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Here’s my review of Judith Rich Harris’s influential book The Nurture Assumption in National Review in 1998:

The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do.
National Review, Oct 12, 1998 by Steve Sailer

OCCASIONALLY, the Great American Intellectual Hype Machine trumpets a book well worth reading. Even before The Nurture Assumption’s publication, major magazines were ballyhooing Judith Rich Harris’s epiphany. A New Jersey grandmother without academic connections, she had written conventional child- development textbooks that presupposed kids were shaped solely by their parents’ child-rearing style. Suddenly, on January 20, 1994, the scales fell from her eyes, revealing the secret of why children turn out the way they do: “Genes matter and peers matter, but parents don’t matter” (as MIT’s Steven Pinker admiringly summarizes her book in his foreword).

I’m pleased to welcome Mrs. Harris and her impressive rationality, serious scholarship, sardonic humor, and vivid prose to the ranks of realists. Although she tends to tiptoe around the political implications, her analysis of how young people naturally form peer groups that define themselves by excluding others explains why multicultural education, bilingualism, college-admission quotas, busing, and co-ed boot camps perversely worsen race and sex conflicts. Still, her almost Camille Paglia-like ambitiousness drives her to overstate the both the novelty of her true ideas (that genes and peers matter) and the truth of her novel idea (that parents don’t matter).

She’s right that innate differences between children are important, but for experienced parents not befuddled by modern egalitarianism that’s old, even ancient, news. That offspring raised side by side can possess wildly different personalities was clear to well-known parents like Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebecca, and King Lear. (A second child undermines parents’ belief in their power to mold their children, but child-rearing books hush this up because their market is first-time parents.)

Further, although child-development experts before Mrs. Harris may have failed to understand the power of peer groups, parents always knew. They’ve tried to shield their kids from Bad Influences since long before King Henry IV sought to keep Prince Hal away from “vulgar companions” like Falstaff.

In contrast, her third assertion-that parents don’t matter-is plausible only within her narrow, arbitrary boundaries. To fully explain human behavior, everything matters. Anything conceivable (whether genes, peers, parents, cousins, teachers, TV, incest, martial-arts training, breastfeeding, pre-natal environment, etc.) can influence something (whether personality, IQ, sexual orientation, culture, morals, job skills, etc.).

To show that peers outweigh parents in importance, Mrs. Harris repeatedly cites the work of Darwinian linguist Pinker on how young immigrant children take on the accents of their playmates, not their parents. True, but there’s more to life than language. Not until page 191 does Mrs. Harris admit -in a footnote-that immigrant parents do pass down home-based aspects of their culture, like cuisine, since kids don’t learn to cook from their friends. (How about attitudes toward housekeeping, charity, courtesy, wife-beating, and child-rearing itself?) Not until page 330 does she recall another area where peers don’t much matter: religion! Worse, she never notices what Thomas Sowell has voluminously documented in his accounts of ethnic economic specialization. It’s parents and relatives who pass on both specific occupations (e.g., Italians and marble-cutting, Cambodians and doughnut-making) and general attitudes toward work, thrift, and entrepreneurship.

Nor can peers account for long-term social change among young children, such as the current switch from football to soccer, since pre-teen peer groups are intensely conservative. (Some playground games have been passed down since Roman times.) Even more so, the trend toward having little girls play soccer and other cootie-infested boys’ sports did not, rest assured, originate among peer groups of little girls. That was primarily the idea of their dads, especially sports-crazed dads without sons.

Although millions of parents sweat and scrimp to get their kids into neighborhoods and schools offering better peer groups, Mrs. Harris redefines this as merely an “indirect” parental influence. She claims modern studies can’t find predictable relationships between “direct” influences (i.e., different child-rearing styles) and how children turn out. But that may reflect an inherent shortcoming of these necessarily non-experimental analyses. For example, she asserts (not necessarily reliably) that studies prove it doesn’t matter whether mothers work or not. But the same methodology would report that it doesn’t matter whether you buy a minivan or a Miata, since purchasers of different classes of vehicles report roughly similar satisfaction. In reality, women don’t randomly choose home or work; they agonize over balancing career and family. They tailor their family size to fit their career ambitions and vice versa. Mothers will then readjust as necessary, looking for the compromise that best meets their particular family’s conflicting needs for money and mothering. For instance, a working mother might quit when her second baby proves unexpectedly colicky, then return when the children enter school, then shift to part time after her husband gets a big raise. This non-random behavior of moms is bad for these studies, but good for their kids.

And why do mothers care so much? Disappointingly for a Darwinian, Mrs. Harris blames it on The Media. She hopes her book will encourage parents to fret less, but it is unlikely to have much impact on mothers, since natural selection has crafted them so that, as the old saying puts it, “‘Worry’ is a mother’s middle name.” In contrast, men will find her theory more appealing, with painful consequences not just for their kids, but for themselves and all of society. Crime and poverty follow when a culture fails to persuade men that “fathering” requires decades rather than minutes.

 
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  1. You know it would be a great complement to say that like a fine wine, you have improved with age. But the passage above shows that back in the day, you were pretty damn good, and your skill has not waned.

    I salute you.

    • Replies: @Lot
    The articles Steve wrote for his college paper he reposted are good too. I was surprised he could find them.
    , @Paleo Liberal
    I like Steve’s writing.

    I sometimes disagree (duh, I’m a liberal), but I respect Steve for several reasons.

    1. He is a talented writer.
    2. He usually thinks things through pretty well. Very logical, except when he gets into too big a rush or he hits one of his blind spots (we all have them).

    3. In a time when political beliefs on both the right and left are at a religious level, he is willing to be a heretic to all political religions, left and right. Since I am a heretic myself, I appreciate that. (For example, in my case I am against blind racism, but I am absolutely not a follower of the Anti-Racist religion. As a writer for the Atlantic pointed out recently, the Anti-Racist obsession with hunting down heretics, apostates and blasphemers often does more harm than good. Of course only a black writer could get away with speaking the truth about Ant-Racism. )
    , @Twinkie
    I never read that review and it's gold... as any decent parent can attest.
  2. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    Controlling the child’s peers is a primary function of parents. You don’t let your kids around bad kids.

    Parenting is not omnipotent, but most kids raised Amish stay Amish, most kids raised Orthodox Jews stay Orthodox Jew and none of the Duggars’ ridiculous brood has yet publicly rebelled. So parents do matter, they just are not all-important if they live in a society which, or allow their kids to associate with people who, are counter to their beliefs.

    • Replies: @Hippopotamusdrome
    Show me a Black Amish colony, or some Black Jewish lawyers, or a Black Duggar family.
    , @Buffalo Joe
    Anonymous, the inner city fatherless families, with indifferent mothering should be the petri dish that shows what bad peers create.
    , @pyrrhus
    The data from many studies suggests that parents matter a little, and genes matter a lot....There isn't any evidence that parents even can control the child's associations in the area in which he lives.
    , @Lurker
    A particularly bad peer is television.
    , @dr kill
    In most societies parental influence is all that matters; n.b. caste, social status, royalty, wealth. The world is not meritocratic. It requires a special personality to rise up through all the well-born imbeciles in the way.
  3. This is an interesting article by her on the evolution of pale skin and hairless bodies:

    http://judithrichharris.info/n2a/medhyp.htm

    Interview with Razib:

    http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2006/01/10-questions-for-judith-rich-harris.php

    She discussed some details of IQ and adoption studies. It doesn’t appear she ever crossed any hard PC lines despite her awareness of the facts.

    Her anti-environmentalism nonetheless was helpful, and she reached mainstream readers with her widely read and translated books and articles.

  4. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    You know it would be a great complement to say that like a fine wine, you have improved with age. But the passage above shows that back in the day, you were pretty damn good, and your skill has not waned.

    I salute you.

    The articles Steve wrote for his college paper he reposted are good too. I was surprised he could find them.

  5. Has there ever been a study that shows parents, whether through nature or nurture, are responsible for All good outcomes for a child, and outside influences are responsible for the bad outcomes? THAT would be a best-selling parenting book!

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
    Now there's a book that could easily find a publisher.
  6. anon[151] • Disclaimer says:

    It would be interesting to have a study where they randomly assign (white) newborns into 1) upper middle class white homes and 2) working class white homes (in Fishtown and Belmont), and then see how their IQs turn out at age 20. (I.e., focusing on class differences instead of race differences)

    I’d suspect that if you’re raised by an Amish family for a life of baling hay you’re going to have a lower ‘IQ’ (as measured by most tests) than if you’re raised by wealthy Episcopalians, or university professors.

    Have any cross adoption studies gotten close to doing this?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Yes, there was a French adoption study that tried to find 20 cross class adoptions. They only found 18, plus 20 within class adoptions. For their n=38 they came up with something like IQ at age 14 being 58% nature, 42% nurture.
    , @Anonymous

    I’d suspect that if you’re raised by an Amish family for a life of baling hay you’re going to have a lower ‘IQ’ (as measured by most tests) than if you’re raised by wealthy Episcopalians, or university professors.
     
    By maybe four or five points, yes. Mental exercise makes you smarter, but not that much smarter.

    Given good nutrition, adequate sleep, decent physical conditioning,etc and an absence of serious pathogens or chemical agents that are destructive, IQ is probably ninety percent genetic. Groups with poor IQ fail on the above, which does reduce their IQ, but is not their primary problem.
  7. Victor Hugo defined heaven as “a place where parents are always young and children are always little.”

    We care for our children not because we think it will make a difference but because we love them. Further, a happy childhood is as important as a successful adulthood.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
    There is a positive correlation between a happy childhood and a happy adulthood.

    Just one example— girls who have a strong and healthy relationship with their parents, especially their father, tend to have healthier marriages.
    , @JMcG
    That’s a lovely comment. Thanks
  8. @anon
    It would be interesting to have a study where they randomly assign (white) newborns into 1) upper middle class white homes and 2) working class white homes (in Fishtown and Belmont), and then see how their IQs turn out at age 20. (I.e., focusing on class differences instead of race differences)

    I'd suspect that if you're raised by an Amish family for a life of baling hay you're going to have a lower 'IQ' (as measured by most tests) than if you're raised by wealthy Episcopalians, or university professors.

    Have any cross adoption studies gotten close to doing this?

    Yes, there was a French adoption study that tried to find 20 cross class adoptions. They only found 18, plus 20 within class adoptions. For their n=38 they came up with something like IQ at age 14 being 58% nature, 42% nurture.

    • Replies: @Anon
    Sample size aside, I don't think age 14 gets you past the Wilson Effect threshold.
  9. “It’s parents and relatives who pass on both specific occupations (e.g., Italians and marble-cutting, Cambodians and doughnut-making) and general attitudes toward work, thrift, and entrepreneurship.”

    Steve, since you wrote this, hasn’t it been shown that genes play a larger role in “attitudes toward work?”

  10. Obviously most American parents do not believe Harris, as the trend is towards spending more and more time, effort, and money on child-rearing.

    I think one flaw in her analysis is that parents are subject to peer influence. Mothers tend to use the same parenting methods that their friends and neighbors do.

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.

    • Replies: @Rosie

    I think one flaw in her analysis is that parents are subject to peer influence. Mothers tend to use the same parenting methods that their friends and neighbors do.

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.
     
    My impression is that parenting styles depend more on the personality type (and IQ?) of the parent than what is fashionable in one's peer group. I have often wondered what it would be like to be any of a number of my acquaintances trying to parent children. My approach is, not surprisingly, very Socratic. It works for me.

    Other parents take a more authoritarian approach. Sometimes, I am sure this is because that is what their children need, but I suspect it sometimes has to do with the parents' limitations as well.
    , @Chrisnonymous
    You're wrong. She is right. You should read the book before critiquing her.
    , @PhysicistDave
    Roger wrote:

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.
     
    Harris did note in the book that parents do have a significant effect on the kids' moral development -- a rather significant point: I don't really much care where my kids are on the canonical "OCEAN" personality traits, but I do care if they are crooks!

    Harris also pointed out that the research on which she reported was done with American families, and she suggested that the results might be different for East Asian families.

    I know a lot of East Asians quite well, but I don't know the answer to that question. Did Amy Chua have dramatically more influence on her kids than most American parents have?

    The general point is that the usual "nature vs. nurture" accounting is based on the typical spread in "nature" among American families in general vs. the typical spread in "nurture" among American families in general.

    And, the spread in "nurture" among American families is really not all that wide: how many American families rigidly forbid their kids to play any sports at all, rigorously prevent their kids from being exposed to any American popular culture at all, etc.? The family environment of a poor black family in rural Alabama may seem pretty different from an affluent Jewish family in New York City to us Americans, but compared to an African family out in the bush in the Congo or a family in rural Burma, they are not that different.
  11. Well obviously….the reason there was child labour in the past in America was because these children had low IQ test scores….and they really weren’t genetically capable of ever of solving the Wave Equation…..The Economic System of the time was perfectly natural……..and the best of all possible worlds…..and genetically determined….

  12. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    You know it would be a great complement to say that like a fine wine, you have improved with age. But the passage above shows that back in the day, you were pretty damn good, and your skill has not waned.

    I salute you.

    I like Steve’s writing.

    I sometimes disagree (duh, I’m a liberal), but I respect Steve for several reasons.

    1. He is a talented writer.
    2. He usually thinks things through pretty well. Very logical, except when he gets into too big a rush or he hits one of his blind spots (we all have them).

    3. In a time when political beliefs on both the right and left are at a religious level, he is willing to be a heretic to all political religions, left and right. Since I am a heretic myself, I appreciate that. (For example, in my case I am against blind racism, but I am absolutely not a follower of the Anti-Racist religion. As a writer for the Atlantic pointed out recently, the Anti-Racist obsession with hunting down heretics, apostates and blasphemers often does more harm than good. Of course only a black writer could get away with speaking the truth about Ant-Racism. )

    • Agree: Luke Lea
  13. @Luke Lea
    Victor Hugo defined heaven as "a place where parents are always young and children are always little."

    We care for our children not because we think it will make a difference but because we love them. Further, a happy childhood is as important as a successful adulthood.

    There is a positive correlation between a happy childhood and a happy adulthood.

    Just one example— girls who have a strong and healthy relationship with their parents, especially their father, tend to have healthier marriages.

  14. Coincidentally, I was just listening to Sam Harris interview of Charles Murray last night, and they discussed The Nurture Assumption. Murray said the conclusions of the book are some of the hardest to accept, and Harris said he would choose to ignore them.

    BTW, around the 30 minute mark, Murray seems to endorse Taleb’s view of IQ, although he subsequently goes on to talk about its predictive power in a way that sounds like Sailer…

    • Replies: @Clyde
    Thanks downloaded this into an MP3 podcast and will listen while I can or/and out exercising.
  15. Robert Plomin

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/blueprint/201809/parents-matter-they-don-t-make-difference

    Parents matter, but they don’t make a difference environmentally. Parents matter tremendously in their children’s lives. They provide the essential physical and psychological ingredients for children’s development. Parents are the most important relationship in children’s lives. But parents do not make much difference — in terms of how their children ultimately differ from others — beyond the DNA they provide at the moment of conception. Parents can control their children’s behavior, but they can’t change who they are. I hope this message also frees parents from the illusion that a child’s future success depends on how hard they push them. Instead, parents should relax and enjoy their relationship with their children without feeling a need to mold them. Part of this enjoyment is in watching your children become who they are.

    • Replies: @Luke Lea
    "I hope this message also frees parents from the illusion that a child’s future success depends on how hard they push them."

    Tell it to the Chinese.
  16. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @anon
    It would be interesting to have a study where they randomly assign (white) newborns into 1) upper middle class white homes and 2) working class white homes (in Fishtown and Belmont), and then see how their IQs turn out at age 20. (I.e., focusing on class differences instead of race differences)

    I'd suspect that if you're raised by an Amish family for a life of baling hay you're going to have a lower 'IQ' (as measured by most tests) than if you're raised by wealthy Episcopalians, or university professors.

    Have any cross adoption studies gotten close to doing this?

    I’d suspect that if you’re raised by an Amish family for a life of baling hay you’re going to have a lower ‘IQ’ (as measured by most tests) than if you’re raised by wealthy Episcopalians, or university professors.

    By maybe four or five points, yes. Mental exercise makes you smarter, but not that much smarter.

    Given good nutrition, adequate sleep, decent physical conditioning,etc and an absence of serious pathogens or chemical agents that are destructive, IQ is probably ninety percent genetic. Groups with poor IQ fail on the above, which does reduce their IQ, but is not their primary problem.

  17. @Redneck farmer
    Has there ever been a study that shows parents, whether through nature or nurture, are responsible for All good outcomes for a child, and outside influences are responsible for the bad outcomes? THAT would be a best-selling parenting book!

    Now there’s a book that could easily find a publisher.

  18. @Anonymous
    Controlling the child's peers is a primary function of parents. You don't let your kids around bad kids.

    Parenting is not omnipotent, but most kids raised Amish stay Amish, most kids raised Orthodox Jews stay Orthodox Jew and none of the Duggars' ridiculous brood has yet publicly rebelled. So parents do matter, they just are not all-important if they live in a society which, or allow their kids to associate with people who, are counter to their beliefs.

    Show me a Black Amish colony, or some Black Jewish lawyers, or a Black Duggar family.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    No amount of good parenting will make the average underclass Black into a good farmer or lawyer but it can make the difference between someone who works steadily at a job within his capability-say an automobile assembly line worker-or someone who is a public menace and need to be incarcerated for life in many, not all cases. Blacks did better once than they do now, and could do better in the future, but most will never be equal to the average White in intelligence, persistence, or social behavior.


    The old Southerners understood that.
    , @Pontius
    "19 Dads and Counting. This fall on TLC."

    The pilot was not taken up.
  19. The true issue here are the lessons kids learn that parents don’t realize they’re teaching. Otherwise, from a behavioral standpoint, no way the parents aren’t responsible for shaping their children’s responses in myriad ways. Lack of conscious awareness of how one has influenced one’s offspring… Are you people really this clueless?

  20. Crime and poverty follow when a culture fails to persuade men that “fathering” requires decades rather than minutes.

    Strangely, my biological father abandoned my mother when he discovered that she was pregnant.

    She was forced, as a result, to take up with another man who was an adequate father and kept a roof over my and my half siblings’ heads.

    I have never committed a crime that I am aware of (except perhaps for becoming politically incorrect).

    My half brother (my step-father’s biological son) has.

  21. @Sean
    Robert Plomin

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/blueprint/201809/parents-matter-they-don-t-make-difference

    Parents matter, but they don’t make a difference environmentally. Parents matter tremendously in their children’s lives. They provide the essential physical and psychological ingredients for children’s development. Parents are the most important relationship in children’s lives. But parents do not make much difference — in terms of how their children ultimately differ from others — beyond the DNA they provide at the moment of conception. Parents can control their children’s behavior, but they can’t change who they are. I hope this message also frees parents from the illusion that a child’s future success depends on how hard they push them. Instead, parents should relax and enjoy their relationship with their children without feeling a need to mold them. Part of this enjoyment is in watching your children become who they are.
     

    “I hope this message also frees parents from the illusion that a child’s future success depends on how hard they push them.”

    Tell it to the Chinese.

    • Replies: @Rosie

    Tell it to the Chinese.
     
    I have made it a point not to follow the Chinese approach. I think it would backfire with White children, especially White boys.
    , @Sean
    I dare say it is already obvious to the Chinese, because in a community in which everyone pushes their children to strive for the same kind of attainment, all their success is necessarily due to genetic endowment.

    Only if you push your child to achieve in an area that no one else is pushing their child to succeed in could you make all the difference.

  22. @Chrisnonymous
    Coincidentally, I was just listening to Sam Harris interview of Charles Murray last night, and they discussed The Nurture Assumption. Murray said the conclusions of the book are some of the hardest to accept, and Harris said he would choose to ignore them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1lEPQYQk8s

    BTW, around the 30 minute mark, Murray seems to endorse Taleb's view of IQ, although he subsequently goes on to talk about its predictive power in a way that sounds like Sailer...

    Thanks downloaded this into an MP3 podcast and will listen while I can or/and out exercising.

  23. @Anonymous
    Controlling the child's peers is a primary function of parents. You don't let your kids around bad kids.

    Parenting is not omnipotent, but most kids raised Amish stay Amish, most kids raised Orthodox Jews stay Orthodox Jew and none of the Duggars' ridiculous brood has yet publicly rebelled. So parents do matter, they just are not all-important if they live in a society which, or allow their kids to associate with people who, are counter to their beliefs.

    Anonymous, the inner city fatherless families, with indifferent mothering should be the petri dish that shows what bad peers create.

  24. @Roger
    Obviously most American parents do not believe Harris, as the trend is towards spending more and more time, effort, and money on child-rearing.

    I think one flaw in her analysis is that parents are subject to peer influence. Mothers tend to use the same parenting methods that their friends and neighbors do.

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.

    I think one flaw in her analysis is that parents are subject to peer influence. Mothers tend to use the same parenting methods that their friends and neighbors do.

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.

    My impression is that parenting styles depend more on the personality type (and IQ?) of the parent than what is fashionable in one’s peer group. I have often wondered what it would be like to be any of a number of my acquaintances trying to parent children. My approach is, not surprisingly, very Socratic. It works for me.

    Other parents take a more authoritarian approach. Sometimes, I am sure this is because that is what their children need, but I suspect it sometimes has to do with the parents’ limitations as well.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk

    My approach is, not surprisingly, very Socratic. It works for me.
     
    Yes, it works for you. If we are to believe The Nurture Assumption (and it holds up pretty well here, doesn't it?) then your children are responding well to your system because that is who they are.

    Other kids might not. One annoying thing to see is when a parent goes into a "Socratic" attempt at leading a badly behaving child through a rational evaluation of the bad act. One gets the sense that the parent has always "tried to reason" with the brat instead of just asserting authority and establishing non-negotiable boundaries. YMMV because genetics.


    Other parents take a more authoritarian approach. Sometimes, I am sure this is because that is what their children need, but I suspect it sometimes has to do with the parents’ limitations as well.
     
    If self-flattery is heritable, you should expect to see it in your offspring from here on out. Smart people know when authority and boundaries are needed.
  25. “Although she tends to tiptoe around the political implications, her analysis of how young people naturally form peer groups that define themselves by excluding others explains why multicultural education, bilingualism, college-admission quotas, busing, and co-ed boot camps perversely worsen race and sex conflicts. ”

    Steve can you expand on this passage, or point to a blog post of yours that does?

    Thanks

  26. In reading her Wiki entry, it shows she had to move often as a child as her Dad had to find a suitable climate to cope with his Anklosing Spondylitis. I wonder if this influenced her opinion on genes and inheritance, as AS is just one of a series of inflammatory autoimmune diseases brought about by having the gene marker HLAB27. The association between HLAB27 and many autoimmune diseases was discoved in the 1970s.
    The wiki entry says she too developed severe autoimmune issues circa 1977: “Harris has suffered from a chronic autoimmune disorder, diagnosed as a combination of lupus and systemic sclerosis.” These too are associated with the heritable HLAB27 marker.
    So by the 1990s when she wrote her book, she may have realized how heritable genes are often destiny.

  27. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hippopotamusdrome
    Show me a Black Amish colony, or some Black Jewish lawyers, or a Black Duggar family.

    No amount of good parenting will make the average underclass Black into a good farmer or lawyer but it can make the difference between someone who works steadily at a job within his capability-say an automobile assembly line worker-or someone who is a public menace and need to be incarcerated for life in many, not all cases. Blacks did better once than they do now, and could do better in the future, but most will never be equal to the average White in intelligence, persistence, or social behavior.

    The old Southerners understood that.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
    '... Blacks did better once than they do now, and could do better in the future, but most will never be equal to the average White in intelligence, persistence, or social behavior...'

    That's very true. I remember once seeing some statistics covering such things as crime, births out of wedlock, and educational achievement.

    In the late fifties, working class whites naturally did somewhat worse than middle-class whites on the various measures. Then blacks did worse still -- but were in the same order of magnitude. If middle-class whites had 2.4 births out of wedlock or whatever per x thousand, and working class whites had 3.1, blacks had 4.3. Different, but not dramatically so.

    Then the Great Society came, and wrought its magic...

    Stripping out all jobs from the economy requiring only limited intelligence or giving them to immigrants didn't help either, I'll point out.
  28. Parents and peers influence a person in different ways. I would never ask my parents who was the coolest rock bands or a good show to watch on television. I would never ask my peers about growing up during the depression or when they first heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. You get different information from both groups.

  29. So she watched her adopted daughter not become who she hoped to mold, as her genetic daughter did, and said “it’s the peers.”. Did she ever admit “it’s the genes”? As in, why did that daughter pick those peers?

    We all know peers matter. Because small differences in behaviors for individuals can have big differences in outcomes for said individuals, even if they don’t make a difference statistically or on the margin.

    But given some fairly limited choices, we find the people we have an affinity for. That’s genes.

  30. By her own thesis, she’s shown why a-black-a-block worked. I take it no one ever said that out loud?

  31. It’s been a long time since I read the book, but I don’t think it’s fair to say JRH was ever claiming “parents don’t matter.” Obviously they do.

    Her main point –which she made with devastating effect, was that all the “science” on the subject was pure junk. Basically, social scientists just noted correlations between “good parenting” (like reading to kids) and good outcomes (like higher educational attainment) and then just assumed causation.

    No one every questioned the junk science because they just “knew” it was the right conclusion. It supported their Blank Slate worldview. And it was telling people to “do the right thing.”

    In reality, there are many confounding factors in all these “good parenting” correlations. For example, higher IQ parents who read more tend to have higher IQ kids who also like reading. And parents will read more to a higher IQ kid who is predisposed to enjoy it more. So higher IQ kids get read to more, but it’s not necessarily cause-effect.

    JRH was ahead of the curve in anticipating the current Replication Crisis, which is based on doing studies designed to prove desired results.

    In the end, however, her point was that you should read to your kid because you want to enjoy each other’s company and have a good emotional bond. Not because you think you are boosting their IQ or helping them get into college.

    It’s a shame her message didn’t really resonate with parents. Instead there has just been another generation of neurotic, helicopter mothers raising neurotic over-managed kids.

    • Agree: Kratoklastes
    • Replies: @AnotherDad

    It’s a shame her message didn’t really resonate with parents. Instead there has just been another generation of neurotic, helicopter mothers raising neurotic over-managed kids.
     
    Boy is that ever true. Having done my turn as a scoutmaster, not all of them certainly but a solid fraction of UMC moms just don't have the brains or sense to step back and let their boy take responsibility for himself and grow into a man. (Kinda the whole point of having your kid in scouting.)
  32. If you were unfortunate enough to have bad parents, you come to realize more and more the older you get, that that mattered a lot.

    • Replies: @Pontius
    I agree. My parents weren't perfect, but when I went "out into the world" I would often breathe a prayer of thanks for what they did for me.
  33. @Luke Lea
    "I hope this message also frees parents from the illusion that a child’s future success depends on how hard they push them."

    Tell it to the Chinese.

    Tell it to the Chinese.

    I have made it a point not to follow the Chinese approach. I think it would backfire with White children, especially White boys.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    Did it backfire with the Jews?

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?

    "Plough deep while sluggards sleep."

    - Ben Franklin

    "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

    - Thomas Jefferson

    "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

    - Stephen King

    "Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they're making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that's the difference."

    - Lou Holtz

    "I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it."

    - Ray Bradbury

    And Thomas Edison stressed it again and again and again throughout his life:

    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

    - Thomas Edison

    "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

    - Thomas Edison

    "The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense."

    - Thomas Edison

    "There is no substitute for hard work"

    - Thomas Edison

    Teaching your children the value of hard work was once thought to be not only necessary, but part of an American tradition dating back to Ben Franklin.

    Sure, many kids will never learn the lesson. But even if it just works a little on the margins, or doesn't work at all, it still seems valuable to remind people that things don't happen just because you fill up space - especially smart American kids who nowadays seem to think the universe will automatically reveal its secrets just because they scored 1600 on their SATs.
  34. I had no idea, Steve, that a) you’d written a review of this book (that I just randomly got from the library and read, about 3 years back and b) that you even had written for National Review! I must have just started reading your stuff on your blogspot site in the mid or late 00’s.

    Anyway, you covered it well, and though my Peak Stupidity review doesn’t read as well as yours, I did cover one point in addition to the main point that parents are responsible for selecting these peers that allegedly have a much bigger influence than themselves. Let me just quote this, and the bold part is my additional point:

    Even if I do accept the important conclusion here, it turns out that parents will still have a major influence anyway. Why? It’s because parents who do a good job with their kids are ones who help pick or at least guide who their children’s peers are to begin with. This brings me to even another factor. Though one would think it’s not important (per Judith Harris’ theory, that is) how much time children spend at home, it still does matter because trust is built at home. That’s not a personality trait, so it the book’s theory doesn’t cover it, right? However, the more trust in his parents built up, the more likely the kid will listen to them when he is told which kids he should hang out with, why he should get into the smart (but also, better behaved) kids’ class, etc. He will also listen to the parents over his peers up to a later age. It’s kind of recursive thinking here, but the author’s conclusion that nurture effects on personality come from peers still results in very important input from time with the parents.

    It’s still a thought-provoking book, but possibly the conclusion of The Nurture Assumption, even if totally correct, is not anything that should result in parents doing anything differently after all.

    Oh, one more thing that I liked about the book was that Mrs. Harris really reamed out some of her peers and the methods used in psychological studies. I was suprised to read that from a psychologist herself. It seemed brave of her to write this, but I think (if I recall correctly) she was out of academia by around the point of publishing the book due to some personal reasons.

    I don’t recommend this book for parenting advice, but it’s worth reading anyway. RIP, indeed to Judith Rich Harris.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    I disagree. I think the book should be read by every parent. In addition to its other merits on specifics, I think it is valuable in implicitly throwing cold water on the entire field of childrearing advice.

    I think it would be interesting to create a Top 10 list of books for new parents. Mine would include JRH's, Robert Weissberg's, a dietary book, and some book on memory techniques, although I don't have clear favorites on the last two...

    Top 10 Books for New Parents:

    1. The Nuture Assumption, by Judith Rich Harris
    2. Bad Students, Not Bad Schools, by Robert Weissberg
    3. The Paleo Manifesto, by John Durant
    4. Memory Power, by Scott Hagwood
    5.
    6.
    7.
    8.
    9.
    10.

    Anyone else got ideas?
  35. @Rosie

    I think one flaw in her analysis is that parents are subject to peer influence. Mothers tend to use the same parenting methods that their friends and neighbors do.

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.
     
    My impression is that parenting styles depend more on the personality type (and IQ?) of the parent than what is fashionable in one's peer group. I have often wondered what it would be like to be any of a number of my acquaintances trying to parent children. My approach is, not surprisingly, very Socratic. It works for me.

    Other parents take a more authoritarian approach. Sometimes, I am sure this is because that is what their children need, but I suspect it sometimes has to do with the parents' limitations as well.

    My approach is, not surprisingly, very Socratic. It works for me.

    Yes, it works for you. If we are to believe The Nurture Assumption (and it holds up pretty well here, doesn’t it?) then your children are responding well to your system because that is who they are.

    Other kids might not. One annoying thing to see is when a parent goes into a “Socratic” attempt at leading a badly behaving child through a rational evaluation of the bad act. One gets the sense that the parent has always “tried to reason” with the brat instead of just asserting authority and establishing non-negotiable boundaries. YMMV because genetics.

    Other parents take a more authoritarian approach. Sometimes, I am sure this is because that is what their children need, but I suspect it sometimes has to do with the parents’ limitations as well.

    If self-flattery is heritable, you should expect to see it in your offspring from here on out. Smart people know when authority and boundaries are needed.

    • LOL: Twinkie
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    The big thing over at least the last 10 years (going back to the first time I heard it) is the You're making bad choices." line. I'm damn sick of that one by the mothers who've read whatever book that came from. It goes down to 3 year-olds now.

    My boy accidentally literally* knocked the snot out of another kid with his foot as he climbed a railing and the other kid wasn't paying attention. The first thing out of the other kid's Mom's mouth was something about "blah, blah, making bad choices ... blah blah". I couldn't help myself, and kind of mumbled "No, he just shouldn't put his head where someone else's foot's gonna go, is all...."

    .

    * Much better than figuratively, in this case, as all that I could see is that some snot had moved over from the other boy's nose to another spot on his face.
  36. They fuck you up, your mum and dad
    They may not mean to but they do
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you
    -Philip Larkin

    How sharper than a serpent’s tooth
    To hear your child make such a fuss
    It isn’t fair, it’s not the truth
    He’s fucked up, yes, but not by us
    -Judith Rich Harris

  37. @Roger
    Obviously most American parents do not believe Harris, as the trend is towards spending more and more time, effort, and money on child-rearing.

    I think one flaw in her analysis is that parents are subject to peer influence. Mothers tend to use the same parenting methods that their friends and neighbors do.

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.

    You’re wrong. She is right. You should read the book before critiquing her.

  38. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    You know it would be a great complement to say that like a fine wine, you have improved with age. But the passage above shows that back in the day, you were pretty damn good, and your skill has not waned.

    I salute you.

    I never read that review and it’s gold… as any decent parent can attest.

  39. @Achmed E. Newman
    I had no idea, Steve, that a) you'd written a review of this book (that I just randomly got from the library and read, about 3 years back and b) that you even had written for National Review! I must have just started reading your stuff on your blogspot site in the mid or late 00's.

    Anyway, you covered it well, and though my Peak Stupidity review doesn't read as well as yours, I did cover one point in addition to the main point that parents are responsible for selecting these peers that allegedly have a much bigger influence than themselves. Let me just quote this, and the bold part is my additional point:

    Even if I do accept the important conclusion here, it turns out that parents will still have a major influence anyway. Why? It's because parents who do a good job with their kids are ones who help pick or at least guide who their children's peers are to begin with. This brings me to even another factor. Though one would think it's not important (per Judith Harris' theory, that is) how much time children spend at home, it still does matter because trust is built at home. That's not a personality trait, so it the book's theory doesn't cover it, right? However, the more trust in his parents built up, the more likely the kid will listen to them when he is told which kids he should hang out with, why he should get into the smart (but also, better behaved) kids' class, etc. He will also listen to the parents over his peers up to a later age. It's kind of recursive thinking here, but the author's conclusion that nurture effects on personality come from peers still results in very important input from time with the parents.

    It's still a thought-provoking book, but possibly the conclusion of The Nurture Assumption, even if totally correct, is not anything that should result in parents doing anything differently after all.
     
    Oh, one more thing that I liked about the book was that Mrs. Harris really reamed out some of her peers and the methods used in psychological studies. I was suprised to read that from a psychologist herself. It seemed brave of her to write this, but I think (if I recall correctly) she was out of academia by around the point of publishing the book due to some personal reasons.

    I don't recommend this book for parenting advice, but it's worth reading anyway. RIP, indeed to Judith Rich Harris.

    I disagree. I think the book should be read by every parent. In addition to its other merits on specifics, I think it is valuable in implicitly throwing cold water on the entire field of childrearing advice.

    I think it would be interesting to create a Top 10 list of books for new parents. Mine would include JRH’s, Robert Weissberg’s, a dietary book, and some book on memory techniques, although I don’t have clear favorites on the last two…

    Top 10 Books for New Parents:

    1. The Nuture Assumption, by Judith Rich Harris
    2. Bad Students, Not Bad Schools, by Robert Weissberg
    3. The Paleo Manifesto, by John Durant
    4. Memory Power, by Scott Hagwood
    5.
    6.
    7.
    8.
    9.
    10.

    Anyone else got ideas?

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman

    ... I think it is valuable in implicitly throwing cold water on the entire field of childrearing advice.
     
    Yes, for that reason, I wrote that the book shouldn't be read for parenting advice. I recommend reading it though.
  40. @Hippopotamusdrome
    Show me a Black Amish colony, or some Black Jewish lawyers, or a Black Duggar family.

    “19 Dads and Counting. This fall on TLC.”

    The pilot was not taken up.

    • LOL: BenKenobi
  41. Is the short version of this simply that parents can cause a great deal of harm, but they can’t do much good, other than not causing harm?

  42. @Intelligent Dasein
    If you were unfortunate enough to have bad parents, you come to realize more and more the older you get, that that mattered a lot.

    I agree. My parents weren’t perfect, but when I went “out into the world” I would often breathe a prayer of thanks for what they did for me.

    • Replies: @Twinkie

    I agree. My parents weren’t perfect, but when I went “out into the world” I would often breathe a prayer of thanks for what they did for me.
     
    My father was loving, but also quite authoritarian. I resented him for that when I was younger, but now that I am a father, I think differently about him. I am much more appreciative. I wish he were alive to hear that from me.
  43. @Rosie

    Tell it to the Chinese.
     
    I have made it a point not to follow the Chinese approach. I think it would backfire with White children, especially White boys.

    Did it backfire with the Jews?

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?

    “Plough deep while sluggards sleep.”

    – Ben Franklin

    “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

    – Thomas Jefferson

    “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

    – Stephen King

    “Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.”

    – Lou Holtz

    “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.”

    – Ray Bradbury

    And Thomas Edison stressed it again and again and again throughout his life:

    “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

    – Thomas Edison

    “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

    – Thomas Edison

    “The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.”

    – Thomas Edison

    “There is no substitute for hard work”

    – Thomas Edison

    Teaching your children the value of hard work was once thought to be not only necessary, but part of an American tradition dating back to Ben Franklin.

    Sure, many kids will never learn the lesson. But even if it just works a little on the margins, or doesn’t work at all, it still seems valuable to remind people that things don’t happen just because you fill up space – especially smart American kids who nowadays seem to think the universe will automatically reveal its secrets just because they scored 1600 on their SATs.

    • Agree: Twinkie
    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
    I agree with you. My parents were pretty uninterested in us kids beyond ensuring that we got good grades--or else. Often I've wished they had been a bit more involved as I see jewish and asian parents do every day. For better or worse, they clearly care. One avenue in which they differ from each other, though, is that jewish parents are more likely to give free rein to their kids, to let them discover their own limits. Obviously I'm talking about liberal jews here. In the process of discovering their own limits, these kids are also more likely to uncover their own talents.
    , @ThreeCranes
    Some people have a greater capacity for work than others. What Freud called Libido, Life Energy in it's broadest sense, not just confined to sexuality. So, to the OCEAN traits we should add Life Force or some such. Not just Drive or Ambition but just plain Endurance. No matter what a person's balance of OCEAN traits, if they're low-energy types they won't accomplish much or as much as a person possessed of an abundance of Elan Vital.
    , @Steve Sailer
    “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” - Ray Bradbury

    When Ray Bradbury was a teenager in LA around 1940, he started pestering Robert Heinlein to read his stories. Heinlein told another writer that this kid Bradbury writes the worst sci-fi he'd ever read, but he writes 1000 words of it every single day and he's getting better better, very slowly, so he might turn out to be pretty good.

  44. @Buzz Mohawk

    My approach is, not surprisingly, very Socratic. It works for me.
     
    Yes, it works for you. If we are to believe The Nurture Assumption (and it holds up pretty well here, doesn't it?) then your children are responding well to your system because that is who they are.

    Other kids might not. One annoying thing to see is when a parent goes into a "Socratic" attempt at leading a badly behaving child through a rational evaluation of the bad act. One gets the sense that the parent has always "tried to reason" with the brat instead of just asserting authority and establishing non-negotiable boundaries. YMMV because genetics.


    Other parents take a more authoritarian approach. Sometimes, I am sure this is because that is what their children need, but I suspect it sometimes has to do with the parents’ limitations as well.
     
    If self-flattery is heritable, you should expect to see it in your offspring from here on out. Smart people know when authority and boundaries are needed.

    The big thing over at least the last 10 years (going back to the first time I heard it) is the You’re making bad choices.” line. I’m damn sick of that one by the mothers who’ve read whatever book that came from. It goes down to 3 year-olds now.

    My boy accidentally literally* knocked the snot out of another kid with his foot as he climbed a railing and the other kid wasn’t paying attention. The first thing out of the other kid’s Mom’s mouth was something about “blah, blah, making bad choices … blah blah”. I couldn’t help myself, and kind of mumbled “No, he just shouldn’t put his head where someone else’s foot’s gonna go, is all….”

    .

    * Much better than figuratively, in this case, as all that I could see is that some snot had moved over from the other boy’s nose to another spot on his face.

    • Replies: @Rosie

    You’re making bad choices.
     
    The concern is that a child will self-label, and begin to identify, as naughty.

    I don't personally use that line, but it is certainly harmless, even though you may find it annoying.

    I have a serious question for you law-and-order types. How exactly do you propose parents do all this boundary-setting? I can honestly say I have tried and had no luck whatsoever.

    Spanking doesn't work. First, you have to catch them. Then, if it hurts enough to deter further misconduct, it's probably illegal. Whatever you do, they toughen up and get used to it. Today they laugh at what made them cry last month. Then, you have to escalate. Bad news!

    Time out? How exactly do you get a disobedient child to sit in the naughty chair on command?
  45. @Chrisnonymous
    I disagree. I think the book should be read by every parent. In addition to its other merits on specifics, I think it is valuable in implicitly throwing cold water on the entire field of childrearing advice.

    I think it would be interesting to create a Top 10 list of books for new parents. Mine would include JRH's, Robert Weissberg's, a dietary book, and some book on memory techniques, although I don't have clear favorites on the last two...

    Top 10 Books for New Parents:

    1. The Nuture Assumption, by Judith Rich Harris
    2. Bad Students, Not Bad Schools, by Robert Weissberg
    3. The Paleo Manifesto, by John Durant
    4. Memory Power, by Scott Hagwood
    5.
    6.
    7.
    8.
    9.
    10.

    Anyone else got ideas?

    … I think it is valuable in implicitly throwing cold water on the entire field of childrearing advice.

    Yes, for that reason, I wrote that the book shouldn’t be read for parenting advice. I recommend reading it though.

  46. @Anonymous
    Controlling the child's peers is a primary function of parents. You don't let your kids around bad kids.

    Parenting is not omnipotent, but most kids raised Amish stay Amish, most kids raised Orthodox Jews stay Orthodox Jew and none of the Duggars' ridiculous brood has yet publicly rebelled. So parents do matter, they just are not all-important if they live in a society which, or allow their kids to associate with people who, are counter to their beliefs.

    The data from many studies suggests that parents matter a little, and genes matter a lot….There isn’t any evidence that parents even can control the child’s associations in the area in which he lives.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
    '...The data from many studies suggests that parents matter a little, and genes matter a lot…'

    You don't need studies. I, for one, am familiar with Asian adoptees who tend to be immaculately dutiful, well-behaved, gratifyingly successful, etc -- and conversely, little black monsters who were obviously a big mistake.

    I can't guarantee those outcomes -- but I'd willingly bet on them.
  47. How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?

    Good Lord. Why is everyone so testy tonight?

    My kids have always had chores and been expected to contribute some physical labor to the household, but I don’t want them to think of learning as a chore. I want them to think of learning as a delight. Little boys are not miniature men who can thrive sitting at a desk all day.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    Plenty of men don't like sitting at a desk either.

    I was easy, self-motivated to do homework, build models, and even create my own things out of balsa wood and so forth. My nephew, on the other hand, who was growing up in my sister's hippy household, had no discipline whatsoever. When I was babysitting him and he had homework, I had to literally hold him in a chair; he did his homework. His parents had only talked with him, never forcing him to do anything.

    For yard work, I physically picked him up, carried him to the site and made it clear that he was not going anywhere, not getting past me until he worked with me. He raked leaves.

    FWIW he's okay, now in his 40s, married with children, a house and a job. (No, I'm not taking credit for that.)

    It is good to have a man in the house, a father or father figure (not a hippy drug addict like that brother-in-law). Men are generally more physically intimidating than women. Verbally too. A father or uncle can physically and verbally put a boy in a place he can't escape. The child learns that he cannot avoid or talk his way out of responsibility, and that indeed adults outrank him.

    , @Pincher Martin

    My kids have always had chores and been expected to contribute some physical labor to the household, but I don’t want them to think of learning as a chore. I want them to think of learning as a delight. Little boys are not miniature men who can thrive sitting at a desk all day.
     
    Some boys can. Some can also read all day. Some can write all day. And some young boys can work all day long at more menial tasks. You'd be amazed at what the energy of youth can do when it's directed at a task.

    I don't want you to consign your children to a life of drudgery. But I can think of no worse fate for a child than to have parents who don't teach them that work is a necessary, vital activity for life.

    And while it's all fine and dandy to tell them they should find what they love to do and then do it for their career, it's even more necessary to tell them that even if they are so lucky to get paid to do something they actually like doing, they will most likely have to spend years, if not their entire working lives, laboring at tasks they don't particularly like. Having the ability to do that without it sapping all the joy out of life is something everyone should know how to do.

    , @miss marple
    You should at least be able to send the child to his room removing electronic devices. Grounding from weekend activities or even denying allowance is in your power too. That being said, I've seen an ADD/emotionally disturbed kid put himself in a timeout area. He'd kick the wall some but stayed there. This means your kids are completely capable. I think the sensory deprivation aspect of timeout has a lot to do with helping a child regain self-control. So it's reinforcing because, believe it or not, your kid likes being under control and in your good graces. Unless something has gone terribly wrong or is wrong with the child, you can use the technique. If you can't, some behavioral advice and/or diagnosis of your kid will get results.
  48. @Achmed E. Newman
    The big thing over at least the last 10 years (going back to the first time I heard it) is the You're making bad choices." line. I'm damn sick of that one by the mothers who've read whatever book that came from. It goes down to 3 year-olds now.

    My boy accidentally literally* knocked the snot out of another kid with his foot as he climbed a railing and the other kid wasn't paying attention. The first thing out of the other kid's Mom's mouth was something about "blah, blah, making bad choices ... blah blah". I couldn't help myself, and kind of mumbled "No, he just shouldn't put his head where someone else's foot's gonna go, is all...."

    .

    * Much better than figuratively, in this case, as all that I could see is that some snot had moved over from the other boy's nose to another spot on his face.

    You’re making bad choices.

    The concern is that a child will self-label, and begin to identify, as naughty.

    I don’t personally use that line, but it is certainly harmless, even though you may find it annoying.

    I have a serious question for you law-and-order types. How exactly do you propose parents do all this boundary-setting? I can honestly say I have tried and had no luck whatsoever.

    Spanking doesn’t work. First, you have to catch them. Then, if it hurts enough to deter further misconduct, it’s probably illegal. Whatever you do, they toughen up and get used to it. Today they laugh at what made them cry last month. Then, you have to escalate. Bad news!

    Time out? How exactly do you get a disobedient child to sit in the naughty chair on command?

  49. ‘Crime and poverty follow when a culture fails to persuade men that “fathering” requires decades rather than minutes.’

    I wonder about that. Traditionally, did men worry much about ‘fathering’?

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    I wonder about that. Traditionally, did men worry much about ‘fathering’?
     
    Oh, hell yes. The Puritans called it "breaking the will".
  50. @Anonymous
    Controlling the child's peers is a primary function of parents. You don't let your kids around bad kids.

    Parenting is not omnipotent, but most kids raised Amish stay Amish, most kids raised Orthodox Jews stay Orthodox Jew and none of the Duggars' ridiculous brood has yet publicly rebelled. So parents do matter, they just are not all-important if they live in a society which, or allow their kids to associate with people who, are counter to their beliefs.

    A particularly bad peer is television.

    • Agree: Mr McKenna
  51. @pyrrhus
    The data from many studies suggests that parents matter a little, and genes matter a lot....There isn't any evidence that parents even can control the child's associations in the area in which he lives.

    ‘…The data from many studies suggests that parents matter a little, and genes matter a lot…’

    You don’t need studies. I, for one, am familiar with Asian adoptees who tend to be immaculately dutiful, well-behaved, gratifyingly successful, etc — and conversely, little black monsters who were obviously a big mistake.

    I can’t guarantee those outcomes — but I’d willingly bet on them.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    Did it ever occur to you that school itself might be the problem? Too much focus on academics for kids who would be more successful in a vocational program can be incredibly frustrating. Think of it this way: There was a time when sitting and reading was mostly considered leisure activity and kids who read a lot instead of going outside doing chores considered daydreamers instead of bookish and studious. What if the typical black child needs to do a lot of physical/tangible work in order to develop a good work ethic and self-discipline? This could translate to getting a job as a lifeguard in the summers for instance. Maybe doing more crafts in childhood and/or doing more enrichment activities like soccer and scouting are essential for children who aren't as academically inclined. It's even possible to break studying down into tasks that the child can show evidence of and maybe be the basis for allowance. My theory is that you can get an average student through level courses successfully. For a child who really hated school, you might even show them vocational programs they can get through quickly at the local community college. Not a lot of parents can work well with a child who doesn't thrive in our schools but it really wasn't that long ago that academics were tangential to work and success for the middle class.
  52. A New Jersey grandmother…

    That was 20 years ago. Was she a great-grandmother?

  53. @Colin Wright
    'Crime and poverty follow when a culture fails to persuade men that “fathering” requires decades rather than minutes.'

    I wonder about that. Traditionally, did men worry much about 'fathering'?

    I wonder about that. Traditionally, did men worry much about ‘fathering’?

    Oh, hell yes. The Puritans called it “breaking the will”.

  54. You certainly sound a bit too overdramatically moralistic there. Kids need fathers, or at least father figures, of course, but you imply that fathers need to be just as involved in a child’s life as the mothers are. That’s absolute absurdity, at least regarding girls of all ages and boys under seven or eight. Boys at the operational stage do need a lot of influence from men, but no father is going to read a book and suddenly decide to stop trying to guide his sons.

    A good rule of thumb: girls of all ages need 2:1 female to male bonding. Boys need that ratio until the operational stage, at which point they need 2:1 male to female bonding.

  55. @Rosie

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?
     
    Good Lord. Why is everyone so testy tonight?

    My kids have always had chores and been expected to contribute some physical labor to the household, but I don't want them to think of learning as a chore. I want them to think of learning as a delight. Little boys are not miniature men who can thrive sitting at a desk all day.

    Plenty of men don’t like sitting at a desk either.

    I was easy, self-motivated to do homework, build models, and even create my own things out of balsa wood and so forth. My nephew, on the other hand, who was growing up in my sister’s hippy household, had no discipline whatsoever. When I was babysitting him and he had homework, I had to literally hold him in a chair; he did his homework. His parents had only talked with him, never forcing him to do anything.

    For yard work, I physically picked him up, carried him to the site and made it clear that he was not going anywhere, not getting past me until he worked with me. He raked leaves.

    FWIW he’s okay, now in his 40s, married with children, a house and a job. (No, I’m not taking credit for that.)

