Daniel Freedman was a professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago. For his doctoral thesis, he did adoption studies with dogs. He had noticed that different dog breeds had different personalities, and thought it would be interesting to see if personality was inborn, or if it was somehow caused by the way in which the mother raised her puppies. Totally inborn. Little beagles were irrepressibly friendly. Shetland sheepdogs were most sensitive to a loud voice or the slightest punishment. Wire-haired terriers were so tough and aggressive that Dan had to wear gloves when playing with puppies that were only three weeks old. Basenjis were aloof and independent.
He decided to try the same thing with human infants of different breeds. Excuse me, different races. He looked at newborn babies in a hospital in San Francisco where his first child had been born. He compared Cantonese babies with babies of Northern European origin. The division of sexes was the same, the mothers were the same age, they had about the same number of previous children, and they had been administered the same drugs in the same amounts during labor.
White babies started to cry more easily, and once they started, they were more difficult to console. Chinese babies adapted to almost any position in which they were placed; for example, when placed face down in their cribs, they tended to keep their faces buried in the sheets rather than immediately turning to one side, as the Caucasian babies did. They briefly pressed the baby’s nose with a cloth, forcing him to breath with his mouth. Most white (and black) babies fight this maneuver by immediately turning away or swiping at the cloth with their hands, and this is reported in Western pediatric textbooks as normal. While the average Chinese baby would simply lay on his back, breathing through the mouth, accepting the cloth without a fight. There are movies of this: they are apparently quite striking, and should be on YouTube. I talked to a prof who showed these movies to students in a class at an Ivy league university: they really, really hated it. They should emigrate to a different reality – one of those probability lines outside the Blight, full of butt-kicking pixies, avuncular gay men, Melanesian super-hackers, and female Fields medalists. And unicorns.
Later, he looked at Navaho babies: they’re like Chinese, only more so.
Japanese babies are like Chinese, but less so: more irritable, but not as irritable as white kids.