american dreaming

How liberating!

This month, the Center for Disease Control reported that birth rates had dropped again, for the fourth year in a row, bottoming out under 4 million babies born for the first time since 1998.  Commentators immediately rushed to their laptop, ringing the alarm bells to fault the economy for our flaccid national desire to procreate. To be sure, low fertility accompanies a weak economy without fail. But to blame the markets for what happens in our bedrooms misses a radical reshaping of our worldview. It’s not just the economy, it’s liberation. The pursuit of happiness has emerged as our new national ideology, trumping the age-old belief that parental duty is the very definition, of adulthood.  Some think it’s the height …

WeirdScience1985

I’m preparing to talk to a group of high school psychology teachers about “bad” science. (How is “Bad Science” not an eighties movie? Was “Weird Science” enough?) I’m reeling, as I have many times before in reporting on the science of only children, from the disconnect between what studies about only children show us, and what we tend to believe, regardless.

I visited birth order guru and scientific historian Frank Sulloway at Berkeley last year.  We talked about why bad scientific reasoning about onlies tends to occur outside the data sets. He believes a Darwinian impetus may well underlie the stereotype. Our relatives had an evolutionary imperative to spread their own genes.  “They need a good story to convince us …