Tuesday, August 08, 2017

TEEN CRIME MAY BE A RESULT OF CULTURE, NOT BIOLOGY, STUDY SUGGESTS


BY  


A new study from Penn State University posits that cultural forces, not biological ones, may be responsible for crime among teens. Criminologists at the university studied the relationship between crime and age in Taiwan, finding that involvement in crime peaks in one's late 20s and early 30s. This differs from trends in Western countries like the U.S., where the culture is more individualistic than it is in Taiwan, where teenagers place less emphasis on having fun and are more likely to behave similarly to adults.
"Whatever the biological, or neurobiological, factors that might contribute to criminal behavior, culture and social structure apparently play as great, or greater role," said Yunmei Lu, one of the study's co-authors.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Understanding 'ahorita' takes not a fluency in the language but rather a fluency in Mexican culture.




When I first stepped foot on Mexican soil, I spoke relatively good Spanish. I was by no means fluent, but I could hold a conversation. So when I asked a local ice-cream seller in downtown Guadalajara when he expected a new delivery of chocolate ice cream, and he said ‘ahorita’, which directly translates to ‘right now’, I took him at his word, believing that its arrival was imminent.
I sat near his shop and waited, my Englishness making me feel it would be rude to leave. Half an hour passed and still no ice cream arrived, so I timidly wandered back to the shop and asked again about the chocolate ice cream. “Ahorita,” he told me again, dragging out the ‘i’ ‒ “Ahoriiiiita”. His face was a mix of confusion and maybe even embarrassment. 
The author learned that ‘ahorita’ shouldn’t be taken literally while waiting for ice cream to arrive (Credit: Credit: Madeleine Jettre/Alamy)
The author learned that ‘ahorita’ shouldn’t be taken literally while waiting for ice cream to arrive (Credit: Madeleine Jettre/Alamy)
I was torn. Waiting longer wasn’t appealing, but I felt it was impolite to walk away, especially if the ice cream was now being delivered especially for me. But finally, after waiting so long that I’d built up an appetite for dinner, dark clouds appeared overhead and I made a rush for the nearest bus to take me home. As I left, I signalled up at the sky to the ice cream seller to let him know that I obviously couldn’t wait any longer and it really wasn’t my fault. His face was, once again, one of total confusion.
As I sat on the bus, rain pattering on the windows, I replayed the conversation in my head and decided indignantly that the ice cream seller was a liar.  
This incident faded from my memory until years later when I came back to live in Mexico. I discovered that cracking what I came to call the ‘ahorita code’ took not a fluency in the language, but rather a fluency in the culture.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

How Class Distinctions are Ruining America


David Brooks
    New York Times
    July 11, 2017
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/how-we-are-ruining-america.html?mcubz=0




Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.
How they’ve managed to do the first task — giving their own children a leg up — is pretty obvious. It’s the pediacracy, stupid. Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids.
Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.
Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents. Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.
As life has gotten worse for the rest in the middle class, upper-middle-class parents have become fanatical about making sure their children never sink back to those levels, and of course there’s nothing wrong in devoting yourself to your own progeny.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do parents really matter? Everything we thought we knew about how personality is formed is wrong


Brian Boutwell

The Spectator
June 14, 2017

https://life.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/do-parents-really-matter/


Parenting does not have a large impact on how children turn out. An incendiary claim, to be sure, but if you can bear with me until the close of this article I think I might be able to persuade you — or at the very least chip away at your certainty about parental influence.
First, what if later today the phone were to ring and the voice at the other end informed you that you have an identical twin. You would have lived your entire life up to that point not realising that you had a clone. The bearer of this news says arrangements have been made to reunite you with your long-lost sibling. In something of a daze, you assent, realising as you hang up that you’ve just agreed to meet a perfect stranger.
There was a time when separating identical twins at birth, while infrequent, did happen thanks to the harsh nature of adoption systems. One of the people who helped reunite many of them was the great psychologist Thomas Bouchard. I first read about Professor Bouchard’s work, wonderfully described by the psychologist Nancy Segal, when I was a graduate student. I still think about it often. What would it be like to live a large chunk of my life not knowing that I had a twin, and then meet him as an adult? Would our conversations ever go beyond polite small talk about the weather, sport or current events?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Frankfurt Becomes First German City Where Natives Are Minority

