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Thread: Are you born with talent or do you adapt it over time? (Split from TOGS' thread)

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    Senior Member Infernus's Avatar
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    Default Are you born with talent or do you adapt it over time? (Split from TOGS' thread)

    Do you guys think its possible to be born with a talent or that you adapt it over time?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Infernus View Post
    Do you guys think its possible to be born with a talent or that you adapt it over time?
    i believe the distinction between talent and skill is that skill is something that can be built with practice but talent is inherent (is that the right word? i think it is the right word) and never goes up and down

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    i believe the distinction between talent and skill is that skill is something that can be built with practice but talent is inherent (is that the right word? i think it is the right word) and never goes up and down
    Yes on all counts.

    Although talent must first be discovered and honed.
    Last edited by TheOriginalGrumpySpy; 12-11-2008 at 12:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    i believe the distinction between talent and skill is that skill is something that can be built with practice but talent is inherent (is that the right word? i think it is the right word) and never goes up and down
    After reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers I'm pretty convinced that talent has an increasingly minimal effect on the way things work, and that only skills developed over time get you where you want to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    After reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers I'm pretty convinced that talent has an increasingly minimal effect on the way things work, and that only skills developed over time get you where you want to go.
    well skill is rather more tangible than talent, but the latter mostly determines the former. i mean if you are a talented musician you will likely pick up musical skills quicker than someone untalented. likewise, you'll be able to reach a higher level of skill. "talent" therefore becomes analogous to "potential".

    talent has very little place in places where the mindset is one of "anyone can achieve anything with hard work", and if you think it's largely in-born then it probably doesn't have much of a place in a religious or spiritual society that doesn't believe in genetics affecting the personality

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    the common sense fairy solecistic's Avatar
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    A talent is really just a genetic predisposition to excel in certain areas. It's why many very good musicians play more than one instrument, and also why painters are not always great sculptors but many great sculptors are also excellent carpenters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    well skill is rather more tangible than talent, but the latter mostly determines the former. i mean if you are a talented musician you will likely pick up musical skills quicker than someone untalented. likewise, you'll be able to reach a higher level of skill. "talent" therefore becomes analogous to "potential".

    talent has very little place in places where the mindset is one of "anyone can achieve anything with hard work", and if you think it's largely in-born then it probably doesn't have much of a place in a religious or spiritual society that doesn't believe in genetics affecting the personality
    And Mr. Gladwell and I would counter this statement with the fact that beyond a certain talent threshold, success at a task (skill, etc) is determined primarily by the amount time put in.

    His book provides an interesting insight into the way we define success because we like to believe we are at least fundamentally meritocratic.

    I would like to discuss this idea further with you in the new AI. Tomorrow. After my finals.

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    the common sense fairy solecistic's Avatar
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    I haven't read Gladwell so my comments here are limited by a certain degree of ignorance, but based on your description, it sounds like this fellow has not accounted for evolutionary psychology whatsoever. Talents, if you want to call them that, are fitness indicators before they are anything else.

    While it is certainly true that practice and determination and repetition can let someone become a painter/writer/dancer/scientist/etc, they have to be genetically fit enough to learn those things in the first place. Some people, however, are born with the genes to help them be much better at those things than someone born without them.

    Let's say Person A is born with strong math and science genes, and Person B is born without them. And let's say that Person A and Person B put the same amount of work into becoming scientists. Person A will always be the better scientist. Person A has better reasoning skills because Person A was born with a strong predisposition towards it.

    Of course, not everyone is born into situations where they can achieve their potential, and sometimes their interests just don't coincide with their natural genetic abilities. Person A and Person B will only show their real genetic predispositions if their situations are identical. Same opportunities, same socio-economic backgrounds, etc. But the science behind their genes is real, and the evidence for it has been piling up rapidly since the human genome was cracked almost six years ago.

    I just don't buy this idea that "beyond a certain talent threshold, success is determined primarily by the amount of time put in". I've witnessed lazy, unmotivated genius standing beside driven mediocrity. I think work is required to reach your potential, certainly, but some people really don't have to do the work. They may be few and far between, but they exist because evolution requires them to.

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    Gladwell's Blink was so repetitive it makes me hesitant to pick up another book of his. The book could have easily been halved and remained interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    I haven't read Gladwell so my comments here are limited by a certain degree of ignorance, but based on your description, it sounds like this fellow has not accounted for evolutionary psychology whatsoever. Talents, if you want to call them that, are fitness indicators before they are anything else.

    While it is certainly true that practice and determination and repetition can let someone become a painter/writer/dancer/scientist/etc, they have to be genetically fit enough to learn those things in the first place. Some people, however, are born with the genes to help them be much better at those things than someone born without them.

    Let's say Person A is born with strong math and science genes, and Person B is born without them. And let's say that Person A and Person B put the same amount of work into becoming scientists. Person A will always be the better scientist. Person A has better reasoning skills because Person A was born with a strong predisposition towards it.

    Of course, not everyone is born into situations where they can achieve their potential, and sometimes their interests just don't coincide with their natural genetic abilities. Person A and Person B will only show their real genetic predispositions if their situations are identical. Same opportunities, same socio-economic backgrounds, etc. But the science behind their genes is real, and the evidence for it has been piling up rapidly since the human genome was cracked almost six years ago.

    I just don't buy this idea that "beyond a certain talent threshold, success is determined primarily by the amount of time put in". I've witnessed lazy, unmotivated genius standing beside driven mediocrity. I think work is required to reach your potential, certainly, but some people really don't have to do the work. They may be few and far between, but they exist because evolution requires them to.
    I'm a firm believer in nurture over nature. Genetics may play certain roles (Michael Jordon's height) but conditioning is more important (I mean, he sucked at basketball but trained until he was the best).

    Sorry for a really watered down example but I haven't read anything about genetics or nature vs. nurture in years (unless you count the novel Next.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by no_brains_no_worries View Post
    I'm a firm believer in nurture over nature. Genetics may play certain roles (Michael Jordon's height) but conditioning is more important (I mean, he sucked at basketball but trained until he was the best).

    Sorry for a really watered down example but I haven't read anything about genetics or nature vs. nurture in years (unless you count the novel Next.)
    Sociology tells us how culture plays its role in shaping our personalities, prejudices, and interests.

    Evopsych tells us why culture puts those pressures on us in the first place. Michael Jordan's height isn't the only thing that makes him a superior basketball player. He also has genes that give him better hand/eye coordination, better depth perception, faster speed, more agility, and so on. Michael Jordan wasn't born with a basketball gene, of course. That skill set may also have lent itself to him being a fantastic fighter pilot - except for the height, really. The point is that Michael Jordan is a great basketball player because of "nature" (DNA) and nurture (social pressure), but his high genetic fitness made it possible for the nurturing to have any effect. Many kids are "nurtured" into working at athletics or math or art by their parents or peers, but they cannot and will not excel if they aren't built for it.


    editing to say that I'm not sure whether Michael Jordan actually has all of the aforementioned attributes, but a superior basketball player would need at least some of those things. The work and training he did to become a good player were instrumental, without doubt - my point is just that all the work in the world wouldn't have mattered if he didn't have the genes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Sociology tells us how culture plays its role in shaping our personalities, prejudices, and interests.

    Evopsych tells us why culture puts those pressures on us in the first place. Michael Jordan's height isn't the only thing that makes him a superior basketball player. He also has genes that give him better hand/eye coordination, better depth perception, faster speed, more agility, and so on. Michael Jordan wasn't born with a basketball gene, of course. That skill set may also have lent itself to him being a fantastic fighter pilot - except for the height, really. The point is that Michael Jordan is a great basketball player because of "nature" (DNA) and nurture (social pressure), but his high genetic fitness made it possible for the nurturing to have any effect. Many kids are "nurtured" into working at athletics or math or art by their parents or peers, but they cannot and will not excel if they aren't built for it.


    editing to say that I'm not sure whether Michael Jordan actually has all of the aforementioned attributes, but a superior basketball player would need at least some of those things. The work and training he did to become a good player were instrumental, without doubt - my point is just that all the work in the world wouldn't have mattered if he didn't have the genes.
    True, but in your opinion which one is more vital to success? Genetics and his psychical makeup set him on the path, but it was the pressure (I prefer the term nurture though, lol) that really allowed him to hone his skill.
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    My argument is that DNA lays the foundation for skill-honing. Without the genes, the work doesn't matter. If you want to make a value judgment based on that, that's fine, but it isn't very scientific. Both things contribute to success, but one literally relies on the other. For the average human being, work probably contributes more because you're talking about competition between relatively similar levels of talent. When a group of people all have similar levels of talent, their work is all they can rely upon to differentiate themselves. For people with better DNA, less work is required to achieve similar levels of success. A hardworking person with athlete genes can be just as successful as a lucky person with average DNA, but that's another argument altogether since we're not really discussing luck or game theory.

