What do we owe Raf & Laura Brannigan?
Self Control is one of the defining music hits of the 1980s. It was first released in 1984 by Italian singer-songwriter Raf (his first single). It was also released almost contemporaneously by Laura Brannigan.
The song includes these lyrics:
You take my self you take my self control
I I live among the creatures of the night
I haven’t got the will to try and fight
The first line of the quote I provided is wrong. Not in the sense that those words aren’t lyrics for the song, but in the sense that a person’s self-control does not get taken by someone else. I’ve stumbled on a number of papers published recently that noted something along these lines:
While the link between low self-control and several behavioral and social problems is widely supported, debate remains regarding the stability of and the genetic and environmental sources of variation in self-control. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class 1998–1999 restricted data set, a sample of 360 twins was compared to a sample of 423 non-twins in order to examine the stability in self-control. The twin sample was also used to examine the genetic and environmental sources of stability in self-control. Findings indicated two stable classes for both the twin and singleton samples, and substantial stability in average self-control from kindergarten through fifth grade in both samples. The ACE decomposition model indicated strong genetic contributions to self-control (76%) with the remaining variation attributed to non-shared environment. Overall, the data suggest that self-control is identifiable early in life, stable across childhood, increasingly influenced by genes, and thus, is a critical focus for early intervention.
And it turns out that other papers show that self control really matters:
Policy-makers are considering large-scale programs aimed at self-control to improve citizens’ health and wealth and reduce crime. Experimental and economic studies suggest such programs could reap benefits. Yet, is self-control important for the health, wealth, and public safety of the population? Following a cohort of 1,000 children from birth to the age of 32 y, we show that childhood self-control predicts physical health, substance dependence, personal finances, and criminal offending outcomes, following a gradient of self-control. Effects of children’s self-control could be disentangled from their intelligence and social class as well as from mistakes they made as adolescents. In another cohort of 500 sibling-pairs, the sibling with lower self-control had poorer outcomes, despite shared family background. Interventions addressing self-control might reduce a panoply of societal costs, save taxpayers money, and promote prosperity.
Its been pointed out before that some aspect of criminality is also genetic. And criminal tendencies are also tied to behaviors that can increase the likelihood someone is poor.
All of which leads to some ethical dilemmas. I think most people are comfortable with the idea that society works better if there is a safety net that helps people who through no fault of their own are down on their luck. The “through no fault of their own” argument applies very easily to a hard working conscientious guy whose job got outsourced to China. Does it apply as smoothly to someone who accepts his natural tendency to avoid labor altogether? What about the 17 year old whose lack of self-control caused him to fail several grades and landed him in juvie for assault? Do you want him in the same classroom with your eighth grader?
But those are the stuff of late night college BS sessions. Try this out if you want a thorny problem… We all know there is a genetic component to homosexuality. What we don’t all know is that there is also a genetic component to homophobia. The study of genes is in its early stages and it is naive to think there aren’t many other examples of “trait X is heritable” and “dislike of trait X is heritable.” Can we all just get along if our genes can’t all get along?
The universe does not have a sense of humor.
Gee, I wonder if there’s a genetic inheritance of people who are racists? Perhaps a fear of black hair or blond hair or whatever?
That people are different only means that they don’t all have the same traits, physical or mental and that won’t change. We can sort them easily by racial physical traits “on sight” and we discriminate blatantly or behind the privacy of a voting booth on that basis.
What if we can sort the easily by childhood traits .. we can put the trouble makers into one group, the brainiacs in another — oh, but what if many are both trouble makers and brainiacs though?
And how do we define trouble makers? Those that don’t comply with rules made up by people who desire their own brand of “behavior”? Like those pesky people who march and rally and rail against the “established controlling interest groups”?
I recall the start of opposition to the VN war… I was starting college and it was all those “trouble makers” that were the “problem” for the existing “control group”. SDS, Black Panthers, and others. “Bad, bad people” to quote Trump.
And according to my knowledge of history there were all those “trouble makers” that opposed the British rulers at one time also…. I think they were called ‘terrorists” in fact.
Then we can cite all the northern trouble makers who started opposing slavery in the south or was it the trouble makers in the south that caused the problem we call the Civil War.
We should definitely sort these trouble makers out when they’re 5 – 8 years old from the rest of us.
I thought Aldus Huxley already discussed this … back in 1932. Maybe you should read Brave New World to figure out what it is your talking about.
I’m also reminded of all those criminals:
— crime: smoking pot
— crime: possessing pot
— crime: selling pot
— crime: growing pot
We should have sorted them out at 5 – 8 so they wouldn’t have been able to do those crimes later … at 15 and 16, and 20 or 30 years of age.
And of course those “homos” who were prosecuted for doing what comes naturally …. criminals they were.
And the white guys that married black girls… illegal as it could be… at least in Virginia until 1972 when the Supreme Court finally changed the rules.
Was there a law against white girls marrying black guys? I’m pretty sure there were, but that’s just my guess.. or perhaps it was just genetic traits that forced red-necks to go out and hang the black guys that looked at a white girl “the wrong way”.
Trouble makers … all of them.
I can’t help it Run… I keep coming with more stuff.
What about prostitutes.. now there’s crime if there ever was one… the same guys that go out and use their services are the ones that oppose legalizing it. We’re not just talking about the “trouble maker ” guys on the street corner, but well established upper middle and wealthy guys that hire “escorts”… many well known and accomplished people …
Those guys should have been identified by their traits at 5 – 8 years old and sorted out to prevent them from using (paying for) prostitutes.
And what about those girls who become prostitutes.. we shoulda sorted them out too and used mind altering drugs or something (genital mutilation?) to keep them from being so immoral.
I read Brave New World a few times, but the last time was twenty years ago. What made it a dystopia was that people were engineered to conform, not just to certain roles in society, but to fit into society.
So back to my second to the last paragraph:
So say you do have people genetically predisposed with Trait X and others genetically predisposed with Trait Y, where Y = Hatred of Trait X. Now I am not proposing we genetically engineer people so they get along. (Are you?) But I am also a bit uncertain that we should force them to try to get along. I am not certain forcing trait X and trait Y people together is a good idea. And I worry there may a very, very large number of trait Xs and corresponding trait Ys.
Peeing on a bush get’s you “sex offender” registration .. by discretion of the local prosecutor in California municipalities.
It’s true… a friend of mine got nabbed at 1:30 am peeing on a bush walking home from a party. A local cop happened to cruise by at the time. Wack… charged with public exposure and now is a “registered sex offender”. Should I add that this kid is probably the last person on earth to ever hurt anybody, either verbally or physically? If there was ever an upstanding citizen, he’s it.
So we should have known and figured out by some new psychiatric tests that he was prone to becoming a sex offender at 19 I suppose and sorted him out.
Yep, all those trouble makers… let’s get rid of them or put them in separete groups called “trouble maker potential, 74% probability” and the other groups all the way down to “5% probability”.. awe shit… even “1% probability”. Why not?
Or we could ask where the fuck peeing on a bush got to be a crime? and who voted to make it one… more significantly who the fuck proposed it as a crime in the first place. Shit, I’m an offender ever since I was 3 and my mom pulled down my pants to pee on a busy public street in the town shopping district in the gutter so I wouldn’t wet my pants… and I can’t even count how many bushes and trees or grass or rocks I watered down with my pee gun since then … about a month ago was the most recent occurrence if I recall. All of these instances in a public outdoor place.
So we should have sorted me out a long time ago too. Tough shit… nobody did so I’m still a free man. Or am I just lucky?
Serious consideration question
Draw a normal distribution
Label X axis Trouble Maker Potential with max at the extreme right and min at the extreme left.
Where do you draw the vertical lines to decide into which group to sort people?
Now take the most left side group.. whatever that probability group is .. say >90%
Now draw another normal distribution
Label the X-axis Intelligence Quotient
Now take the individuals that were identified in the Trouble making potential group .. the >90% group… and identify their intelligence on the Intelligence distribution?
What do you see? What you see is are points representing a random distribution of the intelligence.
So now what?
Take those individuals which were both >90% potential trouble makers AND 90% probably, which means some of them never would create trouble?
OK, I’m done with this subject unless and until Mr. Kimel gives an answer to the above questions that I find fault with. ..
“Take those individuals which were both >90% potential trouble makers AND < 45% on the intelligence distribution,
What do you do with them?
Determining the genetic component of a trait relies on many assumptions and is specific to the population and environments used. And just because something has a genetic component does not mean it cannot be altered by the environment. PKU is a devastating disease that is 100% genetic. Does that mean that environment doesn’t matter? Not at all – limiting the intake of phenylalanine makes the disease much less severe. So variation in the symptoms of the disease, which used to be all genetic (if you had the genes for PKU, you had a severe disease), now has a strong environmental component, because it varies with diet. So if homophobia has a genetic component, that does not mean its expression cannot be changed by the environment – just that the environments the test subjects were exposed to did not seem to have a strong effect. Do you not think that homophobia is lower now than it was 50 years ago? Have the genes changed in that time? If people personally know a homosexual, doesn’t their attitudes change? (I would say “yes, not much, yes.”)
To them, you do the same thing you do everyone else – nothing, unless and until they harm a third party.
The question in the post is different, and harder: what do you do for them?
I note that you’re probably further along the age trajectory than I am. So, a question from the post…
Did you? Or did you do what you could to keep that 17 year old away from your eighth grader?
Correct. Genes aren’t everything. But exposure isn’t enough. I would guess that just about every adult with a functional level of intelligence in the US has met people who have traits that are noticeably different from “average” in this country. We also have an educational system, an entertainment structure, and social norms that tell us that everyone is equally valued. And yet haters persist. So exposure and incessant messaging (and I am not using that term disparagingly) may do the trick for many (most?), but they don’t do it for everyone. I can only conclude that at least for some part of the population nurture is failing to overcome nature.
I’m willing to believe that their is genetic variance in self control, but it pays to remember the marshmallow experiment. Children who were given nice art supplies in exchange for waiting were more likely to wait for a second marshmallow. Children who were not given nice art supplies in exchange for waiting were less likely to wait for a second marshmallow.
We have a class of people in our country who tend not to get the breaks that other classes of people get. They are much more likely to get gunned down in the playground by a policeman or turned down for a job because their skin is insufficiently reflective. They are much more likely to get a jail term for a minor offense and to have earlier offenses held against them. In the past, they were even required to work without any pay or benefits. Since they are taught that they aren’t going to get the nice art supplies, they learn not to wait for the second marshmallow. The genetic variation is more about when they give up, rather than whether they give up.
Since so much of the consequence of slacking or indulging in minor criminality is dependent on class membership, it is unrealistic to apply the same standards in when evaluating outcomes and intrinsic properties before that more serious problem is corrected. You can’t compare apples and oranges when the only goal is making applesauce.
In response to your question:
“What about the 17 year old whose lack of self-control caused him to fail several grades and landed him in juvie for assault? Do you want him in the same classroom with your eighth grader?”
If he’s in juvi then he’s not able to sit next to my kid in school., so you answered the question by the conditions you cited..
I’m not sure but what you meant that a kid that’s been in juvi and then upon his release, if still of high school age and who still wants to attend high school (since if he’s over 16 he isn’t required to attend if over 16 years of age… or maybe beginning at 16 years of age).
It wouldn’t bother me a bit in fact. Let me tell you why.
1. A kid out of Juvi who wants to attend high school when he isn’t required to is probably motivated to do so in order to maintain his social contacts and unless my kid is in the juvi’s social group it’s no skin off my kids nose who sits next to him/her.
2. If the kid’s disruptive in class the teacher sends him to office and the office says one more time and you’re expelled OR sent to “Central High” which is where the kids who want to attend but are not compatible with the normal high school population, or who are always failing &/or missing class, late to school, etc. are sent until they either graduate with high school diploma, or are kicked out after they reach the age limit for required attendance (16 or 17).
So the kid is either ok to mix and attend school next to my kid in a class or he’s not. The juvi can either sort himself out of the normal high school or not.
