Adults Behave Better When Kids Are Around

March 8 2022

With the data becoming ever clearer about America’s declining birthrates, Tim Carney notes the arguments of those who believe this trend might be a good thing—and points to a recent study that demonstrates a few of the benefits accrued by a society whose members have children:

The researchers, led by the British psychologist Lukas Wolf, tried to separate out confounding factors. They didn’t want to see if parents were more or less pro-social—or young people or women or anything like that. They tried to discern whether people in general were more generous and pro-social simply because children were around.

One aspect of the study involved fundraising efforts on different main streets. The researchers “recorded the number of children and adults on a shopping street and collected donations from adult passersby for a cause not specifically related to children.” They found “a significant positive correlation between the proportion of children present and the number of donations.” This wasn’t explained at all by parents being more generous, the researchers said. It was the presence of children that seemed to make a difference.

Wolf and colleagues also conducted eight experiments, online or in a lab, where they asked participants to describe different settings or situations, some of which involved children. This divided the participants into those who had children on their mind and those who didn’t. Both groups were then asked about their aspirations toward generosity, service, duty, and similar pro-social virtues. The experiments, with more than 2,000 participants, found small but significant effects suggesting that thinking about children makes people more conscientious.

Being around children makes us all behave better. So we should worry about a society with fewer and fewer of them.

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Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Children, Family, Fertility

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter