August 9, 2007

Boston Globe and Steven Durlauf on Putnam's diversity research

A few weeks ago I got a phone call from a fellow writing an article for the Boston Globe on Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam's research on ethnic diversity's impact on social capital, which I've been writing about, every now and then, since 2001 (here and here). But the journalist seemed at least as interested in asking about David Duke, of all people, as about Putnam's data, so it didn't seem like a very productive conversation. Anyway, here's his article:


The downside of diversity
A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth?

By Michael Jonas | August 5, 2007

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist. ...

Meanwhile, by drawing a portrait of civic engagement in which more homogeneous communities seem much healthier, some of Putnam's worst fears about how his results could be used have been realized. A stream of conservative commentary has begun -- from places like the Manhattan Institute and "The American Conservative" -- highlighting the harm the study suggests will come from large-scale immigration. But Putnam says he's also received hundreds of complimentary emails laced with bigoted language. "It certainly is not pleasant when David Duke's website hails me as the guy who found out racism is good," he says.


This reminds me of when Mearsheimer and Walt's essay on "The Israel Lobby" came out and the neocon NY Sun immediately solicited an endorsement of it from David Duke, which then showed up in 56,000 of the first 177,000 references to it on Google.


So how to explain New York, London, Rio de Janiero, Los Angeles -- the great melting-pot cities that drive the world's creative and financial economies?


Rio drives the "world's creative and financial economies"? More than, say, Tokyo?


Diversity, it shows, makes us uncomfortable -- but discomfort, it turns out, isn't always a bad thing. Unease with differences helps explain why teams of engineers from different cultures may be ideally suited to solve a vexing problem. Culture clashes can produce a dynamic give-and-take, generating a solution that may have eluded a group of people with more similar backgrounds and approaches. ...


So that's why Toyota's engineers in Nagoya, Japan and Nokia's engineers in Espoo, Finland are so bad!


The image of civic lassitude dragging down more diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest.


This is another version of the theory that Richard Florida gets $35,000 a lecture for propounding, that the reason high tech centers like Silicon Valley are rich is because they attract a lot of gays, bohemians, artistes, and immigrants. That appears to get the causality backwards -- Dr. Florida's favorites are attracted to some high tech suburb by the wealth-generated by the pocket-protector nerds and the golf-playing salesguys, not the other way around.


It turns out there is a flip side to the discomfort diversity can cause. If ethnic diversity, at least in the short run, is a liability for social connectedness, a parallel line of emerging research suggests it can be a big asset when it comes to driving productivity and innovation. In high-skill workplace settings, says Scott Page, the University of Michigan political scientist, the different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon.

"Because they see the world and think about the world differently than you, that's challenging," says Page, author of "The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies." "But by hanging out with people different than you, you're likely to get more insights. Diverse teams tend to be more productive."

In other words, those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture.


Look, there is a theoretical upside to having both object-oriented Western engineers and context-oriented East Asian engineers, but the friction costs imposed by diversity (e.g., language difficulties and culture differences) make that hard to achieve profitably in the real world. Anyway, that's not what Americans mean by "diversity." Here, the word means hiring more underperforming minorities (e.g., blacks and Latinos), which, not surprisingly, doesn't improve your organization's performance.

California has Silicon Valley, Hollywood and ten million Mexican-Americans, but there's almost no overlap. Although Mexicans are by far the biggest immigrant group, they don't even rank among the top 20 immigrant groups in the U.S. in terms of patents awarded.
Logically, Putnam should be drawing a distinction between selective elite immigration and massive unskilled immigration, but he's not.

What people often get mislead by when they claim that diversity improves performance is a simple selection effect: if you have a highly selective, big money organization, you are often going to end up with people from exotic places, but that doesn't mean that -- all else being equal -- diversity makes your organization work better. It just means that not all else is equal: world-class talent is found in several parts of the world (although not necessarily all parts of the world).

For example, consider the Top 10 Golfers in the World. For most of this decade, one member of that group has been a black-skinned, white-featured Indian from the Fiji Islands who used to be a club pro on Borneo (Vijay Singh). Now, that's pretty diverse! But it doesn't mean the Top 10 Golfers work together better (or worse) because they are diverse -- in fact, they don't work together at all. It's just a selection effect.

So, what happens is that people notice that a glamorous world-class organization like, say, the New York Yankees has a diverse set of outstanding employees from all over the world, so, therefore, the way to make, say, your Dunder-Mifflin regional paper products office in Scranton more successful is to increase its diversity.

Well, no, that doesn't follow, for reasons that are obvious if you are allowed to articulate them without calling the wrath of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission down on your head: your organization probably isn't world-class so it can't select world-class talent. If you are currently irrationally discriminating in hiring from the local market, then stop it: you can attract better talent by hiring meritocratically. But if you are already hiring meritocratically, then "seeking diversity" (i.e., hiring more blacks and Hispanics by lowering qualifications required for them) will only make your talent level worse.

*


The leading critic of Putnam's research from the left is U. of Wisconsin economist Steven Durlauf, who was the best debater and extemporaneous speaker in Southern California high school debate back in my day. (He was a year behind me, but quickly surpassed me.) He sent me this email, with permission to post it.


Dear Steve,

I happened to come across your blog comments on the Erica Goode article about Putnam's work. I realize this may be thin skinned on my part, but am writing to explain my views. The NYT article did not make any effort to communicate why I felt Putnam's claim that integrated neighborhoods can produce lowered trust/social capital (as expressed in the article they sent me) was questionable. And this is despite numerous complaints when I found out what was going to appear in the article-I did not see why anyone would care that I disagreed without knowing why. In any event, here is my argument:

The difficulty in moving from a correlation between individual attitudes and neighborhood ethnic diversity to a causal statement that neighborhood diversity affects individual attitudes is that one needs to appropriately control for the possibility that individuals located in different neighborhoods may systematically differ with respect to various characteristics that affect attitudes. Putnam fails to control for these potential differences in anything approaching a statistically adequate way. (His empirical analysis uses some control variables in running "trust" regressions, but these are not adequate for addressing this problem. In economics, the work of James Heckman pioneered the recognition that unobservable sources of self-selection are a first order issue in empirical work of this type. A classic example is the analysis of the effects of job training programs.)

