March 23, 2010

"The Genius in All of Us"

Here's an excerpt from my new Taki's Magazine column
A widely-praised new book by David Shenk, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong attempts to “debunk the long-standing notion of genetic ‘giftedness.’” Instead, it manages to unconsciously exemplify how political correctness paradoxically rationalizes the growing elitism and dynasticism in American life.

One hero of The Genius in All of Us is Mozart. Not Wolfgang Amadeus, but Leopold, the composer’s father, who chose to “shift his ambitions away from his own unsatisfying career and onto his children.” Leopold made sure little Wolfie “had an entire family driving him to excel with a powerful blend of instruction, encouragement, and constant practice.”

The Genius in All of Us serves as a quasi-scientific pep talk for upper-middle class stage moms and sideline dads. Even the most ambitious modern parents sometimes doubt whether their precious progeny have what it takes genetically. Shenk reassures them, however, that new discoveries have disproved all that Bell Curve stuff. What matters instead is implacable willpower.

Besides, Shenk implies, you are not only pestering your kid so he can get a college scholarship, you are simultaneously fighting racism, genetic determinism, and eugenics! Heck, you’re being Green: “… human talent and intelligence are not permanently in short supply like fossil fuel, but potentially plentiful like wind power.”

Shenk endorses a rule of thumb that has become popular among political pundits such as David Brooks and motivational speakers such as Malcolm Gladwell: innate talent matters far less than putting in 10,000 hours of practice.

Indeed, in one sense, the 10,000-hour idea is empirically reasonable. In most highly competitive, highly compensated fields, vanishingly few make it to the top with less than the equivalent of five solid years learning their crafts.

Shenk admits that just because everybody who is a winner puts in 10,000 hours doesn’t mean everybody who puts in 10,000 hours will be a winner: see, your kid also has to practice the right way, making “continual skill improvement.”

That is a wonderfully unfalsifiable notion.


Read the whole thing there and comment upon it here.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

129 comments:

Anonymous said...

IQ almost certainly correlates VERY STRONGLY with the kind of forethought, attention span, determination, and obtuse pigheadedness necessary to make it through the 10,000 hours.

Dumb people are just gonna take one look at the requirements, say to themselves f*** that s***, and then disavow the very idea of it.

thedouchbag said...

oh brother, here comes all istevers saying how this book is a bunch of BS. Face it istevers, they will never find the mythological sequence of DNA for IQ. Before anyone starts pointing out trans racial adoption studies showing difference between races, you have to remember those studies don't count. Why? Because the gestational environment is just as important as the after birth environment.

Anonymous said...

At this point, books like Shenk's aren't feel-good mumbo-jumbo any more. They are a direct attack on Western civilization. A piddling, weasley, smelly little attack maybe, but an attack nontheless.

Amazing Kreskin said...

Yeah, as Garry Kasparov says, the capacity for hard work is a talent in itself.

Steve, does Shenk mention the Polgar sisters?

rob said...

I have no doubt that if I spent 10K hours spent practicing something, I'd get better. But so what? Should I throw that much of my life away to one day finally be an atrocious violinist, or the second worst basketball player you've ever seen?

Speaking of basketball, I simply cannot Shenk's ideas seriously. He thinks bouncing a ball very well is genius. Really, how can a grown man right a book about genius and talk so much about playing children's games? Especially basketball, where just looking makes it clear that at least one heritable trait is profoundly important?

The one topic he maybe wanted to bring up, because it was in a chapter title, was late bloomers. The fact that children mature at different rates has been mostly forgotten. Too bad he said not one word about it in the book.

Anonymous said...

Book list, please!

Anonymous said...

Willpower is also genetic.

LuluAddict said...

Isn't this the Asian parent model? Send your kid to Kumon weekly, drill, drill, drill, worksheet, worksheet, worksheet. Ugh. Way to kill childhood.

Aretae said...

Steve,

While most of your post seems at least mostly on...it's not falsifiable into the near future unless the author pushes it this way.

A decent feedback-based computerized education system has a good chance of capturing the data necessary to validate up or down the hypothesis. And while I suspect that the practice hypothesis is, in a watered down form, largely true (there's a reason that both conscientiousness and "ability to delay gratification", neither of which is perfectly correlated with IQ, are nearly as predictive as IQ for life-success. My best guess is that practice is most of the deal for any individual task, or related set...with normal 1-stdev IQ variations being relatively minor factors)

Anonymous said...

“… human talent and intelligence are not permanently in short supply like fossil fuel, but potentially plentiful like wind power.”

Only a very stupid person would say such a thing. Wind power is not particularly plentiful or indeed very useful. Wind power always requires government subsidies. There are rather few sites that have enough powerful and consistent winds to make even subsidized wind farms economically viable.

Those who own or produce natural gas have been promoting wind turbines because they know that wind turbines require gas turbines to be useful. Last year during the election you may remember T.Boone Pickens was all over TV promoting wind power. Here's why.

There is an electrical power usage pattern. There are daily peaks and troughs. There are also unexpected peak demands. Wind also varies but independently of demand. The winds may die down just as everyone turns on their air conditioner.

Power companies use gas turbines (turbines that produce electricity from natural gas) to quickly ramp up the megawatts. Oil and coal fed boilers and turbines are too slow. They take hours to boil the water that spins their steam turbines.

So when you hear someone praise wind power it is often someone just shilling for a gas company. Wind power only works when you have a good supply of fossil fuel - gas.

Anonymous said...

Drilling and putting in 10,000 hours is a good strategy for academics and professional life, since there is a semi-linear relationship between effort and payoff. Through sheer effort, you can memorize your way to good grades or work your way into a promotion.

10,000 hours is not such a good idea for music, acting, or sports since you probably won't cash out unless you are in the top 0.1% of the talent distribution and happen to be lucky enough to be working with the right people. Unless, of course, you enjoy what you're doing and get some decent level of fun out of it.

Aretae said...

@Anon (#10):
Much of the initial work on this came from music...The 10K hours was partly because at music schools like Juliard, the professors noticed they could grade the students on lifetime hours of practice (instead of listening to their playing) and get close to the same results.

Dennis Mangan said...

"The douchbag" can't even spell "douchebag".

Anonymous said...

My 5 yo daughter practices piano an hour a day. After two months she could play simple two handed pieces. At the end of a four month semester, she was at the top of her beginners class. But if I weren't clapping out all the rhythms for her, pointing out the fingering, playing everything once for her to hear, drilling her on flashcards, putting little stickers on the piano keys so she knows where her fingers go, setting and resetting the metronome for the correct tempo, tapping her wrists when they sag, pointing out the phrase marks, and reading out all the practice instructions -- that she would probably be as rotten as all the other little kids in her class.

It's easy as a stage parent to delude yourself into thinking that your 1.5 sigma kid is 4 sigma when all the kids around him are -1 sigma.

jody said...

reminds me of a peripherally related line of thought i've been mulling over for a decade. the US government can crush wages for american engineers and computer scientists via visas, but it seemingly cannot put a dent in nurse pay.

most people do not have the math ability to pass all the math classes required to become a capable engineer, nor do they want to put in the 8 years of math (high school, college) and the commensurate thousands of hours of math. but you don't have to be all the much above average to become an acceptable nurse. the jobs sucks, so nurses are paid like garbagemen: well above their talent level. i get that, but still.

one of my friends was a 27 year old nurse, and a good one. she had the undergraduate degree version of whatever the nurse credential is, and she was further specialized as cardiac nurse. but she wanted to pass a test to become qualified as a neurology nurse, so i helped her study for the test.

now, i like my friend. i'm glad she made $75000 a year as a nurse, and i would happily help her make lots more money. i don't have a problem with good nurse pay per se, but i can't get my head around the vast gulf between the talent required, the pay, and the inability of a government to bring nurse pay down to a reasonable level, the same government which ruthlessly punishes america's vital industry creators, the engineers and computer scientists.

after spending a couple weeks with her, going through the test prep (she passed), i see there's nothing in the job as hard as even differential equations, the "entry level" math class for science and engineering.

why go put in the thousands of hours of math, why develop and create industry for $50000 a year, when you can wipe butts for $75000 a year? that falls completely in-line with what the US is becoming, an aging, declining nation.

John Seiler said...

“… human talent and intelligence are not permanently in short supply like fossil fuel, but potentially plentiful like wind power.”

Telling analogy. Wind power is a fraction of power generated, and will remain that way; it also requires backup, non-wind generators for when there's no wind. Shenk also doesn't seem to know about new shale natural gas discoveries. Write Daniel Yergin and Robert Ineson:

"At current levels of demand, the U.S. has about 90 years of proven and potential supply — a number that is bound to go up as more and more shale gas is found."

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703399204574507440795971268.html

Cujo said...

Is this guy Shenk an American? Why do we have always have to go back to bleeping Mozart? Why do we have to get all European about this genius issue again and again?

And I don't mean "euro" as in race. I mean the Euro-USA divide. We here in the colonies have always had our own geniuses.

The ratio of media/literary references to Mozart's genius compared to, say, Ben Franklin's genius, must be 100-1. But Franklin was a towering figure in several different fields of endeavor. Franklin lived an astonishing life of achievement in the realm of Da Vinci.

If we have to go back to Europe then how about Da Vinci.

I'm sick to death of Mozart. Let me tell you something: much of Mozart's stuff could have used a second draft i.e. a rewrite.

Beethoven rewrote and polished his stuff and didn't just pronounce every brain fart he ever had as a "finished masterpiece"...

A lot of Mozart's brain farts were, and remain to this day, absolute dreck. Many of his concoctions are about as timeless as wig powder.

Richard Hoste said...

What I didn't mention when reviewing this book that I wish I did was that all his examples were from sports, chess or music. No stories about math geniuses being "made."

James Kabala said...

I can't help but think, though, that there is some element of mystery and unpredictability to whether a person becomes a genuine first-class genius.

Take the dozen or so greatest geniuses of the last 500 years - let's say for the sake of argument Leonardo, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Galileo, Newton, Bach, Euler, Gauss, Mozart, Beethoven, Darwin, Edison, and Einstein. (I guess that's a baker's dozen.) Steve likes to mention Darwin's distinguished family, but he and Bach are the only ones of the group that had either distinguished ancestors or descendants, as far as I know. (If someone knows more about the families of the others, please correct me.) Where did the genius of the others come from?

moogoogaipan said...

There's a weeder effect going on as well. For instance in sport, those children that don't have the body type or the ability to learn skills, or whatever, get discouraged and quit. So, although it might look like practice made the kids great, need to consider that the population (of well practiced kids) is already somewhat selected for talent. Kids that are too tall to flip well, will bail from gymnastics. Kids that are better runners than catchers will leave football for track. Etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

He'll sell plenty of books since he plays to most people's fantasy about being geniuses themselves or being able to guide their children into that happy state. It's not whether it's true or not but rather that people would like for it to be true.

rob said...

The 10K hours was partly because at music schools like Juliard...

That's a serious restriction of range effect. Any reasonable study of the sufficiency of practice must look at people accross the ability range. There could be many people who spent thousands of hours playing an instrument but simply the talent to get into Juliard despite the practice.

douchebag, that's wonderful! All we have to do do is find the genes that black women's wombs such terrible environments for embryos.

Genetic influences on IQ are well-known. You could google fragile-X and learn that in seconds. Really, try a little.

Lloyd G. said...

Reminds me of the old proposition: If you chained a million monkeys to typewriters and trained them to hit random keys all day, eventually one of them would type the next Hamlet.

Prediction: Shenk's book will be the most quoted book this year.

Mercer said...

The New York Times had an article about Barbara Streisand last September. She said that: "Her early voice training amounted to one lesson with a voice teacher."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/arts/music/27tomm.html?pagewanted=all

Anonymous said...

So did little Wolfie spend 10,000 hours practicing by the time he started composing at the age of 5?

I think most of us have seen child prodigies.

It is not just practice.


Guys like Shenk are not curious about genius and where it may come from. More likely he despises it and wishes to explain it away.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that put in close to 10,000 hours playing the guitar. I'm 41 now and started playing regularly at the behest of my father at the age of 12. The end result? I'm no better today than I was when I was 25, which is to say, I'm decent. Probably about as good as can be for a person with zero musical talent. My experience demonstrates that love, desire and drive are simply not enough.

TGGP said...

How about an actual review of the book?

Steve L. said...

Mozart's dad actually said: Get down in the basement and start practicing, you little bastard. If you haven't started in 5 minutes I'm going to come down there and kick the scheiss out of you. Your mother and I are sick of you wasting your time.

Anonymous said...

heh...I thought the title was satire

Truth said...

"Speaking of basketball, I simply cannot Shenk's ideas seriously. He thinks bouncing a ball very well is genius. Really, how can a grown man right a book about genius and talk so much about playing children's games? Especially basketball,..."

So, I take it you suck?

chicagopeasant said...

I am not a genius. just an average peasant. however i did manage to come on top of several local physical events. long ago i practised the accordian for four years and picked up the system quite rapidly. i quit accordian for baseball and later weightlifting etc. i never became a "genious" but i worked in IT, which enabled me to raise a family of 5 and pay off a bungalow belt house in chicago. Bottom line; we can all improve with whatever talents our parents left to us.

Anonymous said...

Jody.....I worked in healthcare...RNs (the 4year kind) rarely "wipe butts". Thats what orderly's and LPNs do. Maybe in critical care where no low level personel are premitted to care for patients maybe. I dunno. But in nursing homes, RN's do meds,vital signs and record keeping while dealing with the occasional emergency.

Truth said...

"the US government can crush wages for american engineers and computer scientists via visas, but it seemingly cannot put a dent in nurse pay."

Pay is a matter of supply and demand there, Barack. You commies will never figure that out, will you?

Truth said...

"What I didn't mention when reviewing this book that I wish I did was that all his examples were from sports, chess or music. No stories about math geniuses being "made."

Well I don't know Rickey, if Richard Freyman had spent his entire life on New Zealand mutton farm, you think he magically would have gotten a job teaching physics at Berkley at 25?

Steve L. said...

Nature (genes + health) + nuture (support, culture, and teaching) + practice (time and repetition) + curiosity (explore variations) + "love of it" + insight = success and happiness at a high level of achievement. We have the tools to understand many of these elements working together via modeling and statistics. The last three elements are what boost us to special places, though. IMHO the best kind of education can help us find our path to that special place, but we need to work diligently over an extended period with our whole mind & body to reach it.

Truth said...

"If you chained a million monkeys to typewriters and trained them to hit random keys all day, eventually one of them would type the next Hamlet."

Or at least get a job writing for Fox news.

"I'm 41 now and started playing regularly at the behest of my father at the age of 12. The end result? I'm no better today than I was when I was 25, which is to say, I'm decent."

But you're a whole hell of a lot better than Jimmy Page would have been at 41...if that was the first time he had picked up a guitar.

silly girl said...

"Speaking of basketball, I simply cannot Shenk's ideas seriously. He thinks bouncing a ball very well is genius. Really, how can a grown man right a book about genius and talk so much about playing children's games? Especially basketball,..."

So, I take it you suck?"


I hate agreeing with Truth, but dang it there is no reason to denigrate athletic talent. The reason we like to see the best play a game is that those folks are the very best and in that sense very rare and even inspiring. They earn their money and positions honestly and honorably through bold competition. Pretty impressive.

Dahlia said...

"James Kabala said...

I can't help but think, though, that there is some element of mystery and unpredictability to whether a person becomes a genuine first-class genius.

Take the dozen or so greatest geniuses of the last 500 years - let's say for the sake of argument Leonardo, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Galileo, Newton, Bach, Euler, Gauss, Mozart, Beethoven, Darwin, Edison, and Einstein. (I guess that's a baker's dozen.) Steve likes to mention Darwin's distinguished family, but he and Bach are the only ones of the group that had either distinguished ancestors or descendants, as far as I know. (If someone knows more about the families of the others, please correct me.) Where did the genius of the others come from?"

Aside from the four pillars that are a prerequisite for genius according to Charles Murray, what is the anti-Regression-toward-the-mean phenomenon known as? When generations of capable people with good genes suddenly produce a genius?

James,
I have a romantic view of these men that says, even if there is no genius present in their immediate descendants, or it can't realize itself, they give back to their people so long as they have descendants. When I have looked at the sheer number of Bachs who were successful in the roughly 200 years and then contemplate their total progeny...

My father taught himself to play piano when he was 12 and he dreamed of being a concert pianist. The demands of his father to take over their farm as my uncle had been maimed killed that dream, but not his passion for playing. We always had the best music in the house every single evening with Scott Joplin, especially, but the other greats as well. He spent a couple hours every single day to it as it helped him unwind and gave him pleasure. He would periodically take me to see a concert when I was little. His gift is probably due to his great-grandmother being a Bach and the other Bachs in his other German branches as well (the talent line is easily traceable). The thing is, he isn't special. I can't help but think that much of Germany can lay claim to being part Bach. My father may not have reached genius level even if afforded the opportunity, but his life and our lives were definitely enriched by some of that "magic".
Ditto for all the other geniuses. Most didn't contribute like the Bachs did to Germany, but I believe they have had an immeasurable enriching effect on their people.

OneSTDV said...

I argued against Shenk here:

Responding to Shenk

Nanonymous said...

@James Kabala:

Darwin's distinguished family, but he and Bach are the only ones of the group that had either distinguished ancestors or descendants

Check these surnames in Wikipedia: Curie, Huxley, Kornberg. They are many more, I am sure. And of course there is an "element of mystery and unpredictability to whether a person becomes a genuine first-class genius". Remember - it's all about probability distributions!

Harry Baldwin said...

silly girl said... dang it there is no reason to denigrate athletic talent.

Yes, but at the same time there's no reason to confuse athletic talent for genius, or else I'd have to say my cat is a genius.

gcochran said...

"if Richard [Feynman] had spent his entire life on New Zealand mutton farm, you think he magically would have gotten a job teaching physics at Berkley at 25? "

I would guess that you haven't heard of Ernest Rutherford, who, of course, grew up on a farm in New Zealand.

