american nations

on the recommendations of jayman and benjamin (thanks, guys!), i’m reading colin woodard‘s American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, and, so far, it is terrific!

except for this paragraph which appears in the introduction:

“Finally, I’d like to underscore the fact that becoming a member of a nation usually has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with culture. One doesn’t *inherit* a national identity the way one gets hair, skin, or eye color; one *acquires* it in childhood or, with great effort, through voluntary assimilation later in life. Even the ‘blood’ nations of Europe support this assertion. A member of the (very nationalistic) Hungarian nation might be descended from Austrian Germans, Russian Jews, Serbs, Croats, Slovaks, or any combination thereof, but if he speaks Hungarian and embraces Hungarian-ness, he’s regarded as being just as Hungarian as any ‘pure-blooded’ Magyar descendant of King Árpád. In a similar vein, nobody would deny French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Frenchness, even though his father was a Hungarian noble and his maternal grandfather a Greek-born Sephardic Jew. The same is true of the North American nations: if you talk like a Midlander, act like a Midlander, and think like a Midlander, you’re probably a Midlander, regardless of whether your parents or grandparents came from the Deep South, Italy, or Eritrea.”

poppycock!

what does woodard base his assertion upon? nothing. no references backing up what he says whatsoever (just a couple of little anecdotal news stories). his “a nation usually has nothing to do with genetics” statement just hangs there in midair like … something just hanging there in midair.

what do i base my “poppycock” reaction on? actual biological evidence:

european populations - genetics

nations — as in nasci (to “be born”) — exist as real, biologically based populations — with fuzzy edges, of course, because it’s biology that we’re talking about. that doesn’t make them any the less identifiable as populations (see map above). and different nations have their own, innate characteristics. those that are closer to each other are more alike to one another, of course, because it’s easier to swap genes if you’re neighbors (especially in the past — nowadays, with modern transportation, almost anything goes — theoretically anyway).

the population of the united states is, obviously, much more tumbled up than old world ones, but oddly people keeping spotting the fact that there are different regional cultures across the u.s. — different nations as woodard puts it. this isn’t (wholly) down to “culture.” and, despite all the ethnic/racial mixing in the country, this is probably very much down to biology — and woodard, unbeknowst to himself, explains how this can be:

“Our continent’s famed mobility — and the transportation and communications technology that foster it — has been reinforcing, not dissolving, the differences between the nations. As journalist Bill Bishop and sociologist Robert Cushing demonstrated in The Big Sort (2008), since 1976 Americans have been relocating to communities where people share their values and worldview<…. As Americans sort themselves into like-minded communities, they’re also sorting themselves into like-minded nations.

americans (and immigrants to the u.s.) have been getting up and moving to areas of the country where they can find people like themselves. so american “cultural” regions — woodard’s nations — have persisted. thanks to self-sorting.

apart from that one paragraph, American Nations is really terrific! i, too, recommend it. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. one of my favorite nations!)

infanticide in the u.s.

i came across these stats from the bureau of justice statistics while looking for something else. i thought i’d post them, even though they make me sad. =(

from Homicide Trends in the U.S. (2007) [pdf]:

infanticide rates - u.s. - graph

well that table pretty much speaks for itself.

parents are the perpetrators in most homicides of children under the age of five…

infanticide rates - u.s. - relationship with offender

…but the key thing to remember here is that the bureau includes STEPPARENTS in these figures. then you’re (naturally) gonna get the cinderella effect — mostly men getting rid of the offspring of other men.

and it is mostly men. from page 34 of the report (remember “fathers” includes stepfathers):

“Of all children under age 5 murdered from 1976-2005 —
– 31% were killed by fathers
– 29% were killed by mothers
– 23% were killed by male acquaintances
– 7% were killed by other relatives
– 3% were killed by strangers

“Of those children killed by someone other than their parent, 81% were killed by males.”

and they’re mostly young, reproductive-age men (and women) — again, naturally. on page 23 we learn that 81.3% of the perpetrators of infanticide were between the ages of 18 and 34.

