June 11, 2011

Chua v. Caplan debate

I've been telling economist Bryan Caplan that he should promote his Slacker Dad book Selfish Reasons for Having Kids by debating Tiger Mother Amy Chua. And, now, here they are together in The Guardian.

Let me add once again that I think it's an extremely bad idea to publish a book about your children.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

This seems like a quality vs quantity debate, but it's more like a take-for-granted quality(Caplan) vs worrywort quality(Chua).
Caplan's gonna have smart kids, they'll go to good schools, and they'll do very well in life. He's less pushy but he's no slacker either. And his knows the genes he's gonna give his kids are going to NATURALLY push them.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
Caplan has already mostly won the debate - in that most high IQ young people now understand that IQ is inherited from parents.

As such, what you see is "assortive mating" where high IQ young people refuse to marry anyone that is not high IQ

Similarly, when married couples, regardless of their own IQ, discover that they are infertile they seek eggs from high IQ young women.

that is important to note. Even the couples with an IQ of 100 don't want a child with their own IQ level, they want an egg from a high IQ young woman so that the child will have high IQ

Anonymous said...

Chua appears to be backpedaling at an alarming rate.

kurt9 said...

Caplan vs. Chua is really a debate of nature vs nurture. Caplan believes genetics is key and that parental style is not so important whereas Chua believes parental style is everything. As usual, the reality is some combination of both.

Thrasymachus said...

Steve, you're all in favor of the cognitive elite, and yet *this* is who they are. It wouldn't matter that they are such contemptible human beings if they hadn't run our country into the ground and blamed us for it.

Anonymous said...

"Chua appears to be backpedaling at an alarming rate."

Not really. Chua's book was meant for her crowd, not the masses. She was never a Gladwellian 10,000 hr path to greatness BS for ALL people.

Whiskey said...

Thrasymachus, that's not a cognitive elite. There's no reason to think that Amy Chua is anything more than the regression to the mean. Or that Caplan is a great thinker.

Cognitive elite requires ... cognition. Something the symbol manipulators, akin to voodoo priests or chicken entrail reading fortune tellers, spend a great deal of time avoiding. Most of the elite desperately want to avoid thinking much of anything in particular. Rather they'd like to FEEL.

Anonymous said...

Chua is right in this sense. A lot of smart people do become underachievers because of lack of guidance and discipline. Though Caplan is correct that IQ is mostly natural, so is character. Some smart people were born lazy, and they need guidance to reach their full potential.

The guy who got the highest SAT score in my school--near perfect score--didn't get the best grades. Too lazy. He managed to go to an elite college but barely graduated because he bummed around most of the time. He did so poorly that he attended medical school in Poland, his native country.
He came back to the states, is in his early 40s, but still working or half-working or barely working on his medical license exam. So smart and so much natural talent. All wasted because he's too lazy.

You know it, I know it, we all know it. Many smart people do fall through the cracks or underachieve because of lack of proper guidance. They do need Chuas to kick butt. It's like guns enough don't make a soldier. You need Sgt. Hulka to kick some ass.

Anonymous said...

Chuaism also applies to sports. Tyson was a born boxer, but he needed good coaching to lead him in the right direction and keep him there. Otherwise, he might have ended up in jail before he got the title. After Cus D'mato died and Don King took over, his career went down the drain.
Of course, over-training is bad too, but athletes need good trainers. And students need good teachers and solid parents.

Anonymous said...

Well first of all, everyone on this blog understands HBD, understands that certain families have genes that code for super high IQ. Caplan and Chau are both from such families

Everyone on this blog understands that if a young man is born with super high IQ he will typically marry a female with super high IQ and earn enough to live in a neighborhood without violent types. Example of neighborhoods like this near Steve Sailer include Hidden Hills and Manhattan Beach.

However, young men born in Steve's neighborhood of Studio City with only average IQ typically only earn enough money to live in neighborhoods filled with pathological and depraved types. So again, we all understand that in the Los Angeles metroplex, being born with average IQ means having to live around sub optimal neighbors.

