traditional, extended or tribal). What isn’t determined by family structure is determined by economics. However, this is all misleading because MORAL sensibilities are different from VOTING PATTERNS.

    American voting patterns can be reduced to this single statement, and nothing else matters:

    —“93% of blacks, 70% of Latinos, 60% of those under 30, and 62% of single people, voted for Obama. And white married couples over 30 years of age voted for Romney. Not much else matters.”—
    -Dick Morris”

    NOTHING ELSE MATTERS – WE ARE TRIBAL CREATURES.
    ========

    Reply

  3. There are correlations between personality and most behaviors and attitudes. But there is a problem in that psychologists are liberals and can’t appreciate the conservative mind. They always end up describing liberals as intellectual and dynamic and conservatives as moralistic and self-righteous. This fits into the Big Five openness/conscientiouness divide but that’s completely by design. If you adjust openness for IQ you basically have hipster on food stamps – the value of this trait is all about IQ, not political attitude.

    If you look other types of personalities that don’t fit the conventional models it’s a different story. Geeks, for instance are often portrayed as liberals even though in real life many are various kinds of conservatives (referred to in Jungian terms as “sensor’s conservatism”). And New Age people are often introverted and open (in Big Five terms) like liberal Californians but many are actually very racist and/or libertarian. (California also have the 8th highest income inequality of all states in America.) But that’s anecdotal since there is no research on things that could undermine the…self-righteousness?

    Curt,

    Yes, people are tribal, Black people more so than most Americans I suspect. But being young and single (or old and married) is not much to build a tribal identity on. That’s more likely other things, like economics, religion – and personality.

    Reply

    1. RE: “But being young and single (or old and married) is not much to build a tribal identity on.”

      Um. The Absolute Nuclear Family (ANF) certainly is. And that is what the voting records show. (Read your Emmanuel Todd.) :) I didn’t need him. I just looked at the data. The data is the data.

      Reply

  4. “I will explain that our political orientations are not simply intellectual constructs, flowing from our upbringing, our schooling, our peer groups, or which newspapers we read. No, our political orientations are actually natural dispositions, molded within each of us by powerful evolutionary forces.“

    When trying to make the jump from artificial intelligence to natural intelligence in the early 80s I ploughed through papers and books in the stacks at McGill. I found (incidentally since that was not what I was looking for) two papers that suggested that political opinions were profoundly a matter of heritable personality traits, but more than that, the traits themselves specifically a consequence of heritable brain organization.

    I have long since forgotten the authors names, one of them might have been Gerald Edelman. The notion was that there is a spectrum of variation in the cortical mini-column of the mammalian brain, with for some, less variation in the internal connections of the 80 to 120 neurons, and in others more. This corresponded supposedly to a spectrum from more rigid and fixed opinions and more labile ones. Or conservative to liberal.

    I see the tie in to Edelman’s theory of Neural Darwinism which is why I think I might have been reading one of his early papers.

    It crossed my mind that someone, say a child with a tendency to form more rigid beliefs and raised by left wing parents, could be conservative in their left wing politics. The whole “get them while they are young” strategy of indoctrination in religion and secular ideologies seems to depend on this.

    Out of curiosity I went on to take a few neuroscience courses, starting in the middle with Hubel and Wiesel on the biology of perception (because so little was know of the computational properties of the neuron that I could make no start there, though I tried) and worked my way up to cognitive psychology, and becoming convinced that personality (and intellectual ability) is almost entirely heritable and “molded” by “evolutionary forces.”

    That was an interlude before going back to machinery control systems in the clean, wholesome, unpoliticized world of computing, but I have always since been attracted to non-bullshit explanations of how things are.

    A moment ago a half minute on Wikipedia on “cortical columns” had me leaping back in alarm. What is known now is as far from where I was then as the F22 is from a Spitfire.

    By the way, my Biology of Perception prof., freshly back from a conference, gleefully informed the class that after Hubel and Wiesel won their Nobel prize Torsten Wiesel ditched his second wife and ran off with a young lab assistant. Something in Wiesel’s personality I suppose.

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  5. @Staffan:

    “They always end up describing liberals as intellectual and dynamic and conservatives as moralistic and self-righteous. This fits into the Big Five openness/conscientiouness divide but that’s completely by design. If you adjust openness for IQ you basically have hipster on food stamps – the value of this trait is all about IQ, not political attitude.”

    Is it proper to do that though? Sure, openness does correlate with IQ, but I think we can be fairly assured it is a real personality dimension, and not something we can assume is a product of IQ.

    A key question, does the IQ-openness correlation hold in all racial groups, or just NW Europeans?

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  6. “Um. The Absolute Nuclear Family (ANF) certainly is. And that is what the voting records show.”

    I don’t think the fact that a demographic votes in a certain way is enough to conclude that they are tribal, especially not when based on 60 percent majority.

    It’s also circular to say that people vote with tribe and then claim that the ANF is tribal because of the voting pattern of the demographic.

    Reply

  7. “Is it proper to do that though? Sure, openness does correlate with IQ, but I think we can be fairly assured it is a real personality dimension, and not something we can assume is a product of IQ.

    A key question, does the IQ-openness correlation hold in all racial groups, or just NW Europeans?”

    It is a real dimension in that it is largely independent of the other dimensions of the Big Five and it has reasonable amounts of reliability and validity. But personality can be sliced in many ways that are all psychometrically acceptable. Although White liberals are most likely of higher intelligence than White conservatives they seem to have inflated this correlation in the construct of openness and as a result they get a very weak correlation between personality and politicial attitudes. Intelligent conservatives are classified as open in order to boost the correlation with IQ. Or look at the national level – liberal countries in North Western Europe don’t have strikingly high IQs. But other things, like lack of corruption is fairly striking.

    I don’t know if this correlation holds up for other than White people. I’ve looked around but there isn’t much research about race and personality. From what I’ve read, those who find a zero correlation gladly report it but those who find “sensitive” results are not willing to share. There is a meta-study on that somewhere online I think.

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  8. Am I the only one here who sees that the signal piece of information on that chart is that all the countries with high regard for equality are those that are already rich? It’s easy to be for income equality when you already have a nice car and big screen TV. We are seeing the same phenomena that causes fertility rates fall off the cliff once a country has reached a certain level of prosperity.

    It seems the root cause of the disparity of opinion in the survey is 100% economic.

    Reply

    1. And what do the countries that are already rich have in common?

      The root cause of the disparity of opinion is (a) family structure (b) diversity (c) borders (d) size (e) religion (c) whether or not there is a monarch (d) literacy (e) the level of SCIENTIFIC literacy, and (f) genetics.

      If you want to be denmark, you need 5M people who are of genetically danish stock, the ANF, outbreeding, literacy, rule of law – common law, no neighbors who are culturally different, a homogenous society, hard work and literacy.

      The only new thing on that list is HBD_Chick’s / Jayman / Emmanuel Todd’s analysis the the ANF and outbreeding produce a unique moral code.

      Everything else we’ve known for decades.

      Reply

  9. in the US, the liberal high IQ will slowly drop due to demographic change – eventually the liberal & conservative mean will be the same for a while (but the liberals will have a larger standard deviation – b/c they’ll have more high whites & asians, but eventually more low blacks & hispanics) & if trends continue, ultimately the liberal IQ mean will be lower than the conservative mean, simply because of demographic change. similarly, the ol’ flynn effect now leveling off, will work in reverse (only this time on high g-loaded tasks!) eventually — simply because of demographic change. we can see this coming, but (i want to say “how can we use it to make money?” :) but, figuring how it affects the nature of relationships between variables takes more thought than i can provide. i leave it in your capable hands!
    PS – thank you to curtd59 for shout outs for J. Haidt, who has done simply remarkable work.

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  10. “It’s easy to be for income equality when you already have a nice car and big screen TV.”

    This is partly true, showcasing liberal values becomes a form of conspicuous consumption – look at me, I’m a rich liberal in California paying more than 50 percent tax. But at the same time, rich people in poor countries don’t do that.You can only achieve social status that way in a country where civic-mindedness is an ideal. And it only became an ideal in countries that outbred.

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  11. I would be much more inclined to give credit to the outbreeding/inbreeding hypothesis (and national IQ hypothesis, or Greg Cochran’s etc. etc.) if the Industrial Revolution had run its powerful course throughout the far corners of the globe; but it hasn’t yet and so Greg Cochran’s hypothesis of genetic selection fostering productivity in a positive feedback loop that trumps Malthusian calamity hasn’t yet run its course in places like the Indian sub-continent.

    Stepping back from speculation on the causes of high productivity, to the results of increased wealth in developing nations seems to show consistent changes in behavior patterns ***irrespective*** of the cultural practices of these ethnicities prior to industrialization. The fact that Mexicans, Arabs, Hindus, Russians, and the Dutch ***all have falling birthrates*** highly correlated with concomitant increases in income strongly argues against a biological basis for political opinions in those countries and implies one based on economic well-being (which may indeed initially be determined by bio and/or cultural differences from a base subsistence agricultural economy.)

    In short I don’t see Arab inbreeding as a cause of laissez-faire economic opinions but as either a disappearing residual initial rustic condition or a rational decision to adopt robber baron economics in order to facilitate rapid economic growth.

    The ambitious graduate student would well be advised to apply some sophisticated and concrete Bayesian analysis of the data generated by these current trends in order to tease out the truths about what proportions of each theory can account for these changes in political opinion among developing countries. Gladly, I won’t be that scholar.

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  12. “If you haven’t already, please check out the book’s micro-blog/feed”

    Why pray tell should we be interested in “opening (our)selves to increasing political moderation?”

    When I step back all I see are ever greater and more numerous reasons to follow Abbott Arnaud Amalric’s dictum: “Kill them all; God will know his own.”

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  13. “Am I the only one here who sees that the signal piece of information on that chart is that all the countries with high regard for equality are those that are already rich? It’s easy to be for income equality when you already have a nice car and big screen TV.”

    Unless it’s the other way round i.e. countries that became less clannish i.e. effectively more egalitarian (at a specific scale) created more group synergy and became richer as a result.

    #

    “The fact that Mexicans, Arabs, Hindus, Russians, and the Dutch ***all have falling birthrates*** highly correlated with concomitant increases in income strongly argues against a biological basis for political opinions in those countries”

    If fertility is related to level of relatedness of the couple (i.e. low then rising to a peak at 3rd cousin then declining to low again) and the increase in income is related to industrialization, urbanization and dramatic population growth all of which has led to a decline in the average level of relatedness of couples then that might explain the correlation.