Further, there is a logical basis for expecting this problem to arise. Neighborhood membership is the outcome of an individual's preferences, beliefs (about his future prospects, the neighborhood's development, etc.) and the constraints he faces (prices, borrowing capacity, etc.) Suppose that I observe two caucasian heads of household, with identical incomes such that one lives in an ethnically diverse neighborhood whereas the other lives in an ethnically homogeneous neighborhood. The former gives survey answers indicating less trust of others than the latter. Should I conclude that diversity has caused the lower trust that has been measured for the former, or is it reasonable to interpret the difference as reflecting that the person living in the diverse neighborhood is simply not comparable to the other person because they differ with respect to some other factors than those I have listed (i.e. are observable to the data analyst)?

In my opinion, it is easy to think of reasons why the latter is the case. For example, trust may be associated with contentment. If both individuals prefer to live in the homogeneous neighborhood, but the former has not been able to move to it for some reason (inability to borrow, competing claims on income, simply has yet to move!), it would not be a surprise that he is less trusting. I could imagine a similar scenario if one considers the role of beliefs about the future in affecting choices. Presumably, for example, I will spend more on a house if I am optimistic about my economic prospects than otherwise. The point is that if two individuals are comparable with respect to observable characteristics yet make different choices, one has to take a stand on why the choices differ. Putnam's analysis assumes the sources of the differences are unrelated to attitudes on trust and I do not find this assumption plausible.

Is this an unfair standard of evidence for Putnam's claim? I think it is a reasonable standard because (forgive my repeating myself) an individual's membership in a neighborbood is a choice and hence a function of the the collection of preferences, constraints, and beliefs that characterize him. In his article, Putnam dismisses this type of concern on the basis that one would have to believe that curmudgeons deliberately choose to live in more diverse communities. This dismissal does not address the constraint and belief aspects of neighborhood choice. His answer also confuses causality and correlation, the correlation of curmudgeonly attitudes with a taste for integration can occur for many reasons. The issue is not whether curmudgeons choose diverse neighborhoods because they are curmudgeons, but whether the set of preferences that produce low trust are correlated with diverse neighborhood choices. Putnam's argument presupposes some neat division in preferences that I think is psychologically implausible. As it happens, for me personally, I put high value on a diverse community but have little interest in personal relationships with my neighbors.


Let me jump in here with an example that I think illustrates Durlauf's point. My late mother moved from St. Paul, Minnesota to Los Angeles (which in 2000 came out as very distrustful in Putnam's study) during WWII, while her sister still lives in St. Paul. (Midwestern communities tend to rank higher in trust).

Perhaps there was a selection effect going on: maybe my aunt was happier with their neighbors in St. Paul than my mother was, or my aunt felt more connected to their neighbors than my my mother did, so that contributed to why one sister stayed "back East" and one left for LA. Aggregate that over millions of examples, and you might come up with a reason why white Angelenos are less neighborly than their relatives in the Midwest.

I also get the impression that LA was physically designed to be less neighborly than many older cities, even before it became all that ethnically diverse. For instance, most homes in LA have tall, solid fences around their backyards, while in some other built-up areas of the country, it's common to have no more than a low chain-link fence separating your backyard from your neighbor's. As a native Angeleno, this kind of lifestyle I saw in Chicago struck me as lacking in privacy, but there is a tradeoff between privacy and trust.

One reason for the big backyard fences in LA is to keep neighborhood kids from sneaking into your swimming pool and drowning. Most LA homes don't actually have pools, but the ones that do need to put up fences, and everybody else kind of wants to look like they might have a pool behind their fence.

Moreover, celebrities set the styles in LA, and big movie stars are, by necessity, very unneighborly. Streets in the Hollywood Hills typically are too narrow and winding to have sidewalks, so it's practically impossible to stroll down the street to visit your neighbors without risking being run over. You have to get in your car and drive, so why bother hanging out with your physical neighbors when you can just drive a little farther and visit somebody you already know? Stars like this kind of lifestyle because it keeps doofus fans from camping out their (nonexistent) sidewalks.

A lot of these celebrity styles infected the non-celebrity neighborhoods down in the flat lands, such as the annoying fashion in the plebeian San Fernando Valley for not having sidewalks.

Also, the Spanish-style of home architecture that has periodically been in fashion here in Southern California is unneighborly -- there's a rather blank facade on the street with an internal courtyard or some other private feature. Mexico is of course a classic a low-trust society.

All this raises chicken or egg questions about whether the physical layout of LA contributes to the unneighborliness of Angelenos or whether Angelenos chose the physical layout because of their orneriness, but in either case, it can raise the correlation between distrust and diversity when comparing LA to Minnesota.


Does this explain much about Putnam's results -- I don't know. It might for LA, but LA is far from the whole study of 40 communities.



Of course, this is all an argument as to why the evidence does not support the claim, not that the claim is wrong. I have only read one article on Putnam's new work (sent to me by the NYT as background for their interview) providing an overview of what he argues in the book, not the book manuscript itself. And to be clear, the specific claim that I understand to be original to Putnam in the new new work is that the presence of different ethnic groups makes a person less trusting of his own group as well as others. This is what I find hard to believe. The claim does not correspond to any social psychology studies of which I am aware (not that I am well read here), nor does it correspond to any social science theory which I find plausible, nor is the empirical evidence in Putnam's paper persuasive, as I have tried to argue. In contrast, there is no end of evidence on the ubiquitous potential for intergroup conflicts e.g. the Robbers' Cave experiment. Hence my presumption that Putnam's claim is incorrect and that the burden of proof is on the person making the claim.

Also, I don't think that that there is any reason why folks on the left should be put off if Putnam's claim about the effect of integration on attitudes is true. One reason is that the defense for many race-related policies (I am thinking of policies whose advocates regard them as promoting integration, and I would include affirmative action in this category) is based on ethical considerations for which the validity of Putnam's claim has little import as these considerations (if valid) trump side effects of the type Putnam suggests can occur.

In fact, one could read Putnam's findings as justifying government interventions of various types. If integrated communities induce a loss of social capital, this is an example of an externality. To push this further and in an empirical direction, ethnic conflicts in the US army in the 1970's led to various policies that are interventionist-see Charles Moskos and John Sibley Butler's All That We Can Be for an interesting discussion.