However, My understanding is that there are a number of places in the USA where there are neighborhoods filled with 100 IQ white people making $40k a year who are not violent and not depraved. For example, my understanding is that the Mormon religion keeps people in line so to speak. So if you go to a small city in Utah, it is 100% mormon and even in the neighborhoods where people only make $40k there is little violence and little pathology.

Can anyone here help me out? I was lucky enough to be born with a very high IQ and therefore make plenty of money. I don't need to find one of these inexpensive but non depraved neighborhoods for myself. But sometimes average IQ people, people who can't earn good money ask me where in America they should move to in order to live on a really small income and not be surrounded by the wrong type of people.

Again, Steve makes the point that "affordable family formation" does not exist for males born with IQ of 100 in Los Angeles. But where in the USA is family formation affordable for those 100 iq males?

Anonymous said...

Something tells me Amy had this debate many times before. With her husband.

I think Chua tiger-mothered her kids less out of philosophy than personality. So, Caplan is missing the point. Chua is a NATURAL BORN CONTROL-FREAK. She has to be pushy mother, she has to get what she wants. I'll bet she got her man the same way. She had to get him and she did EVERYTHING to do so. It's just her nature to be that way. Her philosophy is really the manifestation of her natural personality.

Caplan says humans are like plastic. They can be pushed down but they pop up to their original form. Amy Chua BY HER OWN NATURE is a bouncy bubbly pushy type with excess energy who just can't tolerate directionlessness. She sees her kids as extensions of herself, and so she wants them to be like her.

It's like Judge Judy has to be Judge Judy. A pushy and rambunctious Jewish woman. Chua is like one of those dogs that naturally wanna interfere in everything. Some dogs are laidback, some dogs just gotta push its nose into everything. That's how amy got her law degree, that's how she got her hubster, and that's the way she's gonna raise her kids. It makes no sense to tell her otherwise cuz it's just her nature to be that way.

It's like the woman in BROADCAST NEWS. At the end, she's so burnt out that she tells the cabbie to go anyway he wants... but then she has to tell him anyway.

Caplan, who believes nature determines behavior, should know this. Amy Chua has tiger-mom genes in her DNA.

Steve Setzer said...

@Anon - neighborhoods in Utah. A few data points to chew on:

Point 1: I live in a fairly small (<30,000) city in Utah, and the worst parts of it (decaying old trailer courts) are safer than upper-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

Point 2: 90% of my town's residents are Mormon-descended (maybe half actually show up to sit in the pews).

Point 3: Average IQ of Mormon-descended has been estimated at above 105 (h/t Inductivist). Make of that what you will.

Anonymous said...

Fu Woman Chua vs Charlie Caplan.

Anonymous said...

Would this Caplan be related in anyway to Gabe Caplan?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqw1RC3d1d0

Garland said...

Why specifically is it a bad idea as opposed to an obnoxious or unethical one? Is it because they'll end up resenting you? Or people will think you're an a-hole? I could see both being true but I doubt that would rise to the level of "bad idea" for someone who was willing to publish a book about her children in the first place.

Kaz said...

Chua already said she stopped parenting that way some time ago, the book was a satire and a bit more. Just want to reiterate that for the people in the comments thinking she still does that.

David said...

Anon. 6:24pm, about "plastic Chua," this is true and personality often manifests itself early, in very early childhood.

Little tykes who are going to have strong personalities in adulthood, have discernable personalities at age 2.

And we all know not many children turn out invariably as their parents wished.

Chua and others like to emphasize Nuture but evidence for Nature lies thick on the ground. Can't anyone actually do the cliche and put out an even-handed analysis showing their interaction, with fresh data and insights?

Jehu said...

