Wednesday assorted links

by on March 2, 2016 at 2:26 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Urso March 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Three is an extraordinarily under-discussed point, generally, but I’m not sure how direct a link there is from that to Cruz winning Oklahoma.

2 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 4:21 pm


3 Urso March 2, 2016 at 6:08 pm

from the twit: “Fascinating about why Cruz does well in places like Oklahoma but not Alabama.”

4 Doug March 2, 2016 at 3:11 pm


Church attendance is a combined metric of religiosity and conscientiousness. Yes, going to church every week means you believe in God. But it also means that wake up early an not hung over every Sunday morning. Needless to say this is an easier goalpost for the quiet, hard-working Germanic folk of the plain states than the wild Scotch-Irish Appalachian hillbillies and Tidewater rednecks. If you look at metrics loaded on beliefs rather than behavior, like percent believing the Bible’s the literal word of God, the Southeast is still clearly the religious heart of the US.

5 msgkings March 2, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Well said.

6 JWatts March 2, 2016 at 5:07 pm

The South East has low levels of alcohol consumption. So no, to hung over to go to Church on Sunday, is not a correct observation.

7 M March 2, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Yep, judging by the GSS’s “Drink” (ever drink?) question, teetotalers are most common in the South (although there’s a split in the question on drunkenness “Drunk”, but still not a South with higher levels of drunkeness than the Midwest). For Whites as well as Blacks.

8 M March 2, 2016 at 5:10 pm

There’s a tendency for the more accomplished, if religious, to attend church more.

At the same time, the groups with the (narrowly) highest church attendance in the US are African American and Mexican Americans (true both within their regions of biggest concentration and considered against population as a whole). Not groups people would associate with accomplishment necessarily.

Going to church isn’t mostly about being religious, necessarily, or conscientiousness, either. More probably about there just being a convention of going to church frequently, and socializing there.

Although the wildness of the Southern Whites seems pretty exaggerated anyway. On the US General Social Survey, take out the self identified Mexican and American Indian folk among the White Americans, and they compare quite favorably to Midwestern Whites on most metrics (education, income, vocabulary test, occupational prestige). I suspect if you looked at violent crime results controlling for ethnicity and for whether the subject reports Amerind or Mexican background, then you’d find the South quite comparable to the Midwest.

One note about the American South is that it is the most Protestant region of the US. It’s a good deal less Catholic than the
Midwest. That explains some difference in Biblical literalism but not all of it, and there are still differences in “certainty of God’s existence” questions (even given Catholicism, which is simultaneously both fervent and open to doubt).

9 Urso March 2, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I would imagine that, within African-Americans, accomplishment is positively correllated with church attendance. (assuming, as always, that my own personal anecdotal observations hold true across all times and all places.)

10 M March 5, 2016 at 7:21 am

Hey, if you’re still reading this comment thread and are interested, just to explain a bit more it’s a bit more complicated than a strong positive correlation between church attendance and intelligence.

Looking at church attendance and intelligence (via Wordsum) or Education, you don’t find that frequent attendees are too much more intelligent than non attendees, as separate classes:

The separation is really weak in terms of education / intelligence (as a proxy for accomplishment – I could have used SEI I guess).

What you do find is that the very intelligent and education who *also* happen to believe in God with higher certainty have very high attendance rates:

But since overall there are relatively few highly intelligent individuals, because highly intelligent individuals who are atheist / agnostic attend less than low intelligence atheist / agnostics, and there is a mild negative correlation between certainty of belief in god and intelligence / education, this doesn’t translate into any large overall educational advantage for regulars churchgoers.

This is for Whites, the statistical numbers are smaller on Blacks so hard to replicate (some of the smaller Belief+Education intersection classes become too small to give a reliable statistic) –

11 bulgarian license plate March 2, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Doug – just a random comment: in any given city, there is a lot of really impressive and fun music being played Sunday mornings at various churches. I would not be surprised if a solid 3 or 4 percent of the churchgoers in many of the churches were there only for the relatively inexpensive musical experience (as for me, I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I do not so much “believe” in God as “remember” God and “feel thankfulness to” God, but that being said, I would never in a thousand years attend a church based solely on the quality of the music).

12 Urstoff March 2, 2016 at 3:29 pm

As a resident of Oklahoma, I’m surprised this is news; mega-churches as far as the eye can see.

