Friday, July 26, 2013

Sisters make you conservative?

There has been a bit of talk from both sides of politics about a recent study which appears to show that having sisters makes you conservative.  I am mildly amused that the feminists at Mother Jones deigned to notice it.  Don't they see women as a radicalizing influence?  If not, do they concede that they are not representative of women in general?  Sounds like lose, lose for them to me.

A basic problem seems to be a failure to stick to what the study actually found.  To help clarify that I reproduce the journal abstract below:
Childhood Socialization and Political Attitudes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

By Andrew Healy & Neil Malhotra

Scholars have argued that childhood experiences strongly impact political attitudes, but we actually have little causal evidence since external factors that could influence preferences are correlated with the household environment. We utilize a younger sibling’s gender to isolate random variation in the childhood environment and thereby provide unique evidence of political socialization. Having sisters causes young men to be substantially more likely to express conservative viewpoints with regards to gender roles and to identify as Republicans. We demonstrate these results in two panel surveys conducted decades apart: the Political Socialization Panel (PSP) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). We also use data collected during childhood to uncover evidence for a potential underlying mechanism: families with more female children are more likely to reinforce traditional gender roles. The results demonstrate that previously understudied childhood experiences can have important causal effects on political attitude formation.

What the abstract above does not make entirely clear is that if your YOUNGER sibling was a sister, you were found to be more conservative than if you had a younger brother.  The study looks not at sisters generally but only at younger sisters.

I am afraid that I have to ask:  What about elder sisters?  Or indeed what about total sisters?  This focus on younger sisters only seems fishy to me.  My provisional conclusion has to be that they reported on younger sisters because it was only younger sisters who showed any effect.  In that case something totally different from what the authors infer is going on.  I would draw no conclusions from the study.

Below is part of the Mother Jones comment on the study:

Lots of people have been looking to science to explain the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Mother Jones' Chris Mooney has published a rundown of all the brain differences suspected in the gulf between liberals and conservatives. But a new study by researchers from Loyola Marymount University and Stanford University's business school suggests another factor may play a role in forming the political brain: the gender of one's siblings. According to the study, boys with only a sister were 15 percent more likely to identify as a Republican in high school, and they were 13.5 percent more conservative in their views of women's roles than boys who only had brothers.

The reason for this difference? Not genes or neural pathways, but something more mundane: housework. The researchers speculate that boys take their cues about women's roles from an early age, and that girls tend to be assigned more traditional chores when they have a brother. Watching their sisters do this housework "teaches" boys that washing dishes and other such drudgery is simply women's work. Boys with only brothers don't seem to have this problem because the chore load at home tends to be spread around more equally. The impact on men's gender perceptions is long term, but the stark partisanship fades somewhat as men get older, the researchers say.

Perhaps even more important than the impact sisters have on men's political views is the way sisters may influence how their brothers turn out as husbands. The study found that boys with sisters grow up to be men who don't help much around the house. The researchers' data show that middle-aged men who grew up with a sister are 17 percent more likely to say their spouses did more housework than they did compared with men who had only brothers. The study suggests this might mean men's views of gender roles are permanently affected by their childhood environment. Girls weren't affected by having brothers or sisters.

The results seemed to surprise the researchers, who thought having a sister would have a liberalizing effect on boys.


Whitehall's straight talk: Civil servants told to stop using jargon that confuses people about what the Government are doing

It looks like the end of the road for ‘facilitating’ policies, ‘engaging with stakeholders’ and ‘disincentivising’ waste.

Civil servants have been told to stop using meaningless jargon that confuses people about what the Government is doing.

Instead of peppering policy announcements with buzzwords, Whitehall officials have been told they must address the public in ‘plain English’, according to new guidance.

It is accompanied by a list of more than 30 banned words and phrases which recall the worst of Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister.

Among the banned words and phrases are ‘slimming down’; ‘strengthen’ unless referring to a bridge or other structure; ‘drive’ a policy; or hold a ‘dialogue’ when they mean speaking to people.