    (partly anyway. i doubt it’d be all of it.)

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  14. “(partly anyway. i doubt it’d be all of it.)”

    Or even the half of it if the industrial/cybernetic cultural feedback loops are affecting human natural selection as they appear to be doing big time if half of what one reads in the blog list on this page is true.

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  15. @james – “Why pray tell should we be interested in ‘opening (our)selves to increasing political moderation?’

    When I step back all I see are ever greater and more numerous reasons to follow Abbott Arnaud Amalric’s dictum: ‘Kill them all; God will know his own.'”

    sorry, what?

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  16. @kai – “Mainly, i try vote along my financial interests, so I feel I would be much more left-inclined should I be less well off….”

    avi actually addresses this in the book (chapter 3). apparently, individuals turn out to be more to the left or the right than they would’ve been otherwise depending on their economic situation. poor (natural born) leftists will swing all the way to the left (strongly socialistic/communistic) while better off leftists will not, whereas poor (natural born) rights will swing all the way to the right (strongly nationalistic) while better off right-wingers will not. when people are comfortable economically speaking, then they are more moderate in their politics, but they’ll still favor either left or right thanks to their personalities.

    @kai – “Now, as income is itself linked to IQ and largely heritable (doubly so, given the wealth transfer from your biological parents, added to the also-heritable capacity of income), maybe the point is moot ;-)”

    yes, well perhaps, then, given what i said just above, high iq individuals tend to be more moderate in their political leanings in general? is this the case? anybody know? (jayman?)

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  17. @james – “I’m just taking exception to some of Avi’s liberal cant on his linked blog.”

    well, let’s have less (meaning ZERO) talk about killing people, shall we? thankuverymuch.

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  18. @curt – “‘The fact is, that moral codes are largely genetic. What isn’t genetic is determined by the structure of the family (absolute nuclear, nuclear, traditional, extended or tribal). What isn’t determined by family structure is determined by economics.'”

    i’m reading avi’s book because he’s got sections on inbreeding and outbreeding and altruism, which, as you know, i have a slight interest in. (~_^)

    from the contents:

    II. The Biology of Tribalism
    9. When Outbreeding is Fit and Inbreeding Isn’t
    10. When Inbreeding is Fit and Outbreeding Isn’t…

    13. The Biology of War and Genocide…

    VI. Illuminating Our True Human Nature
    19. The Conservative Altruism: Kin Selection
    20. The Liberal Altruism: Reciprocity
    21. Altruism across the Lifespan: The Neurological Development of Cynicism
    22. The Altruism That Isn’t: Self-Deception among People and Politicians
    23. The Enigmatic Altruism of Heroic Rescuers

    these are the sections i’m primarily curious about.

    oh, and that reviewer from amazon misses a point about family structures: they put selection pressures on individuals, so family structures add to (or subtract from) the genetic picture.

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  19. @staffan – “But there is a problem in that psychologists are liberals and can’t appreciate the conservative mind. They always end up describing liberals as intellectual and dynamic and conservatives as moralistic and self-righteous.”

    yeah. big problem right there.

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  20. “well, let’s have less (meaning ZERO) talk about killing people, shall we? thankuverymuch”

    You must be joking right? First of all that is one of histories more famous quotes, Secondly, as a combat veteran, I suggest you read the newspapers more. Just what do you think non-moderation in politics results in?

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  21. I echo GW that the causation flows the other way. Rich individuals and clans do not seem to lead to the growth of a middle class across modern history, anyway. But a growth of a middle class seems deeply related to general prosperity.

    I agree also that the participants in the Arab Spring were not even rough counterparts to OWS. Unless we are defining both groups simply as “young people who feel they deserve more of the pie” and calling that a political inclination. Being in favor of income equality has a very different flavor if one is in the poorer group rather than the richer.

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  22. @charles – “The notion was that there is a spectrum of variation in the cortical mini-column of the mammalian brain, with for some, less variation in the internal connections of the 80 to 120 neurons, and in others more. This corresponded supposedly to a spectrum from more rigid and fixed opinions and more labile ones. Or conservative to liberal.”

    oh, how interesting! thank you.

    i’ve read a bit before about minicolumns in the context of autism. apparently autistic individuals tend to have more but smaller minicolumns. that might fit with rigid/fixed opinions … autism … rigid/fixed (not liking change) … small minicolumns? dunno.

    in the book, avi gets into neurological differences between liberals and conservatives like larger right amygdala in conservatives (i’m sure that mine must be HUGE – i’m a big scaredy cat (~_^) ) and a larger anterior cingulate in liberals (whatever that part of the brain does).

    @charles – “It crossed my mind that someone, say a child with a tendency to form more rigid beliefs and raised by left wing parents, could be conservative in their left wing politics.”

    that’s an interesting thought!

    @charles – “…after Hubel and Wiesel won their Nobel prize Torsten Wiesel ditched his second wife and ran off with a young lab assistant. Something in Wiesel’s personality I suppose.”

    probably something about the young lab assistant, too. (~_^) (men!)

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  23. @james – “You must be joking right?”

    no, i am not joking. i will have no talk about killing people here on my blog. feel free to start your own blog if you want to write about that.

    final warning. i’ll have no argument about it, either. my blog, my rules.

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  24. It’s nice to see such a lively debate. I’d like to interject a couple of clarifications:

    * Evolutionary explanations are not synonymous with genetic determinism, so people with the same genes in different cultural and economic environments will behave completely differently. The demographic transition, in which birthrates fall in richer countries, is a good example of this. Chapter 12 of the book gives an evolutionary explanation that can account for this apparent paradox. The title of this chapter is “Why Gender Inequality and Fertility Change across Human History.” Salon.com recently published a very short summary of this chapter, which doesn’t fully do it justice (unlike the article, the original chapter also explains the role of parental-investment theory in the differences between the sexes, and how environmental variables also influence the level of social hierarchy versus egalitarianism in some non-human social mammals). But here’s the article: http://www.salon.com/2013/10/11/malalas_struggle_has_just_begun/ (I didn’t choose this title!).

    * The book also has two chapters that explain why our political orientations shift as we age. Again, there are evolutionary reasons why this happens. I intend to publish an article about this topic as well, because I get a lot of questions about it. People sometimes incorrectly assume that these changes prove that genes do not exert any influence over our political orientations.

    * In general, socioeconomic data are very poor predictors of left-right voting. There is often no significant statistical relationship between income and party affiliation. In the US there is some, but it’s quite weak and often not statistically significant. There are simply too many rich liberals in California and New York, and too many poor conservatives in places like Oklahoma. However, income levels of social classes and countries do shed some light on political moderation vs. political extremism.

    The book shows how certain personality traits are by far the most powerful cause of left-right voting across countries and time. And these traits are explained and grounded within the context of evolutionary theory. Unlike some, I do not rely on group selection as an explanation, about which I am agnostic until I see much more convincing data. I also quantify evolutionary fitness in numerous places throughout the book.

    Happy reading,

    Avi

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  25. @james – “13. The Biology of War and Genocide…”

    that is a discussion about war and genocide. not an advocation of it, which is what your statement was:

    “When I step back all I see are ever greater and more numerous reasons to follow Abbott Arnaud Amalric’s dictum: ‘Kill them all; God will know his own.'”

    don’t argue with me on this point any further, or i will ban you, i promise.

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  26. ” In general, socioeconomic data are very poor predictors of left-right voting. There is often no significant statistical relationship between income and party affiliation. In the US there is some, but it’s quite weak and often not statistically significant.”

    That’s not quite what the American National Election Studies data referred to in the following post shows.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/08/republicans-still-the-party-of-the-rich/#.UnB5whbRIqY

    Reply

    1. That graph only shows white voters in one election, which happened to be the first presidential race between a European and an African American in US history. Please check out Figure 6 in Chapter 3 of Our Political Nature, which has the data for the ’96, ’00, and ’04 US presidential elections. In each case, the regression coefficients for median family incomes do not have a statistically significant relationship with partisanship (although the rich are voting Republican slightly more, and the poor, slightly more Democratic).

      But this is just one country. If you look at an entire region, like Latin America, you get a better picture: An Americas Barometer survey of 30,000 people across 18 countries in 2008 showed that income level had no significant power to predict who voted for left-wing parties.

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  27. @james – “Am I the only one here who sees that the signal piece of information on that chart is that all the countries with high regard for equality are those that are already rich? It’s easy to be for income equality when you already have a nice car and big screen TV.”

    i don’t think that’s the whole story wrt north africa. here is the full list from the 1999/2000 wvs (note that in the chart in my post, i was just contrasting north africa/the arab world with first world countries like the u.s.). here you can see that the north african populations really aren’t that keen on equal incomes — even much less keen than some other poor nations such as nigeria. and how well off are iran and iraq?:

    Netherlands = 3.5%
    Austria = 4.0%
    Israel = 4.0%
    Finland = 4.2%
    Slovenia = 4.3%
    Japan = 5.7%
    Canada = 5.9%
    Great Britain = 6.5%
    Northern Ireland = 6.7%
    Czech Rep = 7.1%
    United States = 7.2%
    Iran = 7.3%
    Spain = 7.5%
    Iraq = 7.8%
    Chile = 8.1%
    Croatia = 8.2%
    Albania = 8.3%
    Belgium = 8.4%
    Romania = 8.8%
    France = 9.4%
    Singapore = 9.9%

    Lithuania = 10.1%
    Belarus = 10.4%
    Iceland = 10.7%
    Turkey = 11.3%
    Italy = 12.0%
    Ireland = 12.1%
    Nigeria = 13.1%
    Kyrgyzstan = 13.6%
    Bosnia and Herzegovina = 13.9%
    Serbia and Montenegro = 14.4%
    Argentina = 14.7%
    Estonia = 14.8%
    Macedonia = 15.6%
    Saudi Arabia = 16.6%
    Moldova = 16.9%
    Luxembourg = 17.1%
    South Africa = 17.4%
    Total = 17.6%
    Korea = 18.5%
    Poland = 19.7%
    China = 19.9%

    Philippines = 20.2%
    India = 20.4%
    Indonesia = 21.2%
    Venezuela = 21.6%
    Bulgaria = 22.3%
    Mexico = 22.4%
    Vietnam = 24.1%
    Tanzania = 27.6%
    Jordan = 28.2%

    Egypt = 32.8%
    Russian Federation = 34%
    Uganda = 34.2%
    Zimbabwe = 37.9%
    Ukraine = 39.1%
    Peru = 39.2%

    Bangladesh = 46.5%
    Puerto Rico = 46.5%
    Algeria = 49.8%
    Morocco = 55.2%

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  28. @curt – “The root cause of the disparity of opinion is (a) family structure (b) diversity (c) borders (d) size (e) religion (c) whether or not there is a monarch (d) literacy (e) the level of SCIENTIFIC literacy, and (f) genetics.