also, a gruesome fact that i posted about before: stepparents, typically, kill their stepkids (when they do kill their stepkids) in a more brutal fashion than biological parents do. =/

and … i didn’t realize … men kill more male children than female. very interesting:

infanticide rates - u.s. - by sex

males getting rid of rival males’ male offspring. fascinating.

also interesting, the younger the child, the greater the risk for infanticide:

infanticide rates - u.s. - by age

i wonder if this has to do with very young children — babies — not really having a “personality” yet? yes, i know that they do when you really know them, but you know what i mean — a five year old kid has a more … observable, noticeable … personality than a five month old. maybe it’s kinda “easier” to kill something without much personality than a little person that talks back to you? dunno.

if i were to give women any advice, i’d say be very, very careful in picking your second husband or next boyfriend/baby daddy if you’ve got a young kid(s). and i’d be extra very, very careful if picking an african american man as a second husband/boyfriend/baby daddy. if i were to give men any advice, i’d say keep a watch on your ex’s choice of any subsequent partners if you’ve had a kid(s) with her.

previously: the cinderella effect, again and more on the cinderella effect and evo psych in need of a little hbd? and killing kids & step-kids, part ii

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

familism in the u.s. – whites by region

jayman says/asks:

“Theoretically, Red Staters are more able to depend on extended family. But here’s a question on the matter: is that true *today*? Are Whites in the South and West *today* more kin-centric? My (somewhat limited) experience in those parts of the country seems to indicate that they’re just about as individualistic as Blue Staters. I understand that kin-groups are still a major feature in Appalachia, but how about the rest of red America?”

**ALERT, ALERT!: READER REQUEST!** (^_^)

ok. so i looked at the “behavioral familism” related questions in the 2002 gss to see how whites in the different regions of the u.s. responded to the following questions:

– “How often do you contact your uncles/aunts?”
– “How often do you contact your nieces/nephews?”
– “How often do you contact your cousin(s)?”

the possible answers were:

– “More than twice in last 4 weeks.”
– “Once or twice in last 4 weeks.”
– “Not at all in last 4 weeks.”
– “I have no living relative of this type.”

as before, i collapsed the first two possible answers together to make a sorta “yes” repsonse (“yes, i’ve contacted that person in the last 4 weeks”).

here’s what i found (sorry, you might need your glasses to read these — wordpress has fixed it so that you can’t see a LARGER image in a new tab/window anymore. grrrrrr!):

gss 2002 - familism - u.s. whites - contact uncles & aunts

gss 2002 - familism - u.s. whites - contact newphews & nieces

gss 2002 - familism - u.s. whites - contact cousins

the patterns i see are:

east south central (alabama, kentucky, mississippi and tennessee), a consistently red state area, comes in twice with the highest ranking — and is above the national average on those two questions.
new england, a consistently blue state area, comes in once with the highest ranking — and, in fact, is above the national average on all three questions. so no one can accuse the new englanders of not being oriented towards the extended family!

the above average scorers on the three questions were (map of regions here):

new england – above average 3 times
east south central – 2 times
east north central (wi, il, mi, in, oh) – 2 times
west south central (tx, ok, ar, la) – 2 times
west north central (nd, sd, ne, ks, mn, ia, mo) – 2 times
south atlantic (de, md, dc, va, wv, nc, sc, ga, fl) – once

– the pacific states (ak, wa, or, ca, hi), a mostly blue region (with the exception of alaska), came in twice with the lowest ranking.
– the mountain states, a mostly red region, came in once with the lowest ranking.

the below average scorers on the three questions were (map of regions here):

pacific – 3 times
mountain – 3 times
middle atlantic (NEW YORK! nj & pa) – 3 times
west north central (nd, sd, ne, ks, mn, ia, mo) – one time
south atlantic (de, md, dc, va, wv, nc, sc, ga, fl) – one time
east north central (wi, il, mi, in, oh) – one time

to me, it seems like there’s an east-west divide — white familism decreases around the rocky mountains and gets even lower on the west coast. i should’ve made some maps. maybe i’ll work on that.
_____

so, back to jayman’s question: “Are Whites in the South and West *today* more kin-centric?”

yes, whites in the south are pretty kin-centric, but not so much in the west. and new englanders are very kin-centric — so there! (^_^) new yorkers are not.

i’ve got the data for african-americans, too, so i’ll check them out in another post.

previously: familism in the u.s. of a. and hispanic family values

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why nations fail

thomas friedman likes the explanation of acemoglu (that’s turkish armenian!) and robinson:

“Nations thrive when they develop ‘inclusive’ political and economic institutions, and they fail when those institutions become ‘extractive’ and concentrate power and opportunity in the hands of only a few.

“‘Inclusive economic institutions that enforce property rights, create a level playing field, and encourage investments in new technologies and skills are more conducive to economic growth than extractive economic institutions that are structured to extract resources from the many by the few,’ they write….”

uh huh. ok.

so, how you gonna get these “inclusive” institutions up and running in a place like … oh … egypt? in other words, how do you get from point a (‘extractive’ institutions) to point b (‘inclusive’ institutions)? a&r suggest ‘just build it and they will come’:

“Why is Egypt so much poorer than the United States? What are the constraints that keep Egyptians from becoming more prosperous? Is the poverty of Egypt immutable, or can it be eradicated? A natural way to start thinking about this is to look at what the Egyptians themselves are saying about the problems they face and why they rose up against the Mubarak regime…. Egyptians and Tunisians both saw their economic problems as being fundamentally caused by their lack of political rights….

“To Egyptians, the things that have held them back include an ineffective and corrupt state and a society where they cannot use their talent, ambition, ingenuity, and what education they can get. But they also recognize that the roots of these problems are political. All the economic impediments they face stem from the way political power in Egypt is exercised and monopolized by a narrow elite. This, they understand, is the first thing that has to change….

“In this book we’ll argue that the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, not most academics and commentators, have the right idea. In fact, Egypt is poor precisely because it has been ruled by a narrow elite that have organized society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it, such as the $70 billion fortune apparently accumulated by ex-president Mubarak. The losers have been the Egyptian people, as they only too well understand.

We’ll show that this interpretation of Egyptian poverty, the people’s interpretation, turns out to provide a general explanation for why poor countries are poor. Whether it is North Korea, Sierra Leone, or Zimbabwe, we’ll show that poor countries are poor for the same reason that Egypt is poor. Countries such as Great Britain and the United States became rich because their citizens overthrew the elites who controlled power and created a society where political rights were much more broadly distributed, where the government was accountable and responsive to citizens, and where the great mass of people could take advantage of economic opportunities. We’ll show that to understand why there is such inequality in the world today we have to delve into the past and study the historical dynamics of societies. We’ll see that the reason that Britain is richer than Egypt is because in 1688, Britain (or England, to be exact) had a revolution that transformed the politics and thus the economics of the nation. People fought for and won more political rights, and they used them to expand their economic opportunities. The result was a fundamentally different political and economic trajectory, culminating in the Industrial Revolution….

ok. i haven’t read (or, rather, listened) to this book — and i probably ain’t gonna — but i’ll betcha (*hbd chick rummages through her purse*) 98¢ and a bus token that these guys haven’t tried to figure out WHY in the seventeenth century the ENGLISH (note not ALL the peoples of britain) “fought for and won more political rights” which they then used “to expand their economic opportunities.” what was it about this particular group of people at this particular time that enabled them to join together en masse to demand greater political rights and freedoms for ALL the people (men) in the country?

why should the english in england and later in the americas behave so unlike nearly every other group on the planet and become all hot and bothered about the rights of individuals in society? why should they start to have screwy notions like ‘everybody is created equal’ and that each man (and, later, woman) is endowed with ‘unalienable rights’? and how on earth are we going to get the egyptians … and the north koreans and the sierra leoneans and the zimbabweans and everyone else … to act like the english? to rise up and demand political rights and to create all these inclusive institutions? to ALL work TOGETHER towards a COMMON goal.