Turkish migrants are the largest non-German minority who have settled down in Frankfurt, accounting for 13 per cent of the population. Pictured is a Turkish woman waving a flag showing President Erdogan at an AKP event in Frankfurt this March



"Noting that two-thirds of young people in many of Western Europe’s major cities are of foreign origin, the authors of Super-Diversity: A New Perspective on Integration slammed politicians’ calls for newcomers to assimilate, stating: 'If there is no longer an ethnic majority group, everyone will have to adapt to everyone else. Diversity will become the new norm.'

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

In Defense of Cultural Appropriation

by Kenan Malek
Op Ed Writer
New York Times
June 14, 2017





Seventy years ago, racist radio stations refused to play “race music” for a white audience. Today, antiracist activists insist that white painters should not portray black subjects. To appropriate a phrase from a culture not my own: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

In Canada last month, three editors lost their jobs after making such a defense.
The controversy began when Hal Niedzviecki, editor of Write, the magazine of the Canadian Writers’ Union, penned an editorial defending the right of white authors to create characters from minority or indigenous backgrounds. Within days, a social media backlash forced him to resign. The Writers’ Union issued an apology for an article that its Equity Task Force claimed “re-entrenches the deeply racist assumptions” held about art.
Another editor, Jonathan Kay, of The Walrus magazine, was also compelled to step down after tweeting his support for Mr. Niedzviecki. Meanwhile, the broadcaster CBC moved Steve Ladurantaye, managing editor of its flagship news program The National, to a different post, similarly for an “unacceptable tweet” about the controversy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Andrew Sullivan on our cultural divide

April 30, 2017

And then there is the cultural impact of mass immigration, which the Party of Davos, living in a post-national world, celebrates as a vision of the global future. Neo-reactionaries beg to differ. They get a little vague here — tiptoeing awkwardly around the question of race. A nation, they believe, is not just a random group of people within an arbitrary set of borders. It’s a product of a certain history and the repository of a distinctive culture. A citizen should be educated to understand that country’s history and take pride in its culture and traditions. Honed and modulated over time, this national culture gives crucial legitimacy to the American political system by producing citizens acclimated to the tolerance, self-government, and other civic values that democracy needs if it is to function. And so [National Security Council's Michael] Anton, who gives America’s long history of successful integration of immigrants short shrift, worries about the influx of what he delicately calls “non-republican peoples.” “What happens when the West ceases to be western?” he asked me. On the blog, he was much more direct: He wrote that “Islam and the West are incompatible” and that Muslim immigration should be almost entirely banned. A country like the United States requires “a certain type or character of people.”

For the entire essay: 
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/04/andrew-sullivan-why-the-reactionary-right-must-be-taken-seriously.html 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage

An unorthodox professor explains the ‘new religion’ that drives the intolerance and violence at places like Middlebury and Berkeley.


New York
When a mob at Vermont’s Middlebury College shut down a speech by social scientist Charles Murray a few weeks ago, most of us saw it as another instance of campus illiberalism. Jonathan Haidt saw something more—a ritual carried out by adherents of what he calls a “new religion,” an auto-da-fé against a heretic for a violation of orthodoxy.
“The great majority of college students want to learn. They’re perfectly reasonable, and they’re uncomfortable with a lot of what’s going on,” Mr. Haidt, a psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, tells me during a recent visit to his office. “But on each campus there are some true believers who have reoriented their lives around the fight against evil.”
These believers are transforming the campus from a citadel of intellectual freedom into a holy space—where white privilege has replaced original sin, the transgressions of class and race and gender are confessed not to priests but to “the community,” victim groups are worshiped like gods, and the sinned-against are supplicated with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”
The fundamentalists may be few, Mr. Haidt says, but they are “very intimidating” since they wield the threat of public shame. On some campuses, “they’ve been given the heckler’s veto, and are often granted it by an administration who won’t stand up to them either.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