Also unacceptable are ‘foster’ unless it refers to children, ‘deploy’ unless it’s a lethal weapon, and ‘deliver’ - the guidance says ‘pizzas, post and services are delivered - not abstract concepts like ‘improvements or priorities’.

The online style guide is published on the government’s new website which has replaced those for individual departments, so all the information the public need is one place.

However it is not to be referred to a ‘one stop shop’ - that term is firmly on the banned list, accompanied by the advice ‘we are government, not a retail outlet’.

Civil servants are told announcements will be wasted if no-one can understand them.

‘We lose trust from our users if we write government ‘buzzwords’ and jargon. Often, these words are too general and vague and can lead to misinterpretation or empty, meaningless text.’

Instead they should use ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase’, ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’, ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’ and ‘like’ instead of ‘such as’, it says.

‘This isn’t "dumbing down"', they are told. ‘Be open and specific. All audiences should understand our content...this is opening up government information to all.’

Although recent announcements suggest some departments still have a way to go.

One from the Home Office about improvements to the visa system says it will give ‘the option for key businesses to complete the biometric enrolment part of applications for their staff from within their own offices, a significant service development that has facilitated the investment of nearly £2bn into the UK.’

Another recent announcement from the Cabinet Office reads: ‘The government is establishing a Global Learning Exchange on impact investment. Impact investment provides capital to deliver both social and financial results.

‘This multi-stakeholder exchange will focus on sharing best practice on ‘what works’ in impact investing. It will provide a shared platform to debate and create ideas as well as inviting new voices to the field.’

But there seems to have some been some improvement since environment department attracted ridicule last year for press notice when began: ‘The High Level Panel on the ‘Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020’ released its first findings at ‘COP 11’ of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today.’

Steve Jenner, from the Plain English Campaign, said the new rules were welcome after officials have spent years announcing government policies in ‘departmental gobbledygook’.

He said: ‘The fact that much of this is unintentionally hilarious suggests how bad things had become. The Plain English Campaign applauds this attempt to encourage clarity, though, and would be happy to assist any government department in this.’


For years I fought against secret courts breaking up families. At last there's hope

For a long time now, thousands of British families of every class and background have been secretly torn apart by this country’s child protection system in one of the biggest scandals of our age.

Children have been dragged off by the State into the care system and, despite the pleas of their parents, often given to adoptive families.

This has been happening increasingly frequently in a process overseen by a network of Family Courts, which operate in secrecy in every town and city in the land, violating the principle of openness which has underpinned British justice for centuries.

As a result of the decisions of these courts, as many as 12,000 children and babies are taken into care in England each year, the equivalent of 230 or so every single week.

Some are newborns seized by social workers (invariably, flanked by police) in the hospital ward while the mother is breast-feeding or having her first cuddle with her baby.

Many children are removed on the basis of flimsy accusations by social workers: that the parent might shout at the child when he or she becomes a teenager (potential emotional abuse); that the mother has taken a sickly child to the doctor too often (fabricated illness syndrome); or — extraordinarily — simply because the mother has been in the care system herself or suffered depression as a teenager.

In one appalling case in a quiet corner of England, a middle-class mother is currently being threatened with having her children forcibly adopted after she was raped by her husband, who was imprisoned for his crime a few weeks ago.

Social workers say that, despite the fact that her husband has been sentenced to six years and the couple are about to divorce, the wife allowed herself to be raped and therefore cannot protect their children in the family’s home.

It is bad enough that such cruel decisions are being made at all. The fact they are happening in courts where rulings are made in secret is chilling.

Of course, the family courts have an unenviable job — often asked to rule on the most challenging of cases. And some of the parents appearing before them are certainly cruel to their children and ill-equipped to raise a family.

Equally, too many mistakes have been made in a system which can be stacked against the innocent. And the reality is that without transparency, no one will know the truth.

A parent who publicly talks about the hearings (even to a neighbour over the garden fence) or gives documents from the case to their MP, risks prison for contempt — and many have been incarcerated for such ‘crimes’.

And it is not just British parents who have suffered at the hands of secret family courts.