    If you want to be denmark, you need 5M people who are of genetically danish stock, the ANF, outbreeding, literacy, rule of law – common law, no neighbors who are culturally different, a homogenous society, hard work and literacy. “

    yes. (^_^)

    i’d shuffle those causes around a bit, though, to put them in order of importance (imho): (a) genetics, (b) family structure [esp. length of time having whichever family structure] … and then all of the others. (~_^)

    Reply

  29. Also, look at the figures from the Middle East. I haven’t looked at the study or source, but it appears as though half of Algeria and Morocco have a high tolerance for income inequality. But if you look at income distribution there, you won’t find that half of the population is rich. It will be highly skewed toward the poor.

    Reply

  30. @panjoomby – “…but (i want to say ‘how can we use it to make money?’ :) ….”

    (^_^)

    half sigma had a post or two about that a few years back — “hbd investing.” (~_^)

    Reply

  31. @avi – “…it appears as though half of Algeria and Morocco have a high tolerance for income inequality. But if you look at income distribution there, you won’t find that half of the population is rich. It will be highly skewed toward the poor.”

    yes, interesting. might be able to drill down further in the world values survey to get at income levels. sometimes it’s possible, sometimes it’s not.

    Reply

  32. @staffan – “You can only achieve social status that way in a country where civic-mindedness is an ideal.”

    yes, exactly. the old chicken and egg question: how did rich countries become rich in the first place? there are a couple of different routes — you can be england or germany or sweden … or singapore — but the western route has been very successful. and, really, it was the western route that catapulted the rest of the world into better and better standards of living in modern times.

    @grey – “Unless it’s the other way round i.e. countries that became less clannish i.e. effectively more egalitarian (at a specific scale) created more group synergy and became richer as a result.”

    yes. i’ve started to think of it/call it a “wikification” process — you get societies where individuals are really willing to openly share their ideas with other like-minded people — their scientific ideas or their inventions. whatever. i have a fear that in a clannish society, you might keep new and useful ideas to yourself (and your clan). why would you trust those … other … people?

    Reply

  33. @james – “I would be much more inclined to give credit to the outbreeding/inbreeding hypothesis (and national IQ hypothesis, or Greg Cochran’s etc. etc.) if the Industrial Revolution had run its powerful course throughout the far corners of the globe; but it hasn’t yet and so Greg Cochran’s hypothesis of genetic selection fostering productivity in a positive feedback loop that trumps Malthusian calamity hasn’t yet run its course in places like the Indian sub-continent.

    well … there hasn’t been enough time. exactly how rapidly do you think natural selection works? four or five generations is not long enough.

    Reply

  34. @avi – “Evolutionary explanations are not synonymous with genetic determinism….”

    yes.

    @avi – “Unlike some, I do not rely on group selection as an explanation, about which I am agnostic until I see much more convincing data.”

    also yes. (^_^)

    Reply

  35. re wikification

    This impinges upon the question regarding the genesis of the scientific revolution; why in England? Englishmen, as you say, formed societies in which they shared their discoveries. They did this in order to gain prestige in the eyes of other (unrelated) men. Why? What did such gain them? Presumably it gained them the society of high quality men, which in turn gave them opportunities to find a high quality wife and opportunities to procure resources to raise their children. In contrast, in a clan based society the society a man keeps consists of his cousins, the wife he takes is one of his cousins. What gains he then from the respect of unrelated men?

    Which brings me to a related thought. In a clan based society if one member of a clan commits a crime against another member of the same clan, the matter is resolved within the clan by the clan leaders. If one member of a clan commits a crime against a member of a different clan, the matter is resolved (or not) by revenge, or by diplomacy between the clan leaders. In contrast, in England when a crime is committed the crime is resolved in a court of law in which the questions arise (to a greater extent): ‘What are the facts?’ and ‘how do we know they are facts?’. Such questions obviously also relate to scientific investigation. See the comments on this entry of Pepys diary: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1666/11/28/ In particular those by Terry Foreman.

    Reply

  36. ” there hasn’t been enough time. exactly how rapidly do you think natural selection works? four or five generations is not long enough”

    Read A Farewell to Alms then. He posits that the prosperous yeomanry contributed more superior men to each successive generation over a period of a thousand years. The aristos had fewer children many of whom died in battle. The poorer peasants didn’t reproduce at the same rate as the rich ones either.

    The 10,000 Year Explosion posits that agriculture itself has fostered a higher rate of evolutionary change. Analysis of ancient and modern DNA confirms frequent near total genetic sweeps of new alleles than seen in the Paleolithic era.

    Reply

  37. “don’t argue with me on this point any further, or i will ban you, i promise.”

    Goodbye hbd chick. We killers are out there in number and we are armed to the teeth, I promise.

    Reply

  38. @james – “…over a period of a thousand years…. The 10,000 Year Explosion posits that agriculture itself has fostered a higher rate of evolutionary change.”

    yes. one thousand years or ca. forty generations (counting a generation at a very generous 25 years) … or ten thousand years. not two hundred years.

    are you completely innumerate?

    @james – “Goodbye hbd chick. We killers are out there in number and we are armed to the teeth, I promise.”

    goodbye, indeed. and good riddance. don’t come back.

    Reply

  39. @harold – Presumably it gained them the society of high quality men, which in turn gave them opportunities to find a high quality wife and opportunities to procure resources to raise their children. In contrast, in a clan based society the society a man keeps consists of his cousins, the wife he takes is one of his cousins.”

    yes! that’s very good. excellent, in fact! it should all be about reproduction, shouldn’t it? or we should be thinking about if this “wikification” of (nw) europe aided successful reproduction. thanks!

    Reply

  40. @staffan – This fits into the Big Five openness/conscientiouness divide but that’s completely by design. If you adjust openness for IQ you basically have hipster on food stamps – the value of this trait is all about IQ, not political attitude.

    Not entirely sure what this means, but trait Openness seems enriched in highly educationally successful persons, even beyond a typical cohort of their IQ (of course, so may be other personality traits). Of course, if you adjust by education and IQ, you’ll get a “hipster food stamps” effect, but Openness seems clearly to add independent variance to education.

    …..

    On the Conservatism-Liberal divide – I don’t think this is a “natural” jointing of human personality or societal belief or whatever. In the sense that if you took a big bundle of personality or societal beliefs, and factor analysed them, a neat Conservative-Liberal split would not fall out of the data, “naturally”.

    Rather, what has happened the political process has worked to produce two large political factions which are able to compete with one another (there’s more in proportionate representation democracy but they have to form coalitions so its functionally similar).

    Each of these large political groupings must market itself to a large section of society and attract functionally high performing people who are willing to talk the ideological talk well, in order to stay competitive.

    It seems like, partly, the way one of these does this is by manufacturing ideological statements which appeal to people who are open-minded, smart, tend towards social anomie / cosmo rootlessness and have high abstract and unconventional thought. The way the other does this is by attracting people who are highly disciplined and achievement oriented, socially connected in their communities and pragmatic. Looking across human societies, this seems like a really common way for two ideological coalitions to form.

    And of course, because these traits are embodied physically in the brain and in the genetic code, there are genetic and physical correlates.

    However, the end result isn’t that either of these political groups actually puts their ideology into practice, but more that they sell off their decisions and stances for money to various stripes of bourgeois-capitalist organisation, with ideology providing some constraints as to how they do so.

    Haidt is utterly correct that (at least many of) the personality dimensions which underlie political differentiation have evolutionary explanations, but (at least most of) their clustering together to form political positions is driven mainly by the political process (which is mostly a sham for a process controlled by money and interests) NOT an a priori clustering which falls out of evolutionary logic.

    Reply

  41. @matt – “Haidt is utterly correct that (at least many of) the personality dimensions which underlie political differentiation have evolutionary explanations, but (at least most of) their clustering together to form political positions is driven mainly by the political process (which is mostly a sham for a process controlled by money and interests) NOT an a priori clustering which falls out of evolutionary logic.”

    hmmmm. thanks for that! something good to ruminate on. (^_^)

    Reply

  42. “Not entirely sure what this means, but trait Openness seems enriched in highly educationally successful persons, even beyond a typical cohort of their IQ (of course, so may be other personality traits). Of course, if you adjust by education and IQ, you’ll get a “hipster food stamps” effect, but Openness seems clearly to add independent variance to education.”

    What I mean is that although open-minded and liberal people are more intelligent than others (a kernel of truth), this is inflated by open-minded and liberal psychologists. You can easily ask people questions like if they read a lot (IQ) and if they think social justice is important (liberal). Call that openness and you find that liberals (the psychologists themselves) are smart. (And yes, self-rated IQ tests have a fair amount of validity.) To keep this illusion alive they never conduct studies on IQ differences between say democrats and liberals. Fortunately, the Audacious Epigone did that using GSS and Wordsum scores as a proxy. The GSS data suggests that White Democrats have less than one point on White Republicans. And you can’t inflate/deflate those measures.

    http://anepigone.blogspot.se/2008/11/politics-and-iq-conservative-democrats.html

    And as another anomaly in the liberal smugness paradigm, psychologist Gary Lewis made a high quality study that found the correlation between intelligence and Christian fundamentalism to be -0.13, which is almost negligible in behavioral science. Still, I’d much prefer a discussion with a liberal than a fundamentalist. But I don’t imagine that the liberal is some sort of genius and the fundamentalist is a complete idiot. There is just no evidence of that.

    Reply

  43. @Staffan:

    “Fortunately, the Audacious Epigone did that using GSS and Wordsum scores as a proxy. The GSS data suggests that White Democrats have less than one point on White Republicans. And you can’t inflate/deflate those measures.”

    A key weakness in that finding, itself also found by Audacious Epigone, is that self-report political orientation is a bit unreliable because it is relative. Red state “liberals” are considerably less liberal (gauged by their voting habits in the presidential election, which is a great across the board test) than blue state liberals are.

