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    EDIT: Post updated, 3/17/14. See below! Welcome to my blog! New Blog post #1! So I moved over from Blogger.com because it didn’t allow people to comment without signing in. Why would I want to restrict people that way? So this post is mostly copied from that site with a few changes. This will be...
  • @ACThinker
    I have a vary obvious question that you didn't seem to mention and it is related to observational bias.

    It has to do with this statement
    "Contrary to what Chua claimed on your show, one cannot make one’s children into “respectful, decent human beings who contribute to society” if it is not in their makeup, their peer environment, and the luck of the draw to become this way."

    First there is lots to pick apart about what makes one "respectful and decent" and such. A respectful WEIRDO might be disrespectful for a Asian (assuming that we follow the right cultural cues). Frankly I think he'd come off as arrogant or brash or something. - but that is another discussion.

    I think what was missed are the questions of "when are we making this judgment/evaluation of decent human?" and "is the person just pretending?" And while pretending or passing oneself off as the group normal or as expectations is mostly learn* - that is when and how to do it - there is good reason to think that the motivation for that would be genetic. Humans are after all a pack or herd type animal. One that is fundamentally group.

    So to the TigerMom I'd ask "are you seeing what is? or what your observational target wishes you to see?"

    *I'd say that about 95%+ maybe even 105% of us know to be like the group - and this is certainly genetic in action. The how much, when and why to be like the group is a what I'd say is mostly learned/environmentally taught.

    So to the TigerMom I’d ask “are you seeing what is? or what your observational target wishes you to see?”

    You touch on a serious problem: measurement error in psychometric testing. There are ways of mitigating it, but not completely eliminating it. In general, the less noisy the measurement, the higher the heritability.

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  • I have a vary obvious question that you didn’t seem to mention and it is related to observational bias.

    It has to do with this statement
    “Contrary to what Chua claimed on your show, one cannot make one’s children into “respectful, decent human beings who contribute to society” if it is not in their makeup, their peer environment, and the luck of the draw to become this way.”

    First there is lots to pick apart about what makes one “respectful and decent” and such. A respectful WEIRDO might be disrespectful for a Asian (assuming that we follow the right cultural cues). Frankly I think he’d come off as arrogant or brash or something. – but that is another discussion.

    I think what was missed are the questions of “when are we making this judgment/evaluation of decent human?” and “is the person just pretending?” And while pretending or passing oneself off as the group normal or as expectations is mostly learn* – that is when and how to do it – there is good reason to think that the motivation for that would be genetic. Humans are after all a pack or herd type animal. One that is fundamentally group.

    So to the TigerMom I’d ask “are you seeing what is? or what your observational target wishes you to see?”

    *I’d say that about 95%+ maybe even 105% of us know to be like the group – and this is certainly genetic in action. The how much, when and why to be like the group is a what I’d say is mostly learned/environmentally taught.

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    • Replies: @JayMan

    So to the TigerMom I’d ask “are you seeing what is? or what your observational target wishes you to see?”
     
    You touch on a serious problem: measurement error in psychometric testing. There are ways of mitigating it, but not completely eliminating it. In general, the less noisy the measurement, the higher the heritability.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @JayMan
    @Anonymous:

    And you are wrong. See my HBD Fundamentals page.

    The ethnic composition of Israel is not 100% Ashkenazi Jewish.

    American & British organizations made intense efforts to remove German Jews from Germany/Austria.

    Of Jews who died in WWII, German Jews were the smallest group.
    They were also the wealthiest and probably the group that had more and better education.

    Slavic Jews had least educational achievement and died in far larger numbers in WWII.

    So did the war skew the gene pool in favor of higher IQ German Jews?

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  • @Tony
    A parent might decide to enroll their kids in survival classes, or they might raise them in a wilderness environment and teach them survival skills themselves. Or a parent might push a high IQ kid to pursue Medicine or Law, whilst another parent might push a high IQ kid to study art. The kid may be destined for reasonable success in any field, but if the parents pressure the kid to do law he will likely end up richer.

    You need to read my post The Son Becomes The Father, because we have hard data on this.

    Namely, there is a shared environment effect on education, but that doesn’t translate into anything in the real world, because there is no shared environment effect on any major life outcome. Indeed, a Danish twin control study specifically found that educational differences have no effect on lifetime income net genetics.

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  • @Tony
    It is statistically demonstrated that IQ is much more hereditary than environmental. But this is because IQ tests have been specifically designed to be culturally nuetral and measure raw g. You cannot really think that education and life experience have no bearing on life outcome at all. If that is what you believe then an 18 year old high school graduate with a high IQ would be just as succesful at wining a law case as a 50 year old Harvard Law Graduate with 30 years of experience with the same IQ. No, surely most fields require a great deal of education and experience. The more education, experience, and wise advice a parent can cram into the home environment, the better the child will be.

    A parent might decide to enroll their kids in survival classes, or they might raise them in a wilderness environment and teach them survival skills themselves. Or a parent might push a high IQ kid to pursue Medicine or Law, whilst another parent might push a high IQ kid to study art. The kid may be destined for reasonable success in any field, but if the parents pressure the kid to do law he will likely end up richer.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Tony:

    You need to read my post The Son Becomes The Father, because we have hard data on this.

    Namely, there is a shared environment effect on education, but that doesn't translate into anything in the real world, because there is no shared environment effect on any major life outcome. Indeed, a Danish twin control study specifically found that educational differences have no effect on lifetime income net genetics.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Tony
    Education and life experience can come from many sources. Look if you put a young man on a desert island with no tools and no knowledge of primitive survival he will ptobably die. On the other hand if you put him on a 1 month survival course where you teach him to make fire, build shelters, spear fish, etc. He has a much higher chance of surviving. You can increase his life outcome considerably with just 1 month of education.

    On the other hand if you put him on a 1 month survival course where you teach him to make fire, build shelters, spear fish, etc. He has a much higher chance of surviving.

    Who decides to take survival courses?

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  • @Tony
    It is statistically demonstrated that IQ is much more hereditary than environmental. But this is because IQ tests have been specifically designed to be culturally nuetral and measure raw g. You cannot really think that education and life experience have no bearing on life outcome at all. If that is what you believe then an 18 year old high school graduate with a high IQ would be just as succesful at wining a law case as a 50 year old Harvard Law Graduate with 30 years of experience with the same IQ. No, surely most fields require a great deal of education and experience. The more education, experience, and wise advice a parent can cram into the home environment, the better the child will be.

    Education and life experience can come from many sources. Look if you put a young man on a desert island with no tools and no knowledge of primitive survival he will ptobably die. On the other hand if you put him on a 1 month survival course where you teach him to make fire, build shelters, spear fish, etc. He has a much higher chance of surviving. You can increase his life outcome considerably with just 1 month of education.

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    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Tony:

    On the other hand if you put him on a 1 month survival course where you teach him to make fire, build shelters, spear fish, etc. He has a much higher chance of surviving.
     
    Who decides to take survival courses?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Tony
    It is statistically demonstrated that IQ is much more hereditary than environmental. But this is because IQ tests have been specifically designed to be culturally nuetral and measure raw g. You cannot really think that education and life experience have no bearing on life outcome at all. If that is what you believe then an 18 year old high school graduate with a high IQ would be just as succesful at wining a law case as a 50 year old Harvard Law Graduate with 30 years of experience with the same IQ. No, surely most fields require a great deal of education and experience. The more education, experience, and wise advice a parent can cram into the home environment, the better the child will be.

    You cannot really think that education and life experience have no bearing on life outcome at all. If that is what you believe then an 18 year old high school graduate with a high IQ would be just as succesful at wining a law case as a 50 year old Harvard Law Graduate with 30 years of experience with the same IQ

    Where do education and life experience come from?

    The more education, experience, and wise advice a parent can cram into the home environment, the better the child will be.

    Happier, maybe. Not any better off.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • It is statistically demonstrated that IQ is much more hereditary than environmental. But this is because IQ tests have been specifically designed to be culturally nuetral and measure raw g. You cannot really think that education and life experience have no bearing on life outcome at all. If that is what you believe then an 18 year old high school graduate with a high IQ would be just as succesful at wining a law case as a 50 year old Harvard Law Graduate with 30 years of experience with the same IQ. No, surely most fields require a great deal of education and experience. The more education, experience, and wise advice a parent can cram into the home environment, the better the child will be.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Tony:

    You cannot really think that education and life experience have no bearing on life outcome at all. If that is what you believe then an 18 year old high school graduate with a high IQ would be just as succesful at wining a law case as a 50 year old Harvard Law Graduate with 30 years of experience with the same IQ
     
    Where do education and life experience come from?

    The more education, experience, and wise advice a parent can cram into the home environment, the better the child will be.
     
    Happier, maybe. Not any better off.
    , @Tony
    Education and life experience can come from many sources. Look if you put a young man on a desert island with no tools and no knowledge of primitive survival he will ptobably die. On the other hand if you put him on a 1 month survival course where you teach him to make fire, build shelters, spear fish, etc. He has a much higher chance of surviving. You can increase his life outcome considerably with just 1 month of education.
    , @Tony
    A parent might decide to enroll their kids in survival classes, or they might raise them in a wilderness environment and teach them survival skills themselves. Or a parent might push a high IQ kid to pursue Medicine or Law, whilst another parent might push a high IQ kid to study art. The kid may be destined for reasonable success in any field, but if the parents pressure the kid to do law he will likely end up richer.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Dave
    Anyone who has ever grown plants or raised animals, knows that genetics is a huge part of what their outcomes are.

    But while 'good genetics' play a very key role - ideal environmental circumstances play the biggest role in a population of moderate genetic variation. In otherwords, you could give me a seed containing the genetics of a poor-performing plant, and a novice grower a seed of a genetically-superior plant, and I will still get 3-4x more yield out of my plant than they will, because I am an expert at cultivation.

    What metrics would I use 'yield'? Could be size, could be fruit production, could be the ability to fight off infection, could be lifespan - as the grower, all of these can be tuned by controlling which parts of the plant get light, when they get light, the nutrient balance, and physically restraining/manipulating the plant.

    Now, give me a seed of high genetic potential, and sure enough the 'yields' will be higher still - but that isn't the point. While I agree with the concept of HBD, and im an Epigeneticist by trade, pragmatically speaking I absolutely *will* cultivate my plants/children to get the most out of them, and further more, it would be foolish not to.

    While I agree with the concept of HBD, and im an Epigeneticist by trade, pragmatically speaking I absolutely *will* cultivate my plants/children to get the most out of them, and further more, it would be foolish not to.

    I think you’ve gotten to that point after giving them food, water, shelter, basic human interaction, you know – typical life. Everything past that is just to make you feel better.

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  • Anyone who has ever grown plants or raised animals, knows that genetics is a huge part of what their outcomes are.

    But while ‘good genetics’ play a very key role – ideal environmental circumstances play the biggest role in a population of moderate genetic variation. In otherwords, you could give me a seed containing the genetics of a poor-performing plant, and a novice grower a seed of a genetically-superior plant, and I will still get 3-4x more yield out of my plant than they will, because I am an expert at cultivation.

    What metrics would I use ‘yield’? Could be size, could be fruit production, could be the ability to fight off infection, could be lifespan – as the grower, all of these can be tuned by controlling which parts of the plant get light, when they get light, the nutrient balance, and physically restraining/manipulating the plant.

    Now, give me a seed of high genetic potential, and sure enough the ‘yields’ will be higher still – but that isn’t the point. While I agree with the concept of HBD, and im an Epigeneticist by trade, pragmatically speaking I absolutely *will* cultivate my plants/children to get the most out of them, and further more, it would be foolish not to.

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    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Dave:

    While I agree with the concept of HBD, and im an Epigeneticist by trade, pragmatically speaking I absolutely *will* cultivate my plants/children to get the most out of them, and further more, it would be foolish not to.
     
    I think you've gotten to that point after giving them food, water, shelter, basic human interaction, you know – typical life. Everything past that is just to make you feel better.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Steven
    Does this mean that the composition of the family(single parent, nuclear, extended, alternative, etc.) and the way they treat their children has no impact on their development as long as they are not abusive?

    Further, is peer environment the only factor found outside of genetics to affect who a child becomes? If so, does affecting it by controlling the environment the child grows up in, school they go to, etc. have an impact or are all efforts taken by parents to improve the life and prospects of their children useless?

    Does this mean that the composition of the family(single parent, nuclear, extended, alternative, etc.) and the way they treat their children has no impact on their development as long as they are not abusive?

    Pretty much.

    Further, is peer environment the only factor found outside of genetics to affect who a child becomes?

    Well, to be fair, Harris greatly overstated the case for peer effects. Evidence is really only reliable in the case of content-laden aspects of behavior, such as language or dress, or initiation of certain activities (like smoking). There’s little evidence peers effect long-term development beyond these things. So broadly, most parental effort is wasted, beyond keeping children healthy and safe, and making their lives as happy as possible in the here and now.

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  • Does this mean that the composition of the family(single parent, nuclear, extended, alternative, etc.) and the way they treat their children has no impact on their development as long as they are not abusive?

    Further, is peer environment the only factor found outside of genetics to affect who a child becomes? If so, does affecting it by controlling the environment the child grows up in, school they go to, etc. have an impact or are all efforts taken by parents to improve the life and prospects of their children useless?

    Read More
    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Steven:

    Does this mean that the composition of the family(single parent, nuclear, extended, alternative, etc.) and the way they treat their children has no impact on their development as long as they are not abusive?
     
    Pretty much.

    Further, is peer environment the only factor found outside of genetics to affect who a child becomes?
     
    Well, to be fair, Harris greatly overstated the case for peer effects. Evidence is really only reliable in the case of content-laden aspects of behavior, such as language or dress, or initiation of certain activities (like smoking). There's little evidence peers effect long-term development beyond these things. So broadly, most parental effort is wasted, beyond keeping children healthy and safe, and making their lives as happy as possible in the here and now.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @pumpkinperson
    Yes, it would be interesting to see how East Asians & Indian Americans do when raised by white parents.


    It's interesting because I blogged about this exact same topic with respect to serial killers.

    http://pumpkinperson.com/2014/04/13/was-rob-zombies-michael-myers-based-on-henry-lee-lucas/

    Henry Lee Lucas had a horrific mother who forced him to attend school dressed as a girl. Did this contribute to him becoming a killer, or did the same genes that made him a killer also make his mother abusive?

    @Pumpkinperson:

    The overwhelming evidence from behavioral genetics shows it’s the latter. See my aforementioned post for discussion of criminality.

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  • @pumpkinperson
    Severely abusive or neglectful parenting—cases of which are routinely excluded from behavioral genetic studies—would have a deleterious impact, but thankfully, most American parents do not do these horrible things to their children.

    Severe tiger parenting is also routinely excluded from genetic studies.

    Yes, it would be interesting to see how East Asians & Indian Americans do when raised by white parents.

    It’s interesting because I blogged about this exact same topic with respect to serial killers.

    http://pumpkinperson.com/2014/04/13/was-rob-zombies-michael-myers-based-on-henry-lee-lucas/

    Henry Lee Lucas had a horrific mother who forced him to attend school dressed as a girl. Did this contribute to him becoming a killer, or did the same genes that made him a killer also make his mother abusive?

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    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Pumpkinperson:

    The overwhelming evidence from behavioral genetics shows it's the latter. See my aforementioned post for discussion of criminality.

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  • @pumpkinperson
    Parenting may have no impact within Tiger Mom samples (Japan) and within non-Tiger Mom samples (white America), but in order to see an effect, one would need a sample that included both Tiger Moms and non-Tiger Moms. In other words, studies in both Japan and in America may both suffer from range restriction.

    You believe that the effects of extremely bad parenting (abuse, neglect) are obscured by range restrictions. So why wouldn't you believe the same for the opposite extreme?

    Actually it should be mathematically to possible to calculate the effects of extreme parenting simply by adjusting the existing studies for restriction of range.

    As well, while there’s a range restriction in adoption studies, there’s much less restriction in twin studies. Still nothing.

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  • @pumpkinperson
    Parenting may have no impact within Tiger Mom samples (Japan) and within non-Tiger Mom samples (white America), but in order to see an effect, one would need a sample that included both Tiger Moms and non-Tiger Moms. In other words, studies in both Japan and in America may both suffer from range restriction.

    You believe that the effects of extremely bad parenting (abuse, neglect) are obscured by range restrictions. So why wouldn't you believe the same for the opposite extreme?

    Actually it should be mathematically to possible to calculate the effects of extreme parenting simply by adjusting the existing studies for restriction of range.

    @Pumpkinperson:

    You are severely underestimating the variability of parenting in these samples.

    Look, the results hold up across multiple countries. Tiger mothering, or its Western equivalent, is not so rare that it would be exclude from studies (especially large adoption studies). Zilch. Further, let’s say Tiger mothering was responsible for E. Asian success? Then why do they do just as well when adopted by “soft” Western parents? There’s no there there.

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  • @pumpkinperson
    Severely abusive or neglectful parenting—cases of which are routinely excluded from behavioral genetic studies—would have a deleterious impact, but thankfully, most American parents do not do these horrible things to their children.

    Severe tiger parenting is also routinely excluded from genetic studies.

    Parenting may have no impact within Tiger Mom samples (Japan) and within non-Tiger Mom samples (white America), but in order to see an effect, one would need a sample that included both Tiger Moms and non-Tiger Moms. In other words, studies in both Japan and in America may both suffer from range restriction.

    You believe that the effects of extremely bad parenting (abuse, neglect) are obscured by range restrictions. So why wouldn’t you believe the same for the opposite extreme?

    Actually it should be mathematically to possible to calculate the effects of extreme parenting simply by adjusting the existing studies for restriction of range.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Pumpkinperson:

    You are severely underestimating the variability of parenting in these samples.

    Look, the results hold up across multiple countries. Tiger mothering, or its Western equivalent, is not so rare that it would be exclude from studies (especially large adoption studies). Zilch. Further, let's say Tiger mothering was responsible for E. Asian success? Then why do they do just as well when adopted by "soft" Western parents? There's no there there.

    , @JayMan
    @pumpkinperson:

    As well, while there's a range restriction in adoption studies, there's much less restriction in twin studies. Still nothing.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @pumpkinperson
    Severely abusive or neglectful parenting—cases of which are routinely excluded from behavioral genetic studies—would have a deleterious impact, but thankfully, most American parents do not do these horrible things to their children.

    Severe tiger parenting is also routinely excluded from genetic studies.

    Nope. Behavioral genetic results replicate in Japan and S. Korea. See here and here

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  • Severely abusive or neglectful parenting—cases of which are routinely excluded from behavioral genetic studies—would have a deleterious impact, but thankfully, most American parents do not do these horrible things to their children.

    Severe tiger parenting is also routinely excluded from genetic studies.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JayMan
    @pumpkinperson:

    Nope. Behavioral genetic results replicate in Japan and S. Korea. See here and here

    , @pumpkinperson
    Parenting may have no impact within Tiger Mom samples (Japan) and within non-Tiger Mom samples (white America), but in order to see an effect, one would need a sample that included both Tiger Moms and non-Tiger Moms. In other words, studies in both Japan and in America may both suffer from range restriction.

    You believe that the effects of extremely bad parenting (abuse, neglect) are obscured by range restrictions. So why wouldn't you believe the same for the opposite extreme?

    Actually it should be mathematically to possible to calculate the effects of extreme parenting simply by adjusting the existing studies for restriction of range.

    , @pumpkinperson
    Yes, it would be interesting to see how East Asians & Indian Americans do when raised by white parents.


    It's interesting because I blogged about this exact same topic with respect to serial killers.

    http://pumpkinperson.com/2014/04/13/was-rob-zombies-michael-myers-based-on-henry-lee-lucas/

    Henry Lee Lucas had a horrific mother who forced him to attend school dressed as a girl. Did this contribute to him becoming a killer, or did the same genes that made him a killer also make his mother abusive?

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Including all 80s kids, I had been so busy being told just how special I was I didn’t get that that opted for everybody else, too.

    Now I’m sad that I’m less important.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Facts about humanity lend themselves to denial, because while it’s relatively easy to come to terms with some abstract notion about the world, it’s a lot harder when we’re talking about ourselves, because here there may be truths that we don’t want to accept. Nonetheless that doesn’t change these truths, and denying them often has deleterious consequences for people and society.

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  • @Anonymous
    Jews aren't genetically smarter, in fact, Israeli Jews are generally lower on the IQ spectrum (less than 100). I'm pretty sure that the smartness of American Jews cannot be explained by genetical variance alone. Therefore I'd say genetics cannot be held 100% accountable for IQ, and that things like their childhood environment play a more significant role in this than what you're saying.

    And you are wrong. See my HBD Fundamentals page.

    The ethnic composition of Israel is not 100% Ashkenazi Jewish.

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    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
    American & British organizations made intense efforts to remove German Jews from Germany/Austria.

    Of Jews who died in WWII, German Jews were the smallest group.
    They were also the wealthiest and probably the group that had more and better education.

    Slavic Jews had least educational achievement and died in far larger numbers in WWII.

    So did the war skew the gene pool in favor of higher IQ German Jews?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Jews aren’t genetically smarter, in fact, Israeli Jews are generally lower on the IQ spectrum (less than 100). I’m pretty sure that the smartness of American Jews cannot be explained by genetical variance alone. Therefore I’d say genetics cannot be held 100% accountable for IQ, and that things like their childhood environment play a more significant role in this than what you’re saying.

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    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Anonymous:

    And you are wrong. See my HBD Fundamentals page.

    The ethnic composition of Israel is not 100% Ashkenazi Jewish.

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  • @Brett
    You ruin your reach with your political snide asides.

    Out of curiosity, in what ways? And my reach with whom? I’d like to know what you think…

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  • The following simple argument suggests to me that parents have little lasting effect on their offspring except through their genes …

    If sub-optimal parenting has any negative effect on offspring outcomes, you would expect such genes (for being affected in that way) to have been largely flushed from the gene pool by now.

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  • @Anonymous
    Contrary to what Chua claimed on your show, one cannot make one’s children into “respectful, decent human beings who contribute to society” if it is not in their makeup, their peer environment, and the luck of the draw to become this way.

    What Westerners don't really appreciate about Sinosphere parenting is that it's designed to supplant peer environment with familial environment, which probably explains underperformance in college and post-graduate outcomes relative to secondary school by East Asians in the West.

    Sure, Chua’s children credit their mother for their success (perhaps because of their erroneous belief in the role their mother’s treatment of them had in that success), but wouldn’t their memories be better if they didn’t have such horrendous experiences? To quote Caplan, discussing the brutal methods Chua used to force her daughter to learn piano, “To my mind, the mere memory of this experience is lasting damage of a heinous kind (Caplan, 2011a).”

    Extremely strict exogenous controls on behavior, with strong negative conditioning and liberal application of physical force are a coevolved strategy necessary to keep East Asians at a basic level of functioning. Weak internal motivation, vacuous sense of self, and near-absence of the entire psychological edifice of self-accountability means guaranteed collapse into life-endangering passivity and addiction in their absence. This holds true at all scales, from heavy-handed parenting to centralization of power in authoritarian, paternalistic-maternalistic states. What happens in environments where Western-style laissez-faire individualism has become normalized (e.g., Japan, increasingly diaspora communities in the West) is total dissolution.

    I suspect the East Asian strictness has more to do with preventing their children from becoming failures because of all the distractions out there and ensuring they keep up with all the other hyper-competitive East Asian parents.

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  • You ruin your reach with your political snide asides.

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    • Replies: @JayMan
    @Brett:

    Out of curiosity, in what ways? And my reach with whom? I'd like to know what you think...

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  • @Antifeminist
    > First of all, if people find mates like their parents, is this really just because they are finding mates like themselves?

    No, because if they didn't like their parents, then they chose partners who didn't resemble them.

    How good is the evidence for this?

    In general, I’ll be convinced when I see studies on adopted children…

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  • > First of all, if people find mates like their parents, is this really just because they are finding mates like themselves?

    No, because if they didn’t like their parents, then they chose partners who didn’t resemble them.

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    • Replies: @JayMan
    How good is the evidence for this?

    In general, I'll be convinced when I see studies on adopted children...

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  • @Antifeminist
    > Parents may not be able to affect how their children turn out but they can certainly affect their happiness today, and in turn, their fond memories (or lack thereof)

    This may be true for parents->children, but may not be true for parents->grandchildren.

    As you know happy children tend to find mating partners who are similar to parents. Hence happy children (hc) might subconsciously find a partner with whom they have children (c) who excel in all attributes, that made them (hc) happy, and thereby they (hc) are refining survival attributes in their children (c).

    Good parenting would partly be seeding into one's own children which they (hc) would harvest.

    As you know happy children tend to find mating partners who are similar to parents. Hence happy children (hc) might subconsciously find a partner with whom they have children (c) who excel in all attributes, that made them (hc) happy, and thereby they (hc) are refining survival attributes in their children (c).

    I’m not convinced that that is true. First of all, if people find mates like their parents, is this really just because they are finding mates like themselves? We know assortative mating is real and powerful.

    To test if people sought mates like their parents, one would have to look at the mates of adopted children, and see if they more resemble their biological parents or their adoptive parents.

    The only study I know of looked only at the physical resemblance of the spouses of adopted children to their adoptive parents. The study found a tiny resemblance, but it had a very small sample (26 families) and didn’t have biological parents as a control.

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  • > Parents may not be able to affect how their children turn out but they can certainly affect their happiness today, and in turn, their fond memories (or lack thereof)

    This may be true for parents->children, but may not be true for parents->grandchildren.

    As you know happy children tend to find mating partners who are similar to parents. Hence happy children (hc) might subconsciously find a partner with whom they have children (c) who excel in all attributes, that made them (hc) happy, and thereby they (hc) are refining survival attributes in their children (c).

    Good parenting would partly be seeding into one’s own children which they (hc) would harvest.

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    • Replies: @JayMan

    As you know happy children tend to find mating partners who are similar to parents. Hence happy children (hc) might subconsciously find a partner with whom they have children (c) who excel in all attributes, that made them (hc) happy, and thereby they (hc) are refining survival attributes in their children (c).
     
    I'm not convinced that that is true. First of all, if people find mates like their parents, is this really just because they are finding mates like themselves? We know assortative mating is real and powerful.

    To test if people sought mates like their parents, one would have to look at the mates of adopted children, and see if they more resemble their biological parents or their adoptive parents.

    The only study I know of looked only at the physical resemblance of the spouses of adopted children to their adoptive parents. The study found a tiny resemblance, but it had a very small sample (26 families) and didn't have biological parents as a control.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • alas, it’s hilarious that we parents think we add such importance above & beyond what our genes already did. & it’s stressful to believe so! i explain to parents that kid’s brains are pretty much pre-set — the kid’s cognitive pattern of strengths & weaknesses is pre-wired & has nothing to do with whether a parent “parented” well (good parents worry way too much – & bad parents don’t worry enough.) PS – that picture of the huckabee family is gross, dude!

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  • Immigrant from former USSR [AKA "Florida Resident"] says:

    Dear JayMan:
    Very good post of yours above.

    I read the important book “World on fire” by Chua, following the review by Derbyshire (or was it Sailer’s ?), and I appreciate the notion of “market dominant minority” introduced there.
    I still have to overcome my reluctance to read “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”.

    Somehow, I do not sense the feeling of “noblesse oblige” in Chua’s multiple interviews (most of which are aimed at book promotion; there is no such thing as bad publicity.)

    My impression is this.
    If Professor Chua can do such harsh things to her daughters for the sake of future well being of _her_ daughters,
    then
    I can easily imagine harsh things she is ready to do to other people’s kids for the sake of future well being of _her_ (_Chua’s_) daughters.
    Some hints of such attitude are scattered already in the “World on Fire” (rather subtle to be discussed here) and in her interviews.

    Your respectfully, F.r.

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  • JayMan says: • Website
    @Anonymous
    Contrary to what Chua claimed on your show, one cannot make one’s children into “respectful, decent human beings who contribute to society” if it is not in their makeup, their peer environment, and the luck of the draw to become this way.

    What Westerners don't really appreciate about Sinosphere parenting is that it's designed to supplant peer environment with familial environment, which probably explains underperformance in college and post-graduate outcomes relative to secondary school by East Asians in the West.

    Sure, Chua’s children credit their mother for their success (perhaps because of their erroneous belief in the role their mother’s treatment of them had in that success), but wouldn’t their memories be better if they didn’t have such horrendous experiences? To quote Caplan, discussing the brutal methods Chua used to force her daughter to learn piano, “To my mind, the mere memory of this experience is lasting damage of a heinous kind (Caplan, 2011a).”

    Extremely strict exogenous controls on behavior, with strong negative conditioning and liberal application of physical force are a coevolved strategy necessary to keep East Asians at a basic level of functioning. Weak internal motivation, vacuous sense of self, and near-absence of the entire psychological edifice of self-accountability means guaranteed collapse into life-endangering passivity and addiction in their absence. This holds true at all scales, from heavy-handed parenting to centralization of power in authoritarian, paternalistic-maternalistic states. What happens in environments where Western-style laissez-faire individualism has become normalized (e.g., Japan, increasingly diaspora communities in the West) is total dissolution.

    What Westerners don’t really appreciate about Sinosphere parenting is that it’s designed to supplant peer environment with familial environment

    It doesn’t quite work that way.

    which probably explains underperformance in college and post-graduate outcomes relative to secondary school by East Asians in the West.

    Perhaps at that point talent matters more than effort?

    Extremely strict exogenous controls on behavior, with strong negative conditioning and liberal application of physical force are a coevolved strategy necessary to keep East Asians at a basic level of functioning.

    I wouldn’t quite say that either. Are East Asian communities outside of East Asia doing poorly?

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Contrary to what Chua claimed on your show, one cannot make one’s children into “respectful, decent human beings who contribute to society” if it is not in their makeup, their peer environment, and the luck of the draw to become this way.

    What Westerners don’t really appreciate about Sinosphere parenting is that it’s designed to supplant peer environment with familial environment, which probably explains underperformance in college and post-graduate outcomes relative to secondary school by East Asians in the West.

    Sure, Chua’s children credit their mother for their success (perhaps because of their erroneous belief in the role their mother’s treatment of them had in that success), but wouldn’t their memories be better if they didn’t have such horrendous experiences? To quote Caplan, discussing the brutal methods Chua used to force her daughter to learn piano, “To my mind, the mere memory of this experience is lasting damage of a heinous kind (Caplan, 2011a).”

    Extremely strict exogenous controls on behavior, with strong negative conditioning and liberal application of physical force are a coevolved strategy necessary to keep East Asians at a basic level of functioning. Weak internal motivation, vacuous sense of self, and near-absence of the entire psychological edifice of self-accountability means guaranteed collapse into life-endangering passivity and addiction in their absence. This holds true at all scales, from heavy-handed parenting to centralization of power in authoritarian, paternalistic-maternalistic states. What happens in environments where Western-style laissez-faire individualism has become normalized (e.g., Japan, increasingly diaspora communities in the West) is total dissolution.

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    • Replies: @JayMan

    What Westerners don’t really appreciate about Sinosphere parenting is that it’s designed to supplant peer environment with familial environment
     
    It doesn't quite work that way.

    which probably explains underperformance in college and post-graduate outcomes relative to secondary school by East Asians in the West.
     
    Perhaps at that point talent matters more than effort?

    Extremely strict exogenous controls on behavior, with strong negative conditioning and liberal application of physical force are a coevolved strategy necessary to keep East Asians at a basic level of functioning.
     
    I wouldn't quite say that either. Are East Asian communities outside of East Asia doing poorly?
    , @Fourth doorman of the apocalypse
    I suspect the East Asian strictness has more to do with preventing their children from becoming failures because of all the distractions out there and ensuring they keep up with all the other hyper-competitive East Asian parents.
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  • In a rumination on the "Tiger mom" phenomenon, Andrew Gelman suggests: That is an unfortunate, and frankly, scary side effect of the way meritocracy sometimes works. Some people fixate more on the proxy measures than the underlying variable which it is intended to measure. I immediately recall two close friends who were going to graduate...
  • John et al,

    BTW, I should also probably point out – by way of completeness – that my step-daughter by getting into Columbia, ended up dating a PhD in Math.

    After she dropped out of the Ms/PhD program in Genetics in North Western, she came back to New York and reunited with this Math Whiz – a 6′ 6″ German/Irish guy – who graduated the top of his class. Fast forward 4 years and he now manages his own Hedge Fund, makes a near 7-figure salary and they are married living in a loft in SoHo.

    So she may have used her high IQ and looks very effectively ;)

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  • So everybody here seems to think that Amy Chua’s written an instruction book, whereas it’s actually a memoire of how she changed her parenting style away from the “tiger mom”. Watch the Colbert Report interview.

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  • The correlation with parental income and social class is so much more pronounced than that of genetic differences.

    citation? point to me to the data oh-omniscient-one.

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  • “he average American who is not intellectually gifted and does not have naturally intellectually gifted children ”

    As a reader of a blog about gene flow and the complexity of many traits, do you really believe “natural” intellectual gifts are the major difference defining achievement? The correlation with parental income and social class is so much more pronounced than that of genetic differences. Check out the data before you draw conclusions like that.

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  • Getting back to the core issue of pursuing the proxy rather than the substance, I think this is a fundamental problem everywhere—in all cultures, in our educational and economic systems, and in the way we respond to rewards. We always need to have a proxy when evaluating some underlying phenomenon, because that phenomenon can manifest itself in multiple ways (which is the whole reason why we value it). Consequently, we always need to remember that our proxy is just a proxy, utilizing multiple measures to help compensate for the imperfections of any single measure and reminding ourselves to focus on the phenomenon that we actually care about. That’s true whenever we’re tempted to think of grades, salary, tenure, and prizes as meaningful measures of self-worth and goals in themselves, rather than momentary approximations of accomplishment and stepping-stones toward a greater goal.

    I also believe this applies to discipline. Practicing or studying X hours a day because someone else says you should (and will punish and disapprove of you if you don’t) is only a proxy for real discipline. Real discipline is having an ambition, setting goals to fulfill it, and realizing it through thoughtful, dedicated work with constant re-evaluation to make sure one is on the right course. We shouldn’t mistake the former for the latter.

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  • John: Thanks for elaborating and clarifying your thoughts on the relationship between Chinese, Chinese-American, and American parenting. I suspect you may be right that Chua’s methods would be better accepted in China, Taiwan, etc., although I believe I’ve seen rejection of it in Chinese forums as well. I’ll have to see if I can dig up some of those links.

    While I agree that rote and exploratory learning both have their value, I don’t think that analogy is quite so appropriate to apply here, since the parenting styles Chua describes contain multiple components which produce different outcomes. Much of the media coverage and the resulting discussion has created a false dichotomy between Chinese and American parenting, or between “tiger-parenting” and “not-tiger-parenting.” Rather than trying to decide between or even to strike a balance between two collections of parenting practices, it makes more sense to evaluate and choose among the individual components.

    Striving toward high expectations and believing that success comes from hard work are both well supported in the research literature for their positive impact on achievement and learning. Those values are strongly held in East Asian cultures, but the research I’m citing has been done in the U.S. We don’t need to choose between cultural norms in advocating those values and parenting practices.

    Similarly, the coercion and usurping of autonomy that Chua advocates are problematic in any culture, in that eventually the kids will have to learn how to make good decisions for themselves. Even in a society that changes very slowly, people still need to learn to adapt to new situations. Likewise, while shame and punishment may be more common in Chinese cultures, they are at best short-term motivators, ultimately undermining intrinsic motivation and inhibiting people from facing new challenges. Avoiding failure is problematic in all cultures because feedback (from failure as well as success) is crucial for learning.

    (Side comment: I’m not sure if you may have been referring to my “personal disclosure” in your comment above about not pursuing music professionally, but given the similarities, I wanted to point out that I was not raised by a tiger mom.)

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  • as they say, “let a thousand flowers bloom!”

    百花齐放

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  • as they say, “let a thousand flowers bloom!” :-)

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  • There are actually two things, discipline and conventional ambition. I know plenty of studious people who dropped out of school at one level or another because because they didn’t like the program they were in or that were available to them. I am one of those people, in fact. Razib mentioned people above who go for the status (proxy) rather than having any curiosity about the substance of their study, and it does look as though Cua aims her children toward proxy success.

    Someone mentioned on one discussion thread that, while they did well in music as they were supposed to, they did not disappoint their own tiger mom by actually wanting to become a musician — music was being used as a way of developing discipline and was not supposed to be a career. That’s actually a common experience in classical music education, the promising musician who decides to go to med school instead.

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  • John,
    I haven’t read the book, but I admire Amy Chua mostly, though I think she seems somewhat obsessive.

    AG,
    I agree, success is not smarts alone, but a great degree of work and some guidance. The unsaid fact – and here I’m speaking from personal knowledge – is that many intellectually gifted individuals can coast by without much study or effort during Elementary and High School, but they will flounder by College or Grad School, when the work load and discipline increases.

    My step-daughter was like this, intellectually gifted but wanted to be an air hostess or model. I re-focused her efforts on study, and coached her in Math, English and Science, so that she got accepted to Columbia, then won a scholarship to do a combined MS/Phd in North Western. However, once she moved to Chicago, she fell back on lax ways and indiscipline, and ended up dropping out of the program.

    Sometimes a good kick in the pants – metaphorically of course – is the best medicine.

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  • It doesn’t surprise me that Chua’s piece is poorly regarded by many or most Chinese-Americans, since, on the one hand, it encourages a mostly-negative stereotype among Americans, and on the other hand, presents a Chinese pattern (one Chinese pattern) which is basically inimical to American patterns. In other words, this is a case of substantive cultural difference not easily manageable by multiculturalism. Furthermore, some Chinese-Americans may have bad memories of their own parents’ similar parenting practices.

    Chua’s parenting isn’t the only Chinese pattern and it may even be innovative and original, but it’s not unique to her and it’s far more intelligible and more normal within Chinese culture than it is within American culture. The traditional Chinese family and many contemporary Chinese families were and are far more authoritarian and hierarchal than American families. That’s one of the things that you have to come to grips with when studying China. To me one thing you have to do in such a study is at least consider the good and bad points of the Chinese pattern, rather than simply look at at from an American point of view and denounce it.

    The traditional Chinese ideal of parent-child relationships was extraordinarily parent centered: http://www.yogichen.org/cw/cw43/bk144.html During the last century (but not before that) patterns have changed, but the old patterns linger and I saw some strong signs of that when I was in Taiwan in 1981.

    Note what Chua’s Mother said to her, objecting to her parenting:

    “Why are you turning on me now?” I shot back. This is how you raised me.

    “You can’t do what Daddy and I did,” my mother replied. “Things are different now. Lulu’s not you—and she’s not Sophia. She has a different personality, and you can’t force her.

    In other words, Chua’s mothering IS a Chinese pattern, but according to her own mother, it’s not appropriate to the present day in the US.

    This reminds me of the educational argument between rote learning and “teaching how to think” , learning by exploration, etc. There’s no actual difficult in saying, for example, that you want a little of both — a little rote, a little exploration — and that some of the best American grad students are Asians who first learned by rote but have also learned to explore in the looser American system.

    I do not advocate Chua’s methods, but I’m really astonished at the unanimity of the rejection.

    (P.S. Substitute “Jewish” in some of these arguments and see how it works.)

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  • John: Chua’s views are not all that well received in the Chinese-American culture. You may be interested in this analysis by an English and Asian-American studies professor, which contains multiple links on the response within the Asian American community. It also points out that Chua’s parenting practices diverge meaningfully from Chinese parenting practices. I myself discuss some of these issues as well.

    Yes, there are cultural differences among Chinese, Chinese-American, and non-Chinese-American (and many other cultures’) parenting methods, but Chua’s views are those of just one individual and should not be taken as representative or authoritative. The above links point out some of their inconsistencies and the problems they produce.

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  • I’m surprised at the almost unanimous condemnation of Chua, even here. I don’t think that her views would be regarded as especially strange within Chinese culture, where parental authority is much greater and where education is obsessively pursued.

    In other words, what we have here is a real cultural difference, but multiculturalism isn’t about that. It seems to be mostly about consumer items (food clothes music dances etc.) plus opposition to the crude forms of race-baiting.

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  • My tiger father worked for me, but not for my sister. How does it work? I had no desire to go to elite college. But my tiger father beated shit out of me one day during my last year of high school. Fearing of physical pain, I got in. Well, it really benefited my later career.

    But on other hand, raising children with high self-esteem or entitlement is also important in term of value transference.

    At end, it is like athlete training. Just encourage is not enough. A coach’s displine is equally important.

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  • I have noticed, in other forums on Amy Chua, that her detractors say “This will raise robots” to which her supporters say ”At least they’ll be smart robots.” (This is almost a direct quote, I kid you not.) Why is there this idea that only a robot can be raised?
    This article offers the view that there can be creative children who are not tiger parented. There are not just two extremes-the tiger parent and the television parent.

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  • Sometimes “soft” nurturing works wonders.

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  • TGGP: Thanks for pointing out Goodhart’s Law; I wasn’t familiar with that.

    Razib Khan: I agree that pursuing the proxy instead of the underlying construct is a deep and fundamental problem, whether in economics or in education. As I mention on my blog, “Mistaking the measurable for the worthwhile is a fundamental problem in assessment.” Many end up gaming the system (much like “teaching to the test”) as they aim for the rewards instead of the more meaningful and enduring characteristics or skills that produced the achievement. We need better assessment, as well as better awareness of its limitations so we don’t get sucked into the rat race of rewards and reinforcement.

    I certainly hope “tiger parenting” doesn’t catch on among the intellectually gifted elite. As described by Chua and further glamorized / pilloried by the mainstream media, “tiger parenting” mixes good and bad parenting practices into a muddled “parenting style” that doesn’t deserve emulating. Effective parenting can involve pushing without punishing, and can encourage a much more diverse set of goals than trophies on a college app / resume / CV. There’s enough research that we can use for guidance rather than relying on the anecdotal impressions of a single individual (or the outsized caricature that “tiger parenting” has now become).

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  • “The scary thing about the “Tiger mom” idea is that it will spread among the intellectually gifted elite, and grind away the spirits of the innovation generators.”

    I’m not too worried about that. I run in a small crowd of very intellectually gifted people (I keep it well hidden where I am concerned =cough=) and we all think Tiger Mom is full of it. If anyone is going to read and take her book seriously, I suspect that it is going to be the average American who is not intellectually gifted and does not have naturally intellectually gifted children – someone who wants a one size fits all answer to forcing their child to be a prodigy. You know, the same people who go on fad diets and watch Oprah religiously, waiting for the next pill or face cream or magic answer to instantly change their life to whatever their fantasy of what it should be is. Not that I don’t feel sorry for their kids, but if it wasn’t Amy Chau they’d find someone other wack-job to follow.

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  • “fixate more on the proxy measures than the underlying variable which it is intended to measure”

    There’s a term for that: Goodhart’s Law.