Someone reading this might jump to the conclusion that you're feeding me straight lines, and are some kind of sock puppet. That happens not to be the case.

Anonymous said...

James Kabala: "there is some element of mystery and unpredictability to whether a person becomes a genuine first-class genius."

Agreed. As I recall that was James Gleick's point about someone like Feynman. A genius, wrote Gleick, is someone about whom even the other top-level practitioners -- the 10K or even 20K-hour guys -- just sit back and say, "Whoa. Where did that come from?"


Shenk: "...permanently in short supply like fossil fuel, but potentially plentiful like wind power."

Um, then why is there so much fossil fuel and so little wind power?

-Moai

Truth said...

"Yes, but at the same time there's no reason to confuse athletic talent for genius, or else I'd have to say my cat is a genius."

Great Sport, you teach your cat to hit 30-foot jumpers, and both of you will be considered geniuses.

ffbere said...

The problem with the Polgar story is the dude was a smart Jewish guy with smart kids, which negates the idea that just about ANY child can be made into a genius. He should have taken a black kid or Mexican kid and tried to do the same.

Truth said...

"Ernest received his early education in Government schools and at the age of 16 entered Nelson Collegiate School. In 1889 he was awarded a University scholarship and he proceeded to the University of New Zealand, Wellington, where he entered Canterbury College*. He graduated M.A. in 1893 with a double first in Mathematics and Physical Science and he continued with research work at the College No, I was not aware of Mr. Rutherford; howerver, cursory glance of his bio. leads to this:

"for a short time, receiving the B.Sc. degree the following year. That same year, 1894, he was awarded an 1851 Exhibition Science Scholarship, enabling him to go to Trinity College, Cambridge, as a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory under J.J. Thomson. In 1897 he was awarded the B.A. Research Degree and the Coutts-Trotter Studentship of Trinity College."

He had an education that far exceeded that of even the typical scientist in the 1880s. Not exactly a guy who went from cleaning stables and bailing alfalfa 11 hours a day until he was 19 to splitting the atom at 20, don't you agree?

jjiollpkmn said...

We should make a distinction between analytical genius, elliptical genius, and creative genius.

An analytical genius is very good at working with, processing, or making sense with data at hand.
Give him a lot of charts, numbers, and stats, and he'll know how to make sense of the whole thing. Mathematicians and scientists are this type. They have to deal with unambiguous facts and data and arrive at clear results.

An elliptical genius is very good at making connections or finding patterns in things that wouldn't occur to most people. Philsophers and literary critics are this type. They don't rely on pure reason or logic; what they're after is not objective scientific truth but a deeper subjective truth based on ability to see and connect more than others. Especially crucial in comparative studies.

A creative genius is someone with supreme wit or visionary power, someone who sees and reorders the things of this world into bold new expressions or molds emotions into sublime statements through words, illustration, or music.

These three kinds of geniuses are probably related at some deep root, but some people who are great at math cannot draw a stick figure, and some people who are great at painting cannot do calculus.

PTS said...

"Why? Because the gestational environment is just as important as the after birth environment."

Hilarious. Apt nick by the way.

hhjiopleer said...

"Speaking of basketball, I simply cannot Shenk's ideas seriously. He thinks bouncing a ball very well is genius. Really, how can a grown man right a book about genius and talk so much about playing children's games? Especially basketball,..."

There are some sports which may require a kind of rhthymic ability which may be related to musical ability. This isn't intellectual power but there is something expressive and 'creative' about it, and that's why some people might see an element of 'genius' in something like basketball, which is not just about brute strength. And, there's a reason why boxing is called the 'sweet science'. It's not just about speed or strength but a SENSE of rhythmic flow.

Just look at Anderson Silva--considered the best pound for pound UFC fighter--utterly defeat and humiliate Forrest Griffin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCJHdiboWWY

Silva didn't win by power alone. No, he played Forrest like a Jazz artist plays an instrument.
The 'white boy' looked all clumsy and clunky while the slickity slack black guy 'danced' his way to victory in 'musical genius' fashion.

There is a 'musical' quality about black athletes, and some might find a connection between black athleticism and black musical ability. Jazz musicians have been often called 'athletic'.

Anonymous said...

From wiki

Although Bach fathered 20 children, only 10 survived infancy. He has no known descendants living today. His great-granddaughter—Frau Carolina Augusta Wilhelmine Ritter, who died 13 May 1871—was his last known descendant

jody said...

"Pay is a matter of supply and demand"

pay is a matter of how many of (insert job title here) the US federal government wants to allow into america every year. there are about 7 billion humans now. there are easily 30 capable nurses for every 1 capable engineer.

why flood the united states with low talent, low pay engineers and computer scientists from around the world, discouraging smart americans from entering those fields? the united states is in major long term trouble in those fields, and needs to do everything it can to improve the future ranks of US engineers and scientists for economic competition with east asia.

instead, in completely standard fashion, leading american politicians do everything possible to damage these fields, by deliberately reducing wages in these industries through visas, and by replacing euro americans, who go to college and become scientists and engineers, with mestizos from mexico, who drop out of high school, and will do whatever their chinese masters tell them to do.

this is, for instance, why it is preposterous to go after amnesty when US unemployment is 10%. supply and demand, truth.

jody said...

"Jody.....I worked in healthcare...RNs (the 4year kind) rarely "wipe butts"."

sure. like i said, for years i was good friends with a highly capable, good nurse. but i used wiping butts to quantify nurses' relative

1) level of ability and knowledge
2) contributions to america

nurses are important, i have no inherent problem with nurses or with paying nurses a decent wage because their jobs mostly suck. but are we now pretending that any IQ 110 person cannot do everything that 95% of nurses do? because they can. their jobs do not require high ability or several thousand hours of practice.

and like lawyers, nurses create nothing. payrolls increase for bartenders, waiters, and nurses, people not related to the power of a nation. indeed, the continuously improving job situation for nurses in america indicates the declining power of america. ceding the world of industry to east asia, "diversifying" into health care and restaurants. in stark contrast, many of the "creator" careers, the ones which require the several thousand hours of practice, are deliberately damaged by the US government.

jody said...

"If you chained a million monkeys to typewriters and trained them to hit random keys all day, eventually one of them would type the next Hamlet"

it's not true. this is easy to see by running random character generators on supercomputers. nothing approaching even a paragraph of readable text will be generated in 1 quadrillion monkey-hours of character generation. and, add in the factor of multiple languages. certainly, a random text generator would produce SOMETHING in at least 1 of the 80 major languages? yet, they don't. each "sentence" of nonsensical random character mashing is a failure 80 times over, so it's even worse than simply not producing a duplicate of hamlet. it doesn't produce a duplicate of any written work in any language.

random music generators are not going to compose master of puppets by happenstance.

i think the easiest way to think about this is, chaos does not randomly generate sophisticated order. we could survey 1 trillion rocky planets with faster than lightspeed spacecraft, but never find a planet, which has never been inhabited, where the forces of wind, water, and plate tectonics on the planet's surface have just randomly built new york city.

55tthjkjkko said...

This Horatio Algerism is as American as apple pie.

In a way, American predilection for religion may explain why so many Americans are willing to fall for these rags-to-riches anybody-can-do-it delusions.

In Europe, religious authority was synonymous with political or elite authority, and so religion faded among the majority populace in the modern era.
In America where religion has been individualist and populist, it made people feel empowered. Also, in a vast country like the US where people were scattered far away from central government in Washington DC, God was probably nearer to them than federal government. In contrast, each of the European countries is like a single American state.

Economics and the hope of success also belonged to the people in America. In Europe, the rich and powerful had a long noble lineage, and the rising bourgeois put on aristocratic manners and became the new iron elite. So, the people got to thinking, 'we are always gonna be poor and be stuck in lower classes'; they came to accept the fact of inequality and demanded that government alleviate its excesses. Europeans accept the natural fact of hierarchy--whatever their liberal ideology may officially be--and are content as long as the government takes from the super-successful and spreads the wealth to the rest.

In America, where great wealth was often built from scratch, there developed the idea that great power or success need not be the domain of a selective few but accessible to ANYONE. So, there is still this desire on the part of Americans to believe ANYBODY can make it.
Besides, if God created all men equal, it can't be God's fault. It must purely be human fault that everyone is not successful. Either people are lazy or social oppression keeps people down.

In a way, HOPE-Peddlers are like the Hal computer in 2001. Hal makes a mistake but then cannot accept that HE made a mistake since he's supposed to be perfect and know everything. So, he decides to kill humans who witnessed his 'error' than admit he was wrong.
HOPE-peddlers are like this. They think they are the new god, and of course, that means their gospel is infallible. If their numbers or ideas don't add up, it must all the fault of humans who don't agree with them.

Anonymous said...

"If you chained a million monkeys to typewriters and trained them to hit random keys all day, eventually one of them would type the next Hamlet"

I think this is how most Hollywood scripts got written.

rrfggrgt said...

Shenck must have been trained to be a professional liar for 100,000 hrs or more.
Maybe he's right. He's very good at what he does thanks to practice.