One interesting thing I learned from Moskos and Butler's book is how the Army uses IQ testing to nearly equalize the average IQs of white and black recruits -- which, of course, makes for social more equality among soldiers than is possible among citizens in general, where the ethnic IQ gaps constantly get in the way. The most obvious implication for civilian policy is to not let in so many low IQ illegal immigrants.


A related point: Putnam's writings tend to be utopian when it comes to public policy. And as it happens, I argued to the NYT writer that the suggestion that ethnic conflict can be resolved by benign government policies is dubious without careful attention to context and recognition of how little we really know about the determinants of race relations, trust attitudes, and the like. (Much of my own current research is on the question of how to choose policies when the policymaker knows relatively little about the determinants of the phenomenon that one wishes to affect.)


Anyways, enough venting. I hope this note finds you and your family well.

Best Wishes,
Steven

The most obvious response to uncertainty in policymaking would be ... prudence. For example, we don't know what the results of the current massive unskilled immigration will be, so it would seem reasonable to cut back on it: the potential upside is limited and potential downside is much larger, so why do it?

Instead, we constantly hear things like, "Well, yes, I suppose now that you mention it, that admitting millions of illegal aliens puts big stresses on education, but ... all we have to do is fix the public schools!"

Well, swell, except that we don't know how to fix the public schools, and even if we did, we aren't likely to do it.

Or fix our crumbling infrastructure, or fix our health insurance crisis, or fix our excessive carbon emissions, or fix a whole bunch of things that we aren't likely to fix. Cutting back on immigration won't be all that easy, but it's a lot more manageable many other problems that immigration puts additional strains upon.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

50 comments:

tommy said...

It occurs to me that left-wing baby boomers don't understand that if you've never grown up in an environment free of social decay, gangs, and the kinds of racial tensions that go with living in a multicultural environment, then you tend to accept it all as normal. This acceptance makes up a good part of what liberals refer to when they speak of the "greater racial tolerance of younger generations."

Unlike most of my peers, I attended three different high schools. Two of them were very different: one of them was a largely white school in the Pacific Northwest and another was a high school in Texas that was around 50% Hispanic. There was no question as to which school was better, and not just in terms of funding and teachers, but in terms of providing a safe and trusting social environment (or at least as trusting as high school can be). The white students in Texas were oblivious to how bad their school really was. After all, this is the town where they had grown up and the only social scene most had ever known.

All that extra diversity wasn't a panacea. In the Northwest, the few black and Hispanic students came from reasonably successful middle-class families. Those kids integrated into various cliques (geeks, jocks, preps, stoners, skaters, etc.) and race wasn't much of an issue. In Texas, the foremost divide was racial (Mexicans, whites, blacks) and social circles were less defined -- there was a diversity of ethnicity, but not much else. Interaction between races was both more superficial and more tense in Texas. People of different races might cooperate on projects in the classroom and might buy and sell drugs in the restroom, but they ordinarily didn't hang out together after school. It was kind of like prison: you might cooperate with other ethnics for your own ends; still, there is no such thing as a multiracial gang in your average penitentiary.

Due to demographics, most baby boomers are unaware of just how diverse their children's environments are compared to the their own. Most boomers are clueless and most kids cannot perceive something is wrong when they've never known anything different. Liberal boomers are unable to distinguish between tolerance and plain old complacency in racial affairs. The comfortable old platitudes blind them to those realities.

KingM said...

This is an interesting and important conversation. Thanks to both parties.

Glaivester said...

In fact, one could read Putnam's findings as justifying government interventions of various types. If integrated communities induce a loss of social capital, this is an example of an externality. To push this further and in an empirical direction, ethnic conflicts in the US army in the 1970's led to various policies that are interventionist-see Charles Moskos and John Sibley Butler's All That We Can Be for an interesting discussion.

What exactly is he suggesting? That people in integrated communities ought to be forced to trust each other by, e.g., banning locks on doors?

Peewee said...

I took a walk around my neighborhood and found that out of about 20 houses, only four had fences of any kind along their boundaries, and none of the fences were opaque: one was tomato-cage wire, one was made of a green plastic lattice I dont know the name of, and the other two were little wooden posts connected by wooden beams. The only opaque fences I saw were well inside property lines, and used either for decorative purposes such as to separate a high-terrain area from a low one (this area is endlessly hilly), or for privacy purposes such as surrounding an inground pool. The houses that didnt have fences either had bushes, decorative barriers such as flowers or rocks, or no barrier at all to separate their property from their neighbors. No one used tall trees. I also saw one area that looked like it had previously had a fence, but the fence was removed. So essentially, not one of the 20 houses in this neighborhood has anything like what is the norm in LA and only a few even have anything like Chicago. Though I have to admit that our population density is low (nobody needs a backyard fence because literally everyone still has forest out back) and the climate is cool most of the year so people aren't outside in their lawns all that often. People move in and out of the neighborhood often, and lots of people don't even know their neighbors. Perhaps the relative lack of property boundaries here is as much a sign of reclusivity as of trustfulness.

--- Sanford, Maine

Anonymous said...

1. Well yeah, Putnam certainly does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that diversity is the lowering trust. But why does HE have the burden of evidence to prove diversity is bad for cooperation? Shouldn’t the people that say diversity is good (Boston Globe, Florida) and demand public policy accordingly prove their point?

Florida uses econometric methods that are far weaker than Putnams, the association between growth and “tolerance” collapses very easily, while Putnams association between diversity and low trust is quite stable.

I challenge Steven Durlauf to give me examples of research with the kind of econometrics that he demands from Putnam show the opposite, that ethnic diversity is good for trust.

2. Here is a recent Swedish study with similar findings here.

http://www.ifn.se/BinaryLoader.aspx?OwnerID=6b751fe8-d970-4d33-9c74-bfd0f8d4ae10&OwnerType=2&ModuleID=a8429cd5-a9d9-4e2b-a1d8-4a7cf26cd7a3&PropertyCollectionName=Content&PropertyName=File1&ValueIndex=0

This is not a problem unique to
L.A city design.

3. Durlauf notes, rightly, that there is a “logical basis for expecting this problem [of self selection] to arise”. Isn’t there also a logical basis for expecting a general low trust problem to arrive within ethnically diverse neighborhoods?

