January 13, 2011

Charles Murray on Amy Chua and his ex-wife

Charles Murray picks up on something I only vaguely noticed and a lot of people completely missed about Amy Chua's notorious WSJ piece: there's a lot of Dave Barry in the style. Murray writes:
Amy Chua is a hoot. Her WSJ op ed about the superiority of Chinese parenting, a take from her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has blogs around the world roaring at a woman who could be so cruel to her children. I was laughing out loud throughout, partly because she clearly was having the time of her life twitting the sensitive helicopter parents who can’t bear the idea that their wonderful child is stressed or criticized in any way whatsoever. I was also laughing because the mother of my first two children was half Thai and all Chinese, and it was all so familiar. The subject heading of the email attaching the Chua article to my elder two daughters was “Bring back memories?” My own archetypal memory is when my eldest daughter, then perhaps eight years old, came home with her first Maryland standardized test scores, showing that she was at the 99th percentile in reading and the 93rd percentile in math. Her mother’s first words—the very first—were “What’s wrong with the math?

Both children turned out great and love their mother dearly.

To get a little bit serious: large numbers of talented children everywhere would profit from Chua’s approach, and instead are frittering away their gifts—they’re nice kids, not brats, but they are also self-indulgent and inclined to make excuses for themselves. There are also large numbers of children who are not especially talented, but would do a lot better in school if their parents applied the same intense home supplements to their classroom work.

But ...

Read the rest here

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Charles Murray says that genes play a huge role in determining whether or not children succeed in life, though parenting matters somewhat.

How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer? Murry essentially seems to be implying a genetic hypothesis for East Asian American success.

hailtoyou said...

the mother of my first two children was half Thai and all Chinese

Those percentages'd make sense only if there's a joke in there somewhere. (In the tradition of "What's black and white and 'red' all over?"). Is there?

Charles Murray has a humorous streak for sure. An interview with him in 2009 features him advising people to use the densest, most-unnecessarily-jargon-packed language possible when publishing about race. If no one understands, you won't get flak! (He also reveals he was "clinically depressed" for a long time after The Bell Curve was savaged in the media.)

Average Joe said...

How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer?

Actually white nationalists generally don't have any problems with genetic explanations for racial differences. It is usually liberals and other people on the left who have problems with genetic explanations for group differences.

Anonymous said...

I love the succinctness of Murray's essay. What's not to understand?

Anonymous said...

How do Murray's former colleagues look themselves in the mirror?

Anonymous said...

Murray's (former) wive is prob. half-white and half-Thai. The "all Chinese" was obviously a joke.

Amy Chua isn't even a typical Chinese mother - Yale law prof married to jewish colleague?

I think it is mostly genes. I am Chinese, but my parents were restaurant workers who barely spoke English and never influenced my schoolwork one way or the other.But I was one of those kids who sail thru school without much studying,in the meantime being abused by a parent.

I ended up with a professional degree, but I really can't say that parenting had anything to do with it.

beowulf said...

"Amy Chua isn't even a typical Chinese mother - Yale law prof married to jewish colleague?"

And she grew up in The Philippines.

RKU said...

Well, I really hate to say something so horribly nasty, but didn't Amy Chua's book mention that her aunt back in the Philippines had been murdered by one of her servants? If Chua's aunt treated her servants the same way Chua claims to treat her daughters, the whole incident becomes much less mysterious...

ATBOTL said...

"Wow, Charles Murray says that genes play a huge role in determining whether or not children succeed in life, though parenting matters somewhat.

How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer? Murry essentially seems to be implying a genetic hypothesis for East Asian American success."

White Nationalists have known for a long time that Charles Murray was not in any way pro-white.

Steve Sailer said...

"If Chua's aunt treated her servants the same way Chua claims to treat her daughters,"

Yes, reading Chua's "World on Fire" can help explain her determination to keep her descendants on top. She comes from a caste that makes up about 1% of the population of the Philippines, but owns, according to Chua, 60% of the business.

Anonymous said...

Murray is implying that East Asian parenting and East Asian genes, together, explain East Asian academic success. I think that's what everyone here has been saying for years.

Genes include not just IQ, but also personality traits like diligence, dutifulness, and focus. If Amy Chua's kids are willing to take all that abuse, their academic excellence is a product of much more than just raw cognitive ability, even if that is one factor.

Murray put East Asian IQ at 103. That's a slight advantage, but it only explains part of the Asian-white gpa. I'd bet that parents, culture, peer groups, and personality can account for the rest.

