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April 02, 2005

Daughter of the Enlightenment

An in depth profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Daughter of the Enlightenment, in The New York Times Magazine. To say that the article "speaks to me" is to understate the case. I can not compare my life to anything that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has experienced. I have known some women of Muslim origin (the children of immigrants) who I have had an acquaintance with since childhood who have "fallen away" from the faith, and I can attest to the fact that the tensions, strains and expectations that they have to satisfy are on a different level than what I as a male have had to deal with. "Boys will be boys" has some cross-cultural resonance. While my brother and I went off to attend university without any objection from our parents my sister has already been told by my mother that she will have to attend a 2 year college and live at home because this country is "bad for girls." But for the grace of Allah go I? Narcissistic and self-satisfied egoist though I am, I still experience head aches when I imagine what my lot would be if I had been an "XX" instead of an "XY." I still rage when I see the expectations and double-standards that are foisted upon Muslim American girls.

When I have had to endure a mild lecture from "open minded" and "culturally sensitive" white Americans about the "beauty" of other cultures, or even the offhand comment that in "some ways Muslim women are treated better than Western women," I actually want to reach for a blunt object and pummel the often pony-tailed and patchouli reeking ignorants to a pulp so that I can smear their worthless grey matter on the floor for the dogs to lap up. I am in general a mild mannered, self satisfied and casually unserious person not prone to caring enough about the opinions, lives and feelings of others to be roused to anger, but when I have to endure ignorant Americans "trivializing" medieval barbarity to puff up their own self-image my anger quickly spikes to nose bleed levels, and sometimes I have even wondered if I was going to pass out.

Why such intemperate sentiments you ask? I have lived in the mountain West, I have spent time with toothless people who donned mullets with pride and still used the term "colored," but these were never the types who have ever really bothered me. I blame their mildly racist or "insensitive" remarks and outlook on their narrow horizons and constrained circumstances. I could still shoot hoops with them, I could still go play tackle football without pads in the park with them, and sometimes I even went off-roading with them. These are often frankly people of somewhat simple tastes and monochromatic imaginations. They do not think on the "big scale" or beyond the next beer. I have also spent a fair amount of time with more typically bourgeois conservative upper-middle-class set, and occasionally I have also experienced insensitivity and confusion from these individuals. Generally they are parochial and quite righteous and bent on converting me from whatever heathenism I might be practicing. They are often irritating people, but many of them are good and decent and after the few educational sessions they figure out where I come from and who I am. The reality is that they are aware they are somewhat ignorant of "other cultures" and don't experience surprise when I contradict their preconceptions, because their ideas are so vague and unformed that the cognitive clay is still malleable. Misperceptions are no source of shame for this sort.

On the other hand, there is a subset, and I emphasize this is a subset, of the "wine & cheese" crowd (and yes, I am now the type of person who goes to wine tastings and watches art films, in part because of the social origins of the other significant in my life) that tend to set me off. The reason is that these are individuals who declare openness to new ideas, but have a peculiar and somewhat reactionary conception of other groups. Conservative Christians are all "hateful." Native Americans are "environmentalist." Muslims do have some issues, but their "heritage is beautiful, their religion is about peace." Hinduism's caste structure blocks the rise of "hyperindividualistic competition" and its ascetic tendency is an alternative to "Western materialism." "Nature" is good, technology is bad. I don't really need to go on. I will not fall into typological thinking, there are a wide spectrum of mindsets and personalities. Among the conservative types I described above there are no doubt some who would wish to do me physical harm...but I have never met them, even though I have traversed much of the intermontane West (in fact, I suspect I look like the relatively common Latino field hands and farm workers from a distance to many in the mountain states when I lived in the region or was passing through). Similarly, there is much good that comes from people who wish to learn about "my" culture. But, there is a subset who I perceive do not see me as fully human on a substantive level, that is, I exist to enrich their own self-actualization and experience of life through my "Eastern" wisdom and color, I exist to validate their contempt for less educated whites or conservatives by offering up my holistic alternatives, I exist to agree with them and be a passive receptacle for their "informed" preconceptions. I have recounted in detail several experiences with these sorts who berate me for my views because I "should know better," or, I "should not deny what is 'natural' because of my origin," and so on. I have even experienced anger from individuals who assert that "Hinduism is my natural religion" that the Islam of my family is simply an "alien graft." What do you say to someone who rejects "Western logic" and "linear thinking" and declares that it is unreasonable that that a "person of color" should valorize Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Newton and Hume?

