Eduardo Santiago's Reviews > Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids by Bryan Caplan
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May 07, 11

Read from April 07 to 25, 2011 — I own a copy

I'm a save-the-planet kind of guy: the way I show my children my love is by not bringing them into this world. So why in blazes would I read this book? Two reasons: 1) I respect Caplan based on his Myth of the Rational Voter, and 2) fuck confirmation bias. To my surprise, I enjoyed and learned from this book.

Caplan's main point, as others have mentioned, is “don't sweat it”. To a large extent, you don't have that much say in how your kids turn out: in the unsolvable nature/nurture debate, he presents evidence that nature accounts for more than we like to think. So if you're holding off at one child because you want to devote all your resources to him/her, Caplan's message is: quit being a superparent. It's your genes that will make the kid. The uncomfortable corollary here is that it's easy to read Caplan's message as “psssst, hey upper-class educated first-world people, the Others are outbreeding us. If you have good genes, do your part.” I can think of no believable way for Caplan to deny this, because he has to deny it. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but still minus one star.

Minus one star for its obvious daddy perspective: does the mother of his children feel the same way? Her voice isn't even hinted at. Would she feel the same way if they were divorced, if she were struggling to work while raising them? In the long run there are many yeses to this question, but it's irresponsible not to address it.

Minus one star for the cutesy fake dialogs; I found them too annoying to read. Minus one for its length: I would have found it more effective at half or two-thirds the length. Minus one for its focus on the joys of grandparenthood: that's a perspective he can only theorize about.

Despite all the minus stars... four total. For making me think, and especially for getting me to rethink some assumptions. This is a worthwhile book, well written, worthy of conversation.
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