The bottom line on the new Judith Harris book

If you think my theory is unnecessarily complex, just wait till you see what the theories will be like fifty years from now.

An excellent line but also a sign of trouble.  The final sentence is:

Making a virtue of necessity, I will leave it to other people to test my theory [TC: in fairness to Harris, she may be referring to her medical problems].

Nonetheless I like virtually everything she says.  The key point is that when it comes to environmental influences on our behavior, we are highly malleable avatars.  Tests which don’t recognize this will be misleading.  For instance if you are testing "birth rank" theories, submission within the family does not imply submissive behavior toward the outside world.  Of course the theory immediately gains an additional degree of freedom, both its blessing and curse.

The book is full of fascinating facts and interludes:

…people who are married to one of a pair of twins feel, on average, only so-so about the other twin; only 13 percent of the men and 7 percent of the women feel they could have fallen for their spouse’s twin.

Dead Ringers anyone?  Here is my previous post on the book.

The bottom line: All those young, anti-theocratic, and sometimes pro-democratic Iranian hotheads, for all their rebellious behavior against their parents, when push comes to shove will embrace nuclear weapons and a maximal sphere of regional influence.


Comments for this post are closed