This is what I say.

There is a world out there of human beings shaped by different experiences, informed by a history that is different from yours, from mine, than that of all other human beings. They worship different gods, consume different foods and even copulate in different positions. They babble in a thousand tongues and practice inhumanity on the scale that their devilish skills allow. They shit and spit, they beat their wives and cheat on their husbands, they love, hate, fear and experience jealousy. But they are human, being humans you can speak to them across the distance of culture, the distance of individuality, and they can always surprise, they can always change, they can always adapt. They are the ends of their existence, they do not exist to be "beautiful," to be "quaint," to be "non-Western," they exist to exist, to live and play and act. They are like you, but different. The difference does not define who they are, it is a statement of fact at that particular time. Who they are is their business, their choice, shaped by many variables. Who you are is your business. If who you are conflicts with who they are, that does not mean you must stop being who you are! For every rule in anthropology you will find an exception, and even if you must be guided by broad general assumptions in your day to day life, never be chained to them. The end of human life is not to just be the object of observation and admiration, but to be a participant in the social matrix, to mix and engage, to grow and shrink away.

By my blood I know that there was a day 300 generations ago that a forebear of mine turned from the life of the hunt and put hand to plow. By my birth speech I know there was a day 200 generations ago that a forebear of mine taught their own child an alien tongue that originated on the plains of Central Asia, perhaps the tongue of their overlords, or their husband, or their neighbor, or their religious leader. By my blood I know that 150 generations ago my ancestors abandoned their tribal gods and looked to the Brahmins for spiritual guidance. I know by my family history that one forebear was a soldier who descended down upon Golden India from the highlands of Turan as a ghazi but never returned to the cool gardens of his youth. I know by my family history that a forebear of mine turned on the gods of Mother India and professed faith to the One True God. I know by my family history that those who once shunned beef now relish it, that a Brahmin whose hair was shorn professed Allah and grew his beard and became a Muslim Pir. I know by my family history that my forebears have "exploited" the poor of Bengal to a far greater extent than Wal-Mart. I know by tautology that I am descended from all my ancestors, but I know by experience that I surprise those who believe that the hue of the skin should determine the nature of the soul.

Why should my grievance, my rage, my anger, my petty "Uncle Tom" wrath matter? If you read the article above Ayaan Hirsi Ali received death threats. As someone who was mildly active in the secular movement I have experienced some veiled threats from Muslims who do not look kindly upon apostates. I am not saying most Western Muslims have uncontrolled sentiments of murder toward apostates. I am not saying that most Westerners reject the possibility of apostasy for Muslims. I will though offer that in the modern climate of multiculturalism and the acceptance of "different values" there has been a tacit rollback of normative individualism, of bulldog reflexive defense of the heterodox kooks because of the need to balance such "Western" values with the feelings of "other cultures." If intolerance is a cultural value, should one be tolerant of intolerance? While sensitivity demands possible consideration of this possibility the objects of intolerance suffer. There was a time when I could halt the blathering of those who praised the beauty of Muslim culture in comparison to cold materialistic America by pointing toward the status of women...and yet, of late that is not such a surefire tactic, after all, "it is their culture," a black-box of mysterious and rich medievalism that exists to elicit awe and reverence...at least as you pass through to take in its tastes. Without poverty where would local handicrafts be obtained from? Without the segregation of women would the custom of open and unlimited hospitality for the traveler still hold? Let Fatima endure bigamy and beatings so the golden domes of the indigenous folkways rise, a rebuke to dead modernist Western cultural architecture, if that is the price let her pay it. Those who detest materialism from their McMansions and praise Nature after their flu shot never need worry that they will have to foot the bill for "indigenous culture."

The rise of the West has been accomplished via genocide, brutality, patriarchy, the rape of Nature and Tradition. Let other spirits rise so that the demon may be thrown down from the vault of the heavens. Voltaire considered non-whites subhuman, so banish him and what he symbolizes, Jefferson owned slaves, so tear up the Declaration, the idolization of the individual is the end product of Western culture so delegate some volition to other entities.

No! No! There are many who are happy with the faith of their fathers, the toil of their mothers and the rank poverty of their childhood. But this need not be the case for all. Just as all humans have basic motivations, basic mental capacities, so there is variation, variation which cuts across cultures. There are those of gross ego and self-love who brook no restrictions of custom and tradition, who take little interest in the wisdom of their fathers but pursue their own abstract and obscure preoccupations. Such brutal rebellion from the weight of the past has been accepted, tolerated, even encouraged, in the modern West. Its consequences have not all been positive. It may lead to the ruin of civilization yet. And yet is it not beautiful? Have we not split the atom? Have we not landed on the moon? Have we not constructed a beautiful theory that explains the diversity of life? Have we not given power to the people but retained respect for basic rights? Have we not put limits on nature and given women equality before the laws of man? Have we not banished starvation as an endemic condition?

We. We. We.

If you do not understand how I can say we, then perhaps you never will on an intuitive level. A choice is made. History is grasped. Values are imbibed. "True" ancestors are embraced. Individuals reshape themselves, create themselves and refine themselves. And they judge themselves to be good. They turn their backs on their blood, their cultural past and their personal memories. It has always been such. The gods of Rome are distant shades now that a Jewish prophet looms over the imagination of the Seven Hills. The speech of the days of old vanishes and the lore and mythology of the ancestors evaporate, to be replaced by new ancient tales. Elders become soil. The days of hunt and forest give way to field and plow. Such things might not be constant, typical or normative in any given time, but over time they are what defines who we are as a species, our ability to change, our ability to remake ourselves according to our mind's will. In some humans do you see the tumult and peculiarity that is our species, for here their ontogeny does recapitulate the specie's phylogeny. Here I am, a son of the soil of Bengal who embraces shadows of pagan Greece and Rome long dead in defiance of the painting rendered by blood. Here are we, humans, the lineal progeny of single-celled organisms, grasping the universe in our mind’s eye, thinking that we may be gods no matter what our microbial pasts hold.

I have gone far enough. You need no more slices of my thought, impressions of my Weltanschauung. You know who I am, who I will always be, who I have always been, or at least my opinion of such things. There are others. We are not necessarily many, but we are loud. What we are is not "unnatural," we are just different. We choose no sides but our own, we make common cause when we must, but common causes are means to ends, they are not the ends themselves. We do not necessarily revile our past, our ancestors, our brothers and sisters, or the rest of humanity, we simply do not always share the same outlook. We are human as all are, intolerant, pig-headed, obstinate and venal. I wish more of us would realize others are not as we are, that for some roots are not restraining ropes or cutting chains, but rather a comforting refuge against a strange world. But there is great goodness in us as well, we who embrace the strange, explore it, analyze it, revel in it. Our values are human values, just as your values are human values. Perhaps in the end conflict is the nature of things, perhaps it must be the tyranny of one set of values over another. So be it. It is my nature to at least demand that war be declared loudly from the mountains, that the sides dress clearly and plainly, and hold in least esteem the false friends.

We do not hate ourselves. We can not hate ourselves. And if you do not understand that, you do not understand us.

Addendum: It was very difficult for me to be coherent in the above, or be cool and detached, because in many ways I was attempting to distill the reason behind many of my issues with a particular strain in the post-Enlightenment ideological zoo which embraces group difference but seems to dismiss individual difference. In light of other things I have said on this blog perhaps the above seems ironic, but if you read closely you will understand my intent and logic. Perhaps we are expandable in the coming order, but I suspect that the past can never be reborn, the old world of custom and tradition is melting away and the tools and lessons that those of us who are species atypical might be more valuable than the majority might realize. To be more serious and specific, if the Dutch intelligentsia believes that people like Ayaan must be abandoned to group normative values for the sake of "ethnic harmony" and acceptance of "cultural differences," even tacitly, then they should not be surprised by the radicalism of Ayaan, she is attempting to preserve who she is in the face of depersonification. A dead individual has nothing to lose.

