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)