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  • antonio, these are just two people. a type. plenty of professors do take risks, and are super passionate about what they’re doing. i’m just suggesting that some people are over-achievers, but at the end of the day their main motivation turns out to be seen as over-achievers, rather than achieving anything of substance.

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  • Maybe the tenure process deforms people :)

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  • “that once these academics had reached their ultimate goal, they lost all sense of purpose, and simply decided to glide along after tenure. Status, not substantive contribution, turned out to be their ultimate motivation” interesting: I kinda would expect the opposite; we need status to get the tenure and thus sometimes we cannot pursued what we think is relevant because our colleagues don’t agree. Yet, after the tenure this is no longer a problem: we can take bigger risks.

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  • @ Joel
    To some extent I agree, but also blank slatists love this kind of idea that kids can do anything as long as their parents encourage them enough. The argument then is that if kids can do anything with the right resources and guidance, the state should step in where parents are absent/incompetent. And thus the rest of us will be footing the bill to “encourage” these kids in the name of justice. Actually, this is already happening.

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  • The scary thing about the “Tiger mom” idea is that it will spread among the intellectually gifted elite, and grind away the spirits of the innovation generators.

    Is this a real worry? At least in my spheres, the zeitgeist is that she’s nuts, and that people buy her book for the same reasons they rubberneck at car crashes.

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  • Hopefully Chua’s book works to spread the popularity of Bryan Caplan’s new book, which (unlike Chua) gets the economics and sociology right.

    Even aside from the facts, Chua’s elite anxiety mongering is dysgenic, while Caplan’s elite pro-natal optimism is eugenic and socially beneficial.

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  • In her syndicated column, Betsy Hart recently expressed something less than pleasure with a recently published book by Chinese-American author Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Chua discusses a plan for rearing children that she applied to her daughters, who, according to Hart and Chua, are now highly accomplished young women. This method...
  • A Page of fallacies:
    Re.:Chua’s performance is from the top 1% of Chinese society
    Fact: China’s #1 ranking on the international tests measures ALL of its school population.

    Re. the rote, rote, rote of Chinese education v our being the “creators:
    Fact: over the last twelve years, Chinese have registered more Patents than we have; have sent our corporations’ satellites aboard their space successful rockets (versus NASA’s giving up on the space race) are years ahead in Solar-energy development, etc. etc.

    Even our Park Avenue and Beverly Hills super moms, dropping $30k annually in exquisite private-ed and college-prep trainers, (after all the Baby-Einstein video experiments) still fail to achieve Harvard, Yale & Berkeley admission rates anywhere near the Asian numbers.

    Granted, the Asian fervor to produce Mozarts & Beethovens (with 10-12 hours grueling practice) is questionable. But to claim their education system is inferior to us Yanks, is to engage in mega hallucinations. And I thought LSD was a thing of the past. But then again, we do drugs like no other culture; hence comments as psychedelically seducing as the above.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Chua and her family are from the intellectual upper crust, the top 1% of Chinese, and Chinese-American societies. The sheer fanatacism she describes probably makes good sense in her case. For most of the rest of us, the 90%, it would be pretty dang foolish to be that demanding.

    From my experience, Asians, and especially Asian women, routinely abuse each other, calling each other apes and pigs and such. A fat child, will be called pig, little sow, pig nose, and so on. It’s hilarious, and that’s life. A fat child is ugly; they don’t pretend otherwise. Why should they? Why should we?

    We don’t want the Oriental approach to education, of course, which is just rote, rote, rote. We are creators, they are not. Still, it’s a great book, very refreshing, and much to emulate. What bothers liberal/conservatives is the honesty. Liberal/conservatives think it’s wrong to be honest with your kids, and with each other.

    But remember, she comes from the elite of the elite. There’s just so much that cannot apply to the rest of us. It won’t work, hectoring a kid with an IQ of 101 for 12 hours a day, so he can get into Harvard in 10 years. He won’t.

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  • Re. Some kind of “balance”: Considering Amy’s child, by any measure of American “aspirations” has done better than “well,” why shouldn’t we replicate this model???

    Further proof how “unbalanced” we bufoons are…

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  • Regardless of whether her methods are American or not I think parents shouldn’t use them when bringing up their children. There definitely needs to be some kind of balance between the parent’s aspirations and the child’s actual capacity to do well and Amy’s approach somehow ignores that balance.

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  • “Did General Patton spend his youth watching “Sex and the City”

    No, Patton spent his childhood playing with swords, shooting guns, and riding horses on his family’s 1800 acre estate. He had no formal schooling, and could not read, prior to the age of eleven.

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  • Claiming that our young are brighter today than 30 years, or even 60 years, ago is, ironically, patent evidence of how truly dumbed down we presently are. Indeed, a generation and two ago, we could excel with any society in the arts and sciences — while spending less, even after adjusting for inflation. Our young were incarcerated at half the rate as are today — with 82% of prison inmates being high school dropouts http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/background-high-school-dropouts . Even those in school, a recent report documented how 26% of our society are mentally maladjusted http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=118181&page=1; today, a new report shows how a majority of college kids have mental & social illnesses http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/education/27colleges.html?hpw . So much for the feel-good academic curricula that has replaced real learning. Or, more critically, real teaching.

    That a plethora of studies are so easily accessible in this age of Google, and is yet ignored by critics above, bespeaks volumes of the slothful intellect, of the ostensible intelligent who subscribe to this periodical. Ugh! Where’s that paddle, Chua?

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  • Twenty years ago parents would ask their children “What did you learn at school today?”; now the question is “What did you get on the ________test?” The obsession with “results” is only over-shadowed by “results gained with as little effort as possible”.
    Effort expended on something that doesn’t interest you simply doesn’t fly in today’s classrooms. Students’ interests must be appeased every step of the way.
    I have taught for twenty years as a high school English teacher in both private and public schools. The career I had chosen really no longer exists. Books are regarded as vile and archaic. Blogs, Web-inars, and interest-inventories dominate the academic landscape.

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  • I’m sure Betsy Hart and her ilk have no problem whatsover with those who say that “America needs to adopt the Israeli model of homeland security.” It is she, not Professor Chua, who is being a hypocrite.

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  • I remain entirely unconvinced that the level of cultural illiteracy was the same fifty years ago as it is today. Having taught at comparable learning institutions most of my career, I’ve seen the knowledge that students bring with them from high schools, except in certain technical fields, dramatically decline, particularly in the last twenty years. These students are not even exposed to such texts as the Bible and they know nothing of Shakespeare, whose tragedies we had to read in high school. Even the non-college bound students were exposed to the same literature and took the same history courses, with lots of facts. I also seriously doubt that anyone has much data on the cultural knowledge of Americans in the 1940s. What is the fair amount of evidence suggesting that they were even dumber than what I’m seeing right now.But even Mr. Cochran would have to concede that the types of people we’re discussing would not have been around a college in the 1940s, except to do the cleaning and yard work.

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  • Paul: you’re wrong. First, you have to be careful to compare apples and apples: you want to compare the top 10% of 20-year-olds now with the top 10% of 20-year-olds then. Note that the fraction going to college today is way higher than it was in the late 50s. Look, if we added a third major league, the average quality of baseball would decline, since the talent would be diluted, but nobody would be playing any worse than they did the year before.

    Second, there is a fair amount of hard evidence on general knowledge, going back to the 40s, and it’s clear that virtually everyone has always been a cultural illiterate. And a political illiterate, scientific idiot, numerical idiot, etc.

    I’d be happy to say more if you’re interested. I’m quite serious, and I’ve looked at this at some length.

    related quote, from Norman Podhoretz in the year 2002 -”What’s a Kurd? “

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  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dr Math E Matics, AmericanConservative. AmericanConservative said: Tiger Mothers are not un-American, says Paul Gottfried — most Americans once raised their children strictly, http://bit.ly/hTwv35 [...]

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  • Richard wrote:

    “A fetishization of expressions of power….”

    Lapidary. As perfect a description of some of what we see today as possible.

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  • With due respect to those who insist that the educational levels of Euro-Americans have never been any higher than they are at this moment, I can attest from forty years of college teaching that my white students, who come from families with disposable income, are almost without exception cultural illiterates. Even the underclass black students who somehow got into Michigan State when I began my teaching career there could have answered the historical questions that stump but also bore my current students. The girls in the secretarial courses in my high school classes in the late 1950s were geniuses in comparison to the illiterates I’m now encountering in college. Although I’ll concede that the cognitive elite that gets into the best universities is as bright as it was fifty years ago, once you move below that level, you enter a world of almost total educational darkness. WhateverChua’s nutty fixations, she’s at least aware of this problem. Unlike Hart, John Podhoretz and other minicon happy talkers, this highly gifted Asian does not celebrate smug illiterates as proud examples of American exceptionalism.

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  • TomB wrote: In the first place, probably due to my libertarian instinct, I gotta wonder … need *everything* be fodder for attempting to impose some political “right/wrong” judgments upon? What about just … letting different parents do what they think best and then letting the results just flow?

    I’m with Tom. As is so often the case these days, Amy Chua’s book soared to itd 15 minutes of fame and has become one of those momentary cultural phenomena About Which Everyone Must Have an Opinion.

    The problem many of us have with what we have read ABOUT Ms. Chua’s book (I’ve not read the book) lies in the descriptions of what seem to be excessively punitive and gratuitous approaches to discipline. That may have everything to do with not seeing the context of the actions that Ms. Chua describes, not only the facts and circumstances of the disciplinary action, but the web of communication and (I presume) expressions of affection that presumably have existed between Ms. Chua and her daughters since their birth. And that would differ uniquely from those of every other parent-child relationship.

    Having high expectations for one’s children is – I trust I can say this on the TAC site – natural and desirable. Calibrating those to allign with the skills and interests of the child (while, no doubt, occasionally challenging them) is also necessary. As any parent knows, this is more art than method, and the experience of parenting most often brings to light the imperfections of the parent rather than those of the child.

    The struggle some of us have with the chorus of “Amens” that arise from some corners for Ms. Chua is the sense that this portion of the applause for her book comes from those who see parenting as fundamentally and principally the exercise of of power. It is of a piece with a segment of conservative belief that views the world as fundamentally a playing field for the exercise of power – power to dictate the course of other nations; power to restore a perceived ‘lost’ culture through the actions of government (if only the ‘right’ people were in charge; power to demand the assent and compliance of those with whom we disagree in a cacophonous society.

    We all know people like that and, sadly, we have seen some of them apply that model to the difficult and nuanced task of bringing up children. I am not arguing that Ms. Chua is one of these. I not only do not know her or her daughters, I have not even read her book.

    But I’m with TomB. A fetishization of expressions of power is what leads to applause for actions by government that compel law abiding persons to take off their shoes before they board an airplane.

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  • In the first place, probably due to my libertarian instinct, I gotta wonder … need *everything* be fodder for attempting to impose some political “right/wrong” judgments upon? What about just … letting different parents do what they think best and then letting the results just flow?

    After all, one phenomenon we’ve all seen is parents trying to either re-live their lives through their kids, or trying to burnish their own feelings of worth via their kids’ achievements. What about … just striving to raise one’s kids to end up being happy, without doing so by hurting others or being irresponsible? Regardless of their social status? If that’s parental failure, strikes me that something’s wrong with the metric. Raising kids to be eternally socially anxious … geez, I dunno that that’s much of a parental virtue.

    Secondly though, it seems to me that Chua’s prescriptions kinda miss the boat beyond just obviously teaching her kids that their social accomplishments are the ultimate coordinates in life: What about their values *beyond* that? Why, after all, should Chua’s kids care if society around them is crumbling and everyone else is failing? After all, the more others fail the easier and greater *their* (alleged) accomplishments even, so….

    I don’t know, for instance, that all or even many of the great and good men who invented this country were prodigies, or had any great facility at anything, or were even particularly scholarly or learned. What made them great and good it seems to me was instead a sense of … responsibility. They took their job of … coming up with the Constitution seriously. And that seems to me to be an awful lot of what’s missing today. Certainly Chua’s kids take themselves and their own fortunes seriously. (If not indeed mammothly, obsessively.) What about the effects of what they do on others though?

    In a sense the way that Chua is raising her kids might be seen as … of *course* “Chinese.” Living in a society which screws you every which way you turn, well, it’s only logical to exclusively worry about you and yours and screw everyone else since everyone else is always just screwing you.

    One has to laugh a bit then at Chua’s talk about how communitarian or wonderfully social Chinese values are or etc. While one certainly sees some hopeful changes in China, and no doubt battling against it otherwise has been an uphill battle that many have tried and been killed at, nevertheless overall what’s the evidence that the Chinese people ever took the responsibility of … governing themselves? Of demanding that their government was anything but either an imperial claque or a communist one? Hell, there seemed to be lots of happiness with Mao even, right? Even when he was starving whole swaths of his country to death. Indeed one might even argue … no, the Chinese have been perfectly happy to let their society and even ancient culture get screwed by whatever claque there was because they think that by pursuing their own narrow self-interests ferociously enough—like Chua seems to be raising her kids—even if all their fellow citizens get screwed they will still be able to come out ahead and that’s all that’s important.

    Yeah, right, how … communitarian.

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  • For what it’s worth, since it seems (forgive me if I am mistaken) that Dr. Gottfried only knows Chua’s article through Hart’s description, here a link to the original article. The methods described involve a bit more (e.g., threatened destruction of toys for poor musical performance) than merely “disciplining children and imposing high intellectual standards.” Apparently (not described in the original article) Ms. Chua herself modified some of her methods after a public screaming fit by one of the daughters.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html

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  • Educational achievement has not decreased over the last few decades. The average citizen doesn’t know much about history – or biology – but their grandparents didn’t either. This is a persistent idea, presumably because it feels good, but it is easily shown to be false.

    In fact, most 25 year-olds today know somewhat more than their parents or grandparents at the same age – not that they know much – and the only negative trends stem from the fact that an increasing fraction of the population is made up of traditionally low-scoring ethnic groups, due to immigration and differential fertility.

    High-pressure parenting has limited effect. It definitely doesn’t make a kid smarter, and I doubt if it has much effect on retained knowledge or long-term economic success.

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  • It is in fact what American kids get away with in high school. I briefly made the mistake of trying to teach high school in Clark County, Nevada, and was forbidden by the school administration to require a student to bring a pencil to class every day. And of course, all the parents were fine with that. American public schools are a bad joke; the first thing a “tiger mom” would do would be to yank their kids out and either send them to private school or home school them.

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