I haven't read the book, her WSJ article, or followed this at all. But are the Asian-American children's academic and music results a fair statistical test of their mothers' methods? How many Asian-American youngsters are there in the NFL or the NBA? That is, maybe their success in academics and music relates to some other than their maternal environment.

Jim Sogi writes:

Yao Ming

Ralph Vince writes:

If I were to believe the argument, then I would have to believe that black mothers raise their kids to be great defensive corners, and miserable placekickers (The socio-economic argument, that sports like football draw the poorer kids and hence the duskier kids by some reasoning, just knocked out of the ballpark).

Football is a sport where you see the minor physical differences under great magnification. That's not to say someone cannot be of primarily Asian descent and not be a great defensive corner (or placekicker). But the empirical data certainly seems to speak to an awful lot.

I refuse to disregard empirical data. (Just as I may believe in the notion of fiscal conservativism, but can clearly see empirical correlation between GDP growth and government deficit spending– even that clown Krugman [no defensive corner he], like a broken watch, right on occasion).

Dan Grossman responds: 

But genes play a big role in whether you can demand that your child get an A in advanced calculus or make first seat in the violin section of the orchestra. With that in mind, let's contemplate the genes being fed into those Chua children who are doing so well.

Maternal grandfather: EE and computer sciences professor at Berkeley, known as the father of nonlinear circuit theory and cellular neural networks.

Mother: able to get into Harvard (a much better indicator of her IQ than the magna cum laude in economics that she got there); Executive Editor of the Law Review at Harvard Law School.

Father: Summa cum laude from Princeton and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, now a chaired professor at Yale Law School.

Guess what. Amy Chua has really smart kids. They would be really smart if she had put them up for adoption at birth with the squishiest postmodern parents. They would not have turned out exactly the same under their softer tutelage, but they would probably be getting into Harvard and Princeton as well. Similarly, if Amy Chua had adopted two children at birth who turned out to have measured childhood IQs at the 20th percentile, she would have struggled to get them through high school, no matter how fiercely she battled for them.

Accepting both truths—parenting does matter, but genes constrain possibilities—seems peculiarly hard for some parents and almost every policy maker to accept.





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