The Income-Inequality Myth

As we listen to President Obama, Occupy Wall Street, and much of the mainstream media working themselves into a lather over inequality in America, one thinks of “Harrison Bergeron,” the 1961 short story by Kurt Vonnegut that posited a society based on perfect equality, “not only equal before God and the law . . . equal every which way.” The government employed a “Handicapper General” to ensure that no one was smarter, more athletic, or more productive than anyone else. Beautiful people were forced to wear masks, athletic people had to carry weights, and intelligent people wore radios in their ears to interrupt their thoughts with loud noises.

Yet for all the sound and fury — and beating drums in Zuccotti Park — almost everything that people presume about inequality in America is wrong.

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  • ScienceNotSuperstition

    People don’t choose to be rich or poor, as nobody has free will. People don’t choose their genes or where they grow up. Both of those factors determine everything about the condition of a person’s brain. Twin studies show that twins raised apart can have almost the exact same personalities, despite being raised by different families from birth. People aren’t responsible for their actions, since people didn’t choose their parents or the childhood environment that shaped their neuroanatomy. Whether someone becomes a criminal or a hero is determined by the condition of their brain’s frontal lobe. Thousands of neuroimaging studies accessible through PubMed or Google Scholar demonstrate that personality is closely connected to neuroanatomical features of the brain. Sam Harris and David Eagleman are two neuroscientists who convincingly argue against the unscientific notion of free will.