The last thing on ‘privilege’ you’ll ever need to read

Book Party



A new book argues that accusing people of unearned advantages does nothing to address inequality -- and may only make things worse.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/book-party/wp/2017/03/23/the-last-thing-on-privilege-youll-ever-need-to-read/?utm_term=.3f6450c0f480


THE PERILS OF ‘PRIVILEGE': Why Injustice Can’t Be Solved by 
Accusing Others of Advantage
by Phoebe Maltz Bovy
St. Martin’s Press. 324 pp. $26.99
Someone needs to book Phoebe Maltz Bovy on one of those television shows featuring people who have the most awful jobs in America, because she has just completed a project so soul-crushing that I can’t imagine anyone ever doing it again, certainly not voluntarily.
She has scoured the Internet for every overwrought think piece and self-indulgent personal essay about privilege — and has read all of them, apparently. And if that were not enough masochism, she has also read the comments sections, those swamps of vitriol and condescension that no one is ever supposed to even contemplate or speak of, let alone wade into. And she has drawn on that experience to write a book about why so much of the current debate and online pile-on about privilege tends to be contradictory, embarrassing, superficial and, above all, self-defeating.
The result is “The Perils of ‘Privilege,’ ” an often lively and more often meandering book that will be of intense interest to the sort of people who are up on the latest cultural criticism on the state of our cultural criticism. Unless you are steeped in the privilege debates already, the book will be most striking for its obsessively narrow focus, and for its expenditure of Bovy’s analytic and writing talents on a work that explores the vicious and petty ways people talk about a concept more than it interrogates the truth of the concept itself. If this book constitutes a “takedown” of the privilege orthodoxy, as the author suggests, it is very much an inside job.
Must I first define “privilege” in its current use, or should I imagine that if you’ve reached this paragraph, you’re already among the cognoscenti? As it is known today and discussed in progressive circles, a jurisdiction Bovy writes about with the knowing weariness that comes with longtime residence, privilege is not just about having special advantages available only to the few, but it is also about those advantages that are entirely unearned, and usually ones of which the privileged party is blissfully unaware or, even better, somewhat defensive.

Is diversity for white people?

Review of "We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation" by Jeff Chang
  


WE GON’ BE ALRIGHT: Notes on Race and Resegregation
By Jeff Chang
Picador. 192 pp. $16.
The copious books confronting this moment in America’s racial politics — a mix of reporting and meditations on President Obama, on Black Lives Matter, on police violence and mass incarceration — can be roughly divided into two broad categories. There are the My Story works, deeply personal accounts in which the authors draw on their own lives to illuminate their arguments, often in self-conscious reference or emulation of notable activist voices of the past; and the Our Story versions, works of history and big-picture analysis, more academic in inspiration but no less ambitious in their ends.
Jeff Chang’s book on the culture wars and resegregation of America is different, though. There is history and analysis in these pages, and there is life and experience, too, but neither form of storytelling overpowers the other. Instead, what comes through most clearly is a versatile mind in the service of a painful and protracted story, an author who ranges widely before drawing tough conclusions and one who, despite the book’s optimistic title, appears deeply pessimistic about things getting any better, much less becoming all right. “We live in a time when merchants of division draw us away from mutuality and toward the undoing of democracy itself,” Chang writes, and by the end of his book you feel that, despite the author’s best efforts, the merchants are winning.
“We Gon’ Be Alright” is organized as a series of seven essays — the “notes” in the subtitle is a bit of an undersell but still pretty accurate — that could each be read on its own in the pages of some high-brow magazine. Two of them in particular stand out, most memorable for their ability to move easily between Chang’s story and a collective one. In “Is Diversity for White People?” Chang explains how the concept of diversity has been “exploited and rendered meaningless,” used as a corporate marketing tool as well as an evasive maneuver against more radical efforts at mitigating inequality. And in “The In-Betweens,” Chang gets personal about the Asian American experience, in all its possibility and artificiality and tension.

Monday, February 27, 2017




Volume 49, March–April 2017, Pages 22–31

It's nature and nurture: Integrating biology and genetics into the social learning theory of criminal behavior



Highlights

Major advances in genetics and biology show that many human behaviors are impacted by factors other than social influences.
Criminology has not incorporated these genetic and biological influences into any mainstream criminological theories.
This article proposes unifying nature and nurture by integrating biological factors and social learning into a single theory.

Friday, February 24, 2017

THE SCIENCE ON WOMEN AND SCIENCE


Excerpt from the conclusion written by Charles Murray, AEI.2009

We have reviewed overwhelming evidence that genetic and hormonal differences between males and females are major causes of sex differences in 258 THE SCIENCE ON WOMEN AND SCIENCE behavior. These include differences in social behaviors in infants, play behaviors, interests, activities, educational and vocational goals, choices of occupations, patterns of cognitive abilities, and the frequency of extreme giftedness in spatial, mechanical, and mathematical ability. The dominance of female doctoral students in the life and human sciences and of male doctoral students in the inorganic sciences and engineering is consistent with and predictable by sex differences in interests and ability patterns. The greater social interest and ability of females than males is evident in infancy. The differing play activities and interests of boys and girls share similarities with sex differences in the play behaviors of nonhuman primates. Interests, activities, values, and vocational goals that differentiate girls from boys and women from men are strongly affected by the level of fetal androgen exposure or tissue sensitivity to androgen. Daily, monthly, or yearly cycles in levels of adult sex hormones influence performance on certain verbal and spatial tasks 


Trump, The Elites, and The Deplorables


Victor David Hanson nails it again in this podcast


Monday, February 20, 2017

How Sweden became an example of how not to handle immigration

We’ve taken in far too many people and we’re letting them down badly – especially the children

For a British boy to be killed by a grenade attack anywhere is appalling, but for it to happen in a suburb of Gothenburg should shatter a few illusions about Sweden. Last week’s murder of eight-year-old Yuusuf Warsame fits a pattern that Swedes have come slowly to recognise over the years. He was from Birmingham, visiting relatives, and was caught up in what Swedish police believe is a gang war within the Somali community. Last year, a four-year-old girl was killed by a car bomb outside Gothenburg, another apparent victim of gang violence.

Fraser Nelson and Ivar Arpi discuss the Swedish model for migration on this week’s Spectator podcast:

For years, Sweden has regarded itself as a ‘humanitarian superpower’ — making its mark on the world not by fighting wars but by offering shelter to war’s victims. Refugees have arrived here in extraordinary numbers. Over the past 15 years, some 650,000 asylum-seekers made their way to Sweden. Of the 163,000 who arrived last year, 32,000 were granted asylum. Sweden accepts more refugees in proportion to size of population than any other nation in the developed world — when it comes to offering shelter, no one does it better. But when it comes to integrating those we take in (or finding the extra housing, schools and healthcare needed for them), we don’t do so well.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cultural backwash On the muddied state of art and identity.


Politics, the late Andrew Breitbart remarked, is downstream of culture. In other words, the nature of a society’s culture influences the nature of its politics. So if you care about politics—those communal arrangements that, in Aristotle’s summary, conduce to the good for man—you will also care about culture.
What should we think about the state of our culture? Should we be happy about the state of those institutions that we have entrusted to preserve and transmit the cultural aspirations of our society?
Human beings are creatures who exist in perpetual tension between what they are and what they would be. Which means that the answer to that second question will always be No. The imperfection, the longing, that is at the heart of the human condition bequeaths us perpetual dissatisfaction. Still, there are differences to be noted, distinctions to be made, and it is clear that some eras enjoy a healthier, more vibrant cultural life than others.
When we look around at the institutions that define our culture—our families, our schools and colleges, those communities devoted to the arts and entertainment, those that are devoted to formulating our public self-understanding—what do we see? A full analysis or phenomenology of our cultural institutions would fill a book, or many books. But the yeasty political environment we inhabit is mirrored by a curious (to speak softly) cultural environment. Here are a few snapshots.

