Scapegoating by anecdote

For every one Mollie Tibbetts who’s murdered by an immigrant (whether documented or otherwise), there are…A LOT MORE nice young women murdered by American-born men.

If the goal is to minimize violent crime, sorry but targeting immigrants is focusing energy in the wrong direction. The lion’s share of criminals are here by birth.

But of course the use of Mollie Tibbetts as a poster child for border-walling isn’t about protecting women like Mollie. It’s about demonizing brown people coming from poor countries. Mollie’s family is having none of your bullshit.

Americans still working visceral racism out of their systems

UPI shows us the results of a Gallup poll on interracial marriage:

Ninety-six percent of African-Americans, who have always been more approving of marriage between blacks whites, approve of such unions, while 84 percent of whites approve.

The aggregate from the poll sample is 86% approval. In other non-news, they admit:
Approval of black-white marriages is slightly lower among Southerners, Republicans, conservatives and those in lower education levels. The elderly are the least approving group at 66 percent.
If “the elderly” (that impenetrable monolith) are at 66% approval, then it follows that the younger generations are much higher, and that the Millenials are nearly 100%.
Now I want more information. When we examine approval of interracial marriages in various combinations (i.e., there are more than two racial groups in this country which may intermarry), we find that all interracial relationships are not accepted equally. It’s still no surprise that blacks are more accepting than whites, but I want to see the numbers on other racial groups, because the picture is not complete without them. Last I heard, white folks were still the most racist bunch in our country (where “racist” is defined as objecting to people of their own race marrying “outside” the group, so to speak), which doesn’t benefit us, but since we are still the majority it doesn’t limit us to the same extent as it would do to a group with smaller numbers. It would be interesting to see how Latinos, Asians and Native Americans (those categories being still oversimplified) approve of interracial marriages, though in a sample size of only 1319, there might not be enough of some groups to provide usable results.
It isn’t only numbers that would explain the difference, though. That’s not even getting into racist anxieties about America becoming a majority-minority nation in the foreseeable future, and it doesn’t even touch the phenomenon of whites occupying the place of default, or non-race. Minority groups have to think about race in ways the majority doesn’t. Disparities in acceptance are a reflection of how the majority is allowed to insulate itself from diversity.

Commuting, happiness, and incomplete statistics

Jonah Lehrer points out that the big house in the boonies isn’t worth it:

According to the calculations of Frey and Stutzer, a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40 percent more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. Another study, led by Daniel Kahneman and the economist Alan Krueger, surveyed nine hundred working women in Texas and found that commuting was, by far, the least pleasurable part of their day.

I hear him; a significant part of my job search is in making sure the employers are reachable by mass transit. Driving a half hour each way was bad enough; the thought of spending 90 minutes per day on the road makes me wince.

Which makes me wonder if these studies made a distinction between commuting by car and taking the subway; I like to think that sitting on the Metro for two hours a day is less hellish than spending the same amount of time behind the wheel, but does that bear out in research? A Metro rider, for example, has considerably less responsibility than a driver, less risk of collision, and can spend that time reading, listening to music and possibly writing (if the train isn’t too crowded) rather than concentrating on the road. OTOH, the other commuters on Metro provide constant fodder for annoyance.

Then again, these studies were obviously not done on people like me. I will probably never be able to afford even a 3-bedroom apartment in the mid-suburbs, much less the same space in the middle of the nearby city or a 5-bedroom McMansion in the exurbs. Lehrer’s citations suggest that I’d be happier if I rented an apartment in the middle of the city and walked to work, and all things being equal, he’d probably be right, but have you seen the housing market in the District of Columbia? The most I can reasonably expect to afford is an efficiency the size of my ass in a neighborhood where I’d need to carry pepper spray and walk with a German Shepherd. A little one-bedroom cave here in the mid-suburbs is probably the best compromise I can make. Something tells me Ap Dijksterhuis chose test subjects from a much more affordable area.

Race, dating, and lazy-ass statistics

Race relations AND online dating? TNC is making me absurdly excited today.

After sharing OKCupid’s report on racial preferences among its users, he lends us some perspective:

Look, I deeply suspect that, on a national level, there are an unfortunate number of people who think black women are less attractive then women of other races. The remnants of white supremacy are not just economic, they are cultural. I also think that’s less true today then it was twenty years ago.

