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August 27, 2018

The Limits of My Language are the Limits of My Stupidity

Filed under: 1984,Ideology — Razib Khan @ 11:12 pm

I think about this quote from1984 literally every day:

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.” (1.5.23, Syme)

And more:

“It’s a beautiful thing, the Destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word, which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take ‘good,’ for instance. If you have a word like ‘good,’ what need is there for a word like ‘bad’? ‘Ungood’ will do just as well – better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of ‘good,’ what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ covers the meaning or ‘doubleplusgood’ if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already, but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words – in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was B.B.’s idea originally, of course,” he added as an afterthought. (1.5.23, Syme)

1984 is a great book. But do you remember how it ended?

June 8, 2011

The limits of the mean and the moderate

Filed under: Data Analysis,GSS,Ideology,Politics — Razib Khan @ 11:57 am

Red States vs. Blue States: Going Beyond the Mean:

In recent years, many scholars have explored the degree of polarization between red and blue states (red states are those carried by Republicans at the presidential level; blue states are those carried by Democrats). Some claim that red- and blue-state citizens are deeply polarized, while others disagree, arguing that there are only limited differences between the two groups. All previous work on this topic, however, simply uses difference-of-means tests to determine when these two groups are polarized. We show that this test alone cannot determine whether states are actually polarized. We remedy this shortcoming by introducing a new measure based on the degree of issue-position overlap between red- and blue-state citizens. Our findings demonstrate that there is only limited polarization—and a good deal of common ground—between red states and blue states. We discuss the implications of our work both for the study of polarization itself and for the broader study of American politics.

Generating a statistical construct of the distribution of liberalism and conservatism on social and economic issues the authors produced a set of plots which illustrate the differences between “red” (conservative) states and “blue” (liberal) states. In the figures below ...

February 8, 2011

The academy is liberal, deal!

Filed under: Academic Bias,Ideology,Politics,Social Science — Razib Khan @ 1:02 pm

A new article in The New York Times, Social Scientist Sees Bias Within, profiles Jonathan Haidt’s quest to get some political diversity within social psychology. This means my post Is the Academy liberal?, is getting some links again. The data within that post is just a quantitative take on what anyone knows: the academy is by and large a redoubt of political liberals. To the left you see the ratio of liberals to conservatives for selected disciplines. Haidt points out that in the American public the ratio is 1:2 in the other direction, so it would be 0.50. He goes on to say that: “Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.” Haidt now calls himself a “centrist,” but you define yourself in part by the distribution around you. ...

September 7, 2010

How much more racist are white conservatives than white liberals?

Filed under: Culture,Data Analysis,GSS,Ideology,Politics,Racism — Razib Khan @ 11:05 am

A few weeks ago there were a bunch of stories on how white the audience was at Glenn Beck’s rally. That’s empirically true, and the Tea Party movement as a whole is overwhelmingly white. So is the American conservative movement. This in a nation which is ~65% white in a colloquial sense (i.e., white Hispanics are excluded from the class of “white”). It makes one’s eyebrows go up I suppose when you see a very unrepresentative set of people. But what irritates me about media observation of this statistical reality is that the elite media is also disproportionately white. Much of the elite media and the up & coming pundit class reside in a majority black city, but if you check out their Facebook photos or flickr accounts you would be totally surprised at the fact that they reside in a “Chocolate City.” Why are the social circles of elite media types, liberal or conservative, not representative of the city in which they reside? There are pretty clear reasons of confounds of class and socioeconomic affinity with race. The demographics of one’s social circle don’t necessarily lead one to prima facie accusations of bias, rather, they’re embedded in a set of causal assumptions and conditionals. So, from a liberal perspective the whiteness of the SWPL milieu is situational, while that of the right-wing milieu is essential. The demographics of conservative political movements themselves are interpreted through a particular historical frame of racism for most liberals implicitly. In contrast, the white demographics of elite liberals, including the Netroots, are often “contextualized” as emerging out of a whole range of historical and social processes, which if not just in and of themselves, are structural factors which elite white liberals are not responsible for and are attempting to change.

