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on rounding up to two

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 07, 2006

Re-reading J. Budziszewski's excellent essay in the July 2005 Touchstone, I knocked up against the following line:

Sociologists Sara S. McLanahan and Gary Sandefur remark in their book Growing Up with a Single Parent that "if we were asked to design a system for making sure that children's basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal."

It's hard to pack more academic cowardice into thirty words. Put aside the patronizing absurdity of the hypothesis and the pseudo-modest qualifier "probably." What can "something quite similar to the two-parent ideal" possibly mean? Do experiments show that two parents score slightly beyond the optimum, that the actual asymptote is reached at 1.888 parents?

As this wonderfully deadpan quote illustrates, the "soft sciences" are soft all over. In that world, it is clearly intolerable to assert the obvious truth that children are meant to have a mother and father; the best one can do is suggest that the best theoretical child-rearing design approximates the mom & pop arrangement.

An institution's inability to state an obvious truth means that institution is seriously deranged. It's not that McLanahan and Sandefur have tumbled into falsehood; the academy is indicted by their mandarin extravagance of apology for daring to dance around the vicinity of an unspeakable fact. Traditional marriage and child-rearing serve as a rebuke to those academics who have departed therefrom in their personal lives, and objective attribution of rightness to this "design model" has the sting of moral rebuke. Whence it's unmentionable.

NB: when the day arrives on which your ophthalmic surgeon assures you he's striving for "something quite similar to the two-eye ideal," ask him, gently, to put down his grapefruit knife while you make for the door. It's time to change doctors.

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Show 10 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Aug. 11, 2006 3:55 PM ET USA

    I think you might have missed the point. What is "something quite similar" to a female mom and a male dad "ideal"? Two females behaving in the roles of mom and dad? Or two males maybe? That would be "something quite similar." Beware of a wolf in sheeps clothes. They are just waiting for us to cite this so they can say that, while it may not be "ideal", a homosexual couple is "something quite similar."

  • Posted by: Convert1994 - Aug. 08, 2006 11:24 PM ET USA

    You're good, Humpty! We physics types prefer to use mathematics as a tool, though. I admire math majors because, unlike us, you can see a beauty and even a philosophy to mathematics. But, back to the main point, what is so hard about admitting it takes a man and a woman to raise children? God made Adam and Eve and He also gave His Son Jesus two parents to raise Him - Mary and Joseph.

  • Posted by: coach1 - Aug. 08, 2006 3:28 PM ET USA

    My helper this summer is a 20yr old young lady who is also a college student at Northern Illinois University. She is from a good Chrisitian home, not Catholic. I printed out and asked her to read the above essay and tell me what she thought about it. She says most young people including herself know what is right and what is wrong but she never quite thought about sex the way it is presented in this essay. She holds her values to be true and will help her through these tough years. I thanked her

  • Posted by: Laity1 - Aug. 08, 2006 12:28 AM ET USA

    Thank you for pointing us to this outstanding essay.

  • Posted by: Laity1 - Aug. 07, 2006 11:59 PM ET USA

    Thank you for pointing us to this outstanding essay.

  • Posted by: hUMPTY dUMPTY - Aug. 07, 2006 6:29 PM ET USA

    Convert1994: Your definition is quite accurate insofar as Euclidean space-time is concerned. However, it falls apart in nonEuclidean geometries, which goes to show Einstein's limits since he was a Physics major, not a Math major. AMDG {BS Math, JD, & MPL}

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 07, 2006 6:00 PM ET USA

    I'm quite certain that part of JB's comments constituted a big ! that two sociologists could 1) get that close to the truth and 2) come to a conclusion counter to the regnant culture's and 3) be so bold as to use as strong a word as "probably."

  • Posted by: - Aug. 07, 2006 1:51 PM ET USA

    Thanks Convert. Now I know why I couldn't quite make it through my high school physics classes.

  • Posted by: Convert1994 - Aug. 07, 2006 12:01 PM ET USA

    An asymptote is a straight line which the curve of a function approaches while its space between itself and the asymptote decreases yet never touches. Asymptotes may be vertical, horizontal, or have a slope somewhere in between. For some functions two or more asymptotes may exist. For the function f(x)=1/x both the x- and y-axes are the asymptotes. Only vertical asymptotes may be defined as infinite where g(x)approaches infinity. (Convert1994, BS and MS Physics at your service.)

  • Posted by: - Aug. 07, 2006 8:47 AM ET USA

    Excellent commentary on the mixed messages we are recieving from our sciences. Now if I can only identify the meaning of "asymptote." I suppose it means something akin to infinite but I rely on the more erudite of my fellow commentators to help.

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