Similarly, I understand higher level group organisms fear of the acidic effect of Western culture, and in particular the poison that individuals like Ayaan bring into the organism. Ayaan and her ilk are conduits for "Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction," so the extreme reaction of the organism's "immune system" is no surprise. No worries. We are the microbes, we are the swarm of the many individual cells while they are the lumbering and ancient multicellular organisms brittle in their responses. We have clever chemical weapons.

Posted by razib at 06:48 PM | | TrackBack

April 01, 2005

Robert D. Kaplan on C-SPAN

Robert D. Kaplan is going to be the guest on this week's In Depth program on C-SPAN 2 from 12-3 PM on April 3. Although his influence is not publicized quite as much as, say, the neocons, his extensive writings have been extremely influential within military and government circles. This is probably going to be the longest public interview he has done, so check it out.

Addendum: For those who missed the show, C-SPAN will have a streaming video version posted here within the week.

Recommended articles:
"Supremacy by Stealth"
"Was Democracy Just a Moment?"
"The Coming Anarchy"
"Looking the World in the Eye"
"The Media and Medievalism"
"Think Global, Fight Local"

Posted by Arcane at 11:35 PM | | TrackBack

Marxist teachings that Marxists ignore...

I never, ever thought that I would be quoting a Communist on this blog, but I just have to point out this quote from Friedrich Engels:

We regard economic conditions as the factor which ultimately determines historical development. But race is itself an economic factor.

Of course, after looking at numerous other writings of Engels, the guy starts to sound like a proto-Nazi. An extremely long list of extremely un-PC quotations by Marx and Engels can be found on John Jay Ray's "Marx & Friends in their own words" blog. I recommend everyone checking it out and, if in college, sending the link to your favorite Marxist professor. :)

Posted by Arcane at 11:21 PM | | TrackBack

Federline yo!

I don't know why I find this fake SNL commercial for Kevin Fenderline's "man panties for the whigger" so hilarious-but I do (Windows Media File).

Addendum: Back story, I kept repeating "Federline yo!" for about 3 days...some people were not pleased.

Posted by razib at 02:29 AM | | TrackBack

March 31, 2005

More Roland Fryer

Interviewed here.

Posted by razib at 03:43 PM | | TrackBack

Brain-building Protein Identified


“A protein that's key to determining the developing brain's size and shape could be used to manipulate stem cells to rebuild the organ in adults.”

“Underscoring the protein's impact, over-expressing it in rats gave them enlarged brains with grooves and furrows similar to those in evolved mammalian brains.”

Posted by fly at 06:59 AM | | TrackBack

Autism linked to mirror neuron dysfunction


“According to the new study, currently in press at the journal Cognitive Brain Research, electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings of 10 individuals with autism show a dysfunctional mirror neuron system: Their mirror neurons respond only to what they do and not to the doings of others.”

Posted by fly at 06:56 AM | | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Kennewick alert!!!!

Go to Moira's alert. Don't let "sensitivity" trump truth, just because the past has been a political football doesn't mean we have to play along with the game.

Posted by razib at 11:35 AM | | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Colon Cancer is a Socially Constructed Disease

We've all been witness to the canard that "Race is Socially Constructed" on countless occasions. In fact, some professional organizations go so far as to have official policies on this issue:

``The concept of race is a social and cultural construction. . . . Race simply cannot be tested or proven scientifically,'' according to a policy statement by the American Anthropological Association.

[ . . . . . ]

Despite this, many Americans still believe in three great racial groups, a system developed in Europe and North America in the 18th century.

Yeah, who are you going to believe, the American Anthropological Association or your own lying eyes?

``We don't even come close to having enough genetic diversity for races, or subspecies -- not close,'' said Robert Sussman, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis and editor of a newsletter of the anthropological association that has taken on race and racism as its yearlong theme.

``It's hard to get across,'' said Sussman. ``The best audience to try to get to is probably high school and young college students. But even they are steeped in American folklore, and the folklore is that races really exist.''

Wasn't it always so . . . the idealism, and naivete, of youth can so easily be swayed in service to outlandish schemes and philosophies.

One reason race is a myth, the great majority of anthropologists agree, is that there has not been enough time for much difference to build up between human beings.

By most measures, modern humans arose in Africa less than 200,000 years ago, a short time by evolutionary time scales. And the migration out of Africa by the ancestors of today's Europeans, Asians, and North and South Americans took place less than 100,000 years ago.

Environmental pressure produced different physical appearances, including slightly different physiques, and Africa has the most human genetic diversity of any continent.

Well, if that's really so then we should be embarking on a whole new series of investigations, first to purge the damn racists from the medical establishment for issuing reports that encourage members of mythical groups to seek early cancer tests:

African Americans should be screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45 — five years earlier than other people, according to new guidelines issued by the American College of Gastroenterology.

The advice is in response to previous findings that African Americans have earlier onset of the disease and higher incidence and mortality rates than whites.

[ . . . . . ]

African Americans tend to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a younger age than whites. The study cited a 2001 study that found that 10.6 percent of African Americans with colorectal cancer were diagnosed before age 50, compared with 5.5 percent of whites.

Post-diagnosis survival rates are also lower for African Americans. From 1992 to 1999 African Americans with colorectal cancer had a 53 percent five-year survival rate, compared with a 63 percent survival rate in whites, according to the report.

After we finish the purge of heretics we need to put in place a whole new research regime to determine what racist environmental variable(s) lead to differential colon cancer rates that statistically target members who belong to a mythical group. While we're at it, these researchers may want to investigate how a claim that contradicts the position that racial differences are only skin deep found its way into press reports:

Until relatively recently, groups of people lived far apart. That isolation encouraged certain genetic traits, not just external traits such as a particular skin color, but also internal traits, like cellular function. Now, genetic medicine is revealing just how much these internal traits can vary from group to group.

Of course, the more parsimonious explanation would be that the American Anthropological Association is purposely blinding itself in furtherance of allegiance to ideology and that their Sisyphean struggle to convince the public is all for naught.

Related: Can H-BD Aware Doctors Save Lives?

Posted by TangoMan at 01:01 PM | | TrackBack

We'll all be beautiful

This is a joke page, right?

Beginning last November, the city of San Francisco began a program whereupon clinically obese men between the ages of 18 and 55 could undergo a procedure whereupon approximately 1/2 an inch is removed from each vas and the ends are sealed - commonly referred to as a vasectomy - completely free of charge. The overwhelming turnout led the State of California to follow suit, and now California is the first state in the Union to offer state-funded vasectomies to men who have been diagnosed as obese.

Well this makes sense. Eugenics won't be pushed to make us smarter. Or stronger. But we will have eugenics to make us beautiful.

This has got to be the plot of a Philip K. Dick novel or something.

UPDATE This IS a joke page. And joke journal in fact. There's got to be some potential in that, I think.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 07:18 AM | | TrackBack

Neets News

The Neets phenomenon (see my post below) seems to be catching on.

Today's London Daily Mirror has a follow-up to the Sunday Times article here.

More surprisingly, the same phenomenon is causing concern in Japan, of all places - see this article.

But I guess that both the nature and the scale of the problem are different from in Britain.


This Guardian article from last year is mainly about Japanese Neets. Not much in common with the British phenomenon.

Posted by David B at 02:30 AM | | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

I call hypocrite

via Sepia Mutiny

Ted Rall's latest cartoon imagines a Zoroastrian United States without separation of church and state.

What Mr. Rall leaves out of his cartoon is that the ancestral homeland of the Zoroastrians is currently under the rule of a regime repelled by the notion of separating church and state. The ancestral homeland of the Zoroastrians was invaded and the Zoroastrians subject to a campaign of ethnic cleansing by their conquerors such that the true heirs of one of the great civilizations of the ancient world may die out by the end of the twenty-first century.

Mr. Rall, of course, casts his lot with that genocide's perpatrators and beneficiaries.

