Scots and U.S. Scientists

Blogger Ron Guhname (not his real name) aka the Inductivist (not his real name either) did a little digging into the General Social Survey and found that, in the U.S., Scots — people of Scottish descent — seem to be disproportionately represented in the Natural Sciences in the U.S.

(Warning, there is a small N involved. So taking this with a grain of salt might be prudent.)

The General Social Survey asks respondents (American) about occupation and ethnic background. Here are the percent of all natural scientists in each ethnic group (those who are less than 5% of the total are excluded):

The ratio refers to the share of natural scientists compared to the ethnic group’s share of the total population. You can see that Americans of English, Irish, Italian and especially Scottish descent are natural scientists in disproportionate numbers.


Correlation is not causation, of course. But when we see correlation we wonder if there is causation involved.

It would be interesting to see how representative these U.S. Scots are representative of Scots in Scotland. Also, do Canadian Scots seem as gifted at Science? What about Australian Scots?

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