It seems a pretty robust social science finding that white liberals have less racialist sentiment than white conservatives. My main beef, as a non-white conservative, is that a quantitative difference of degree gets collapsed into a qualitative difference of kind. Transforming a quantitative variable into a dichotomous categorical one totally changes the inferences one makes from facts. The whiteness of conservative movements and classes then entails the casting of particular aspersions, while the whiteness of liberal movements and classes tends to go under the radar as having a sociological cause out of the control of white liberals.

To explore the quantitative, as opposed to qualitative, difference between white non-Hispanics of varied political stripes I decided to look at the GSS data set. There are a variety of questions on racial issues, though I focused on the ones related to white opinions/attitudes/relations with blacks since they are more numerous. For example, in 1974 23% of white liberals and 36% of white conservatives favored a law banning interracial marriage. In 2002 the values were 8% and 13% respectively. In both cases you can see that white conservatives have more racialist feeling, but the difference is not dichotomous, but one of degree. Below is a table of responses to a set of questions by white non-Hispanics in the 2000s. I broke out the data set by liberal and conservative, and Democrat and Republican. Additionally, in addition to the raw frequencies I also calculated absolute and relative differences between liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans.


Ideology Party Ideology Party
Response Lib Con Dem Repub Abs Gap Rel Gap Abs Gap Rel Gap
Favor law against racial intermarriage
Yes 7.3 13.6 12 10 -6.3 0.5 2.0 1.2

Black person over for dinner recently
Yes 46.7 39.2 36.5 41.5 7.5 1.2 -5.0 0.9

Would vote for black president
Yes 96.4 93.8 93.3 95.4 2.6 1.0 -2.1 1.0

Whites hurt by affirmative action?
Very likely 14.5 22 15.9 21.8 -7.5 0.7 -5.9 0.7
Somewhat likely 48.1 50 49.2 52.4 -1.9 1.0 -3.2 0.9
Not very likely 37.4 28 34.9 25.8 9.4 1.3 9.1 1.4

Close relative marry black
Strongly favor 17.9 9.5 14.3 9.7 8.4 1.9 4.6 1.5
Favor 11.8 12.7 12.5 12 -0.9 0.9 0.5 1.0
Neither favor nor oppose 50.3 37.4 43.8 41.7 12.9 1.3 2.1 1.1
Oppose 10.2 19.9 13.1 19.3 -9.7 0.5 -6.2 0.7
Strongly oppose 9.7 20.6 16.2 17.4 -10.9 0.5 -1.2 0.9

Have conditions improved for blacks
Improved 60 72.7 64.6 73.9 -12.7 0.8 -9.3 0.9
Gotten worse 4.8 3.6 3.7 3.5 1.2 1.3 0.2 1.1
About the same 35.2 23.7 31.7 22.6 11.5 1.5 9.1 1.4

Has most in common with
Whites 16 16.5 16.5 17.9 -0.5 1.0 -1.4 0.9
Blacks 20.7 11.9 18.5 15.4 8.8 1.7 3.1 1.2
Jews 22.5 20 22 19.9 2.5 1.1 2.1 1.1
Hispanics 10.1 17.7 9.6 17.4 -7.6 0.6 -7.8 0.6
Asians 5.4 12.4 7.3 9.8 -7.0 0.4 -2.5 0.7
Equal in common to all 21.2 13.2 19.9 13 8.0 1.6 6.9 1.5
Nothing in common with any 4.1 8.3 6.2 6.6 -4.2 0.5 -0.4 0.9

Number of blacks one is acquainted with
0 19.4 26.8 24.3 25.4 -7.4 0.7 -1.1 1.0
1 7.2 9.3 13.8 6.9 -2.1 0.8 6.9 2.0
2-5 37.1 35.5 33.1 37.2 1.6 1.0 -4.1 0.9
6-10 11.8 11.8 11.6 13.3 0.0 1.0 -1.7 0.9
More than 10 24.5 16.6 17.1 17.2 7.9 1.5 -0.1 1.0

