Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Transgenerational Thoughts

Fabian Tassano has written about Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker has become a bit of a hero for those not entirely seduced by the mediocratic project. He is perhaps the only prominent academic prepared to trumpet the idea that ability is at least partly inherited. This idea has, apparently, become highly controversial, a fact which a visiting Martian might find rather bizarre. When the Financial Times reviewed The Blank Slate, it treated* Pinker as some kind of firebrand radical, referring to his "dangerous work", and that it "would be best if it didn't get into the hands of those who would use it to terrifying ends".

Of course, what's most terrifying is our tendency to assume the proletariat, or for that matter, the welfare class, will carry on our way of life if we just teach them about it. It doesn't work like that. The sins of the father may, in the Lord's eyes, not be visited on the sons, but in this world the effects of those sins travel a long way through the generations. I'm prepare to assume that education helps a little, but I have noticed education itself is far more likely to be dumbed down so that new students can pass than for the new student to rise up to any real academic challenges.

The current education system encourages us to postpone marriage, childbearing, and meaningful work. But we are not in a vacuum, nor shall the children of others necessarily reject what their parents taught them and then sponge up what we have to say. Life goes on, and many of us find ourselves at key biologically inevitable moments, and then we realize our great loss. Of course, for many, it's important to cleave to a story line that rationalizes our past choices. The machinations of academia, career, entertainment, and the like help keep us busy and insulate many of us from fully experiencing the barreness we have acheived.

No comments: