I’ve been thinking about facts that are true and yet not true – true for the usual reason that someone would like it to be true, yet false because the fact strongly (and of course obviously) implies something else that people don’t want to be true. Enslaved blacks probably were systematically bred for various qualities, because it would be useful for some people’s arguments for that to have happened. It would have been difficult, considering long human generations, nor does there seem to be any hard evidence of it – but what am I saying? Anyhow, at the same time it can’t be true, because it would imply negative things about existing black Americans, the products of that breeding experiment, and we can’t have that.
Some people didn’t like the idea that, over time, most Brits were descended from the medium-high bourgeoisie, as suggested by Gregory Clark. In order to remove that taint, they imagined a Merrie England where landless laborers did just fine, had about the same fitness as everyone else, rather than withering away over the generations. Of course, in this ‘blessed isle’ scenario, the gentry must have been really nice people – so why would having them as ancestors bother anyone?
James Heckman looked at a a series of cognitive tests given to low-birth-weight 3-year-olds. Children of mothers who had graduated from college scored much higher at age 3 than those whose mothers had dropped out of high school, proof of the advantage for young children of living in rich, stimulating environments. The difference in cognitive performance was just as big at age 18 as it had been at age 3. The gap is there before kids walk into kindergarten,” Mr. Heckman told me. “School neither increases nor reduces it.”
Heckman therefore thinks, or maybe the word is exudes, that we should make massive investments in incredibly early education, especially for super-disadvantaged kids.
But that can’t be true, because it would indicate that career women sending their offspring to preschools would have disastrous consequences. Which it doesn’t, by the way.