I’m guessing that’s because the middle of the country is whiter than the Southeast. It would be interesting to see if attendance for whites is different between the middle states and the southeast.

13 JonFraz March 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Interesting fact, highlighted by Charles Murray, Rod Dreher, et al: religious observance has declined steeply for working class whites– not so much for the working class in other racial groups. If you regularly go to church and are white chances are you are either A) elderly or B) solidly middle class or above.

14 dearieme March 2, 2016 at 3:46 pm

#4: in other words, Republicans as people of principle, and Democrats as looters and extortionists. Why on earth didn’t they just say so?

15 Jon Rodney March 2, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Or alternatively, Democrats as pragmatic problem-solvers, Republicans as unthinking ideologues.

I guess you could take the authors at face value without imposing your own belief system over their work, but that’s just soooooo much effort.

16 Derek March 2, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Problem: my communications could cause problems in my quest for the presidency.

Solution: set up an insecure server in someone’s bathroom for State Department communications.


17 Tom Warner March 2, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Re #4: The dichotomy is far overstated. For the Ds, take their generally strong commitment to Keynesian economics and solar power. Are those not ideological? Does anybody really think John Doe Democrat is motivated by hope of getting some of the subsidies to solar power, and not by faith that boosting deficit-spending to subsidize solar will make the world better? For the Rs, take the sorting to them of white blue collar and growing commitment to end immigration. Is that not an interest group seeking a specific policy?

18 JWatts March 2, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Yes, I agree with you and disagree with the thesis of the paper. There are plenty of ideological, partisan Democrats and there are plenty of special interest, partisan Republicans.

19 rich March 2, 2016 at 4:09 pm

So is the idea to get as many students as possible, at a very young age, addicted to Ritalin and Adderall, and then test their social-emotional learning skills?

20 John March 2, 2016 at 4:10 pm

The Great Plains are far more depressing than the South these days.

21 4T4 March 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm

tech companies need Techonomists as much as they need staff astrologers

no specific bottom line results cited for these Techonomist because there are none

academic economists seeking honest employment are laudable but that new teconomist career field has always been known as plain old market analysis, with no need for a PhD or even a college degree in many cases

22 Dan in Euroland March 2, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Hmm, strikes me that a PhD would be helpful to implement and design something like this:
or this:
or this:

Quotation from the last paper: “Ideas that seem obvious to a trained economist are often quite new to layfolk. Our marginal product in preventing mistakes can be surprisingly large.”

I understand its fun to hate on economics, but that does not mean it is without value. Black and white thinking is correctly viewed as a cognitive distortion in clinical psych.

23 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 11:23 pm

My take was that they’re working as statisticians and data modellers who come with a background in economics principles, not as astrologers.

24 Matt Grossman March 2, 2016 at 4:28 pm

The political scientist has two ‘n’ ‘s in his name! I should know!

25 Willitts March 2, 2016 at 4:39 pm

2. Black wins or draws almost 2/3 of the time. This is persuasive evidence that Black has a non-losing strategy.

26 msgkings March 2, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Doesn’t White win or draw 2/3 of the time as well? The draws are the shared 1/3?

27 Willitts March 2, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Uh, well. Yeah. 🙂

28 msgkings March 2, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Whoosh! That one went right over my head. Too dry! 🙂

29 Mark Thorson March 2, 2016 at 9:40 pm

I’m reminded of the Dilbert cartoon in which PHB notices 40% of sick days are on Mondays or Fridays, thus obviously just a ploy to get a three-day weekend.

(If I could link to it, I would.)

30 Ray Lopez March 2, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Nice, but the chess graph was too distracting with the pop-up balloon captions. They should be made transparent and smaller, so you can click through them.

31 Donald Pretari March 2, 2016 at 4:45 pm

#4…In 1996, I strongly supported Bob Dole. In 2000, I strongly supported McCain, but did not vote for Bush. By 2008, I could not vote for McCain and voted for President Obama. Similarly, although I once liked Romney, by 2012 I couldn’t even consider him. I became a Democrat in 2006, largely to see if a libertarian Democrat would be accepted by Democrats ( This was in response to a Cato Institute forum on the libertarian Democrat ). My answer is sort of. I heartily dislike Ideologues in politics, since I consider politics the art of the possible and compromise.

So, I basically agree with the description of the differences between the parties put forward in the paper. However, unlike Brad DeLong, I am a fan of Goldwater and Nixon, and do not see them as being in any way responsible for the current GOP. Nor do I blame Reagan for this current GOP. Nixon and Reagan were pragmatists, and, had he become President, I believe Goldwater would have been as well. I date the current GOP as beginning with the George W. Bush administration, which I consider a disaster. The current GOP reminds me of the John Birch Society which was very active where I grew up. However, I can’t remember any Republican I knew back then saying anything positive about the JBS.

I have a more positive take about the future, though, because I have read a fair number of GOP members who are not accepting what is currently being served up by the GOP. But then, I read Pat Buchanan comparing Trump with Barry Goldwater, and my head almost exploded.

32 Anon March 2, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Terrifying Republican Undesirable Malevolent Politician !

33 Dagonet March 2, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Trust Respect Unity Money President

34 anon March 2, 2016 at 6:17 pm

I am reading Martin Wolf at the FT and Robert Kagan at the Washtingon Post on the rise of Trump. They have a similar feeling to your remembrances. Yours is not the only head exploding.

35 Donald Pretari March 3, 2016 at 9:57 am

You made my day by associating me with Martin Wolf and Robert Kagan. I wish I was as accomplished as they are.

36 Art Deco March 2, 2016 at 9:06 pm

The current GOP reminds me of the John Birch Society –

Well, at least your departure lowered the aggregate disorientation level among Republicans.

37 Mark Thorson March 2, 2016 at 9:58 pm

I would date the hijacking of the Republican party to the Reagan Administration — the rise of the Christian Coalition and operators like Ralph Reed. That brought a large number of stupid, crazy, and exploitable people into the party, which made it a majority party (at times) but there was a price to be paid.

I left the party after the religious right (with the help of the Democrats — specifically Gray Davis) made Simon the Republican candidate for California governor. He lost to Davis, who spent most of his campaign money in the Republican primary. Had Davis not made that move, the Republican nominee would have been Los Angeles mayor Riordan, and he would have won. He would have been a good governor.

Instead, we got the evil, incompetent Davis, the only California governor ever to be removed from office by a recall vote. And he was followed by Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger was not bad as California governors go, but I would rather have had Riordan. I left the party because I was disgusted with the way religious extremists assisted by money from the opposition could hijack the primary. The Republican party is addicted to the heroin of religious extremists, and that’s not the party for me.

I’ve got a lot of reservations about Trump, but he might get me to come back. He isn’t a religious nutcase. He’s a secular nutcase, and that’s the best I can hope for.

38 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 9:18 am

I would date the hijacking of the Republican party to the Reagan Administration –

Get back to us when you’ve learned the meaning of the term ‘hijacking’.

39 Dain March 3, 2016 at 11:08 pm

Trump is a pivot away from both free market zealots and Christians. He’s more in the mold of the secular identity politics coalitions that rule Europe:

40 Jason Bayz March 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm

3. I always thought of the bible belt as being the South, plus the plains and mountain states, Utah and part of Colorado excepted, but according to Wikipedia it just means the South. I bet you’d find a different story if you account for race in the church attendance data.

41 rayward March 2, 2016 at 7:18 pm

3. Ah, but it’s the diversity of Christian belief that defines Christianity. That was the case in the first two centuries CE and that is the case today; and the South is much more sectarian than other places. If you’ve never been asked if you are going to heaven, you cannot understand Christianity in the South. In the South, the Apostle Paul is more responsible for saving Gentile Sinners than that Jew Jesus.

42 wwebd March 3, 2016 at 11:24 pm

Actually, rayward, all you need to do to understand Jesus is to spend a few moments – maybe even a single moment – listening to what the person who created you wants you to do with your life. It has nothing to do with Southerners or with the much maligned but very humble and unselfish long-ago Jewish rhetoritician named Saul or with diverse people who talk too much and not all that well about their religious philosophy or even with ordinary people who keep their distance but talk about Heaven, bless their little hearts. It is just you and God. You can choose to look for him or choose not to. If you care about other people your choice is obvious.

43 Ray Lopez March 2, 2016 at 7:34 pm

#1 – no mention of Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, who was chief economist at gaming tech company Steam.

PS–it’s already Wed PM (your time, mine in the Philippines is Thursday AM) and TC has no Super Tuesday link, why?

44 pizzaparty March 2, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Mid-west= German/scandinavian Ned Flanders Christians.
South- Scotch-Irish -Serious about the tradition but not always the specifics. Occasionally hung over on Sundays.

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