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    Realize here, for the most part, I'm giving you a Readers' Digest version of a book I just read, though I can certainly see the merits myself.

    sole, I would have agreed with you completely not terribly long ago. However, that's because you are looking at success of these outliers (durr, book title!) through the lens of individual merit. You think there must be an individual reason for the success of (for simplicity) Michael Jordan. The most obvious source, then, would be genetics because we know that his genetics are guaranteed to vary from everyone else's. You look at the surface and see a guy who's 6'6" and assume that has something to do with it. The truth is that there are more people who are 6'6" and not playing basketball than there are people who are. What Michael Jordan's genes did was cross a (relatively short) threshold. In the NBA, that's about 6'1".

    Likewise, his hand-eye coordination was good enough to get noticed at a young age. His natural athleticism made him good enough to get picked on the playground. His parents were middle class, so he could afford to use his time playing pick-up sports, playing on travel teams, etc, rather than working an 8 hour shift to make ends meet after school. His birthday is early in the year (February) which meant he was at the leading edge of the cut-off date for recreational leagues (January 1.) He was always older than the other kids, meaning as a child he was naturally more physically matured. This gets him noticed by coaches, which give him extra practice. His skill starts to separate him on the playground (he's the best on the court, so he gets the ball more... gaining him more practice that the worst guy on the court who rarely gets the ball.)

    By the time Jordan was in high school, he was playing 3 sports (baseball, football, basketball.) Though he was obviously a competent athlete, he didn't make Varsity basketball his sophomore year because he was (you guessed it): TOO SHORT. He grew from 5'10" sophomore year to 6'2" his junior year, crossing the threshold, after which he became a star (he already had plenty of time devoted to basketball and general athletics; the skills were refined by that point.) He then went on to play for UNC and the NBA, where he was always a standout player (the best player on the court continues to get the ball most, remember?)

    This is also a perfect example because Jordan did what most athletes do not: he switched sports mid-career. Remember, all of Jordan's time was dedicated to Basketball after high school (and, because baseball is more difficult to play casually or train for than basketball, likely his whole life.) What happened? Jordan was fine athletically, but lacked the skill for baseball that he had developed through hours (10,000 hours, to be exact) of training for basketball. He had the same set of DNA, but was only able to succeed at basketball, because basketball is what he was pushed into playing.

    There's a similar story behind the success of Bill Joy (Sun Microsystems), Bill Gates (Microsoft), The Beatles, and many of the major Jewish law firms in New York. Your genetics get you to a threshold, and only 10,000 hours of training can make you a success. The only thing all of the outlier have in common, for the record, is a willingness to work hard honing their respective crafts.

    The smartest men on earth aren't the most successful, but the smartest men on earth are all in the top 20%.

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    the common sense fairy solecistic's Avatar
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    Again, my point isn't that genetics contribute less or more to success than hard work. My point is that no amount of hard work can allow a person without the right genes to become successful at certain things.

    Michael Jordan sucked at baseball because he was trained for basketball, that's absolutely correct, but without having the right genes to become an athlete in the first place, he wouldn't have been playing basketball, either.

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    The genetic threshold is negligibly low. People who are only above average are just as capable (and indeed just as likely) to become outliers as those who are exceptionally above average genetically.

    Obviously there are some things people just can't do. The point is that as long as you can do something and have the opportunity to train at it for about 10,000 hours, you too can be an outlier. For basketball, for example, about all that takes is height above 6'1". Six. Foot. One. The joke of our perception of success is that we attribute success to the individual's genetics or hardwork without giving any acknowledgment that the opportunity is usually utterly out of their hands (see: Michael Jordan, Bill Joy, Bill Gates, The Beatles, major Jewish law firms, etc)

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    What evidence does Gladwell invoke when he claims that the genetic threshold is "negligibly low"? He may be right - I'm no scientist, myself, but it seems at odds with certain biological realities that I've been exposed to by the likes of Geoffrey Miller and Richard Dawkins (Selfish Gene Dawkins, not God Delusion Dawkins).