S Blumenthal said...

***oh brother, here comes all istevers saying how this book is a bunch of BS. Face it istevers, they will never find the mythological sequence of DNA for IQ. Before anyone starts pointing out trans racial adoption studies showing difference between races, you have to remember those studies don't count.***

thedouchebag,

You need to read the overall evidence. For instance, the children of blacks whose income is over $70K attain an average SAT score lower than that of the children of whites whose income is well into the poverty level of $0K to $10K. Likewise, the children of blacks who had achieved a graduate level degree score lower on average on the SAT than do the children of whites who only finished HS.

And the research of David C Rowe found there is no particular X factor depressing scores.

http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/2005hereditarian-hypothesis.pdf

Anonymous said...

Shenk appears to have misrepresented Herrnstein & Murray's position in The Bell Curve'. Shenk reports:

"Genes can be scary stuff if you don’t understand them. In 1994, psychologist Richard Herrnstein and policy analyst Charles Murray warned in their bestselling book The Bell Curve that we live in an increasingly stratified world
where the “cognitive elite”—those with the best genes—are more and more isolated _om the cognitive/genetic underclass. “Genetic partitioning,” they called it. there was no mistaking their message:

**ie irony is that as America equalizes the [environmental] circumstances of people’s lives, the remaining differences in intelligence are increasingly determined by differences in genes . . . Putting it all together, success and failure in the American economy, and all that
goes with it, are increasingly a macer of the genes that people inherit.**

Stark and terrifying—and thankfully quite mistaken. ie authors had fundamentally misinterpreted a number of studies, becoming convinced that roughly 60 percent of each person’s intelligence comes directly from his or her
genes." http://parmenides.wnyc.org/media/resources/2010/Mar/05/ShenkChapter1.pdf

In relation to the 60% figure, Murray and Herrnstein were referring to heritability. That is, the proportion of variance in a trait which is attributable to genetic variation in a defined population.

And it turns out, Herrnstein & Murray's estimate stacks up pretty well in light of the most recent behavioural genetic studies (see Plomin's recent twin study).

Melykin said...

Math ability, or lack of it, is definitely inborn. Hard work will only get you so far. I've a number of students who can do well in first year calculus by working hard, but fail badly when they get to more theoretical math courses that involve proofs.

headache said...

Anonymous said...So when you hear someone praise wind power it is often someone just shilling for a gas company. Wind power only works when you have a good supply of fossil fuel - gas.

thanks Anon for that knowledgeable contribution. There is an additional thing: recently German/Austrian engineers managed to devise a cycle which produces natural gas from wind power. They use a chain of processes including electrolysis so you can imagine the efficiency is very low. Nevertheless, some of the lost energy now turns into gas which can be stored in the gas network in Europe. So this would be another reason to shill for wind power. At least the gas turbine makers would be interested in this development.

headache said...

funny how a thread with IQ and blacks somehow gets troof going apeshit.

S. Blumenthal sed:For instance, the children of blacks whose income is over $70K attain an average SAT score lower than that of the children of whites whose income is well into the poverty level of $0K to $10K.
AA?

Prime said...

This book belongs in the Self-Help section, not Social Science.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that heritability estimates involing IQ are
p o p u l a t i o n estimates and do not preclude the possibility that a few people are far more hard-wired than most and a few are far more malleable than most. This would allow for a few instances in which Nurture could produce huge gains while for the most part Nurture would produce somewhat marginal gains. Peddling the notion that IQ can be greatly increeased after the fashion of, say, body building is for the bulk of the population just "snake oil"

Anonymous said...

Open discussion and reporting of IQ and genes ( and group differences along lines of gender and race and social class ) is not unlike open discussion and reporting back during the Victorian era of human sexual conduct and techniques. Sex during the Victorian era was of moderate interest to most people other than those who had hang ups of one kind or another in that domain of life. The fascinating thing then was the repression mechanicms in the human mind and in the larger society that could be observed when the topic was
o v e r t l y addressed. While readers in a blogsphere like this have clearly broken the repression barriers about IQ and related issues, most Americans have not even touched the topic with a ten foot pole. Try a "Candid Camera" like series of social experiments by weaving the topic into conversations randomly initiated with literate Americans. The repression is enormous and the discomfort and uneasiness is evident in body language and tone of voice, etc. Weaving the topic into conversations is generally experienced in a way tantamount to the normal responses to an act of willful flatulence at bridge club.

John Mansfield said...

Steve Sailer has written before that the rise of girls' sports owes a lot to fathers who have a daughter or two but no sons and so have to put all that "teach junior to play ball" effort into their girls. I think there is a similar small-family effect going on here. Parents with four or six children experience native differences among them in a way that those with one or two can ignore. Also, if a parent has only one child, then he is the bestest of the bunch by forfeit, and as Rumsfeld said, you go to war with the army you have.

ben tillman said...

Mozart's dad actually said: Get down in the basement and start practicing, you little bastard. If you haven't started in 5 minutes I'm going to come down there and kick the scheiss out of you.

You misspelled "Maravich".

kudzu bob said...

"He had an education that far exceeded that of even the typical scientist in the 1880s."

He was the son of a farmer, not some rich kid whose dad paid for all kinds of fancy tutors. But he did grow up a country boy, leaving the farm at age sixteen once his brilliance earned him a scholarship to a good prep school. Those doors would never have been opened had he been someone of ordinary intellect.

You're like the one guy in the group who always has to have the punch like explained to him--which, come to think of it, is the essence of being a straight man.

Anonymous said...

10,000 hours will give a person with good basic intelligence (100 IQ or higher) success in a variety of fields. As IQ rises, the number of fields in which this much work will be repaid by success increases. Pretty much anyone with an IQ of 140 can become a doctor or a lawyer with hard work.

However, there are creative fields which involve talent that is not strictly g-loaded: athletics, music, and acting for example. Even in those fields, effective initial talent filters exist, and the people with some talent are identifiable and will be successful with 10k hours study and practice.

However, talent varies tremendously. The moderately talented will be able to make a living but will not reach the top of a competitive field no matter how hard they work.

My 8-year-old daughter's talent is piano (I have plenty of musical talent but she leaves me in the dust). It is amazing and humbling to me when she practices the assigned lessons for 10 minutes twice a week, instead of 1/2 an hour every day as her piano teacher wants, and improves enough that her teacher is impressed with how hard she must have practiced (and this is a piano teacher who is already aware of her talent and is taking her through the standard sequence of piano education at 2-3 times the normal speed).

thedouchbag said...

@all,

There is no proof that race genetics accounts for the IQ differences with what we see between blacks and whites. Could it be the genes? I suppose, but I think the apparent inherited nature of IQ has more to do with other factors other than genes.

If HIV+ woman gives birth to a HIV+ child, no one would deny that the child's HIV status was inherited from the mother. Furthermore, no one would claim that since the child's HIV status was present at birth, that somehow the child has a gene for HIV+.

So, in the same way, just because children tend to have IQs that are close to their parents, no one could say for sure that it was because of the genes.

The prenatal environment may be the most important factor in determining a child's IQ.

There are no studies that account for this. A fairer way to see if genetics determine IQ would be to do the following.
1. Take 100 low IQ couples. Take 100 high IQ couples.
2. With the 100 low IQ couples, take their sperm and egg combination and implant them into 100 average IQ ladies.
3. With the 100 high IQ couples, take their sperm and egg combination and implant them into
100 average IQ ladies.

Thus, 200 average IQ ladies are being surrogates for the 100 low IQ and 100 high IQ couples.

Then raise all 200 of these children in the same environment and see if there are any differences.

If you found statistically significant difference between the children who had low and high IQ parents, then I would be like 90% in agreement that IQ is determined by genetics. Why 90%? Because even with this experiment, I can see other factors that would skew the results. But I'll ssave that for another post.

Anonymous said...

""If you chained a million monkeys to typewriters and trained them to hit random keys all day, eventually one of them would type the next Hamlet"

I think this is how most Hollywood scripts got written."

Yes, I once heard Jane Goodall predict that deforestation of the Congo would be the end of great literature.

Anonymous said...

J.K. Rowling has a pet chimpanzee. Very suspicious.

Glossy said...

"The ratio of media/literary references to Mozart's genius compared to, say, Ben Franklin's genius, must be 100-1."

This probably has something to do with the fact that Mozart first got famous as a child prodigy. He was marketed as a genius by his father as a kid. Not all marketing is false - I happen to like Mozart's stuff.

Anonymous said...

What about people who ARE very talented but lack the requisite "whatever" to buckle down and work and persevere? What about people who dont have the parents with the time and knowledge to guide them? I suppose there is a lot of wasted talent,as it seems a bit presumptuous to assume the gifted guy will also be conveniently supplied with perseverance,drive and desire.This p[uts me in mind of John Lennon, who seemed hyper-industrious in the early formative days and then by the time of the Beatles' demise,seemed to be in a permanent semi-stupor of mediocrity(with certain exceptions,'course.)Waste his talent?

Glossy said...

"Well I don't know Rickey, if Richard Freyman had spent his entire life on New Zealand mutton farm, you think he magically would have gotten a job teaching physics at Berkley at 25?"