    It is good to have a man in the house, a father or father figure (not a hippy drug addict like that brother-in-law). Men are generally more physically intimidating than women. Verbally too. A father or uncle can physically and verbally put a boy in a place he can’t escape. The child learns that he cannot avoid or talk his way out of responsibility, and that indeed adults outrank him.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Ned Flanders' parents.
  56. @Rosie

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?
     
    Good Lord. Why is everyone so testy tonight?

    My kids have always had chores and been expected to contribute some physical labor to the household, but I don't want them to think of learning as a chore. I want them to think of learning as a delight. Little boys are not miniature men who can thrive sitting at a desk all day.

    My kids have always had chores and been expected to contribute some physical labor to the household, but I don’t want them to think of learning as a chore. I want them to think of learning as a delight. Little boys are not miniature men who can thrive sitting at a desk all day.

    Some boys can. Some can also read all day. Some can write all day. And some young boys can work all day long at more menial tasks. You’d be amazed at what the energy of youth can do when it’s directed at a task.

    I don’t want you to consign your children to a life of drudgery. But I can think of no worse fate for a child than to have parents who don’t teach them that work is a necessary, vital activity for life.

    And while it’s all fine and dandy to tell them they should find what they love to do and then do it for their career, it’s even more necessary to tell them that even if they are so lucky to get paid to do something they actually like doing, they will most likely have to spend years, if not their entire working lives, laboring at tasks they don’t particularly like. Having the ability to do that without it sapping all the joy out of life is something everyone should know how to do.

  57. @Roger
    Obviously most American parents do not believe Harris, as the trend is towards spending more and more time, effort, and money on child-rearing.

    I think one flaw in her analysis is that parents are subject to peer influence. Mothers tend to use the same parenting methods that their friends and neighbors do.

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.

    Roger wrote:

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.

    Harris did note in the book that parents do have a significant effect on the kids’ moral development — a rather significant point: I don’t really much care where my kids are on the canonical “OCEAN” personality traits, but I do care if they are crooks!

    Harris also pointed out that the research on which she reported was done with American families, and she suggested that the results might be different for East Asian families.

    I know a lot of East Asians quite well, but I don’t know the answer to that question. Did Amy Chua have dramatically more influence on her kids than most American parents have?

    The general point is that the usual “nature vs. nurture” accounting is based on the typical spread in “nature” among American families in general vs. the typical spread in “nurture” among American families in general.

    And, the spread in “nurture” among American families is really not all that wide: how many American families rigidly forbid their kids to play any sports at all, rigorously prevent their kids from being exposed to any American popular culture at all, etc.? The family environment of a poor black family in rural Alabama may seem pretty different from an affluent Jewish family in New York City to us Americans, but compared to an African family out in the bush in the Congo or a family in rural Burma, they are not that different.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I think upbringing has an effect on ambition. Being a middle class engineer's son, my idea of how much money I need was a lot more limited than, say, a guy who worked for me who was from a genuine upper class upbringing. He wound up running Microsoft's New York City sales office by his mid-30s. (But he was dead of the same kind of cancer that I had before he was 40. I wouldn't be surprised if he was working too hard to get a lump checked out in time.)
  58. @Pincher Martin
    Did it backfire with the Jews?

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?

    "Plough deep while sluggards sleep."

    - Ben Franklin

    "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

    - Thomas Jefferson

    "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

    - Stephen King

    "Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they're making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that's the difference."

    - Lou Holtz

    "I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it."

    - Ray Bradbury

    And Thomas Edison stressed it again and again and again throughout his life:

    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

    - Thomas Edison

    "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

    - Thomas Edison

    "The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense."

    - Thomas Edison

    "There is no substitute for hard work"

    - Thomas Edison

    Teaching your children the value of hard work was once thought to be not only necessary, but part of an American tradition dating back to Ben Franklin.

    Sure, many kids will never learn the lesson. But even if it just works a little on the margins, or doesn't work at all, it still seems valuable to remind people that things don't happen just because you fill up space - especially smart American kids who nowadays seem to think the universe will automatically reveal its secrets just because they scored 1600 on their SATs.

    I agree with you. My parents were pretty uninterested in us kids beyond ensuring that we got good grades–or else. Often I’ve wished they had been a bit more involved as I see jewish and asian parents do every day. For better or worse, they clearly care. One avenue in which they differ from each other, though, is that jewish parents are more likely to give free rein to their kids, to let them discover their own limits. Obviously I’m talking about liberal jews here. In the process of discovering their own limits, these kids are also more likely to uncover their own talents.

  59. @Rosie

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?
     
    Good Lord. Why is everyone so testy tonight?

    My kids have always had chores and been expected to contribute some physical labor to the household, but I don't want them to think of learning as a chore. I want them to think of learning as a delight. Little boys are not miniature men who can thrive sitting at a desk all day.

    You should at least be able to send the child to his room removing electronic devices. Grounding from weekend activities or even denying allowance is in your power too. That being said, I’ve seen an ADD/emotionally disturbed kid put himself in a timeout area. He’d kick the wall some but stayed there. This means your kids are completely capable. I think the sensory deprivation aspect of timeout has a lot to do with helping a child regain self-control. So it’s reinforcing because, believe it or not, your kid likes being under control and in your good graces. Unless something has gone terribly wrong or is wrong with the child, you can use the technique. If you can’t, some behavioral advice and/or diagnosis of your kid will get results.

    • Replies: @Rosie

    You should at least be able to send the child to his room removing electronic devices. Grounding from weekend activities or even denying allowance is in your power too.
     
    Yes, though these types of punishments work better on older children who have sufficient impulse control to consider the consequences of their actions, at which point, they should have sufficient insight to do the right thing without regard to reward and punishment. That's just the problem with punishment - it doesn't work until you no longer need it.
  60. @Anonymous
    No amount of good parenting will make the average underclass Black into a good farmer or lawyer but it can make the difference between someone who works steadily at a job within his capability-say an automobile assembly line worker-or someone who is a public menace and need to be incarcerated for life in many, not all cases. Blacks did better once than they do now, and could do better in the future, but most will never be equal to the average White in intelligence, persistence, or social behavior.


    The old Southerners understood that.

    ‘… Blacks did better once than they do now, and could do better in the future, but most will never be equal to the average White in intelligence, persistence, or social behavior…’

    That’s very true. I remember once seeing some statistics covering such things as crime, births out of wedlock, and educational achievement.

    In the late fifties, working class whites naturally did somewhat worse than middle-class whites on the various measures. Then blacks did worse still — but were in the same order of magnitude. If middle-class whites had 2.4 births out of wedlock or whatever per x thousand, and working class whites had 3.1, blacks had 4.3. Different, but not dramatically so.

    Then the Great Society came, and wrought its magic…

    Stripping out all jobs from the economy requiring only limited intelligence or giving them to immigrants didn’t help either, I’ll point out.

  61. Is puncturing the nurture assumption the key to getting conscientious people above replacement fertility?

    • Replies: @Anon

    Is puncturing the nurture assumption the key to getting conscientious people above replacement fertility?
     
    Good observation. If you believe that there is no need to helicopter parent, and if you believe that college is not for everyone, probably not for 90 percent of kids, then the burdens of parenthood fade a bit. Also: with more kids than two or three it isn't quite the same level of tragedy if one or two go delinquent or, god forbid, die, and hey, it probably isn't your fault, anyway.

    But can you really do old-style ignore-'em parenting in these child-protective-services days, where they haul you in and threaten to take away your kid for letting him out alone to play? This may be a rurul-only option.
    , @Steve Sailer
    Bryan Caplan argues that JR Harris's argument ought to be good for bourgeois fertility.
  62. @Colin Wright
    '...The data from many studies suggests that parents matter a little, and genes matter a lot…'

    You don't need studies. I, for one, am familiar with Asian adoptees who tend to be immaculately dutiful, well-behaved, gratifyingly successful, etc -- and conversely, little black monsters who were obviously a big mistake.

    I can't guarantee those outcomes -- but I'd willingly bet on them.

    Did it ever occur to you that school itself might be the problem? Too much focus on academics for kids who would be more successful in a vocational program can be incredibly frustrating. Think of it this way: There was a time when sitting and reading was mostly considered leisure activity and kids who read a lot instead of going outside doing chores considered daydreamers instead of bookish and studious. What if the typical black child needs to do a lot of physical/tangible work in order to develop a good work ethic and self-discipline? This could translate to getting a job as a lifeguard in the summers for instance. Maybe doing more crafts in childhood and/or doing more enrichment activities like soccer and scouting are essential for children who aren’t as academically inclined. It’s even possible to break studying down into tasks that the child can show evidence of and maybe be the basis for allowance. My theory is that you can get an average student through level courses successfully. For a child who really hated school, you might even show them vocational programs they can get through quickly at the local community college. Not a lot of parents can work well with a child who doesn’t thrive in our schools but it really wasn’t that long ago that academics were tangential to work and success for the middle class.

    • Replies: @stillCARealist
    You're making me wonder if modern society just won't work for a good number of people. School for them is a waste of time, even vocational school. Really they need to work in the fields or stockyards and that's it. Do you agree?

    We watched a guy screw up everything in life, over and over, and I asked another friend, "When will T--- ever get his crap together?" The reply: "T--- has no crap to get together."
  63. It strikes me that humans, in comparison with all other species on Earth, have SUPERIOR genes precisely BECAUSE our genes allow culture and learning to trump biology in many ways.
    THAT is why WE WIN!
    If contemporary “adults” wish to cede cultural control of their children to the hacks in the employ of the educational system and the perverts in the entertainment complex… well, it is no surprise that their children adapt their behavior so that it matches the behavior of “peers” similarly situated. Who knows what would happen if children modeled their behavior on admirable older humans doing real stuff? Would we get, like, civilization and stuff?

    • Replies: @CJ

    If contemporary “adults” wish to cede cultural control of their children to the hacks in the employ of the educational system and the perverts in the entertainment complex…
     
    Don’t forget the perverts in education and the hacks in entertainment.

    I remember listening to an interview with the late Mrs. Harris maybe 20 years ago where the subject got around to the quality of social science research. She was merciless while explaining why most of it is junk junk junk. She was not incidentally removed from a doctorate program at Harvard because her paper wasn’t original enough ... a testament to her character IMO.
  64. Anon[319] • Disclaimer says:

    Crime and poverty follow when a culture fails to persuade men that “fathering” requires decades rather than minutes.

    My father divorced my stay-at-home mother and moved 1500 miles away, leaving her with three teenage boys. My father remained in our lives with telephone calls and annual visits. One brother and I turned out pretty well: no arrests or addictions, well-employed, multi-millionaires before age 50. But my youngest brother had some drinking, gambling, and job troubles and committed suicide at age 40.

  65. @Steve Sailer
    Yes, there was a French adoption study that tried to find 20 cross class adoptions. They only found 18, plus 20 within class adoptions. For their n=38 they came up with something like IQ at age 14 being 58% nature, 42% nurture.

    Sample size aside, I don’t think age 14 gets you past the Wilson Effect threshold.

  66. Anon[346] • Disclaimer says:
    @Tyrion 2
    Is puncturing the nurture assumption the key to getting conscientious people above replacement fertility?

    Is puncturing the nurture assumption the key to getting conscientious people above replacement fertility?

    Good observation. If you believe that there is no need to helicopter parent, and if you believe that college is not for everyone, probably not for 90 percent of kids, then the burdens of parenthood fade a bit. Also: with more kids than two or three it isn’t quite the same level of tragedy if one or two go delinquent or, god forbid, die, and hey, it probably isn’t your fault, anyway.

    But can you really do old-style ignore-’em parenting in these child-protective-services days, where they haul you in and threaten to take away your kid for letting him out alone to play? This may be a rurul-only option.

  67. @Anonymous
    Controlling the child's peers is a primary function of parents. You don't let your kids around bad kids.

    Parenting is not omnipotent, but most kids raised Amish stay Amish, most kids raised Orthodox Jews stay Orthodox Jew and none of the Duggars' ridiculous brood has yet publicly rebelled. So parents do matter, they just are not all-important if they live in a society which, or allow their kids to associate with people who, are counter to their beliefs.

    In most societies parental influence is all that matters; n.b. caste, social status, royalty, wealth. The world is not meritocratic. It requires a special personality to rise up through all the well-born imbeciles in the way.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad

    In most societies parental influence is all that matters; n.b. caste, social status, royalty, wealth. The world is not meritocratic. It requires a special personality to rise up through all the well-born imbeciles in the way.
     
    Nowhere has that been "all that matters", rather "matters most".

    High born bozos, slackers and wastrels have been pushed aside in every society since time immemorial. "Rags to riches to rags in three generations" or the shirtsleves varient far pre-date 20th century SAT meritocracy.
  68. @Tyrion 2
    Is puncturing the nurture assumption the key to getting conscientious people above replacement fertility?

    Bryan Caplan argues that JR Harris’s argument ought to be good for bourgeois fertility.

    • Replies: @Sean
    It seems to me that if parents can influence their children then it must take a lot of time, effort and money to make a difference. That means they can do a good job with only one or two children.

    Lower class families are probably not going to be able to send their children to exclusive schools so what pays for them would be having as many children as possible.
  69. @PhysicistDave
    Roger wrote:

    So maybe parenting does not seem to make much difference because so few parents are willing to actually do something different from the other parents.
     
    Harris did note in the book that parents do have a significant effect on the kids' moral development -- a rather significant point: I don't really much care where my kids are on the canonical "OCEAN" personality traits, but I do care if they are crooks!

    Harris also pointed out that the research on which she reported was done with American families, and she suggested that the results might be different for East Asian families.

    I know a lot of East Asians quite well, but I don't know the answer to that question. Did Amy Chua have dramatically more influence on her kids than most American parents have?

    The general point is that the usual "nature vs. nurture" accounting is based on the typical spread in "nature" among American families in general vs. the typical spread in "nurture" among American families in general.

    And, the spread in "nurture" among American families is really not all that wide: how many American families rigidly forbid their kids to play any sports at all, rigorously prevent their kids from being exposed to any American popular culture at all, etc.? The family environment of a poor black family in rural Alabama may seem pretty different from an affluent Jewish family in New York City to us Americans, but compared to an African family out in the bush in the Congo or a family in rural Burma, they are not that different.

    I think upbringing has an effect on ambition. Being a middle class engineer’s son, my idea of how much money I need was a lot more limited than, say, a guy who worked for me who was from a genuine upper class upbringing. He wound up running Microsoft’s New York City sales office by his mid-30s. (But he was dead of the same kind of cancer that I had before he was 40. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was working too hard to get a lump checked out in time.)

    • Replies: @Anon
    I think upbringing has an effect on ambition. Being a middle class engineer’s son, my idea of how much money I need was a lot more limited than, say, a guy who worked for me who was from a genuine upper class upbringing.

    I think this is somewhat true. I, too, was the son of a middle-class engineer. My father started out as a draftsman after a 3-year hitch in the Army, and earned his engineering degree at night on the GI bill. The most he ever earned was $50K in the early '90s and retired financially secure at 55 y/o. I also studied engineering and earned a comfortable (less than six-figure) middle-class wage. My parents didn't give any career or college guidance but not-so-subtlety discouraged going into the military or a trade.

    On the other hand, my younger brother was very driven to earn a high salary. And, again, without any specific parental guidance, went to medical school and was earning over $400K annually by the age of 40.
    , @Anon
    It's hard to make even an anecdotal judgment from your case because you were adopted, but can you see how the biological son of a middle class person is probably different, genetically, from the upper class scion, and that difference, not upbringing, may be much of the difference in monetary orientation? Rich sons choose their parents, as Plomin would say.
  70. @Buzz Mohawk
    Plenty of men don't like sitting at a desk either.

    I was easy, self-motivated to do homework, build models, and even create my own things out of balsa wood and so forth. My nephew, on the other hand, who was growing up in my sister's hippy household, had no discipline whatsoever. When I was babysitting him and he had homework, I had to literally hold him in a chair; he did his homework. His parents had only talked with him, never forcing him to do anything.

    For yard work, I physically picked him up, carried him to the site and made it clear that he was not going anywhere, not getting past me until he worked with me. He raked leaves.

    FWIW he's okay, now in his 40s, married with children, a house and a job. (No, I'm not taking credit for that.)

    It is good to have a man in the house, a father or father figure (not a hippy drug addict like that brother-in-law). Men are generally more physically intimidating than women. Verbally too. A father or uncle can physically and verbally put a boy in a place he can't escape. The child learns that he cannot avoid or talk his way out of responsibility, and that indeed adults outrank him.

    Ned Flanders’ parents.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    LOL yes. I had to go YouTube that.

    Thanks for the laughs, and Congratulations on reaching 11 Million and 17 Million. Now come out of the closet and go open a bottle of champagne with your wife!

    Health, Happiness and Prosperity in 2019.
  71. @Pincher Martin
    Did it backfire with the Jews?

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?

    "Plough deep while sluggards sleep."

    - Ben Franklin

    "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

    - Thomas Jefferson

    "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

    - Stephen King

    "Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they're making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that's the difference."

    - Lou Holtz

    "I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it."

    - Ray Bradbury

    And Thomas Edison stressed it again and again and again throughout his life:

    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

    - Thomas Edison

    "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

    - Thomas Edison

    "The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense."

    - Thomas Edison

    "There is no substitute for hard work"

    - Thomas Edison

    Teaching your children the value of hard work was once thought to be not only necessary, but part of an American tradition dating back to Ben Franklin.

    Sure, many kids will never learn the lesson. But even if it just works a little on the margins, or doesn't work at all, it still seems valuable to remind people that things don't happen just because you fill up space - especially smart American kids who nowadays seem to think the universe will automatically reveal its secrets just because they scored 1600 on their SATs.

    Some people have a greater capacity for work than others. What Freud called Libido, Life Energy in it’s broadest sense, not just confined to sexuality. So, to the OCEAN traits we should add Life Force or some such. Not just Drive or Ambition but just plain Endurance. No matter what a person’s balance of OCEAN traits, if they’re low-energy types they won’t accomplish much or as much as a person possessed of an abundance of Elan Vital.

    • Replies: @Anon
    Some people have a greater capacity for work than others.

    I agree. I was motivated and ambitious in college, worked hard, and aspired to reach the senior executive level in corporate America. But once in the 9-to-5 work world, I realized I only wished to work a 40-hour week. My career and earnings stalled as a direct result.
    , @Pincher Martin

    No matter what a person’s balance of OCEAN traits, if they’re low-energy types they won’t accomplish much or as much as a person possessed of an abundance of Elan Vital.
     
    I don't disagree. A person's energy level is probably just as determined as their intelligence.

    But it's good to live in a culture which reminds such people that they are falling behind because of it just in case they want to blame it on someone else.

  72. Anon[319] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer
    I think upbringing has an effect on ambition. Being a middle class engineer's son, my idea of how much money I need was a lot more limited than, say, a guy who worked for me who was from a genuine upper class upbringing. He wound up running Microsoft's New York City sales office by his mid-30s. (But he was dead of the same kind of cancer that I had before he was 40. I wouldn't be surprised if he was working too hard to get a lump checked out in time.)

    I think upbringing has an effect on ambition. Being a middle class engineer’s son, my idea of how much money I need was a lot more limited than, say, a guy who worked for me who was from a genuine upper class upbringing.

    I think this is somewhat true. I, too, was the son of a middle-class engineer. My father started out as a draftsman after a 3-year hitch in the Army, and earned his engineering degree at night on the GI bill. The most he ever earned was $50K in the early ’90s and retired financially secure at 55 y/o. I also studied engineering and earned a comfortable (less than six-figure) middle-class wage. My parents didn’t give any career or college guidance but not-so-subtlety discouraged going into the military or a trade.

    On the other hand, my younger brother was very driven to earn a high salary. And, again, without any specific parental guidance, went to medical school and was earning over $400K annually by the age of 40.

  73. Anon[319] • Disclaimer says:
    @ThreeCranes
    Some people have a greater capacity for work than others. What Freud called Libido, Life Energy in it's broadest sense, not just confined to sexuality. So, to the OCEAN traits we should add Life Force or some such. Not just Drive or Ambition but just plain Endurance. No matter what a person's balance of OCEAN traits, if they're low-energy types they won't accomplish much or as much as a person possessed of an abundance of Elan Vital.

    Some people have a greater capacity for work than others.

    I agree. I was motivated and ambitious in college, worked hard, and aspired to reach the senior executive level in corporate America. But once in the 9-to-5 work world, I realized I only wished to work a 40-hour week. My career and earnings stalled as a direct result.

  74. @Pincher Martin
    Did it backfire with the Jews?

    How about with these American white (goyish) males who made it a point to stress the value of hard work? Did it backfire with them?

    "Plough deep while sluggards sleep."

    - Ben Franklin

    "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

    - Thomas Jefferson

    "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

    - Stephen King

    "Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they're making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that's the difference."

    - Lou Holtz

    "I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it."

    - Ray Bradbury

    And Thomas Edison stressed it again and again and again throughout his life:

    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

    - Thomas Edison

    "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

    - Thomas Edison

    "The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense."

    - Thomas Edison

    "There is no substitute for hard work"

    - Thomas Edison

    Teaching your children the value of hard work was once thought to be not only necessary, but part of an American tradition dating back to Ben Franklin.

    Sure, many kids will never learn the lesson. But even if it just works a little on the margins, or doesn't work at all, it still seems valuable to remind people that things don't happen just because you fill up space - especially smart American kids who nowadays seem to think the universe will automatically reveal its secrets just because they scored 1600 on their SATs.

    “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” – Ray Bradbury

    When Ray Bradbury was a teenager in LA around 1940, he started pestering Robert Heinlein to read his stories. Heinlein told another writer that this kid Bradbury writes the worst sci-fi he’d ever read, but he writes 1000 words of it every single day and he’s getting better better, very slowly, so he might turn out to be pretty good.

    • Replies: @Anon
    In one of the weirder developments on the internet in the past week, Pewdiepie posted a YouTube video comparing the writing of Aldus Huxley to Ray Bradbury, coming down on the side of Huxley.

    If you've never heard of Pewdiepie, never mind.
    , @Sean

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Bradbury

    Mary (née Perkins) Bradbury (baptized September 3, 1615 – December 20, 1700) was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. However, she managed to evade sentence until the trials had been discredited, and died in 1700, aged 85.[1]
    Her descendants include:
    Ray Bradbury (1920–2012), American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction writer; a seventh great-grandson.[3][4]
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), transcendentalist; a fourth great-grandson.[4]
    Linda Hamilton (born 1956), actress; a ninth great-granddaughter.[4]
     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=998WQSl6fB0
  75. @Steve Sailer
    “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” - Ray Bradbury

    When Ray Bradbury was a teenager in LA around 1940, he started pestering Robert Heinlein to read his stories. Heinlein told another writer that this kid Bradbury writes the worst sci-fi he'd ever read, but he writes 1000 words of it every single day and he's getting better better, very slowly, so he might turn out to be pretty good.

    In one of the weirder developments on the internet in the past week, Pewdiepie posted a YouTube video comparing the writing of Aldus Huxley to Ray Bradbury, coming down on the side of Huxley.

    If you’ve never heard of Pewdiepie, never mind.

  76. So then Russia’s plan to repatriate 30 children of parents who died fightining for ISIS is likely to cause a few problems.

    https://www.rt.com/news/447797-russia-children-baghdad-jail-return/

  77. Anon[152] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer
    I think upbringing has an effect on ambition. Being a middle class engineer's son, my idea of how much money I need was a lot more limited than, say, a guy who worked for me who was from a genuine upper class upbringing. He wound up running Microsoft's New York City sales office by his mid-30s. (But he was dead of the same kind of cancer that I had before he was 40. I wouldn't be surprised if he was working too hard to get a lump checked out in time.)

    It’s hard to make even an anecdotal judgment from your case because you were adopted, but can you see how the biological son of a middle class person is probably different, genetically, from the upper class scion, and that difference, not upbringing, may be much of the difference in monetary orientation? Rich sons choose their parents, as Plomin would say.

  78. The Nuture Assumption makes two arguments: (1) that parents have relatively little impact on the way kids turn out, and that genes explain at least 50% of those outcomes, and (2) that a large portion of the remaining variance is explained by peer group effects.

    Readers of this blog are already familiar with the adoption and twin studies Harris uses to prove (1). But she makes the case with great persuasiveness, and her book is a solid introduction to the subject. Argument (2), though, is on shakier ground. Harris’s case is more theoretical and less empirical than her case for (1), and it strikes me that there is a logical issue as well:

    When they try to nurture their children, parents make many decisions that intentionally or unintentionally change their kids’ peer groups. One couple might move to a rich town and send their kid to private schools, while another couple stays in a lower-middle class area and sticks with the public schools. These changes surely change the kids’ peer groups, but wouldn’t the effects of the changes be treated as nurture effects by most twin and adoption studies? The changes are initiated by the parents, after all. But if the studies find minimal nurture effects overall, don’t they implicitly find that peer group effects are negligible as well?

    One response might be that parent’s don’t control the peer selection process, because kids will inevitably gravitate towards peers who appeal to them. A kid with latent criminal tendencies will fall in with a gang, who then help him develop into a full-blown criminal. But then the peer group is a result of characteristics the kid already possesses, so it’s hard to see the peers as the root cause of the criminality.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    I think a lot of people have trouble with TNA because it is narrowly about parenting styles, not "decisions made by parents", and child personality, not "life outcomes." So, for example, in your third paragraph, you claim JRH overlooked the fact that a decision to move that changes a peer group is a decision made by a parent, but actually that's not relevant. The "theoretical" part of her "part 2" is that there is a gape left when you discount parenting style. Maybe it's peer group, but her work is really about the assumptions we make about nurture.
  79. @miss marple
    Did it ever occur to you that school itself might be the problem? Too much focus on academics for kids who would be more successful in a vocational program can be incredibly frustrating. Think of it this way: There was a time when sitting and reading was mostly considered leisure activity and kids who read a lot instead of going outside doing chores considered daydreamers instead of bookish and studious. What if the typical black child needs to do a lot of physical/tangible work in order to develop a good work ethic and self-discipline? This could translate to getting a job as a lifeguard in the summers for instance. Maybe doing more crafts in childhood and/or doing more enrichment activities like soccer and scouting are essential for children who aren't as academically inclined. It's even possible to break studying down into tasks that the child can show evidence of and maybe be the basis for allowance. My theory is that you can get an average student through level courses successfully. For a child who really hated school, you might even show them vocational programs they can get through quickly at the local community college. Not a lot of parents can work well with a child who doesn't thrive in our schools but it really wasn't that long ago that academics were tangential to work and success for the middle class.

    You’re making me wonder if modern society just won’t work for a good number of people. School for them is a waste of time, even vocational school. Really they need to work in the fields or stockyards and that’s it. Do you agree?

    We watched a guy screw up everything in life, over and over, and I asked another friend, “When will T— ever get his crap together?” The reply: “T— has no crap to get together.”

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    You’re making me wonder if modern society just won’t work for a good number of people. School for them is a waste of time, even vocational school. Really they need to work in the fields or stockyards and that’s it. Do you agree?
     
    You hit it on the head.

    A lot of people are only good for repetitive farm or factory work, driving truck, et al. Immigrants, automation and so forth have killed those jobs. They have been rendered biologically obsolete, not by nature but by arbitrary decisions made by wealthy ad influential people for their own benefit.
  80. Economist Arnold Kling makes a good point in his Amazon review of The Nurture Assumption. Harris’s peer group effect is an attempt to explain the portion of the variance that’s apparently not explained by genes or nurture. But it’s not clear how large this unexplained variance really is:

    Quote from Kling:

    I suspect that we may never prove that anything other than genetic factors matter in personality. A large component of the “other half” could be measurement error. A physical characteristic, such as eye color, is a relatively well-defined concept that can be measured fairly precisely. Not so with “intelligence” or “aggressiveness.” These are fuzzy concepts, measured imperfectly. The mere attempt to measure these concepts induces random variation. Imagine how difficult it would be to explain height differences if we weren’t quite sure what “height” really means, and if the measurements were based on rulers with 20 percent margins of error!

  81. Instead of the customary two children we have five because we have read her book. Our youngest daughter, now 10, is named in her honor.

    I wrote an email to Judth apprising her of her responcibility and she was quite amused.
    I kept correspondence with her, mostly illustrating all the things she described in her books. When little Lora Judith learned to write, she started exchanging letters with Judith Harris, last email sent just 3 days ago.
    We will remember her every time we look at our daughter. What an example of a life well lived…

    • Replies: @Rosie

    Instead of the customary two children we have five because we have read her book. Our youngest daughter, now 10, is named in her honor.
     
    You just made my day! Happy New Year to you and yours!
  82. Our society puts too much emphasis on the teens to early twenties. That motivation will carry most through their thirties well enough but only the very few are actually driven to achieve as they get older. Lots of those folk become household names: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, etc. The rest fail to realize how much they’re resting on their laurels. And, slowly but surely, the percentage of time at work spent gabbing, shopping on the internet and worse increases. You could probably retire most senior level employees by 40 with good results (though not for the 40ish slacker). This is without opening the can of worms that is the personal life of the 40-something once high achiever. Eating too much, drinking too much, juvenile delinquent behavior online, so much moral sloth that many too-clever-for-their-own-good types cross the line into criminality. Did I mention just how much time the once vital, achieving types can waste especially on the internet? Personally I think it’s late in life rebellion because they feel they missed out on they joys of youth because they were studying when they should’ve been playing. Be that as it may, aging slackers are the scourge of modern society. And such a very bad example for the young.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    You pretty much describe me, but you fail to understand how older people get trapped. Once you get into a position where you can't advance in work and have a bunch of constraints from family, etc, there isn't much left to do.

    For example, if I were 20 and single, I could use my extra time to start a small business, but you try telling my wife that she has to spend evenings and weekends alone so I can pursue a pie in the sky idea instead of being a slacker. Yeah, I waste a lot of time online. I can read blog posts and talk to my wife at the same time while she's doing her thing.
  83. @ThreeCranes
    Some people have a greater capacity for work than others. What Freud called Libido, Life Energy in it's broadest sense, not just confined to sexuality. So, to the OCEAN traits we should add Life Force or some such. Not just Drive or Ambition but just plain Endurance. No matter what a person's balance of OCEAN traits, if they're low-energy types they won't accomplish much or as much as a person possessed of an abundance of Elan Vital.

    No matter what a person’s balance of OCEAN traits, if they’re low-energy types they won’t accomplish much or as much as a person possessed of an abundance of Elan Vital.

    I don’t disagree. A person’s energy level is probably just as determined as their intelligence.

    But it’s good to live in a culture which reminds such people that they are falling behind because of it just in case they want to blame it on someone else.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    Funny. You talk about energy but are wasting time right now. I suspect you're not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn't spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve. If you can truly take a vacation from work and your home maintenance is up to snuff, then you should be at a ski resort or something like right now. Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming. What's more, you likely haven't led that disciplined a life or exhibited much leadership through the years either. If you've been successful, it's likely because of ability rather than effort. I also suspect you have been insanely risk averse. So unless you're advising a young person to avoid taking risks in adulthood, you have no insights that could be helpful to people struggling with bad circumstances and/or their own limitations. A certain amount of success was guaranteed you and you never attempted anything beyond it. You might also be a stay-at-home mom whose children have left home and you haven't learned how to interact with your same-age peers again.
  84. @Hypnotoad666
    It's been a long time since I read the book, but I don't think it's fair to say JRH was ever claiming "parents don't matter." Obviously they do.

    Her main point --which she made with devastating effect, was that all the "science" on the subject was pure junk. Basically, social scientists just noted correlations between "good parenting" (like reading to kids) and good outcomes (like higher educational attainment) and then just assumed causation.

    No one every questioned the junk science because they just "knew" it was the right conclusion. It supported their Blank Slate worldview. And it was telling people to "do the right thing."

    In reality, there are many confounding factors in all these "good parenting" correlations. For example, higher IQ parents who read more tend to have higher IQ kids who also like reading. And parents will read more to a higher IQ kid who is predisposed to enjoy it more. So higher IQ kids get read to more, but it's not necessarily cause-effect.

    JRH was ahead of the curve in anticipating the current Replication Crisis, which is based on doing studies designed to prove desired results.

    In the end, however, her point was that you should read to your kid because you want to enjoy each other's company and have a good emotional bond. Not because you think you are boosting their IQ or helping them get into college.

    It's a shame her message didn't really resonate with parents. Instead there has just been another generation of neurotic, helicopter mothers raising neurotic over-managed kids.

    It’s a shame her message didn’t really resonate with parents. Instead there has just been another generation of neurotic, helicopter mothers raising neurotic over-managed kids.

    Boy is that ever true. Having done my turn as a scoutmaster, not all of them certainly but a solid fraction of UMC moms just don’t have the brains or sense to step back and let their boy take responsibility for himself and grow into a man. (Kinda the whole point of having your kid in scouting.)

  85. Blame wayward peers and Watson & Crick. Mommas love this—no more Sigmund Freud, pointing fingers at them when their offspring turn out bad. It conveniently lets all of these working moms, in their family-friendly / absenteeism-friendly “voted-best-for-moms” jobs, off the hook in the childrearing arena, just like they are above firing at work.

    Despite all of the low-wage office jobs they dominate at a mom-to-non-parent ratio of 90 to 10, bullying out the “non culture fits” while taking a ton of time off for their kids without consequences, moms do not really raise their own kids in this era.

    It also lets off the hook the adults who do raise their kids while moms pursue so-called careers: NannyCams, $9-per-hour baby-sitters, $10-per-hour daycare workers or elderly grandparents.

    Meanwhile, the US has statistics like a 300% increase in the frequency of mass shootings, including multiple school shootings carried out by kids. These aren’t all immigrant kids, either, but you could apply her argument, concluding that the worst aspects of factional groups are magnified in secondary school. At the age when people are forming their identity, competing peer groups are at their most verbally brutal, albeit mom gangs in American workplaces can give the junior high kids a run for their money in verbal nastiness.

    Nothing like a low-wage job, with lots of fringe absenteeism benefits for moms who can afford to accept low wages and part-time hours, to bring back the taunting groupspeak of junior high, particularly in an era when working moms are glorified in the media. Their workplace behavior makes me wonder what these wonderful, worrisome moms dish out at home to less favored offspring.

    I am not sure I believe her thesis that peers and genes override parenting.

    It is not just the most important things, like curtailing violence among youth. American schools are constantly critiqued as academically sub-standard, turning out students with low test scores and a poor work ethic, with this used as an excuse for offshoring and outsourcing of jobs.

    In previous eras, when parents were expected to raise the kids they produced—themselves—rather than shifting that work onto people who cannot afford rent on the pay or so-called retired grandparents, the USA did not have these issues.

    Mass-scale immigration has almost nothing but drawbacks.

    This includes the previous era when mass-scale immigration was prevalent: the turn-of-the-twentieth-century Industrial Age, which is known for child labor, impoverished tenement living, corrupt immigrant-pandering politicians and no large-scale middle class, but not for mass school shootings every few months and other major violence perpetrated by children.

    One could make a good genes-based argument that, since children contain 50% of their parents’ DNA, parents, more than other relatives, feel a stronger compulsion to convey things like the most fundamental moral lessons to their children, trying to prevent them from reflecting poorly on themselves if nothing else.

    The people currently raising America’s children—the low-paid non-relatives with 0% of their DNA and the relatives with 25% of the children’s DNA who likewise raise them while mothers work—are not doing as good of a job at imparting crucial moral values, like thou shall not kill, to children than the stay-at-home mothers of yore did.

  86. @dr kill
    In most societies parental influence is all that matters; n.b. caste, social status, royalty, wealth. The world is not meritocratic. It requires a special personality to rise up through all the well-born imbeciles in the way.

    In most societies parental influence is all that matters; n.b. caste, social status, royalty, wealth. The world is not meritocratic. It requires a special personality to rise up through all the well-born imbeciles in the way.

    Nowhere has that been “all that matters”, rather “matters most”.

    High born bozos, slackers and wastrels have been pushed aside in every society since time immemorial. “Rags to riches to rags in three generations” or the shirtsleves varient far pre-date 20th century SAT meritocracy.

    • Replies: @Sean
    It takes a special type of high born person to fall down among the low born imbeciles too! The lower classes in every society since time immemorial simply died out. If Gregory Clark is right almost everyone has descended from the upper class slackers and it follows that all the hard work in the world did not help the genes the lower class had. The individual's particular mix of genes was causal, both ways.
  87. @Luke Lea
    Victor Hugo defined heaven as "a place where parents are always young and children are always little."

    We care for our children not because we think it will make a difference but because we love them. Further, a happy childhood is as important as a successful adulthood.

    That’s a lovely comment. Thanks

  88. @Steve Sailer
    “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.” - Ray Bradbury

    When Ray Bradbury was a teenager in LA around 1940, he started pestering Robert Heinlein to read his stories. Heinlein told another writer that this kid Bradbury writes the worst sci-fi he'd ever read, but he writes 1000 words of it every single day and he's getting better better, very slowly, so he might turn out to be pretty good.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Bradbury

    Mary (née Perkins) Bradbury (baptized September 3, 1615 – December 20, 1700) was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. However, she managed to evade sentence until the trials had been discredited, and died in 1700, aged 85.[1]
    Her descendants include:
    Ray Bradbury (1920–2012), American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction writer; a seventh great-grandson.[3][4]
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), transcendentalist; a fourth great-grandson.[4]
    Linda Hamilton (born 1956), actress; a ninth great-granddaughter.[4]

  89. @AnotherDad

    In most societies parental influence is all that matters; n.b. caste, social status, royalty, wealth. The world is not meritocratic. It requires a special personality to rise up through all the well-born imbeciles in the way.
     
    Nowhere has that been "all that matters", rather "matters most".

    High born bozos, slackers and wastrels have been pushed aside in every society since time immemorial. "Rags to riches to rags in three generations" or the shirtsleves varient far pre-date 20th century SAT meritocracy.

    It takes a special type of high born person to fall down among the low born imbeciles too! The lower classes in every society since time immemorial simply died out. If Gregory Clark is right almost everyone has descended from the upper class slackers and it follows that all the hard work in the world did not help the genes the lower class had. The individual’s particular mix of genes was causal, both ways.

  90. @Luke Lea
    "I hope this message also frees parents from the illusion that a child’s future success depends on how hard they push them."

    Tell it to the Chinese.

    I dare say it is already obvious to the Chinese, because in a community in which everyone pushes their children to strive for the same kind of attainment, all their success is necessarily due to genetic endowment.

    Only if you push your child to achieve in an area that no one else is pushing their child to succeed in could you make all the difference.

  91. @Pincher Martin

    No matter what a person’s balance of OCEAN traits, if they’re low-energy types they won’t accomplish much or as much as a person possessed of an abundance of Elan Vital.
     
    I don't disagree. A person's energy level is probably just as determined as their intelligence.

    But it's good to live in a culture which reminds such people that they are falling behind because of it just in case they want to blame it on someone else.

    Funny. You talk about energy but are wasting time right now. I suspect you’re not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn’t spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve. If you can truly take a vacation from work and your home maintenance is up to snuff, then you should be at a ski resort or something like right now. Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming. What’s more, you likely haven’t led that disciplined a life or exhibited much leadership through the years either. If you’ve been successful, it’s likely because of ability rather than effort. I also suspect you have been insanely risk averse. So unless you’re advising a young person to avoid taking risks in adulthood, you have no insights that could be helpful to people struggling with bad circumstances and/or their own limitations. A certain amount of success was guaranteed you and you never attempted anything beyond it. You might also be a stay-at-home mom whose children have left home and you haven’t learned how to interact with your same-age peers again.

    • Troll: Chrisnonymous
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    "I suspect you’re not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn’t spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve... Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming."

    Lol... stunning lack of self awareness.
  92. The harder I work, the luckier I get!

  93. Funny. You talk about energy but are wasting time right now. I suspect you’re not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn’t spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve. If you can truly take a vacation from work and your home maintenance is up to snuff, then you should be at a ski resort or something like right now. Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming.

    Smugness and sanctimonious preaching are two of the greatest joys of life. Why would you want to take them away from me? You certainly partake of them in prodigious quantities, Miss Marple, to the degree which I find unbecoming. Moderation in all things.

    If you’ve been successful, it’s likely because of ability rather than effort.

    Not true. At the upper levels of any endeavor, natural ability is common. The difference in outcomes between two very smart people is not likely to come down to the small differences in their IQ scores, but more likely it will be due to the differences in their effort and luck.

    I suspect this is why many very smart people don’t believe that IQ is very important in their fields. It’s the same reason players in the NBA rarely mention height when discussing qualitative differences between players. When everybody is tall, height is not a factor in the discussion. And when everyone in the room is super-smart, I.Q. is no longer a factor. Better to focus on something in which the smart people differ considerably – like their work effort or the luck of their career paths.

    So if you think Michael Jordan was a great basketball player because he was tall, you’d be wrong. And if you thought Einstein had the highest IQ of any physicist among his contemporaries, you’d also (most likely) be wrong.

    The same is the case for the great middle of America. If your kid has a 100 I.Q., he’s not going to be competing against someone who has a 130 I.Q. – at least not after high school. Instead, he’ll be competing against a man with a 95, 98, 102, or 105 I.Q. And in that case, he damn will better be trained to believe that his effort will make a difference in his life if he wants to get that job as a carpenter or plumber’s apprentice.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    I'm not actually sanctimonious unless it's reactionary. And, no, that kind of striving doesn't characterize our society. Nor does it need to necessarily. In business and sports, competitiveness is obviously a feature of success. In other endeavors, other traits matter more: patience, insight, thoroughness, endurance of mindless, repetitive tasks (surprisingly one of my strengths), stoicism, charm, emotionalism. What makes an actor successful differs significantly from what makes a doctor successful. Clearly, some jobs require drudgery while others are much more like play. I've also observed personality trumping work ethic. Sometimes the boss wants to be entertained at the expense of productivity. The other p word, politics, has been strangely lacking in this discussion as well. Although I guess it's not so strange since Asians dominate this blog and don't fare well in office politics. In this regard, I am very like an Asian.
    , @Sean

    I suspect this is why many very smart people don’t believe that IQ is very important in their fields.
     
    Or maybe they want to believe that the game they always win at is basically fair.

    If your kid has a 100 I.Q., he’s not going to be competing against someone who has a 130 I.Q. – at least not after high school. Instead, he’ll be competing against a man with a 95, 98, 102, or 105 I.Q. And in that case, he damn will better be trained to believe that his effort will make a difference in his life if he wants to get that job as a carpenter or plumber’s apprentice.
     
    If.
  94. @Steve Sailer
    Ned Flanders' parents.

    LOL yes. I had to go YouTube that.

    Thanks for the laughs, and Congratulations on reaching 11 Million and 17 Million. Now come out of the closet and go open a bottle of champagne with your wife!

    Health, Happiness and Prosperity in 2019.

  95. @Pincher Martin

    Funny. You talk about energy but are wasting time right now. I suspect you’re not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn’t spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve. If you can truly take a vacation from work and your home maintenance is up to snuff, then you should be at a ski resort or something like right now. Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming.
     
    Smugness and sanctimonious preaching are two of the greatest joys of life. Why would you want to take them away from me? You certainly partake of them in prodigious quantities, Miss Marple, to the degree which I find unbecoming. Moderation in all things.

    If you’ve been successful, it’s likely because of ability rather than effort.
     
    Not true. At the upper levels of any endeavor, natural ability is common. The difference in outcomes between two very smart people is not likely to come down to the small differences in their IQ scores, but more likely it will be due to the differences in their effort and luck.

    I suspect this is why many very smart people don't believe that IQ is very important in their fields. It's the same reason players in the NBA rarely mention height when discussing qualitative differences between players. When everybody is tall, height is not a factor in the discussion. And when everyone in the room is super-smart, I.Q. is no longer a factor. Better to focus on something in which the smart people differ considerably - like their work effort or the luck of their career paths.

    So if you think Michael Jordan was a great basketball player because he was tall, you'd be wrong. And if you thought Einstein had the highest IQ of any physicist among his contemporaries, you'd also (most likely) be wrong.

    The same is the case for the great middle of America. If your kid has a 100 I.Q., he's not going to be competing against someone who has a 130 I.Q. - at least not after high school. Instead, he'll be competing against a man with a 95, 98, 102, or 105 I.Q. And in that case, he damn will better be trained to believe that his effort will make a difference in his life if he wants to get that job as a carpenter or plumber's apprentice.

    I’m not actually sanctimonious unless it’s reactionary. And, no, that kind of striving doesn’t characterize our society. Nor does it need to necessarily. In business and sports, competitiveness is obviously a feature of success. In other endeavors, other traits matter more: patience, insight, thoroughness, endurance of mindless, repetitive tasks (surprisingly one of my strengths), stoicism, charm, emotionalism. What makes an actor successful differs significantly from what makes a doctor successful. Clearly, some jobs require drudgery while others are much more like play. I’ve also observed personality trumping work ethic. Sometimes the boss wants to be entertained at the expense of productivity. The other p word, politics, has been strangely lacking in this discussion as well. Although I guess it’s not so strange since Asians dominate this blog and don’t fare well in office politics. In this regard, I am very like an Asian.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin

    I’m not actually sanctimonious unless it’s reactionary.
     
    Don't sell yourself short. You have a lot of built-up bile in you, I can tell. You need to let it out more regularly or else you'll get to the point where it just explodes at unlikely and undeserving targets. Like me.

    And, no, that kind of striving doesn’t characterize our society.
     
    American striving is optimistic because it assumes a happy reward is in store for the person who does the work. And, yes, that attitude does characterize our society - or at least it did until the 1960s.

    It wasn't the only characteristic of our society, of course. But it was chief among them, and it had been since Ben Franklin inspired so many American laborers, tinkerers, and doers in the 19th century and through most of 20th.

    For an excellent book on the topic, read Gordon Wood's The Americanization of Ben Franklin.

    I would hate to see the alt-right join the derelicts of the nineteen-sixties in pretending that hard work doesn't matter for our society.

  96. @Pincher Martin

    Funny. You talk about energy but are wasting time right now. I suspect you’re not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn’t spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve. If you can truly take a vacation from work and your home maintenance is up to snuff, then you should be at a ski resort or something like right now. Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming.
     
    Smugness and sanctimonious preaching are two of the greatest joys of life. Why would you want to take them away from me? You certainly partake of them in prodigious quantities, Miss Marple, to the degree which I find unbecoming. Moderation in all things.

    If you’ve been successful, it’s likely because of ability rather than effort.
     
    Not true. At the upper levels of any endeavor, natural ability is common. The difference in outcomes between two very smart people is not likely to come down to the small differences in their IQ scores, but more likely it will be due to the differences in their effort and luck.

    I suspect this is why many very smart people don't believe that IQ is very important in their fields. It's the same reason players in the NBA rarely mention height when discussing qualitative differences between players. When everybody is tall, height is not a factor in the discussion. And when everyone in the room is super-smart, I.Q. is no longer a factor. Better to focus on something in which the smart people differ considerably - like their work effort or the luck of their career paths.

    So if you think Michael Jordan was a great basketball player because he was tall, you'd be wrong. And if you thought Einstein had the highest IQ of any physicist among his contemporaries, you'd also (most likely) be wrong.

    The same is the case for the great middle of America. If your kid has a 100 I.Q., he's not going to be competing against someone who has a 130 I.Q. - at least not after high school. Instead, he'll be competing against a man with a 95, 98, 102, or 105 I.Q. And in that case, he damn will better be trained to believe that his effort will make a difference in his life if he wants to get that job as a carpenter or plumber's apprentice.

    I suspect this is why many very smart people don’t believe that IQ is very important in their fields.

    Or maybe they want to believe that the game they always win at is basically fair.

    If your kid has a 100 I.Q., he’s not going to be competing against someone who has a 130 I.Q. – at least not after high school. Instead, he’ll be competing against a man with a 95, 98, 102, or 105 I.Q. And in that case, he damn will better be trained to believe that his effort will make a difference in his life if he wants to get that job as a carpenter or plumber’s apprentice.

    If.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin

    Or maybe they want to believe that the game they always win at is basically fair.
     
    It works both ways. You're not always going to win - and the more honest among that group who lose realize that when it happens it's not usually because the game is rigged against them. Like the guy who once joked about writing the great American novel if only he could get around to writing a novel.
  97. @Michael K
    Instead of the customary two children we have five because we have read her book. Our youngest daughter, now 10, is named in her honor.

    I wrote an email to Judth apprising her of her responcibility and she was quite amused.
    I kept correspondence with her, mostly illustrating all the things she described in her books. When little Lora Judith learned to write, she started exchanging letters with Judith Harris, last email sent just 3 days ago.
    We will remember her every time we look at our daughter. What an example of a life well lived...

    Instead of the customary two children we have five because we have read her book. Our youngest daughter, now 10, is named in her honor.

    You just made my day! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  98. @miss marple
    I'm not actually sanctimonious unless it's reactionary. And, no, that kind of striving doesn't characterize our society. Nor does it need to necessarily. In business and sports, competitiveness is obviously a feature of success. In other endeavors, other traits matter more: patience, insight, thoroughness, endurance of mindless, repetitive tasks (surprisingly one of my strengths), stoicism, charm, emotionalism. What makes an actor successful differs significantly from what makes a doctor successful. Clearly, some jobs require drudgery while others are much more like play. I've also observed personality trumping work ethic. Sometimes the boss wants to be entertained at the expense of productivity. The other p word, politics, has been strangely lacking in this discussion as well. Although I guess it's not so strange since Asians dominate this blog and don't fare well in office politics. In this regard, I am very like an Asian.

    I’m not actually sanctimonious unless it’s reactionary.

    Don’t sell yourself short. You have a lot of built-up bile in you, I can tell. You need to let it out more regularly or else you’ll get to the point where it just explodes at unlikely and undeserving targets. Like me.

    And, no, that kind of striving doesn’t characterize our society.

    American striving is optimistic because it assumes a happy reward is in store for the person who does the work. And, yes, that attitude does characterize our society – or at least it did until the 1960s.

    It wasn’t the only characteristic of our society, of course. But it was chief among them, and it had been since Ben Franklin inspired so many American laborers, tinkerers, and doers in the 19th century and through most of 20th.

    For an excellent book on the topic, read Gordon Wood’s The Americanization of Ben Franklin.

    I would hate to see the alt-right join the derelicts of the nineteen-sixties in pretending that hard work doesn’t matter for our society.

  99. @miss marple
    You should at least be able to send the child to his room removing electronic devices. Grounding from weekend activities or even denying allowance is in your power too. That being said, I've seen an ADD/emotionally disturbed kid put himself in a timeout area. He'd kick the wall some but stayed there. This means your kids are completely capable. I think the sensory deprivation aspect of timeout has a lot to do with helping a child regain self-control. So it's reinforcing because, believe it or not, your kid likes being under control and in your good graces. Unless something has gone terribly wrong or is wrong with the child, you can use the technique. If you can't, some behavioral advice and/or diagnosis of your kid will get results.

