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  1. #1
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    Default You Ancestors, Your Fate

    From The New York Times:Your Ancestors, Your Fate

    Inequality of income and wealth has risen in America since the 1970s, yet a large-scale research study recently found that social mobility hadn’t changed much during that time. How can that be?

    The study, by researchers at Harvard and Berkeley, tells only part of the story. It may be true that mobility hasn’t slowed — but, more to the point, mobility has always been slow.

    When you look across centuries, and at social status broadly measured — not just income and wealth, but also occupation, education and longevity — social mobility is much slower than many of us believe, or want to believe. This is true in Sweden, a social welfare state; England, where industrial capitalism was born; the United States, one of the most heterogeneous societies in history; and India, a fairly new democracy hobbled by the legacy of caste. Capitalism has not led to pervasive, rapid mobility. Nor have democratization, mass public education, the decline of nepotism, redistributive taxation, the emancipation of women, or even, as in China, socialist revolution.

    To a striking extent, your overall life chances can be predicted not just from your parents’ status but also from your great-great-great-grandparents’. The recent study suggests that 10 percent of variation in income can be predicted based on your parents’ earnings. In contrast, my colleagues and I estimate that 50 to 60 percent of variation in overall status is determined by your lineage. The fortunes of high-status families inexorably fall, and those of low-status families rise, toward the average — what social scientists call “regression to the mean” — but the process can take 10 to 15 generations (300 to 450 years), much longer than most social scientists have estimated in the past.

    We came to these conclusions after examining reams of data on surnames, a surprisingly strong indicator of social status, in eight countries — Chile, China, England, India, Japan, South Korea, Sweden and the United States — going back centuries. Across all of them, rare or distinctive surnames associated with elite families many generations ago are still disproportionately represented among today’s elites.

    Does this imply that individuals have no control over their life outcomes? No. In modern meritocratic societies, success still depends on individual effort. Our findings suggest, however, that the compulsion to strive, the talent to prosper and the ability to overcome failure are strongly inherited. We can’t know for certain what the mechanism of that inheritance is, though we know that genetics plays a surprisingly strong role. Alternative explanations that are in vogue — cultural traits, family economic resources, social networks — don’t hold up to scrutiny.
    Last edited by Ivy; 03-01-2014 at 02:00 PM. Reason: For the millionth time, don't quote whole articles.

  2. #2
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    For such a bold claim of what is basically genetic determinism, relatively little of the article supports it. It seems everything would hinge on the referenced adoption studies. I'd have to see those, but no link is in the quote and I have hit my limit of NYtimes article viewings.

    I think some of the article's point gets muddle in regards to regression toward the mean and preservation of one's ancestors' status. I'd like a clearer time frame. On one hand there is a giant figure of about 450 years, and on the other hand some of the throw away examples sound pretty fast.

    A few months ago I was reading an article which heavily cited research showing very disparate social mobility between countries. I will have to find it again to see what their method was. The one in this article seems to be based entirely on surnames (which at the very least will completely ignore women marrying up).

    EDIT: Looking up information on this article elsewhere, I found someone who remarked "North and South Koreans must be vastly genetically different"
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  3. #3
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    I guess no one (else) is interested in commenting on this one......

  4. #4
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Sweet, this is another reason for Social Darwinists to gives themselves a self-congratulatory pat on the back for their inherent genetic superiority. I'm sure DiscoBiscuit loves how this article reinforces his belief that he is genetically superior to most others.

    The only thing that even comes close to validating the author's conclusions is the adoption studies, but even those are problematic for a number of reasons. Also, the idea that families regress toward the mean contradicts the idea that certain families have a superior genetic makeup. The "mean" for those families should be higher than for the population as a whole if they are genetically superior, but the author has not demonstrated this and in fact gives an example where this is not the case (the farmers descended from nobles in England). All this article really does is show that if your family gets lucky and comes into a lot of wealth, that wealth is likely to stay around for many generations. Duh.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  5. #5
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    Surely someone has an opinion on this who isn't merely interested in using their response as a spring board to attack me.

