TCS Daily


A Thousand Chinese Einsteins Every Year

By James D. Miller - October 2, 2007 12:00 AM

Humankind may be changed radically by the recently developed technique allowing the safe gathering of thousands of immature eggs from a woman's ovarian tissue. This technique combined with cheap DNA sequencing and embryo selection will soon allow parents to multiply their newborn children's intellectual potential.

Some parents already use embryo selection to avoid conceiving children genetically predisposed to certain diseases. Here is how such embryo selection works. Let's say that a naturally conceived child of a certain couple has a 25% chance of being born with a fatal genetic disease. Rather than naturally conceiving a child, however, this couple might go to a fertility clinic. The clinic would remove, say, seven eggs from the woman and fertilize them with sperm from her husband. These fertilized eggs would become embryos. An embryo contains the full DNA of the child it could become. The clinic could therefore check each embryo to determine if it has the gene combination that would result in the fatal disease. The clinic would then destroy the embryos that have the fatal genes and implant one of the surviving embryos into the woman, insuring that the woman would not give birth to a child with the fatal genetic condition.

Now imagine how embryo selection will take place in the near future. By some predictions, within five years the cost of sequencing DNA will be "affordable enough that personal genomics will be integrated into routine clinical care." Once millions of people have their DNA sequenced researchers may quickly determine which combination of genes gives people the best chance of having a high IQ. Parents using embryo selection could, therefore, screen their embryos and pick the one with the greatest intellectual potential.

A recent advance in gathering eggs from women will make it much easier for choosey moms to give birth to geniuses. Two British fertility clinics have found a way of safely obtaining thousands of eggs from a woman. Fertility clinics, therefore, will soon be able to give a couple thousands of embryos to pick from. So let's say that a certain couple's genes mean that normally they have only a 1% chance of conceiving a child with the genetic potential to reach a genius IQ. With the ability to select among thousands of embryos, however, this couple could now almost guarantee that their offspring has the genetic potential of a genius.

Embryo selection gets even more interesting when we consider how a nation such as China might use it. Imagine that in ten years China forces all its college students to get genetic tests. Students with intelligence genes in the top 1% of the top 1% of humankind are then forced to donate sperm or eggs. China then uses the sperm and eggs to create a billion embryos each year. The genetic intellectual potential of all these embryos is checked. Those in the top 10,000 are implanted into women. Each of these embryos has the intellectual potential to be in the top one-billionth of humankind. Now because of environmental factors many of these embryos won't turn into intellectual titans. But let's say that one in ten does. This means that each year 1,000 people with the scientific ability of Einstein will be born. By 2035 they will become adults and start doing scientific research. I imagine these Einsteins will be rather helpful to China's economy and military.

James D. Miller writes "The Game Theorist" column for TCS and is the author of Game Theory at Work. He keeps a blog here.


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55 Comments

Nature vs Nuture
A billion embryos and 10,000 Einstein level geniuses?

Well, maybe. Then again, who will rear those potential geniuses? How will the state guarantee success or at least improve the chances for genius-level intelligence? And besides, genius in what endeavor? Nose picking?

Also, look at another genius: Stephen Hawking, physicist, author and wheel chair bound. I We'd also have to check for diseases such as his.

Don't get me wrong, I hope the Chinese go ahead with their program. I hope they also start at the other end of the IQ spectrum as well: culling the dullards from their society.

It will be fascinating to watch the US politicians and clergymen respond: "even the stupid have a right to reproduce at your expense."

Because I SAID so
This approach-- seed selection-- is not going to work out as well as people would like. Good genes are only a small part of what goes into actual intelligence-- in fact I suspect a majority of infants have what it takes to develop outstanding intelligence.

What's required is good parents. Intelligent thinking habits are developed in the child's first few months on earth. Parents who offer a stimulating environment, and interact with their child in an intelligent manner, will stimulate intelligent development. Those who don't, and who leave the job to gimmicky electronic devices like Brainiac, will get television watchers and video gamers. It's the human-to-human contact that's all important.

Even a silly game is good when taught by the mother. The world's best game developed by researchers and brought to the child by an interactive box teaches the child to be remote and isolated.

One excellent way to raise a dull, average child is to teach them not to question. Parents who use their authority in this way may get a well behaved child, but it will be an incurious one, accepting of whatever life puts on its plate. Rules are best presented with the reasoning behind them, so the child can understand what goes into a rule. And questions must be encouraged and answered to the child's satisfaction.

Likewise my personal opinion is that the child develops its brain more fully if it is exposed to an evidence-based approach to reasoning, preparatory to learming how to use the scientific method in examining basic questions. The limitation of faith-based thought is that the questions all stop at the altar. As a popular bumper sticker used to say, "God said it, I believe it, and that's all there is to it." To live such a life, little reflection is required. Only blind obedience.

Another way to raise a mediocre child is to encourage group-think. Probably half the individuals one meets in life don't conduct any original thought. Instead they utilize their intelligence only to figure out where the group is going... and then to get there.

"I couldn't agree more" they say, fitting in nicely.

Finally, it's useful not to waste the first 21 years of life by imagining that your young person is a "child". From the start, they're on their way toward becoming little adults. Recognize that the potential is there for them to begin life as adults. It saves time-- particularly in light of the fact that most of the brain's wiring is "set in concrete" after the first seven years. Infantile habits of mind die hard, if ever.

Raise a child and you'll get a child-- in some ways, probably for life. Raise an adult and you'll get one of those. Which seed you use is relatively unimportant... the human stock as a whole is inherently capable of intelligence.