    You should at least be able to send the child to his room removing electronic devices. Grounding from weekend activities or even denying allowance is in your power too.

    Yes, though these types of punishments work better on older children who have sufficient impulse control to consider the consequences of their actions, at which point, they should have sufficient insight to do the right thing without regard to reward and punishment. That’s just the problem with punishment – it doesn’t work until you no longer need it.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin

    Yes, though these types of punishments work better on older children who have sufficient impulse control to consider the consequences of their actions, at which point, they should have sufficient insight to do the right thing without regard to reward and punishment. That’s just the problem with punishment – it doesn’t work until you no longer need it.
     
    Everything is so binary with you people.

    What about for the vast majority of Americans who are neither that smart nor that dumb? Among the people who sort of, sometimes, consider the consequences of their actions? (But also sometimes don't.) What about among the people who respond to straightforward, immediate social incentives, like the opprobrium of neighbors who don't like how messy their yard is? (But who don't do well with complex, in-the-distant-future incentives, like saving for retirement?)

    In other words, there might be important social consequences at the margins of behavior among the great mass of middle-class Americans. We're not just genetically inclined to be smart or dumb, criminals or saints, hard-working or lazy. We're also genetically inclined (to various degrees) to be social creatures who seek out clues about the right (and wrong) kind of behavior from our family, peers, religious groups, and other social groups.
    , @miss marple
    Terrible twos?
  100. This article reminds me that, sooner or later, all of the best writers at National Review were escorted from the building by security: Sobran, Sailer, Coulter, Derbyshire, Styne.

    • Agree: Pincher Martin
  101. @Rosie

    You should at least be able to send the child to his room removing electronic devices. Grounding from weekend activities or even denying allowance is in your power too.
     
    Yes, though these types of punishments work better on older children who have sufficient impulse control to consider the consequences of their actions, at which point, they should have sufficient insight to do the right thing without regard to reward and punishment. That's just the problem with punishment - it doesn't work until you no longer need it.

    Yes, though these types of punishments work better on older children who have sufficient impulse control to consider the consequences of their actions, at which point, they should have sufficient insight to do the right thing without regard to reward and punishment. That’s just the problem with punishment – it doesn’t work until you no longer need it.

    Everything is so binary with you people.

    What about for the vast majority of Americans who are neither that smart nor that dumb? Among the people who sort of, sometimes, consider the consequences of their actions? (But also sometimes don’t.) What about among the people who respond to straightforward, immediate social incentives, like the opprobrium of neighbors who don’t like how messy their yard is? (But who don’t do well with complex, in-the-distant-future incentives, like saving for retirement?)

    In other words, there might be important social consequences at the margins of behavior among the great mass of middle-class Americans. We’re not just genetically inclined to be smart or dumb, criminals or saints, hard-working or lazy. We’re also genetically inclined (to various degrees) to be social creatures who seek out clues about the right (and wrong) kind of behavior from our family, peers, religious groups, and other social groups.

  102. @Sean

    I suspect this is why many very smart people don’t believe that IQ is very important in their fields.
     
    Or maybe they want to believe that the game they always win at is basically fair.

    If your kid has a 100 I.Q., he’s not going to be competing against someone who has a 130 I.Q. – at least not after high school. Instead, he’ll be competing against a man with a 95, 98, 102, or 105 I.Q. And in that case, he damn will better be trained to believe that his effort will make a difference in his life if he wants to get that job as a carpenter or plumber’s apprentice.
     
    If.

    Or maybe they want to believe that the game they always win at is basically fair.

    It works both ways. You’re not always going to win – and the more honest among that group who lose realize that when it happens it’s not usually because the game is rigged against them. Like the guy who once joked about writing the great American novel if only he could get around to writing a novel.

  103. @Rosie

    You should at least be able to send the child to his room removing electronic devices. Grounding from weekend activities or even denying allowance is in your power too.
     
    Yes, though these types of punishments work better on older children who have sufficient impulse control to consider the consequences of their actions, at which point, they should have sufficient insight to do the right thing without regard to reward and punishment. That's just the problem with punishment - it doesn't work until you no longer need it.

    Terrible twos?

    • Replies: @Rosie

    Terrible twos?
     
    I never figured out how to discipline two-year-olds in a way that made any difference. I'm not saying it's impossible, nor would I ever discourage a parent from carrying on if something is working. I'm just saying it never worked for me.
  104. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @stillCARealist
    You're making me wonder if modern society just won't work for a good number of people. School for them is a waste of time, even vocational school. Really they need to work in the fields or stockyards and that's it. Do you agree?

    We watched a guy screw up everything in life, over and over, and I asked another friend, "When will T--- ever get his crap together?" The reply: "T--- has no crap to get together."

    You’re making me wonder if modern society just won’t work for a good number of people. School for them is a waste of time, even vocational school. Really they need to work in the fields or stockyards and that’s it. Do you agree?

    You hit it on the head.

    A lot of people are only good for repetitive farm or factory work, driving truck, et al. Immigrants, automation and so forth have killed those jobs. They have been rendered biologically obsolete, not by nature but by arbitrary decisions made by wealthy ad influential people for their own benefit.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    How would you know this, really? What are your credentials to not only call people stupid but imbecilic? I posit you know next to nothing about careers that require less than 4 years of college and that you'd be abysmal at such occupations.
  105. Oh, what do you know about children and childhood development and all that? You know nothing. You just have a bunch of prejudices you want to hear parroted.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    First idiotic comment* of the NEW YEAR**!!

    Brown box for this guy:

    https://www.peakstupidity.com/images/Idiotic_Comment.jpg

    .

    * Not counting the Commies on the other end of the Unz, errr, spectrum ... not agonna go there.
    ** Zulu time, that is.
  106. @Anonymous

    You’re making me wonder if modern society just won’t work for a good number of people. School for them is a waste of time, even vocational school. Really they need to work in the fields or stockyards and that’s it. Do you agree?
     
    You hit it on the head.

    A lot of people are only good for repetitive farm or factory work, driving truck, et al. Immigrants, automation and so forth have killed those jobs. They have been rendered biologically obsolete, not by nature but by arbitrary decisions made by wealthy ad influential people for their own benefit.

    How would you know this, really? What are your credentials to not only call people stupid but imbecilic? I posit you know next to nothing about careers that require less than 4 years of college and that you’d be abysmal at such occupations.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I drove a truck for a while and I worked repetitive jobs at electronic plants so I know who does what. While some truck drivers are very bright; MENSA is notoriously full of "truck drivers, waitresses and Sealy Posturepedic Mattress Queens" , and occasionally very smart people will drive truck for a year or two as a sort of sabbatical-you do not really need a 100 IQ even to succeed at most kinds of trucking. I've met guys who were dumb as orangutans but had three or four million accident free miles at retirement.


    Same with auto assembly line. Smart people can do it for a while, eventually the tedium gets to them, Dumb but hard working people do it for a career and often quite well.

    Skilled trades like plumbing, industrial electricians, machinists (as opposed to lathe/mill/ CNC operators, real machinists), toolmakers are often very intelligent and toolmakers and die sinkers have to be.

    I never called any particular person stupid or imbecilic. I just said some people are only capable of certain repetitive tasks and that good paying jobs for those people have largely vanished, which is true. Sad, but true.
  107. We’re also genetically inclined (to various degrees) to be social creatures who seek out clues about the right (and wrong) kind of behavior from our family, peers, religious groups, and other social groups.

    Well every man wants success and women. Everyone does but they come to somewhat different conclusions as to the best route. The issue is whether highly activist parents can alter their child’s choice, not just dam the river for a while, but totally divert it. I don’t think they can.

    2016 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) followed more than a dozen former “Biggest Losers” and found that of the 14 people studied, 13 regained a significant portion of the weight they lost on the show. Four were heavier in 2016 than they were before they set foot on the set.

    The level rises behind the dam and eventually the river resumes its course.

    Like the guy who once joked about writing the great American novel if only he could get around to writing a novel.

    Lots of people want to be a rock star, top model, Hollywood leading man/lady, sports hero or whatnot and despite pursuing and really working at it they fail totally. However those same people failing to go along with their parents’ plans for them to become a plumber ect is quite a different matter. The human tendency is to aim for the stars and end up settling for less than one would have got by playing safe.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    Sean,

    You've gone far afield. I've mentioned nothing in any of my posts about fame and women (other than perhaps some joke about a guy writing the Great American Novel), and I don't think hard work can make any dream come true. You misread my posts.

    But a society which sees hard work as the key to success is good for society at the margins. It encourages some people who are not always naturally gritty, but have moderate levels of grit which are sensitive to contexts, to work through problems they might otherwise give up on.

    That's a positive thing for a society.


    The human tendency is to aim for the stars and end up settling for less than one would have got by playing safe.
     
    I don't see that as the human tendency at all. You're probably mistaking your own fantasies for fame and success and multiple sex partners as what most people aim to achieve in their life, which is a job, a serious career, and a family. And in the case of many women, I wouldn't even include a "serious career" on that list. Most married women are quite happy to have a decent job which helps support their family.
  108. @obwandiyag
    Oh, what do you know about children and childhood development and all that? You know nothing. You just have a bunch of prejudices you want to hear parroted.

    First idiotic comment* of the NEW YEAR**!!

    Brown box for this guy:

    .

    * Not counting the Commies on the other end of the Unz, errr, spectrum … not agonna go there.
    ** Zulu time, that is.

  109. @Steve Sailer
    Bryan Caplan argues that JR Harris's argument ought to be good for bourgeois fertility.

    It seems to me that if parents can influence their children then it must take a lot of time, effort and money to make a difference. That means they can do a good job with only one or two children.

    Lower class families are probably not going to be able to send their children to exclusive schools so what pays for them would be having as many children as possible.

  110. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @miss marple
    How would you know this, really? What are your credentials to not only call people stupid but imbecilic? I posit you know next to nothing about careers that require less than 4 years of college and that you'd be abysmal at such occupations.

    I drove a truck for a while and I worked repetitive jobs at electronic plants so I know who does what. While some truck drivers are very bright; MENSA is notoriously full of “truck drivers, waitresses and Sealy Posturepedic Mattress Queens” , and occasionally very smart people will drive truck for a year or two as a sort of sabbatical-you do not really need a 100 IQ even to succeed at most kinds of trucking. I’ve met guys who were dumb as orangutans but had three or four million accident free miles at retirement.

    Same with auto assembly line. Smart people can do it for a while, eventually the tedium gets to them, Dumb but hard working people do it for a career and often quite well.

    Skilled trades like plumbing, industrial electricians, machinists (as opposed to lathe/mill/ CNC operators, real machinists), toolmakers are often very intelligent and toolmakers and die sinkers have to be.

    I never called any particular person stupid or imbecilic. I just said some people are only capable of certain repetitive tasks and that good paying jobs for those people have largely vanished, which is true. Sad, but true.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    Well, as long as you're not being snooty, Happy New Year!
  111. @miss marple
    Terrible twos?

    Terrible twos?

    I never figured out how to discipline two-year-olds in a way that made any difference. I’m not saying it’s impossible, nor would I ever discourage a parent from carrying on if something is working. I’m just saying it never worked for me.

  112. @Sean

    We’re also genetically inclined (to various degrees) to be social creatures who seek out clues about the right (and wrong) kind of behavior from our family, peers, religious groups, and other social groups.
     
    Well every man wants success and women. Everyone does but they come to somewhat different conclusions as to the best route. The issue is whether highly activist parents can alter their child's choice, not just dam the river for a while, but totally divert it. I don't think they can.

    2016 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) followed more than a dozen former "Biggest Losers" and found that of the 14 people studied, 13 regained a significant portion of the weight they lost on the show. Four were heavier in 2016 than they were before they set foot on the set.
     
    The level rises behind the dam and eventually the river resumes its course.

    Like the guy who once joked about writing the great American novel if only he could get around to writing a novel.
     
    Lots of people want to be a rock star, top model, Hollywood leading man/lady, sports hero or whatnot and despite pursuing and really working at it they fail totally. However those same people failing to go along with their parents' plans for them to become a plumber ect is quite a different matter. The human tendency is to aim for the stars and end up settling for less than one would have got by playing safe.

    Sean,

    You’ve gone far afield. I’ve mentioned nothing in any of my posts about fame and women (other than perhaps some joke about a guy writing the Great American Novel), and I don’t think hard work can make any dream come true. You misread my posts.

    But a society which sees hard work as the key to success is good for society at the margins. It encourages some people who are not always naturally gritty, but have moderate levels of grit which are sensitive to contexts, to work through problems they might otherwise give up on.

    That’s a positive thing for a society.

    The human tendency is to aim for the stars and end up settling for less than one would have got by playing safe.

    I don’t see that as the human tendency at all. You’re probably mistaking your own fantasies for fame and success and multiple sex partners as what most people aim to achieve in their life, which is a job, a serious career, and a family. And in the case of many women, I wouldn’t even include a “serious career” on that list. Most married women are quite happy to have a decent job which helps support their family.

    • Replies: @Twinkie
    Agree!

    I was quite ambitious when I was younger, but even then my goals were not "fame and women." I wanted to make a mark in the world and do so in a positive way. And always I wanted to have a virtuous woman as a wife and good children to raise with her.

    It always seemed to me that those desiring the rock star lifestyle were in the minority, a very small minority at that.
    , @Sean
    There is something in what you say, but it is also true that many people misdirect their energies on the basis that supplementary effort can make up for innate deficiencies. Steve had an acquaintance who wasted a lot of time and opportunities in repeated attempts to pass the bar exam.

    But a society which sees hard work as the key to success is good for society at the margins.
     
    Maybe it is good for a marginal fringe if they are encouraged to sweat blood because everyone believes it is true that had work pays, but the net effect on the country can be something very bad. I can see in a society such as China it is good for the society to have an encouraging but misleading belief that one can pull onself up by the bootstraps. But if many of the people who work hard and still fail are in an identifiable group such as blacks, are you going to tell them, 'you are not working hard enough''?

    The whites who believe the "key" is to work hard are also going to believe that blacks have exactly the same genetic potential for achievement as whites. When blacks try hard and, relatively speaking fail to achieve, that is going to indite the whole society in the minds of those blacks and whites who believe hard work is the key. The conventional white Ned Flanders type believer will see the masses as the Northerers saw the white Southerners, pleasure loving degenerates lording it in a corrupt system. Which is already happening.

    You used Einstein as an example. Einstein was not brought up to work hard, and he had sex with Marilyn Monroe. He also had a son who was schizophrenic. What he achieved all flowed from his genes which made him enthusiastic about certain things that interested him, and a more powerfully creative intelligence than other physicists.

  113. @Anonymous
    I drove a truck for a while and I worked repetitive jobs at electronic plants so I know who does what. While some truck drivers are very bright; MENSA is notoriously full of "truck drivers, waitresses and Sealy Posturepedic Mattress Queens" , and occasionally very smart people will drive truck for a year or two as a sort of sabbatical-you do not really need a 100 IQ even to succeed at most kinds of trucking. I've met guys who were dumb as orangutans but had three or four million accident free miles at retirement.


    Same with auto assembly line. Smart people can do it for a while, eventually the tedium gets to them, Dumb but hard working people do it for a career and often quite well.

    Skilled trades like plumbing, industrial electricians, machinists (as opposed to lathe/mill/ CNC operators, real machinists), toolmakers are often very intelligent and toolmakers and die sinkers have to be.

    I never called any particular person stupid or imbecilic. I just said some people are only capable of certain repetitive tasks and that good paying jobs for those people have largely vanished, which is true. Sad, but true.

    Well, as long as you’re not being snooty, Happy New Year!

  114. @Pontius
    I agree. My parents weren't perfect, but when I went "out into the world" I would often breathe a prayer of thanks for what they did for me.

    I agree. My parents weren’t perfect, but when I went “out into the world” I would often breathe a prayer of thanks for what they did for me.

    My father was loving, but also quite authoritarian. I resented him for that when I was younger, but now that I am a father, I think differently about him. I am much more appreciative. I wish he were alive to hear that from me.

  115. @Pincher Martin
    Sean,

    You've gone far afield. I've mentioned nothing in any of my posts about fame and women (other than perhaps some joke about a guy writing the Great American Novel), and I don't think hard work can make any dream come true. You misread my posts.

    But a society which sees hard work as the key to success is good for society at the margins. It encourages some people who are not always naturally gritty, but have moderate levels of grit which are sensitive to contexts, to work through problems they might otherwise give up on.

    That's a positive thing for a society.


    The human tendency is to aim for the stars and end up settling for less than one would have got by playing safe.
     
    I don't see that as the human tendency at all. You're probably mistaking your own fantasies for fame and success and multiple sex partners as what most people aim to achieve in their life, which is a job, a serious career, and a family. And in the case of many women, I wouldn't even include a "serious career" on that list. Most married women are quite happy to have a decent job which helps support their family.

    Agree!

