June 11, 2012

Indeed

In a discussion at Grantland with sportswriter Bill Simmons, Malcolm Gladwell explains it all:
GLADWELL: ... How many people do elite professions miss? I think we assume that the talent-finding in the top occupations is pretty efficient. But what always strikes me is the amount of evidence in the opposite direction. There are huge numbers of people who clearly could play pro sports, but don't want to. (Kingston.) And an even greater number who could, but can't. America has one of the highest incarceration rates in recorded history, for example. (We have six times more people behind bars, on a per capita basis, than Europe does.) That works out to about 2 million people — the majority of whom are young men, and a disproportionate share of those young men are young black men. Surely there must be hundreds — if not thousands — of potential professional athletes in that number, not to mention scientists or entrepreneurs or poets. I'm sure you saw that great piece by Jonathan Abrams in Grantland this week where he quotes Stephen Jackson on growing up in Port Arthur, Texas: "There's been a million basketball players to come out of there and I'm the second one to make it to the NBA." 
SIMMONS: An organic Grantland plug! Nice! 
GLADWELL: And then there is my favorite moment in Michael Lewis's The Blind Side, when Michael Oher says that if everyone from his old neighborhood in inner-city Memphis who could play football got the chance to play professional football, they'd need two NFLs. What he was saying is that the efficiency rate of the football talent-search system in Memphis was less than 50 percent. This is the most popular and most lucrative sport in the United States — and Oher is saying that based on his experience we leave half of the available talent on the table. That's unbelievable!

"A million dollar arm and a five-cent brain" is not a novel insight. 

It's kind of hard to get to the pros if you are headed for prison. Granted, it can be done, but it takes a lot of booster elbow grease (see Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full).

Actually, as I've suggested before, it would be interesting to get data on the height of prison inmates (mug shots are often taken standing in front of height markings) to see if tall black men are underrepresented in prisons because of the advantages they get from being sports prospects. 

On the other hand, it would also be interesting to estimate what percentage of the NBA and the NFL really deserve to be in prison.
SIMMONS: It's a little different than Canada — where they somehow utilize 147.3 percent of the available hockey talent. 
GLADWELL: Exactly right. Not to mention the Kenyans in distance running, and the Dutch in soccer, and the Jamaicans in sprinting. It's the flip side of the same point. In theory, big countries should dominate all sports because they have the biggest talent pool. But they don't, because societies squander their talent. If you are a tiny country you can hold your own against someone 10 times your size just by being slightly more efficient in finding and developing the Battiers and Kingstons of the world.

Because talent-finding and developing in Kenya is so sophisticated. For decades, it mostly involved Brother Colm O'Connell of St. Patrick's High School in Iten having the lads run around while he fended off interviewers wanting to know his secret.
GLADWELL: ... If our talent spotting in basketball and football is so lousy — and those are two areas about which, arguably, we care more in this country than almost anything else — how lousy must it be in journalism? You and I owe our livelihoods to the fact that this country doesn't have its act together.

Indeed.

104 comments:

Jason said...

Posts like this almost make me feel sorry for Gladwell. Almost.

Luke Lea said...

How about a prison league. If they are that good they could bring in some real money. Join the real pros when they get out.

AK45 said...

On the other hand, it would also be interesting to estimate what percentage of the NBA and the NFL really deserve to be in prison.

Actually, the NFL, and even NBA have lower crime rates than the general population. We're talking organizations that are blacker than the cities of St. Louis and Newark but still have crime rates at the level of an Ohio or Indiana. Not exactly North Dakota or Vermont, but still, quite good.

Anonymous said...

"How about a prison league. If they are that good they could bring in some real money. Join the real pros when they get out."

It would be a good Adam Sandler movie...

Anonymous said...

Gladwell has proven that he is indeed, the nation's quintessential idiot once more.

Whiskey said...

Hahah, saw that on various places. Gladwell actually thinks prisons are filled with nascent scientists and poets. Because Einstein and Oppenheimer got down with armed robberies, and Shelley was known to shiv guys for "dissin him."

The NBA can get away with thugging it up, all it needs is the biggest guy dunking the ball the most. Team play is a foreign, and "White" concept last seen with the Boston Celtics of the 1980's. The NFL, with salary caps, drafts, and other parity inducing measures, needs guys who can execute complex plays, play after play. That puts a floor on the IQ they can use. Great physical specimens don't do so great at QB, Michael Vick, Jamarcus Russell, Vince Young, etc. are fractions of the QBs that say, Eli Manning, or Drew Brees, or Tom Brady are. In the NFL, in many positions, developed skill (dutifulness) plus pattern recognition beats pure athleticism.

Gladwell can't even understand that, nor can Simmons. Their assertions are demonstrably untrue, because if there was so much talent out there, the owners would flood the league with people "just as good if not better" than established players, and cut costs substantially.

However, the PC dogma of untapped talent is simply too strong for them to ignore. They must insist the sun revolves around the earth or risk an inquisition.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, it would also be interesting to estimate what percentage of the NBA and the NFL really deserve to be in prison.

It seems to me that successful modern athletes -- particularly those in the NBA -- handle unlimited money, fame, and women better than a lot of other 20-somethings would. Probably has something to do with the level of self-discipline and work ethic involved to make it to the top in sports today.

Anonymous said...

Malcomb, Malcomb. You don't think the incarcerated have less focus, are less goal-oriented than those who've made it to the NFL and that those traits kept them from any athletic success they might otherwise have achieved? Oh, yeah, there are some thugs in the NFl. There are some guys who throw away their talent and get cut quickly, but even they managed to get there.

Anonymous said...

Rappers, not poets, Malcomb.

Blood suckers, not scientists, Malcomb.

Anonymous said...

Team play is a foreign, and "White" concept last seen with the Boston Celtics of the 1980's.

Spoken like someone who hasn't watched the NBA for at least a decade. And certainly hasn't watched this year's playoffs, where all four of the finalists (but especially San Antonio and Boston) stood out for great team play.

Thrasymachus said...

Here's the thing- it's not stupid to think the people in prison might be capable of doing something else. It is stupid to think just having them do something else rather than dealing with the behavior that got them in prison in possible.

Our system chooses to give people under 18 very little punishment for crimes. This trains criminally-inclined boys with a lack of foresight to to bad things. Some kind of harsh, probably psychiatrically based treatment for bad boys might allow them to develop their other talents and protect society, but of course it would horrify Gladwell.

kaganovitch said...

A gentle twist of the knife at the end! Well done!

Anonymous said...

"Think of all the point guards and linebackers in pen! Oh, and uh, scientists and uh... professors... and you know, poets. Of course them too - I mean that goes without saying."

Good save Malcolm.

Anonymous said...

So who thinks O'Connell is in it for the vulnerably compliant black kids like Jerry von Nittany?

Thrasymachus said...

Here's the thing- it's not stupid to think the people in prison might be capable of doing something else. It is stupid to think just having them do something else rather than dealing with the behavior that got them in prison in possible.

Our system chooses to give people under 18 very little punishment for crimes. This trains criminally-inclined boys with a lack of foresight to to bad things. Some kind of harsh, probably psychiatrically based treatment for bad boys might allow them to develop their other talents and protect society, but of course it would horrify Gladwell.

Anonymous said...

Some of those black guys are amazing runners. When I was in the USMC infantry, we had one guy, Private Archie, had a big scar on his neck where somebody tried to slit his throat back in the hood.

Anyhow, we had to take a physical test every three months or so. A perfect score included a three mile run in 18 minutes. Archie would get out there, stub out his cigarette, not even bother with running shoes, use his combat boots, and run a 15 minute 3 miles.

On the flip side, they didn't seem to do nearly as well as the white guys on the grinding endurance stuff of 20-30 mile forced marches in full gear every day for 2 weeks during some hellish exercise.

Maya said...

"How about a prison league. If they are that good they could bring in some real money."

I clicked on the comments to suggest this very thing. Make them earn their keep. We should have a NPFL and an NPBA. Also, to make things more exciting, there could be a NDRFL and a NDRBA. Think of the implications for serious sports gamblers, "What are the odds Jackson's lawyer will be able to put the needle off for another 2 months? Because with him, the Ohio Jail Birds have a real chance, but if Washington takes the spot by then, the Tennessee Orange Suits have it in the bag." Of course then, you'd have all kinds of conflicts of interest if judges happen to be die hard fans. Actually, this, probably, happens now too.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's inefficient to keep felons in the stoney lonesome instead of the NBA and NFL. It seems highly efficient, in fact.

Maya said...

"t seems to me that successful modern athletes -- particularly those in the NBA -- handle unlimited money, fame, and women better than a lot of other 20-somethings would. "

I don't follow sports, so maybe the articles I stumble upon deal with rare exceptions. But I do keep seeing stories about young sports stars paying surreal money in child support to their 10,000-20,000 baby mommas who reside in every state that ever hosted a game. Oh, and all those articles about sports stars (and rappers) going bankrupt a few short years after being rich and famous...

Anonymous said...

Problem is, we don't need two NFLs, the one is doing just fine.

Typical supply side idiocy.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Indeed.

The topic of tall, strong criminals, brings to mind our 19th century wisdom about the weak and slouching 'criminal type'. I usually start from the assumption that men like Francis Galton are right about everything, and then work backwards from there. But I must admit 'cause and effect' are quite hard to prize apart on this one.

Gilbert Pinfold.

Auntie Analogue said...

It seems to me that the Almighty's mercy is boundless, especially as it immunizes morons like Gladwell from having actually to hear the imbecilities they pontificate.

Anonymous said...

Kenyans in distance running, and the Dutch in soccer

Once again, what is it? Gladwell is either knows it but lying or badly, unbelievably misinformed. There is nothing with Dutch playing soccer that is comparable in any way to Kenyans running. Nothing at all - and it's a fact not open to interpretations. Dutch achievement in soccer is remarkable but not outstanding. (Heck, they just lost to Denmark; and they had no success on club level in Euro competitions for, basically, forever).

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that successful modern athletes -- particularly those in the NBA -- handle unlimited money, fame, and women better than a lot of other 20-somethings would. Probably has something to do with the level of self-discipline and work ethic involved to make it to the top in sports today.

Valuable players are assigned "handlers" to keep them out of major trouble, as much as possible. More savvy teams don't let the players have any say over who is assigned, particularly during the actual season.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Port Arthur: a Janis Joplin biog implied her mental problems might have been enabled by the pollution from the refineries. Apparently several of her schoolfriends also had problems. And Blacks lived closer to the refineries than Whites.

Anonymous said...

Gladwell seems to be entirely ignorant of the law of supply and demand and of the principle of ratios.
The point is even if the USA overlooked the 'talents' of a million Magic Johnsons, Shakespeares, Jay-zs etc who are currently incarcerated, the point is if they were all released on the market, there would be no benefit to them, or indeed the USA.
You see, with the best will in the world, it's all a great big market place, all these 'highly talented people' are only dependent on public support (and payment) for their sustenance, so thusly only a certain ratio (no bigger than exists now), which is determined by audience size and disposable income, could possibly be supported.
Whether the incarcerated are 'more talented' than those who currently occupy the slots is really neither here nor there - the public are adquately entertained as it is.

spandrell said...

Gladwell is still around?

http://shameproject.com/profile/malcolm-gladwell-2/

scoobius dubious said...

Forget all the fictitious scientists for a moment.

What do we need MORE pro athletes for?

And poets? Orly? I've got all their "poetry" I can handle, barking out of some car stereo system past my house at 3 a.m.

Someone, in the midst of an interview or public conversation with Gladwell, needs to simply burst out laughing in his face.

jody said...

so...do you want the full jody on this topic, or should i just spare everybody?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you know Kenyans in distance running Dutch in soccer. Umm French in javelin Latvians in poker. It's really all the same.

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

Jack Unterweger:

While in prison, Unterweger became an author of short stories, poems, plays, and an autobiography, Fegefeuer – eine Reise ins Zuchthaus (Purgatory - a trip to prison), which was adapted into a motion picture. In 1985, a campaign to pardon Jack and release him from prison was started, but President Kirchschlager refused stating he must spend the minimum of 15 years in prison The campaign gathered momentum among Austrian intellectuals, including the author and 2004 Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, and he was released on 23 May 1990, after the required 15 years of his life term. Upon his release, Unterweger hosted television programs which discussed criminal rehabilitation.


Law enforcement later found that Unterweger killed six prostitutes in Austria in 1990, the first year after his release.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Unterweger


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malexander_murders

Malexander murders in Sweden were committed by three guys in connection with a botched bank robbery; one of them Tony Olsson was on leave from prison, performing in a play he had written. The authorities thought that arts and humanities would be good for him.

One of the murderers, Jackie Arklöv is an artist formerly known as neo-Nazi and war criminal. His mother is Liberian - in Sweden, even neo-Nazis are so nice and tolerant that they accept Black members ...

Anonymous said...

Tell Gladwell to take a confidential survey of the players to see if they want to play, side by side, with the inmates. I think he might be surprised/disappointed. There is a difference between giving props to the boyz in the hood, so you don't face hostility and envy when you visit home, and actually wanting to be in their company again.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Hey, Steve, wouldja be Gladwell if ya could?

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Is Gladwell that insulated from reality that he can't see that people in prison are, on average, not cut out to be around civilized people? People don't want to go near housing projects because of the danger, and the criminal element is not even 100% there. In prisons it's about 99.9% criminal.

With statements this idiotic and out of touch being an orthodox view, the revolution must be right around the corner.

Steve Sailer said...

Like Richard Pryor said after making a movie with Gene Wilder in a real prison: "Thank GOD for penitentiaries!"

Anonymous said...

AK45, a lot must have changed in the NFL since the book Pros and Cons documented that 20% of the players in the NFL during the 1996 season had been charged with a felony.

Sendan said...

Gladwell owes his livelihood to the fact that the money is in someone who can gush foolish liberal nonsense with enthusiastic glee as a true believer.

Sendan said...

The utter foolishness of the idea that we are squandering the NFL talent of prisoners is crazy enough- I guess the spike in violent crime from letting 2 million rapists and murderers free is a small price to pay for the possibility of a slightly more thrilling game of football.

But the idea that we are going to harness the next Steven Hawking from this crowd is just too much.

Henry Canaday said...

Page Earl Warren, Malcolm, wherever he is now. If justice had remained rough but effective and prompt, some of those talented lost boys might have gotten the anger out of their systems when much younger and made it as adults, as corner backs, line backers, mailmen or bus drivers. Yes, it would have been a better America.

sdlong said...

Another gem from Gladwell in the interview:

A quick thought experiment on LeBron. A young, white 22-year-old from a nice, preppy upper-middle class family graduates from Oberlin and goes to work for a small-market investment bank in downtown Cleveland. He quickly establishes himself as a brilliant trader, possessed of a freakish instinct for the markets. He makes his bank hundreds of millions of dollars. But he wants to take his talents to Wall Street, where he can be surrounded by other great traders and have access to global capital markets. When his contract is up in Cleveland, he shops around before agreeing to join the legendary trading desk at Goldman Sachs, at what turns out to be a slight cut in pay. On his first day on the job, he's interviewed on CNBC about his "decision," and he predicts that his skills in combination with the talent already at Goldman will earn billions of dollars for Goldman's clients in the years to come. Is there a single person in the financial world who would raise even an eyebrow about that guy's behavior?

It's this kind of talk that eventually made me do a 180 from my progressive college days. Pure equivocation. And he probably thinks he's a right smart lad for coming up with such a brilliant analogy that demonstrates how racist the world is. Never mind that the professional decisions of a LeBron and a 22 year old financial professional ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT IN EVERY WAY IMAGINABLE.

Re: Steve's article. I'll just echo what everyone else has said. I have no problem believing that there is a lot of potential athletic talent sitting in American prisons, but turning potential into actual athletic talent takes hard work, dedication, self-discipline . . . things that most cons don't have. Like most progressives, Gladwell talks about what he doesn't know. I'll invite him to my next family gathering of ex-cons and petty criminals, and he'll quickly see why their talent remains wasted. Has nothing to do with The System, Mal.

Anonymous said...

What a pea brained idiot this Gladwell is.

sunbeam said...

"The topic of tall, strong criminals, brings to mind our 19th century wisdom about the weak and slouching 'criminal type'. I usually start from the assumption that men like Francis Galton are right about everything, and then work backwards from there. But I must admit 'cause and effect' are quite hard to prize apart on this one.

Gilbert Pinfold."

It's pretty old hat at this point, though it doesn't interest many people.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110407093244.htm

That is a link to an article on height and longevity differences as related to class historically.

Not the best one on this subject I've ever seen, but all I saw pop up on the first page in a quick google.

In a nutshell, in the past poor people didn't get enough to eat, so they never reached their full biological potential as regards height.

In Europe at least. The US was a bit different from Europe for most of it's history for a number of reasons that would take a bit to write about (far less people as opposed to agricultural land).

You can extend this to other areas of the world that I've never seen done. I'd think China and perhaps Japan would have excellent records but I have never seen anything on this.

The article refers to the average height of 14 year olds. The article didn't mention it, but there is a fairly famous factoid from British Army records in the early 1800's, where upper class officers were 5'9" or something, and and lower class recruits were 5'1" or similar.