1000 Khan Ali Singh's
The whole thing sounds like the "Eugenics War" from "Star Trek"

chinese eugenics
Those guys already do big time genetics right now. Millions of women are missing already because of selecting for males, then getting abortions if female, and also female infanticide is very common. So no matter if not considerered ethical by squeamish westerners(the same people who hypocritically think it's OK to drill a hole thru a partially born babies head), or even against the law, they'll still do anything to get ahead of the game.

Fortunately...
... we're unlikely to raise a thousand Khan Ali Singhs (I'm unfamiliar with this person, but a thousand of anyone sounds like a bad idea). In order to raise them, we'd need a thousand sets of identical parents.

A simple thought
If you're going to become a Master Race, and rule the world, it's probably not a good idea to kill off all your women.

raised by machines
You can't know that it's better to be raised by nice parents rather than all those gizmos. They've only been around a very few years, so nobody knows if they'll mostly be freakish nerds, or whatever. But in fact chinamen don't just dump their kids with machines, and do have so interaction with them, often very nice too. So other things being equal, then if selected for greater ID, then the odds go way up. Even in the fields of animal husbandry, and people who work with plants, all this regularly goes on. It's just that modern westerners don't think it's approprate for humans, and like to raise runts(as long as somebody else can pay for them, as the guy above said).

simpletons
Yeah, they're pretty dumb that way, since they're still so ruled by their primitive superstitions. It affects most aspects of their lives yet. But they do like high tech and will experiment with any sort of gene stuff available. I could even see them setting up special programmes for such brainiac kids, kinda like they do for the athletes.

Come on Roy
A faith based approach? Stops at the alter? What kind of liberal psychobabble is this? You and bobones...

You know how many Mormons I know with Ph D's in hardcore physical sciences? Doctors, lawyers?

This is a absurd statement typical of a liberal, that religious people are ignorant while the "agnostic" are the real thinkers of society.

This religious mediocrity might prevail in Islam (the religion you liberals love to coddle) but in Christianity it is non-existent except in some little weird churches.

One father I know, a Doctor of Electrical Engineering, has his son read a chapter a night from a book and then questions him on it. I agree parents are the key but religion, at least as I know it, opens the mind, not closes it.

Your watching to much CNN.



Be careful what you wish for
I don't think China could deal with a thousand Einsteins. Isn't China the country that hatches proverbs about "the nail that sticks out gets hammered"?

The Questioning child
"And questions must be encouraged and answered to the child's satisfaction."

Except questioning the ever expanding role of GOVAGs in the civil life, of course.

THAT is out of bounds.

That, and the questions "If I have to help others, what those others will be doing" and "why not each help himself and leave others to help themsleves".

Those were the questions asked by many children I interacted with, when I told them - just to see how they react, NOT to brain wash them with that collectivist (aka socialist/communist) non-sense - that helping others is the highest call in life.

We agree on something!
Yes, I think by and large, Chinese parents will make good ones. Back when they had the one family-one child program working, parents learned to value their one child.

Of course it raised a generation of self centered spoiled brats, in the opinion of some Chinese. But it's better than just being barefoot and popping them out annually. IMO, of course.

I would have no problem with a bunch of Chinese smarties. In fact it would come as a relief, after the experience of so many of my fellow typical American householders. My guess is they could probably hold forth intelligently on subjects other than team sports.

Plus, they appear to be able to speak a better version of the English language.

Touching
Your pathelogical hatred of the European White male is really touching Roy.

Anything NOT European White male (I think more probably WASP) is good for you.

Faith based wisdom
"This is a absurd statement typical of a liberal," etc.

Well, let's expand on those comments I've made until we can find some point of agreement.

It is certainly possible to raise a child within a church while still encouraging it to be open minded and capable of asking the important questions. But it's not easy.

The pitfall to be avoided is that of narrow mindedness-- where the child is taught that ours is the only true faith, while others are all deluded and mistaken. Raise a child that way and critical thinking stops. They learn a contempt for people who don't think exactly as they do.

Instead, I think an ideal education should include suggesting that the child be open to the good in everyone, and the truths to be found in all religions. This gives less room for intolerance and a lack of understanding. It's harder, for instance, to train a child to kill strangers when the child is open to understanding them as human beings.

I am also firmly in favor of teaching the youngster both ethics and morals at an early age. I think these lessons work better when they are centered on the Golden Rule, of doing to others what you'd like to have done unto you. This is a concept youngsters really get.

Unfortunately, the concept that they better do as they're told or a vengeful God will come down and smite the pee out of them is another concept children readily get.

BTW I never watch CNN. I don't have cable. When exposed to it, once or twice a year in a motel room, I can't stand it. It's crapola disguised as news.

Govags
This is a real obsession of yours. Have you never asked yourself why no one else on earth relates every subject under the sun to the malign influence of "govags"? Or why this is not even a word in the English language?

I would gently suggest that you set yourself a goal, not to speak of or even think about your dreded govags for one week. Maybe some subshine could creep in.

I shudder to think that you may have interacted with "many children". Poor things, to be taught by you that helping others is wrong.

Have YOU never asked yourself
Why every problem in society needs a solution involving GOVAGs?

Is there ANYTHING that is NOT controlled by the GOVAGs?

How are new words added to the English language every year? How has google become a word in the English language now?

All the children I taught are doing quite well in life, thank you very much.

And they are helping many more people than the children YOU might have taught, who may be being helped by the children I taught.

Correction to the above
It should read :

Is there ANYTHING important that is NOT controlled by GOVAGs?

Something I have asked myself...
... many times, is what the definition of a govag is. In your hands it seems to be a protean kind of word, meaning anything you want it to.