Next, let me give you some real life experiences.. I’ll give two examples of a couple dozen or more.
I attended a very high end (public) high school with some of the finest teachers selected from all across the US and from among college profs who wanted to teach at hour high school for a year or two.
The student body was mixed.. tough guys who were poorer incomes from lower rent districts, all the way up to diplomat’s kids from all over Europe, ME, SAmerica, Africa, etc.
My neighborhood was a 40 minute bus ride from the school and was also highly mixed between tough guys / poorer up to wealthy rich guys… I was in the middle.
There were major fights at every school event and every other week-end in my neighborhood. Assault was common.. unprovoked, and planned assaults. I was a loudmouth, but not very big so I was more often than not a target by the tough guys…. on the school bus, at school, and in our home neighborhood. I fought back but to no avail, but got bloody noses, lips bloodied needing stitches, elbows bloudied, stitches in my scalp often enough to make me afraid and of course mad.
The guys who liked to beat me up at various intervals sat in normal classrooms .. some of them were smart enough to get B’s and C’s some not so much (in terms of effort appled).. most gradated legitimately some didn’t.
Fast forward to 40 years later when I attended a 40 year reunion. You wouldn’t believe how those kids turned out … like normal family fathers with solid well paying jobs, owning homes and nice cares having nice wives and very successful children. Not one that I met at the reunion was a problem adult. Those who weren’t at the reunion I heard plenty about from others at the reunion… they were just as well off and successful as the average among the reunion attendees.
Those among the tough guys at the reunion that had beat the shit out of me more than once were apologetic for their juvenile, testosterone driven behavior toward me as a teen.
I must however also say that by the time I was 17 and bigger and had grown and gained weight, I my own adrenaline got pumped during one of those fights when I was knocked on my face and tore my new slacks. I picked up a near by fallen tree branch (pine, ~ 2 inches in diameter and roughly curved to a length of ~ 2 feet). When I picked myself off the ground I swung that branch aiming for the jaw and head as hard as could swing it. I broke one guys jaw in 5 places, another’s right arm, and knocked the 3rd guy unconscious. When the ambulance and police arrived I was held for an hour on suspicion of felonious assault with intent to kill. But they released me with no charges at all, no arrest, nothing… because it was in fact just self defense — there were probably 20 witnesses… fights always being announced ahead of time to draw a crowd.
And that guy whose jaw I broke with the stick was at the 40 year reunion. He said that after he recovered he wasn’t angry with me… he was in fact later apologetic (a year later) and said that fight cured him of wanting to fight ever again unless in self defense. — Why? because for the first time he found out fights can turn deadly… and that wasn’t what he wanted when he fought… but just to demonstrate his tough guy strength… testosterone I’d guess.
Ok that was me… thank god those were the days before kids had access to guns.. .knives maybe, switch-blades, but they were more for show than actual use.
Now fast forward again to my son. His high school was similarly mixed as mine was. There were the “cowboys” and the “others”. My son was an “other”. The cowboys were the tough guys…mostly farm and ranch boys in our district.
Like me (genetics) my son was a loud mouth who had been knocked down a couple times in Jr. High, but he was more afraid so made sure he wasn’t exposed to being attacked more than I did.
In high school he was being pushed around and hit a few times (no blood drawn) by some cowboys. One of them sat behind or in front of him in one of his classes.
My son was an athlete in swimming and water polo… MVP, athlete of the year etc in the county two years running. He thought he was big stuff and his eqo was way too big.for his own good. But he was also a smart guy and got A’s in his clases and advanced classes.
So the cowboy sitting next to him was flunking the class or getting D-‘s or something and my kid says to him one day… I can help you get a C or better. So the cowbody (as I’m told) says if my son will teach him to swim like he does he’ll take him up on the offer to help him pass the class…. this all had to be conducted without the other cowboy’s knowing though you see… face saving and group tribalism is a major thing.
I’ll skip to the end. The cowboy got a B for that class, went from a flunking kid with low self esteem to an A student his senior year, and joined the swim team and won races even. Not only that a couple of the other cowboys shifted gears too… my son taught them to swim and how to play water polo. One of them joined the water polo team and was one tough water polo player.
