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Happy St. Patrick's Day


Beck I
n celebration of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd point out how far we have come in terms of social values.

When I told my French-Canadian parents that I was marrying a nice Irish girl, they said, "well, at least you told us."  To them, it would be an interracial marriage. (She's actually Irish-Swiss-German, but I didn't want to give them a heart attack.)

By the way, the ruddy boy above is my French-Canadian-Irish-Swiss-German grandson.

Having said all that, it's interesting to see how attitudes change.  In 1987 -- which wasn't all that long ago to the mature among us -- less than half of Americans agreed it was acceptable for Blacks and Whites to date. In 2009, eight out of ten Americans didn't have a problem with it.

What happened?  Did everyone have an ephiphany similar to my parents', who could not have loved my wife more if she had been from Quebec? I suspect some did. But the real reason was more generational than anything else.

Young people are more open to change than older people, and older people take their attitudes with them when they leave the scene. Claude Fishcher studied attitudinal change across a very long period and discovered the same stretched-out "s" pattern that characterizes the adoption of new technologies over time.  

At first only a few people adopt it; that's the lower end of the curve.  Then more and more people buy it; that's the sharply rising middle of the curve. But in the later years, the number adopting it flattens out; that's the top of the curve. The pattern looks like this:

S Curve 1

But when Fischer broke the data down, he discovered that some groups -- notably younger people -- were quicker to adopt new attitudes after the same slow start. They ended up in the same place; they just got there faster.  On a chart, that created a stretched-out "s" with a steeper curve.

S Curve 2

At some point, the gap between the slow and fast-adopters got fairly large. That's where we are right now on many social issues like gay marriage and abortion.  But eventually we'll all end up more or less in the same place.  If we don't kill each other first.  

If you have your doubts, just look at what's happened in Northern Ireland.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

 

 

 

 

Comments

Happy St. Patrick's Day! That is one cute grandson you've got there.

I think there's nothing wrong with dating regardless if you are black or white. What matters is the 2 person liked/loved each other.

Advance happy St. Patrick's day!

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