Thursday, February 06, 2014

Success traits may be heritable

Tiger Mom Amy Chua has a new book getting a lot of publicity, titled The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.

She and her Jewish husband gave this NPR interview:
This is not saying that these groups are better in any way. [at 14:10]
Nonsense. All of her evidence consists of saying that some groups are doing better than other groups, according to various metrics. So she certainly is saying that some groups are better, at least in the ways measured by those metrics.

They kept saying that their book has been misunderstood as being about groups, as it is really about individuals so it is anti-racist. The book absolves itself by saying:
Group generalizations turn into invidious stereotypes when they're false, hateful, or assumed to be true of every group member.
The book just came out, and you can read the NY Times synopsis or review and get the message.

Her Jewish husband says that third-generation Asian-American kids do no better than average American kids, and:
What this does is totally explode the model-minority myth, it shows it's not innate, it shows it's not biological ... [at 7:00]
No, it does not show that. Their third "Triple Package" key to success is impoulse control, and research on The Heritability of Impulse Control shows that it is about 50% heritable.

The other two keys are having a superiority/inferiority complex, like the Jews and Chinese.

Maybe it is unreasonable to expect good social science from this book. The authors are just law professors, so their main training is in making legal arguments for clients, not social science.

The interviewer admits that he and his NPR radio associates were reluctant to allow the book's ideas on the air because it is un-American to look at facts that could have racially divisive implications.

For another view, see this video criticizing a popular museum exhibit on race in America, saying that it has political bias and factual errors.

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