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'The nurture assumption' is a fantastic book on which many reviews have been written elsewhere on the web. I own the book both in its paperback and its audible version. I was disappointed by the audio quality (very compressed 12.5 MB for 3h30 of audio) and by the fact that large sections of the book are not covered in the audio version.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
I wanted to listen to this book because it was referred to in Freakonomics (Levitt and Dubner 2005). I find the idea that peer groups have a very strong influence on enculturation throughout childhood interesting and I wanted to understand the idea in greater detail. But I was very disappointed. Harris essentially argues that parents and biology don't matter AT ALL and who we turn out to be is based ENTIRELY on peer group influence. This CAN'T be what she means to say. Perhaps the fact that this audio version is abridged is an extenuating factor. I actually buy her argument that researchers have been ignoring the important influence of peer groups and they matter more than we think, but to completely discount the affects of biology and family is silly. She uses an example of a U.S. child whose parents are Russian immigrants and points out that the child grows up to speak perfect English because that's the language of his peers. But she completely ignores the obvious observation that - in fact - the child ALSO speaks Russian because of his parents.
Furthermore, I am an anthropologist, and I was frankly stunned by her ridiculously oversimplified caricature of your average child in your average traditional society. She goes so far as to say these kids (they're all the same) don't fight much because they have no toys to fight over. Her lack of understanding of basic anthropology in the context of her research is unforgivable to me.
The death knell of this audiobook for me was the narrator. She reminds me of a syrupy singer in a cheap production of children's music.
In summary - who we turn out to be is a complicated mix of factors, not this ridiculously oversimplified monocausal scenario. Read the subheading on the book "parents matter less than you think and peers matter more" - that's probably right, but don't torture yourself listening to this book because it's not going to add any insight beyond this subheading.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful