« Britney's fanny and the Guardian | Main | Conscience: God or socialization? »

September 02, 2007



Americans do wildly exaggerate all this. A large proportion of their ancestors took scheduled trains to Hamburg or Liverpool, a scheduled steamship to NY and then scheduled trains to Chicago or wherever. If emigration didn't work out, they could return by the same route. Their travels took them out of the labour market for only a few weeks. Meantime, until very late in the 19th century, people going to Oz or NZ took sailing ships, travelled too far to have much chance of ever returning, and left the labour market for months. (The same might well be true for those emigrating to Argentina or Chile.) The American ability to gild the lily befits a nation of salesmen, but a wee bit of scepticism could reasonably be expected on this side of the water.


Actually many white Americans are descendents of Europes economic failures [this is why they had no option but to migrate] - and are hency more likely to be stupid and make similarly economic mistakes? Maybe that's the evolution...?

Conversely many Americans are also descendents of religious persecutions - and maybe religious groups are not persecuted cos the religion is hated, but because that group is envied.

Chris Williams

Why not inherited survivors bias instead? In the C17th, migration to the Chesapeake was a crazy idea, since about 90% of male emigrants died before they could accumulate enough to found a family. But the survivors won big. Perhaps the US south was the equilavent of the millionaires' club, in which the received is wisdom is "Anyone can make it - everyone _here_ has."

Genes not needed - except perhaps those for malaria resistance.

Tim Worstall

Possibly worth noting that Nigella is (along with the current (or past?) squeeze, a Saatchi) also of such insanely optimistic immigrant stock?

Have you been reading Gregory Clark again btw?

Mark Wadsworth

Exactly how big are Nigella's knockers, in real life? Is that padding? Do they flop about when she's naked?

Mark Wadsworth

On a less serious note, Chris, you might like to turn your attention to the more recent (and hence verifiable) example of West and East Germany.

Prior to the Wall in the early 1960s, it was possible (but risky) for people to leave the East and settle in the West (like what my Grand-dad did).

The ones left behind were the meek and less adventurous (though very amiable). Seventeen years after Reunification, the East is still a basket case economically and hot-bed of Neo-communists and Neo-nazis.

And you can rule out any racial element here, they are all German, and ignore the longer sweep of history, the whole process took forty years tops from start-to-finish.


I'll try again. So the even more daring and optimistic people who went to Argentina: how do you explain their remarkable ability to build a First World country - and then throw it away?

Mark Wadsworth

Dearime, that's different. It was settled by Spaniards, who are Catholic. Catholicism and stable democracy are incompatible in the long run. So that's what buggered it down there.

Tim Worstall

"Catholicism and stable democracy are incompatible in the long run."

That's Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc buggered then. Or perhaps you don't mean it in quite so sweeping a manner?

Chris Williams

What happened to the Crap Irish, who lived in the Republic up to the 1970s or thereabouts, but then snuck off so that the Entrepreneurial Irish could move in and get rich? I hope they're OK. And come to that, where were the Entrepreneurial Irish hiding before their cue?

Christopher G D Tipper

Judging from an article in this week's Economist about evolutionary psychology I'd say your last remark was on the button, and, yes, any idiot really can do evolutionary psychology. Too much research in this field is a collection of "just-so stories" and are not susceptible to falsification. As such they are not really science.

Matt Munro

"Too much research in this field is a collection of "just-so stories" and are not susceptible to falsification. As such they are not really science."

The fact that something has not BEEN falsified does not mean it cannot BE falsified. As far as I know the theory of relativity is still a runner on that basis.

Consider the following theory from socio-biology.

"The discovery of fire, and with it the ability to ingest significant quantities of meat and fish predicated an exponential increase in the size of the human neo-cortex which enabled us to take the evolutionary step which separates men from apes".

Falsifiable ?

The liberal left don't like sociobiology becsue it shows their constructivist obsession with a "society" which began in 1965 to be the nothing more than well gazed navel fluff...

Mark Wadsworth

Tim W "Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc buggered"

Ireland - totally corrupt, propped up by EU subsidies and unfair tax competition.
France - one Republic after another, propped up by EU subsidies.
Italy - one government after another, about one a year since WW2, prior to which it was a Fascist dictatorship.
Spain - Fascist dictatorship from 1937 to 1973 if memory serves.
Portugal - military dictatorship 1926-1935, 1981-1989.

Look at list of military dictatorships here
early every country in South/Central America is or has been one, of the ones in Europe, they're all Catholic or Greek Orthodox (same thing, really).

Oldest democracy in world? The Isle of Man.

*And then Switzerland - the exception that proves the rule, as they say*

Chris Williams

Wadsworth: "Portugal - military dictatorship 1926-1935, 1981-1989."

Class, sheer class. Keep 'em coming.


Americans are far more optimistic than Brits. But so are Australians. It think it's to do with being part of a 'new' country.

chi flat iron

CHI flat iron by Farouk system. Direct from the manufacturer, this genuine Chi ceramic iron comes with valid, one year warranty!

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad