How Twin Research Changed My Life
By Bryan Caplan
My autobiographical essay, “How Twin Research Changed My Life,” is now up at the Wall St. Journal‘s Idea Market. They changed my title to “Twin Lessons: Have More Kids. Pay Less Attention to Them,” which isn’t exactly my style or advice, but close enough. Opening grafs:
Nine years ago my wife had her first sonogram. The technician
seemed to be asking routine questions: “How long have you been
pregnant?” “Twelve weeks.” “Any family history of genetic diseases?”
“No.” “Any family history of twins?” “No.” Then she showed us the
screen. “Well, you’re having twins.” My wife and I were scared. We
were first-time parents. How were we supposed to raise two babies at
the same time?
Strangely enough, I already knew a lot about twins. I’d been an avid
consumer of twin research for years. Identical twins (like ours turned
out to be) share all their genes; fraternal twins share only half.
Researchers in medicine, psychology, economics, and sociology have
spent decades comparing these two types of twins to disentangle the
effects of nature and nurture. But as our due date approached, none of
my book learning seemed remotely helpful.
Only after our twins were born did I gradually realize how much I
was missing. Twin researchers rarely offer parenting advice. But much
practical guidance is implicit in the science.
The WSJ will feature critical responses and online debate later this week. Stay tuned.