Saturday, June 23, 2007

Firstborns Get Dibs on Everything -- Even IQs

Research Finds Firstborns Gain the Higher I.Q. (NY Times)

Oh, the things I love about this article:

4. The way the article seems tailor-made to depress everyone who's not the eldest of their sibs. Can't you just hear a younger sib, now? F--- me, even my damn IQ is a hand-me-down!.
3. The "golly, we bet the results are the same for women, even though we only analyzed male subjects."
2. That adult attention as an infant is theorized as a factor, yet that doesn't explain men who become the eldest sib, and apparently smarter, to boot. Instead -- and this is my out-of-thin-air theory, thanks -- maybe being pushed to do, to sink or swim, in a pressure cooker that younger sibs don't get to the same degree, has a significant effect on IQ. Push comes to shove, you find yourself developing all sorts of necessary skills.
1. The fact that we measure intelligence w/such rough devices to begin with. I mean, honestly, how many kids' answers change to these dippy IQ questions, that have nothing to do with how smart they might actually be? (Something to bear in mind when asking yourself if these results really would be the same for men and women, given the patriarchy.) Look at the whole section in there on once-a-decade advancements v. genuinely revolutionary ideas:

Charles Darwin, author of the revolutionary “Origin of Species,” was the fifth of six children. Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish-born astronomer who determined that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the planetary system, grew up the youngest of four. The mathematician and philosopher RenĂ© Descartes, the youngest of three, was a key figure in the scientific revolution that began in the 16th century.

Firstborns have won more Nobel Prizes in science than younger siblings, but often by advancing current understanding, rather than overturning it.

“It’s the difference between every-year or every-decade creativity and every-century creativity,” Dr. Sulloway said, “between innovation and radical innovation.”