I also might throw out, that regardless of genes and behavior, there is also a link between criminal behavior and poverty. Or at least a link as to who gets thrown into jail.

If it's all genes, I'd hazard a guess that Australia is the most crime ridden continent on earth.

Anonymous said...

Because Einstein and Oppenheimer got down with armed robberies...

Wow, it sure is odd that the product of a Scot and an Irish Catholic [isn't that the most recent version of the story?] would offer up two flagrantly anti-American, marxist, ah, Scots-Irishmen as his ideal examples of "scientists".

It's not like the non-Scots-Irish ever had anything to do with "Science".

Sheesh.

Chicago said...

I want to see convict gladiatorial contests. Now that would be way more entertaining than these piddling ball games and it would be right up their alley. Gotta go where the talent is.

Anonymous said...

...where all four of the finalists (but especially San Antonio and Boston) stood out for great team play...

And yet San Antonio & Boston both LOST to the two teams with made-for-TV superstars who are protected by David MacStern's utterly corrupt "officiating" crews.

Don't come around to this blog and try to lecture us on what "basketball" is supposed to look like.

We know.

We were there.

In the old days.

Anonymous said...

On the flip side, they didn't seem to do nearly as well as the white guys on the grinding endurance stuff of 20-30 mile forced marches in full gear every day for 2 weeks during some hellish exercise.

Speaking of Ridley Scott, I have long felt that there is a great deal of insight to be gleaned from the old adage which holds that, "The flame which burns twice as bright burns half as long."

Beecher Asbury said...

Anonymous said...

Malcomb, Malcomb. You don't think the incarcerated have less focus, are less goal-oriented than those who've made it to the NFL and that those traits kept them from any athletic success they might otherwise have achieved?


Wasn't Gladwell the guy who wrote that if anyone is willing to put 10,000 hours of practice into something, they will become an expert? Guys in prison are probably not the ones with the focus and goal setting abilities required for this task. He should know this.

Anonymous said...

Just for fun, let me argue Gladwell's side, to a degree:

All the comments here assume that everyone in prison is a murderer, rapist or violent robber. But, of course, some of them are guys who got caught with a bit of pot or driving drunk or stealing something not especially valuable.

And I'd be willing to bet that many people who play professional sports -- and many iSteve readers -- did likewise. But they did not get caught or they had parents who were functional and caring enough to save their kids by making the problem go away.

I have no idea if this is 2% of the prison population or 20% but it obviously exists.

That said, I don't think many of these guys would otherwise be CEOs. I don't even think many of them would be pro athletes. Success requires some intelligence and work ethic and the thing that separates the folks who get caught from the guys who get away, other than luck, is the utter lack of intelligence and self discipline.

But still

Anonymous said...

"Forget all the fictitious scientists for a moment.

What do we need MORE pro athletes for?"

Our country is currently oversupplied with whiz-bang scientific and athletic talent. What's in desperate shortage are self reliant, moral, and civically engaged individuals of ordinary abilites i.e. average white people.

Anonymous said...

US is a free country unlike East Germany. People w/talent can choose not to use it.

Btw, PC prevents rise of honest thinkers while favoring hacks like Gladwell.

Mr. Anon said...

If there were that many smart people in prison, you'd think that prison-breaks would be more common.

Dahinda said...

I knew kids in my high school who could have made good writers and journalists but were discouraged by their counselors to take other English courses. The kids who were in journalism, and got to write in the school newspaper, seemed to be made up of elitist popular kids (who weren't necessarily good writers). This was true of other subjects, like science, as well. Kids who were really into chemistry, and had huge labs set up in thier basement, were told literally "college isn't for everybody." These kid's interest in chemistry just degraded into making pipe bombs, with different types of homemade explosives, to blow up in the local forest preserve. And it then went no further.

sykes.1 said...

We really need about 10 million people in prison. But at that level, the prison population would be too expensive. They would have to be work camps, a la the old Soviet Gulags.

SFG said...

Actually, the journalism example's more interesting than you think.

I'm willing to bet Ashkenazim actually do have better verbal skills on average--however, once they reached a plurality of the newspapermen, they were able to dominate the industry. Now I'd be willing to bet the average verbal IQ of non-Ashkenazim in the media is actually higher.

Same with gays.

The influence on what sorts of stories get covered follows as well.

Bruce Banner said...

Steve, I´d love to see you debate your nemesis Gladwell on TV or Blogginheads.Though it probably will never happen, at least on TV.

Anonymous said...

an even greater number who could, but can't

If you can't, then you couldn't. That's a dumb argument even by Gladwell's standards.

Black Sea said...

Anyone who can start on a Division I football team can play well enough to entertain a stadium full of people and at least a regional TV audience. The problem is that every year there's another crop of high school kids coming along who can play well enough to do that (at least after a redshirt year), and only a fraction of the Division I players go on to a "career" in the NFL, which typically lasts about 2.5 years.

Football, basketball, poetry, rap, are all forms of entertainment, and there's a limit as to how much entertainment people will subject themselves to, particularly if they're going to have to pay for it.

In other words, nobody really cares about the "talent" locked up in prison because it's not productive talent, and there's no additional demand for it. If America has proven one thing conclusively, it's that football fans don't really want another league.

Otis McWrong said...

"Surely there must be hundreds — if not thousands — of potential professional athletes in that number, not to mention scientists or entrepreneurs or poets."

I actually burst out laughing when I read the part after "not to mention". It only makes sense that lots of potential scientists and entrepreneurs are locked away because blacks are overrepresented in the ranks of scientists and entrepreneurs like they are in sports.

I'm sure lots of people with very little impulse control and high time preference (basically, how you end up in prison) have the patience and foresight to be successful entrepreneurs. Or the self-discipline to spend the zillions hours necessary to master a science. Sometimes I wonder if Gladwell is just messing with all of us...

