Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I just finished reading “Birth Order: Fun to Debate, but How Important?” on the New York Times website. While it is a somewhat interesting topic, I don’t feel that the article made any groundbreaking or reliable assertions.

The first several paragraphs are spent discussing obvious ideas. Of course birth order is important because as the article points out,”it is said that no two children grow up in the same family, because each sibling’s experience is so different.” Shouldn’t the author avoid making statements that he himself acknowledges have been said before?

To write an article that points out that the order in which children in a family are born affects who they are is like writing an article that says that the century in which you were born affects who you are. DUH!

The article then tries to suggest that birth order may affect IQ. In a way this is obvious too because if a first child is born into a more stimulating environment than a later child, it would make sense that the first child would have a better chance of developmental success. However, I do not buy that first born children are more intelligent simply because they were born first. This seems a bit ridiculous especially since the evidence offered leaves a lot to be desired:

“Norwegian study, published in 2007, which found that eldest siblings’ I.Q.’s averaged about three points higher than their younger brothers’. (The study made use of Norwegian military records, so all the subjects were male.)

This is just one study of an isolated group of people who all happen to be male and of the same nationality. What about random selection of subjects? What about more subjects!?

Lastly, I did not like the author’s choice to use the first person in this article. I felt like his personal insights were irrelevant and annoying.

1 comment:

  1. Ashleigh, good critique. You offer your opinion in the lede and then provide examples to back it up. That's the way to make an argument. That's a good point that the IQ study looked at only one isolated group. It does suggest that IQ can be influenced by environment, which I find interesting.

    You should delete the comma in the first sentence.