Marisol said...

"Yes, reading Chua's 'World on Fire' can help explain her determination to keep her descendants on top. She comes from a caste that makes up about 1% of the population of the Philippines, but owns, according to Chua, 60% of the business."

It's not so much that the Chinese try to hard in Philippines; it's Filipinos don't try much at all.
I once knew a foreign student in college: A Chinese kid from Indonesia. He said Indonesians HAD ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE. The family's Indonesian maid had 10 kids and only discovered one was missing after a month. He said elite classes were mostly Chinese not because Chinese are determined to keep it that way--for which they have little political power--but because Indonesian students are mostly slouching louts. Being left-leaning in college, I was skeptical, but he introduced me to some non-Chinese Indonesian students at the college, and as far as I could tell, they were just there to party and have fun. There was nothing intellectual or academically serious about them.
And if the Chinese kid's family made it in Indonesia through business and paid for the son's tuition, Indonesian students were all products of native affirmative action and political connection.

They were also untrustworthy, swiping my Chinese friend's credit card and leaving him with the bill, eventually forcing him to contact the police after they taunted him when he confronted them with the problem.
About 10 yrs ago, he contacted me by email and seemed to be doing pretty well, having settled in the US--well-to-do middle class. His IQ and achievement were solid but nothing special over here. But, I could see how even he would be part of the top 99% percentile in a country like Indonesia.

Frank said...

"White Nationalists have known for a long time that Charles Murray was not in any way pro-white."

Whites are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they are for meritocracy, they get beaten by Jews(and some Asians)who are liberal and amass great wealth/power through meritocracy to undermine and hurt white interests.

If whites counter Jewish power by calling for affirmative action for white gentiles at the expense of overly successful Jews(and Asians), then Hispanics and blacks have every right to demand affirmative for themselves at the expense of more successful whites.

Therefore, principles may be irrelevant in the future struggle. It's about POWER, so whatever works for us.
But most of all, as long as we have affirmative action, we MUST demand that Jews be counted as a separate category.

Fred said...

"Murray's (former) wive is prob. half-white and half-Thai. The "all Chinese" was obviously a joke."

More likely, she is half Thai and half Chinese, but was raised Chinese culturally.

another Aaron said...

Hey, I noticed it! Not so much Dave Barry, but Roger Scruton of all people, believe it or not. Here's what I commented several days ago about Chua's article at Daniel Larison's blog:

But don’t you think Chua’s article was a bit of a troll? The reaction reminds me of the reaction to a very similar article by Roger Scruton from a decade ago, “Raising Master Scruton”. (“If John Stuart Mill could read Greek at the age of six, why shouldn’t Sam?”) The public reacted with shock and self-righteous anger, and in his rejoinder Roger Scruton lamented the loss of the British appreciation for irony. Amy Chua might have the same sense of humor; whoever titled her article certainly did. I have a feeling she’s been watching the self-righteously indignant reaction for the last few days and just laughing…

By the way, none of you got the "half Thai and all Chinese" joke. It's not that she was raised in a Chinese culture. It's that the Chinese half completely dominates the Thai half. I thought it was a great joke, myself having been married to a "half _______ and all _______" woman and knowing exactly what Murray means.

CrazyDiamond said...

Fred beat me to the punch for the "half-Thai, half-Chinese" thing.

Just my 2cents worth and I'd better put in the disclaimer that I'm half-Chinese, married to an ethnic Chinese wife, both from families that have settled in SE Asia for 2-3 generations. The, or rather we, Chinese treat the locals and local culture with condescension at best, and open contempt at worst. This is the dark side to Chinese cultural cohesion, which, while an absolute survival necessity for small immigrant communities, too often manifests itself as naked racial chauvinism. It's all very well to talk about IQ, work ethics, cultural values etc but as Clint once observed "Deserves got nothing to do with it". The locals have a very strong bond to what they rightly regard as the land of their fathers, we Chinese tend to jump ship whenever the grass is greener elsewhere or at the first sign of trouble (in the 70s, many of my Chinese schoolmates migrated to the US, Canada and Australia after the fall of Saigon. Economics or jitters? Who knows? Their parents definitely managed to kill two birds with one stone). The idea of defending ones land of birth is absolutely inconceivable, rather like it was for Tony Kroesig in "The Pursuit of Love".

What can I say, I'm often appalled at the behaviour of my friends and relatives. The notion that no matter how materially successful you are, no-one has the right to treat an entire group as natural inferiors has yet to penetrate a Chinese consciousness steeped in millennia of xenophobic chauvinism. They would do well to remember that the word "amok" is of Malay origin.

M Schwartz said...

***How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer? ***

Heh, hi Yan Shen :-) You really have an axe to grind on that issue don't you. Have you emailed Chua with to set her straight?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Charles Murray says that genes play a huge role in determining whether or not children succeed in life, though parenting matters somewhat.

How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer? Murry essentially seems to be implying a genetic hypothesis for East Asian American success.


Wow, hats off to the asian chauvinist with a chip on his shoulder who, like a hard working stereotype, got the first comment up!

Btw your point is no point at all, but you got there first and thats what counts.

Anonymous said...

Yes, reading Chua's "World on Fire" can help explain her determination to keep her descendants on top. She comes from a caste that makes up about 1% of the population of the Philippines, but owns, according to Chua, 60% of the business.

Hmmm, that sounds a bit like another group somewhere else, its on the tip of my tongue, dont help me, I'll get there.

Xenophon Hendrix said...

The Last Psychiatrist has an interesting take on Amy Chua's article.

Silver said...

When are Charles Murray and his pals gonna unveil their Every Child In His Place bill?

How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer? Murry essentially seems to be implying a genetic hypothesis for East Asian American success.

You could be forgiven for thinking so, but WN doesn't require the belief that whites are definitely smarter (or "better," in the eyes of God) than anyone else. Intelligence and its hereditary basis are just one of those things that require drawing attention to in order to forewarn against ways in which other groups' behaviors may negatively impact white communities and individuals; and it should certainly be invoked in defense against accusations that others' problems can only be accounted for by "white racism."

Is that so hard to stomach?

Brent Lane said...

Wow, Charles Murray says that genes play a huge role in determining whether or not children succeed in life, though parenting matters somewhat.

How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer? Murry essentially seems to be implying a genetic hypothesis for East Asian American success.


You're new here, aren't you?

Jimbo said...

Apparently Chua was ill-served (or well served, if you believe that there's no such thing as bad publicity) by her excerpter. THe book it was taken from is about how she started out as the uber-chinese Mom and was forced to relax a bit after her daughters pushed back. But the excerpt makes it seem like she is recommending Nazi parenting as the ideal.

Anonymous said...

I heard about a Chinese couple in Palo Alto who adopted two African American boys.

By the end of high school, that couple had no hair left. Little sanity, either.

The adoption was a bad mistake. Better to have adopted some Chinese kids or even some white kids.

Kylie said...

"How will your white nationalist readers stomach that one Sailer? Murry essentially seems to be implying a genetic hypothesis for East Asian American success."

It's the culture, stupid.

JW Ogden said...

If it is true the east Asians have a tighter IQ grouping than others it would make sense that they would tend to work harder.

Anonymous said...

Well it seems to me that Charles Murray basically argues against two of the major viewpoints endorsed by the Steve Sailer white nationalist crowd, 1) that East Asian American academic success is primarily the result of "grinding it out", Murray clearly implies that genes play a huge constraining role 2) that the East Asian work ethic is somehow deleterious to the well-being of an individual, Murray states that smart people everywhere would stand to benefit from a more rigorous East Asian style of parenting

Charles Murray's no intellectual slouch. I'd pay attention to what the man says. As one of the previous comments stated, Murray isn't explicitly pro-white or a white nationalist. His analysis is unlikely to be tainted by ethnocentric prejudice.

elvisd said...

Looks like we're about to start up the Jews vs. Chinese pop sociology discussion in 5...4...3...2...1..

Anonymous said...

1.) I don't think anyone here places the East Asian IQ below at least 100, but there's always been a question about how much of their success was IQ-based and how much was based on other factors (work ethic, parents). It seems both matter significantly. Asians are decently bright to begin with, but then they get pushed to study a lot and ridden hard by Mrs. Chuas.
2.) Deleterious is an opinion. Many people here support the East Asian work ethic.

Grind is also a subjective term. Maybe Asians/Indians are grinds, or maybe everyone else is just lazy. It depends on your reference point.

If Chinese are a standard deviation about the native populations of southeast Asia in IQ and are also way more industrious, I think their economic dominance would be inevitable.

In Thailand, you acutally have pretty good relations between the Chinese and natives, in comparison to everywhere else.

Ramon said...

"I don't think anyone here places the East Asian IQ below at least 100, but there's always been a question about how much of their success was IQ-based and how much was based on other factors (work ethic, parents). It seems both matter significantly. Asians are decently bright to begin with, but then they get pushed to study a lot and ridden hard by Mrs. Chuas."