I know you've mentioned it is an Agent of the Government. But that seems to be something like a fellow traveller, someone unwittingly helping the dreaded government achieve its hideous ends. And it's such a brod eefinition that, as you say right here, "Is there ANYTHING that is NOT controlled by the GOVAGs?"

Is this about right? Industry? The schools? Organized religion, all controlled by them?

"All the children I taught are doing quite well in life, thank you very much."

Probably much better, in fact, than those people you've taught them to short change in life. The way you describe what you're teaching them, it sounds like kick the weak and the slow of foot, so you can get ahead of them.

I don't teach my nine grandchildren anything. If they ask me a question I give them my best answer.

Not actually...
That is a Japanese expression. Modern Chinese are actually quite culturally individualistic, which is why a thousand Einsteins may not be such a good thing for the CCP, if not for China itself. And there's a fair chance that a good percentage of those Einsteins will end up in American and European universities and labs.

Dr. Miller...what fun and how very wrong...
In the first place the Biology regarding this proposition is fundamentally wrong. Secondly, of course, the Chinese actually have no such program. What nonsense!

Dr. Miller teaches economics at Smith College. He graduated with advanced degrees from several elite schools...including a Master's program at Yale, he earned a JD at Stanford Law and his PhD in Economics is from the University of Chicago. James Miller is really smart. (Or he did really good on his GRE's.) Therefore, he should be bright enough to know how much he does not understand regarding this subject...he must know that he is just (irresponsibly) making this stuff up.

Let me go through it point by point.

Harvesting thousands of eggs from a particular woman has almost no impact on any of this unless you want to produce thousands of babies all from the same woman. This is not what the author was talking about. (Also, sorting through thousands of eggs or embryos for the same woman, using our current techniques...not going to happen...ever.)

Cheap DNA sequencing tells us nothing about which of those genes (we might now be able to locate on the chromosomes) are actually involved with the development of the human brain during the entire course of embryogenesis. Lots of such genes "turn on" only briefly to code for molecular structures with transitional (but key) roles...for the rest of the time they are inactive in those areas of the genome previously thought to be "junk DNA". It will be hundreds of years before we tease all of that out.

We are nowhere close to understanding the myriad variables involved with normal human genetics. At best we know about a few very bad genes that result in something terrible. Identifying and understanding all the healthy genes involved when everything goes well...this is very different.

As it is (with the two common embryo selection techniques in use) we are only able to examine very small (target) fragments of chromosomal material extracted with great effort using one or two cells harvested from living (8 cell) embryos. Very delicate, very tricky and very limited.

When we can do better (a long, long time from now) entirely different techniques will be involved.

It might now be possible to insinuate a small amount of genetic material into the human genome at a very early (8-16 cell) embryonic stage to mask a deleterious gene or to splice the correction into a chromosome...but doing this for hundreds of genes simultaneously (if we even knew which ones to go after) is well beyond our abilities today. To say the least.

Actually ever doing such a thing directly (involving hundreds of genes scattered across more than one chromosome) would probably be so difficult that we would simply create an entirely new chromosome or an organelle to insinuate into the cell instead.

Ten years from now?...the Chinese are going to screen 1 billion 3-day old embryoes looking for the 10,000 best?

"Each of these embryos has the intellectual potential to be in the top one-billionth of humankind." What? Each of these would be among the "top six or seven" smartest people on Earth? And now there are going to be 10,000 of those born each year? Starting ten years from now?

Is it really that simple? We can't do any of this...none of the techniques we are using today would ever be used to do this. But even if any of this could work (and it can't) we might be able to do such a thing once or twice...One billion times? with the current technology? ten years from now? in China? Really?

Do you have any idea how expensive that would be (the first time) if we are ever able to do it? Who is going to fund the project to develop this technology? And then provide the service as a commodity? Our global economy would need to be fundamentally different long before this could happen. No corporate entity would undertake it...no government.

What are you thinking? Are you even thinking at all when you write such foolishness? A lot of these good people took this article at face value. This is completely reckless professional behavior...and you get to do this why? Because you went to good schools?

My own daughter graduated from Smith College in 2001. Please don't make me think I understand her any better now...

Wait a minute...I just saw your proposal to make Supreme Court clerks pony up $1 million to "purchase their entry" into the elite of the legal community. Great idea...you're just full of great ideas, aren't you?

Never mind...I can take a joke.







Teaching Intelligence
I read your post a few times, Roy. I think that it's well reasoned and based on the assumptions you've made, the conclusions are sound.

Except, that I think the premise is flawed: Parents have little or no impact on their child's personality and certainly no impact on their adult level of intelligence as measured by IQ.

As a general capacity, your level of intelligence has been set genetically. You can adjust what you know, but not the basis for comprehension. Just as you can adjust your ability to sing through learned techniques, but no amount of effort will turn you into a world-class opera singer. You lack the genetic capacity. (Presumably... I've never heard you sing.)

You were obviously blessed with a capacity for complex thought, and it was almost certainly a gift from your parents. But, it was a genetic gift, made up from some amalgamation of Mom's 23 and Dad's 23 chromosomes. Along the bell-curve that is human intelligence, there are many who have been less fortunate.

I don't think that you we are only the products of our genes. As I understand it, 50% of the correlation between indivduals can be explained by the effects of genes; 50% by unique experiences; and none or very little from the effect of shared-experiences such as those that may come from our parents.

Ocean tests are a means of finger-printing a personality. I don't recall what the acronym stands for but, it has Openness, Aggression, Neuroses, etc. It's interesting to compare Ocean scores between siblings. We can learn some neat things by looking at how similar scores are betweens pairs of twins and pairs of adopted siblings.

In short:
Identical Twins shared a correlation of 50% of their ocean scores, even when raised completely apart. (50% from genes, 50% from unique experiences, and 0% from shared parents
An adopted child raised with biological siblings, is scores no more similarly with their brother/sisters than any stranger on the street. (0% genes, 0% unique experiences, 100% shared parents.)

Finally, although IQ scores of adopted children tend to raise slightly when they are in their adopted family, they tend to sink to a lower level once they have left the nest.

I've made a lot of statements --and probably spelling errors--because I'm short on time. This is a topic that I find fascinating, and my personal opinion is that it makes good sense why parents *think* they can have an effect on children's personalities/intelligence --even though they don't. It also makes good sense why this must be so in order for children to be successful.
I'm sorry that I don't have time to supply URLs to support my points. I'll try to double-extra support my claims on the next topic.

Whoops! (Quick Error Correct)
I'd said:

"Identical Twins shared a correlation of 50% of their ocean scores, even when raised completely apart. (50% from genes, 50% from unique experiences, and 0% from shared parents." -QuickJason (me)

"An adopted child raised with biological siblings, is scores no more similarly with their brother/sisters than any stranger on the street. (0% genes, 0% unique experiences, 100% shared parents.) " - QuickJason (still me)

These parentheticals are inconsitent. By definition, unique experiences can't be shared. They only happen to the individual. (Getting beat-up, falling ill, being named Prom King, etc.) I make that point in my first reference, but this confuses my second example because the Math is wrong. If you share 0% correlation with an adopted sibling, the formula would be 0% score = 50% genes (unshared with siblings), 50% unique experiences (by definition unshared) + parents (must be 0%, cause the score is 0% correlation.

Just a quick stab at clarification. Hope that helps.

No, it really isn't
I believe the Amish cast out the kids at 18 and the have to live among society for 2 years I think before returning if they decide it is for them. In fact, I quite admire them. They live simple lives based upon traditions. They refuse SSI and other government benefits and they take nothing. They are totally self reliant.

We might take lesson from them?

I suspect many prefer the quiet lifestyle to living among the Sodamites?

It is quite easy to instill both religious virtue and a open mind. It is called parenting. We don't shelter the kids, we explain to them the options and the pros and cons. When they are grown they will make the choices right for them.

Has the expunging of religion from all public life benefited society so much? If so, explain how such a enlightened society as ours is safer and better?

Next time you visit the inner city you can see the product of both secular humanism and the failures of the social welfare state. Contrary to popular culture welfare is not a Christian value. Charity and welfare are not synonomous but rather contradictory.

Charity is a helping hand. Welfare is a lifestyle that for many promotes sloth.

The seven deadly sins? Teach a man to fish Roy and he eats for a lifetime. Give a man a fish he eats for a day?

Pretty backwards for us religious nuts huh?

Please contact me
Dear forest:

I am currently writing a book on how intelligence enhancements will influence society. I would be grateful if you would contact me so I can better understand your objections to my article.

Jim Miller
EconomicProf@Yahoo.com

One more thing
What do you mean by "Back when they had the one family-one child program working" ?

You mean that is no longer the case?

Have you spoken to a main land Chinese man/woman recently?

How about some recent news form China?

How about this?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/22/world/asia/22china.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

False alternatives
I tell the kids I interact with that their Right to exist is not conditional upon they helping anybody.

How is that teaching them to "kick the weak and the slow of foot, so you can get ahead of them" or that “helping others is wrong”?

It is people of your ilk who turn out kids who prey upon the innocents by inducing guilt in them (the innocents, that is). I protect the innocents by arming them with the correct philosophy.

Do you care to argue that the GOVAGs have no control over Industry, the Schools and Organized religion?

You mean you (for example) can start a business and advertise "WASPs need not apply"? Probably you can, because it is not race hatred if the target is the WASPs.

You mean you can advertise and pay One Cent an Hour if there is a guy/girl who will accept it?

You mean you can stop paying tax without consequences because you don't want your money to end up as a part of the $5,000 that Hillary Clinton is proposing to give to every child born in the US of A?

When you are forced to slave it out till May 2nd each year (give or take a few days) for the benefit of others before you are allowed to work for your self and your loved ones, we are all enthralled to the GOVAGs and for all practical purposes, there is nothing that is sacrosanct and exempt from the machinations of the GOVAGs.

Bad government
Interesting article. That's what happens when you have a government unresponsive to people's concerns. You get bad policy, applied with increasing brutality as people complain about it.

A good example of stunted intelligence. Government works much better when it consciously strives to keep people happy.

We have precisely the same thing going on now in my town. The town council has decided in their wisdom to limit the number of pets people can have. As a result, unrest is growing.

We'll see whether they wise up in time and relent, or whether they'll pass the ordinance anyway, and see people organize a recall referendum against them. If you rile folks up, you'd better be ready with the clubs and guns to deal with the result.

Sooth thyself, stranger
Amazing! You breezed right past me to continue with your point about prohibiting religion, without even reading me.
As a result, you've written something that I agree with entirely... and entitled it "No, it really isn't".

Please learn to distinguish when someone is not opposing you. This is the reptilian core of the brain resonding to threat with ferocity. We can upgrade the discussion by switching over to our human brains, that outer cortex capable of distinguishing nuance.

I have no problem with the Amish, preferring their way of life. I even applaud them for asking their children to do a walkabout in the outside world for a year or two, just to make certain they're making a conscious choice. That's good.

My own father used to advise trying everything once, and then retaining those behaviors you liked.

