Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Few Heavy Tabs

Not too many at once, but these three articles all have been getting my attention lately:

  • A long profile of education historian Diane Ravitch, if you've been wondering who this woman is and why everyone is talking about her.

  • James Howard Kunstler on the future of America and particularly our cities: About as hopeful as he gets.

  • A fascinating update by Patricia Cohen in the New York Times on revisiting the possible genetic underpinnings of criminal behavior. As Judith Rich Harris has made clear, about half of who we become is genetically encoded, but the other half is butterfly effect stuff. Unless we're abused, malnourished and otherwise not allowed a childhood, then look out -- those are the roots of sociopathology. Cohen cites the twin and sibling research of Kevin Beaver, who has found that "In boys not exposed to the risk factors, genetics played no role in any of their violent behavior. The positive environment had prevented the genetic switches...that affect aggression from being turned on. In boys with eight or more risk factors, however, genes explained 80 percent of their violence. Their switches had been flipped."

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