because, surely, that must be the order required: to find out what made the english do what they did and then recreate those circumstances in all these other places.

apart from all the usual sorts of hbd characteristics required to produce an advanced society (like intelligence), you all know what i’m gonna say is needed. and my solution is not something that will work overnight.

and egyptians are a long, long way away from being anything like the english in terms of genetic relatedness to one another. nope. they are much more like the people in iraq who anthropologist robin fox described thusly [pg. 62]:

“For a start, there is no ‘Iraqi People.’ The phrase should be banned as misleading and purely rhetorical. Iraq as a ‘nation’ (like the ‘nation’ of Kuwait) was devised by the compasses and protractors of Gertrude Bell when the British and French divided up the Middle East in 1921. We know well enough the ethnic-religious division into Kurd, Sunni, and Shia. People who know very little else can rehearse that one (even if they do not really know the difference; the Kurds are Sunni, after all). But what is not understood is that Iraq, like the other countries of the region, still stands at a level of social evolution where the family, clan, tribe, and sect command major allegiance. The idea of the individual autonomous voter, necessary and commonplace in our own systems, is relatively foreign.

voting in egypt — also a society based on extended-families and clans — runs along clan-lines, too:

“‘Tribe, family, and religion—this is how people vote here,’ said Micheil Fayek, a candidate in Fayoum governorate, which includes Tomiya, for the liberal-leaning, but pro-military Wafd Party….

“‘Egyptian Election is based on individuals with strong tribal and family connections rather than on ideologies or programs of parties, and the only exception to this is the Islamist voters,” said Mr. Mahmoud, the head of the Hurriya Party, which includes ex-Mubarak regime members from around the country and who is also a candidate from a prominent family from southern Egypt. “It doesn’t it matter if I was a part of the ruling regime. Even if I was a member of the Israeli Likud, I would still win.’”

a&r’s solution to poverty in egypt is to simply get the egyptians to create inclusive institutions, but this will not work because, as things stand today, egyptian society is not structured on inclusive institutions. it is structured on exclusive families and clans which, unlike a rotary club, you can’t just join — you’ve got to be born into them. and egyptians are not going to give these up any time soon because they are just too inbred. oh, there are probably some rather outbred egyptian urbanites in cairo who are ready for a modern society based on liberal democracy (for what that’s worth), but most egyptians are not those people.

and most of the rest of the world is like iraq and egypt in one way or another. almost everywhere except, due to some curious twists of history, northwest europe.

most economists just don’t get it ’cause they don’t think of humans as biological creatures. i’m gonna write a book one day and i’m gonna title it: Why Economists Fail.

see also: Egypt’s families remain electoral forces to reckon with — really, don’t miss it!

previously: “hard-won democracy”

update 04/14: see also not the revolution they’re looking for

update 04/15: An association between the kinship and fertility of human couples

(note: comments do not require an email. eg. the abaza family of egypt.)

lovesick in south dakota

“These maps contain 20,262 unique words, based on the analysis of online dating profiles from 19,095,414 single Americans.

“Each word appears in the place it’s used more frequenlty than anywhere else in the country.

“Singles data taken from:

“match.com | lavalife.com | plentyoffish.com | chemistry.com | okcupid.com | nerve.com | eharmony.com | singlesnet.com | perfectmatch.com | friendfinder.com | great-expectations.com | americansingles.com | date.com | christianmingle.com | gay.com | blacksingles.com | jdate.com | amor.com | asiafriendfinder.com
alt.com | collarme.com”
[source]

oh, the poor folks in south dakota (click on images for LARGER versions):

compare the singles in alaska“outdoorsy, flirt, awestruck, eskimo, moose, (ego?)”

… with the ones in san francisco — “compulsive, masochistic, obsess, wackiness”:

myself? i’m movin’ to nebraska! any state where the people are interested in “meat” and “steaks” is alright by me! (altho, i’m a bit dubious about the word “teetotaler” there in nebraska. in that regard, wisconsin is obviously the state for me!):

previously: der bollenhut!

(note: comments do not require an email.)