Category Archives: Human behavior

Map of the day II: Where women binge drink

From the Centers for Disease Control [and we suspect cold weather and long winters may be part of the cause for the highest rates, with large Mormon populations responsible for lower rates in equally cold states states like Colorado and Idaho]:

State-Specific Weighted Prevalence Estimates of Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Women 18–44 Years of Age, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2013

State-Specific Weighted Prevalence Estimates of Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Women 18–44 Years of Age, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2013

Chart of the day II: Armed and dangerous

From Firearms Commerce Report in the United States Annual Statistical Update 2015 [PDF] from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms:

Firearms Manufactured in the U.S. 1986-2013

Firearms Manufactured in the U.S. 1986-2013

Quote of the day: A creationism dog whistle

From  Gayatri Devi, writing in the Guardian:

The Republican presidential candidates’ public obsession with creationism. . . .isn’t really about education. It’s about cementing their Christian credentials with the influential evangelical voting bloc by announcing their opposition to all that is not heterosexual, Christian and not “speaking American” – whatever that means.

It can be a winning strategy: a 2014 Gallup poll showed that 42% of Americans believe that God created human beings in their present form 10,000 years ago. And a 2014 Pew Research Center poll of American voting behavior found that 78% of white evangelicals voted for Republican candidates, while only 20% voted for Democratic candidates.

The Republican obsequiousness to creationist philosophy might not be so much anti-science as good politics: being pro-creationism often appears to be pandering to a conservative base – a way to whip up intellectually regressive policies to win the “culture wars” and, more importantly, elections.

The power of creationism, a belief near and dear to so many Americans, becomes clear in this BBC Three documentary, in which a British comedian brings five British creationism to a land where their beliefs are much more welcomed than in Old Blighty, where only 17 percent of the public hold creationist beliefs.

Confronted with scientific evidence against creationism and the scientists themselves [including UC Berkeley’s own Tim White]. only one of the quintet is willing to acknowledge that her beliefs may have been inaccurate.

From BBC Three via Documentary Feast:

Creationism: Conspiracy Road Trip

Program notes:

Comedian Andrew Maxwell takes five British creationists to the west coast of America to try to convince them that evolution rather than creationism explains how we all got here. Stuck on a bus across 2,000 miles of dustbowl roads with these passionate believers, Maxwell tackles some firmly held beliefs – could the Earth be only 6,000 years old, and did humans and T-Rex really live side by side? It’s a bumpy ride as he’s confronted with some lively debates along the way, but by the end could he possibly win over any of these believers with what he regards as hard scientific fact?

Headline of the day: A warning from wiseguys

From Telesur English:

BLOG Gambino

On the mad utopian dreams of neoliberals

A recent episode of Christ Hedges’s news series for Telesur English features an interview with Canadian intellectual provocateur John Ralston Saul on the twisted origins and pernicious intellectual distortions of neoliberal ideology.

An erudite scholar and ferocious analyst, Saul has relentlessly pilloried the intellectual perversions underlying much of modern economic thought in a series of books [most famously Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West] and essays, with his most recent targets being the twisted rationales employed by apologists for an economic order that has given rise to modern plutocracy.

In conversation with Hedges, Saul worries that modern neoliberalism has proven to resemble Beniuto Mussolini’s fascism.

From The Real News Network:

Days of Revolt: Neoliberalism as Utopianism

From the transcript:

SAUL: Right? And what they did, most universities, was they did an intellectual cleansing of the economic historians to remove the possibility of doubt, the possibility of speculation on ideas, leaving these sort of hapless — mainly hapless macroeconomists, who fell quite easily into the hands, frankly, of the ideologues, the neoliberals, neoconservatives, who were — you know, let’s face it. What is this ideology? It’s an ideology of inevitability, an ideology based on self-interest, an ideology in which there is no real memory. And at the end of the day, it really is — it’s about power and money.

HEDGES: It’s about, you write, making every aspect of society conform to the dictates of the marketplace, which, as you point out, there’s nothing — and I think you say something like 2,000 or 5,000 years of human history to justify the absurdity that you should run a society based on —

SAUL: On the marketplace.

HEDGES: — the marketplace.

SAUL: Let me just take a tiny step back as a historical marker, which is the day that I realized that the neos were claiming that Edmund Burke was their godfather or whatever, I realized that we were into both lunacy and the denial of history, ‘cause, of course, in spite of his rather crazy things about Mary Antoinette and the French Revolution, most of his career was about inclusion, standing against slavery, standing for the American Revolution, and of course leading a fight for anti-racism and anti-imperialism in India — amazing democratic [incompr.] a liberal in the terms of the early 19th century. So when you see that these guys were trying to claim him, it’s like lunatics today claiming Christ or Muhammad to do absolutely unacceptable things.

And I think that the fascinating thing is once you get rid of history, once you get rid of memory, which they’ve done with economics, you suddenly start presenting economics as something that it isn’t, and you start saying, well, the market will lead. And these entirely theoretically sophisticated experts are quoting the invisible hand, which is, of course, an entirely low-level religious image–it’s the invisible hand of God, right, running the universe. As soon as you hear that term and they say, oh, that’s what Adam Smith said — but when you talk to them, they haven’t read Adam Smith. Adam Smith isn’t taught in the departments of economics. You get quotes from Adam Smith even when you’re doing an MA or whatever. They don’t know Adam Smith. They don’t know that he actually was a great voice for fairness, incredibly distrustful of businessmen and powerful businessmen, and said never allow them to be alone in a room together or they’ll combine and falsify the market and so on, so that what we’ve seen in the last half-century is this remarkable thing of big sophisticated societies allowing the marketplace to be pushed from, say, third or fourth spot of importance to number one and saying that the whole of society must be in a sense structured and judged and put together through the eyes of the marketplace and the rules of the marketplace. Nobody’s ever done this before.

HEDGES: How did it happen?

SAUL: Well, I mean, I think it happened gradually, partly by this emptying out of the public space, by this gradual —

HEDGES: What do you mean by that?

SAUL: Well, by the advancing of the idea of the technocracy and the gradual reduction of the space of serious political debate and ideas, and with that the rise of kinds of politicians who would be reliant on the technocracy and really were not themselves voices of ideas that would lead somewhere, you know, the humanist tradition, democratic tradition, egalitarian tradition. And we can see this all sort of petering out. And you can like them or dislike them, but you can see when the real idea of debate of ideas and risk on policy starts to peter out with Johnson and suddenly you’re into either populists or technocrats.

Map of the day: The world, going to pot

From University of Kansas geographer Barney Warf, via LiveScience, a map of the origins of diffusion of Cannabis:

world map_MarijuanaHistory_Draft

Chart of the day: An immigration tide reversal

From the Pew Research Center [PDF], dramatic evidence that the Great Recession saw a reversal of the flow of Mexican immigrants:

BLOG Migration