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Why do ‘Kevins’ vote for far-right parties?
In Germany and France, having an Anglo-Saxon first name is a good predictor of extreme voting behavior.
- Kevin (1), Cindy and other 'Anglo' first names are especially popular in some areas of France and Germany.
- These also happen to be the regions where far-right parties are very successful.
- The link: working-class whites, inspired by English-language pop culture and disaffected from mainstream politics.
Demonstration in Paris against French president Macron, by the so-called 'Gilets Jaunes' ('Yellow Vests'). According to a prominent French pollster, the fact that many of these have 'Anglo-Saxon' first names is sociologically relevant.
Credit: Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images
We need to talk about Kevin. No, this is not about that book. This is about why areas of Germany and France with a lot of Kevins (and Justins, and other so-called 'Anglo-Saxon' first names, for that matter), tend to vote for extremist right-wing parties.
Take the two maps below. The one on the left shows where in Germany 'Kevin' is a popular first name. Quite clearly, Kevin is more prevalent in the former east, and especially so in Saxony, the southern state of the former GDR.
The map on the right shows the results of the so-called Zweitstimme ('second votes', or party list votes) in the German parliamentary elections of September 24, 2017. The right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) obtains its best score in Saxony, a.k.a. Kevin Country: 27 percent, more than double its national average (12.6 percent).
One caveat: the map on the left shows the popularity of the name Kevin for new-borns since 2006 – those kids were at most 11 years old at the time of the election on the other map. So it's not Kevins voting for AfD, but their parents.
In Germany, Kevin Country (left) is also far-right AfD territory (right).
Credit: Doyen Mandelbrot
Or take the next map pair. The one on the left shows French newborns in 1993 with an 'Anglo-Saxon' name. The highest share of Ambers, Dwaynes, and other newborn 'Anglos' are found in areas colored various shades of red: light (13 percent), medium (14 percent), or dark (15 percent and up). Those areas are predominantly in the north and centre of the country – but excluding Paris and environs.
And now take a look at the map on the right, showing the results of Marine Le Pen at the second round of the 2017 presidential elections, held on May 7. The winner was Emmanuel Macron (66 percent), but Le Pen, candidate for the far-right National Front (2) obtained just shy of 34 percent of the overall vote.
Ms Le Pen obtained her highest scores, up to 60 percent of the total, mainly in the north of the country, in a zone largely contiguous with the 'Anglo-Saxon' one on the other map – both zones perforated by a non-compliant Paris.
According to Jerôme Fourquet, these twin phenomena are an indication of the 'archipelisation' of French culture.
Credit: Guillaume Durocher
In L' Archipel français, Jerôme Fourquet, an executive at IFOP, the famed polling institute, provides some background to the correlation. His sociological portrait of France paints a picture of three related evolutions: the obliteration of the traditional left-right divide in society, the 'archipelisation' of French culture into diverging subcultures, and the deepening alienation of working-class whites from the political mainstream.
Fourquet charts social changes by analysing the first names in French birth registries. Take for example the fate of Marie: its decline as the name of 20 percent of newborn girls in 1900 to no more than 2 percent since the 1970s marks the retreat of conservative Catholicism. In wartime, patriotic first names like France or Jeanne (i.e. Joan of Arc) see their fortunes rise.
One of the most remarkable trends in recent decades is the rise of 'Anglo' first names, from a mere 0.5 percent in the 1960s to 12 percent in 1993 – many of those names are taken from the music and movie stars of English-language pop culture. The phenomenon is mainly restricted to the lower classes. France's metropolitan elites wouldn't dream of naming their offspring Kevin or Justin, Cindy or Britney.
Fourquet notes the prevalence of 'Anglo' first names among the gilets jaunes, the yellow vest-clad protest movement that plagued Macron during his first years in office.
It is from the same source of disaffected lower-class whites that Le Pen draws most of her support, the pollster argues. Hence the overlap between France's 'Anglo' zones and the Le Pen-voting parts of the country – evidence of the 'archipelisation' of French society.
It can be argued that a similar conjuncture between identification with English-language pop culture and disaffection with mainstream politics is at work in Germany.
Strange Maps #1067
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
(1) 'Kevin' is in fact a name of Irish origin - it is the anglicised form of 'caoimhín', which means 'of noble birth'. However, from the perspective of non-Anglophone cultures, it is an 'English' name.
