Questions in The Guardian we can answer

A new study shows first-born children are more able and ambitious. So, why have we been ruled by a succession of younger siblings as prime ministers?

Because the able and ambitious go off to do something more interesting than tell the rest of us how to live our lives.

I mean seriously: where’s the sodding ambition in straining to reach a position that Gordon Fucking Brown managed to gain?

24 comments on “Questions in The Guardian we can answer

  1. Aren’t younger siblings better at negotiations and sordid compromise?

    Can’t remember my source for that pop science.

  2. “Essex University researchers have discovered that first-born children tend to be more ambitious, better-qualified and more successful than their younger siblings. ”

    I’m guessing not many firstborn go to Essex University then.

  3. It really comes down to that whole jealousy about bankers, footballers and Amazon that the commentariat indulge in.

    At one time, getting into government meant that you were top of the pile. Today, we can elect a joke like David Cameron because frankly, he can’t go fucking up the car making, the trains running or the water because we took all that stuff away from them.

    And who the hell wants a job where you’re supposedly up there at the top but you’ve got the press breathing down your neck about where you went on holiday? If you’re Alex Fergusson or Duncan Bannatyne, you tell people to fuck off if they ask you that.

  4. There’s a little whiff of Americanism in that question – they like to persuade themselves, against all evidence, that their Presidents are awfully clever.

  5. There’s a little whiff of Americanism in that question – they like to persuade themselves, against all evidence, that their Presidents are awfully clever.

    Only when they agree with the President politically. How quickly everybody forgets the hatred of George W. Bush.

    The bigger problem is that the media treat our legislators as being experts on every topic of the day, and the grandstanding little wankers in Congress run with it.

  6. Reminds me of a discussion a long while ago on Samizdata, where someone (can’t remember who) pointed out that the people who join political societies at University are the awkward outsiders. Modern politics is not an “alpha” interest, as a career. The alphas (both sexes) are having far too much fun to sit around arguing about a junior common room campaign against transphobia.

    We are thus increasingly ruled not by the best of us, but the very least.

  7. Ian B,

    Modern politics is not an “alpha” interest, as a career. The alphas (both sexes) are having far too much fun to sit around arguing about a junior common room campaign against transphobia.

    We became, broadly speaking, neoliberal. The important fights that lots of normal people wanted, the stuff that had a big impact were won. What’s the women’s rights movement now fighting over? Page 3 and women on banknotes. What woman seeking power and wealth is going to bother with that sort of nonsense, when she could go out and start a business?

  8. Come, come, Timothy. In his day Gordon Brown was the second cleverest history student in the little Hall of Residence that I ran.

  9. Perhaps it is because the Courageous State has continuously messed up the Education system over the last 40 years that older children have a benefited from much better teaching than later children.

  10. I’m sticking with success in politics being different to success in other fields. It’s just a bit odd. Very few successful business bods succeed in politics. For good or I’ll.

  11. @Ianb,

    Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and by all accounts quite an Alpha Male. Many a female talked about going weak at the knees when meeting him.

  12. Think Luke has a point there.
    Success in politics, these days, initially requires acceptance in the circles of politicians. Therefore politicians are unlikely to encourage people who are brighter than they are, for fear of being out competed.
    It’s a system selects for mediocrity..

  13. Pingback: Samizdata quote of the day « Samizdata

  14. It used to be that the first born got more money and attention. As well back in the 50s the bright were encouraged by the state as well.
    Of course women had babies in those days. Then they talked feminism and the pill and the state saw them coming – another load of pliable taxpayers.

  15. What is more probable is that the research is utter bollocks. It doesn’t apply amongst my siblings and I. In my wife’s family of six, the eldest is a permanently unemployed scrounger who thinks the world owes him a living, the youngest is a businessman who flies first class to Australia with his wife and two daughters to come and visit us. If I look around other families we are related to or know well, the hypothesis rarely stacks up.

    I am always suspicious of social science research. Because these people are not proper scientists, they often are unable to conduct research without being unduly influenced by preconceived ideas. Whereas a true scientist will test a hypothesis, open to the idea that it may be wrong. Social scientists tend to view their hypotheses as being correct and then conduct research to demonstrate that correctness.

  16. DocBud has beaten me to it. Someone has published an article based on a one-off survey that gives an answer that he/she likes. I could say that the only one of my immediate family* where the first-born came top intellectually (apart from my mother, who was an only child) was my elder son (my younger son is autistic, with a degree in psychology); that would be an anecdote; my observations of my contemporaries gives a decent sample size which has, as one might expect, a majority of younger siblings being the most intelligent.
    *From my great-grandparents to my kids is four generations but I only have information on eight sets of siblings (excluding only children and twins)

  17. September 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm
    There’s a little whiff of Americanism in that question – they like to persuade themselves, against all evidence, that their Presidents are awfully clever.

    Not this American voter. I knew back in ’08 Our Lord And Savior Barack H. Obama Jr. was a fraud. The past 6 years have yet prove me wrong.

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