Two weeks ago, representatives of 34 countries, including four ambassadors, gathered at the House of Commons to voice their grave concern to a sympathetic MP, John Hemming, over the astonishing rate that children of foreign families living in the UK are being taken into foster care or sent for adoption.

And last Friday, foreign parents marched to Downing Street to protest about the 6,500 children born here to overseas families who have been taken into care.

Now, after a decade-long campaign against the secrecy of the family courts by this newspaper, there has been a landmark decision by Lord Justice Munby, the most senior family judge in England and Wales.

The veil is to be lifted and light shone onto the 95,000 hearings held each year which decide the lives of so many children.

For the first time, judges’ written reports (or judgments) on custody battles, care orders and the question of whether a child should be re-homed will be published after each hearing — though not including the families’ names — unless there are ‘compelling reasons’ not to do so.

Parents found innocent (or even those who believe their children have been wrongly removed) will be able to apply to speak publicly and tell their story when the hearing is over.

Local councils running the child protection teams forcibly adopting or putting children in care will have to be named in the published judgments.

Also, the medical ‘experts’ hired at a cost of many thousands of pounds by the councils to produce psychological or health reports on the families, will lose their anonymity.

Many of these experts have long ago given up their ‘day jobs’ in the NHS or private practice to live off their lucrative court work. Sometimes, they produce a report on a family  without even meeting them.

And what of the social workers? They are accused by campaigners of distorting evidence against parents to make a stronger case to take children for adoption, thereby winning brownie points with their council bosses. With more openness in the courts, it will be harder for a rogue social worker to push his or her own agenda based on fiction or fabrication.

The new guidance will also extend to cases which affect the welfare of vulnerable adults in the equally shadowy Court of Protection.

Here, life-or-death decisions such as whether to turn off a life-support machine or whether a woman should be forced to take contraception, are also made by a judge in closed hearings. And those who speak publicly about the case are also threatened  with imprisonment.

The UK is the only country in Europe to allow adoption against the will of parents — except ‘possibly Portugal’, according to Baroness Hale, Britain’s most senior female judge, who spoke on the issue in the House of Lords.

In extreme cases of abuse on the Continent, children are given to long-term foster carers or placed in a specialist children’s unit, but the whole ethos is to support troubled families and try to keep them together.

In contrast, parents in Britain — most of whom are never convicted of a crime — are punished with what amounts  to a life sentence by losing  their children.

Yet despite the huge number of children seized here, a fifth never go to an adoptive family — there are simply not enough to go round. They spend their childhoods inside the care system, living either in children’s homes or with frequently changing foster parents.

While this new guidance is an important step in helping to redress some of these wrongs, there is one crucial area it does not address. In the criminal courts, the accused is presumed innocent until found guilty by a jury. In the family courts, this cornerstone of justice does not exist. Guilt is decided on the balance of probabilities.

Campaigners want to see this changed. As one family court lawyer told me recently: ‘Parents accused of harming their children would rather face a criminal trial with a jury, and have their guilt or otherwise decided on proper evidence given under oath, than take their chances in the family court, where it is a complete lottery as to whether you lose your child or not.’

Jean Robinson, a director of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, who has witnessed scores of babies being taken from their mothers by social workers at birth, says the system is stacked against the innocent.

‘This same group of child protection “professionals” go round the courts,’ she explained. ‘The council social workers know the so-called medical experts and are paying them to give evidence to bolster their case. The judges know them all. It is far too cosy and secretive.’

Lord Justice Munby has rightly declared his determination to alter the public’s view that these family hearings are ‘a system of unaccountable justice’.

His changes — currently in draft but expected to be implemented imminently — are long overdue.  Too many innocent parents are still  being dragged through these closed trials with no one to hear their voices.

But the truth is that nothing will turn back the clock for the generations of children who will never know, or have long ago forgotten, what a happy family life means.


Unsung Black People

Ann Coulter

It must be hard for young black males to always be viewed as criminals by people who notice crime statistics. We've jawboned that sad story for 40 years. Last week, President Obama ran it around the block again in another speech about himself in reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict.