Number of blacks one trusts
0 36.3 47.7 40.9 46.6 -11.4 0.8 -5.7 0.9
1 16.9 16.4 21.3 14 0.5 1.0 7.3 1.5
2-5 32.3 25.9 24.4 28.2 6.4 1.2 -3.8 0.9
6-10 9.4 4.9 8.1 5.5 4.5 1.9 2.6 1.5
More than 10 5.1 5.1 5.3 5.7 0.0 1.0 -0.4 0.9

Number of blacks in neighborhood
0 52.4 61.5 55.4 59.3 -9.1 0.9 -3.9 0.9
1 12.7 10.2 12 9.3 2.5 1.2 2.7 1.3
2-5 22.3 20 20.7 21.2 2.3 1.1 -0.5 1.0
6-10 2.6 4.6 1.7 4.6 -2.0 0.6 -2.9 0.4
More than 10 10 3.8 10.1 5.7 6.2 2.6 4.4 1.8

Number of black family members
0 77.7 83.7 80.1 81.8 -6.0 0.9 -1.7 1.0
1 11.3 13.4 10.4 8.9 -2.1 0.8 1.5 1.2
2-5 8.5 2.9 5.8 9 5.6 2.9 -3.2 0.6
6-10 0.8 0 0.6 0 0.8 0.6
More than 10 1.7 0 3 0.3 1.7 2.7 10.0

Number of blacks in voluntary associations one involved with
0 41.2 43.4 40.8 42.7 -2.2 0.9 -1.9 1.0
1 11.2 8.2 10.3 7.4 3.0 1.4 2.9 1.4
2-5 28.4 26.6 26.3 25.9 1.8 1.1 0.4 1.0
6-10 9.2 8.3 9.4 10.9 0.9 1.1 -1.5 0.9
More than 10 9.9 13.4 13.2 13.1 -3.5 0.7 0.1 1.0

Number of blacks in current or previous work
0 23.5 33.3 26.3 30.6 -9.8 0.7 -4.3 0.9
1 11 8.2 14.6 8.6 2.8 1.3 6.0 1.7
2-5 28.3 25.9 29.2 24.5 2.4 1.1 4.7 1.2
6-10 16.2 11.6 11 12.3 4.6 1.4 -1.3 0.9
More than 10 21 20.9 18.9 24.1 0.1 1.0 -5.2 0.8

To replicate:

Row: RACMAR  MARBLK ACQFMBLK  RACHOME  BLKSIMP   TRTBLACK ACQBLACK   DISCAFF       ACQNHBLK    RACPRES MOSTCOM ACQVABLK ACQWKBLK

Column: POLVIEWS(r:1-3″Liberal”;5-7″Conservative”)  PARTYID(r:0-2″Democrat”;4-6″Republican”)

Selection Filters: RACE(1) HISPANIC(1)

For those who don’t know the GSS URL: http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/hsda?harcsda+gss08

The question of Hispanic or non-Hispanic status was only asked starting in the year 2000, so  the data are all constrained to the aughts. I know tables are kind of hard to read, but I wasn’t sure as to the best way to visualize the results. But if someone wants to try, or has some ideas, here’s the data as a csv.

I’ll let readers engage in interpretation, but be warned that if it’s obvious you didn’t read the table your comment may not be published, or, I’ll just delete it. The only thing I want to add is that it isn’t a surprise that the political party division is narrower than the ideological one. Republicans are the conservative party, but there are wealthy social liberals within the party, while Democrats have some downscale socially conservative types.

Note: Sample sizes are small in some of the cases above, so don’t necessarily draw too much of an inference if the absolute value difference is marginal. That’s why I looked at a lot of questions.

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