The Corner


As I emerge pale and blinking into the sunlight from that primordial ylem known as “the Christmas and New Year season,” I struggle to turn my thoughts to the large matters of the world. While I’m thus struggling, here are some titbits from the seasonal email bag. Emails are always livelier and more interesting around the C&NY season, I don’t know why.

First, in regard to a study on adolescent development that Jonah dangled before me here, prompting me to reply thus, a reader sent in the following:

Dear Derb—I’m not an expert in this particular field but I am a social scientist and can read statistics. … As far as I can tell in skimming the article, the methodology appears to be generally sound. In particular, they do include race in the model. Not only do they specify race as a control variable, but they also experimented with removing blacks from the sample to see whether they were driving the patterns. Whatever flaws the study may have, a PC refusal to consider race is not one of them.

The only big drawback of the study is that it’s based on a sample of college girls who may not be representative of the general population. While I can’t think exactly how this might introduce measurement error on the covariance, nonetheless in a perfect world they would have had a random sample of girls.

My reader kindly attached a copy of the actual study, which I can forward to anyone who’s interested. A couple of other readers who work in or near the field emailed in to tell me that while dogmatic “blank slate” nurturism and lefty “social construction” pomo-babble are still very much in evidence in developmental studies, they are in retreat, and real science is being done. More from the mailbag shortly, I have to go deal with some home-improvement contractors.

Oh, I FINISHED the puzzle.


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