I read Durlauf as implicitly accepting low trust between ethnic groups, it’s low trust within groups where he thinks the presumption should be Putnam is wrong.

But why? It makes complete sense from economic theories of trust that also the general trust level towards strangers from your own ethnic group should be lower.

Trust and trustworthiness are public goods. People learn (and are probably programmed) to cooperate when others cooperate, but not to be taken advantage of in environments where others don’t act nice.

We should on a theoretical level expect individuals to have a general level of trust/cooperation, as well as specifical levels towards individuals from various groups.
In practice if you live or grow up in a place where experience teaches you hard lessons about trusting strangers you are quite likely to become also generally less trusting, not only less trusting towards (say) middle easterners. This problem is made worse where people are taught from an early age not to generalize about ethnic groups, and also made worse by uncertainly (which group is the driver that wants to cut in front of me from? Should I behave with high trust as an Scandinavian that needs to, and would reciprocate, or low trust as a south Italian that just want to take advantage of me?)

Of course, if you live in a diverse neighborhood free riding alone will break down cooperation plenty also between the high-trust people. Are the Japanese likely to keep the streets nice and clean by themselves, if their neighbors from group X don’t reciprocate?

Are the Anglo families going to do all the unpaid work for the mixed schools, where other ethnicities not only free-ride, but perhaps cause breakdown of the group activity through disruptive activity (doesn’t even need to have to do with general low cooperation, different preferences are enough, for example muslims and chrismas plays).
Darlauf’s idea where you separate your cooperation level with own group-other group only works if these communities also can perfectly separate the collective goods. But since they live together they can’t. Housing, schools, and most “community” activity are per definition non-excludable in the geographic area. Since trust is a public good, the lower level will act with a multiplier. What social science theory is Darlauf thinking about where this is NOT likely to happen?

4. About the policy implications professor Durlauf is really reaching for straws. The result that don’t go against leftist policy?

“one could read Putnam's findings as justifying government interventions of various types. If integrated communities induce a loss of social capital, this is an example of an externality.“

Professor Durlauf, an externality justifies specific policies that realistically work against it, it is NOT a general argument for any government intervention, and definitely NOT policies that ENCOURAGE the externality-producing activity.

• What about more family based immigration from low trust countries?

• What about integration? If we accept groups work worse when they live together, how does economic theory justify policy to make them live and go to school together? (By the way, I support integration as a subsidy to the poor, accepting the costs to the middle class).

• What about path to citizenship?

• What about multi-culturalism, where immigrants from low-trust groups are encouraged to keep their norms, and to have pride in their ethnicity rather than assimilate to the anglo-protestant dominant culture? Is that leftist core idea supported by Putnams findigs?

• What about affirmative action, where you make firms mix workers and students, that tend to work worse together and perhaps even lower the general cooperation level? And that also emphasizes tribal identity as opposed to national American identity? (again, I support some forms of affirmative action for African Americans with American decent as a form of reparations, but I would also acknowledge the costs).

If you can prove Putnam is wrong or that diversity has some benfits that outweight the lower cooperation thats one thing. But using evidence for cost of diversity to demand more diversity is not serious economics, just pure ideology.

/Tino Sanandaij

Anonymous said...

Why did the curmudgeon want to leave the neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

Is Steve in Bill Gates' back pocket?

David said...

I have a problem. I am a small business owner on the rocks. How do I turn my business around?

I've got it! Since diversity is America's greatest strength, and since it drives innovation and wealth-creation, I'll fire John (too whitebread) and hire LaTesha (she's more vibrant, with plenty of great ideas, I'm sure!!!).

At home, I have problems, too. My neighborhood is full of people who can't speak English, or are unwilling to speak to each other. Wifey and I tried to start a neighborhood committee, but no one showed up! Can you believe it! Well, we don't mind picking up all the trash in the neighborhood, and fixing the drain system, and mowing people's overgrown lawns ourselves, for no pay. But it was really unpleasant when we tried to have that yard sale and were vandalized! Neighbors were actually destroying and stealing our things (the ones who showed up, that is). Oh well. I guess it's my fault for not understanding the diverse ways of my good neighbors. Have to say I felt bad, though, when my son and daughter were assaulted - for the 30th time - just riding their bicycles down the street. They stay safely indoors now. Jonathan's head wound has closed. A bit awkward explaining to him what the word "cracker mf'er" means, and "gringo."

I guess diversity isn't great for social trust. But for innovation! It's great! All the social scientists say so, and who am I to question such great debaters and minds? I myself am working on my 5th patent. Unfortunately, I find it hard to concentrate with so little sleep. If only Jose next door wouldn't play "The Cockroach" at 2 AM every single day...or night...I'm getting confused. Must be lack of sleep. My wife's tires were slashed the other day, that has me distracted too. Oh well. At least our neighbor, Jose, sympathizes with this latest difficulty of hers. He always blows kisses at her when she goes to the mailbox. Or he makes kissing noises, anyway. (I wonder: does Jose work? He must be an independently wealthy contractor! America's economy is really wonderful - moving ahead!)

In short, Harvard scientists have crunched the numbers and thought of clever points about fences that show all is well and I...sorry, lost my train of thought...hm, where did that bullet hole come from? How long has it been there? Ruined a perfectly good wall... Oh well, I'll just repair it, right away!

Diversity is our strength! Love is the solution! I love my little brown neighbors, and I'm sure they love me in return! Everything is going to be A-OK! Harvard et al. says so!

Anonymous said...

Working in Hollywood, it's striking how little the people who work in the industry reflect the overall demographics of southern California. Above the line (writers, actors, directors), the people are either white/Jewish from the west side or San Fernando Valley (often second or third generation industry people), or high achievers/risk takers from all over the country-- still mostly white (from a surprising variety of class backgrounds, with Irish Catholics overrepresented), but with a smattering of (mostly middle class) black folks, especially in acting and directing. There are shockingly few latinos working in these fields, and the few I've met tend to be very different from the Los Angeles norms-- children of upper class Cuban exiles mostly. The one Mexican citizen I've heard of working as a television writer turned out to be the grandson of a famous exiled German International Brigadist.
Even below the line, the grips, gaffers, teamsters, carpenters, etc, tend to be nearly all white or black (Hollywood in general is an exception to Steve's observation that blacks only work in fields they can dominate)-- still very few latinos in a lot of high-skilled, labor intensive occupations one would think they'd excel in.
Interestingly, a huge chunk of the Asians one meets in Hollywood chasing their dreams are Korean American. Is this because Koreans are relatively extroverted for East Asians, or more willing to let their kids chase an extremely high risk career choice? Is it related to South Korea's status as an entertainment/cultural powerhouse in Asia far out of proportion to its size? Dunno/

Anonymous said...