So I have not accused you of being a religious nut, and you can put your gun back up on the rack, you won't be needing it today. Maybe you should go back and re-read my comments about those behaviors that educate a child to become a primitive.

One such would be if the Amish were to teach their children to turn their backs on the rest of society, and never talk to a stranger for fear of contaminating their pure beliefs.

See? Religion is not the enemy. It can be intelligently employed toward a child's education. Or, it can be ignorantly applied to turn the little wretch into an intolerant bigot.

Methinks you were a bit too thin skinned on this one. We're both in agreement. Except, of course, in our opinions of Christ's view of proper conduct regarding wealth and poverty. He said a few words aboout this, as I recall.

Nor did I recommend expunging religion from society. As for the ghetto, I spent thirty years there, trying to teach behaviors that were useful to people. There I found religion to have mostly a positive influence.

Which lifestyle is preferable?
I see. So the children in your care are taught to ask no man for help? And to not extend a hand should anyone else need help? And if their house should catch on fire, not to call the fire department but to handle it themselves?

I'm sure you believe this to be admirable, and any weakness on the children's part is sure to turn them into little govags. But it's an archaic way of life, emplyed only by a handful of isolated survivalists. You're very far from the main stream.

I'm not sure what made you so angry and resentful. I pay my taxes readily. And I call on the government to deliver those services I've paid for. I am a part of American life.

I engage readily with my local and state governments-- so they don't go off and do crazy stuff without asking me for my opinion first.

In return for my lifelong cooperation, I'm now retired, with a Social Security check coming in every month and a Medicare policy that may very well come in handy some day. Being a citizen has been good for me.

It's a better way to live. But down in the mountains we do have a few people like you still existing. They don't much speak with strangers and their kids don't go to school. People think of them as the weirdos, and feel a little sorry for the women and children.

Already done...
"Don't get me wrong, I hope the Chinese go ahead with their program. I hope they also start at the other end of the IQ spectrum as well: culling the dullards from their society"

This was already tried. Remember the great society of Germany in the early 20th century?

God help us all!

-Bob

Roy...
...have you even raised any children?

First, the idea of reasoning with a three-year-old is ludicrous.

Second, the idea that a brain is hard-wired at seven is just not true. Reasoning centers of the brain aren't fully developed until after the teenage years, which explains WHY one does not treat a 16 year-old as an adult.

Finally, Roy, the idea that one should question "everything" is just silly, and a waste of time. I guess you think that children should demand proof that the world is round, not flat, etc. No, Roy, some facts can be merely accepted, not proven, as we all rely on facts that were proven long ago, and demanding proof of every fact means that we spend ALL our time questioning, instead of progressing!

Furthermore, Roy yet again shows his lack of understanding of Christianity. Every hear of C.S. Lewis, St. Thomas Aquinas, etc.? Great thinkers, all.

Yes, Roy, your post was your opinion, and true to form its full of errors, misunderstandings, and misinformation.

-Bob

Teaching self-reliance
This is not a bod thing. You can also teach kids they should help others but they should never be forced to or accept that such forcing is O.K.

I want my kids to be able to work things out for themselves, to work for themselves and to feel compassion toward those less fortunate and contempt for those who try and tell them what they have to do.

Overall, I tend to agree with your many posts on this subject; but I have a few alterations I would make in your version of how a child should be raised. One thing I think we do agree on is they need to be held loved and interacted with as a top priority for parenting.

OCEAN tests are interesting
But observation is just as interesting. I've known a few twins in my time and observing my own children I find the differences fascinating.

I have three school aged kids, my oldest has a base IQ of 110-130, does bit above national average on standardized tests and has trouble maintaining a "C" average. My middle child has a 80-100 IQ, does poorly on standardized tests and struggles but maintains a C+ average. My youngest (school aged, I have a 20-month old as well) has a measured IQ of 130-150, blows out standardized tests and maintains an A/A- average without straining much. (I'm afraid to have the baby measured; she started walking at 8 months by standing up in the middle of the floor and taking off; none of that toddling around furniture for her! She talks in sentences, loves to be read to and trys to sing along with Hannah Montana songs her older sisters like to listen to. If this kid doesn't top 140 IQ I will be shocked!)

At home, the oldest is deliberately defiant and has been since the age of 8 (she's 18 now and has finally learned enough hard lessons to give her parents a little credit and to try and get better grades in school. She guesses she wants to give college a try!), the middle child is quite a bit more demure and the youngest (school-aged) is a bossy, intellectual snob who doesn't understand why every doesn't read three book at a time and enjoy Shakespeare and Poe. (Yeesh kid, you're only in the 5th grade; slow up!)

I could go on, but the point is that each kids has different intellectual levels and different personalities in spite of exactly the same home and school environment (and the same teachers). It becomes evident to any parent who pays attention that personality and IQ are genetic traits, but ones that are as individual as a fingerprint and not necessarily connected directly to the parents. (I.E. Einstein could easily have a kid with a 60 IQ and trailer-trash John-Bob and his wife Bobby-Jean can have a kid with a 200 IQ. Also, the odds of that are only somewhat lower than the odds of the converse.)

If that is true, than what good is parenting and education? Those are seperate issues, but connected. Education, as we now pay for it, is suppose to impart some basic, general information that society deems important so our kids can begin their adult lives with some understanding of the society they live in and how it works. (This is important as Humans don't seem to have a cognative "genetic" memory of past events and necessary abilities.)
Parents need to, first and foremost, protect and nurture; secondly - discipline and "tame" so that… Third, they can teach and encourage learning.

Unfortunately, some kids won't be tamed, some can't learn as much or as fast as we want them to and some are smarter (and sometimes even more well read and "educated) that their teachers. This is where public schools fail.