But that said, I think that people passing this data around need to be really careful about using this study to draw inferences about the dating world of black women. One significant problem is that, as any black person will tell you, when black folks date online they don’t go to OKcupid. They go to blacksingles. They go to soulsingles. Or if they’re truly high post, they go to EliteNoire. (Dig the sensuous piano riffs and candelabra.)

Continue reading

Lies, damned lies, and (abuse of) statistics

Rob Tisinai shows that the only cure for shitty math is good math:

Here is my question:

Why is so much discussion of child sexual abuse all about boys?

The “heteroseparatist” (someone please tell me he’s kidding) sees the statistic of 33% of girls and 14% of boys being sexually abused, and immediately goes into: “See how dangerous those gay men are?!”

Does no one notice that child sexual abuse affects a lot more girls than boys? Why is it that child molestation is only a cause for alarm when the victims are male?

If we only care about child sexual abuse when it’s a chance to sound the alarm at the menace of homosexuality, then we obviously don’t care much about children’s well-being, and the girls are left disproportionately to fend for themselves.

That’s your profile picture? Really?!

The OKCupid blog debunks 4 myths about profile pictures. (And I really should have found the post without Andrew Sullivan linking to it. I’m not on the ball this weekend.)

The basic advice they give–and this is tailored strictly towards straight people, which I find sort of annoying but I suppose it’s understandable–is:

1. It’s good to smile and look at the camera if you’re a woman, but it’s better to look away and not smile if you’re a man, and the worst thing you can do is make the flirty-face while looking away from the camera, for both genders.

2. It’s not a bad idea to use a self-portrait taken with your cellphone or webcam, and in fact the “MySpace photo” (coy face from above shot) will get a girl the most messages.

3. It’s a good idea for a guy to take his shirt off for his profile pic, but only if he’s young and hot. It’s a good idea for a woman to use a cleavage shot, especially better as she gets older. However, you will get the best conversations, both genders, if your picture shows you doing something interesting.

4. You don’t really need to show your face, you just need to use an eye-catching picture.

Continue reading

How equality destroys marriage, except for when it doesn’t.

Margaret Talbot writes about the Prop 8 trial:

This week, the anti-gay marriage side is stressing a different mechanism of harm. It came up yesterday afternoon, while the defense’s lead lawyer, Charles Cooper, was questioning the plaintiffs’ witness M.V. Lee Badgett, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. According to Lisa Leff of the AP, “Cooper spent several hours with Badgett trying to demonstrate that traditional male-female marriages suffered after same-sex marriages became legal in the Netherlands in 2001. He introduced a number of charts showing divorce and single parenthood rates increased while marriage rates fell in that country.”

Ah, music to my empirically inclined lefty ears. Answers like these bring a glow to my little black heart. We shameless family-destroying coastal perverts keep demanding, “But, when you say letting same-sex couples marry will destroy heterosexual marriage…what exactly do you mean is going to happen?” and, finally, the enforcers of tradition give us a concrete answer expressed in statistics. They show us: divorce rates! Unmarried parents! Declining marriage rates! In countries that have legalized marriage equality! Yeah!

Continue reading

What’s that about destroying marriage, again?

In the debates on civil marriage equality, we often hear about how legalizing same-sex marriage will “destroy heterosexual marriage,” whatever that means. I have yet to hear a concrete answer to this question: what exactly is supposed to happen in terms of destroying the institution of marriage? The nearest thing I can discern to an answer to this question is that straight married couples will no longer get to lord it over teh gheyz with their shiny state-sanctioned unions, and if that’s the case, then the institution of marriage is in a sorry state already and a few blows to the head will only improve its condition.

I’m still not sure what the warning is supposed to mean, but if we want to talk about divorce rates, then Nate Silver is on the case:

Overall, the states which had enacted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage as of 1/1/08 saw their divorce rates rise by 0.9 percent over the five-year interval. States which had not adopted a constitutional ban, on the other hand, experienced an 8.0 percent decline, on average, in their divorce rates. Eleven of the 24 states (46 percent) to have altered their constitutions by 1/1/08 to ban gay marriage experienced an overall decline in their divorce rates, but 13 of the 19 which hadn’t did (68 percent).

Continue reading