Guns, Gangs, and Genes: Evidence of an Underlying Genetic Influence on Gang Involvement and Carrying a Handgun


Gangs and guns represent two key sources of violence in America and around the world. While a considerable amount of research has been devoted to studying each outcome, neither has been extensively studied from a biosocial perspective. The current study addressed this gap in the literature by estimating the genetic and environmental underpinnings to gang membership, carrying a handgun, and the covariance between the two. Analyses of kinship pairs from the NLSY97 data revealed significant genetic influences on all of them. Specifically, genetic factors explained 77% of the variance in gang membership, 27% of the variance in carrying a handgun, and 66% of the covariance between gang membership and carrying a handgun. Just as important, however, is that the shared environment explained none of the variance/covariance across models, with all of the remaining variance being accounted for by nonshared environmental effects (plus error).

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Saints & Sinners: A Dialogue on the Hardest Topic in Science



 “Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall”
– Escalus; in ‘Measure for Measure’ by William Shakespeare
There is arguably no topic more incendiary (about which scholars say less, ironically) than race differences in general, and in particular, race differences in behavior and achievement. There are certain subjects that are so politically charged and fraught with consequences that any scientific research on the topic is instantly applauded or demonized (depending on your viewpoints), no matter the findings. The subject of race differences, broadly defined, falls squarely in this category. For the purposes of this discussion, and because we are behavioral scientists, we focus on the issue of race differences in behavior.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Selections for our Napa Wine and Conversation Salon



The following six posts of related articles deal with the fraught issue of group identity and control vs. individual identity and control (click on 'Read More' for the full article).  

Steven Pinker put the ideal in today’s language in The Blank Slate, writing that “equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchange-able;  it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group.”

The essays are used as "homeplay" for our PAIRINGS Salon Meetup during which we will discuss these identity topics while rating and ranking a selection of new releases.  The articles are meant to give focus to our discussion.  They will not be critiqued for their observations as such, but instead will act as a springboard or spark for our conversation.


 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

What is a Sexist



What kinds of statements about men and women constitute sexism? Is it sexist to say, for example, that on average, men are taller than women or that women live longer than men? Most people already accept the obvious truth that men and women differ in these physiological respects, and it would strain credulity to argue that such statements are blatantly sexist. Suggestions about psychological differences, however, can stoke controversy.
Pressing the issue further by claiming that psychological and cognitive differences might partly explain wage gaps, employment gaps, and the like, will certainly invite harsh rebuke and likely a charge of sexism. Like “racist”, the definition of “sexist” seems to have ballooned in such a way as to include any claim about average differences between males and females from the neck up. Some feminists, in particular, fear that assertions about differences between men and women threaten the social progress we’ve made over the past few centuries. Perhaps they have a point (as we discuss below). But we should consider whether such an expansive definition of sexism is helpful, or whether it actually represents a hindrance to moral progress.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

What is a Racist? Why Moral Progress Hinges on Getting the Answer Right



The charge of “racist” represents a scalpel that has been substantially dulled in recent years. The result is an inability to cut cleanly around the cancerous tissue of racism. The term has been co-opted by well-meaning social justice advocates, and is no longer reserved for people who treat members of other groups as inherently inferior to members of their own group. Nor is it used to identify people who fail to treat members of other groups as the individuals that they are. Instead, “racist” is casually hurled at anyone who expresses ideas that have been emblazoned on an intellectual “no-fly list.”....