This is really funny because the greatest physicist of all time (Newton) was born on a farm to an illiterate farmer and even spent some of his childhood herding cattle. His talent was noticed at school, but his family interrupted his education so that he could get back to work.

"After Newton proved himself almost worthless as a farmer, Hannah [his mother] reluctantly gave in to the admonishments of his schoolmaster and sent him back to the King's School to prepare for university."

David said...

All that practice only helps someone who is already talented. It won't make Elmer Fudd an NBA superstar. Or a Lake Wobegon'er a Newton.

OneSTDV said...

@ David:

"All that practice only helps someone who is already talented."

Like a law student at a TTT, Shenk conflates a necessary condition with a sufficient one.

Svigor said...

That is a wonderfully unfalsifiable notion.

It's classic medicine man bullshit. This sort of thing was well ironed-out before man even invented writing.

I'm shocked, shocked that this guy's name is Shenk, and not Smith.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a chapter from Robert Musil's "The Man Without Qualities" entitled, “A Racehorse of Genius Crystallizes the Recognition of Being a Man Without Qualities".
Quite an intelligent and amusing book if one has the time to devote to it.

Svigor said...

I suspect (hope?) "The Douchebag" was being sarcastic.

Svigor said...

i think the easiest way to think about this is, chaos does not randomly generate sophisticated order.

Except, it did. You don't think the world was made in 7 days do you?

Bruce Banned said...

The New York Times had an article about Barbara Streisand last September. She said that: "Her early voice training amounted to one lesson with a voice teacher."

No wonder Barbra can't sing. And I really mean it. No sarcasm here: she has a nice voice, but there's more to singing than hitting high notes.

rob said...

Truth, how many hours of practice did Michael Jordan put into being 6 and a half feet tall? Since the honest answer is zero, and the height distribution in the NBA is quite different from the height distribution in the general population, we can infer that there is atleast one trait that practice does not affect and is very important for "genius" in playing basketball.

Stephen Hawking (probably) plays a really crappy game of bball. He's probably still sorta smart.

hate agreeing with Truth, but dang it there is no reason to denigrate athletic talent...folks are the very best and in that sense very rare and even inspiring. They earn their money and positions honestly and honorably through bold competition. Pretty impressive.

The same thing could be said about models. Being that pretty is very rare, and the field is competitive. The fact that very few people can make a living at it does not make people who can geniuses.

Ussain bolt runs really fast. Is he a genius? No, he's a dude who runs really fast.

As for practice, home life, discrimation... Pretty much every single black person in America has more food, access to education, less chance of infection, and has more opportunities than Ramanujan ever did. Despite starting on third base, black Americans on average (and almost certainly at the extreme) are far worse at math than Ramanujan. Why?

Note, it is not enough to point out that I am not mathematical genius either. Nor is cherry picking an exeptional black mathematican sufficent. I know why: I don't have the natural talent, and neither do the millions of black Americans. For those who believe that opportunity and environment (prenatal or otherwise) are sufficient for genius, Ramanujan outperforming American blacks is something who have to explain.

Anonymous said...

The use of W.A. Mozart as an example of the importance of practice as opposed to innate ability is contradicted by many anecdotes about his life. In early childhood, Mozart astonished his father and many of his father's fellow musicians, accomplished composers themselves (e.g., Dittersdorf and Abel), by frequent spontaneous and unrehearsed displays of musical ability.

Constant exposure to music probably had something to do with the formation of "musical families," but this alone does not explain them. Leopold Mozart was hired as a musician for the archiepiscopal orchestra in Salzburg by its director, Carl Heinrich Biber von Bibern, one of three musical children of Heinrich I. F. von Biber, the prodigious violin virtuoso and composer, who had held the same post. Biber pere was, however, the son of a gamekeeper on the estate of one of the Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn princes. His ability was recognized at an early age by his father's employer. Both Joseph Haydn and his younger brother Michael were celebrated composers - their father was a wheelwright. There was no history in their family of musical genius, but that of both brothers was discovered early by an aristocratic patron. The Couperins of France were another long-lasting dynasty, its musical members noted from the time of Mathurin, a merchant and proficient amateur musician in the late sixteenth century, until the death of Celeste-Therese in 1860. There are probably many comparable examples.

Musical talent is not explicable by practice alone; it is innate, and can be detected by psychological testing akin to the IQ test, e.g., the Seashore Test of Musical Ability. I'm not sure if twin studies and comparable measures of the hereditary component of musical ability have been conducted in the same way as they have been with IQ scores, but would not be surprised if they have been.

Anonymous said...

nurses are important, i have no inherent problem with nurses or with paying nurses a decent wage because their jobs mostly suck. but are we now pretending that any IQ 110 person cannot do everything that 95% of nurses do?

Q: Why were carpenters [and plumbers and electricians], with IQs in the 110-120 sweetspot, able to become phenomenally wealthy in the 1970-2000 timeframe?

[A: Go to this PDF file, scroll down to Table 9, on Page 16, and look at the far right column.]

And if you understand why carpenters [and plumbers and electricians] were able to become phenomenally wealthy in the 1970-2000 timeframe, then you will understand why nurses [and nursing home operators and physical therapists and even lowly nurses' aides] will become phenomenally wealthy in the 2000-2030 timeframe.

Furthermore, when you combine that insight with Steve Sailer's work on the identity of the defaulters in the subprime mortgage crisis, then you will understand why it was always [necessarily] inevitable that the residential real estate market was doomed to collapse.

Finally [and, also, most tragically], you will understand why there is an ever-declining market for the fruits of the labors of the top-notch engineers and computer programmers.



Demographics is not the most important thing - demographics is the ONLY thing.

Anonymous said...

random music generators are not going to compose master of puppets by happenstance.

No, but check out this recent thread over at Slashdot [click here and here for samples].

Anonymous said...

FWIW [???], Wikipedia says that "Newton was born three months after the death of his father, a prosperous farmer also named Isaac Newton."

The really interesting thing, though, is the very next sentence: "Born prematurely, he was a small child; his mother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug (≈ 1.1 litre)."

The probability that a very-low-birth-weight child could grow up to be a towering genius strikes me as [no pun intended] just vanishingly small.

PS: Maybe you were thinking of one of his step-fathers?

Svigor said...

There is no proof that race genetics accounts for the IQ differences with what we see between blacks and whites. Could it be the genes? I suppose, but I think the apparent inherited nature of IQ has more to do with other factors other than genes.

Okay, so I shouldn't have given you the benefit of the doubt. You were actually serious.

There's tons of evidence that the IQ variance between races is mostly nature. There's none that shows it's all nurture. So what's a reasonable person to believe?

Whatever causes "black failure," (I dislike the term due to its inherent white supremacist assumptions) it's persistent, so all this yakking about how it's all nurture is 100% assertion, all theory and no practice. Me, I don't care; "black failure" is persistent and irremediable, so who cares which of the eggheads is right? None of them has any solutions.

Similarly, I don't care what phantom cause you guys attribute black criminality to; it won't help me when I walk down the wrong alley, will it?

If HIV+ woman gives birth to a HIV+ child, no one would deny that the child's HIV status was inherited from the mother. Furthermore, no one would claim that since the child's HIV status was present at birth, that somehow the child has a gene for HIV+.

No one would blame guys for refusing to bed down with her, either.

So, in the same way, just because children tend to have IQs that are close to their parents, no one could say for sure that it was because of the genes.

Let's play a game. Give me 3 worthy topics concerning the human condition for which people can say anything for sure. If you succeed, we'll all know your "say for sure" condition isn't a red herring.

The prenatal environment may be the most important factor in determining a child's IQ.

White racism may be the most important factor in determining black children's IQ; racial separatism is the only way to increase black IQ.

There are no studies that account for this. A fairer way to see if genetics determine IQ would be to do the following.

Yeah, high IQ couples are going to deliberately raise low IQ babies to satisfy your sense of fairness.

Then raise all 200 of these children in the same environment and see if there are any differences.

Nah. No way to control for all the variables. Daddy sighs the wrong way around the lil' black child and it didn't go into the report, says the liberal. That's what they mean by "no one can be sure." Liberals are sure of billions upon billions of dollars worth of crap that has zero imperical evidence to suggest its efficacy, but suddenly they're scientifically rigorous to the nth degree when the subject changes. The best guess is, it's mostly genetic. But what does that matter to defense counsel?

If you found statistically significant difference between the children who had low and high IQ parents, then I would be like 90% in agreement that IQ is determined by genetics. Why 90%? Because even with this experiment, I can see other factors that would skew the results. But I'll ssave that for another post.

Nah, just save it. No one cares to meet your disingenuous standards of proof, any more than liberals care if welfare solves poverty before they vote "yes".

DB, you're (at least tacitly) supporting a status quo that vilifies anyone who suggests that racial differences in IQ is significantly genetic, a status quo that only allows 100% nurture explanations, and you have the gall to act as though we're the ones in need of a lesson on scientific rigor?

Heal thyself.

Anonymous said...

