Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Links of Interest: Economic Mobility, Unreliable Social Science, and More

How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive, Megan McArdle

None of the findings in this article surprise me. My mother's family is originally from Salt Lake City, and I have some first-hand experience with their "peculiar" society. Yes, the cultural homogeneity does help -- but as McArdle suggests, there are still many things here that are replicable if we could just rediscover our intestinal fortitude and start promoting a generally bourgeois life script.

Psychology's Favorite Tool for Measuring Racism Isn't Up to the Job, Jesse Singal

"A pile of scholarly work, some of it published in top psychology journals and most of it ignored by the media, suggests that the IAT falls far short of the quality-control standards normally expected of psychological instruments. The IAT, this research suggests, is a noisy, unreliable measure that correlates far too weakly with any real-world outcomes to be used to predict individuals’ behavior — even the test’s creators have now admitted as such." This article is pretty technical but still worth a read if you care at all about the problems in social science.

Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century, Anne Case & Angus Deaton

This is a preliminary paper discussing an increase in mortality and morbidity in the white working class. Like the widening gaps between men and women when it comes to educational attainment, these are more findings that complicate the regressive left's narrative, which pits the so-called "privileged white male" against everyone else. As it turns out, that "privileged white male" has his own social problems to deal with -- especially if he doesn't have a college degree.

Screeching Harpies Claim Another Scalp, The Liberty Zone

Here, Nicki - in her inimitable style - excoriates feminist Naval Academy alumni for successfully forcing Jim Webb to decline an honor he was supposed to receive because once, back in 1979, he questioned whether women should be allowed to serve in combat. My mother was a member of the "first class" of 1980 and did in fact face resistance from her fellow midshipmen due to attitudes reflected in the essay at issue -- and yet I still find the screaming ridiculous. Even if Webb was utterly wrong and a total sexist at the time - and I'm not convinced that's the case - the fact remains that he eventually changed his mind. Are people just not allowed to be imperfect anymore?

Spare Me the Strong Female Character, Dawn Witzke

This blog post has generated a lot of discussion in my circles, so I think it's worth sharing here. As for my own personal feelings on the matter: SFC's are okay in my book as long as they are still recognizable as women and as people and are not promoted at the expense of strong men. Major Kira Nerys - my girl-crush since middle school - is a good example of an SFC done right. Yes, she does kick a lot of ass -- but she was trained from childhood to be that way and, athletic prowess aside, often succeeds through means other than pure physical strength (like, for instance, being so damned crazy that the enemy declines to call her bluff). Moreover, she's messed up; the consequences of being a child soldier leave her just on this side of being functional, which means she sometimes makes decisions that are frankly irrational and even dangerous. In other words, she's not always right, and she doesn't always win -- and I think that's the real key.

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