Here’s Hemant Mehta, explaining why the poor don’t read, or exercise, or make their children read as much as the rich:
Rich people usually have time to read, and they have money to spend on audio books (which they can listen to on the commute to work since they either have cars or can afford an iPod), and they have the option of eating healthier meals (which tend to be more expensive than fast-food fare), and they don’t usually have to worry about fighting in wars to make ends meet, or going to school at night while working during the day, or raising kids while juggling multiple jobs, etc. On the flip side, it’s hard to wake up three hours before work starts when you work multiple jobs and only get a few precious hours of sleep to begin with.
And because the context of this quote is in dealing with group averages, Mehta is implicitly claiming that the poor are burdened with greater amounts of work and have less leisure time, on average, than the rich. (more…)
There are at least two competing theories out there for why different racial groups, living side by side, tend to develop visible and stable racial hierarchies. Our ruling class’s currently accepted explanation is that the game is rigged against folks of color by a variety of usually invisible hegemonic forces which keep people of pallor in their top-dog position. There is just one highly visible anomaly in the left-wing racial grievance narrative, and it consists of the fact that, even within white-dominated cultures, East Asians are taking an increasingly visible place on top of the racial hierarchy.
This is easy for hereditarians to explain, as psychometric research has shown consistently that East Asians possess an advantage of a few IQ points (group average) over whites, and that this trait is either heritable or does a damn good job of pretending to be. For modern-day racial egalitarians, though, it’s difficult to come up with a plausible excuse for East Asian achievement.
In his recent column, “There Is a War on Achievement,” not conservative (but not IQ hereditarian) scholar Thomas Sowell points out this increasingly visible crack in the edifice of privilege theory:
The very word “achievement” has been replaced by the word “privilege” in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called “privileged” individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.
The length to which this kind of thinking — or lack of thinking — can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most “privileged” group there, because they had the highest average income.
What made this claim of “privilege” grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.
If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat. That is why the achievements of Asians in general — and of people like the young black man with no arms — make those on the left uneasy.
There’s a book published in 1998, and then re-issued in a revised edition in 2008, entitled The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do. Its author, Judith Rich Harris, argues that parents do not shape the long-term personalities or behavior patterns of their children. It’s a shocking argument, but ably presented. The crux of the argument is that observed correlations between parental rearing styles and children’s behavior boil down to genetics, to impacts the child’s behavior has on the parent’s treatment of the child, and to behavior patterns that a child adopts specifically for when parents are present. Once these three factors are controlled for, the idea that adults are shaping the personalities of children is shown to be merely an assumption, and not actually based on any sort of good empirical evidence. Here’s a taste, from page 56:
Learning to do things with Mommy is all well and good, but the child does not automatically transfer this learning to other contexts. This is a wise policy, because what is learned with Mommy might turn out to be useless in other contexts—or worse than useless. Consider, for example, a baby I will call Andrew. Andrew’s mother was suffering from postpartum depression, an affliction that is not uncommon in the first few months after childbirth. She was able to feed Andrew and change his diapers, but she didn’t play with him or smile at him very much. By the time he was three months old, Andrew too was showing signs of depression. When he was with his mother he smiled infrequently and was less active than usual for babies of that age—his face was serious, his movements muted. Fortunately, Andrew didn’t spend all his time with his mother: he spent part of it at a day nursery, and the caregiver at the nursery was not depressed. Watch Andrew with his nursery caregiver and you will see a different baby, smiley and active. The somber faces and muted movements common in the babies of depressed mothers are “specific to their interactions with their depressed mothers,” according to researchers who studied babies like Andrew.
In other words, how you treat your child will impact how it responds to you, not how it responds to the whole world. If parents took this to heart, they’d be less worried about their parenting style, and more worried about the quality of their child’s genetics.
Here’s two facts which, taken together, prove that the average American voter is not all that good at thinking consistently about her overlords, and that the American voter is easy enough to manipulate that her opinions don’t matter.
First, the House incumbent reelection rate, since the fall of the USSR in 1991, has been 94%. Despite the controversies of the Obama presidency, the latest round of elections still produced a reelection rate of 90%.
Second, the percentage of Americans who think every Congressman ought to be fired, across the board, is 60%.