    I admit that this weakness affects my own research into political orientation because I rely on self-reported political orientation.

    It’s worth mentioning that Satoshi Kanazawa’s research (which used a fair measure of liberalism, that is, willingness to share goods with non-relatives) did find that liberalism was associated with higher IQ.

    Reply

  44. But I did mean the party affiliation (the article presents both) rather than the more vague orientation. A person may feel liberal in Kentucky but he votes republican because he really is more of a conservative. Just the general orientation will be relative.

    I can’t find that shared goods measure in the article. It presents two studies and under the “method” header it says the measure of political orientation is a straight-forward question and then a likert scale with “extremely conservative” to “extremely liberal” along with some GSS questions about family, marriage etc.

    The result in the media is all about the children who were later tested for political and religious orientation. I think it could be biased in that young adults seem more liberal than middle aged people. According to Gallup the democrats have won the under 30 voters in ten elections since 1952 and republicans 4. If they stayed democrat then the same would hold for all age groups by now.

    But the GSS seems like the best data although I don’t know enough statistics to evaluate it. What exactly does a standardized coefficient of 0.07 as an influence of intelligence on liberal ideology. Seriously, I’m curious. It appears to be less of an influence than age and earnings but that’s about all I can get from that table. The media seem to ignore these figures, perhaps statistically challenged like me.

    Reply

    1. There are two chapters in the book that explain the evolutionary, life-history, and neurological reasons why people’s political orientations shift with age.

      Also, there are a few studies that claim to show some correlations between IQ and political orientation, but I haven’t been impressed with IQ as an important explanatory factor. For one, the relationship isn’t strong at all compared with personality traits. For another thing, IQ could correlate with higher education, but the topics you study are also correlated with political orientation. As people have mentioned, the social sciences are associated with liberalism (it appears the causation runs in both directions; liberals are attracted to this area, but I also show evidence in the book that spending years in social-science departments can increase the liberalness of conservatives even more than it does for liberals). In general, higher education has a polarizing effect on people. Liberals become more liberal, and conservatives also become more conservative. This is true at least in the US and in Europe, and presumably elsewhere, depending on what people are studying to some degree.

      Most importantly, and I can’t emphasize this point enough: It’s fun to think about these things, and everyone has political feelings, but please do take the time to read Our Political Nature. This is the fruit of ten years of reviewing and synthesizing hundreds of scientific studies on the topic from diverse disciplines. Some of the theoretical background will be familiar to you, but there are many parts that will be new. This is the first book on the topic written by an evolutionary anthropologist (who also has some substantial on-the-ground political experience).

      Finally, please check out the latest review of the book in Forbes:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/cedricmuhammad/2013/10/29/michael-smerconish-and-pete-dominick-make-me-uncomfortable-what-centrist-independents-reveal-about-liberals-and-conservatives/

      And there’s a follow-up Q&A as well:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/cedricmuhammad/2013/10/29/why-are-we-liberal-or-conservative-q-and-a-with-dr-avi-tuschman-author-our-political-nature-the-evolutionary-origins-of-what-divides-us/3/

      Best wishes,

      Avi

      Reply

      1. @Avi:

        “There are two chapters in the book that explain the evolutionary, life-history, and neurological reasons why people’s political orientations shift with age.”

        Is the shift in age demonstrated in longitudinal studies of the same people? Staffan’s comment notwithstanding, it seems to me most such studies noting age effects are really generational; they compare people who are old now with people who are young now. I’d like to see a shift in orientation demonstrated in the same individuals over time.

  45. I forgot to mention one thing: while the nurture assumption is solid, that research also indicates that intelligence is under environmental inlfluence in the early years but then decreases rapidly. So liberals parents eager to pass on their intellectual interests to their children may well inflate the IQ of their children temporarily – and that’s when Kanazawa measures them.

    Reply

  46. @James Hedman

    “Or even the half of it if the industrial/cybernetic cultural feedback loops are affecting human natural selection as they appear to be doing big time if half of what one reads in the blog list on this page is true.”

    I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that but it could also be that the strength of modernity (industrialization, urbanization etc) is so great that it largely overwhelms the pre-existing genetic-cultural patterns that existed before rather than they didn’t exist before and being overwhelmed by is not the same as being adapted to.

    #

    Assistant Villager
    “I agree also that the participants in the Arab Spring were not even rough counterparts to OWS.”

    I think the Arab Spring is/was partly a rough counterpart to 1849 (nascent middle class rebellion) (also partly other things like food prices, religion and ethnic conflict) so c. 150 years behind OWS.

    [edit: sorry, this comment went to the spam box, because i’ve banned mr. hedman, and the spam filter picked up on the “@James Hedman” in your comment. oops! – h.chick]

    Reply

  47. Hi JayMan, I have longitudinal studies on the same cohort, as well as cross-sectional, global data. They show the same results. But you’re absolutely correct that generational effects are a potential confounding variable that needs to be controlled for. Luckily, the global cross-sectional data are from such a massive sample that this is somewhat less of a problem.

    Reply

  48. @hubchik

    “how did rich countries become rich in the first place? there are a couple of different routes — you can be england or germany or sweden … or singapore”

    I think Singapore is a coerced version of NE Euro thing.

