Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Charles Adams: While watching Charles Adams, the son of the great American Founding Father, drink himself to death in the HBO mini-series John Adams (it's great--I recommend seeing it) I wondered if this was a tendency among the sons of great men.

The General Social Survey asked 1,479 men about their father's occupation, and if they sometimes drink too much. I compared the group with fathers in the highest one percent of occupational prestige with everyone else:

Percent who drink too much

Men with very prestigious fathers 70.6
All other men 43.6

There is a clear difference here. Now it might be that these guys from elite families just party more or are more willing to report their excesses, but I wonder if some of it reflects the difficulty in having every advantage but not measuring up to such a successful father.

If I'm right, this phenomenon shows the destructive nature of knee-jerk blank slatism. Junior was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so why isn't he matching or even surpassing the old man's achievements?

Someone with even a basic understanding of reality knows that, using Adam's family as an example, his children were unlikely to match their father's accomplishments because they would likely regress toward the mean.

These sons need to be told that their fathers are freaks--why would you expect lightning to strike twice? No one should expect you to be a carbon copy of Poppy, and if they do, they are ignorant people with harmful beliefs.

But it makes me compassionate to believe that people have tremendous potential, and that only disadvantage holds them down, says the liberal. No, it does not make you compassionate. It destroys lives.

Black-white differences in glaucoma

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