Monthly Archives: December 2012

Ink in the Han River

One remarkable fact about South Korea: the foreign population of South Korea has been shooting up. From a mere 200,000 in 2001 it reached 1,400,000 in 2011 (that is 2.8% out of 50 million).*

Formerly, South Koreans espoused ethnic nationalism. It is still espoused by North Korea. In a 2006 meeting, North Korea complained about the growing number of foreigners saying “Not even one drop of ink must be allowed to fall in the Han River.”

Why this remarkable shift from ethnic nationalism to multiculturalism?

Mostly, it is due to marriage. About 10% of weddings involve a foreign partner. Korean women avoid marrying relatively poor rural men, hoping to catch an urban husband. So, farmers seek overseas brides. The result: an influx of Vietnamese, Filipina, and Chinese women.

Partly, it is due to overseas study. Many South Koreans study abroad in English-speaking countries, where they encounter the dominant multicultural ideology.

Partly too it due to government policy. Government adverts adorn the Seoul Metro showing happy multi-ethnic families.

And part of it is due to a general opening up of South Korea. Imported goods have become ubiquitous and prestigious.

It’s hard to say what the effects will be. The degree or level of multiculturalism appears to be less than in the West. Half the foreigners are Chinese. Most of the rest are from Southeast Asia. Because many are women coming specifically to marry Korean men, they will not form a closed-off endogamous group as some immigrants in the West have done. The half that are Chinese will not become a new underclass. Chinese overseas generally prosper – in contrast to the new underclasses of migrants in the West. So, with some luck, South Korea should be able to avoid two of the worse problems of multiculturalism in the West: new underclasses, and closed-off endogamous groups.

Another fact: the fertility rate is just 1.2.

*Source: Daniel Tudor, Korea: The Impossible Country (Tuttle Publishing, 2012) chap. 25.

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“Eurocracy or Barbarism”

“It sounds a little like the days when there were still wars in Europe.”

So says Der Spiegel concluding a long behind-the-scenes report on the bickering between Norden payers and Club Med payees in December’s European Council meeting.

A traditional piece of rhetoric on the Left is the no-option option: “socialism or barbarism.” Of course the best choice was: neither one, thanks.

Now, a similar no-option option is: “the EU or war.” That was the Norwegian Parliament’s message on giving the EU a Nobel Peace Prize.

Well, haggling by leaders in the European Council does not sound even a little like the old days of regular war. “Eurocracy or barbarism” is another you-have-no-choice choice. It is a sign of how little justification the EU can manage to muster these days.

For decades, Eurocracy could claim to have promoted prosperity (that’s why the British ended up joining). Also, it could claim to have helped institute democracy in Southern Europe during the 80s then in Eastern Europe after the 90s. But now Eurocracy, via the euro crisis, is undermining both democracy and prosperity. So, the fallback position for Eurocracy is to claim it is promoting peace. A sad decline.

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The Exodus from London

David Goodhart says “London’s White Flight Deserves Attention” (Financial Times).

OK, let me pay some attention. Goodhart is trying to draw attention to (i) the fact that White British are no longer a majority in London; (ii) that this is owing to both immigration and an exodus of White British; and (iii) most importantly that nobody in the political and media elite seems to regard the mass exodus as an issue.

Yes, it does deserve attention. If people are leaving a city en masse, then that’s on the face of it a sign of a severe predicament.

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that London no longer contained a majority from the UK’s main ethnic group, known in the demographers’ jargon as the “White British”.

London is arguably the first great western capital city to pass this landmark, though that depends on where you draw the boundaries around Washington and on excluding Brussels as a special case because it is an “embassy capital”.

In any event, it is a remarkable development for London and one that was unexpected. However, the London Evening Standard, the capital’s main evening paper, tucked it away on page 10 on the day of the announcement, and the BBC London television news had it as the seventh item that evening. London mayor Boris Johnson’s usually ubiquitous blond bob was nowhere to be seen. Two days later I met a senior official from Mr Johnson’s Greater London Authority who, asked about the data, said: “What’s the fuss?”

This studied indifference of London’s political and media elite appears to be in sharp contrast to the feelings of many of the white British people who live in less salubrious parts of the city. For it is important to understand that the proportion of white British Londoners fell so dramatically – from 60 per cent in 2001 to 44.9 per cent in 2011 – not only because of high levels of immigration but also thanks to a mass exodus of white Britons.

(h/ The Browser)

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In the Heat of the Genes-vs-Culture Battle

The battle rages of culture-vs-heredity, nurture-vs-nature, genes-vs-environment in a documentary series from Norwegian TV called “Brainwash.”

Simon Baron Cohen says in episode one that he’s “making a moderate proposal: don’t forget about biology. It’s not all biological, but it’s partly biological.” True enough: it is the 100% nurturists who are extremists, while us 50-50 types are moderates.

Seven parts:
1/7 The Gender Equality Paradox
2/7 The Parental Effect
3/7 Gay/Straight
4/7 Violence
5/7 Sex
6/7 Race
7/7 Nature or Nurture

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How To Get Smarter (and Help the Developing World)

James Flynn’s Are We Getting Smarter? shows that there are solid IQ gains (the Flynn Effect) in the developed world. What about the developing world?

Evidence is sparse. Still, Flynn presents some data for seven developing countries.*

Here are the seven, with their average IQ and gains:

  • China (IQ 105) +0.440 points per year
  • Turkey (IQ 90) +0.525 points per year
  • Brazil (IQ 87) +0.236 points per year
  • Saudi Arabia (IQ 84) +0.355 points per year
  • Dominica (IQ 82) +0.514 points per year
  • Kenya (IQ 72) +0.989 points per year
  • Sudan (IQ 71) +0.203 points per year

(Words of warning: these data are usually based on one study, often with small samples, covering different years, with different age groups. Not highly reliable or very comparable.)

Overall it is a mixed picture: solid gains in some, modest in others.

If Flynn is right, then one of the priorities of development agencies and aid agencies ought to be to increase these gains. Flynn himself thinks that there is plenty of scope for more IQ gains in developing countries with three improvements: (1) better nutrition, (2) better health, and (2) less inbreeding, that is less consanguineous marriage. I concur. Better nutrition and health are standard goals in development aid. But what about less inbreeding, less cousin-marriage? Is that currently one of the goals of the development agencies and aid organizations? Perhaps it should become a priority. As part of such an initiative, it would be very worthwhile if the World Bank and/or the UN Development Programme began to collect IQ data in development countries to track the Flynn effect there.

So, I might be so bold as to say we need a Flynn Effect Action Plan targeting nutrition (especially iodine and micro-nutrients that affect brain functions), health (especially parasites), and inbreeding, with more attention to collecting data to track any resulting IQ gains.

*Data from: James Flynn, Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge University Press, 2012) pp. 55-65.

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The Descent of the Arab Spring

Early on, the Arab Spring seemed an inspiring story about the oppressed rising up against their oppressors. But now it looks more like a depressing story of descent into barbaric sectarian, ethnic, and religious division.

Case in point: Syria.

The Arab Spring in Syria is becoming more and more an ethnic-religious war.

It’s a Sunni-vs-Shia showdown. Fundamentalist Sunnis are in the vanguard of fighting the Alawi regime. Sunni countries (Saudi, Gulf, Turkey) are helping them. Shia countries (Iran, Iraq) are helping the regime. The Free Syrian Army is an umbrella, but real military power lies with several militias. One of the militias, the al-Nusra Front, has been denounced as a terrorist group by the US. Videos show rebel atrocities such as beheadings and desecrating a Shia place of worship.

As for reports that the regime is collapsing, Patrick Cockburn reports from Damascus in The Independent that he is doubtful:

the best informed Syrians and foreign diplomats say, on the contrary, that the most recent rebel attacks in the capital had been thrown back by a government counteroffensive. They say that the rebel territorial advances, which fuelled speculation abroad that the Syrian government might implode, are partly explained by a new Syrian army strategy to pull back from indefensible outposts and bases and concentrate troops in cities and towns.

The polyethnic character of Middle Eastern states is one of the basic reasons why the Arab Spring rotated from a story of liberation to one of sectarian barbarism. Insecurity breeds fear which leads to seeking security in the group. The group is ususually not a nation but some combination of a lineage, an ethnicity, or a religious sect.

In an earlier post, I tentatively suggested separation of the groups. Otherwise we are likely to see ongoing war, ethnic cleansing, and instability.

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Why Rampage Killings?

What is behind rampage killings?

Adam Lankford (in a NYT op-ed What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers) acutely identifies the key underlying motives of the perpetrators:

There appears to be a triad of factors that sets these killers apart. The first is that they are generally struggling with mental health problems that have produced their desire to die. … The second factor is a deep sense of victimization and belief that the killer’s life has been ruined by someone else, who has bullied, oppressed or persecuted him. …The third factor is the desire to acquire fame and glory through killing.

The desire for vengeance and the desire for fame are both deep-seated parts of human (especially male) nature. But why are they apparently motivating more men to become rampage killers of late?

Peter Turchin explains in Social Evolution Forum why more men may be feeling a desire for vengeance:

As the degree of cooperation in the American society declined over the last four decades, and the degree of intrasocietal competition rose, increasingly large numbers of susceptible individuals were victimized, bullied, and oppressed, and a certain (very small) fraction of them chose to become mass murderers to avenge such injustice.
The fundamental forces underlying this environmental change have been two structural-demographic trends – popular immiseration and elite overproduction. The first was correlated with the deterioration of working conditions, the second with the growing social pressures on the campus, which is why the two most common settings for shooting rampages are the workplace and the schoolyard. Overall, as the level of cooperation within the society decreased, social competition, political polarization, the dog-eat-dog economic climate, and the general level of nastiness increased.

Some might wonder if conditions are really getting so bad. Popular immiserization? Wages of unskilled workers have stagnated for decades. Median income too has stagnated. Signs of elite overproduction? People need bachelor’s degrees for jobs where once they needed high school graduates and graduate degrees where once bachelors degrees were enough.

Perhaps the desire for fame and glory is also affecting more men. Here I wonder if glorification of killers in movies and pop culture also plays a role.

The number of mentally ill is not increasing. But before the mental hospitals were emptied someone like Adam Lanza might have been locked up in an institution and left there.

So, overall we have an ultimate explanation (powerful innate motives of revenge and glory warped by mental illness) plus a proximate explanation (activated by particular current conditions).

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