Links to consider, 12/10
Don Boudreaux on home schooling as gov't failure; Gurwinder on concepts to know; David C. Geary on WEIRD sex differences; Sam Hammond on American sectarianism; me on the Richard Reeves book on men
The fact that so many Americans, who rely more and more upon specialists in most areas of life, now are turning to homeschooling is strong evidence that the specialized skills of government-school administrators are not ones that make these schools sources of true learning.
When I taught economics to high school students, to drive home the point that specialization and trade are what create wealth I would say that “‘Do it yourself’” is a market failure. You should not grow your own vegetables, make your own furniture, do your own oil change, or mow your own lawn. If you do things yourself, it is either because you enjoy it or because of a market failure. The most common market failure is not being able to earn more by working more hours. If I cannot get an hour’s worth of wages by working an extra hour, then maybe it pays me to do household chores myself.
If you don’t send your children to school, either you really enjoy teaching them yourself or you do not like the schools that are available. Not having attractive school options is typically a government failure.writes,
Instead of trying to be right, try to be less wrong. Avoiding idiocy is easier than achieving genius, and by beginning from the position that you don't know enough (which you don't), you'll gain more awareness of your blindspots and become harder to fool.
This is his definition of epistemic humility, one of forty concepts he covers briefly in one list. Here is another one, Shibboleth.
An absurd ideological belief is a form of tribal signaling. It signifies that one considers their ideology more important than truth, reason, or sanity. To one's allies, this is an oath of unwavering loyalty. To one's enemies, it is a threat display.
Pointer from Ed West.
favorable conditions, those that reduce risk of disease and poor nutrition and that keep social stressors in check, will result in larger sex differences in evolved traits. Ironically, these conditions are most common in wealthy, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) nations —those that promote gender equality. The irony follows from the belief that the promotion of gender equality and overall favorable conditions will reduce and eventually eliminate sex differences , but it does the exact opposite.
…As reviewed by Schmitt and colleagues , sex differences in many aspects of personality, self-esteem, and cognitive and psychological functioning are larger in WEIRD, gender equal countries. For instance, women are generally more cooperative and agreeable than men and men are more Machiavellian than women, on average. These differences are larger in more egalitarian countries. One potential reason is that religious prohibitions and proscriptions increase social cooperation and decrease self-serving behaviors in men and this in turn reduces the sex differences in these areas. The release of these prohibitions enables fuller expression of underlying differences; in this case, a decrease in men’s agreeableness and an increase in their use of Machiavellian social strategies .
…Across countries (median), there were about 4 boys for every girl aspiring to a things-oriented occupation, and about 3 girls for every boy aspiring to a people-oriented occupation. In keeping with our earlier finding for STEM degrees, for every girl who aspired to enter a things-oriented STEM occupation, there were 5 boys. Again, the ratio was larger in gender-equal countries.
Every well-functioning society integrates its members in some fashion. Traditionalist societies depend more on normative integration through custom and ritual, while modernist societies achieve scale by supplanting traditional mores with explicit laws, regulations, and professional bureaucracies.
Habermas describes this dichotomy as being between the “lifeworld” and “system.” The lifeworld is the world you self-evidently inhabit, replete with tacit moral commitments and an intersubjective understanding of one’s social role. The system makes those tacit commitments formal and objective through things like laws, bureaucratic process and market prices. Both the lifeworld and system offer mechanisms for coordinating social action but come with different trade-offs. While systems offer scale, they also risk creating social alienation by “colonizing the lifeworld,” i.e. replacing actions undertaken through interpersonal communication with incentive schemes and administrative processes.
I strongly recommend the whole essay, which starts with some well-deserved mockery of the Catholic Integralism splinter of the New Right.
Reviewing Richard Reeves’ Of Boys and Men, I write,
Reeves sees the political left as overly focused on segments of society where women still have not caught up to men. Male earnings advantages exist at the top end of the income scale. But the left obsesses with these disparities while ignoring the lesser-educated half of the population, where the problems that males are having is what stands out.
Reeves sees the political right as living with the hope of a return to the traditional household with the male as the primary breadwinner.
My review does not do justice to how annoyed I was with the book. It seems clear to me that Reeves is trying to bend over backwards to try not to say anything that would offend feminists. He steers clear of any diagnoses or prescriptions that would offend the political views of a typical college-educated woman. He strikes me as using “studies” like a lawyer to make a case rather than like a judge to try to figure out a complex situation.
I’m getting tired of reading books like this and seeing them get great publicity. The next review I write I will not hold back.
1) There is a difference between a process that is wildly inefficient on your own (growing your own food) vs something where your about as productive as most anyone else but your hoping to engage in a labor arbitrage (cleaning your house).
For the vast majority of people their free time isn't worth a lot more then the cost of this menial labor, and in a lot of cases government subsidies are keeping the cost of that labor artificially low (think of all the government benefits that your cleaning lady gets that she probably doesn't pay enough in taxes to pay for).
It probably wouldn't be the end of the world for most middle class people (including the professional class) to clean their own homes rather then get an imported underclass to do it.
As far as schooling goes, the state has shown no economies of scale. Their value was always limited to the fact that the child to adult ratio can't really get beyond 10 or 20 to 1, and at that level we are talking Dunbar number and parents can organize themselves without a big state apparatus. The government should just write checks and get out of the way.
2) I'm hardly calling for a papal theocracy, but I know people in my own extended family that have gotten on the crazy train culturally. My wife's brothers kid got a sex change and moved to Portland. My nephew is a socially awkward progressive socialist living with his parents who can't hold a job and is depressed. My niece came home from college in California and fights with her mother because she can't keep straight all the different names for her new sexual identity.
By contrast, the trad Catholic school we send our kids to seems to have a lot of well adjusted people in it.
It kind of reminds me of Richard's debate with Claire Lehmen over Biden's trans BDSM dog fetish guy. Richard says that perverts are probably to fucked up to have important responsibilities. Claire demands that being a sexual degenerate has NOTHING TO DO with mental health in any other aspect of ones life. Then it turns out the weirdo also steals peoples luggage at the airport. Who could have guessed?
How about we settle on this. We don't institute a theocracy, but we all acknowledge as a society that some norms are superior to others and people who don't follow those norms are probably fucked up and should be nudged in the other direction by public opinion.
I had a different opinion of Reeves’ book, though I see where you’re coming from. While I disagreed with some of his reasoning and conclusions, I still learned a lot and I appreciated his efforts to persuade progressives and centrists by meeting them where they are.
I would love to interview him.