On Thu, 1 Feb 2001, Weisskirch, Rob went:
> ... I think the real reason it received so much attention is because
> it appeals to the Baby Boomer psych-types. [I am aware I am opening
> up a can of generational worms]. For Boomer parents who have kids
> who, well, uh, didn't turn out exactly how they anticipated rejoice
> in Harris' assertion that parents don't really matter. Yes, blame
> the peers. Peers do the socializing. Parents, as long as you are
> generally good to them, have little influence. Boy, does this lift
> the burden on parents as the culprits for less-than-ideal kids.
I'm not convinced that this accounts for much of the attention given
to _The Nurture Assumption_. I think the book got attention because
its ideas were startling and yet somehow resonant with many people's
experiences. For me, that resonance had nothing to do with being a
Boomer parent (I'm only 34 and currently childless-by-choice); it had
to do with my being one of three siblings who, despite seemingly
similar parenting, are each very different (though each generally
happy and successful).
>From a more detached perspective, I thought Harris did an excellent
job of exposing the weakness of the evidence behind the nurture
assumption (even if I didn't buy every detail of her group-
socialization hypothesis, wherein teenage culture is transmitted down
the generations like a jumprope rhyme). Since having read the book, I
no longer swallow facile statements about Upbringing A leading to
Adulthood Trait B. It's got nothing to do with blame or credit; it's
a matter of critical thinking.
Half-tangentially, this thread reminds me of the following fascinating
Widom CS, Weiler BL, and Cottler LB.
Childhood victimization and drug abuse: a comparison of prospective
and retrospective findings.
Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology. 67(6):867-80, 1999 Dec.
This study examined whether childhood victimization increases risk for
drug abuse using prospective and retrospective victimization
information. Substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect from 1967 to
1971 were matched on gender, age, race, and approximate social class
with nonabused/nonneglected children and followed prospectively into
young adulthood. Between 1989 and 1995, 1,196 participants (676
abused/neglected and 520 control) were administered a 2-hr interview,
including measures of self-reported childhood victimization and drug
use/abuse (the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule--Version III--
Revised). *Prospectively*, abused/neglected individuals were *not* at
increased risk for drug abuse. In contrast, *retrospective* self-
reports of childhood victimization *were* associated with robust and
significant increases in risk for drug abuse. The relationship between
childhood victimization and subsequent drug problems is more complex
than originally anticipated. [emphases added. --D.E.]
--David H. Epstein, Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience
former lecturer, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Staff Fellow (i.e. postdoc), National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, MD
Staying on TIPS because I intend to return to teaching someday.
[THERE's yer .sig, Stephen.]