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    The threshold for an NBA player is 6'1" (Wikipedia actually lists lower range for Guards at 6'0 but I'm going to ignore that) or 73".

    http://books.google.com/books?id=nmQ...um=1&ct=result

    The average male height in America is 69.5" with a standard deviation of about 2.00". The threshold for an NBA player is less than 2 standard deviations from the mean! 4% of the US population is over 6'1" and only 435 players are active in the NBA. Mind you, those are total players drawn from outside the US as well, meaning the number of Americans is even less; regardless, for simplicity you have 435 players drawn from a population of 12,000,000 (assuming 45% males) giving 5.4 million people to draw from.

    435/5.4 million is 8.05E-5. This is sorted by height, which is easily measured. What other genes do you think it takes? Do you think these genes are that rare? Or is it coincidence that most American NBA players share similar backgrounds (lower middle class or upper lower class, started at an early age, played pick-up, joined church or rec leagues young, played in highschool, invited to various coaching clinics and camps as recruits, played in college.) Basketball, unlike other sports (baseball most notably in America, hockey in Canada), is a year-round sport that can be played just about anywhere, so it doesn't have as pronounced a cut-off age.

    These players were sorted and selected from very young age, before any sort of talent was able to manifest. Nobody is born making free throws, but when you're bigger than the other kids and get the play more, you get more practice. When you get more practice, you get better. When you get better, you get invited to play more with better competition. You get more practice because you now play with your first team and your competition team. The extra practice continues giving you an edge and then you get to high school where a college scout sees you (with the practice-earned edge) and invites you to his school's camp. You go to his camp and get better, the next year a couple more scouts invite you. Before you know it, you're invited to play with the best of the best and none of it ever had to do with some God-given ability to judge your wrist-release. It had to do with the fact that you started playing more than your friends, so you stood out just a little bit. That stand out brought you more practice, so your edge got a little bigger. By the time you're a pro, you're fully-grown 6'3" and playing point guard.

    10,000 hours of practice. That's the magic number. If you're good enough to get started on the road to 10,000 hours of practice, your God-given "talents" don't matter.

    Gladwell's book is actually more about how society selects the people who can be successful by receiving 10,000 hours of practice, which is largely not merit-based. Bill Gates, for example, happened to go to a high school that had a remote terminal in the 60s before most Universities had them. Bill Joy happened to go to University of Michigan which had a modern mainframe and also had a loophole in its code to allow unlimited computing time. Most of the major Jewish law firms in New York began because traditional old row white law firms would not hire Jews and would not litigate hostile takeovers in the 50s and 60s. The Jews were willing to take any case that came before them and when hostile takeovers because popular in the 70s, the traditional firms didn't have the expertise the Jews did (there were a few other interesting effects that Jewish ethnicity had.) The Beatles were invited to play in Hamburg by a promoter who used them as 8-hour-a-night shows for weeks at a time because the promoter needed someone to play in a pinch. Steve Jobs had a similar story. Mozart began writing symphonies at age 7 but it wasn't till his 20s (say... 10,000 hours later) that he wrote any symphonies of note.

    If genetics were so important, why isn't everyone on Forbes' Wealthiest list also in MENSA? Why isn't MENSA dominating every field they can touch? Success is like an amusement park ride: if you aren't 54" tall, you have no chance of having fun on the ride. If you're over 54" tall, there is no guarantee you'll like it, but at least you have a shot at it. Being 54.5" doesn't have any better odds of enjoyment than being 72".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    wall of text
    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Again, my point isn't that genetics contribute less or more to success than hard work. My point is that no amount of hard work can allow a person without the right genes to become successful at certain things.
    I agree with sole, while genetics are not the soley(lol) responsible for success in basketball or whatever you choose to persue, they are a contributing factor. I'm pretty sure that's all she is trying to say there. Yes hard work, practice, environmental and home factors all come into play. No one is arguing(I don't think) that genes are what determines your success in something. It just comes plays a factor in how easily you will be able to suceed in whatever more easily then someone who has worse genes.

