The Corner

re: parenting

Thanks for that long post, Jonah.  There are a number of logical fallacies there.  For example:  “Single parenting is bad for society” does not imply, and certainly is not equiveridical with, “Single parenting is bad for a child.”  The “Murphy Brown” child–the child of a single mother with a good income, living in a bourgeois neighborhood surrounded by bnourgeois norms, will not suffer any harm from the lack of a parent, so far as I know.

As I have noted before, it would be astounding if this were _not_ true, since human beings–including our brains, personalities, emotions, mental capabilities, and developmental paths–evolved in (and so are adapted to) an environment where single parenthood must have been rather common.

That’s a point about developmental psychology, though.  Charles Murray’s point was sociological–not surprising, since he is a sociologist by training.  The problem with single parenting is that in a modern society, most single parents will be poor women living in poor neighborhoods with lots of other poor female single parents, and a large pool of unattached males, who misbehave as unattached males will.  In such an environment, outside-the-home socialization will be atrocious, and outside-the-home socialization is what I have been banging on about.

The objection to Murphy Brown (so far as I am concerned) is not that she’s going to ruin her child’s life.  I don’t believe she is.  The problem is that by sending a message that single parenthood is just fine, and not very difficult, she is going to ruin the lives of 100,000 other children born to less capable, less well-equipped mothers.

And so on.  I think I am going to leave Charles to pick up your other points, if he has the time, since he will do a much better job than I would.  I’ll just scotch one more:  Of course science has limits.  At any point in time, there is much science can’t explain.  I do not, however, believe–and I really can’t believe that anyone believes I believe–that what science can’t explain “doesn’t exist.”  That would require me to believe that, say, in A.D. 1800, the Sun did not exist, since the mechanism by which the Sun generates heat and light was not known at that time.  Jonah, I believe that in 1800, the Sun DID exist.  OK?

Oh:  to your remark about having missed my final response to Rich & the report on which Rich based his column, that final response (not very substantive, I’m afraid) is here .

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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