Chua and Caplan are targetting different levels. For Chua, only Harvard or maybe Yale is good enough and she wants her children to have an entry ticket to an elite credential. Caplan would probably be just fine with his kid getting an engineering degree from a tier 1 state university. Chua is going after the 'only the obsessed need apply' competitions. In my experience, a standard deviation in ability (whatever the relevant ability might happen to be) is normally worth the equivalent of a doubling of effort/practice. So if Amy Chua's kids are 4 sigma, they've still got to worry about kids who are 3 sigma who work twice as hard, or 2 sigma who work four times as hard, and they might overtake 5 sigma competition if THEY themselves work twice as hard. I'm a pretty hardcore nature-ist by most people's standards, but I do know from long experience that you can beat people with more ability than you possess and get beaten by people with less intrinsic ability if they outwork you. Chua's obviously intending to foreclose any possibility of persons with lesser innate ability than her get beating them out for the prizes she wants them to have. Judging by recent events, I'd say her strategy has been successful.
Caplan's kids are probably similar in innate attributes, but he's not willing to make them make the sacrifices Chua is. That's fine, it's a value judgment.

Forty Percent said...

Steve, since Chua is a regular topic on this blog how come you’ve never reviewed her history book?

Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance. (The title alone says a lot about her aggressive/pushy nature)

Amazon review—
“Chua … examines a number of world-dominant powers—a none too rigorously defined group that lumps together the Persian, Roman, Mongol and British empires with the contemporary United States—and argues that tolerance and multiculturalism are indispensable features of global economic and military success. Such hyperpowers rise, Chua argues, because their tolerance of minority cultures and religions, their receptivity to foreign ideas and their willingness to absorb and empower talented provincials and immigrants lets them harness the world's human capital. Conversely, hyperpowers decline when their assimilative capacities falter and they lapse into intolerance and exclusion. The sexy concept of a world-dominant hyperpower, in addition to being somewhat erratic—the smallish Dutch Republic makes the cut, while the far-flung (but inconveniently intolerant) Spanish empire doesn't—is doubtful when examining an America that can hardly dominate Baghdad and not much more convincing when applied to earlier hegemons. Chua does offer an illuminating survey of the benefits of tolerance and pluralism, often as a tacit brief for maintaining America's generous immigration policies.”

Interview -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QenLlFx4cCQ

Florida resident said...

To Forty Percent:
John Derbyshire has already reviewed the said book by Amy Chua:
http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Reviews/PoliSci/hyperpowers.html
The title of the review:
"No Tolerance for Human Nature".
Review is friendly, but rather negative.

Derbyshire's review of her "World on fire" is positive, see
http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Reviews/HumanSciences/worldonfire.html
He ends his "world on fire" review by conclusion
"Amy Chua brings a wonderful breadth of knowledge to her book. There is hardly a corner of the world she has not looked into, scarcely an entrepreneurial minority she has missed. (Though the Hakka of Southeast China are conspicuous by their absence. During the confrontation across the Taiwan strait in 1996, a Taiwanese colleague muttered to me that it was "a fight between two old Hakkas." Both Lee Teng-hui, at that time President of Taiwan, and Deng Xiaoping, then — though at that point highly theoretically — still supreme leader of mainland China, came from Hakka families. Perhaps Prof. Chua's own people are Hakka and she is practicing a form of market-dominant minority camouflage …) She seems to have mastered even the trickiest minority-within-minority and minority-versus-minority cases, like that of the Ashkenazim in Israel or the Kikuyu of Kenya. I am normally very skeptical of sociological TOEs (that is, Theories of Everything), but this one got my attention. I just hope the prognosis for humanity is more hopeful than the book's rather lame closing prescriptions left me feeling."

RAH said...

Chua and Caplan are targetting different levels. For Chua, only Harvard or maybe Yale is good enough and she wants her children to have an entry ticket to an elite credential. Caplan would probably be just fine with his kid getting an engineering degree from a tier 1 state university. Chua is going after the 'only the obsessed need apply' competitions. In my experience, a standard deviation in ability (whatever the relevant ability might happen to be) is normally worth the equivalent of a doubling of effort/practice. So if Amy Chua's kids are 4 sigma, they've still got to worry about kids who are 3 sigma who work twice as hard, or 2 sigma who work four times as hard, and they might overtake 5 sigma competition if THEY themselves work twice as hard. I'm a pretty hardcore nature-ist by most people's standards, but I do know from long experience that you can beat people with more ability than you possess and get beaten by people with less intrinsic ability if they outwork you.

