Wednesday, November 2, 2007 - The Mi
10B The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Can the birth order of these notable
Wolverines tell us anything about them?
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Climate change has
ushered in a whole new
era of judicial review."
- PATRICK PARENTEAU, Vermont Law
School environmental law professor, on
an appeal's court rejection of Bush's
"Japan's research program
is a sham. We demand that
the Japanese government
- KARLI THOMAS, Greenpeace expedition
leader, on how Japan justifies its whale-hunting
industry by calling it research
ou've probably heard it
before. The oldest sib-
lings are the smartest, the
youngest are the most rebellious
and the middle children are lost in
the chaos of family life.
The implications of birth order
have long intrigued and fascinated
us with their potential to define
our lives and offer a way to blame
our missteps on fate - and our par-
But does birth order really define
According to more than one
study, it does. A 1985 study by
Lala Steelman of the University of
South California and Brian Pow-
ell of Indiana University found a
positive correlation between birth
order and social interaction, mean-
ing the younger siblings in a fam-
ily are more likely to have better
social skills, which translate into
outgoingness and popularity.
A study published in June by two
Norwegian researchers found that
the oldest siblings in families tend
to have higher IQ scores. Accord-
ing to the study, a negative asso-
ciation has been found between
intelligence and birth order, mean-
ing the oldest children in families
tend to be the brightest, followed
by the second oldest, then the third
oldest and so on.
Psychology Prof. Brenda Volling
said the negative association has
less to do with birth order than it
does with the way parents raise
Volling said she is often ques-
tioned about birth order and its
effects on personality. Although
research finds a correlation
between intelligence and birth
order, she said it's often has more
to do with specific family environ-
ments. She said there's no way to
tell if birth order actually deter-
mines personality or success in
"There aren't any hard and fast
rules," she said. "It's very contro-
Volling said if parents have dif-
ferent attitudes toward their chil-
dren - for example, if they play
favorites - it can affect their chil-
dren's self-esteem, regardless of
whether the child is the oldest or
She said the greatest difference
in sibling behavior is seen at a
young age. Growing up, older chil-
dren tend to have a better under-
standing of the world around them
and often act as leaders, teaching
their younger siblings. Volling said
this gap narrows as children age
until it's virtually nonexistent.
Bob Zajonc, a University pro-
fessor emeritus who is now a pro-
fessor at Stanford University, said
there are certain characteristics in
children that can be reliably linked
to birth order.
"The first-borns do better than
second-borns, the second-borns do
better than third-borns," he said.
"These differences are small, but
they're certainly consistent."
So statistically, the stereotypes
can mostly hold their own. But
since we all know the studies can't
always tell the whole story, The
Statement looked at the sibling
standing of a few University pro-
fessors and alumni to see how the
theories held up in practice.
Williams was the youngest
of five children, although he
was raised as an only child
by his aunt and uncle for several years. One of his siblings died
at a young age. The others went on to have successful careers.
Williams's oldest brother changed his career two or three times,
staying for the longest time as a therapist and the head of three
hospitals in Florida. The second oldest works in the oil industry,
overseeing an offshore drilling project in the Pacific. And his sister
was a psychiatric nurse before starting her own publishing firm.
Williams himself attended Andrews University for his under-
graduate degree, then came to the University of Michigan for his
doctorate. He taught at Cornell University before returning here,
where he's had an illustrious tenure.
The Statement isn't sure about the IQ of his oldest brother, but
we're fairly confident he doesn't have the same flair for the great
Three things you can talk about this week:
1. Cyclone Sidr
2. "Evolutionary Controversy and a Side of Pasta"
3. Lloyd Carr's potential successor
And three things you can't:
1. Lindsey Lohan's jail stint
2. White meat vs. dark
Law School alum ANN COULTER went on after graduation to make a name for herself by condemning
liberals everywhere. Famous for her fiery quips that leave audiences scratching their heads and won-
dering if, in fact, she really did just say that, Coulter has enjoyed a very profitable career as a columnist
and legal correspondent.
Coulter is the youngest of three - she has two older brothers. They say that the youngest siblings
also are hungriest for attention. But not even that fully explains her telling disabled Vietnam vets and
Sept. 11 widows they're bringing the country down.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of Hispanic names - Garcia and Rodriguez - that are now
among the top 10 most common surnames in the United States
Number of Hispanic last names are among the top 25 most common
surnames in the nation
Percentage increase during the 1990s of the number of Hispanic
people living in the U.S.
Source: The New York Times
"We knew we could have gotten evidence to link him
to the murder. But it was pretty obvious that if we did,
our witness would end up dead. So we took what we
Fem bot fatale
Le Trung has been building
robots as a "hobby" since he was 4.
But it's doubtful that anything he's
created to date is as creepy as his
android, or "fembot," Aiko.
The video features Trung intro-
ducing the fembot he had built in
his basement atthe Ontario Science
Center on Nov. 10.
In the video, Trung interacts
with his self-created she-servant,
which looks professional, but also
deeply disturbing. He grabs and
twists her forearm, proving Aiko's
ability to feel pain. He then pro-
ceeds to touch her in inappropriate
places and receives a literal slap to
the face from his fake woman.
Not only does Aiko have sensory
skills but apparently she was pro-
grammed with an attitude as well.
Although the video is a testa-
ment to developing technology,
viewers can't help feeling uneasy
when Aiko says "I don't want to do
Trung says in the video that he
had to prove to companies that
Aiko was real by presenting her in
person, but something tells us that
after they see the fembot, people
might not want her tobe a reality.
- MOLLY TWIGG
See this and other
YouTube videos of the week at
EL PAGNOTTA, New Jersey detective, on why police often now build cases
without witnesses in gang-related criminal cases
THEME PARTY SUGGESTION
House hunting block party - If your two weekend
prerogatives are house parties and house hunting,
do yourself a favor and combine the two. Strang-
ers are more likely to be receptive to you intrusively
touring their homes if it's past 11:30 p.m. on Saturday
night. You might be able to convince them to sign
the waiver that would allow you to snag their house
before the Dec.1 leasing ordinance signing date.
Throwing this party? Let us know. TheStatement@umich.edu
STUDY OF THE WEEK
U.S. researchers clone monkey embryos
American researchers extracted stem cells from cloned monkey
embryos in an early stage of development last week, marking the first
time cloning has been successfully used to collect stem cells from
primate embryos, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last
The breakthrough experiment, conducted by Oregon Health and
Science University researchers, encourages expectations that the
technique could be applied to humans, producing human embryonic
stem cells that could replace unhealthy tissue in patients.
The research team's leader, Shoukhrat Mitalipov, said at a press
conference that he is confident the technique could be applied to
humans after some adjustment.
But the successful procedure was not efficient for widespread
utilization. Of 304 eggs collected from 14 female monkeys, only two
embryonic stem cell lines were successfully generated.
- JESSICA VOSGERCHIAN