Bryan Caplan  

Harris: The Postcard Version

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For clarification, I sent Judy Harris one last email:

Me:

One last question.  Are the following two propositions a correct summary of your view?

1. Shared *family* environment has virtually no effect on personality or outcomes (income, education, health, etc.).

AND

2. Shared environment (c2 in standard heritability estimates) has a small effect on both personality and outcomes?

Or would you instead say:

2'. Shared environment (c2 in standard heritability estimates) has virtually no effect on personality, but a small effect on outcomes?

Harris:

One last question. Are the following two propositions a correct summary of your view?

1. Shared *family* environment has virtually no effect on personality or outcomes (income, education, health, etc.).
Yes, that is a correct summary of my views.

2. Shared environment (c2 in standard heritability estimates) has a small effect on both personality and outcomes?

Or would you instead say:

2'. Shared environment (c2 in standard heritability estimates) has virtually no effect on personality, but a small effect on outcomes?
The second. Virtually no effect on personality but a small effect on other outcomes, including IQ.


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Steve Sailer writes:

With most of the Big 5 personality measures, it's not a priori clear whether more or less of that personality trait is better. In contrast, with outcomes like more or less income, it's pretty clear which most parents would want more of for their child, all else being equal.

Steve Sailer writes:

I reviewed Judith Rich Harris's "The Nurture Assumption" for National Review in 1997, giving it a thumbs-up but also raising a number of caveats that have held up well over the years:

http://www.isteve.com/nurture.htm

Robert Holzbach writes:

Bryan,

Like you, I am fascinated by the work of Judith Harris and Pinker. I have to be. I was adopted at 6 months old and reunited with my natural parents after 35 years. My natural parents are married and have two full brothers. The similarities I'm finding between all of us (relative to my adoptive family) are very strong.

But, I hope that your upcoming book and Harris's future work, pays adequate attention to the effects of homeschooling families. It seems that these families may have eliminated a large chunk of the non-family shared environment. My guess would be that the 50% of traits that are attributed to school or non-family environment might be weakened. I will be the first to buy your new book, and I hope even if the data on homeschooling isn't there, you include a page considering the subject.

Oh, and my wife is pregnant with our fourth child. I think you moved me from 4.1 to 4.4 and so made the case for number 4 stronger, without getting me to that next whole number. But, still, good work!

Adoptee Considering Homeschooling,

Robert Holzbach

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