|Fig. 1: Burr-Hamilton Duel (Wikipedia)|
Historically, this manifested itself in "saving face." And dueling for perceived slights. In Western Europe, it was common to challenge a person who slights you to a duel. And it was very common in the US. In fact, even two of the most important figures in US history -- sitting Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and current Vice President Aaron Burr -- engaged in a famous duel in 1804 which left Hamilton dead.
Imagine: a Vice President shooting a cabinet member in a duel? Sounds incredible. But that is because, by and large, the United States have become, by and large, a Culture of Law in the 210 + years since then.
But, according to Pinker, there are still portions of America that that have Cultures of honor.
He brings this up to explain higher violence rates in African American communities. Since, historically, the police have been at best negligent to violence against African Americans - witness the history of lynchings in the South to Rodney King - leads to a sort of frontier justice mentality. Marginalized cultures have historically had to take justice into their own hands. Think about how the early Italian-American immigrants turned to the Mafia and the Irish to the Moll McGuire for protection since the police either ignored or were actively hostile to those communities.
Same song. Just a different group being recorded in a different year.
He also mentions that southern cultures maintain a greater need to "save face" than northern cultures. Which sounded reasonable, since southerners in my experience tend to be more hawkish. And the gun culture, as exemplified by the NRA, does seem centered around people in the southern states. So I was curious. And wanted to do a quick look at the data for myself.
|Fig. 2: Violence Rates increase the further south you move|
in the US (created by Leo Walsh)
So I looked at some data sets suggested by Pinker.
1) I compared the violent crime rate by state. The second was the degrees latitude of a state's capital. The result was remarkable. A single variable - how southern a state is - accounting for about 40% of the variation in violent crime rates. Which is very significant. (See Figure 2 to the right)
2) Another was comparing the % of African Americans in a state to its Violent Crime Rate. Since attributing nearly all violent crime to African Americans is "pet theory" proposed by many Right-Wing posters on political blogs. And, of course, the bane of Left-leaning posters. So I wanted to look at the data, wondering what I would find.
|Fig. 3: Impact of Race on Violent Crime|
(created by Leo Walsh)
- I understand that gangs scare the majority of African Americans too.
- I have enough African American friends to know that they are just people, neither better nor worse than me.
- And I also have historical perspective; Italians had the Mafia, the Irish the Molly McGuire. And both immigrant groups turned out all right once assimilated.
And the results made me happy. Since the percentage of contribution by race is about only 28% to the overall violent crime rate. Lower than the impact of how southern the state is. And reflects the impact of the "no snitching" Culture of Honor - or the Code of the Streets.
3) The last thing I wanted to look at, based upon the North/ South data, was my perception that the former Confederate states (in the US Civil War) were more violent than the former Union states. It turns out that this is, indeed, the biggest division of all. See the charts below for the results.
- The former Confederate States have violent crime rates 138% that of the former Union States -- despite those states housing Chicago, LA, Detroit, Cleveland and the majority of the largest industrial cities in the nation.
- The former Confederate States have violent crime rates 129% that of the US as a whole. The former Union States's violent crime rate is only 93%.
- This does not appear random. Based on a simple T-Test, there is a 98% probability that this difference is statistically significant. So the difference in violence rates seems to be culturally based.
- Do Gun Laws Lower Violent Crime?
- The Gunfight Begins...
- Further Parsing UN Gun Murder Data
- You Mean Humans Have Grown Less Violent? Steven Pinker on our better angels...
Chart 1: Violent Crime Rates: Former Union vs Former Confederate States
|Average all US||
T-Test (Two- Tailed)
Chart 2: Full Dataset: Union vs Confederate States
|State||Violent Crime Rate||Confedrate/ Union State|