". Likewise, the children of blacks who had achieved a graduate level degree score lower on average on the SAT than do the children of whites who only finished HS."
I am black dude,with
a 97th percentile on the SAT,and my parents dont even make 10K

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"if Richard [Feynman] had spent his entire life on New Zealand mutton farm, you think he magically would have gotten a job teaching physics at Berkley at 25"

Story Musgrave, the astronaut who flew all 5 space shuttles and fixed the Hubble Telescope, grew up on a farm fixing tractors, never finished high school, and joined the military at 17, hoping they'd let him be a mechanic on big trucks.

He was given an IQ test for the military, and when the stunning results came back, he was trained as an aircraft mechanic, learned to fly, joined NASA, flew the Space Shuttles. He has 7 graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and psychology. He has been awarded 20 honorary doctorates. He was a part-time trauma surgeon during his 30 year astronaut career.

I heard a talk he gave to the elementary kids in our district. He said about the Hubble, well, it's not the big earthmovers he wanted to work on as a kid, but pretty good.

http://www.storymusgrave.com/biography_biographies_single_page.htm

Anonymous said...

"Except, it did. You don't think the world was made in 7 days do you?"


6 days

Earnest Parnassus said...

yah dude well i am whiteand i have an iq of like four zillion so thar

ben tillman said...

I went to college with David Shenk at Brown. Last time I saw him I was crashing at his place in Berkeley while in town for some Grateful Dead shows. At the time, I presumed he was Jewish. So, I would hardly expect a large dose of HBD truth from him, but I'll at least withhold judgment until I've read his book.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

""the US government can crush wages for american engineers and computer scientists via visas, but it seemingly cannot put a dent in nurse pay.""

Pay is a matter of supply and demand there, Barack. You commies will never figure that out, will you?"

Yes, it is. And the U.S. Government has no business depressing the wages of it's citizens by increasing the supply of foreign workers. I would have thought you at least would undertand that, as you are obviously easily replaceable.

"Well I don't know Rickey, if Richard Freyman had spent his entire life on New Zealand mutton farm, you think he magically would have gotten a job teaching physics at Berkley at 25?"

Who the f**k is "Richard Freyman"? Do you mean "Richard Feynman"? He taught at Cornell and Cal Tech, not Berkeley. And at the age of 25 he was at Los Alamos working on the atomic bomb.

Is this another case of UWWI? Using Wikipedia While Intoxicated. I think you might be a serial offender. Wikipedia is no substitute for actually knowing things, "Truth".

Truth said...

OK, why is it that you people (once again) are making something so simple, so convoluted?

I think, that anyone with half a brain would agree that greatness is A COMBINATION on god-given talent, AND hard work.

You come up with these totally ridiculous straw-man examples; Newton, Musgrave, Rutherford, that started of humble beginnings and went on to achieve great things right? Answer me this:

Did Rutherford go directly from his mother teaching him to read with a stick in the dirt to splitting the atom?

Did Newton go from hoeing a field on Monday to demonstrating that a prism could decompose white light into a spectrum of colors, and that a lens and a second prism could recompose the multicolored spectrum into white light?

Of course not.

Did Musgrave hop off a tractor into the cockpit of an F-86? No, if he had, we would have never heard of him.

Even in sports the "phenoms" who don't put in the effort rarely stand the test of time, look up Steve Dalkowski, Joe "the Destroyer" Hammond, Lamar Clark, Mo Norman, or Raymond Lewis and get your answer.

Once again, that is not to say that god-given gifts do not go a long way in greatness.

Toadal said...

thedouchbag said
The prenatal environment may be the most important factor in determining a child's IQ.

While this is difficult to impossible to determine in humans, the mother fetus switch has been has been performed in silver foxes and results tabulated.

From the Trut Fox Study:

For Belyaev’s hypothesis to make evolutionary sense, two more things must be true. Variations in tamability must be determined at least partly by an animal’s genes, and domestication must place that animal under strong selective pressure. We have looked into both questions. In the early 1960s our team studied the patterns and nature of tamability in populations of farm foxes. We cross-bred foxes of different behavior, cross-fostered newborns and even transplanted embryos between donor and host mothers known to react differently to human beings. Our studies showed that about 35 percent of the variations in the foxes’ defense response to the experimenter are genetically determined.

Blumenthal said...

***Could it be the genes? I suppose, but I think the apparent inherited nature of IQ has more to do with other factors other than genes.***

thedouchbag,

Have you read about this study by Paul Thompson (or the current twin study by Robert Plomin)?

"The UCLA researchers took the study a step further by comparing the white matter architecture of identical twins, who share almost all their DNA, and fraternal twins, who share only half. Results showed that the quality of the white matter is highly genetically determined, although the influence of genetics varies by brain area. According to the findings, about 85 percent of the variation in white matter in the parietal lobe, which is involved in mathematics, logic, and visual-spatial skills, can be attributed to genetics. But only about 45 percent of the variation in the temporal lobe, which plays a central role in learning and memory, appears to be inherited.

Thompson and his collaborators also analyzed the twins' DNA, and they are now looking for specific genetic variations that are linked to the quality of the brain's white matter. The researchers have already found a candidate--the gene for a protein called BDNF, which promotes cell growth. "People with one variation have more intact fibers," says Thompson."

http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/22333/page2/

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

""the US government can crush wages for american engineers and computer scientists via visas, but it seemingly cannot put a dent in nurse pay.""

Pay is a matter of supply and demand there, Barack. You commies will never figure that out, will you?"

Exactly, and the government has no business depressing the wages of American citizens by allowing the importation of foreign workers.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

Well I don't know Rickey, if Richard Freyman had spent his entire life on New Zealand mutton farm, you think he magically would have gotten a job teaching physics at Berkley at 25?"

Who in the devil is "Richard Freyman"? Do you mean "Richard Feynman? He taught at Cornell and Cal Tech, not Berkeley. And at the age of 25 he was at Los Alamos, working on the atomic bomb.

You should know, "Truth", that having a bookmark for Wikipedia is not a substitute for having a brain.

Reactionary said...

I think, that anyone with half a brain would agree that greatness is A COMBINATION on god-given talent, AND hard work.

Then we agree that it's useless to spend billions of dollars edumacating people who don't have the innate talent for anything beyond basic numeracy and literacy? Because that's what the Black Messiah in Washington has planned.

Also, you beg another line of inquiry: why are some people capable of intense focus on a single subject for hours at a time and others are distracted after 15 minutes? Or is 'hard work-ness' just a matter of edumacating too?

ben tillman said...

Whatever causes "black failure," (I dislike the term due to its inherent white supremacist assumptions) it's persistent, so all this yakking about how it's all nurture is 100% assertion, all theory and no practice.

You're being too generous. They don't even have a theory to hang their hats on.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"Did Musgrave hop off a tractor into the cockpit of an F-86? No, if he had, we would have never heard of him."

Well, no, it took him a couple years in the military to learn to a.) be an aircraft mechanic and b.) then learn to fly.

Point is, his beginnings were not some rarified thing where his father already knew how to fly and spent 10,000 hours with him as a kid, teaching him all about aircraft. No. Story was milking cows and tinkering on tractors -- self-taught.

Story was SO smart that he could learn enough, starting from zero at 17, that he could (a) learn to fly combat jets (b) get multiple advanced degrees and (c) fix Hubble while still a young-middle-age man.

And, no, he did NOT f--- up. Hubble has returned the fantastic images it has for the last 30 years thanks directly to Story's excellent work.

Story didn't crash any shuttles, either.

And Story did TRAUMA SURGERY on weekends, as a part-time thing, no less, while employed by NASA, you know, just for the fun of a new challenge, during all of this.

In contrast, a Black astronaut who also came to talk to the elementary kids in our district(forget his name) was a member of the ONLY Shuttle team to utterly fail in their objective. They were sent to capture and repair a satellite. The chick from India who was the grasping-arm operator knocked the satellite spinning. The (White) shuttle pilot chased it for three days, trying to maneuver the Shuttle so our dipsy woman could try to grab it, again and again and again....She couldn't do it.

Poor NASA. The reputation for excellence, the legacy of glory, the history of the triumph of the human will that Story bequeathed them has been completely trashed --thanks in no small part to NASA's fashionable commitment to "diversity."
God, what a tragedy. What a tragedy.

self esteem said...

I once worked at a hospital in New Hampshire where a significant number of nurses (as in dozens) were Canadian nationals. Of course they were white and English-speaking so unless one was very attuned to accents this would not have been apparent to the casual observer. This hospital also had a fair supply of nurses from the Phillipines and ex-Soviet Union, and there was considered to be a chronic shortage of them.

I agree it is maddening and unmanning to be treated as a sexless nonentity by some nurse who has no idea of what say, the Cold War was or what continent Norway is in because she makes $10,000 a year more than you do, but that is unfortunately the culture we inhabit. There has been so much hype about the preciousness of brainpower and how the entire world is being trawled for intellectual talent that apparently it is easy to be confused into thinking that people are just going to notice your stratospheric IQ and make sure you stay on the good-money, good-status track because it's in their interest, or perhaps just because they like you because you are in the top 2% of IQ, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Cujo it seems doesn't think much of Mozart, but he likes Franklin. He thinks Franklin is on a level with Da Vinci.