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/06/12/wilsonian-wars-wilsonian-ruin/

'Humanitarian war'

Will someone think up 'humanitarian genocide'? Oh yeah, it's happening against 'racist' whites in S. Africa and Europe.

Otis McWrong said...

Anonymous @6/11/12 10:48 Said...

Team play is a foreign, and "White" concept last seen with the Boston Celtics of the 1980's.

Spoken like someone who hasn't watched the NBA for at least a decade. And certainly hasn't watched this year's playoffs, where all four of the finalists (but especially San Antonio and Boston) stood out for great team play.

- Have you actually watched a Miami Heat game? Their primary offense is LeBron (french for The Bron) dribbling down the shot clock before driving and if he misses, giving the officials an incredulous look as in "what! No foul??". Yes San Antonio and Ok City to a lesser extent move the ball well. Miami on the other hand is unwatchable.

Udolpho.com said...

Gladwell lives in a truly diverse community, I'll bet. Because that would be more efficient, no?

Anonymous said...

"...not to mention scientists, or entrepreneurs or poets."

All those brilliant ("scientists") and sensitive ("poets") Demarcuses that the man is denying us by keeping them in the pen. Sigh.

I think Gladwell has lost all touch with reality.

Udolpho.com said...

"Yasha Levine, President of S.H.A.M.E., is an investigative journalist and a founding editor of The eXiled. His work has been published by Wired, The Nation, Slate, The New York Observer and many others. He has made several guest appearances on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show."

lol...Levine is also incensed that people connect race and crime...he calls it "sinister"...Gladwell is a shill, but why bother linking to a site that has zero credibility anyway

Anonymous said...

Thras said, "Some kind of harsh, probably psychiatrically based treatment for bad boys might allow them to develop their other talents and protect society, but of course it would horrify Gladwell."

"Psychiatrically based treatement" for such "bad boys" does not work. The one treatment that often does work for some bad behavior is medication, but such people won't take the medication.

When science and tech show more progress in diagnosing brain impairments or other neurological problems for kids at an early age, it's possible such behavior can be modified, but not until then.

ben tillman said...

Growing up in Port Arthur: a Janis Joplin biog implied her mental problems might have been enabled by the pollution from the refineries. Apparently several of her schoolfriends also had problems.

Is that the explanation for Jimmy Johnson's helmet hair? Some plastic substance from the refineries?

Anonymous said...

"not to mention scientists or entrepreneurs or poets." - Has he, uh, talked to any of them?

Kylie said...

"America has one of the highest incarceration rates in recorded history, for example. (We have six times more people behind bars, on a per capita basis, than Europe does.) That works out to about 2 million people — the majority of whom are young men, and a disproportionate share of those young men are young black men. Surely there must be hundreds — if not thousands — of potential professional athletes in that number, not to mention scientists or entrepreneurs or poets."

Right. This brings to mind all those scientific, entrepreneurial, poetic ex-cons in my old neighborhood.

He's finally done it. He's moved from being merely (though hilariously) Gladwellian to being positively irredeemably Orwellian.

How I wish he'd been forced to spend some time with just a few representatives of that vast pool of untapped talent.

josh said...

A)Re Pryor,"Thank God we got penitentiaries":Maybe his best line ever. B)Steve want to be Gladwell? I think he would hang himself first. C) Gladwell HAD to throw in some bullsh*t about "scientists" being in prison. Scientists! Maybe he is referring to the guys who make prison hooch from orange juice,or the guys who get ahold of estrogen(!)to feminize their prison mates? Ingenious,yes,but do I want these guys doing my cancer research? (Or being my latex salesmen?)

mel belli said...

The next time I'm in a sentencing hearing, I'm going to tell the judge we don't want to squander athletic talent. If he responds to the effect, "your client should have thought of that ...", I'll report him to the bar as "insensitive."

Deckin said...

It seems to me, at least in the US with its compulsory semblance of education in the early years, that if there is any latent cognitive or physical talent not Hoovered up by the appropriate filtering agents, then it has been noticed, at a minimum.

Take cognitive abilities: If you have a truly talented self-starter, early reader, math prodigy, no matter what pathetic school district he's in in the US, someone noticed this fact. And the same goes for athletic ability.

Now if the ball got dropped from there or the kid had other problems that defeated the latent talent, well, we can argue about how much and of what kind of intervention a society should apply.

But if there are these hidden talents wasting in prisons it's not because they are truly hidden. It's because they failed to get beyond being just noticed.

C. Van Carter said...

It's both a tragedy and a mystery that a disproportionate share of young black men choose to be criminals instead of physicists.

C. Van Carter said...

I have no idea why, but I'm reminded of Andy Kaufman's adopted children:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVNW132q7P4

department11 said...

This woman would be in the WNBA if she weren't so good at math.

http://armstrongandgetty.talk910.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=104668&article=10193709

Anonymous said...

"Our system chooses to give people under 18 very little punishment for crimes."

Uh...yeah. That is why America has fried 12 year-olds in the electric chair like that kid in Florida. Europeans wouldn't do that to an adult, let alone to someone just exiting childhood. The fact that America's young men continue to engage in brutal criminality DESPITE the extremely harsh punishments is due to the nature of adolescent boys. They are at that age when they are full of vitality and virility, and are openly defiant. The more you tell them not to do something, and the more severe your promise to punish them if they do it, the more they see it as a dominance challenge and the more they will do it.

Capital punishment is actually very stupid and costs the life of many police officers each year. Think about it: if a criminal has committed a crime for which he knows he will be executed and is surrounded by the police, what incentive does he have to surrender? To die a horrible death of asphyxia in the gas chamber? He will prefer to die full of holes to his body - bullets are nicer than asphyxia -, and he will take as many police officers as he can with him as his final "HURRA!". The fact that America has Capital punishment and particularly cruel forms of it indicates that the U.S.A is not a civilized country. A civilized society tries to be BETTER than it's worst elements, and does not try to get into disputes of villeness and sadism with them.

