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December 17, 2008



Interesting - as the parent of an officially stupidly tall child, does birth height make any difference?


Nothing, unless you want a tidal wave of unintended consequences. Life ain't fair. Most of people have known that for most of the time.

David Heigham

We are each created different. The random element is always there in our individual endowments; whatever we gain or lose from genetic an epigenetic heredity.

It follows that all we can be held responsible for is how we use what we are given. If we respect each others wants and desires, all we can do collectivly is search for effective ways of enabling people to use their endowments well, and apply the results.

'Well' in this context must mean in ways meriting collective approval. We are collectively responsible for defining that properly.

Luis Enrique

I don't think this says anything about vulgar libertarianism.

Say scientists conclusively proved tomorrow that free will is an utter illusion and we are all robots living out a deterministic fate (albeit far to complex to predict) - would that mean the death of (vulgar?) libertarianism? No. The concept of responsibility just changes. You can talk of a badly made robot as being responsible for the failure of a production line. Being a robot is no more or less compatible with vulgar libertarianism than any other political economic philosophy, so why should vulgar libertarians care if your genetic endowment is responsible for how your life turns out? Vulgar libertarians may talk about the importance of character etc. but they needn't care whether character is willed or endowed.


"The question is: what, if anything, should be done about this?"

Nothing. And just asking the question is scary.


What do you plan to do about your children, Chris?


Height is also heavily correlated with income in men. Does this mean I should get some compensation for being shorter than average? It is not even as if you need GREAT maths/reading skills to be successful, although it is certainly a disadvantage to have very little.

All this implies is that successful individuals should be thankful for what they have. I would argue that there is a moral implication there, that wealthy individuals have a duty to help those less fortunate. But that doesn't imply the state should take on any greater or lesser role. No one can make life fair. But powerful states can certainly make things less fair!


"over 4.5kg"

What's that in old money? Hang on... Ah, worked it out. M'boy scrapping in just under 4.5kg by a couple of nano-ounces there. So what's with the link between birth weight and obesity? His weight, then and now, has to do with his length. Beanpole central, so he is. He is crap at maths, mind you.

passer by

Pay poor people not to have children.

Bob B

Speaking of life outcomes, this looks a really great deal to me from someone's perspective:

Bail for $10 million on a $50 billion fraud charge:

I figure that in America with the financial crisis, they have lost track of the numbers of noughts.

Kardinal Birkutzki

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Is this yet another sign of "not a run on the pound"?


The solution: compulsory maternal smoking during pregnancy.

Bob B

S&M: The question is: what, if anything, should be done about this?

Surely, HG Wells had the answer:

"Eugenics -- the discredited 'science' that justified customizing people to service the goals of the state by making them bigger, better, whiter, you name it -- is back. In fact, it's playing at a multiplex near you in the form of the latest version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. . . "

Adrian Eden

Child obesity is partially because parents have less time now then ever to spend time with their kids outside due to extreme competitiveness in the world economies, partially because food is so easy to purchase in an unhealthy fashion at schools (get those damn candy machines out of them), and partially because of the Internet and Entertainment products like Video games.

We all have to work together to be healthy and live an active life as a family.

Make this one of your New Years resolutions, if you can.

Happy Holidays!


It is not possible to do nothing. Even leaving the status quo in place means doing something. And the status quo also has unintended consequences. You comment just argues for stupid passivity (a la theocracy).


Luis Enrique
But none the less it undermines some arguments of vulgar Libertarians. For instance that free market outcomes are (in some sense) fair.



Of course it's possible to do nothing. Doing nothing is not 'doing something'. Or did you just want to have a pop on the spurious assumption that there was a religious motive to my post? I don't see how else the weird addition of 'theocracy' could have got into your post.


What should be done. A progressive tax system and some sort of safety net.

While intelligence and physical health will always be advantages in life, beyond that it gets complicated and hard to predict. As I believe Chris has pointed out before, David Beckham was lucky to be born when he was; if he had been born 100 years before, what economic benefit would have those footballing skills given him?


Have to say, don't understand how this undermines libertarianism. I enjoy your blog but you seem to have a strange chip on your shoulder about this. Genetic determination changes nothing, in fact it probably supports libertarian ideas, all men are not created equal, we should stop pretending otherwise and deal with reality.

@reason - who said libertarians believe free market outcomes are fair? Efficient - yes, fairer for many - yes. But I don't think any libertarian would claim that everyone would be better off. They just say that its completely unfair being taxed to support others. So reducing those taxes would be fairer for the majority.

cleaning business guru

I had the worlds worst diet till I was 27 years old. At the age of 28 I became a vegitarian and stopped driving for 8 years, I walked over 4 miles a day. I lost 40 pounds in the first year. The aggression and anger melted away and I became interested in learning for the first time. I now have an IQ of 147. Obviously there are hundreds of other micro factors but in my experience, diet and muscle health are huge in cognitive abilities.

Margaret Wilde

The causes and remediation of obesity are providing fertile ground for misinformation.

Obesity is not caused by overeating or too many calories. It is caused by salt sensitivity/fluid retention/oedema and can be easily and safely reduced by cutting down on salt/sodium and salty food.

Lose weight, reduce your risk of most cancers, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, vascular dementia, stroke, osteopenia, osteoporosis, hypercholesterolaemia, depression, liver and kidney problems, and improve your health in many other ways without drugs, hunger or expense by eating less salt! - Try it!

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