    If you have a population who isn’t adapted to the NW Euro model but is intelligent enough to see the benefit of anti-nepotism as long as everyone is forced to play by the same rules (i.e. that anti-nepotism is better form of nepotism as long as everyone in that society does it) then they can go along with it but only as long as everyone *is* forced to play by the same rules.

    I think it’s likely to break down if/when the ruling elite defects from following the rules themselves. So i think the Singapore model might require a Lee Kwan Yew (or a self-perpetuating caste of orphan eunuchs.)

    On the other hand if a population is adapted to behave that way i.e to not always favor close relatives, then it could self-perpetuate as long as it policed its borders so only people who thought the same way were allowed inside (or to enforce assimilation into the Borg of the small numbers of people who were allowed in at a time who weren’t wired the Borg way).

    The fatal flaw is that if the root of NW Euro liberalism is willingness to share with non-relatives (or a form of anti-nepotism) then it itself militates against policing the borders to maintain itself.

    #

    For the above reasons I personally don’t doubt that among Northern Euro or Neurofied populations (but not necessarily others) that “liberal” minded people will have a higher average IQ as in the context of a sealed associative culture being liberal-minded in that anti-nepotistic sense would lead to greater success (and therefore be indirectly nepotistic).

    #

    “i’ve started to think of it/call it a “wikification” process — you get societies where individuals are really willing to openly share their ideas with other like-minded people — their scientific ideas or their inventions. whatever. i have a fear that in a clannish society, you might keep new and useful ideas to yourself (and your clan). why would you trust those … other … people?”

    Yes agreed. That’s what i mean by group synergy. Connections within a fully clannish society are limited to the number of family connections whereas connections in an associative society are unlimited. And also i wonder if there’s another effect too – or the same one looked at from a different angle – a willingness or otherwise to rock the boat. A clannish genius might keep it to themselves and just carry on working at their parent’s bakery with their siblings.

    Kin-gravity.

    #

    @Harold

    A very interesting thought there – consequences of developing an associative rather than clannish legal system.

    Reply

  49. @Avi

    “Most importantly, and I can’t emphasize this point enough: It’s fun to think about these things, and everyone has political feelings, but please do take the time to read Our Political Nature.”

    Yes, but then you have something to sell, regardless of quality ; ) Still, I’m a bit curious so I think I will let the continued review here make the decision for me.

    Reply

  50. Hi Staffan, don’t take my word for it — check it out for yourself. What I’m saying is that this is a non-partisan book that isn’t opinion-based. It’s a massive review and synthesis of hundreds of scientific studies, which has taken years to put together. And it’s written to be entertaining for a general audience even though there’s serious science there. I’d love to hear your thoughts…

    Reply

  51. @grey – “I think the Arab Spring is/was partly a rough counterpart to 1849 (nascent middle class rebellion) (also partly other things like food prices, religion and ethnic conflict) so c. 150 years behind OWS.”

    that’s an interesting idea. i think that certainly might be true in some of the arab spring countries — egypt, for example — where there is a small (upper-)middle class that is very modern (i.e. like us) in many ways — in a lot of their attitudes. (and in egypt that class has maybe two or three generations of avoiding cousin marriage under the belts now. still a ways to go before becoming anglos. (~_^) )

    Reply

  52. @grey – “I think Singapore is a coerced version of NE Euro thing.”

    oh, yeah, sure. that’s what i meant by there being different routes to get to a modern, economically successful nation. you can be northern european and do it via trust and cooperation, or you can be singapore and have a benevolent dictator insist that everyone behave. problem is, benevolent dictators are rare creatures — intelligent benevolent dictators.

    @grey – “…it could self-perpetuate as long as it policed its borders so only people who thought the same way were allowed inside (or to enforce assimilation into the Borg of the small numbers of people who were allowed in at a time who weren’t wired the Borg way). The fatal flaw is that if the root of NW Euro liberalism is willingness to share with non-relatives (or a form of anti-nepotism) then it itself militates against policing the borders to maintain itself.”

    yup. *sigh* =(

    Reply

  53. Jayman – “I’d like to see a shift in orientation demonstrated in the same individuals over time.”

    There is no shortage of personal testimony to that effect. Polling might be a better way to get at it than longitudinal studies.

    Reply

  54. @Luke Lea:

    “Jayman – ‘I’d like to see a shift in orientation demonstrated in the same individuals over time.’

    There is no shortage of personal testimony to that effect.”

    Indeed. That by itself however wouldn’t mean much.

    “Polling might be a better way to get at it than longitudinal studies.”

    Not really. There is no guarantee your polled group didn’t change in composition over time. My interest is whether individuals tend to shift rightward over time.

    Another key problem could be contextual (i.e., sea change). It is possible that an individual may hold consistent political beliefs throughout adult life, however, the prevailing political opinion my drift. E.g., how would a person who was pro-choice but against same sex marriage stack up on the left-right scale in 1970 vs. how they’d appear in 2010?

    Reply

  55. @hbdchick
    “i think that certainly might be true in some of the arab spring countries — egypt, for example — where there is a small (upper-)middle class that is very modern”

    Yes, i’m thinking it would be most true of Egypt and Turkey (and only part of the cause as there are also ethno-sectarian factors plus of course the critical element – food prices).

    Reply

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