Monday, March 30, 2009

Link of the Day

Charles Murray, the (in)famous sociologist, had an article in the WSJ recently that I am only now getting around to reading. It's fascinating. He argues that biological research is coming to the conclusion that ... well, check this out, then read the whole thing.
For many years, I have been among those who argue that the growth in births to unmarried women has been a social catastrophe--the single most important driving force behind the growth of the underclass. But while I and other scholars have been able to prove that other family structures have not worked as well as the traditional family, I cannot prove that alternatives could not work as well, and so the social democrats keep coming up with the next new ingenious program that will compensate for the absence of fathers.

Over the next few decades, advances in evolutionary psychology are going to be conjoined with advances in genetic understanding and they will lead to a scientific consensus that goes something like this: There are genetic reasons, rooted in the mechanisms of human evolution, that little boys who grow up in neighborhoods without married fathers tend to reach adolescence unsocialized to norms of behavior that they will need to stay out of prison and hold jobs. These same reasons explain why child abuse is, and always will be, concentrated among family structures in which the live-in male is not the married biological father. And these same reasons explain why society's attempts to compensate for the lack of married biological fathers don't work and will never work.

Once again, there's no reason to be frightened of this new knowledge. We will still be able to acknowledge that many single women do a wonderful job of raising their children. Social democrats will simply have to stop making glib claims that the traditional family is just one of many equally valid alternatives. They will have to acknowledge that the traditional family plays a special, indispensable role in human flourishing and that social policy must be based on that truth. The same concrete effects of the new knowledge will make us rethink every domain in which the central government has imposed its judgment on how people ought to live their lives--in schools, workplaces, the courts, social services, as well as the family. And that will make the job of people like me much easier.


Secular Apostate said...

On a somewhat tenuously related subject, I read a book review in the WSJ 10-12 years ago about social violence and males.

Basically, the author took an historical perspective to studying violence in the American west. His statistics were rather startling.

The "gunslinger towns", wherein violence was endemic and the murder rates sometimes reached as high as 30% (!!, yes, that's the number that sticks in my mind), were always towns full of young men. Gold rush towns were the prototype. The women who were present were whores and saloon girls, and much of the violence was caused by competition for the women.

Once towns began to be settled by families, the violence levels dropped precipitously.

His thesis was that women "civilize" men, but only within a traditional familial structure.

I looked for the book and the article when I was running my blog, but I couldn't find either. Fascinating stuff, though.

We are in the midst of a gargantuan social experiment that, if current data is any guide, is doomed to be a colossal failure.

pootoun (poo-TOON; n) the sound of chewing tobacco juice launched at high velocity into an empty brass spittoon

ligneus said...

Didn't this all used to come under the heading of common sense?
It goes back to Rousseau really, doesn't it. One of the great disasters to happen to the human race and still he's revered and followed.

Tim Eisele said...

First off, I agree that we are best off with two-parent families, and ideally both the mother and father should be biologically related to each other. That's not the problem.

The problem is, what can be done to reduce the tendency towards single parents? Apart from standing up and admonishing people (which makes the person doing the admonishing feel better, and maybe persuades a few people who already aren't at much risk of becoming single parents to be a bit more careful still, but doesn't seem to accomplish much else), what can be done that (a) will be effective, and (b) won't result in massive riots?

Tim Eisele said...

Slip of the finger, I meant "mother and father biologically related to the children", not "each other". No, I am not advocating mandatory incest or cousin marriage.

Secular Apostate said...

Geez, Tim. I thought for a moment that you were a fellow West Virginia native. And that we were probably second cousins or something.

State motto: 1.5 million nice folks, three last names.

Oblig. WV joke:
Why do W Virginian men like family reunions so much?

It's a great way to meet women.

tymberm: (TIME berm; n)the small bell atop a jester's cap

K T Cat said...

Tim, I think the crisis we're going through may do it all on its own. The traditional family has stood for 2000 years because it works. We've been able to do away with it because we've grown wealthy enough to replace fathers in poor families with our money. In the long run, that's a poor replacement, but no one makes decisions based on the long run.

In absolving people of their responsiblities as parents, we've removed the woman's need for commitment prior to pregnancy. As our monstrous debt bills come due, we won't be able to play that role as well any more. Poverty will go a long way towards restoring the traditional family.

At least that's my theory.