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    And my point is that the role of genetics is less exceptional than you want to believe as a meritocratic society, and that genetics are largely a zero-sum game. There are haves and have-nots and there is no scaling. The most elite man alive has the same odds of success as someone who is just barely above average. If above average is all it takes, they're on level playing fields.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    Do you think these genes are that rare?
    I never said they were that rare. The point is that you have to have the genetic makeup to be good at athletics before practicing at athletics means anything.

    These players were sorted and selected from very young age, before any sort of talent was able to manifest. Nobody is born making free throws, but when you're bigger than the other kids and get the play more, you get more practice.
    Being bigger than the other kids is your genetic predisposition. If you're smaller but someone notices that you're fast, that's a genetic predisposition. Clearly, training can make you faster and bigger (not so much height, but muscle mass), but if you start out being 5'4 and very slow, you're just not ever going to do as well as someone who is 6'1 and lightning fast from the get-go. If training brings out exceptional speeds, it doesn't mean it was just the training. It means that the training allowed your natural traits to come out. My whole point is that without the genes, the practice is meaningless. It doesn't mean that anyone who has the genes can succeed without practice. It just means that one is required for the other to have any meaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear
    Before you know it, you're invited to play with the best of the best and none of it ever had to do with some God-given ability to judge your wrist-release.
    Of course it did. If you didn't have the genes, no amount of training would have allowed you to get that proficient. Period. Strip all the opportunity and luck out of it, and it just comes down to work and genes, right? Well, if you were never genetically predisposed to building certain skills, no amount of building will ever get you to the level of someone with those predispositions. Not everyone on earth can be a good basketball player. Even if every single human being worked 10,000 hours for it, there would still be bad players, mediocre players, and exceptional players. That's where the genes show themselves. If everything else is equal, disparity still exists. Genes are responsible for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear
    10,000 hours of practice. That's the magic number. If you're good enough to get started on the road to 10,000 hours of practice, your God-given "talents" don't matter.
    Being "good enough to get started on the road" IS your natural ability.

    If genetics were so important, why isn't everyone on Forbes' Wealthiest list also in MENSA?
    They don't have to be in MENSA. They just have to be smart enough to do the work that lets them become successful. The people on Forbes' Wealthiest are not idiots. And any idiots who are on lists like that are products of luck. Winning the lottery and becoming a millionaire doesn't make you intelligent, but you do have to be intelligent to get a business into a position where it can make millions. Game theory and probability are separate issues.

    If genetics weren't so important, why isn't everyone in the world on Forbes' Wealthiest list?

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    I don't know what to add except that I agree largely with Atmosfear's position vs. Sole's position.

    I'll also add that, again in accordance with Gladwell's ideas, environment and "the times" play as great a role as anything else. Do you honestly think that a person who is genetically the same as Bach and had experienced similar hardships as well as a similar immersion in music would also become as great and recognized a composer today as he was at the turn of the 18th century? Of course not; Bach was Bach not only because of who he was "intrinsically" (if you can even consider a person's intrinsic qualities, which is dubious), but also because of where and when he was as well as the incidences of his life outside of himself or his control.

    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    They don't have to be in MENSA. They just have to be smart enough to do the work that lets them become successful. The people on Forbes' Wealthiest are not idiots. And any idiots who are on lists like that are products of luck. Winning the lottery and becoming a millionaire doesn't make you intelligent, but you do have to be intelligent to get a business into a position where it can make millions. Game theory and probability are separate issues.

    If genetics weren't so important, why isn't everyone in the world on Forbes' Wealthiest list?
    Again, as Atmosfear already said, we're not talking the top quintile of intelligence as "smart enough"; we're talking more like the top 45-35% of the population as being "smart enough." You have to be merely bright to get to the very top, not a genius; what most people studying this sort of stuff say is that having the intelligence of the average college educated person is completely sufficient.

    As for why everyone isn't on Forbe's Wealthiest list, the simple unadorned answer is because there is very little room at the top...
    Last edited by sycld; 12-11-2008 at 05:18 PM.


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    Merry fucking Christmas Atmosfear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Being bigger than the other kids is your genetic predisposition. If you're smaller but someone notices that you're fast, that's a genetic predisposition. Clearly, training can make you faster and bigger (not so much height, but muscle mass), but if you start out being 5'4 and very slow, you're just not ever going to do as well as someone who is 6'1 and lightning fast from the get-go. If training brings out exceptional speeds, it doesn't mean it was just the training. It means that the training allowed your natural traits to come out. My whole point is that without the genes, the practice is meaningless. It doesn't mean that anyone who has the genes can succeed without practice. It just means that one is required for the other to have any meaning.
    Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Being bigger than the other kids isn't a genetic predisposition as much as it is a product of birthday. Since childhood groups are stratified by grade cutoff ages, those who are closest to the cutoff dates can have as much as a full year advantage of growth over another. If the cutoff is January 1, and you are born on January 2, you are almost a year older than all the kids born in December. By the time this is distilled through continual selection processes, the only kids left are the ones near the cutoff, not because they had any better talent but because they signed up with a good birthday.

    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Of course it did. If you didn't have the genes, no amount of training would have allowed you to get that proficient. Period. Strip all the opportunity and luck out of it, and it just comes down to work and genes, right? Well, if you were never genetically predisposed to building certain skills, no amount of building will ever get you to the level of someone with those predispositions. Not everyone on earth can be a good basketball player. Even if every single human being worked 10,000 hours for it, there would still be bad players, mediocre players, and exceptional players. That's where the genes show themselves. If everything else is equal, disparity still exists. Genes are responsible for that.
    If everyone had 10,000 hours of practice, then they would become average and good would be defined as some larger value.

    What disparity exists between Steve Jobs, Bill Joy, and Bill Gates? One of them is going grey.


    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Being "good enough to get started on the road" IS your natural ability.
    Or more likely it's your birthday (or year), your high school's Tech club, or happening to run into a promoter in a bind in a bar.

    Genetics probably has more of a role in what you like. If Bill Gates hated fooling with computers, the advantage of his high school's remote terminal would've been lost. But again, it's a low genetic threshold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Being bigger than the other kids isn't a genetic predisposition as much as it is a product of birthday. Since childhood groups are stratified by grade cutoff ages, those who are closest to the cutoff dates can have as much as a full year advantage of growth over another. If the cutoff is January 1, and you are born on January 2, you are almost a year older than all the kids born in December. By the time this is distilled through continual selection processes, the only kids left are the ones near the cutoff, not because they had any better talent but because they signed up with a good birthday.
    By the way this has all sorts of implications for the education system and has been a fairly prominent critique of the Ivy selection process. Gifted programs, for example, are naturally biased towards older children.

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    ))) joke, relax ;) coqauvin's Avatar
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    On a side note of self-bragadoccio, I am not genetically predisposed to playing the instruments I do (piano, guitar, violion). Typically, people who excel at these have long, slender fingers making it easier for them to make the awkward stretches that always show up. In contrast, my own fingers are shorter and stubbier than most guitarists, yet the claim I made in the other thread still stands - Of all the non-professional (professionals being: jobbers, people you see on tv, etc.) musicians I've encountered, only 5 or 6 actually exceed my ability by a signifigant amount, and maybe twice as many are on equal footing with me.

    And it's essentially as Atmosfear said - a whole shitload of practice. I've been playing (admittedly as a hobbyist) for 6 years now, and when I started, I was practicing a minimum of 3 hours a day (sometimes up to 5) for my first two, two and a half years. at (3 * 730 = 2190 hrs) minimum of practice within my first two years (the days i didn't practice vs. the days I practiced extra roughly balancing out) is a whole shitload of practice time that most people don't get.

    Is that because I am genetically predisposed? Not especially. I've been involved with music since I was about 3 years old, and every year I was in school, I was always in a music course of one kind or another. When I dropped out of high school is around the time I picked up the guitar, and I've been playing since. I haven't been practicing as much now as I was before (minimum of an hour a day, sometimes up to three, some complete missed days), but the amount of practice I get is generally maintaining my ability and adding slight gains - nowhere near the leaps and bounds I was making years before.

    The real reason I've devoted so much time to it has to do with exposure, standing out because I excelled at it, given more time and encouragement to practice on top of my own selfish love of what I was doing. I think it's kind of chicken/egg about whether my love for making music comes from the fact that I'm good at it, or whether I'm good at it because I devote the time to it based on how much I enjoy it.

    So I am pretty much on Atmosfear's side on this. While genetic predisposition helps, it only really stands out in the extreme cases - guys like Shaq who develop to a massive 7'1" gain advantages from being so tall/strong, and tend to choose fields where those talents will excel. But that's only the extreme cases - the average person will become an outstanding success in any field they actually apply themselves to. There are preferences based on exposure and encouragement at a younger age, but inborn talent is less important than is being stated in this thread.