If you can't score three sigma above the mean you're not getting into Harvard or Yale. Is there any evidence that students 1-2 sigma can get their scores that high?

elvisd said...

Dang, Amy's looking hot as ever.

Anonymous said...

Don't write books about your offspring. Too right. the sample size is so small it could be just random.

Dutch Boy said...

You can have all the IQ you want and a spouse to match but if you're doing the 0-1 offspring thing, it's all wasted.

Anonymous said...

It's good for white people to have lots of kids. First, we need more whites. Secondly, more kids you have, more likely one of them will be smart and productive. Suppose Buchanan's parents had only one or two kids. He would not have been born.

as said...

I don't know if anyone has brought this up yet, but Caplan is a Jew, and Jews are known for their high investment parenting culture. So, perhaps when he says, be a slacker dad, he means that within the context of being Jewish?

Kids Kids Kids said...

Long-term, Caplan's strategy is the big winner.

Assume Chua and Caplan kids have roughly the same genetic potential. For simplicity (not accurate), assume Chua has 2 kids starting at 40 and Caplan has 4 kids starting at 20. In a few generations, the Caplans will vastly outnumber the Chuas.

Now even if Chua's obsession on environment yields delta better outcomes for her immediate offspring, there is no guarantee that future Chua's will sacrifice nearly as much to recreate this high-pressure labor intensive childhood for their offspring. Some offspring may drift towards no children at all as much as the choosing to replicate Chua's intensive parenting style. We see this today with many late-marrying urban SWPL women.

Meanwhile, having kids is a bit of a lottery. The more kids you have, the more likely you are to come up with an unusually winning combination of high-IQ, good looks, outgoing charismatic personality, etc.

Even with a sub-optimizing upbringing, in each generation a few of the many Caplan offspring will be likely gifted with incredible genetic combinations that no amount of intensive Chua parenting can match.

Chua wins and Caplan loses both long term and possibly short term.

Steve Sailer said...

"Long-term, Caplan's strategy is the big winner."

Keep in mind that neither Caplan nor Chua have convinced their respective spouses of the rightness of their views.

Mrs. Chua has gone into labor twice and so has Mrs. Caplan.

Kids Kids Kids said...

Keep in mind that neither Caplan nor Chua have convinced their respective spouses of the rightness of their views.

Yes, more typical elite "do as I say, not as I do" advice.

Your observation hits upon the fundamental limit of Caplan's theory. It largely comes down to the women willingness to get preggers. High-IQ women are not wont to do it more than once or twice.

I can think of no high-IQ groups of women that go for the Caplan strategy. Only fundie Ashkenazis (who seem lower IQ than their secular counterparts) and Mormons (where the responsible higher-IQ and more industrious can afford larger families) seem follow the Caplan strategy.


ERRATA: Swap Chua and Caplan in that last sentence.


Chua wins and Caplan loses both long term and possibly short term.

TGGP said...

Caplan is ethnically Jewish on his father's side. But his dad is an atypical Jew, in that he was Catholic for one thing (Bryan still refers to his youthful avowal of atheism as something that distanced him from his parents). The basis for the protectionist, anti-immigrant, pessimistic, market fearing dummy in "The Myth of the Rational Voter" is Bryan's dad (although he thinks in other respects his dad is an intelligent engineer).

Dutch Boy said...

"The basis for the protectionist, anti-immigrant, pessimistic, market fearing dummy in "The Myth of the Rational Voter" is Bryan's dad (although he thinks in other respects his dad is an intelligent engineer)."
Sounds like a smart guy - pity that his son isn't following in his footsteps.