(2) The Front National has since been renamed Rassemblement National, or 'National Rally'.
- Catholic, Protestant and None - Big Think ›
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Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.
- U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
- Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
- While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
The U.S. Navy controls patents for some futuristic and outlandish technologies, some of which, dubbed "the UFO patents," came to light recently. Of particular note are inventions by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose tech claims to be able to "engineer reality." His slate of highly-ambitious, borderline sci-fi designs meant for use by the U.S. government range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to next-gen hybrid aerospace-underwater crafts with revolutionary propulsion systems, and beyond.
Of course, the existence of patents does not mean these technologies have actually been created, but there is evidence that some demonstrations of operability have been successfully carried out. As investigated and reported by The War Zone, a possible reason why some of the patents may have been taken on by the Navy is that the Chinese military may also be developing similar advanced gadgets.
Among Dr. Pais's patents are designs, approved in 2018, for an aerospace-underwater craft of incredible speed and maneuverability. This cone-shaped vehicle can potentially fly just as well anywhere it may be, whether air, water or space, without leaving any heat signatures. It can achieve this by creating a quantum vacuum around itself with a very dense polarized energy field. This vacuum would allow it to repel any molecule the craft comes in contact with, no matter the medium. Manipulating "quantum field fluctuations in the local vacuum energy state," would help reduce the craft's inertia. The polarized vacuum would dramatically decrease any elemental resistance and lead to "extreme speeds," claims the paper.
Not only that, if the vacuum-creating technology can be engineered, we'd also be able to "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," states the patent. This would lead to major advancements in aerospace propulsion and generating power. Not to mention other reality-changing outcomes that come to mind.
Among Pais's other patents are inventions that stem from similar thinking, outlining pieces of technology necessary to make his creations come to fruition. His paper presented in 2019, titled "Room Temperature Superconducting System for Use on a Hybrid Aerospace Undersea Craft," proposes a system that can achieve superconductivity at room temperatures. This would become "a highly disruptive technology, capable of a total paradigm change in Science and Technology," conveys Pais.
High frequency gravitational wave generator.
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Another invention devised by Pais is an electromagnetic field generator that could generate "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." This shield could protect from threats like anti-ship ballistic missiles, cruise missiles that evade radar, coronal mass ejections, military satellites, and even asteroids.
Dr. Pais's ideas center around the phenomenon he dubbed "The Pais Effect". He referred to it in his writings as the "controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma) via accelerated spin and/or accelerated vibration under rapid (yet smooth) acceleration-deceleration-acceleration transients." In less jargon-heavy terms, Pais claims to have figured out how to spin electromagnetic fields in order to contain a fusion reaction – an accomplishment that would lead to a tremendous change in power consumption and an abundance of energy.
According to his bio in a recently published paper on a new Plasma Compression Fusion Device, which could transform energy production, Dr. Pais is a mechanical and aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Pais was a NASA Research Fellow and worked with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His current Department of Defense work involves his "advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design." He also has expert knowledge of electrooptics, emerging quantum technologies (laser power generation in particular), high-energy electromagnetic field generation, and the "breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion."
Suffice it to say, with such a list of research credentials that would make Nikola Tesla proud, Dr. Pais seems well-positioned to carry out groundbreaking work.
A craft using an inertial mass reduction device.
Credit: Salvatore Pais
The patents won't necessarily lead to these technologies ever seeing the light of day. The research has its share of detractors and nonbelievers among other scientists, who think the amount of energy required for the fields described by Pais and his ideas on electromagnetic propulsions are well beyond the scope of current tech and are nearly impossible. Yet investigators at The War Zone found comments from Navy officials that indicate the inventions are being looked at seriously enough, and some tests are taking place.
If you'd like to read through Pais's patents yourself, check them out here.
Laser Augmented Turbojet Propulsion System
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
The symbol for love is the heart, but the brain may be more accurate.
- How love makes us feel can only be defined on an individual basis, but what it does to the body, specifically the brain, is now less abstract thanks to science.
- One of the problems with early-stage attraction, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, is that it activates parts of the brain that are linked to drive, craving, obsession, and motivation, while other regions that deal with decision-making shut down.
- Dr. Fisher, professor Ted Fischer, and psychiatrist Gail Saltz explain the different types of love, explore the neuroscience of love and attraction, and share tips for sustaining relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial.
A new study suggests that reports of the impending infertility of the human male are greatly exaggerated.