Thanks Bob
Could not of said it better myself. I have a four year old if I reasoned w/him I would be wasting my breath all most of what children do seems to be test test test not reason. Also most people seem to reject faith are people who can not accept that something else is in control in there life because in fact they wish that they were god like. So they try to control everything through Gov't they can not accept free will or people actually could take care of themselves.

"What good is parenting?"
Interesting post, Paul. I enjoyed reading it.

I thought I'd comment on one of the last things you said, because I have a strong opinion on it:

"If that is true, than what good is parenting? [...]
Parents need to, first and foremost, protect and nurture; secondly - discipline and 'tame' so that… Third, they can teach and encourage learning." -Pauled

In my view, the role of the parent is to keep their children safe and happy. And, that's it.

There is no use in taming, encouraging, or even teaching (unless you mean academics/physical skills) because no matter how hard we try, those activities can't have an impact on our children.

I forget who made this point originally --some researcher, I suppose-- but it makes sense that we can't shape our kid's personalities. (Taming them to settle down; encouraging them to do 'what's right'; teaching them social skills.)
Kids and Parents want very different things. Picture the world in which humans evolved. Resources are scarce, and many children die due to a lack of resources in a harsh environment. In such a world, parents and kids want very different things: Parents want their children to share resources equally, and Kids want as many resources as they can possibly get for themselves.
If a genetic freak of a kid showed up that would actually listen to their parents and share resources, they would quickly be out-competed by their siblings and would die. This is a dead-end strategy.
Kids can count on their parents to favor them out of love, so it's a much better strategy to adjust to the needs of their peers than the needs of their parents.
Whew!!

Life's many lessons
Self reliance is a good thing to be teaching children. They can save a lot of trouble later on if someone explains to them that if you wait for someone else to do it you can be waiting a long long time.

They should also learn there's such a thing as reciprocity. They can do a favor for someone else. Favors make both people feel good. But they can get into a pattern of helping others for nothing and getting stepped on, taken for granted, held in contempt for it. They should be on the lookout for this kind of behavior, and avoid those people.

Naturally they should not go through life BEING one of those people. If your kid starts wxpecting others to carry his freight for him, my advice is to take him downtown to the Greyhound bus station. And lose him in the crowd.

If he finds his way home, fine. You can let him in.

I had no idea we were looking for lessons for the young that were that specific. I just listed some general stuff in my first post.

You don't think I was being a little rough with the fellow with the odd name, do you? He and I didn't exactly hit it off. I can be a little judgmental some times.

Life's important lessons
It does depend quite a bit on who you get for a child. Some forty year olds are still children.

I was raised by adults, and expected to be an adult. I went along with it-- I thought that was the way everybody was.

Later on, when I met other children, it took me a while to figure them out. They were awfully-- well-- childish. Meaning irrational, and in a not very good kind of way. By the time I was eighteen or so I had figured out how to work with them, and got into the main stream.

Re Christianity, I understand what you're saying. And I'm not against it, if that's what someone wants to believe. What I thought I explained rather explicitly in my first post was that a dogmatic, hidebound adherence to any religion was a habit that limited one's ability to understand the outside world. And I maintain that to be true.

C S Lewis and Thomas Aquinas are religious people I have no problem with. St Cyril of Alexandria was a hideous person I would have no part of. Both, technically, would be considered Christians.

Finally, here is where you and I have a sincere difference of opinion:

"Finally, Roy, the idea that one should question "everything" is just silly, and a waste of time. I guess you think that children should demand proof that the world is round, not flat, etc. No, Roy, some facts can be merely accepted, not proven, as we all rely on facts that were proven long ago, and demanding proof of every fact means that we spend ALL our time questioning, instead of progressing!"

There is no way time can be better spent than in figuring your way out of things that aren't true, that everyone thinks are true, and that others would like to convince you they're true.

Life is a big con game, where the best players die with all the chips. Money, power and influence. When a child reaches the age of discretion-- whenever that is-- a responsible parent should definitely (IMO) get into that discussion with him or her.

You can be certain that the children of the rich and powerful get that lesson taught early on. That's why the sons of kings tend also to become kings.

Wow. That's something I *really* disagree with.
I was with you up to the end. I'd replace: 'we'd need a thousand sets of identical parents' with: 'we'd need a thousand sets of identical unique experiences, because parenting doesn't matter a micro-ounce when it comes to our children's personalities intelligence.

Interesting comments
Excuse my butting in. Those are some interesting comments.

About your four year old who is testing and testing you. The child obviously displays intelligence. This is intelligent, manipulative behavior. Shouldn't it be channeled?

Is there another way besides reasoning with such a child to take back the reins from him? It seems to me that you can explain to the child that acting that way won't get them what they want. And if you remain steadfast, they'll learn that lesson in a jiffy. They'll find that tantrums, for instance, just don't work.

Apply brute force though, and you just come across to him as the bigger of the two apes. The child will try to thwart you more subtly next time.

2. "most people seem to reject faith are people who can not accept that something else is in control in there life because in fact they wish that they were god like. So they try to control everything through Gov't they can not accept free will or people actually could take care of themselves."

Does this look like a world where a kind and wise old God is in control? What about all the wars?

The rich, the powerful and the crafty are in control. And often in human affairs it's just the blind force of an idiot crowd that's in control. A child may as well start out young, learning to build his or her own area of control. And make certain others don't take it from him or her.

Once they accept that they can't win they become sheep. And are then useless both to themselves and to others.

But that's just me. I'll raise them my way and you raise them your way.