Let's give that beloved chestnut a rest for a day and consider another way blacks have it harder than whites. Only black people are expected to never speak against their community. Might we spend five minutes admiring the courage of blacks who step forward and tell the truth to cops, juries and reporters in the middle of our periodic racial Armageddons? This one is never discussed at all.

In December 1984, Bernie Goetz shot four black men who were trying to mug him on the New York City subway. (About a year later, one youth admitted that, yes, in fact, they "were goin' to rob him." They thought he looked like "easy bait.")

A few days after the shooting, The New York Times got the racism ball rolling with its "beneath the surface" reporting technique: "Just beneath the surface of last week's debate was the question of whether the shooting may have been racially motivated."

Hoping for support for its below-the-surface thesis, the Times visited the mother of Darrell Cabey, the young man paralyzed from the shooting. As the Times summarized the feeling at the Claremont housing project where Cabey lived, "many people said the four teen-agers were troublemakers and probably got what they deserved."

Cabey's mother had received one letter that said: "[Y]ou get no sympathy from us peace-loving, law-abiding blacks. We will even contribute to support the guy who taught you a lesson, every way we can ... P.S. I hope your wheelchair has a flat tire."

The Washington Post also interviewed Cabey's neighbors. Eighteen-year-old Yvette Green said: "If I'd had a gun, I would have shot him." Darryl Singleton, 24 years old, called Cabey, "a sweet person," but added, "if I had a gun, I would have shot the guy."

As white liberals (and Al Sharpton) screamed "racism!" how'd you like to be the black woman called by the defense at Goetz's trial? Andrea Reid, who was on the subway car during the shooting, testified: Those "punks were bothering the white man ... those punks got what they deserved."

Reid had met the mother and brother of one of Goetz's muggers at a party. But she took the stand and told the truth.

Juror Robert Leach, a black bus driver from Harlem, was one of Goetz's most vehement defenders in the jury room, even persuading the others not to convict Goetz for unlawful possession of any guns, other than the one he used in the shooting. In the end, three blacks and one Hispanic on the jury voted to acquit Goetz of all 13 charges except for the minor one of carrying an illegal firearm.

More brave blacks stepped forward in the Edmund Perry case a year later.

Perry, a black teenager from Phillips Exeter Academy, along with his brother, mugged a cop and ended up getting himself killed. When Perry's brother Jonah was prosecuted for the mugging, two of the witnesses against Jonah were his black neighbors.

One neighbor testified that Jonah told him the night of the incident that his brother was shot when they were mugging someone. Another neighbor said Jonah told her that night that he tried to beat up a guy who turned out to be a cop. This was in a courtroom full of rabble-rousers, amen-ing everything defense lawyer Alton Maddox said.

They told the truth knowing they'd have to go back to the neighborhood. Whatever happened to them? Why aren't they the heroes? Where's their Hollywood movie? There was a movie about the Perry case. It was titled: "Murder Without Motive: The Edmund Perry Story." (The grand jury had no difficulty finding the motive: The cop was being mugged.)

In the middle of one of these racial passion plays, it takes enormous courage for a black person to step forward and say, "Yeah, I heard him say he mugged the cop," "If I had been Bernie Goetz, I would have shot them, too," or "I know George, he's my friend."

That last one was Elouise Dilligard, George Zimmerman's final defense witness. Clear as a bell, this black woman spoke warmly about "my neighbor George" and went on to describe his nose being disfigured and bloody right after the shooting.

You won't see her on CNN, though. In fact, you'll never hear a peep about any of these courageous black people, unless you obsessively research every "race" case of the last 30 years, as I did for my book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama. (All these black heroes appear in my book.)

Whites never need to be brave this way. There's absolutely no pressure on white people to root for their race. In fact, there's often pressure to root against their race. Instead of being asked to weep over President Obama's ever having been looked at suspiciously (probably by Jesse Jackson), could we reflect on the fortitude of ordinary black citizens who resist "racial solidarity" and speak the truth?



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.



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