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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cognitive complexity in the home

This post from Mick Hartley follows on nicely from mine on the James Watson row. Like Mick I found Malcolm Gladwell's article in the New Yorker a particularly thought-provoking read. Here's a simple point which hadn't occurred to me before:-

'Black children are more likely to be raised in single-parent homes than are white children—and single-parent homes are less cognitively complex than two-parent homes.'

As simple as that: if there's no adult-to-adult interaction going on in the home, there's less for the children to get their intellectual teeth into. There's an obvious chicken-and-egg question which the thesis raises, given that low-IQ individuals are clearly more likely to start single-parent families. Nevertheless, it's nicely ironic to find that, if you don't fancy surrendering to genetic determinism (and why should you?), the alternative turns out to be good old-fashioned back-to-basics family values.

Whereas the left/liberal camp doesn't seem to have much to offer here. Unless you count character assassination:-

'in 1994 Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, in “The Bell Curve,” notoriously proposed that Americans with the lowest I.Q.s be sequestered in a “high-tech” version of an Indian reservation, “while the rest of America tries to go about its business.”'

It worked pretty well on James Watson, but Herrnstein and Murray evidently know some good lawyers. I claim the distinction of thinking that 'notoriously proposed' had the ring of untruth to it even before I came to this:-

'CORRECTION: In his December 17th piece, “None of the Above,” Malcolm Gladwell states that Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, in their 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” proposed that Americans with low I.Q.s be “sequestered in a ‘high-tech’ version of an Indian reservation.” In fact, Herrnstein and Murray deplored the prospect of such “custodialism” and recommended that steps be taken to avert it. We regret the error.'

Comment is superfluous.

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I wouldn't say that the left cornered the market on character assassination, but they are good at it, no doubt. Interesting case.