Maybe I should clarify
I believe we are in total agreement on all but one thing - I believe you can "tame" or "Shape" a child from their "naturally aggressive" (to simplify, perhaps overly so, your historic perspective) tendacies. I also think our society demands more self control and that society has really only existed as such for a couple hundred years, vastly outstripping and evolutionary chance to do this naturally.

In my ever evolving parenting I've found that the first 2-3 years a child needs to be loved and coddled and simply enjoyed. Anything else is a dis-service to the child and the parent. But, by 2-ish, parents need to begin to break the "Baby" habits (their's and the kid's); potty training, weaning (usually off the bottle at this point), and other such things (including exposeing them to a bit of socialization). From that point up to about 4, these things should be done through encouragement only (unless it is something dangerous, like playing with electrical outlets and such; a little slap of the hand will usually get the point across in a hurry, especially if it is rare and not overdone). By about 4 it is time for parents to begin a little "taming". (Maybe it is just me, but my girls were all hellions and I loved it! We mock fought, wrestled around, played with insects, in mud puddles, etc; but I wouldn't have pushed them on any teacher without a little "taming"!) Getting the kids to sit quietly through a short story (instead of letting them get up and down as you try and read to them) is one of several small steps that can be used to get them to sit still more and pay attention. At this age, going to the park and getting them to play nicely with others is also important.

By 5-6 they are in school (public, private or homeschooled) and will be forced to learn these skills, and usually without the loving care of a parent. If there is no expectations at home at all, these kids will not adjust, after all those teachers "are not my mommy or daddy".

To me school, the influences of other kids, and, most importantly, the natural cycles of growing up, create the dynamic where parents must be more vigilant and expressive, not less so. But, by 5-6 kids can understand most general explanations and parents should always explain themselves first and explain the consequences if the child continues unacceptable behavior. And there better be consequences! Time outs were useless with my girls (tried it, didn't help at all), A quick swat on the rear and doing a chore they didn't like was more usefull until about 11-12; then groundings are a pretty good tool (still combined with cleaning toilets or raking leaves).

Generally, I found these "lessons" are best done if they corespond with societies laws, it is hard to tell a 10-year old they can't jump off the roof because you don't want them to hurt themselves. They already know they might get hurt, but they have a plan; you better get them to talk to you so you can convince them the plan won't work, or they will try it anyway 'cause, as my oldest once said, "why, there's no law against it!"

Still, I get your point. Kids, as they grow up, are naturally inclined to "defy" their parents. Life is much easier if the parents are reasonable and the kid understand why a rule exists and the consequences of violating it. And they tend to listen if you hammer them pretty good (grounded for a weekend, no TV, No games, just hard labor and early to bed) the first time they get out of line. From there they have to decide if the risk of disobeying is worth the consequences.

Hey, sometimes the answer is yes! I know it was for me, and it was for my oldest. As a parent you have to live with that and know you did the best you could. If they get seriously involved in drugs or some other major life-altering bad behavior, you may have to get them help or involve the authorities. That comes back to "keeping them safe and happy in the long run".

So, generally, we agree. But I do think parents have a massive influence on kids; positively and negatively. The best thing you can do for your kids is love them, provide a consistant and safe environment, and always be ready to listen as they get older.

But you can also combine a little discipline with the ability to admit you were wrong when you are (and you will be, they will always find some little thing or another to trip you up), the ability to explain why something is wrong and the opportunity for open dialog whenever their is something the child want to talk about.

But, the biggest thing you can do as they get older is be there to support them. Life will try to beat them down from the moment they begin pulling away from the protective cocoon of home. I've found the best tool is honesty and compassion. Don't ever berate you kids, but don't make them think they are somehow "The greatest __________"(you fill in the blank). They should know that you expect them to try their hardest and give everything their best, but you also understand they are not perfect, they will have good days and bad days, every skill takes time to learn, and no matter how good or how bad they perform, you love them.

To true
I think mr. "GovAg" was missing the point a bit. But you may not have been getting your point across (especially strange since you really weren't that much in disagreement) by over-emphasising your point about teaching kids to be helpful.

I understood you were not saying that kids should learn they are obligated to help others, but that they should be willing to because it is the right thing to do.

He wnet overboard in his point about teaching kids to help themselves, yet he didn't mean they should never give to anyone or anything, just that they should never accept being "compelled" by anyone to do so.

I found it interesting that, to me, you were both saying that "Charity isn't really charity if you are forced to give." I think the problem was that you were coming at the same issue from opposite ends and NeaRNoaD did not want to admit you might agree on anything.

Charity? Them's fightin' words
I think you have the discussion about right. Mr G and I are both a little too quick to draw our guns. Wouldn't we find it useful if you were always around to refereee our differences.

I'm trying to imagine both our kids on a playground. There'd be such a head bashing fracas you'd hope the playground surface wasn't concrete.

Not likely
I'm far from an impartial ref. I tend to do the same things. It is just easier to see two people saying the same thing from a differrent perspective when you aren't one of them.

Both of your kids on the playground would get along just fine as they've been taught the same things; you and him on the same playground (shudder)… Call the medics!! The kids would be pulling you apart.

Hopeful future for mankind
I hope the Chinese - or somebody - really do manage to start a successful, gene-based eugenics program soon. America is too infantile to do so. Mankind does not have much more time, considering the realities of looming Peak Oil, Peak Gas, Peak Uranium and other Peaks. The liberal and religious types, as usual, will blather nonsense about Hitler, Holocaust, mean-spiritedness, etc., etc. Such types have already caused far too much damage to evolution. The world is sagging under the weight of the stupid and about to collapse because of them. *Of course* nurture and education play an important role in the production of valuable individuals. But their success of nurture and education can be based only on the right raw material to begin with. Let the liberals and religiophiles run day care centers and keep out of serious policy.
-- Þeedrich

Actually, the Germans were inspired by our own Eugenics Movement
"This was already tried. Remember the great society of Germany in the early 20th century?"

And guess where they got their legal templates for their eugenics policies (sterilizing/euthanizing Down Syndrome folks)? Many of the state laws in place in America at that time.

Why did Margaret Sanger & Backers found Planned Parenthood? To cull the species of unfit genes as typified in the poor masses (her view).

Sanger promoted the idea of "race hygiene" through "negative eugenics," an attempt to reduce the fertility of "dysgenic" groups. Sanger considered the unchecked multiplication of the "unfit" to be "the greatest present menace to civilization." She suggested Congress set up a special department to study population problems and appoint a "Parliament of Population." One of the main objectives of the "Population Congress" would be "to raise the level and increase the general intelligence of population."
-from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Sanger#Eugenics_and_euthanasia

Reply to Roy’s “Bad Government” post also
So, teaching children to be self-reliant and self-sufficient (physically, emotionally and financially) is teaching them NOT to extend ANY helping hand, is it?

You wrote “I'm not sure what made you so angry and resentful. I pay my taxes readily. And I call on the government to deliver those services I've paid for. I am a part of American life.”

But NOT wanting the GOVAGs to be involved in providing so many (civil) services is un-American, is it? (Income) taxes as we know them are less than a century (it will be a century in 2013) old. So, you think the rest of the 137 years of American existence was un-American, is it? (Federal) GOVAGs providing educational services is only about half-a-century old. So, the other 183 Years of American existence was un-American, is it?

So talking about self-responsibility (of the citizenry) and commenting on the way our tax monies are spent qualifies one as being angry and resentful, is it?

You wrote “I engage readily with my local and state governments-- so they don't go off and do crazy stuff without asking me for my opinion first.”

Which State / Town is that where the GOVAGs ask the opinion of every resident before they do their (crazy) stuff? Do you really believe it? Or, are you fantasizing about Athens style “direct democracy”? But you do know that Socrates was “democratically” murdered for the “crime” of deviant thoughts, don’t you? And what about the guys who do not “engage readily with my local and state governments”? Anything can be done to and with them, is it?

You wrote “In return for my lifelong cooperation, I'm now retired, with a Social Security check coming in every month and a Medicare policy that may very well come in handy some day. Being a citizen has been good for me. It's a better way to live.”

You mean the Americans before 1935 (when SS checks were first introduced I think) were NOT co-operating with the GOVAGs? You mean being American citizens had NOT been good for them? Which country citizens do you think they should have been, then? USSR? Germany? Japan? (Little and not so little) warts and all, America has ALWAYS been a better place (for the little guy) to be a citizen of. It is not for nothing that, for generations, people have braved deathly odds to set foot on this land.

By the way, what exactly you mean by cooperation? Does it include supporting each and every action of the GOVAGs? Did your cooperation include cheering Mr. Regan when he said that Russia is an evil empire? Just wondering.

And now, about your reply titled “Bad government”.

You wrote “That's what happens when you have a government unresponsive to people's concerns. You get bad policy, applied with increasing brutality as people complain about it.”

But “most of the concerns of most people are none of any GOVAGs’ concern” can not be brought up, can it be Roy?

You also wrote “Government works much better when it consciously strives to keep people happy.”

Different people choose different ways to be happy. Some derive happiness by tormenting others. Do you care to argue that that is not the case? If Mr. X feels happy tormenting Mr. Y, whose side should the GOVAGs take Roy?

All hell started breaking loose from the day (US) GOVAGs started “consciously striving to keep people happy”. There was a time when the POTUS (Franklin Pierce, 1854) refused to provide (federal) assistance to the mentally ill.

And now we have politicos who provide assistance for purchase of prescription drugs to the elderly, one of the richest demographics in the world. And then we have politicos offering $5,000 for each child born here.

See my reply titled "Reply to Roy’s “Bad Government” post also" in response to your post titled "Whi
..

Billions don't make geniuses
Billions of Chinese have not resulted in too many Nobel Prizes, however with less than 20 million people Jews have received 24 times as many Nobel Laureates. Read A Thousand Chinese Einsteins Every Year - if they are Jewish

Well, not really.
For once (no, no, actually this is twice now...Beanie Baby really wants to set himself apart from Muleface), Roy got something partly right.

The problem is, since he'll never be able to figure out which part, he won't be able to repeat this experience elsewhere. You know, shots in the dark...

But, at any rate, yes, there are a lot of excellent thinkers who also happen to be religious. But, just think how great they could think if they were not!

But on the other hand...atheism is, itself, a religion. And "agnosticism" seems to me to be a mere dogma the great majority of the time. There is certainly nothing inherently special about agnostics and atheists, since they usually are clueless as to why they should be opposed to whatever it is they oppose or pedantically claim "uncertainty" of. They tend to be every ounce as rigid as those "who've got religion".

The Amish
can build a large, durable barn in a single day, using no machines, starting with nothing but wood and an empty space where nothing stands. I've watched them do it, just a few miles down the road from where I used to live. They call it a "barnraising" (who woulda thought?).

I think their rejection of technology is, well, silly, but at once I can see where they're coming from. Their self-reliance is commendable, and when they grow or make something it is of the highest quality. I think a lot of them see technology as killing self-reliance and making everyday products more mediocre and less healthy.

Hrm...and from what I see all too often, they've got a partial point.

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