Yes, parents can (and do) influence a lot of things. If I sit down with my kids every night to help them get ready for school, they will get better marks. What the studies show, however, is that the impact will only last as long as you keep helping your kids. Once they grow up, all those hours a parent spent at some point in the past, have no inlfluence on how they will behave for the rest of their life. I am practically repeating what I already said in my previous post, describing how my wife’s parents did not influence my wife’s behaviour as an adult (they did while she was a kid) when they picked her church. (Once again, you can’t possibly understand what Harris has to say on this subject from one paragraph.)
And yes, you’re right, you did introduce me to Pinker. The difference between you and I here is that I kept reading on the subject. The fact that Harris never gotten her PhD is completely irrelevant to the truth. She never actually conducted any research showing that parents don’t influence the kids, but had shown in her books that all (!) those who claim the opposite are wrong. And Pinker (you know, the “actual professor of cognitive science”) strongly agrees with her and “predict[s] it will come to be seen as a turning point in the history of psychology.”
It has been a while since the first publication of “The Nurture Assumption” and if you want you can refer to Caplan’s new book where you’ll find a long list of studies proving Harris was right.