  6. #6
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    I found the paragraph about adopted children interesting personally (as an adoptive parent), but don't feel like I understand the topic well-enough to speak intelligently; and to educate myself adequately isn't time I'm prepared to spend right now.

    I'm less interested in specific social mobility and more in changes like this:

    The societies that invest the most in helping disadvantaged children, like the Nordic countries, have produced absolute, commendable benefits for these children, but they have not changed their relative social position.

    ....


    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    ... Also, the idea that families regress toward the mean contradicts the idea that certain families have a superior genetic makeup. The "mean" for those families should be higher than for the population as a whole if they are genetically superior, but the author has not demonstrated this and in fact gives an example where this is not the case (the farmers descended from nobles in England)...
    Or it suggests that genetic superiority is not a real factor in social mobility, not as much as simply that things tend to average out over time and that each dip or rise has its own lifespan and then moves back toward the norm.
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  7. #7
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    I think we underestimate the effects over generations of social class.

    For instance, we are now speaking of ourselves as the Anglosphere.

    The Anglosphere consists of Australia, Canada, Britain and the USA, united in a global Intelligence Network, syphoning up five and a half billion electronic messages a day, an then processing them with brilliant algorithms.

    And so the Anglosphere remains at the centre of geopolitics, and so at the centre of power and status.

  8. #8
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    I want to contribute...but I can't take this article seriously. I do agree that certain surnames hold a certain degree of prestige based on ancestry of the name itself, but I would think the mating process would of made these so called "great" genes to intermingle. I honestly want to see the methodology used by this study and what were these 13 surnames that were most common.

    The reason why I say that certain names have prestige is because many surnames tells you what they did, or where the people came from. In many cultures, what your surname was was most likely what one part of your ancestry did for a living or what was given to your people of Imperial Order(therefore, a type of nobility.)

    For example, if I still had the gene that carried my ancestry for a few millennium, I would more than likely be a prime minister, an adviser, or an administrator of sorts due to the history of my surname in nation-state affairs.

  9. #9
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    I don't see income inequality as an evil; quite the contrary, in every merit based system of human activity whether it be in education, in sports, or in the economy, you're going to see a wide distribution of talents and it's not the role of government to "ameliorate" anything. It's absurd to suggest that the government should remedy that which is natural (There are some among us with exceptional ability to make money and there is nothing wrong with them).

    I also dispute several of the claims mentioned such as:

    Large-scale, rapid social mobility is impossible to legislate.
    This is flat out false. During Reagan's administration, 86% of the bottom quintile moved to a higher quintile. After China embraced supply-side economic reforms in the late 70s, 400 million Chinese have been lifted from poverty.

    We used two indicators of social status: the American Medical Association’s directory of physicians and registries of licensed attorneys, along with their dates of registration, in 25 states, covering 74 percent of the population.
    This methodology is faulty because these two professions exist primarily in the top quintile, so the blogger ignores the middle quintiles which comprise 60% of the population. It ignores the tens of millions of immigrants who came to our shores with $20 in their pockets but are now small business owners, firmly ensconsed in the middle class. See what this guy did? He's saying that there isn't much upward mobility when that is clearly a falsehood; he's able to do this by redefining upward mobility so as to exclude movement from the bottom to the middle quintiles.

    There is another effect the blogger fails to mention, the fluency effect of the surnames. Psychologists have long recognized that names of people and stocks that are easy to pronounce outperform others with difficult sounding names. For instance, politicians with easy to pronounce (fluent) names often win over those with "disfluent" names. I suspect that's what we're seeing here, rather than some genetic effect.
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  10. #10
    As Long As It Takes.... Redbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rail Tracer View Post
    I want to contribute...but I can't take this article seriously. I do agree that certain surnames hold a certain degree of prestige based on ancestry of the name itself, but I would think the mating process would of made these so called "great" genes to intermingle. I honestly want to see the methodology used by this study and what were these 13 surnames that were most common.
    I wanted to comment, too but I got hung up by "black African"...goddammit...just stop--it's fucking continent, not a country. And Native American...personal pet peeve. Oh well...

    Why was a study needed for this, again?

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