So those are real stories, unembellished covering a 40 year time span.
So the 17 year old you speak of in hypothetical is cute…nice fantasy you construct as if the 17 year old is un-redeemable and a future criminal or whatever making it hard for other kids to learn or something.
I said I have dozens of these stories. I used just two. Both are typical of the other dozens of stories.
BTW, none of these kids were dirt poor… just poorer than most. Nnne lived in a ghetto…. some were black, some Hispanic, some white. .. ~ 2/3rds were white in fact… so though race played a role in some of the fights, to some extent at least, it wasn’t a racial or racist thing for the most part (racist name calling to be sure but not really a racist driven thing). A by stander would have certainly thought it was a racist thing but the participants didn’t.. it was just a way to egg others into a fight.
So you can fantasize your hypotheticals all you want and they’re just your imagination running off in directions you think match reality. They don’t. ..
Just so you’re aware, you missed Huxley’s point entirely I’m afraid .
You might be interested to know what happed to the cowboy my son helped. He got his AA and was going to attend the Cal but he wanted to learn how to cook, believer it or not. So he want to a culinary school, then an apprenticeship in France (Orleans I think) and Germany (ntear Strassburg I think). the last I head was ~ 5 years ago. He was the sus-chef (sp?) at one of the major high end places in Napa Valley… owned a huge home and a Maserati .. or maybe it was one of the other expensive Italian cars. I found out because my son and his wife went to the place for dinner one week-end and the sus-chef recognized my son while dining… or the sus chef heard from the wine steward that a guest was from the sus-chef’s home town… whatever the reason.
Strange coincidenses. Tough guys and trouble makers huh?
Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine region? Cathédrale Notre-Dame is beautiful. Then wander north to the town of Bitche and its Citadel.
In contrast to the trouble makers stories (real life, not your fantasies), what about the “good guys” in good moral schools from good moral god fearing families that became crooks and cons stealing from little old ladies and the “righteous” and lived lavish life-styles preaching fire and brimstone and saving people with “hands” of god
Real life.. you know these things.
And what about Madoff? Do you think he was a teen tough-guy assaulting people and going to juvi? How many Madoffs are out there still doing the same thing without being caught by staying in a lower profile? Speaking of which do you think Trump Sr. was a good guy amassing a fortune in real estate without fraud and under-the-table dealing?
You list a set of issues and provide it as a reason for why “a class of people in our country” “learn not to wait for the second marshmallow.”
But the way stated your answer, you are in effect proposing a natural experiment, with the hypothesis that the same class of people, situated elsewhere and having gone through a less oppressive environment will have better outcomes. For example, citizens of Liberia who were not subject to Jim Crow should have better outcomes than African Americans. Alternatively, citizens of countries in Africa that were colonized relatively lightly (my knowledge of the history of Nigeria is minimal, but what little I know leads me to believe that country belongs on this list) and did not have slavery imposed upon them should have better outcomes than African Americans. And they should particularly have better outcomes if they move to countries that don’t have a negative history vis a vis their “class of people.” So places like Sweden, or China, or Japan which seem to have no history of subjugating people of African descent should be places where people of African descent should do particularly well. I imagine some of that data is available.
There are no movements out there making excuses for people like Bernie Madoff. There aren’t a lot of people calling for reduced punishment for financial fraudsters. In fact, I would venture to guess most Americans would be very happy to see the penalties for financial fraud increased exponentially.
I would also note that these days some kids worry about getting killed in schools. There are plenty of schools with metal detectors. But unless your eighth grader’s school was extremely unusual, the likelihood he/she feared getting defrauded by an unruly schoolmate with a history of delinquency was orders of magnitude lower than the likelihood many kids in the South side of Chicago have of getting killed by someone else their age.
So you’re actually posting about whether there’s a large enough plurality to oppose or not oppose something and with sufficient political clout to do something.. I see.
And you seem to be posting about racial/ethnic/lower income groups… as if these apply generally I see.