I won't bother to defend Mozart. His characterization of Mozart's work is as benighted as that of Gladwell. Gladwell the man who in an attempt to bolster his goofy 10,000 hours of practice theory declared that Mozart didn't write anything worthwhile until he was in his mid twenties.

No, I won't defend Mozart - his reputation seems quite solid without my help but I would like to attack Da Vinci. Today everyone revers Da Vinci as a kind of universal genius - a Renaissance man as it were. This was not the learned nor the popular opinion at the time. The real genius of that time and place was Filipo Bruneleschi. Da Vinci's fame came much later when his sketch books were discovered and misinterpreted.

Franklin may very well be under appreciated but Da Vinci is surely over appreciated.

BTW Franklin and Mozart crossed paths - sort of. When Franklin was the ambassador to France he was importuned by Beaumarchais to accept help with the revolution. Beaumarchais had filled a ship with guns and powder but it was frozen in harbor (this was before the nineteenth century global warming). Beaumarchais could afford all these munitions because he had recently published the hugely successful Figaro plays, the second of which Mozart had made into an opera.

Anonymous said...

Why do people so willingly accept the 10,000 hours of practice theory. In Gladwell we get two musical examples - the Beatles and Mozart. The Mozart example is too silly to bother with - it is in fact the obvious counter example of genius preceding practice.

But think about pop music. Think about Tom Hanks in "That Thing You Do" bemoaning the One Hit Wonders. That phrase resonates because we all know that so many first hits are never repeated.

It happens all the time with novelists too. Norman Mailer and James Jones come to mind. In opera we have Leoncavallo and Mascagni - neither of whom could ever repeat their early success.

The only field in which it actually takes years and years of practice seems to be weightlifting. You can get big muscles rather fast but to really get to the top in Olympic lifting or power lifting you also need strong bones, ligaments and tendons. Those structures need time to develop.

Svigor said...

Pay is a matter of supply and demand there, Barack. You commies will never figure that out, will you?

Well, this is just T being clever by throwing a commonly-held belief back at us. But, it's also the sort of argument that can prop up slavery, prostitution, discrimination, segregation, and, yes, immigration or opposition to immigration. So I don't know why he went there, but he did.

Svigor said...

OK, why is it that you people (once again) are making something so simple, so convoluted?

I think, that anyone with half a brain would agree that greatness is A COMBINATION on god-given talent, AND hard work.


I agree. BUT, let's define greatness down a little, to success. If I had a dollar for every time I outperformed people around me at tasks with which I had zero experience, I'd have a nice little stash. No, I didn't leave the den with mama wolf and fall straight into nuclear physics.

But yeah, HBDers do sometimes seem to forget their argument is nature+nurture. Sorta like how you pretend there's no problem trying to nurture a nature that isn't there.

Svigor said...

Also, ask a scientist working with organisms what's easier, changing the nature of the organism, or the nurture.

Ergo, nature is more salient than nurture. Easy (much easier, anyway) for a man to copy the other guy's nurture, if he has the requisite nature.

Anonymous said...

Self-esteem:

There has been so much hype about the preciousness of brainpower ... it is easy to be confused into thinking that people are just going to notice your stratospheric IQ and make sure you stay on the good-money, good-status track

It goes further than that.

Society seems to respect genius and creativity only from a distance. Or maybe, it has a particular image of genius which is totally the opposite of the truth. When it comes to being in the same room with a genius, quite frankly most people are total bigots.

They say things like "you don't look/dress/smell like a genius."

In other words, you don't look like a clean-cut corporate Ken doll and you have so much true self-esteem that you don't bother filling the pockets of fashion & cosmetic pimps and plastic surgeons.

Truth said...

"Who the f**k is "Richard Freyman"...Is this another case of UWWI? Using Wikipedia While Intoxicated."

No, Mr. Anon, it's a case of being overly inquisitive. You see, right now, I'm trying to read Feynman's book "Lectures on Physics." This is quite an undertaking for me, as I've never taken a math class above algebra II. Additionally, I am in an ongoing dialogue about Monsanto and GM seeds, consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, attempting to get my pre-requisites in to enter engineering school, attempting to learn organic farming to a point of basic competence, looking over my investments, writing three business plans and two screenplays, and of course keeping up my own research on art, sports, literature, movies, etc., etc., etc.

So, you see, I made mistakes because I have much on my mind, you on the other hand are totally consumed by the big three "N's", bitches, and Jews and why they don't like poor little old you.

You're right though, should be more thorough.

Truth said...

"Truth, how many hours of practice did Michael Jordan put into being 6 and a half feet tall?"

Steven King is 6'4, as, I'm sure, are a lot of other people you know, and they didn't make half-a-billion playing basketball did they?

"we can infer that there is atleast one trait that practice does not affect and is very important for "genius" in playing basketball."

Yes, and your great scientists are blessed with the genetic trait of being able to sit in one place, behind a microscope, an engineering bench or whatever for many hours without wanting to get up and play basketball. Chuck Yeager was genetically blessed by NOT being 6'6, if he was, he wouldn't have been eligeble to be a military pilot, So what's your point?

Truth said...

"pay is a matter of how many of (insert job title here) the US federal government wants to allow into america every year. there are about 7 billion humans now. there are easily 30 capable nurses for every 1 capable engineer."

Once again, this is called HBD cognitive dissidence. Just as you reserve the right to be communist when, and only when you desire, you also claim the right to suspend your own beliefs.

First of all Jody, OK, there are 30 qualifying nurses for every engineer. Well Bud, I would bet that there are 30 hospitals/medical clinics for every high-tech startup.

And again, this is a CAPITALIST country; companies want the best, The host of this site and many others simply believe that the Indians are SMARTER, MORE COMPETENT, MORE LIKLEY TO ENTER THE FIELD AND SIMPLY BETTER ENGINEERS.

When Steve Sailor himself will tell you that high-caste Indians are smarter than whites, why in a CAPITALIST country should AMERICAN companies be FORCED to hire an inferior product.

At my job I have to use Adobe Premiere quite often, I looked at the start-up screen today and there were 34 names credited in creating the program: Two "Anglo American", one Chinese, THIRTY-ONE Indian. I'm not making this up, look at the damn program yourself.

This HBD/Libertarian stuff is your cause celebre, chief, not mine, but if you're going to believe it, I'm going to jump on you for sticking one toe into the pool...Nikolai.

Truth said...

"Point is, his beginnings were not some rarified thing where his father already knew how to fly and spent 10,000 hours with him as a kid, teaching him all about aircraft. No. Story was milking cows and tinkering on tractors -- self-taught."

No, the point is that Musgrave got well over 10,000 hours of training in all of those schools he went to. Do the math yourself, 6 hours a day, 250 days a year, 25 years....

Additionally, I'm not familiar with too many "self-taught" pilots. Maybe Orville and Wilbur, but past them, I think that would be an expensive, inefficient, and extremely messy way to learn to fly.

"In contrast, a Black astronaut who also came to talk to the elementary kids in our district(forget his name) was a member of the ONLY Shuttle team to utterly fail in their objective."

Yeah, the article "a" between "black" and "astronaut" is highly significant here, primarily because he was probably the only one in the room, the rest of the fuck-ups were white guys, and if you can prove that the level of responsibility falls upon this man's shoulders, let's have it.

By the way, I believe that man's name is Ronald McNair. And if it is, his bio is a whole heck of a lot closer to Musgrave's than yours is!

Truth said...

"Ussain bolt runs really fast. Is he a genius? No, he's a dude who runs really fast."

I don't know about all of this genius stuff, but I do know that he's the best in the world at what he does...and you're a nobody.

"Pretty much every single black person in America has more food, access to education, less chance of infection, and has more opportunities than Ramanujan ever did. Despite starting on third base, black Americans on average (and almost certainly at the extreme) are far worse at math than Ramanujan. Why?

Because, Einstein, not everyone in life sets out to be a mathematician. There are a damn near unquantifiable number things one can do with his life.

Are you telling me that the average white person can do math as well as Ramanujan? Dude, you're almost making me long for Whiskey to join the thread!

Steve Sailer said...

Here's another black astronaut, Robert L. Satcher, who has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT and an M.D. degree (surgeon) from Harvard, and has spent 259 hours in orbit:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/satcher-rl.html

His uncle was Surgeon General under Clinton.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

No, Mr. Anon, it's a case of being overly inquisitive. You see, right now, I'm trying to read Feynman's book "Lectures on Physics." This is quite an undertaking for me, as I've never taken a math class above algebra II.

So you are relatively uneducated, in addition to being sloppy. And you have the gall to call other people here "nobodys". Facts matter - a point entirely lost on you - so you just make them up.

"Truth said...
And again, this is a CAPITALIST country; companies want the best, The host of this site and many others simply believe that the Indians are SMARTER, MORE COMPETENT, MORE LIKLEY TO ENTER THE FIELD AND SIMPLY BETTER ENGINEERS."

No, this is an American country. I expect the people who run companies here to be loyal americans. And if they don't like it they can leave. If you want to live in a libertarian thunderdome somewhere, go start one yourself. Don't arrogate to yourself the right to define what this nation is or should be.

P.S. If you want a good laymen's guide to physics, I wouldn't recommend the lectures on physics - at least not as a starting point: instead, try "Six Easy Pieces" by Feynman or "Asimov on Physics" by Isaac Asimov - they're pretty good.

MacSweeney said...

Okay seriously jody, I like Master of Puppets too, but your constant citation of it as the greatest work of music ever produced by humankind is really strange and does little to boost your limited credibility here.

Obviously that title belongs to Killers by Iron Maiden.

thedouchbag said...

@Blumenthal

There are no real details in that study. They don't say how and why they think the size certain white matter is genetically determined.

and even if they did a slew of research linking a certain gene with the size of a certain white matter. It wouldn't matter because I'm talking about IQ and intelligence, not some white matter. Maybe it'll be shown that too much white matter is bad because it negatively affects other brain functions. Read the following:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/health/research/16gene.html?_r=2&scp=3&sq=genetics+disease+link&st=nyt

As of this moment, we can't 100% specificallly link genotype to phenotype because the body and genes themselves are extremely complex system. There are genes that affect other genes, physical parameters that affect genes and so forth.

So all this talking is pointless. Until they do the experiment I mentioned in my earlier post, which no one would sanely want to try - maybe if you offered couples and ladies each like $1 billion dollars - we'll have no proof, at least on a clinical level, that IQ is determined by genetics.

Anonymous said...

Once again, this is called HBD cognitive dissidence.

No such word as "dissendence."

Anonymous said...

Anon. of 3/25, there is an even closer crossing of the paths of Mozart and Franklin than the one you mentioned - the glass harmonica, which Franklin invented, was an instrument briefly popular in the late 18th century, and one for which the best-known surviving music was composed by Mozart.

rob said...

"don't know about all of this genius stuff, but I do know that he's the best in the world at what he does...and you're a nobody.

Tu quoque. Google it...dog.

Steven King is 6'4...lot of other people you know, and they didn't make half-a-billion playing basketball did they...So what's your point?

Really, you didn't get my point? I hope you're just pretending. In case you aren't, Mr. Shenk asserted that enough practice will make anyone a basketball "genius." Height is very important (but not the only factor) in basketball performance. Practice will not make people taller. Therefore Mr. Shenk's thesis is not correct.

Why every black person isn't great at math: Because, Einstein, not everyone in life sets out to be a mathematician. There are a damn near unquantifiable number things one can do with his life.



While being compared to Whiskey pains me deeply, you managed to totally misunderstand the Ramanujan comparison, even when I explained exactly how your misunderstanding was wrong before you made it.

I know why blacks, and me, and almost every other person on earth is no Ramanujan: we didn't get the genes. Since you do not accept this, you have to explain Ramanujan. Your explanation is that gangbangers, thugs, and slugs prefer being predatory criminals to contributing their brilliance to society. Poor blacks are poor because they're lazy slackers who choose to do other things with their lives. Good to know that you will never complain that blacks have higher poverty rates, or spend more time in prison or do less well in school that nonblacks. If blacks were unhappy with it, they would have made different choices.

Marlo said...

Does Shenck really attempt to debumk ALL of that Bellcurve "stuff"?

I doubt that he actually believes intelligence is soley dependent on nurture/environment, or that anyone could be a great mathematician or a pro athlete if they work hard enough.

The book argues that passion, actually enjoying what you do, is a better predictor of success than genes. That's my impression of the book anyway.

IMO, a genius is someone who either invents something useful, conducts groundbreaking research in his/her field, or advances human understanding on some little known topic. This doesn't require a certain test score, just a deep fascination with your work and a lot of creativity.

James Watson, a hero in HBDsphere, is said to only have an IQ of 120 but many consider him a genius. And for all we known Grigory Perelman might only have an IQ of 115. It's not likely, but it could be true...

Truth is, a lot of very high IQ types don't turn out to be great scientists, inventors or mathematicians. They often get bored with academics and spend their time playing with games or puzzles. That's what a lot of former child prodigies end up doing. I read about some guy who had an IQ of 180, spoke like 16 languages...but what is he remembered for, other than for having a high IQ?

Aptitude is important but who's to say that passion isn't equally or more important?

Anonymous said...

Interesting how much closer to reality skilled blue collar workers (mentally unmolested by a PC-infested university education ) are about these matters. Working in a motor-performance stratum rather than in a white collar verbal manipulative stratum, there are certain things that just don't get as "fakey". When observing a few years ago the non-verbal IQ test items in Hans Eysenck's CHECK YOUR OWN IQ, a construction worker crew-chief commented to me, "Well, I'll tell you this--these items show up the same thing we rely on at the job."
Knowing how to place the trucks in the parking area according to load and according to demands from entry and exit, etc., is highly complex and the guy that can do it, can do quite a few of the test items. The same thing has been seen in the military by sergeants
regarding the soldiers they direct.
They don't need a lot of "insight" to know the connection when they directly see it. They ain't no "genius in all of us" out in
Sweat City.

Truth said...

I'm not sure exactly what I've "made up" Mr. Anon, please feel free to point it out to me next time you see something.

On any event, you and many other people on and off this board make one crucial mistake; the so called "American" companies that you speak of are not American, they are not run by "Americans" and they have not been since at least the 1970s. These are multi-national borderless corporations that may have a headquarters in New York, and are run by multi-national CEO, who may or may not have a U.S. birth certificate. They do not give a shit about you, beisbol, or apple pie. Their sole interest in this world is to make money, and if they do that by sucking the resources out of this country and relocating to Beijing, that will not cause them one ounce of consternation.

I've read before, from what I consider a fairly reputable source, that the Bush family owns FIVE MILLION acres of land in Paraguay. They are crypto-Americans only, and as soon as this country has been bankrupted, they will simply pull up stakes and go elsewhere. You will either learn that the easy way or the hard way, but you will learn it.

And thanks for the tip on the books, I just ordered them.

catperson said...

"Before anyone starts pointing out trans racial adoption studies showing difference between races, you have to remember those studies don't count. Why? Because the gestational environment is just as important as the after birth environment."

However the trans racial adaoption study showed that Afro-multiracial kids, who were not only adopted by a white family but also given birth to by a white mother, experienced both a white gestation environment and a white after birth environment, and yet their IQ's were still half an SD below the IQ's of whites. This is half as large as the standard 1 SD gap between between U.S. blacks and whites, but the kids were only half black so it's exactly what you would expect if the U.S. black-white IQ gap is 100% genetic.

catperson said...

Most successful people are not where they are because they practiced for 10,000 hours. To be successful you have to change and adapt and evolve, you can't just repeating the same task over and over again. The fact that geniuses were less impressive as children does not prove they needed practice, it may simply reflect the fact that their brains had not fully developed yet. Michael Jordan would have been a crappy basketball player and age 5, not because he had less practice, but because his body had not yet developed to an impressive height. Also, the reason it takes time for most people to reach the top of their field is that they need to establish a resume and credibility and connections, not so much because they need practice.

Anonymous said...

Research attempts to boost IQ are
of some relevance to this topic.
An Israeli psychologist about 25
years ago was claiming success with verbal enrichment exercises/ regimens. Later a German-born British psychologist claimed a breakthrough on the same order not with verbal enrichment but with ingestion of meganutrients/supplements. In both approaches the gains of individuals in the research groups were overall statistically significant but very marginal--with the very interesting exception in both research approaches of an unspecified incidence of high responders.
These efforts appear to have gone back into dormancy for want of suitable replication. It's a little like ongoing research at Walter Mitty University can't quite find the traction to get to Hormone Middle Skool.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

I'm not sure exactly what I've "made up" Mr. Anon, please feel free to point it out to me next time you see something."

The bit about Feynman teaching at Berkeley when he was 25. He was not a professor at Berkeley, and he certainly didn't teach there at the age of 25.

"These are multi-national borderless corporations that may have a headquarters in New York, and are run by multi-national CEO, who may or may not have a U.S. birth certificate. They do not give a shit about you, beisbol, or apple pie."

Of this I am quite aware. That is why they must be reined in, and if they don't want to be riened in, they should be evicted from these shores, and denied the benefits of being "American" companies - which benefits, admittedly, are worth less and less each successive year.

"And thanks for the tip on the books, I just ordered them."

You are most welcome. I hope you enjoy them. Regards.

David said...

> chaos does not randomly generate sophisticated order <

"Chaos" and "order" (particularly "sophisticated" order) are viewpoints. What is, is. We make order of it to get on.

We like the stuff we can order because order helps our survival - it's "sophisticated," awesome, groovy. We dislike the stuff we can't (presently or otherwise) order - it's "chaos," AKA a goddam stinkin' mess. These preferences are legitimate for us, but let's not reify them unless we wish to deify ourselves.

David said...

> the gestational environment is just as important as the after birth environment. <

It is unreasonable to assume that the black-white IQ gap (and other observed differences going back hundreds of years) is caused by all pregnant black women falling down the stairs or not eating their Wheaties.