Good Parenting or Good Genes

Chapter 11 of Human Diversity (2020) brings us to proposition #8 of Murray’s “10 things we don’t have to argue about anymore”.  The first 7 are about race and sex – we’ll steer clear of those because of cancel culture controversy from people who still want to viciously argue against science in order to defend a tyrannical leftist orthodoxy.  Propositions 8-10, on the other hand, are about socio-economic status – good War Chest material.

Proposition #8 is that the shared environment usually plays a minor role in explaining personality, abilities, and social behavior.  The shockingly counterintuitive truth is that childhood family upbringing does not significantly impact adult cognitive repertoires.  I always thought that the way parents raise children makes a huge difference in how they turn out.  It does not.  That is a remarkably unexpected piece of scientific knowledge with extraordinary implications; so much so that many intelligent people refuse to believe it for political reasons – or emotional ones [I am upset at the thought that all the care, love, effort, time and energy my wife and I invested into raising our son and daughter did not and could not make much of a difference in their adult cognitive toolkits – but it’s true].

Take solace in knowing that although good parenting does not affect IQ or personality much, it nonetheless establishes a child’s foundational values, outlook and attitudes, which contribute to their happiness and fulfillment beyond economic or professional achievement.  If I (someone receptive to Murray’s work) had trouble swallowing this scientific finding, imagine the hostility and scorn that the ideologically entrenched fling at it.  That’s the most interesting aspect of this story – vitriolic objections to scientific findings – more on that as we reach the end of the book.

Next week, we get to proposition #9 of things we don’t need to argue about anymore even though people still do – and quite bitterly at that.

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