Gelman on Me, Chua, and Cowen
By Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman’s got an awfully interesting post on the contrast between me, Amy Chua, and Tyler Cowen. He’s certainly got my number, anyway:
Without any personal knowledge of these people (well, I did meet
Caplan once and gave him comments on his book, but I’d hardly call that
“personal knowledge”), my impression is that Cowen and Caplan have
(justifiably) high self-esteem, that they feel that they’ve risen to
their current successes largely from their own efforts. They are
appreciative of their middle-class backgrounds to the extent that these
backgrounds gave them the foundation and opportunity to do what they
love, and doing what they love has given them satisfaction and success.
Also, their success is centered upon satisfaction. Individual faculty
aside, George Mason University is not in the caliber of Harvard or even
Yale (that’s not a putdown, it’s just the way it is), and Cowen and
Caplan’s satisfaction in their careers has got to be coming more from
their accomplishments and their intellectual influence than from having
reached a certain rung on the ladder of success.
But contrary to Gelman’s speculation, my parenting philosophy has little to do with my personality. My views on nature and nurture were utterly conventional until I read Judith Harris’ The Nurture Assumption circa 1999. It really was academic research on twins and adoptees that converted me. It may be hard to believe, but it’s the truth.
Admittedly, my personality makes me unusually willing to accept and trumpet iconoclastic research. But if the research didn’t exist, I’d still be normal. On this issue.