This blog has been very inactive. But it has attracted quite a few people I didn't know who have had some kind of encounter with Freedomain Radio. It may be worth posting more on the topic here.
Michael McConkey has recently posted this article criticising Stef's claim that peaceful parenting will bring about an anarcho-capitalist society, in which he reviews the evidence from behavioural genetics that finds parental environment to be a very small predictive factor for most psychological outcomes. An FDR forum member by the name of a14 has linked to it in this thread on the FDR board.
Stefan Molyneux has responded by dropping this gem:
"The twins studies are very easy to debunk - significant aspects of the
personality are developed in the womb, and a woman who is about to give
up her twins for adoption would have enormous levels of stress hormones
and other biochemicals racing through her system, which is why twins
raised separately tend to have similar characteristics, or least similar
characteristics that are related to the pre-birth environment."
Two main points here:
1. This argument depends on post-natal parental environment being a negligible factor. Yes, considerations about effects of in-utero environment may knock down the amount of variation attributable to genes by a few points. However, they can do nothing to rescue Stef's claims about the long term effects of parenting.
Again: It's not just genes vs parental environment. If you want to argue that parental environment has a larger effect than has previously been found in behavioural genetics, then your argument had better mention the "shared environment" factor at some point - that's the one you're interested in. Merely attacking the importance of the "heredity" factor doesn't get you very far. (Other people in that thread have made that same mistake.)
2. I could understand the "stress hormones" thing as an explanation for why all adoptive children (twins or otherwise) are similarly anxiety-prone, but that has nothing to do with what the data find. It's not that all identical twins raised by different foster parents are alike, or that all adoptive children are alike. It's that within each pair of identical twins, the two twins are highly similar to each other in terms of their personalities and aptitudes (and of pretty much everything else), and that it turns out to not make any difference whether they were raised apart from each other or not.
So, if those two identical twins who were raised apart are equally happy, successful, healthy, athletic, smart, well liked, and libertarian, is that because of all the stress hormones that were racing through their biological mother's system when she was expecting them?
My central criticism of Stefan Molyneux is simply that he greatly over-estimates his judgement.
"very easy to debunk" you say?
Dear Stef. With all the lip service you pay to the scientific method, I really wish you realised or accepted that learning how to actually use scientific methods just takes a bit more work than you have, so far, invested. You have no scientific training, and you admit to being bad at maths, which would not be a problem if you didn't keep expressing extremely confident judgements on questions that actually require careful statistical analysis of data to find an accurate answer to. Salman Khan's video series on statistics is probably a neat place to start from if you like that kind of format.
Also well worth mentioning, I think: Other people in that thread have made arguments that assume that all the scientists involved in behavioural genetics and differential psychology are either unbelievably stupid or purposely deceitful. You have to ask yourself, which is more likely: that these objections you have come up with after a couple of hours of googling and thinking, let's say, have never occurred to anyone who has worked in the field for most of their career - or that your objections miss something important? Also, is it more likely that there's an unassailable conspiracy of purposely deceitful scientists that virtually everybody in the field belongs to, or that your objections miss something important?
In other news, I have noticed yesterday that I have been banned from the Freedomain Radio forum, presumably because I had linked to my criticisms of FDR on my profile page many months ago. (I had not posted on FDR in at least 1 year, nor have I been in the chat room for ages.)
Plz do leave comments :)