Tag Archives: bryan-caplan

The Argument for Parenthood

It is often sug­ges­ted that hav­ing chil­dren has a neg­at­ive net effect on the hap­pi­ness of the par­ents. Eco­nom­ist Bry­an Caplan dis­agrees, sug­gest­ing that stud­ies have missed the evid­ence sug­gest­ing that par­ents sac­ri­fice more than they need to and over­es­tim­ate the long-term effects of par­ent­ing on a wide range of child out­comes (includ­ing edu­ca­tion, mor­al­ity, obesity, and gen­er­al demean­our).

Caplan’s next book is the intriguingly titled Selfish Reas­ons to Have More Kids and in this essay for The Wall Street Journ­al he out­lines his core argu­ment for why we should have chil­dren:

While the pop­u­lar and the aca­dem­ic cases against kids have a ker­nel of truth, both lack per­spect­ive. By his­tor­ic­al stand­ards, mod­ern par­ents get a remark­ably good deal. […]

It’s also true that mod­ern par­ents are less happy than their child­less coun­ter­parts. But hap­pi­ness research­ers rarely emphas­ize how small the hap­pi­ness gap is.[…]

If […] you’re inter­ested in kids, but scared of the sac­ri­fices, research has two big les­sons. First, par­ents’ sac­ri­fice is much smal­ler than it looks, and child­less and single is far inferi­or to mar­ried with chil­dren. Second, par­ents’ sac­ri­fice is much lar­ger than it has to be. Twin and adop­tion research shows that you don’t have to go the extra mile to pre­pare your kids for the future. Instead of try­ing to mold your chil­dren into per­fect adults, you can safely kick back, relax and enjoy your jour­ney together—and ser­i­ously con­sider adding anoth­er pas­sen­ger.

Debating Cryonics

Cryo­n­ics: the low-tem­per­at­ure pre­ser­va­tion of humans and anim­als that can no longer be sus­tained by con­tem­por­ary medi­cine until resus­cit­a­tion may be pos­sible in the future.

When one dis­cusses cryonics, top­ics as diverse as futur­o­logy, medi­cine, tech­no­logy and philo­sophy are debated. A few weeks ago a num­ber of high–profile blog­gers, headed by the excel­lent Over­com­ing Bias, have been doing just that. Here are a few posts in the con­ver­sa­tion:

We Agree: Get Froze (Robin Hanson, Over­com­ing Bias)

Even with mod­ern anti-freezes, freez­ing does lots of dam­age, per­haps more than whatever else was going to kill you. But bod­ies frozen that cold basic­ally won’t change for mil­len­nia. […] Since most folks who die today have an intact brain until the rest of their body fails them, more likely than not most death vic­tims today could live on as (one or more) future ems. And if future folks learn to repair freez­ing dam­age plus whatever was killing vic­tims, vic­tims might live on as ordin­ary humans.

Cold Spouses (Bry­an Caplan, Lib­rary of Eco­nom­ics and Liberty)

One unpleas­ant issue in cryo­n­ics is the “hos­tile wife” phe­nomen­on. The authors of this art­icle know of a num­ber of high pro­file cryo­n­icists who need to hide their cryo­n­ics activ­it­ies from their wives and ex-high pro­file cryo­n­icists who had to choose between cryo­n­ics and their rela­tion­ship. We also know of men who would like to make cryo­n­ics arrange­ments but have not been able to do so because of res­ist­ance from their wives or girl­friend­s… As a res­ult, these men face cer­tain death as a con­sequence of their part­ner­’s hos­til­ity.

You Only Live Twice (Eliez­er Yudkowsky, Over­com­ing Bias)

Hated Because It Might Work (Robin Hanson, Over­com­ing Bias)

The Best Sen­tence I Read Yes­ter­day (Tyler Cowen, Mar­gin­al Revolu­tion)

[On cryo­n­ics] my cur­rent view is this: one’s atten­tion is extremely scarce and lim­ited, as are one’s affiliations.  Inso­far as you have the lux­ury of think­ing “big­ger thoughts,” those thoughts should be dir­ec­ted at help­ing oth­ers, not at help­ing one­self. […] Fur­ther­more the uni­verse (or mul­ti­verse) may be infin­ite, so in expec­ted value terms it seems my cop­ies and near-cop­ies are already enjoy­ing a kind of col­lect­ive immortality. […] What prob­ab­il­ity of future tor­ture would cause us to wish to die forever rather than be resurrected?  And should I there­fore be scared by the idea of an infin­ite universe?  Do Dar­wini­an selec­tion pres­sures – defined in the broad­est pos­sible way – sug­gest it is worth spend­ing energy on mak­ing entit­ies happy?  Or do most entit­ies end up as suf­fer­ing slaves?

Tyler on Cryo­n­ics (Robin Hanson, Over­com­ing Bias)