And that’s not a new development — prior to the most recent elections, the number was at 54%. If the voting process does indeed impose the will of the people on the political system, we wouldn’t expect 90% of incumbents running for reelection to keep their job. Not only is the outcome of the elections different from the outcome voters say that want; it is comically so.
Now, if the US isn’t being run by voters, who’s pulling the strings? Karl F. Boetel takes a shot at answering this question in the latest volume of RadishMag.
Robert Gordon’s essay Everyday Life as an Intelligence Test is about as good an introduction to the role of IQ in everyday affairs as can be found online. It runs just over 100 pages, and is well worth a read. He argues that, in any situation in which a person has an opportunity to make a mistake, IQ is there, influencing, at least in part, the odds that this particular mistake will be made. And even if IQ has a low effect on a single incidence of a single behavior (will I crash my car at the next stop sign?), it has a higher effect across a lifetime (will I die in an accident?), and can often overshadow all other factors when comparing whole groups of people (will population A or population B experience a higher rate of car accidents on average?).
The fact that an IQ test on an individual is not all that useful for predicting a specific, single possible instance often causes people to underestimate the pervasiveness of IQ effects in everyday life. But any action that a human takes, except for maybe reflex reactions, involves cognitive effort, however small. And, in turn, anything your brain does has a higher possibility of error the lower your IQ, and a lower possibility of error the higher your IQ. This is true for individuals, and becomes much easier to see when comparing groups of people. I know of no exceptions to this rule. If you can think of one, drop it in the comments below.
So this brings us to an issue I’ve been turning over in my head: tax rates and national average IQ. In general, nations with higher average IQ have higher rates of taxation, when measured as a percentage of GDP. What’s this mean? (more…)
Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping recently spoke about China’s ongoing rise. You can read about it over at the Xinhua website (here). The bit I’m interested in here:
Xi said the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and the Chinese people’s pursuit for a good life are interrelated with all other nations’ pursuit for peace and development.
China will stick to the path of peaceful development and will never seek hegemony, Xi said.
“With the further development of China, we will shoulder more international obligations and play a more proactive role in international affairs as well as the reform of the international system,” said the Chinese president.
In other words, China is holding to the stance towards international affairs that it’s held for some time: not planning any ham-fisted foreign military adventures, but certainly intended to continue rising steadily towards a more prominent role in international affairs.
How much more prominent? These sorts of things are notoriously difficult to predict, but Lynn and Vanhanen’s IQ And The Wealth of Nations gives us the most important metric yet discovered for predicting a nation’s GDP: average national IQ. It’s not online, but some of Garett Jones’ papers following up on the same subject are: here.
I’ll summarize what you need to know, then move on to the Chinese geniuses promised in the title. (more…)
And by thriving, I mean — as Skye Jethani does — growing numerically at a rapid pace. In a recent post at Out of Ur, Jethani discusses the sustained trend of decline that American Christianity is experiencing. This fact causes deep anxiety for American evangelicals and other sorts of Christians, and evangelicals typically have two things they say to each other as a means of calming themselves down. The first thing is some theological variant of “God is in control and everything will be all right.” I won’t spend my time arguing the theology of the issue, so I’ll let that pass.
The second thing evangelicals say is, “Christianity may be in decline in the United States,” and some evangelicals might add a mention of Europe’s post-Christian state, “but worldwide Christianity is experiencing an exciting worldwide revival.” In Jethani’s recent article “The Church is Dead . . . Long Live the Church!“, Jethani trots out variants of both evangelical responses to church decline. Here’s the bit I’m interested in:
Recent numbers I saw indicate that [in the United States] about 50 churches are closing ever [sic] week, church attendance is not keeping pace with population growth, and the average age of church members is going up. These facts, like the ones reported by the SBC last week, are what make us think the church is dying. And the truth is some churches are dying and others reached room temperature years ago. But that doesn’t mean the Church is dying.
My time in Cape Town, South Africa, last October made that abundantly clear. I was attending the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization with about 4,000 other delegates from over 200 countries. The evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, show the global church is more than surviving…it’s thriving! Some of the growth may be attributed to strategic planning on the part of Western churches and missions agencies in the early 20th century. But what we heard again and again were the unexpected and even miraculous ways in which the church has been planted, germinated, fed, and nurtured.
Jethani assures of the existence of “evidence, both scientific and anecdotal” which shows that, worldwide, Christianity is “more than surviving . . . it’s thriving.” What this evidence consists of, Jethani does not tell us. And so we can either “take it on faith” that Jethani has seen clear evidence — but does not wish to share it — that the global church is thriving, or we can go to a source which has actually been compiling actual numbers on the size and growth of the global church. The best such source, as far as I know, is Operation World, which keeps handy online country-by-country demographic and religious profiles with a special focus on Christianity in general and evangelical Protestantism specificially. You can find Operation World’s numbers online: here.
When I was a wee little laddie around the turn of the millennium, I had a copy of, if I remember correctly, the Operation World book for 1993. In 1993, it was certainly true to say that globally, the church was thriving. A state of mild decline among the billion or so white people of the United States plus Europe was being more than offset by the approximately 4.5 billion people on the world’s other continents, among whom the evangelical version of the faith was growing as fast as 4.5% per year.
However, since then, the growth of Christianity has ground to a halt worldwide. According to the latest Operation World (2010), this is where world Christianity is:
Largest Religion: Christian
|Religion||Pop %||Ann Gr|
Answer to Prayer
Evangelical Christianity grew at a rate faster than any other world religion or global religious movement. The post-WWII surge of evangelical missions was an astonishing success story, but most of the subsequent growth came from a new generation of indigenous evangelical movements around the world. Evangelicals numbered 89 million (2.9%) in 1960, but by 2010 they were 546 million (7.9%). The growth rate peaked around 1990 at 4.5%. With population growth rates for the world generally in decline, it is almost inevitable that all other rates will see a relative decline as well. Without an amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit, such growth cannot be sustained.
For those not schooled in the peculiar jargon of the evangelical tribe, that last sentence means, “Unless the laws which normally control human affairs are magically suspended, the already slow growth of world Christianity cannot be sustained.” And that’s quite a statement, as the current growth rate of world Christianity is only enough to keep up with population growth. A fall in that rate would mean a decrease in the percentage of the world that is Christian.
How is it that Jethani is convinced of scientific and anecdotal evidence at odds with what Operation World has found? I can’t say for sure, seeing that Jethani has not shared this information with us, but my guess is that if the evidence for the growth of global Christianity presented at the Lausanne Conference leans heavily toward anecdotes of conversions and local explosions of Christianity, without any serious attempt figure out what the net situation is after deconversions and driftings-away-from-the-faith are accounted for. That, at least, is the presentation style I’ve seen at all the Christian conferences I attended during my first two decades, back when I was an evangelical.
Though a statistical look at the worldwide extent of Christianity is difficult even for a single country, there’s enough country by country information that the rough outlines of the situation can be drawn. No matter what source of data you go to, there has been a marked slow-down in world evangelization over the last two decades.
And whether Christianity is exactly at a standstill (as Operation World data for 2010 indicates), still growing a little, or even in decline (as I think it is), the future looks dim. And it looks dim because, when you go through the countries of the world, one by one, and look at the state of Christianity in each of them, an unmistakeable pattern emerges. Christianity is falling wherever people live about seventy years, have access to education for all children, and live in relative safety, food security, and adequate healthcare. Christianity is still growing where people have lifespans of fifty-some years, where many people cannot read, worry about their next meal, experience high levels of violence, and consider witch doctors an important component of healthcare.
In short, Christianity is receding in well-developed countries, and disappearing in under-developed countries. Unfortunately for the spread of Christianity, many of the most miserable places to live, generally in sub-Saharan Africa, are already majority-Christian, and don’t have a whole lot of people left to convert to Christianity, or they are majority-Muslim, and thus really, really hard to convert. Even more unfortunately for the spread of Christianity, the world is becoming wealthier, quickly. The average person’s standard of living, worldwide, has increased 70% in the last three decades, and things continue to improve.
The countries where people still experience the sorts of misery that Christianity feeds on number fewer and fewer. This has caused Christian growth worldwide to stall, and will likely cause Christianity to begin shrinking in the near future. Is the global church thriving? It is not. And things look like they’re only going to get worse.
For more on the trends being experienced by Christianity worldwide, see here.