March 11, 2013

Facebook's race gap in "likes" bigger than its gender gap

A new study out of Cambridge University uses a database of Facebook "likes" to predict demographic and personality information about individuals. Race (black v. white, ignoring other races) turns out to be the easiest to predict based on what stuff people like. The Cambridge model gets race right 95% of the time, compared to only 93% of the time for sex.

Update: What this 95% figure means is that when they randomly select one white and one black from the sample and ask the model which is which it get the races right 95% of the time, compared to the 50% it would get from just guessing.
“Fig. 2 shows the prediction accuracy of dichotomous variables expressed in terms of the area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC), which is equivalent to the probability of correctly classifying two randomly selected users one from each class (e.g., male and female).“

The left column above is stuff black people like a lot more than white people do, and the right column is stuff white people like a lot more than black people do (small towns, Davie Bowie, Harley Davidsons, being nice to animals, sterility, etc.).

As a study of Twitter showed in 2010, black people really like being black.

Some of the best discriminator likes for whether a Facebook user drinks alcohol sound like a Norm McDonald Weekend Update from 1996:
I Like Watching Raindrops Silently Race Across My Window and Cheering for Them 
vs. 
Meeting Someone Who Is Also Drunk and Immediately Becoming Best Friends.

And then there's gay v. straight males:
Obviously, stereotypes tend to be true, statistically speaking.

Yet, another thing that could be researched from this database is how common are exceptions to stereotypes. For example, I had a gay friend who was a huge college football and major league baseball fan. Obviously, that's unusual, but I can't really estimate quantitatively how unusual. I'd say "an order of magnitude," but that's pretty much what I say for every quantitative estimate for which I don't say "oh, about fifty-fifty."

In this study, the model of Facebook likes could get gay man vs. straight right 88% of the time, but lesbian vs. straight right only 75% of the time. (Here's my article "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay" from 19 years ago, which lists about three dozen likes and dislikes that tend to distinguish gays from lesbians.)

51 comments:

James said...

These are just the things that show the greatest disparity; not the things that the respective categories like most. Presumably all the groups would rank, for instance, puppies higher than most of the items on each of these lists.

Anonymous said...

Steve, as a scientist of sorts in a fairly empirical field (but with a good bit of probability) I can say that almost all wise folks eventually arrive roughly where you are, though the set usually includes:

50/50
80/20
Order of magnitude

Anonymous said...

I wonder what liking iSteve says about you. Are there people with the guts to do that? I'd love to know what the algorithm says about Truth.

Steve Sailer said...

Right, shouldn't leave out 80-20!

The really tough ones are when X is about 1.5X as common as Y.

Anonymous said...

But neither white people nor black people appear to like jazz anymore.

That sucks.

Steve Sailer said...

" like jazz anymore."

Well, Fantasia's big American Idol number was Gershwin's "Summertime" That was the peak of the popularity for the Great American Songbook in this century:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rOCwVsSW0Y

nooffensebut said...

I don't wanna sound like a queer or nothin, but I think Depeche Mode is a sweet band.

DYork said...

sterility

Of White people or their pets?

White people disproportionately don't want kids and don't want their pets having kids.

Fortunately they tend to be the left liberal and SWPL crowd.

They left off Van Halen!

hbd chick said...

@steve - "Well, Fantasia's big American Idol number...."

and here i thought fantasia was that movie with mickey mouse. (*^_^*)

Jason Malloy said...

Here is a similar analysis from the OKCupid data (NB: every infographic is divided by sex):

gay vs straight

black vs white vs latino vs asian

el supremo said...

The dating website OKCupid released a huge datadump of these preferences, including white, black, Asian, and Hispanic, sorted by men and women:

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/the-real-stuff-white-people-like/

It includes most common words and adjectives from their profiles, not just "likes", but its a fascinating trove of data for someone observant

Icepick said...

I don't wanna sound like a queer or nothin, but I think Depeche Mode is a sweet band.

I used to know a lot of straight males that liked Depeche Mode - they were all East Asian. Back in the 1990s it seemed impossible to meet an East Asian male that didn't like Depeche Mode.

Actually, I should clarify: I knew lots of students from foreign countries back then. And it was the foreign East Asian males that liked Depeche Mode. I can't recall knowing many native (USA) born East Asians at the time, at least none that I knew well enough to know their musical tastes.

ogunsiron said...

I was going to mention the OKcupid study too.
For example, if a woman is looking for a "god fearing" man, she might be white a white southener, but she's most likely a black woman.

ben tillman said...

Race (black v. white, ignoring other races) turns out to be the easiest to predict based on what stuff people like. The Cambridge model gets race right 95% of the time....

This isn't as impressive if you consider the base rates.

You could have an 82% success rate simply by predicting "White" each time, since Whites at 58% of the population are almost 4.5 times as numerous as Blacks at 13%.

Anonymous said...

http://spiffypop.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/why-i-became-a-liberal/

The dumb liberal

poolside said...

One of the experiences that led me to conclude that the "we're all alike" diversity trope was false was watching an episode of "Def Comedy Jam" back in the '90s.

I sat through three or four comedians and didn't understand about 90 percent of the jokes because they all related to black culture. I remember one comedian did a long rant on singer R Kelly that had the audience in stitches. I'd never even heard of him.

Truth said...

"I'd love to know what the algorithm says about Truth."

You ain't the only one...

FWG said...

@nooffensebut,

DM was on Letterman last night. As an obsessed fanatic, I stayed up a couple hours later than usual to catch it.

Anonymous said...

They all have one thing in common: They like a lot of dumb shit.

SC said...

What is more interesting than the analysis on whether or not someone is black/white/straight/gay/male/female is the analysis on personality types. I'm fairly extroverted yet I enjoy almost all of the hobbies listed under the "introvert" category.

dirk said...

Macdonald

Anonymous said...

Re: the OKCupid data on gay versus straight...

After reading their first few two headings I didn't read further about race.

the first: "Gay People are NOT Sexually Interested in Straights"

We're supposed to believe that "personal searches" reveals this? Yeah, right. This is the best evidence that gays wouldn't jump at the chance to have sex with a straight guy if they thought they had a chance? If they thought they wouldn't be floored if they made a move? All the research shows that the gay male vision/fantasy of attraction/sex is a virile straight guy.

the second: "Gay People Aren't Promiscuous". Perhaps they're adding lesbians to the mix here and driving down the numbers. Gee, I guess I'm to believe the number of STD infections among gay men just happens because they "aren't promiscuous."

pat said...

There are six people referenced in the list of things black's like. I don't know who any of them are. Am I alone in that?

Albertosaurus

Matthew said...

Dictator Bloomberg's big, new push to inject every black woman in New York with Depo....er, reduce the black population of New Yo...er, to "curb teen pregnancy."

agnostic said...

Only straight white men are interested in the past -- Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Taxi Driver, Van Halen, Bruce Lee, Ghostbusters, Blazing Saddles, Groundhog Day, Megadeth, CCR, Robert Heinlein, Zappa, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Throw in The Big Lebowski, Bad Religion, Wu-Tang Clan, and Saving Private Ryan too, since they're 15+ years old.

Women are too practical and fashion-driven to see beyond 5 years ago. Gays are even worse for trendiness. The one place in this gay city where I rarely see them -- '80s night and at the used record store.

Non-whites' history and earlier culture is all being kept alive by whites. You'd think they'd be somewhat grateful, but they accuse us of being exotifiers desiring to corral The Other into a menagerie. Well, give a damn about your own past then, fool.

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/03/12/an-important-day-for-detroit/

Under Clinton, a whole bunch of little bad negroes ended up behind bars.
Under Obama, a whole bunch of big bad negroes are ending up in prison. Jesse Jr and now this dude and many more.

agnostic said...

The OK Cupid race link has a Stuff Middle Easterners like. Another stereotype confirmed: the charm of Levantine, Anatolian, and Persian babes.

Petite, scarves, big eyes, NEW WAVE, vogue, aesthetics (finally, girls with a visual sense), strong, sensitive...

The women have "archery" listed -- but then what would you expect from the great-granddaughters of the Scythians?

Anonymous said...

Pathetic.

At 88% accuracy, they're worse than blindly guessing "straight" every time.

Anonymous said...

They left off Van Halen!

And Van Heflin

MC said...

Off-topic, but here's Yglesias with more Sailer-bait:

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/03/undermatching_half_of_the_smartest_kids_from_low_income_households_don_t.html?wpisrc=most_viral

peterike said...

I can't even identify most of the stuff on the Black list. Then again, I don't especially care for anything on the white side either.

A cruise through the OKCupid data -- interesting -- pops up one oddity, that female Hispanics rate "Amores Perros" very highly. Now that's a very good movie, but very violent including super-realistic dog fighting scenes. Interesting that the wise Latinas should go for it. It doesn't appear on the male list at all.

Steve Sailer said...

No, I should have explained that the 95% accuracy figure is for guessing the sexual orientation of a randomly chosen straight and randomly chosen gay:

“Fig. 2 shows the prediction accuracy of dichotomous variables expressed in terms of the area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC), which is equivalent to the probability of correctly classifying two randomly selected users one from each class (e.g., male and female).“

Reader said...

Liking "sterility" among Whites is especially telling. The fact that "People should think twice before reproducing" is a meme typical for Whites suddenly sheds new light on the looming demographic catastrophe among white populations in North America and Europe.

While white women ponder the philosophical issues of sustainability, feminism, and the environment, their sisters of a darker hue don't concern themselves with such silly frivolities. They do what's natural.

Anonyia said...

The most amusing comparison is the separated parents graphic vs non separated parents. Liking "I'm Sorry I love you" vs Painting with Bob Ross. Heh.


Also what is up with the connection between conservatism and liking swimming?

Truth said...


"There are six people referenced in the list of things black's like. I don't know who any of them are. Am I alone in that?"

Nah, just old as Fuk.

Anonymous said...

"Also what is up with the connection between conservatism and liking swimming?"

Individualism, self-reliance, even introspection maybe since, like running, swimming gives one a chance to think...many team sports are too rapid fire for that.

Than again, black folks can't float, so to speak. When I was kid, I taught swimming a little bit at the local pool. I was good with the little ones. toddlers up to about 8 years of age. It's true that black kids have trouble not just swimming but learning to swim. Muscle density so I've heard...

Anonymous said...

Don't think ur right Twoof. I'm pretty young and knowledgable about different communities and aside for Obama, Basketball, Love and (of course Robert) Maxwell, all I'm semi-comprehending from your bros is Madea who I'm guessing has something to do with Tyler Perry and/or some other kind of Black Television.

I'm hoping I'm wrong and don't know or what "Madea" is either. Your bros and hos seem to be into some (I'm guessing freally dumb and boring) stuff I've never heard of.

Anonymous said...

After reading that OKCupid blog post I've discovered I'm an Asian male.

Cail Corishev said...

I can't even identify most of the stuff on the Black list.

I'm going to assume Fantasia isn't the Disney animated movie, and Madea isn't a misspelling of the Greek mythological figure. So the closest I can come is Next Friday. The first film, Friday, was actually quite good, but I could tell from the reviews that the sequel wasn't worth a look.

Cail Corishev said...

The fact that "People should think twice before reproducing" is a meme typical for Whites

It's not necessarily a meme "typical for Whites"; it's a meme that attracts very, very few non-whites. It may not have that many total likes compared to other things, but the ones it has are almost exclusively white people.

If the lists were just "what things does each group like most?" they would be very different. Halloween, for example, is probably not as popular among whites as Christmas. But Christmas would get quite a few black likes too, while Halloween apparently doesn't.

Likewise, from the other direction, I doubt there are more black fans of the film Next Friday than of the much more popular Friday that preceded it. But Friday would have quite a few white fans too, while only blacks would be fans of the less-known, more rapper-driven sequel.

Anonymous said...

"Nah, just old as Fuk."

Is Fuk a rap artist or an actor? Please dawg, do tell...

Truth said...

"Is Fuk a rap artist or an actor? Please dawg, do tell..."

Nah, it's really Fornication Under Consent of King...I just didn't want to be offensive.

Anonymous said...

Is Fuk a rap artist or an actor? Please dawg, do tell...

Phuc the Vietnamese rap artist!

Kevin Michael Grace said...

Just over a decade ago, I saw (with my much-younger girlfriend) Radiohead at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. The crowd was almost 100% white, in a city that's only about 45% white. (And most of them appeared to be not just university students but probable graduate students--then or later--as well.) About a month later, we saw Depeche Mode at the same venue, and the crowd was about 95% Chinese. For some reason, their gloomy tunes translate to Big Fun! in Chinese.

dirk said...

I meant it's spelled Norm Macdonald not Norm McDonald. A great Scots-Irish-Canadian comedian. Although, if you look closer he is Jewish on his mother's side.

He's a very religious Christian conservative, pro-life, has a PHD in mathematics, has published several books under pseudonyms, and his greatest passion is literature, particularly Russians such as Chechkov and Tolstoy. His latest undertaking is writing about golf for Grantland. Interesting character, that guy.


Camlost said...

Also what is up with the connection between conservatism and liking swimming?

Muscle density so I've heard...


My swim instructor always told me that people of Northern European descent also tend to have larger, more hollow bones in the joints and extremities. This helps greatly in buoyancy - instead of wasting energy staying high in the water that effort can be used for propulsion within the water.

For instance, Missy Franklin has massive, awkward-looking ankles, hands and knees.

Steve Sailer said...

I can imagine there's much relationship between Missy Franklin and Ben Franklin, but old Ben made money as a swim coach in England in the 1720s.

Anonymous said...

Also what is up with the connection between conservatism and liking swimming?

You mean white conservatism. There is no connection between black conservatism and swimming.

Muscle density so I've heard... My swim instructor always told me that people of Northern European descent also tend to have larger, more hollow bones in the joints and extremities. This helps greatly in buoyancy

How do Arabs and other Middle Easterners fit into this scheme? Are they closer to blacks or whites?

Truth said...

I believe it is you who is showing his ignorance, grasshopper;

There are roughly 200 million white people in America and roughly 40 million white people, the rate of blacks killing whites, is somewhat, but not alarmingly, higher than the rate of whites killing blacks. If the numbers were reversed, you'd have more potential black murderers, yes, and also, less potential white victims. Not complicated

Lion of the Blogosphere said...

I don't like any of the stuff in either the gay or the straight column.

Anonymous said...

http://www.tickld.com/images/content/37087.jpg