Admittedly out of order [although that could be telling in its own right]:

Steven Durlauf, LAST: Putnam's writings tend to be utopian when it comes to public policy. And as it happens, I argued to the NYT writer that the suggestion that ethnic conflict can be resolved by benign government policies is dubious without careful attention to context and recognition of how little we really know about the determinants of race relations, trust attitudes, and the like.

Steven Durlauf, FIRST: In fact, one could read Putnam's findings as justifying government interventions of various types. If integrated communities induce a loss of social capital, this is an example of an externality. To push this further and in an empirical direction, ethnic conflicts in the US army in the 1970's led to various policies that are interventionist - see Charles Moskos and John Sibley Butler's All That We Can Be for an interesting discussion.

So, to paraphrase Des McGrath, in The Last Days of Disco, if itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow-polka-dot-bikini, "benign"-sized government interventions don't work, then we'll just have to introduce abnormally monstrous, Stalinist-sized government interventions to get the job done.

Your high school "buddy" is a megalomaniac.

PS: I take it he thinks that governmental interventionism doesn't fall into the broader category of utopianism [or else his criticism of Putnam is internally inconsistent].

Anonymous said...

"The most obvious response to uncertainty in policymaking would be ... prudence. For example, we don't know what the results of the current massive unskilled immigration will be, so it would seem reasonable to cut back on it: the potential upside is limited and potential downside is much larger, so why do it?

Instead, we constantly hear things like, "Well, yes, I suppose now that you mention it, that admitting millions of illegal aliens puts big stresses on education, but ... all we have to do is fix the public schools!"

Well, swell, except that we don't know how to fix the public schools, and even if we did, we aren't likely to do it."

You're no fun at all Steve.

Oh sure, we could easily cut unskilled immigration to the bone, but setting the stage for civil war is so much more satisfying for our insane, treasonous, Marxist Academics and politicians.

Let's just continue to pour gasoline on the roaring flames and see what happens...

Old Right

Anonymous said...

Well, this posting pegs the infuriation meter. That is not to say this isn't a great blog entry. Quite the opposite. Where else can you get this kind of analysis? Long live isteve.com...

Anonymous said...

To go along with this article: Drudge has several links today that describe the "inevitable" browning of America.

Mr & Mrs America should be terrified at the prospect of becoming a non-white nation. It means less and less transparency in government. It means a chronically weak currency. It means advancing socialism and the demise of the middle class.

We are in the grip of a madness as a civilization. The madness is called multiculturalism by the MSM, but it is actually Marxism. Wake up and speak up.

Anthony said...

One possible economic benefit to high-racial-diversity cities is that having an "underclass" is useful. There are lots of low-skill tasks which must be completed for a society, or even a company, to function well, and having people around who think that a low-skill job in a wealthy city is something to aspire to means that those jobs will be done, at a reasonable cost.

Those tasks still get performed in a low-diversity city, because even the racially homogenous Japanese and Finns have less-intelligent members of their society to do them, and their higher levels social cohesion make it easier to pay the menial workers a little better.

Anonymous said...

In any event, here is my argument:...

Unfortunately for guys like Durlauf, I'm well past the point where I want to consider to an "argument" about why a demography-changing tsunami of immigrants is a good thing. If I was ever there in the first place.

I just don't want it.

I moved to (what is now called) 'Silicon Valley' in 1970. And the way immigration has changed the 'look and feel' of that place since then is hard to describe -- it does not look or feel like America any more at all. And this is not abating. (The link will expire, and you can find a log-in here.

TabooTruth said...

Everything can be reduced to either IQ-determinism or selfish gene theory. Of course civic engagement may go down as diversity increases. People have less incentive to participate in a society that does not share a significant portion of one's genes.

Ron Guhname said...

Durlauf is suggesting that people with certain personal characterstics select themselves into or out of neighborhoods, creating a spurious diversity/mistrust correlation. Why wouldn't we expect the selection effect to be opposite? The phenomenon of "white flight" is well known in the social sciences. For example, Grandpa and Grandma have lived in their neighborhood. They're old and more afraid than other people, so they move to the white suburbs when their neighborhood diversifies. So here you have afraid people (associated with old age) selecting themsleves into a homogenous neighborhood. Assuming for a moment that Putnam's conclusions are valid, this couple results in an understatement of the true the diversity/mistrust relationship.

In the reverse direction, the young hip couple that thinks the suburbs are sterile moves to a diverse neighborhood. These people have progressive, trusting attitudes about diversity. They have selected themselves into a diverse neighborhood, thereby deflating the diversity/mistrust connection. In both of these cases, selection leads to an understatement, not an overstatement, of the true relationship.

Anonymous said...

Steve --

There's some formatting glitches I think?

The problem I see with Durlauf (evidence yet again on how dogma/religious beliefs make you stupid) is that yes, it moves.

In other words, why would a man WANT to be in a white neighborhood, vs. a diverse one? Why would that be a self-selection effect after controlling for income and other factors?

Simple: the White neighborhood is safer, less crime ridden, higher-trust, and simply "better" in social capital.

Durlauf can't argue that point so he simply whistles past it.

I also saw the idiot argument about "diverse" cities; the counter-argument is that Rio is a degenerate hell-hole akin to Lagos or Mexico City; an agglomeration of desperately poor people seeking more centralized handouts from the government. NYC being in the same boat (with a bit of financial trade to keep the business core afloat for a while).

If you look at population and income stats for say, NYC 1955-1995 over the forty year period as the city became more diverse it got poorer and whites (with higher incomes) moved away.

Meanwhile ex-urban business centers such as North Carolina's Research Triangle, Silicon Valley, suburban Dallas-Forth Worth became wealth creation centers as you say from the pocket protector crowd.

bjdouble said...

All of Durlauf's methodological points are valid, I suppose. If you don't like the result, first attack the methods. But if the result is a) intuitive and b) well documented, why bother? Diversity is strength is one of those counterintuitive ideas, like computers can think, that has turned into conventional wisdom.

mepo said...

ron:

I think this is his point, and it strikes me as valid: We flat don't *know* which direction the causality goes, absent more information, so it's hard drawing solid conclusions here. Just because this study agrees with your (or my) common sense doesn't mean we should assume it's right--after all, plenty of people feel the same way about the abortion/crime link, or about the claim that AIDS is a US government conspiracy to kill black Africans and gay Americans.

Steve:

The thing about selective environments is that they select for more than just ability. They also select for intense dedication to whatever it is they're focused on--enough to forsake a normal life for many years while studying some obscure crap like molecular biology or game theory. People in similar fields with similar experiences getting there have things in common that they don't have with others. I can have conversations with foreigners in my own field that I couldn't have with almost anyone from my own country. That shared culture and set of assumptions probably smooths over some of the differences in culture, and makes that diversity less divisive.

Fred said...

As someone who lives and works in some of London's most ethnically mixed boroughs, who am I going to believe, Durlauf (who lives in 90% white Wisconsin) or my own lying eyes?

tommy said...

Durlauf is suggesting that people with certain personal characterstics select themselves into or out of neighborhoods, creating a spurious diversity/mistrust correlation. Why wouldn't we expect the selection effect to be opposite?

Yes, that was my thought too. If diversity isn't really the problem, then why start from the assumption that people who are living in diverse neighborhoods would be especially unhappy? Why not assume that all those people living in homogeneous neighborhoods are depressed about the lack of color in the neighborhood?

Also, if those who don't appreciate diversity move out of the neighborhood, shouldn't there be more of those who do afterwards?

DYork said...

For some insight into the necessary role of "diversity" and "multiculturalism" in creativity read Tom Wolfe's The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce - How the Sun Rose on the Silicon Valley
http://www.stanford.edu/class/e140/e140a/
content/noyce.html

Anonymous said...

David,

When "you" (or your fictional example) lose the business due to LeTesha's pilfering and (later) racial discrimination suit, and you lose Wifey to Jose, and your kids are raped or beaten to death (and/or become terrified "wiggers"), and an errant bullet lodges somewhere in your body next time, you might consider moving to a whiter neighborhood. If you do move, the left, according to lefty Durlauf, will cite you as proof that 1.) your level of social trust may have nothing to do with racial diversity but only reflect your preference in architecture, fence height, and all those factors "that are observable to the data analyst" and 2.) you are, in the absence of such factors, flouting "ethical considerations" that "trump" social mistrust of diversity, i.e. you're a racist bastard. Heads you lose, tails diversity wins: such are the social "sciences" of today. Thanks, Durlauf...for nothing.

Hemlock said...

There are those on the conspiratorially-minded Right (who, me?!), who think the whole point of the Left's promotion of mass immigration and multiculturalism is the destruction of traditional sources of social capital, leaving the State ready to the fill the vacuum.

Anonymous said...

Racial diversity does increase innovation. If by diversifying we mean increasing the hegemony of whites. If we mean the reverse (decreasing the hegemony of whites relative to that of nonwhites), then the opposite effect is observed. A little concomitant learning will reveal the continents of evidence for this.

Also note an equivocation on "diversity." The bait-and-switch goes like this: surely you don't deny the evidence that a healthy, growing economy or science depends upon a multiplicity of ideas and viewpoints? (Diversity of ideas.) Therefore, you must agree that reducing the ratio of whites in any system will improve it. (Diversity of race.) It's a non-sequiter (so even the reverse of it isn't true).

Svigor said...

I support some forms of affirmative action for African Americans with American decent as a form of reparations, but I would also acknowledge the costs

Reparations for what? Making African-Americans the wealthiest group of SSAs in the world (ballpark of 50 times SSA wealth)? Enfranchising them into a civil society, something SSAs seem largely incapable of on their own? Ever wondered how many African-Americans alive today would never have existed without the transatlantic trade?

The idea of reparations for African-Americans is like the idea of paying someone for his pain and suffering upon winning the lottery.

See here:

http://www.success-and-culture.net/articles/recip.shtml

As the author notes, looks like they've already gotten their reparations.

Svigor said...

One possible economic benefit to high-racial-diversity cities is that having an "underclass" is useful.

I know nothing of economics. That said, I just don't follow the logic here. Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul (or selling the rope your customer plans to hang you with, take your pick of analogies).

What's so wonderful about depressing wages for low skill jobs by importing slav- er, I mean scabs?

What's so bad about letting supply and demand determine wages, and what's so great about state-sponsored labor dumping?

Anonymous said...

tommy: Unlike most of my peers, I attended three different high schools. Two of them were very different... Most boomers are clueless and most kids cannot perceive something is wrong when they've never known anything different.

My nephew was in a public school kindergarten which had a huge minority presence [upwards of 50% minority - black and hispanic], then his family moved to another state, and he started first grade at an exclusive private school.

The first thing that he said to my sister was [quite literally] "Mom, the kids in this new school are all quiet and they sit still and they pay attention!"

PS: And these are both very exclusive university towns, with very high mean incomes & very high education levels.

Matthew Dunnyveg said...

"The difficulty in moving from a correlation between individual attitudes and neighborhood ethnic diversity to a causal statement that neighborhood diversity affects individual attitudes is that one needs to appropriately control for the possibility that individuals located in different neighborhoods may systematically differ with respect to various characteristics that affect attitudes. Putnam fails to control for these potential differences in anything approaching a statistically adequate way."

If a lack of trust is correlated with diversity in all known instances, then establishing causality is not necessary. And control of variables is only necessary for quantitative and qualitative considerations.

To the best of my knowledge, causation has never been established between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. But there is an overwhelmingly strong correlation between the two.

No less a thinker than Aristotle admonished us not to demand more precision from a particular discipline than it is capable of rendering. And the social sciences can be notoriously imprecise.

Sometimes correlation is good enough.

Anonymous said...

Hemlock: There are those on the conspiratorially-minded Right (who, me?!), who think the whole point of the Left's promotion of mass immigration and multiculturalism is the destruction of traditional sources of social capital, leaving the State ready to the fill the vacuum.

Nahh - ya think?

/sarcasm

david Davenport said...

One possible economic benefit to high-racial-diversity cities is that having an "underclass" is useful.

