Epigenetics, Poverty, and Your Own Bootstraps

Rarely do I find an article that makes me think about so many questions. Rather than write extended comments about any particular aspect of Christian Cooper’s “Why Poverty is Like a Disease” in Issue 47 of Nautilus, I am going to list the questions the article raises in varying degrees and invite you to allow him to stimulate your imagination as well.

  1. What are the implications of the belief that income levels are an inherited disease or a winning lottery ticket, rather than  an earned consequence of circumspect decisions?
  2. What are the alternative sensible responses to claims buttressed with a broad array of arguments in the form of “studies show” when you lack the statistical training to interpret the data arrangements even if you had in your possession the dozens of hours necessary to check on the claims being made?
  3. What does it mean to praise or excoriate someone for irrationality when context plays a powerful role in whether a decision is rational? In other words, why shouldn’t a poor person make short-run decisions?
  4. What is the ethical defense of Paul Ryan’s statement in this cartoon :
  5. Why should one receive praise for “showing persistence or initiative”?  Are these personality variables or the consequence of a “growth mindset”?
  6. Is it not the case that so much of our thinking could best be charcterized as “the ego unleashed”?  I am thinking of the following: A. Fundamental attribution Error   B. Confirmation Bias, C. Persistent Exaggerated Self-ratings, D, the popularity of a “greed is good mentality” in a culture with high levels of claimed religiosity, and E. Dunning-Kruger Effect.
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