The very best coverage of the new Charles Murray book

Could it be the lengthy NYT profile of Stevenson and Wolfers?  Other than finding material on economists interesting per se, and knowing them a bit, I found this profile relevant for two reasons.  First, successful economists really can earn a good amount these days, and at relatively young ages.  They could probably earn much more, if that is what they set out to do.  Second, there really is a cognitive elite engaged in assortative mating, and the children of those couples will have a big head start.  Furthermore that cognitive elite is now global (Justin is from Australia).  No, Murray’s econometrics do not demonstrate all of his conclusions, but nonetheless this family is a walking embodiment of The Bell Curve, not to mention the new book.  (I would have preferred a piece which explored this irony with more depth.)  Some of you are negative in the comments on my post, but the facts about the Wolfers/Stevenson family are hardly exceptional, conditional on a few other variables but of course strongly conditional on those variables.  They own a Noguchi table, we own a Noguchi lamp (cheaper than you think, by the way).  They ban sugar, we do not, but there is no junk food, sugary or otherwise, kept around our house.  My professional writing rails against junk food.  I was disappointed that their nanny has only a Master’s degree.  The nanny in our family has a Ph.d and is a well-known economics blogger.; going back in time, the two other nannies were a professional linguist and translator and an engineer (they are sometimes called “the grandparents”).  Get the picture?  The rhetoric in the profile is oddly non-self-conscious, perhaps in a way that makes the couple look less charismatic than they really are, and that too is worth thinking about.  Parts of the profile felt like a bit of a slog to me (despite my interest in the topic), but I suspect not to most NYT readers, and of course we are seeing a highly skilled and experienced journalist at work along with a first-rate team of editors.

Always try to give things the more subtle reading.


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