- A new review of a famous study on declining sperm counts finds several flaws.
- The old report makes unfounded assumptions, has faulty data, and tends toward panic.
- The new report does not rule out that sperm counts are going down, only that this could be quite normal.
Several years ago, a meta-analysis of studies on human fertility came out warning us about the declining sperm counts of Western men. It was widely shared, and its findings were featured on the covers of popular magazines. Indeed, its findings were alarming: a nearly 60 percent decline in sperm per milliliter since 1973 with no end in sight. It was only a matter of time, the authors argued, until men were firing blanks, literally.
Well… never mind.
It turns out that the impending demise of humanity was greatly exaggerated. As the predicted infertility wave crashed upon us, there was neither a great rush of men to fertility clinics nor a sudden dearth of new babies. The only discussions about population decline focus on urbanization and the fact that people choose not to have kids rather than not being able to have them.
Now, a new analysis of the 2017 study says that lower sperm counts is nothing to be surprised by. Published in Human Fertility, its authors point to flaws in the original paper's data and interpretation. They suggest a better and smarter reanalysis.
Counting tiny things is difficult
The original 2017 report analyzed 185 studies on 43,000 men and their reproductive health. Its findings were clear: "a significant decline in sperm counts… between 1973 and 2011, driven by a 50-60 percent decline among men unselected by fertility from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand."
However, the new analysis points out flaws in the data. As many as a third of the men in the studies were of unknown age, an important factor in reproductive health. In 45 percent of cases, the year of the sample collection was unknown- a big detail to miss in a study measuring change over time. The quality controls and conditions for sample collection and analysis vary widely from study to study, which likely influenced the measured sperm counts in the samples.
Another study from 2013 also points out that the methods for determining sperm count were only standardized in the 1980s, which occurred after some of the data points were collected for the original study. It is entirely possible that the early studies gave inaccurately high sperm counts.
This is not to say that the 2017 paper is entirely useless; it had a much more rigorous methodology than previous studies on the subject, which also claimed to identify a decline in sperm counts. However, the original study had more problems.
Garbage in, garbage out
Predictable as always, the media went crazy. Discussions of the decline of masculinity took off, both in mainstream and less-than-reputable forums; concerns about the imagined feminizing traits of soy products continued to increase; and the authors of the original study were called upon to discuss the findings themselves in a number of articles.
However, as this new review points out, some of the findings of that meta-analysis are debatable at best. For example, the 2017 report suggests that "declining mean [sperm count] implies that an increasing proportion of men have sperm counts below any given threshold for sub-fertility or infertility," despite little empirical evidence that this is the case.
The WHO offers a large range for what it considers to be a healthy sperm count, from 15 to 250 million sperm per milliliter. The benefits to fertility above a count of 40 million are seen as minimal, and the original study found a mean sperm concentration of 47 million sperm per milliliter.
Healthy sperm, healthy man?
The claim that sperm count is evidence of larger health problems is also scrutinized in this new article. While it is true that many major health problems can impact reproductive health, there is little evidence that it is the "canary in the coal mine" for overall well-being. A number of studies suggest that any relation between lifestyle choices and this part of reproductive health is limited at best.
Lastly, ideas that environmental factors could be at play have been debunked since 2017. While the original paper considered the idea that pollutants, especially from plastics, could be at fault, it is now known that this kind of pollution is worse in the parts of the world that the original paper observed higher sperm counts in (i.e., non-Western nations).
There never was a male fertility crisis
The authors of the new review do not deny that some measurements are showing lower sperm counts, but they do question the claim that this is catastrophic or part of a larger pathological issue. They propose a new interpretation of the data. Dubbed the "Sperm Count Biovariability hypothesis," it is summarized as:
"Sperm count varies within a wide range, much of which can be considered non-pathological and species-typical. Above a critical threshold, more is not necessarily an indicator of better health or higher probability of fertility relative to less. Sperm count varies across bodies, ecologies, and time periods. Knowledge about the relationship between individual and population sperm count and life-historical and ecological factors is critical to interpreting trends in average sperm counts and their relationships to human health and fertility."
Still, the authors note that lower sperm counts "could decline due to negative environmental exposures, or that this may carry implications for men's health and fertility."
However, they disagree that the decline in absolute sperm count is necessarily a bad sign for men's health and fertility. We aren't at civilization ending catastrophe just yet.