If that's true, why did the Northern states technically and economically outpace the slave-owning southern American states by the 1860's?

If that's true, why aren't Latin American countries more successful?

I suppose it depend's on one's defintion of useful. Having lots of les proles miserables helps a top class lord it over the middling classes.

Oh, check out this video on the Japanese dancing robot. It's quite life-like. Probably won't be too long till they get that robot to sweep the floor and clean toilets.

http://staff.aist.go.jp/s.nakaoka/movies/BandaisanHRP-2.mpg

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailor: For example, we don't know what the results of the current massive unskilled immigration will be, so it would seem reasonable to cut back on it: the potential upside is limited and potential downside is much larger, so why do it?

Svigor: [sarcastically] What's so bad about letting supply and demand determine wages, and what's so great about state-sponsored labor dumping?

You know, while I agree with you guys that the situation for lower-IQ white guys must be hell on earth right now, watching their wage base eroded down into poverty status, what with this influx of cheap Mexican labor, all other things being equal, it's not the labor problems [per se] which bother me.

It's the fact that eventually all of these Mexicans are going to get the right to vote [whether by hook or by crook], and I know of no evidence whatsoever that they will ever choose to vote for limited government & the rule of law.

Rather, all the evidence I've ever seen indicates that they're going to vote a straight party-line ticket for Marxist-Fascism.

I.e. in my mind, as a societal dilemma, the economics of the thing are vastly inferior to the politics of it.

We've got a huge, vibrant, growing economy, and we can afford to absorb just about anyone who wants to come here to work.

What we can't afford to absorb are any more votes for Marxist-Fascism.

David Davenport said...

Also take a look a the vid for the Big Dog four-legged robot. It's real Star Wars stuff:

http://www.bostondynamics.com/content/sec.php?section=BigDog

Won't be long at all until Mexicans and other 3td World laborers are almost totally superfluous useless eaters.

Not a very Christian thought.

Fred said...

If your friend Steven considers that "ranting", he seems like a quite mild-mannered fellow.

Regarding the benefits of diversity with respect to engineers, I'm guessing the most important thing is to hire the best engineers you can find, whatever their ethnic background (obviously, you will end up mainly with whites, South Asians, and Northeast Asians). All things being equal, I doubt that ethnic diversity adds a lot to engineering.

One example from personal experience working at a financial Internet start-up: The founder was an MIT-educated WASP tech dork, the chief engineer/techie was an Indian tech dork, and the rest of the tech staff included a Polish-American female tech dork, a Chinese tech dork, more Indian tech dorks, etc. Never did I see or hear of any problem solved or feature created that was the result of cross-cultural pollination among the members of this group.

The only benefit I can see from a diverse group of engineers versus a homogeneous one is networking -- maybe you can get some quality hires before your competitors by tapping into your Finnish or Japanese engineer's personal network in the old country.

BTW, after the WASP tech dork/founder was forced out of the CEO role by the venture capitalists (all white, btw), he started a new venture: using his Indian contacts to start an IT offshoring business.

Svigor said...

causation has never been established between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. But there is an overwhelmingly strong correlation between the two.

Thanks for reminding me; liberals always amuse me with their "correlation is not causation" thing. The truth of that NEVER matters to liberals, until it comes down to conservatives or HBD-types and race.

Poverty causes crime. All liberals know this. "Correlation isn't causation? What's that supposed to mean?"

Liberal intellectuals never want proof for anything, unless they're opposed to it. Welfare? Where's the proof it works? Global warming? Where's the proof man is involved? Human equality - 'nuff said.

Liberals NEVER prove anything they say, or that anything they try will work. Suddenly, when someone comes up with an idea that challenges received liberal wisdom, they get all intellectually rigorous on yo ass.

Another tickler is how they condemn HBD-types for their turpitude and attack their methods and conclusions, but they never want to get to the bottom of the matter. They never suggest more research is in order, or take up the challenge to provide better explanations.

James said...

I'm thinking of all the twenty-somethings who move to the big city because they were alienated and freakish in their small home town and so would prefer to live where people have no need to judge each other because their lives are not as interdependent, etc. you know where I'm going. Same for gays. It is a sort of chicken or egg thing.

Luke said...

Many things effect trust besides diversity. E.g., I live in a n neighborhood where it isn't necessary to lock one's doors when you go out. Why? Well, it is upper-middle class white, and I live in a small southern town outside Chattanooga. OTH there are white lower-class areas near downtown Chattanooga where only a fool would not lock his door. Does that mean class is decisive? Not necessarily. When I was in college (Reed, early 1960's) stealing and other sorts of anti-social behavior were not unknown, despite the fact that it was an over-whelmingly white, upper middle-class high IQ community. Was age the key? Maybe. Anonymous big cities will have trust problems no matter the ethnicity. Multi-racial small towns with a stable population might not, depending on certain cultural variables.

So I think the trust angle is not the crucial one in so far as the question of whether large-scale immigration is good for America. The general welfare (economically), the idea of human equality, democratic norms, love of country -- these are more important considerations, at least for me.

Meaningless Coefficient said...

Svigor,

I am no liberal but correlation is not causation. Sometimes it's just random chance. For instance, if you did a study in Sweden where I hear people are tall, you could likely correlate height with anything you are measuring but the correlation would be meaningless. Also, you should think this way next time you read an article about how US children are shrinking. Who's moving in at a rate of thousands per year, short Mexican people who will no doubt have children who are much shorter than the average Swede no matter what you feed them.

I agree that people should go into research methods and offer alternative studies if they refute some assertion but correlation vs causation is crucial to scientific though not necessarily mathematical thinking. Let's not label it as a tool for liberal propagandizing please. I've designed a few research studies for classes and keeping this distinction in mind helped me be more critical of results. And yes you are supposed to be critical of results hopefully striving for the elusive, unobtainable goal of pure objectivity.

Mark said...

Korea, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Finalnd: all are ethnically homogeneous and all have extremely successful, modern, high-tech economies.

And Dick Florida? Is that gay...er, guy still around? 5 years ago he was everywhere. I haven't seen him, or heard a politician quote him, since 2004.

Peewee said...

Americans really are getting shorter though =) Check out these charts for white and black men:

http://halls.md/chart/men-height-w.htm

http://halls.md/chart/men-height-b.htm

The tallest men are in the 35-45 age group, which is too far to the right to be explained by the younger men not being fully grown yet. Though the change seems to appear only for men. There could be some sort of sampling error involved, such as short men being more or less likely to be in the army or prisons, but I dont think the effect could be that noticeable.

Anonymous said...

Luke said:

"The general welfare (economically), the idea of human equality, democratic norms, love of country -- these are more important considerations, at least for me."

This must be why you live in an "upper-middle class white" neighborhood "in a small southern town outside Chattanooga." Those ideals have viability there.

Svigor said...

I am no liberal but correlation is not causation.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that correlation is causation, or that thinking it isn't makes one a liberal.

My point was just that liberals don't give a damn about rigor until it serves their purposes. Also, their fair-weather rigor is somewhat less than rigorous, since they throw out any sense of balance in these cases (common sense, predictive power, parsimony, etc.) and zoom in on one aspect. The clear implication is that they're playing semantic games - that the proof they want cannot exist.

A great many of your theoretical height correlations would no doubt make no sense, have no predictive power, etc. "Group differences in behavioral genetics are a big part of group differences in outcome" makes perfect sense, has predictive power, is far more parsimonious than liberalism's answers, etc.

It makes perfect sense to be rigorous - it does NOT make ANY sense to take liberals seriously in their pretended quest for same.

Peter said...

Korea, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Finalnd: all are ethnically homogeneous and all have extremely successful, modern, high-tech economies.

Minor nit: Singapore is not ethnically homogeneous. Germany is becoming less so.

Anonymous said...

: I agree that people should go into research methods and offer alternative studies if they refute some assertion but correlation vs causation is crucial to scientific though not necessarily mathematical thinking.

The problem is that The Left only ever drags out the "correlation -vs- causation" bullshit when the correlation coefficient is to their disadvantage. When it's to their advantage, you'll never hear so much as a peep out of them.

"Correlation -vs- Causation" is just 21st century Ad Hominem, nothing less.

fwood1 said...

“Also, I don't think that that there is any reason why folks on the left should be put off if Putnam's claim about the effect of integration on attitudes is true. One reason is that the defense for many race-related policies (I am thinking of policies whose advocates regard them as promoting integration, and I would include affirmative action in this category) is based on ethical considerations for which the validity of Putnam's claim has little import as these considerations (if valid) trump side effects of the type Putnam suggests can occur.”

This quote from Durlauf would indicate that the real dispute is not whose since is more accurate. Rather, it’s whose morality do you agree with.

David Davenport said...

When I was in college (Reed, early 1960's) stealing and other sorts of anti-social behavior were not unknown, despite the fact that it was an over-whelmingly white, upper middle-class high IQ community.

An infamously hippy dippy lieberal college. It's possible that you're the only Reed man in the Chatt. area. Did you grow up in TN?

... OTH there are white lower-class areas near downtown Chattanooga where only a fool would not lock his door.

Have you ever lived in those parts of town, or do you just know this from hearsay?


..Was age the key? Maybe. Anonymous big cities will have trust problems no matter the ethnicity. Multi-racial small towns with a stable population might not, depending on certain cultural variables. ...

My eyes are getting heavy, so drowsy ... Is that taken from a Gannett newspaper op-ed. piece? ... Z-z-z-z-z. Snore.

Anonymous said...

Meaningless Coefficient:

You are, of course, right technically speaking. But there's a side to this that I'm sure you too have noticed. It's like the "screaming fire in a theater" argument to defend limits on free speech: five minutes into the debate, you hear it.

The trouble with this technical distinction:

i) although not all correlation is causation, all causation *has* to be correlation one way or another.

ii) correlating height with say engineering success in Sweden may yield the funny results you mention, but let's face it, human existence being what it is -- having to survive on scarce resources which in the case of scientific investigation really really scarce -- we don't have the option to test a gazillion possibilities.

For instance, although hitting your head against a sharp object may cause bleeding, this, due to i above, is also a correlation -- head hittings against sharp objects will be strongly correlated with head bleedings. Now, with all due respect to your academic hygiene, it is moronic to come up with a "hey, heads may bleed due to many exotic reasons; crows, which are attracted to shiny things and therefore may pick up some shiny and sharp objects, may drop them from the air to passers-by, and cause bleedings; let's not rush to conclusion that it is because of carelessness on the part of the the head bearers" argument. The likelihood of this event is so infinitesimally small compared to people simply hitting their heads against say doors, it is pointless to include that "control" in your study.

And this is where the whole pain-in-the-ass liberals come in. It is idiotic to even pretend that people are oblivious to danger/safety concerns (trust being an "inter-personal safety" issue) when they choose their habitat. It is their first and foremost criterion in choosing a location as their living quarters -- or else people living in a Honduran jungle, the Mojave desert, and Minnesota would all be roughly equal.

And yet, this mister is raising this objection as if it is only a very distant possibility that people of English/Scots-Irish/Dutch/German/Scandinavian-American origin may find people from say Somali, Afghanistan, or Benghal not entirely trust-inspiring -- or vice versa. This is intellectual hypocrisy, to say the least. At worst, it is ideological pig-headedness.


JD

Matthew Dunnyveg said...

"I am no liberal but correlation is not causation. Sometimes it's just random chance."

Sometimes correlation is just random chance. But sometimes it's not. Again, there is the notorious example of cigarettes and lung cancer. And since lung cancer only occurs in about a quarter of smokers, and lack of trust occurs in all, or almost all, situations where diverse populations are present, the correlation between diversity and trust is even stronger than that between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

The philosopher David Hume had interesting things to say about the difficulty of proving cause and effect, or causation. He devised the following thought experiment: Imagine I ask you to demonstrate cause and effect. You pick up your pencil and let it drop to the desk. You say that the effect is the pencil hitting the desk, and gravity is the cause. Hume would reply, no, it's not cause and effect because it might not happen next time, and you can't prove it will. He would say that it's only association.

Disingenuous? Maybe. But it does illustrate the tremendous difficulties trying to show causation.

Again, sometimes correlation is enough.

Meaningless Coefficient said...

"It makes perfect sense to be rigorous - it does NOT make ANY sense to take liberals seriously in their pretended quest for same."

LOL. That sums it up nicely, Svigor.