    P.S.: I am not trying to be conceited saying I'm good at the guitar - there are plenty of people who are significantly more talented than I am. It provides an apt example of how practice and dedication to any skill set will cause a chain reaction that causes one to succeed there, but the key in the majority of these cases is the sheer amount of hours the practitioner devotes to that skill set that makes the real difference, not a genetic disposition. Genes cause subtle differences, but rarely make a big difference.

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    the common sense fairy solecistic's Avatar
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    Your fingers may not be predisposed, but your brain is.

    I'm going to come back this thread later when I've actually eaten and my mind is functioning properly. I think you guys are severely misunderstanding what genetic traits do and what their purpose is.

    Not everyone is equal. They can't be, or evolution wouldn't function.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    By the way this has all sorts of implications for the education system and has been a fairly prominent critique of the Ivy selection process. Gifted programs, for example, are naturally biased towards older children.
    I never really noticed this - I was in a gifted program here, and the birthdays were split pretty evenly across the classroom. There were slightly fewer birthdays later in the year, but close enough to even (probably no more than 3 or 4 kids in a class of 25~) that there wasn't an exceptional difference.

    Also, in all the classes I took there, there was no real notable difference in intelligence/capability levels of the olderish kids to the younger ones. I was one of the later ones, being born in late september, but my average was consistently in the top 5 every year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Your fingers may not be predisposed, but your brain is.

    I'm going to come back this thread later when I've actually eaten and my mind is functioning properly. I think you guys are severely misunderstanding what genetic traits do and what their purpose is.

    Not everyone is equal. They can't be, or evolution wouldn't function.
    You so gotta read the book Next by Michael Crichton. It's a fantastic satire about some people taking genetics too seriously (not saying you are, I'm just saying that this book takes your point of view to the extremes).
    Quote Originally Posted by ozzy View Post
    He came to the states for his birthday and now he's going home in a body bag. That's what you get for sending your child to Utah.
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    Next was a terrible book. I hated Crichton for writing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Not everyone is equal. They can't be, or evolution wouldn't function.
    Evolution doesn't function in humans we killed it with medicine, specialization, and leisure time.

    As soon as humans began granting rights based on genetic similarities rather than differences, we effectively ended evolution's major impact.

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    the common sense fairy solecistic's Avatar
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    Evolution doesn't function in humans?

    /facepalm

    Every time someone chooses someone else to have children with, that is evolution functioning.

    Medicine doesn't stop evolution. It allows people to live longer, which is only evolutionarily relevant if they reproduce (and in doing so, pass on defective genes). Allowing more defective genes into the population doesn't kill evolution at all.

    Leisure time is actually a function of sexual selection. Leisure time exists in animals that are not humans, first of all. Beyond that, leisure time contributes to the sexual selection process because an organism with time to spend doing nothing related to survival is clearly genetically fit. This tells potential mates that their genes are worth combining with their own for reproduction. This is what's known as a fitness indicator. Other examples of fitness indicators are peacock tails, and in humans, other examples are intelligence, athletic prowess, artistic ability, and compassion.

    There is no killing evolution. The best you can hope is to control it completely in a Gattaca-esque dystopian world. As long as we are reproducing, evolution is working.

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    Quote Originally Posted by solecistic View Post
    Leisure time is actually a function of sexual selection. Leisure time exists in animals that are not humans, first of all. Beyond that, leisure time contributes to the sexual selection process because an organism with time to spend doing nothing related to survival is clearly genetically fit. This tells potential mates that their genes are worth combining with their own for reproduction. This is what's known as a fitness indicator. Other examples of fitness indicators are peacock tails, and in humans, other examples are intelligence, athletic prowess, artistic ability, and compassion.
    There are plenty of people who manage to do a heck of a lot of nothing all the time, are chronically obese and their unemployment, but collection of cheques through various means grants them excessive leisure, most of which is wasted away on front of televisions or whatever.

    I would not call these people genetically fit.

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    the common sense fairy solecistic's Avatar
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    Right. I'm not talking about those people. I assumed Atmosfear simply meant that declining need to always be assuring one's own survival was the issue. Obesity is another issue altogether.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    Next was a terrible book. I hated Crichton for writing it.
    Are you serious?! I mean, the dry humor was kinda old after page 500 but I thought it was great! What didn't you like about it?
    Quote Originally Posted by ozzy View Post
    He came to the states for his birthday and now he's going home in a body bag. That's what you get for sending your child to Utah.
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    ))) joke, relax ;) coqauvin's Avatar
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    It was poorly written. Crichton has always been a little heavy-handed in getting his point across, his characters are unidimensional and never develop and the ideas he expounds are woefully underdevelopped. This is mostly a generalization, because he has, on occasion, displayed some flashes of genius (Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain). But his last two books (State of Fear, Next) were really disappointing - the writing was rushed and sloppy, the characters unmemorable, he has a couple good concepts but either fails to develop them satisfactory, or they get only the briefest mention.

    Mostly, it was his writing technique that bothered me the most.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    There are plenty of people who manage to do a heck of a lot of nothing all the time, are chronically obese and their unemployment, but collection of cheques through various means grants them excessive leisure, most of which is wasted away on front of televisions or whatever.

    I would not call these people genetically fit.
    I gotta disagree there. I mean, mankind fought for millions of years to reach the point that we are now. Even if lots of people are wastes of space, their ancestors were all survivors and thanks to mankind's supremacy, they are too.

    I mean, what natural selection do we really have to fear nowadays thanks to modern medicine and security? If you want to split hairs you can point out how they might be inferior to others, but all in all every living creature that is still breathing should be considered genetically fit, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by ozzy View Post
    He came to the states for his birthday and now he's going home in a body bag. That's what you get for sending your child to Utah.
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    the common sense fairy solecistic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no_brains_no_worries View Post
    I mean, what natural selection do we really have to fear nowadays thanks to modern medicine and security? If you want to split hairs you can point out how they might be inferior to others, but all in all every living creature that is still breathing should be considered genetically fit, right?
    "Survival of the fittest" got a lot of attention, but it's a bit misleading. Natural selection is blind and can only hope to react passively against changing environmental factors through mutation. Sexual selection is the real driving force behind evolution - it's an active means of strengthening one's own species.

    So, no. Being genetically fit isn't about just being fit enough to survive, it's about giving one's own genes a good chance to mix with high quality genes from another member of the species. To borrow a saying of Geoffrey Miller, bodies are sinking ships to our genes. They die with us. The only way to get off the ship is to reproduce with another organism's genes. Evolution is going on all the time. You could think of genetic fitness as being somewhat relative, in that people can and do fall in love with people whose genes are not of superior quality. But there are so many different fitness indicators - kindness and intelligence, for example. Person A may find Person B to be dumb but compassionate, and they end up having fifteen babies. It wasn't the best possible genetic match, but there was still a fitness indicator being responded to. Mate choice is where it's at, evolutionarily speaking.

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    ))) joke, relax ;) coqauvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no_brains_no_worries View Post
    I gotta disagree there. I mean, mankind fought for millions of years to reach the point that we are now. Even if lots of people are wastes of space, their ancestors were all survivors and thanks to mankind's supremacy, they are too.

    I mean, what natural selection do we really have to fear nowadays thanks to modern medicine and security? If you want to split hairs you can point out how they might be inferior to others, but all in all every living creature that is still breathing should be considered genetically fit, right?
    Essentially, measure is unceasing.

    There is no point in the evolutionary chain where we can kick back and relax because we're finished with the job - it doesn't work like that. What this plateau signifies is more along the lines that we, instead of changing ourselves (figuratively) to fit our environment, are now shaping our environments to fit our needs. We then get a large number of people who wouldn't survive under more brutal circumstances thriving, because there is nothing threatening their survival - the environment is no longer hostile. This doesn't mean the game is done, simply that there is a change of phase in it.

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    I never really thought of it that way Coq and Sole. I keep getting the song Evolution by Korn in my head when I read your posts. Do you really think that if enough of these "unfit" genetic are passed on, the human race could devolve over time?
    Quote Originally Posted by ozzy View Post
    He came to the states for his birthday and now he's going home in a body bag. That's what you get for sending your child to Utah.
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    Official of Douchebaggery Kozzle's Avatar
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    Seriously, it's foolish for anyone to argue that the determinant factor in anything is 100% genetics or 100% environment. There is always an interaction between the 2.
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