Anonymous said...

Actually, even with all those blacks in prison, we have enough talent for two, three, or four NFLs. The reason we have only one is not due to lack of talent but because people wanna see the best team win.

Anonymous said...

Gladwell backtracks by saying prisoners could be poets or engineers.
By talking about blacks in prison and sports, he was suggesting that there are indeed racial differences. Blacks are better at sports, which means Mexican-American prisoners wouldn't be as good even if they were freed from jail.
So, Gladwell backtracks and says those black prisoners wouldn't only make great athletes but great scientists. haha.

Anonymous said...

Gladwell does have a point, but he messes it up.

During the Cold War, Cuba and East Germany produced many great athletes in the Olympics because they recruited(often by force)and trained the best. So, East Germany beat West Germany. And Cuba produced more great athletes than Brazil(that also had a lot of blacks).
Communist nations could find and train the best cuz individuals didn't have a choice.
In free nations, the best-at-something could choose not to pursue that thing. Or the best-at-something could be neglected by society. Brazilian government had no program to find, train, and field the best Negro athletes.
(On the other hand, communist nations, by suppressing those who were best at wealth creation, failed to make much progress on the economic front.)

So, Gladwell is half right about talented going unnoticed.
But he's (willfully)blind to genetic factors.
For example, why has China been better at training gymnasts and divers than sprinters? Because Chinese are physically more suited for winning at diving and gymnastics than in running.
Why does Netherlands have an advantage in soccer? They are a very tall people(and have lots of fast Negroes). To ignore that aspect of equation shows what a coward phony he is.

Anonymous said...

http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2009/12/pinker-round-two-.html

Family fight between liberals.

peterike said...

I am made very, very sad when I think of all the archeologists, astronomers, deep sea explorers, Medieval art restorers, free range organic heirloom pig farmers and artisanal cheese makers trapped in the bodies of black ghetto thugs, Cholo drug dealers and white trash meth-heads. Trapped only by the crushing, uncaring society that won't let them blossom like the thousand beautiful points of light they are.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey,

All 4 teams in the Conference Finals play like teams. SA has been loved by NBA geeks for their "team play", but their ratings sucked nationally despite having big time talent like Duncan and Parker. Miami, was playing like a team until LeBron and Wade decided the rest of their team sucked and that they were going to get them to the finals with the help of a hurt Chris Bosh and almost no one else. 95 out of 100 Americans would rather watch the Heat than the Spurs, "team play" doesn't really mean shit to your average American.

AK45 said...

Anonymous:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CF4QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcontent.usatoday.com%2Fcommunities%2Fgameon%2Fpost%2F2010%2F04%2Fnfl-crime-rate-has-dropped-under-goodell---%2F1&ei=SJzXT8asAoqM2gXXyZWWDw&usg=AFQjCNEpEsML9xVDPJmPYDHDag7F6YT_JQ


This study purports that crime rate has dropped under Goodell to be below US general arrest rate. a Commenter at the bottom menionts that the authors of Pros and Cons admitted they used poor data or something. Anyway it wouldn't surprise me if the crime rate was that high in the 90s, with the crack epidemic peaking and all.

Q said...

.. about 2 million people — the majority of whom are young men, and a disproportionate share of those young men are young black men. Surely there must be hundreds — if not thousands — of potential professional athletes in that number



Wait .. does Gladwell believe that black men are genetically inclined to be athletes? Sounds racist to me.

Dennis Dale said...

...good Adam Sandler movie

Oxymoron.

Richard Pryor's comment was the result of a conversion--he visited a prison to see all the "black kings" unfairly locked up by the Man.
Then he asks one why he killed everybody in the house, and the guy just sort of shrugs and says something like "I don't know, because they was there."

I think that's from his second concert movie--the one he made after he lit himself on fire freebasing and, apparently, burned off his talent.

But Mr. Gladhand is still hilarious:
Surely there must be hundreds — if not thousands — of potential professional athletes in that number, not to mention scientists or entrepreneurs or poets

Oh Malcom, don't you ever change!

Anonymous said...

Team ball is winning ball, period. Anything less and you're in the lottery. Take it easy on the racism, homes.

ATBOTL said...

Don't forget Jack Henry Abbott.

Anonymous said...

http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2012/06/12/shellie-zimmerman-arrested-for-perjury-prosecutorial-pressure-leverage-and-now-im-really-pissed/

Please donate to the defense fund. We need to make a statement.

San Franciscan non-monk said...

Where does the idea that Canada exploits its hockey talent maximally come from? Did Gladwell just dream that up on the spot? Does he have that impression because it seems very unlikely to him that many good hockey players are in Canadian prisons? That's surely true.

But... didn't Gladwell's Outliers book feature a chapter about how random chance keeps a lot of Canadian hockey talent underdeveloped?

Half Sigma said...

There's no doubt that there are people in prison who might have been excellent professional athletes. In fact, the frequency with which football players and the like get into trouble with the law demonstrates that there's a fine line between tackling people on the football field and illegally beating people up out on the streets.

However, the part about the poets and scientists is pretty dubious. Maybe there's a scientist who's in prison for insider trading.

Otis McWrong said...

Anonymous @ 11:29 am said...
“Uh...yeah. That is why America has fried 12 year-olds in the electric chair like that kid in Florida... Europeans wouldn't do that to an adult, let alone to someone just exiting childhood… “
A 12-year old was executed? News to me. Provide backup for your assertion. Also the fact that Europeans won’t punish their criminals is not relevant. Somewhat OT but I get a kick out of people that say the death penalty is not a deterrent – I would think the recidivism rate for executed people is 0%. It’s quite an effective deterrent!
“Capital punishment is actually very stupid and costs the life of many police officers each year. Think about it: if a criminal has committed a crime for which he knows he will be executed and is surrounded by the police, what incentive does he have to surrender? “
Provide evidence for your assertion that “many” police officers are killed each year arresting people likely to receive capital punishment. The death penalty is applied so intermittently no criminal knows they’re “likely” to receive it. You’re giving way too much credit to the decision-making process of the types of people who end up on death row.
“The fact that America has Capital punishment and particularly cruel forms of it indicates that the U.S.A is not a civilized country.”
I’m not sure what is less cruel than putting somebody to sleep, which as far as I know is the only form currently practiced in the US. Have you read a newspaper in the past 10 years? Maybe when you’re less busy congratulating yourself on how enlightened and civilized you are you can spend a few minutes learning something about the topics about which you opine (rather shrilly I might add).

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2012/06/_one_of_my_creationist.html#more

ebert is right about evolution but then libs deny race

Andrw said...

If the NFL is so efficient at talent scouting, why are there ZERO white cornerbacks and almost ZERO white running backs? Or black kickers and punters? Are we supposed to believe that 100% of white people in the US are incapable of playing these positions in the NFL? The Nfl typically has 160 men playing cornerback. Hard to believe there is not a one in 50 million white man good enough to do it.

Surprising that Sailer readers have never heard of Caste Football and its arguments.

http://www.castefootball.us/

Anonymous said...

Gladwell is correct that the US waists a lot of talent. Prison is just one of many talent sinkholes.

As far as blacks go, from the end of the Civil War, Scott Joplin, to Herbie Hancock I would argue the #1 piano player in the world was an American black (OK maybe I am discounting Gershwin and Jerry Lee Lewis). Something happened to end that.

"what percentage of the NBA and the NFL really deserve to be in prison."

For what, drug charges? I don't think any of them should be in jail for drug charges.

To switch from blacks to poor whites, the white incarceration rate is mostly minor meth charges. Is that reasonable?

Search on ryan frederick (a white). A talented horticulturist (not cannabis) has had his life destroyed by the drug war. So there are definitely talented people in jail.

Anonymous said...

I sent the following to Lawrence Auster when he blogged about this Gladwell interview, but L.A. did not seem interested. I hope you don't mind if I offer it here:

I've been pondering Gladwell's comment about "hundred--if not thousands" of potential professional athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists, and poets in a prison population of 2 million blacks. While I'm sure Gladwell did not mean the following, it's possible to interpret his comment as a sly endorsement of race realism.

The upper limit of "hundreds"--999-- is just under 5 hundredths of one percent of 2 million. The upper limit of "thousands" (assuming he wasn't including tens of thousands in that word)--9,999--is just under one half of one percent of 2 million.

Out of the four occupations Gladwell lists, "scientist" is probably most demanding intellectually. To be a "scientist," one needs an IQ of about 130 or higher. About 13 hundredths of one percent of blacks have IQs in that range. (The comparable figure for whites is about 2%.) Thus, the "hundreds" estimate that Gladwell threw out is well below half of what one would expect for blacks as a whole (i.e., 5 hundredths of a percent vs. 13 hundredths of a percent). "Hundreds" of potential scientists could be a fairly realistic estimate of what you could expect among 2 million imprisoned blacks.

His "if not thousands," on the other hand, is indefensible if we confine ourselves to scientists. But if we throw in entrepreneurs and poets, this remark is consistent with race-realism. To be conservative, let's say that to be an entrepreneur or a good poet, one must have an IQ of at least 120. About 1% of blacks have IQs in that range (as opposed to about 10% of whites). Thus, Gladwell's "thousands" (slightly less than half a percent) is slightly under half of what one would expect for blacks as a whole.

Of course, the above, based solely on IQ data, does not take into account cultural and emotional differences that could make incarcerated blacks even less likely to include potential scientists, entrepreneurs, and poets. I just thought it was interesting that Gladwell's "hundreds--if not thousands" comment is, if taken literally, more guarded than it might at first appear, especially since he tellingly leads off his list of "potentials" with athletes.

-- A Solid Citizen

SF said...

http://www.streetgangs.com/gallery/tookie/photos/photo5.html

Tookie Williams may have had some potential, but assorted drugs starting age 12 probably diminished his ability, even had he not spent half of his life on death row.

Anonymous said...

Someone recently on this site stirred my interest in the West Coast Cool Jazz dopefriends. (thanks btw). I've just read both the Baker and Pepper biographies.

Interesting that, in Art Pepper's case, there was a musical genius who spent quite some time at San Quentin and other facilities. I would imagine that the system could have fielded several quality bands through the Fifties and Sixties. (Bluegrass and country acts too, no doubt.)

Gilbert Pinfold.

Scarlet Knight said...

To be fair, Oppenheimer did try to kill his tutor.

Anonymous said...

Dope fiends, that should be. Damn this iPad to Hell and back.

Anonymous said...

This is somewhat unrelated, but almost every black kid wants to be in the NBA. Once my electrician brought his teenage son to work and this kid was extremely short - maybe 5' 4" if that. I asked him what he wanted to be and without hesitation and in all seriousness he said basketball player.

The other thing that you see often is that woefully educated ghetto kids who can barely read say that they want to be doctors, lawyers, etc. Of course it is verboten to ever challenge such things. Maybe if you worked real hard and learned to do basic math, TyShawn, you could get a job as a refrigeration mechanic or a carpenter - that would be good advice. But a white person just has to nod seriously.

The idea of unmined NBA talent in the prisons was amusing enough but the inclusion of scientists or entrepreneurs or poets really put it over the top. Although what are drug dealers if not entrepreneurs and are not rappers poets of a sort? I suppose running a meth lab makes you a scientist of a kind but I get the feeling that this profession is dominated by white criminals.

Anonymous said...

@Otis McWrong

"Somewhat OT but I get a kick out of people that say the death penalty is not a deterrent – I would think the recidivism rate for executed people is 0%. It’s quite an effective deterrent! "

Yeah...too bad it doesen't deter but rather encourare criminals from killing more cops since, because they know they will be executed anyway, they have nothing to lose. And funnier yet that homicide has increased by 5 X since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976. You can argue that if it hadn't then homicide rates would have increased by 10 X instead of 5 X, but that doesen't seem like a very efficient deterrant when you consider how much more brutal and ruthless the death penalty makes the criminals become...

Londoner said...

Early anonymous who said the Dutch have had little success at club level football (soccer) in Europe - not really true. They have had three European champion clubs who have won a total of six European Cup titles - that's 9% of all European Cups contested, for a country with about 3% of Europe's population. Germany has over four times the population of the Netherlands but its clubs have won the same number of titles.

Dutch clubs have won four of the 41 UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues (the second tier competition) contested - again, just under 10%.

Also, many Dutch players have won European titles with non-Dutch clubs.

Later anonymous (the guy who re-iterates glib points ad nauseam ad infinitum, never uses the definite article when referring to ethnic groups, and says "cuz" and "and etc" a lot) - the Dutch are a tall people but this is not the reason for their footballing success. Tallness is highly advantageous for goalkeepers, and somewhat advantageous for central defenders, but those three positions notwithstanding it confers little if any competitive advantage on footballers. Most of the great players have been of average height or shorter, some of them considerably. The two great Argentinians, Maradona and Messi, are midgets, and current world and European champions spain have an abundance of short, slight players. A low centre of gravity and compact physique are much more advantageous, on average, than great height.

Rather, the reasons for Dutch success at football are high intelligence, superb organisation, quantitative analysis of training methods and footballing technique, and an emphasis on skills training from an early age. The Dutch design systems to overcome problems, and make them work, often over a pan-generational timescale that requires exception future time orientation - the reclamation of much of their very country from the sea is strong evidence of this excellent national trait.

Anonymous said...

I guess Gladwell's maxim is try, try, again. Not content with having Steven Pinker mop the floor with him in a debate over "overlooked" talent in the NFL Draft, he in true modern fashion has changed his focus to sports that aren't football and then lumped football in with them. He then proceeds to make the exact same argument, but with basketball and soccer and distance running thrown into the mix. You would think after misspelling eigenvalue repeatedly and getting schooled by someone who actually knows how to apply probabilistic and statistical reasoning he would be chastened, but no, he just needs to find an innumerate journalist to agree with him and he's off to the races again.

Anonymous said...

"We have six times more people behind bars, on a per capita basis, than Europe does."

If a human population is in a tribal state of development with constant clan-warfare then traits useful for violence are adaptive and will get selected for.

Some examples
- good eyesight
- fast reactions
- a complete lack of empathic restraint while maiming someone for no particular reason

In a settled farming or urban environment those traits would either be selected against by the criminal justice system or in the case of neutral traits like good eyesight they wouldn't be selected for as strongly.

Either way the more centuries a population spent in that kind of environment the lower the frequency of violent traits would become in that population until it reached a residual level.

(There will always be a residual level because some families will have both the violent traits and compensating self-control traits - hence the archetypal hero in those cultures.)

What slavery did was reach back in time and import a population that hadn't gone through that process.

So black people descended from slavery have 5-6 times the propensity for violent crime than white people (who in turn have a higher propensity than many asian populations) and America has a much higher percentage of people with that ancestry.

.
"Some kind of harsh, probably psychiatrically based treatment for bad boys might allow them to develop their other talents and protect society, but of course it would horrify Gladwell."

It's not a brain impairment it's a natural behaviour developed for a completely different environment. It's like putting a wolf in a field of sheep and asking why it doesn't behave like a sheep.

What is needed is prison in the same proportions as there is violent crime so that the people with those violent traits have fewer kids and the people who can avoid prison have more.

The historical process took millenia because they mostly couldn't afford so many prisons so they hung the very worst and put up with the rest. Hothouse stealth eugenics could repeat the historical process much faster.

.
"there is a fairly famous factoid from British Army records in the early 1800's, where upper class officers were 5'9" or something, and and lower class recruits were 5'1" or similar."

Hence Tolkein's Elves/Rangers and hobbits.

.
"there is also a link between criminal behavior and poverty. Or at least a link as to who gets thrown into jail."

This is true on the surface but it's impossible to be sure unless you know how much whitecollar crime is going on. I think it probably is true now even with that taken into account (although i don't think it was true quite recently) but then i also wonder how much poverty causes crime directly - and it partly does e.g. family man made unemployed just before Christmas - and how much poverty *breeds* crime literally but indirectly.

With offshoring and the demise of the industrial working class and their descent into underclass status it is the (temporarily) successfully criminals have a lot of kids because they're the only ones with flash cash. It only takes a few generations for the effects of that to start to be seen.

Or "the devil makes work for idle hands" as a wiser elite used to say.

TGGP said...

The youngest execution in the United States was that of George Stinney in 1944. He was 14 and it was in South Carolina, not Florida.

Drunk Idiot said...

Apologies for getting in so late on this comments thread, but if Gladwell -- America's favorite mass market "contrarian" public intellectual -- explains that the NFL and NBA are suffering because of all the undeveloped talent that's wasting away in our prisons, does Steven Levitt -- America's other favorite mass market "contrarian" public intellectual -- argue that the NFL and NBA are suffering because of all the would-be talent that got aborted?

Think about it: the players who made up USA Basketball's first "Dream Team," which dominated the world in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, were all born before Roe v. Wade.

But by the 2000s, when USA Basketball began to struggle on the world stage (they got beat by Puerto Rico after all!), all the American Olympic players had been born after Roe v. Wade.

Think of all the unborn players who could might have helped team USA avoid getting embarrassed by all those damn teams from Eastern Europe, or by Ginobili, Oberto and those f***ing Argentines!

Levitt, no doubt, will soon be weighing in on this debate.

Oh, wait ...