Of Bubbles and Cultural Isolation

Charles Murray has actually managed to gather some meaningful and useful data on cultural affiliation in the United States.  In his own words:

If you want your child to grow up clueless about mainstream white America, what are the ZIP codes that have the best track record?

To answer that question, I used the 50,464 cases in which the respondents provided both a score on the bubble quiz and the ZIP code where they lived at age 10. (These were data available as of Wednesday morning when I started this exercise.) I asked my statistical software to calculate the median bubble score for every ZIP code represented in those 50,464 cases. Since I couldn’t make any judgments about ZIP codes that were represented by just a few people, I chose 10 as the lower limit of scores that I would examine more closely. There’s still a lot of room for oddball results with a sample size of 10, but this procedure gave me a useful starting point for examining patterns.

I found the results sufficiently interesting (though un-suprising) to take the quiz myself, as I live in one of the bubble prone areas.

And the winner is … ZIP code 10023. The median bubble score of the 16 people who had lived in 10023 at the age of 10 was 12.5. To give you an idea how low 12.5 is, a score of 12 puts one at the 3rd percentile of the entire sample. And a refresher — this quiz is out of 100. The higher your score, the thinner your bubble. The lower, the more insulated you might be from mainstream American culture. So, yes, 12.5 is a low score.

The location of this ZIP code is so stereotypically appropriate that many of you would have guessed correctly within a few miles. ZIP code 10023 is on New York’s Upper West Side, bordering Central Park from 59th to 76th, with a socioeconomic status percentile of 99.6. It’s in the heart of that chunk of Manhattan where New Yorkers are most certain that they live at the center of the universe and where the local culture is, to put it gently, somewhat different from the one in which most Americans live.

The other top bubble areas include the San Francisco / Bay Area (where I live currently) and Washington DC.  I would argue that this data firmly establishes what Conservatives have been saying for some time about the DC and Coastal Elites; that it is they that have effectively isolated themselves from the larger culture.



I encourage all who would care to comment to not only read the article, but to take the test as well and post your results.  Mine was 68.

Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners April 22, 2016