Category Archives: Culture

Chart of the day II: White coats, pay disparities


From Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2016:

In our 2016 report, men still earn more than women, whether they are PCPs ($225,000 vs $192,000, respectively) or specialists ($324,000 vs $242,000, respectively). In 2012, male specialists made $242,000 vs $173,000 for women. Male PCPs made $174,000 and their female peers made $141,000. On an encouraging note, women's earnings increased more between the 2012 and 2016 reports than did men's: 36% for female PCPs and 29% for their male peers. For specialists, the percentage increases between those years are 40% for women and 34% for men.

In our 2016 report, men still earn more than women, whether they are PCPs [primary care physicians] ($225,000 vs $192,000, respectively) or specialists ($324,000 vs $242,000, respectively). In 2012, male specialists made $242,000 vs $173,000 for women. Male PCPs made $174,000 and their female peers made $141,000. On an encouraging note, women’s earnings increased more between the 2012 and 2016 reports than did men’s: 36% for female PCPs and 29% for their male peers. For specialists, the percentage increases between those years are 40% for women and 34% for men.

Headline of the day: More than eyes the meat


From the Guardian:

Georgian vegan cafe attacked by ‘sausage-wielding nationalists’

Venue targeted by group described as ‘far-right extremists’ days after ominous slogans appeared in the capital.

Consumer ethnic identity tests may foster racism


A screencap of thre webpage for one of the most popular consumer DNA testing companies, a firm that also sells consumer genealogical record programs..

A screencap of the webpage for one of the most popular consumer DNA testing companies, a firm that also sells consumer genealogical record programs..

That’s the conclusion of some fascinating new research published in this month’s Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin [$36 to access the article].

Conducted by social scientists in the U.S., Norway, Denmark, and Israel, the study has implications for those DNA tests advertised regularly on television promising to reveal all the components of your ethnic background.

The TV ads show folks who discover that they DNA proves they weren’t Scottish, German, of whatever, and how that discover changed their lives and their self-perceptions.

Here’s the abstract from the paper:

Information about the degree of one’s genetic overlap with ethnic outgroups has been emphasized in genocides, is frequently learned about through media reporting, and is increasingly being accessed via personal genetic testing services. However, the consequence of learning about whether your own ethnic group is either genetically related to or genetically distinct from a disliked ethnic group remains unknown. Across four experiments, using diverse samples, measures and contexts, we demonstrate that altering perceptions of genetic overlap between groups in conflict—in this case Arabs and Jews—impacts factors that are directly related to interethnic hostility (e.g., aggressive behaviors, support of conflict-related policies). Our findings indicate that learning about the genetic difference between oneself and an ethnic outgroup may contribute to the promotion of violence, whereas learning about the similarities may be a vital step toward fostering peace in some contexts. Possible interventions and implications are discussed.

In a post written for Scientific American’s blog, two of the authors, Sasha Kimel of Harvard and Jonas Kunst, who holds appointments at Harvard and the universities of Oslo in Norway and Aarhus in Denmark,describe their experiments and some of their implications.

From their post:

[W]e led Jewish participants to believe that they were playing a simple computerized game with an Arab opponent sitting in another room. If the Jewish participant won, they could give their opponent a loud blast of noise – up to the intensity of a fire alarm. Strikingly, Jewish participants who had first learned about the genetic differences “punished” their alleged Arab opponent with more intense noise blasts than those who had learned about the genetic similarities.

But can learning about genetic similarities or differences also alter peoples’ support for war?  To test this, in a third experiment—run outside the laboratory—we randomly assigned Jewish participants to read one of our various news articles and then rate their support for peacemaking with Palestinians. Here, our results suggested that learning about genetic similarities might be an effective intervention for reducing conflict.

However, when we finally took the study to Israel—a context of ongoing violence and deeply entrenched negative views—we found something quite different. Here, learning about the genetic differences was what was really impactful. In this field experiment conducted on Israeli commuter trains, Jewish Israeli’s supported violence and war-like policies towards Palestinians much more after reading about their genetic differences with Arabs.

We’ve posted extensively about the deadly role of eugenics in fostering hatred, sterilizations, and mass murder, not only in Nazi but in the United States throughout the first half of the 20th Century.

Let us quote from one of our many posts on the subject:

“Their idea of utopia was that no one would exist who didn’t look like themselves,” explains Edwin R. Black, author of War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race [2003].

While most folks probably assume that the Nazi plan to create a blond, blue-eyed “Aryan” master race was a uniquely German phenomenon, the reality is that Hitler simply embraced a program developed in the United States, and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Institution, and other grant-making institution.

Most of the German researchers who would go on to implement first the Nazi sterilization programs and later, the gassing first of mental patients and then Jews and Gypsies, were first sponsored by the American grant-givers.

Soon after his rise to the chancellorship, Hitler expressed regrets that he couldn’t implement programs already in place in the United States and set changing Germany’s laws.

Indeed, California would set the world record for forced sterilizations until Hitler unleashed his own doctors — many of whom had received American institutional grants — who would spearhead his war against the weak, modeling his own statutes on those already in operation in the U.S.

The dread of those dubbed “mental defectives” even led some mainstream American scientists to propose a “final solution” in the form of gas chambers, an idea subsequently adopted in Germany.

The implementation of eugenics programs here followed a rise of anti-immigrant hysteria focused on Southern Italians, Eastern European Jews, and Latinos, an ominous fact in light of the rising anti-immigrant hysteria now impacting our country.

But the eugenicists weren’t out simply to purge the globe of “mental defectives” and “inferior races.” They also targeted the deaf, the blind, the disabled, the alcoholic, the depressed, and the poor. As Black notes, eugenicists “believed you weren’t born into poverty; poverty was born into you.”

Chart of the day: Polarized over moral values


Another reason for the rise of populism, via Gallup:

BLOG Chart

Maps of the day: Patterns of ancestry revealed


BLOG Ancestry

From McGill University:

A new study of genomic diversity in the U.S. clarifies the role of pre-Civil War admixture and early 20th century transit routes in shaping the migration history and genomic diversity among African-American communities. The research by McGill University professor Simon Gravel and colleagues, was published May 27 in PLOS Genetics [open access].

Between 1910 and 1970, six million African Americans moved from the rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West – a phenomenon known to historians as the Great Migration. This migration had a profound impact on African-American communities and also on their nationwide genomic diversity.

In the new study, scientists from McGill and several U.S. institutions used genetic data from 3,726 African-Americans from across the U.S. to estimate patterns of ancestry. They report that 82.1% of African-Americans’ ancestors resided in Africa prior to the advent of transatlantic travel, while 16.7% lived in Europe and 1.2% in the Americas. They find that African-Americans living in the southern U.S. have a greater percentage of African ancestry than those in the North or West and that individuals with higher European ancestry were more likely to migrate to the North and West, reinforcing regional differences in ancestry.

The study’s detailed approach to the analysis of African American genetics confirms previous findings and fills in details of African American heritage that may be absent from the historical record.

In addition to the genetic data, “we used a lot of census data and spent a lot of time in libraries, reading history and talking to historians,” to help round out the picture of migration patterns, says Gravel, an assistant professor in McGill’s Department of Human Genetics and researcher at the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre.

As researchers seek to increase the representation of African-Americans in medical genetic studies and reduce health disparities, this study will facilitate the design and analysis of nation-wide representative cohorts, Gravel adds.

This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research through the Canada Research Chair program.

“The Great Migration and African-American Genomic Diversity”  Baharian S, Barakatt M, Gignoux CR, Shringarpure S, Errington J, Blot WJ, et al. PLOS Genetics, published May 27, 2016. doi:10.1371/ journal.pgen.1006059

Quote of the day: A time of deep disaffection


From Jonah Walters, writing at Jacobin:

This election season has activated a sprawling constituency of disaffected citizens — a bloc of voters who see the ideal of American prosperity as an unattainable fantasy and the current political system as an intolerable outrage. Two candidates are speaking to this mass dissatisfaction, and winning tremendous popular support in the process — but only one of them has a vision worth defending.

Perhaps picking up on the swelling disaffection of the electorate, pundits have stoked fears that Sanders supporters are easy marks for Trump — or vice versa — despite the utter lack of substantive political similarities between the two candidates.

Elites’ control over the limits of political legitimacy is  slipping — and they seem to know it. The Sanders defector — that hypothetical Bernie supporter sure to cast an anti-Hillary protest vote for Trump come November — seems poised to replace the “Bernie Bro” as the media’s favored anti-Sanders strawman.

But it’s true that for down-and-out workers in the post-2008 economy, the alternatives on offer are far and few between — and many people, feeling left out of the American dream, are desperate for an alternative.

Chart of the day II: California, it’s going to pot


With a marijuana legalization on the November ballot, three out of five likely voters in California are likely to say the smoking lamp is lit.

From the Public Policy Institute of California [PDF]:

A majority (60%) of likely voters say that, in general, marijuana use should be legal, and 37 percent say it should not be legal . It is estimated that the initiative to legalize marijuana—if passed—would generate about $1 billion in tax revenue annually, most of which would be directed toward substance abuse prevention and treatment. Among likely voters, 43 percent say that spending the revenue this way is very important.

A majority (60%) of likely voters say that, in general, marijuana use should be legal, and 37 percent say it should not be legal . It is estimated that the initiative to legalize marijuana—if passed—would generate about $1 billion in tax revenue annually, most of which would be directed toward substance abuse prevention and treatment. Among likely voters, 43 percent say that spending the revenue this way is very important.

More doobie-us news, and another punny headline, from the East Bay Express:

California Pot Legalization Debated During Historic Joint Session

Not a single California legislator stated outright opposition to California’s pending marijuana-legalization initiative during historic hearings on the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in Sacramento this past Tuesday.

Rather, East Bay Assemblyman Bill Quirk stated his “strong support” for it, and Assemblyman Kenneth Gipson from Los Angeles predicted it “is going to be the law of the land,” and urged his colleagues to plan its implementation.

The unique “joint session” was a new requirement for the initiative process, and the hearing for five legislative committees offered a platform for initiative proponents and opponents to road test their arguments. The testimony was a powerful indicator of just how far the Golden State has evolved on cannabis.

A nonpartisan summary by Aaron Edwards of the Legislative Analyst’s Office finds AUMA would generate enforcement savings of $100 million and several hundred million to one billion dollars in tax revenues.