Apparently murderous hatred of Westerners, especially Americans, gives you carte blanche for murderous hatred of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and, yes, Zoroastrians.

Stupid white man indeed.

See also this.

Posted by jeet at 09:37 PM | | TrackBack

Whipping Therapy Cures Depression

You may think that this is a parody piece from the Onion, but if you did you'd be wrong. Pravda reports on a sensational report made an international conference devoted to new methods of treatment and rehabilitation in narcology. The report was called "Methods of Painful Impact to Treat Addictive Behavior."

Siberian scientists believe that addiction to alcohol and narcotics, as well as depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosomatic diseases occur when an individual loses his or her interest in life. The absence of the will to live is caused with decreasing production of endorphins - the substance, which is known as the hormone of happiness. If a depressed individual receives a physical punishment, whipping that is, it will stir up endorphin receptors, activate the "production of happiness" and eventually remove depressive feelings.

Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping therapy: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks in every procedure. A group of drug addicts volunteered to test the new method of treatment: the results can be described as good and excellent.

Doctor of Biological Sciences, Sergei Speransky, is a very well known figure in Novosibirsk. The doctor became one of the authors of the shocking whipping therapy. The professor used the self-flagellation method to cure his own depression; he also recovered from two heart attacks with the help of physical tortures too.

"The whipping therapy becomes much more efficient when a patients receives the punishment from a person of the opposite sex. The effect is astounding: the patient starts seeing only bright colors in the surrounding world, the heartache disappears, although it will take a certain time for the buttocks to heal, of course," Sergei Speransky told the Izvestia newspaper.

The whipping therapy has not become a new discovery in the history of medicine. Tibetan monks widely used it for medical purposes too. Soviet specialists used a special method of torturing therapy at mental hospitals. They made injections of brimstone and peach oil mixture to inspire mentally unbalanced patience with a will to live. A patient would suffer from horrible pain in the body after such an injection, but he or she would change their attitude to life for the better afterwards.

"People might probably think of me as a masochist," Dr. Speransky said. "But I can assure you that I am not a classic masochist at all," he added.

The revolutionary method may take the Russian healthcare to a whole new level. The method is cheap and highly efficient, as its authors assure. Why not using something more efficient, a rack, for example?

I could end this off with a whole bunch of witty quips but I'd much prefer to read what you can come up with. Make your own jokes in comments.

Posted by TangoMan at 08:07 PM | | TrackBack

The evolutionary revolutionary

A profile of Robert Trivers in The Boston Globe.

A refresher: Trivers is the father of ideas like reciprocal altruism & parent-offspring conflict. He has been one of the foremost extenders of the logic of William D. Hamilton's early work on kinship and biosocial theory.

Posted by razib at 04:21 PM | | TrackBack

Inter-ethnic marriage in Britain

In a recent post on educational performance by ethnic groups in the UK I mentioned some research on inter-ethnic marriage by Raya Muttarak of Oxford. She has made at least two studies on the subject: (1) Who Intermarries in Britain? and (2) Marital Assimilation: Ethnic Intermarriage in Britain.

The second study has more recent data and is more useful for comparisons over time, but the first paper has fuller theoretical discussion….


The data sources are mainly government surveys. An official guide to the ethnic classifications used, and the data sources, is available here.

One point to note is that ’Asian’ usually means ’South Asian’. Chinese people are classified separately, and the term ’Asian’ often excludes Chinese.

The 2001 Census for the first time introduced some ’Mixed’ ethnicity categories: White and Black Caribbean, White and Black African, White and Asian, and Other Mixed. There is no separate category for ‘White and Chinese’. It appears to be the intention that they should be included under ’Other Mixed’, and notes on education statistics make this explicit. However, the 2001 Census form gives no guidance on this point, and faced with a choice between ’White-Asian’ and ’Other Mixed’, White-Chinese people might well put themselves under ’White-Asian’.


The propensity of different groups to intermarry is affected by their numbers in the population. Here are population figures (both sexes, all ages) for England and Wales from the 2001 Census:

_Other Black_____0.10_______0.2
_Other Asian_____0.24_______0.5
_Other Mixed_____0.16_______0.3
*includes Latin American, etc.

The Census includes questions about the relationship between members of the household. It is therefore possible to extract, e.g., the number of White-Asian marriages. Since the Census covers only those present in the household on Census Day, the information is not complete, but it is unlikely to be seriously biased with respect to the proportion of inter-ethnic marriages. The Office for National Statistics has just released some data on inter-ethnic marriage from the 2001 Census. The following are the proportions, in rank order, of each ethnic group who are married to someone of another ethnic group (nearly always White):

Mixed______ 78
Other Black__38
Black Carib__24
Black Afric___15

This might suggest that Whites have a low propensity to marry other ethnic groups, but after taking account of relative population sizes, 2% is actually a high proportion (about 20%) of the maximum possible intermarriage rate for Whites.

These figures may be compared with those of Muttarak (2) taken from different sources (the Labour Force Survey, which is mainly concerned with employment and training issues, but also contains a lot of demographic data). The figures are not directly comparable with the Census data, since they include cohabiting as well as married couples. I have averaged the figures for both sexes.

Black Carib__16_________29
Black Afric___18_________11

In most of the non-White groups the proportion of men intermarrying is higher than that of women, the exceptions being the Chinese, where twice as many women as men intermarry, and Indians, where in 2002-3 there was a slightly higher rate for women than for men.


It will be seen that for Black Caribbeans and Chinese the proportion intermarrying has increased since 1981. For Indians it has increased very slightly, with a fall in the rate for men offset by a larger rise in the rate for women. Among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis there has also been a fall among men and a rise among women, with the net effect a fall. Among Black Africans the rate among both men and women has fallen.

Muttarak’s research shows that in all groups those born in the UK have a higher intermarriage rate than first-generation immigrants, so it may seem paradoxical that in some groups the intermarriage rate has fallen between 1981 and 2002-3. The explanation is that in some groups continuing immigration has offset the rise among the second (or later) generation. As I have mentioned in other posts, there has been a large recent increase in immigration of Black Africans, including many Muslim Somalis. Muttarak (page 21 of (2)) discusses this.

The reasons for the fall among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are less obvious, and Muttarak’s discussion is rather weak. I suspect that it has become easier for spouses from arranged marriages to be ’imported’ in the last 20 years, due both to better transport and communications and to changes in the immigration rules. There may also be increased religious and family pressures on Muslims to marry within the group. I note that among Pakistanis second generation women are even less likely to intermarry than in the first generation, contrasting with all other groups in this respect. I suspect also that the earliest immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh were mainly men, and had a higher intermarriage rate for lack of alternatives. This early cohort may now be dying off (or their marriages may have broken up.)

For the long term, it seems likely that the Chinese and Caribbean groups will become entirely assimilated into the mainstream population. For second-generation Chinese the intermarriage rates are especially high, at around 70%.

It is impossible to predict the future of the Black African group, as it is so diverse and for the most part so recently arrived.

The future of the South Asian groups is unclear. For second generation Indians the intermarriage rate is around 14%, which is not high enough to presage total assimilation in the foreseeable future. But the rate may accelerate in the third generation, when family pressures to marry within the group will probably be weaker.

There is little sign of the Pakistani group disappearing by assimilation. Surprisingly, there may be a greater prospect of assimilation in the Bangladeshi group. Despite their very low overall intermarriage rate, the rate for second generationers is quite high, at over 10% for both men and women. Indeed it is higher for women than for men, and almost as high as for Indian second generation women. I have commented elsewhere on the marked improvement in educational performance among Bangladeshis in the UK, which is another factor promoting assimilation.

Characteristics of intermarrying partners

The main aim of Muttarak’s two papers is to analyse the characteristics of individuals who marry people of another ethnic group. Anyone who is interested in the subject should read the papers, but to summarise:

For ethnic minorities characteristics associated with a high rate of intermarriage include:

a) being born in Britain rather than abroad, i.e. being second or later generation immigrants

b) fluency in English

c) being well-educated, in particular having a university degree or equivalent qualification

d) absence of religious affiliation

e) living in an area with a low density of ethnic minorities.

These apply to both sexes and most ethnic groups. However, Muttarak (2) notes that for Black Caribbeans having a higher education qualification makes little or no difference to the propensity to intermarry, or is even a negative factor. She suggests (p.26) that this is because Black Caribbeans are integrated into the white working-class community. The same appears to be true for second-generation Black Africans.

So far as Whites are concerned, the factors favouring intermarriage are much the same, except that in this case being born outside Britain is positively associated with intermarriage.

Muttarak’s analysis does not cover the effect of belonging to particular religions, as distinct from the effect of absence of religion. However, she notes (page 11, paper (2)) that the recent LFS surveys have included questions on religious affiliation, and she intends to include this variable in the analysis once data become publicly available. It may be difficult to distinguish the effects of religion from ethnicity as such, since most ethnic groups are nearly mono-religious. However, the Indian group may provide sufficient diversity (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh) for a meaningful analysis.

There is nothing very surprising in these results, though the second-generation intermarriage rates for Asians are rather higher than I had expected. It will be interesting to see whether the widely-reported rise of religious devotion among young Muslims has any effect on the trend.

Posted by David B at 04:01 AM | | TrackBack

March 27, 2005

Organizing the Debate

There is a tremendous amount of impressive information in the Gene Expression archives. And because it's only organized by date, it's underutilized.

How to organize it?

The Gene Expression Textbook Project, maybe? Organize it around giving people an introduction into human biodiversity?

Maybe some sort of greatest hits list?

If we get serious about something like this, the best place on the net to look for guidance is Talk Origins. Gene Expression is similar in that it partakes in a similar sort of debate, and could probably benefit from copying some parts of the Talk Origins organizational style.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 01:26 PM | | TrackBack

Meet the Neets

In a recent post on Education and Poverty I commented on the dismal educational performance of the White 'underclass' in Britain.

Coincidentally, today's Sunday Times has a feature article on the new underclass, known in Government circles by the acronym 'Neet': Not in Education, Employment or Training. Here's the article...

Depressing stuff!


In comments several people asked about 'race'.

The Sunday Times article doesn't mention race or ethnicity, but the photos, etc, all involve young Whites. No doubt some people covered by the official definition of 'Not in Education, Employment or Training' must be from ethnic minorities, but simply on numerical grounds it must be a predominantly White group. According to the ST, there are 1.1 million Neets aged 16-24. In the 2001 Census data there are only in total about 120,000 'Blacks' in this age group. (Of course there are also South Asians, Chinese, etc, but no-one will imagine that they are significant in the Neet phenomenon.) As to young 'Blacks', they have a slightly higher unemployment rate than Whites, but they also have a higher rate of continuing in full-time education or training. The only significance of Blacks that I see in the Neet phenomenon is that young White uneducated kids have a tendency to ape the worst aspects of Black urban culture: gangsta rap, crack, petty crime, and general insolence. In London, especially, white yobbos often speak with a touch of Jamaican patois, which sounds comical coming from some skinny pale-faced runt.

Addendum 2

I should have learned by now to be cautious of any statistics I read in the Sunday Times. The ST claims that 'According to official figures, there are 1.1m Neets aged 16-24 in Britain today'.

There are about 5.6m people aged 16-24 (both sexes) in England and Wales (2001 Census). Let's bump it up to 6m to allow for Scotland. 1.1m would therefore be about 18% of the age group. This is suspiciously high. The Youth Cohort Study gives only 12% Neets at age 18. It is possible that the proportion increases substantially in the years 19-24, sufficiently to raise the average over the years 16-24 to 18%, despite the fact that the proportion of people actually in jobs also increases after age 18, but if so this is probably for the boring reason that in Britain, as elsewhere, women in their early 20s are often having babies. By no means all of them will be 'Neets' in the derogatory sense used by the ST. A better test of the size of the problem would be the proportion of males in this age group who are Neets.

This is not to deny that it is a serious problem, but maybe not quite as bad as the ST's figures suggest.

Posted by David B at 04:57 AM | | TrackBack