    I was quite ambitious when I was younger, but even then my goals were not “fame and women.” I wanted to make a mark in the world and do so in a positive way. And always I wanted to have a virtuous woman as a wife and good children to raise with her.

    It always seemed to me that those desiring the rock star lifestyle were in the minority, a very small minority at that.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    If your assertions were true, the expensive wish-fulfillment fantasy that is the majority of our universities wouldn't exist. Most people don't think about themselves much past the age of 26. All effort and investment go towards the perfected late 20-something who thrived academically and has attained status in a profession. It's all downhill from there. This is understandable in youngsters who really don't know what comes next. In the parents who encourage and bankroll this ambition, it reveals a fundamental dissatisfaction with their own lives to the point of despair. Lots of wanted-to-bees out there living vicariously through their children.

    Of course neither Twinkie nor Martin have made choices mostly wrt providing for their future families. If either of them had families, they'd be spending their time with them instead of lurking here on iSteve.
  116. @AnonReader
    The Nuture Assumption makes two arguments: (1) that parents have relatively little impact on the way kids turn out, and that genes explain at least 50% of those outcomes, and (2) that a large portion of the remaining variance is explained by peer group effects.

    Readers of this blog are already familiar with the adoption and twin studies Harris uses to prove (1). But she makes the case with great persuasiveness, and her book is a solid introduction to the subject. Argument (2), though, is on shakier ground. Harris’s case is more theoretical and less empirical than her case for (1), and it strikes me that there is a logical issue as well:

    When they try to nurture their children, parents make many decisions that intentionally or unintentionally change their kids’ peer groups. One couple might move to a rich town and send their kid to private schools, while another couple stays in a lower-middle class area and sticks with the public schools. These changes surely change the kids’ peer groups, but wouldn’t the effects of the changes be treated as nurture effects by most twin and adoption studies? The changes are initiated by the parents, after all. But if the studies find minimal nurture effects overall, don’t they implicitly find that peer group effects are negligible as well?

    One response might be that parent’s don’t control the peer selection process, because kids will inevitably gravitate towards peers who appeal to them. A kid with latent criminal tendencies will fall in with a gang, who then help him develop into a full-blown criminal. But then the peer group is a result of characteristics the kid already possesses, so it’s hard to see the peers as the root cause of the criminality.

    I think a lot of people have trouble with TNA because it is narrowly about parenting styles, not “decisions made by parents”, and child personality, not “life outcomes.” So, for example, in your third paragraph, you claim JRH overlooked the fact that a decision to move that changes a peer group is a decision made by a parent, but actually that’s not relevant. The “theoretical” part of her “part 2” is that there is a gape left when you discount parenting style. Maybe it’s peer group, but her work is really about the assumptions we make about nurture.

  117. @miss marple
    Our society puts too much emphasis on the teens to early twenties. That motivation will carry most through their thirties well enough but only the very few are actually driven to achieve as they get older. Lots of those folk become household names: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, etc. The rest fail to realize how much they're resting on their laurels. And, slowly but surely, the percentage of time at work spent gabbing, shopping on the internet and worse increases. You could probably retire most senior level employees by 40 with good results (though not for the 40ish slacker). This is without opening the can of worms that is the personal life of the 40-something once high achiever. Eating too much, drinking too much, juvenile delinquent behavior online, so much moral sloth that many too-clever-for-their-own-good types cross the line into criminality. Did I mention just how much time the once vital, achieving types can waste especially on the internet? Personally I think it's late in life rebellion because they feel they missed out on they joys of youth because they were studying when they should've been playing. Be that as it may, aging slackers are the scourge of modern society. And such a very bad example for the young.

    You pretty much describe me, but you fail to understand how older people get trapped. Once you get into a position where you can’t advance in work and have a bunch of constraints from family, etc, there isn’t much left to do.

    For example, if I were 20 and single, I could use my extra time to start a small business, but you try telling my wife that she has to spend evenings and weekends alone so I can pursue a pie in the sky idea instead of being a slacker. Yeah, I waste a lot of time online. I can read blog posts and talk to my wife at the same time while she’s doing her thing.

  118. @miss marple
    Funny. You talk about energy but are wasting time right now. I suspect you're not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn't spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve. If you can truly take a vacation from work and your home maintenance is up to snuff, then you should be at a ski resort or something like right now. Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming. What's more, you likely haven't led that disciplined a life or exhibited much leadership through the years either. If you've been successful, it's likely because of ability rather than effort. I also suspect you have been insanely risk averse. So unless you're advising a young person to avoid taking risks in adulthood, you have no insights that could be helpful to people struggling with bad circumstances and/or their own limitations. A certain amount of success was guaranteed you and you never attempted anything beyond it. You might also be a stay-at-home mom whose children have left home and you haven't learned how to interact with your same-age peers again.

    “I suspect you’re not particularly high energy at work either because a driven person wouldn’t spend so much time commenting on dummed down, dulled down isteve… Smugness and sanctimony are unbecoming.”

    Lol… stunning lack of self awareness.

  119. @Twinkie
    Agree!

    I was quite ambitious when I was younger, but even then my goals were not "fame and women." I wanted to make a mark in the world and do so in a positive way. And always I wanted to have a virtuous woman as a wife and good children to raise with her.

    It always seemed to me that those desiring the rock star lifestyle were in the minority, a very small minority at that.

    If your assertions were true, the expensive wish-fulfillment fantasy that is the majority of our universities wouldn’t exist. Most people don’t think about themselves much past the age of 26. All effort and investment go towards the perfected late 20-something who thrived academically and has attained status in a profession. It’s all downhill from there. This is understandable in youngsters who really don’t know what comes next. In the parents who encourage and bankroll this ambition, it reveals a fundamental dissatisfaction with their own lives to the point of despair. Lots of wanted-to-bees out there living vicariously through their children.

    Of course neither Twinkie nor Martin have made choices mostly wrt providing for their future families. If either of them had families, they’d be spending their time with them instead of lurking here on iSteve.

    • Replies: @Twinkie

    Of course neither Twinkie nor Martin have made choices mostly wrt providing for their future families. If either of them had families, they’d be spending their time with them instead of lurking here on iSteve.
     
    Um, I’m close to 50 and, as a faithful Catholic, my wife and I have a large family. I’m also semi-retired.
  120. @Pincher Martin
    Sean,

    You've gone far afield. I've mentioned nothing in any of my posts about fame and women (other than perhaps some joke about a guy writing the Great American Novel), and I don't think hard work can make any dream come true. You misread my posts.

    But a society which sees hard work as the key to success is good for society at the margins. It encourages some people who are not always naturally gritty, but have moderate levels of grit which are sensitive to contexts, to work through problems they might otherwise give up on.

    That's a positive thing for a society.


    The human tendency is to aim for the stars and end up settling for less than one would have got by playing safe.
     
    I don't see that as the human tendency at all. You're probably mistaking your own fantasies for fame and success and multiple sex partners as what most people aim to achieve in their life, which is a job, a serious career, and a family. And in the case of many women, I wouldn't even include a "serious career" on that list. Most married women are quite happy to have a decent job which helps support their family.

    There is something in what you say, but it is also true that many people misdirect their energies on the basis that supplementary effort can make up for innate deficiencies. Steve had an acquaintance who wasted a lot of time and opportunities in repeated attempts to pass the bar exam.

    But a society which sees hard work as the key to success is good for society at the margins.

    Maybe it is good for a marginal fringe if they are encouraged to sweat blood because everyone believes it is true that had work pays, but the net effect on the country can be something very bad. I can see in a society such as China it is good for the society to have an encouraging but misleading belief that one can pull onself up by the bootstraps. But if many of the people who work hard and still fail are in an identifiable group such as blacks, are you going to tell them, ‘you are not working hard enough”?

    The whites who believe the “key” is to work hard are also going to believe that blacks have exactly the same genetic potential for achievement as whites. When blacks try hard and, relatively speaking fail to achieve, that is going to indite the whole society in the minds of those blacks and whites who believe hard work is the key. The conventional white Ned Flanders type believer will see the masses as the Northerers saw the white Southerners, pleasure loving degenerates lording it in a corrupt system. Which is already happening.

    You used Einstein as an example. Einstein was not brought up to work hard, and he had sex with Marilyn Monroe. He also had a son who was schizophrenic. What he achieved all flowed from his genes which made him enthusiastic about certain things that interested him, and a more powerfully creative intelligence than other physicists.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Einstein was not brought up to work hard, and he had sex with Marilyn Monroe.
     
    I'm not all that sure that that happened.

    Still, working too hard is not a good idea and kids should be brought up to work hard, but not too hard, and not work stupid.

    If you are busting your ass day in, day out and someone else is making all the money, you are doing something wrong.

    Mestizos work stupid-as long as they think they are reconquering white land and building a mestizo nation. They don't work all that hard in Mexico. Once their 90 IQ progeny are here for a generation, they will vote socialist and take all the white man's stuff, and the white women, or so they think. The white man by then may not have all that much stuff and the white women may be all mestizas and mulattas then.

    And Mars may wait another ten thousand years for human feet to touch its soil.
    The real tragedy.
  121. It’s actually pretty heartening to meet someone who is exactly suited for the job he does. When I worked at a donut shop, the “baker” there was doing what he was called to do. He was good at making donuts, cleaning up, and being faithful to the job. He may never have read a book in his life, but so what?

  122. @miss marple
    If your assertions were true, the expensive wish-fulfillment fantasy that is the majority of our universities wouldn't exist. Most people don't think about themselves much past the age of 26. All effort and investment go towards the perfected late 20-something who thrived academically and has attained status in a profession. It's all downhill from there. This is understandable in youngsters who really don't know what comes next. In the parents who encourage and bankroll this ambition, it reveals a fundamental dissatisfaction with their own lives to the point of despair. Lots of wanted-to-bees out there living vicariously through their children.

    Of course neither Twinkie nor Martin have made choices mostly wrt providing for their future families. If either of them had families, they'd be spending their time with them instead of lurking here on iSteve.

    Of course neither Twinkie nor Martin have made choices mostly wrt providing for their future families. If either of them had families, they’d be spending their time with them instead of lurking here on iSteve.

    Um, I’m close to 50 and, as a faithful Catholic, my wife and I have a large family. I’m also semi-retired.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    Not likely. You'll have to come up with a lie that is plausible while also explaining your lack of self-control on the internet.
  123. @SporadicMyrmidon
    It strikes me that humans, in comparison with all other species on Earth, have SUPERIOR genes precisely BECAUSE our genes allow culture and learning to trump biology in many ways.
    THAT is why WE WIN!
    If contemporary "adults" wish to cede cultural control of their children to the hacks in the employ of the educational system and the perverts in the entertainment complex... well, it is no surprise that their children adapt their behavior so that it matches the behavior of "peers" similarly situated. Who knows what would happen if children modeled their behavior on admirable older humans doing real stuff? Would we get, like, civilization and stuff?

    If contemporary “adults” wish to cede cultural control of their children to the hacks in the employ of the educational system and the perverts in the entertainment complex…

    Don’t forget the perverts in education and the hacks in entertainment.

    I remember listening to an interview with the late Mrs. Harris maybe 20 years ago where the subject got around to the quality of social science research. She was merciless while explaining why most of it is junk junk junk. She was not incidentally removed from a doctorate program at Harvard because her paper wasn’t original enough … a testament to her character IMO.

  124. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Sean
    There is something in what you say, but it is also true that many people misdirect their energies on the basis that supplementary effort can make up for innate deficiencies. Steve had an acquaintance who wasted a lot of time and opportunities in repeated attempts to pass the bar exam.

    But a society which sees hard work as the key to success is good for society at the margins.
     
    Maybe it is good for a marginal fringe if they are encouraged to sweat blood because everyone believes it is true that had work pays, but the net effect on the country can be something very bad. I can see in a society such as China it is good for the society to have an encouraging but misleading belief that one can pull onself up by the bootstraps. But if many of the people who work hard and still fail are in an identifiable group such as blacks, are you going to tell them, 'you are not working hard enough''?

    The whites who believe the "key" is to work hard are also going to believe that blacks have exactly the same genetic potential for achievement as whites. When blacks try hard and, relatively speaking fail to achieve, that is going to indite the whole society in the minds of those blacks and whites who believe hard work is the key. The conventional white Ned Flanders type believer will see the masses as the Northerers saw the white Southerners, pleasure loving degenerates lording it in a corrupt system. Which is already happening.

    You used Einstein as an example. Einstein was not brought up to work hard, and he had sex with Marilyn Monroe. He also had a son who was schizophrenic. What he achieved all flowed from his genes which made him enthusiastic about certain things that interested him, and a more powerfully creative intelligence than other physicists.

    Einstein was not brought up to work hard, and he had sex with Marilyn Monroe.

    I’m not all that sure that that happened.

    Still, working too hard is not a good idea and kids should be brought up to work hard, but not too hard, and not work stupid.

    If you are busting your ass day in, day out and someone else is making all the money, you are doing something wrong.

    Mestizos work stupid-as long as they think they are reconquering white land and building a mestizo nation. They don’t work all that hard in Mexico. Once their 90 IQ progeny are here for a generation, they will vote socialist and take all the white man’s stuff, and the white women, or so they think. The white man by then may not have all that much stuff and the white women may be all mestizas and mulattas then.

    And Mars may wait another ten thousand years for human feet to touch its soil.
    The real tragedy.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I get Einstein and Joe DiMaggio confused all the time too.
  125. @Anonymous

    Einstein was not brought up to work hard, and he had sex with Marilyn Monroe.
     
    I'm not all that sure that that happened.

    Still, working too hard is not a good idea and kids should be brought up to work hard, but not too hard, and not work stupid.

    If you are busting your ass day in, day out and someone else is making all the money, you are doing something wrong.

    Mestizos work stupid-as long as they think they are reconquering white land and building a mestizo nation. They don't work all that hard in Mexico. Once their 90 IQ progeny are here for a generation, they will vote socialist and take all the white man's stuff, and the white women, or so they think. The white man by then may not have all that much stuff and the white women may be all mestizas and mulattas then.

    And Mars may wait another ten thousand years for human feet to touch its soil.
    The real tragedy.

    I get Einstein and Joe DiMaggio confused all the time too.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Apparently, Monroe considered DiMaggio a sexual dynamo and Arthur Miller a bedroom dud. But Miller got her pregnant three times (she miscarried) and DiMag never did. Miller fathered two children with Inge Morath, the first immediately after they hooked up, so he was a real sperminator by all accounts.

    Allegedly she is quoted as stating DiMag was bejingled, and that has been reiteriated by many other sources-even Pete Rose claimed he was packing. Photographic evidence shows that if true, he was a grower and not a show-er.
  126. @Twinkie

    Of course neither Twinkie nor Martin have made choices mostly wrt providing for their future families. If either of them had families, they’d be spending their time with them instead of lurking here on iSteve.
     
    Um, I’m close to 50 and, as a faithful Catholic, my wife and I have a large family. I’m also semi-retired.

    Not likely. You’ll have to come up with a lie that is plausible while also explaining your lack of self-control on the internet.

    • Replies: @Twinkie
    It’s my only vice and my wife is okay with it since I don’t drink, smoke, gamble, or whore. I don’t play poker, golf, or obsess about popular sports (though I do practice combat sports and train my kids).

    Still, she tells me to stop arguing with morons on the internet. I suppose I should listen to her and terminate this conversation. Good luck to you.
  127. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer
    I get Einstein and Joe DiMaggio confused all the time too.

    Apparently, Monroe considered DiMaggio a sexual dynamo and Arthur Miller a bedroom dud. But Miller got her pregnant three times (she miscarried) and DiMag never did. Miller fathered two children with Inge Morath, the first immediately after they hooked up, so he was a real sperminator by all accounts.

    Allegedly she is quoted as stating DiMag was bejingled, and that has been reiteriated by many other sources-even Pete Rose claimed he was packing. Photographic evidence shows that if true, he was a grower and not a show-er.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    She was married to DiMaggio for about 9 months, to Miller for about 4 years. Her first husband never impregnated her either, in two years of cohabitation. (He sired 3 children with his second wife).
  128. @miss marple
    Not likely. You'll have to come up with a lie that is plausible while also explaining your lack of self-control on the internet.

    It’s my only vice and my wife is okay with it since I don’t drink, smoke, gamble, or whore. I don’t play poker, golf, or obsess about popular sports (though I do practice combat sports and train my kids).

    Still, she tells me to stop arguing with morons on the internet. I suppose I should listen to her and terminate this conversation. Good luck to you.

  129. @Anonymous
    Apparently, Monroe considered DiMaggio a sexual dynamo and Arthur Miller a bedroom dud. But Miller got her pregnant three times (she miscarried) and DiMag never did. Miller fathered two children with Inge Morath, the first immediately after they hooked up, so he was a real sperminator by all accounts.

    Allegedly she is quoted as stating DiMag was bejingled, and that has been reiteriated by many other sources-even Pete Rose claimed he was packing. Photographic evidence shows that if true, he was a grower and not a show-er.

    She was married to DiMaggio for about 9 months, to Miller for about 4 years. Her first husband never impregnated her either, in two years of cohabitation. (He sired 3 children with his second wife).

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