It's the difference between a book people and buck people. Book people love knowledge even if there's no reward attached to it. Buck people want a buck--via job, crime, welfare--to have some fun.
Bookism and buckism are mentalities but important. Suppose there's an Asian family with IQ of 100 and a Mexican family with IQ of 100. Suppose parents of both have small businesses. So, in terms of IQ and material rewards, they aren't much different. But the Asian kid will have been instilled with a degree of respect for knowledge, and his sense of self-worth will have a moral as well as an economic aspect. Many Asians seem to want college degrees even if they don't do much with them. It's a matter of pride, a sense of status associated with higher knowledge. So, culture is important here, though it is also true that naturally smarter people have a greater tendency to appreciate knowledge.
But even among people who aren't too bright, an appreciation of higher things can direct their energies toward greater achievement and success. Most Germans are not high IQ but German culture created a mindset among the masses, a kind of hunger for meaning, respectability, culture or kultur.

Anyway, even book people who are economic failures may have more to offer their kids than successful buck people do to their own kids. Suppose one family is relatively poor but the parents are culturally/intellectually oriented while another family is pretty affluent--parents own a successful restaurant--but allow kids to grow up with the usual pop culture shit. The kids of the cultured poor family will probably do better in school and in life. By 'culture', I don't necessarily mean having art books, a huge collection of classical music, or literary discussion every night. It can be just a more sober and serious sense of history, heritage, culture, politics, etc that encourage a degree of reflection.
Of course, personality and natural IQ play a role too. In Godfather, it was inevitable that Sonny would turn out to be a macho hothead, Fredo a dumbass, and Michael the smart one(and Connie the brat).

And just as important as the reward in achievement is the shame in lack of achievement. High achievers are not only happy to get A's but angry/ashamed to get anything lower. But excess perfectionism can hold some people back. Sometimes interesting stuff happens by accident or when one's taking chances and making mistakes. Fear of failing--or making a fool of oneself--probably holds back some creative people.

Anonymous said...

I think you've all misunderstood Charles Murray's comment on his previous wife being half Thai and all Chinese. Although the other half may very well be Chinese, I think his reference is to the fact that Chua characterized her overzealous parenting style as being that of the "Chinese mother". This is evidenced by the fact that she states she knows "Korean, Indian, and Ghanaian mothers" who would also fit the mold of her archetypal "Chinese mother".

Anonymous said...

Yeah, his All chinese reference is more to do with (strict parenting) then with the kid being half chinese, Unless Charles Murray is Chinese in some way lol.

Anonymous said...

Some commenters here seem to assume that genes and environment do not interact.

When I took weight lifting in college all the guys were in average shape at the beginning of the semester. One medium sized guy however immediately started to bulk up and fill out.

I got much stronger during that time but I didn't change shape. I could do sit ups with a dumbbell behind my head endlessly but I still never got an abdominal six pack. I lifted weights for a few years after that but I gradually lost interest.

That other guy however looked great. He began to look like a real bodybuilder. He started to come into the weight room after class. He and the gym instructor attributed his success to his greater number of hours pumping iron. I'm sure he became a life long bodybuilder.

So too it is with mental ability. If you find algebra easy you probably sign up for calculus. So if you have a genetic advantage of say 103 you will adjust your environment so that after a while it's around 106.

Parents respond the same way. If your kid shows academic promise you encourage him or threaten him or beat him if he doesn't excel. If he is however slow, the parent is likely to just ignore him.

The parent's style (environmental) is in part determined by the kid's genetics.

Albertosaurus

Whoo69 said...

Charles Murray is a "White Nationalist"?? LOL

Yes... I guess that explains WHY HE HAD KIDS WITH AN EAST-ASIAN WOMAN. Uh... what? I mean, EVEN IF white nationalists DON'T supposedly think "some races are inferior", they DO tend to think that races should "stick to their own kind", first and foremost.

To ignorantly say that GENES DON'T MATTER...

wow

So ANYONE has an "equal chance" of becoming, say, THE NEXT BILL GATES if they just "have the right educational and job opportunities"?? come on... Obviously SOME PEOPLE are smarter and more-gifted intellectually than others.

I mean... HOW do we explain geniuses who GO TO COLLEGE AT THE AGE OF, SAY, 10?? There's NO WAY the 'system' somehow "gave them such preferential and better training to make them super-smart compared to peers." Genetics played an obvious large role.