Off the Cuff

So, Dr Gruber, not a politician. Ya think? This gets much mileage in the press and the liberal politicians are going distance themselves from him as if he he were scalding acid. Abortion as eugenics, to be applied to minorities, hmm. That’s palatable, albeit Ms Sanger was in the camp too I think. Regarding Mr Gruber, the outrage is confusing. I mean, here is a guy who admits selling Obamacare on falsehoods. But I mean, why is the right acting all put out? Those lies were not believed by the right, but by the left. Why is the left not outraged that they were sold a bill of goods? Politics remains very confusing for me.

Some IQ specialist thinks he has evidence that intelligence is not nuture but nature, which will alas irk the (mostly racist) race theorists no end (see this too). So, if it comes out that intelligence (and therefore success in school) are due to nature not nurture, can we stop with the stupidly high inheritance taxes that the left thinks are necessary to stop the “rich” from having unfair advantages?

I wonder what this sort of graph but instead for the WWII Germany/Soviet Eastern front wars would look like. It would be appalling I think. Appropos of that and in the discussion which mention Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo. But like most of the Western canonical history forget that Russian led armies sacked Paris in 1814. The same poster (rightly) mocks those college students of today who are so so so ignorant of history it seems.

Regarding Ms Feinstein and her “release” of CIA investigations on torture. The left’s thesis (which is badly flawed) is (a suggested thesis of her report) is that torture doesn’t work, ergo we shouldn’t do it. Actually historically it seems very very likely that when done efficiently with an understanding of what you are up to, it works and works very well. See Mr Fernandez excellent book  No Way In (or read about the Gestapo and well, anywhere they operated). Look. Every single time a resistance cell loses a member to the torture using establishment everyone has to find a new safe houses, move and so on. Why? This wouldn’t be so if torture was ineffective. But. It is. The argument against torture is not that it isn’t effective or cost effective but that is immoral. It is wrong. That is the only argument needed or which should be used against it.

 

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23 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    Look. Every single time a resistance cell loses a member to the torture using establishment everyone has to find a new safe houses, move and so on. Why?

    And yet the CIA tortured a lot and could not produce a single credible example of getting useful information from torture. Why?

    Two explanations come to mind:

    1. The CIA didn’t know how to torture well.

    2. Torture produces all information…correct and incorrect.

    #2 would mean if I was runninga resistance cell, I would worry about someone getting captured. Yet at the same time, if I was running the regime I would not feel confident I could find all safe houses by simply capturing and torturing lots of people.

    This makes sense when you consider that regimes like Iran seem to take people and torture them outside of any rational expectation of getting useful intelligence (for example, endlessly harassing journalists, accusing them of being spies). The torture makes sense if you consider useful information is a secondary, not primary goal of the regime torturing people.

  2. Boonton says:

    Re abortion – The difference between liberals like Gruber and is that people like Gruber actually worry about telling the truth while conservatives don’t. Hence when they publicly beat themselves up over ‘marginal’ statements conservatives jump all over them while conservatives simply lie and move on to the next lie.

    Anyway marginal does not mean defective, it means ‘next’. As in your marginal tax rate would be the tax you’d pay on earning the next dollar, not all the previous ones. Your marginal day off is what you would make of one more vacation day, not all your previous ones.

  3. Boonton says:

    Some IQ specialist thinks he has evidence that intelligence is not nuture but nature,

    Except the study only looked at parents. Its well established that parents have, well, marginal, influences on children when compared to peer groups.

  4. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    First of all, on race & nature/nurture look there are some obvious things to remember. Nature and nurture are important to development but I think an important way to look at it is, that nature sets the boundaries all nurture does is push you down from those said limits. What is the most important a prospective cyclist (for example) might do when is thinking about going pro? Pick the right parents. No amount of training will overcome that, on the other hand, bad training will keep you from reaching your genetic potential. Look. You and I both know that it isn’t “choices” and “upbringing” that kept you and I from being professional athletes. No amount of parental (and peer group?) training would have gotten you to the NBA or me to the professional cycling peloton. We don’t have the genetics for it.

    If genetics has everything to do about what you can accomplish physically, guess what? It’s also likely that no amount of parental expectations could make an average person a physicist or mathematician. I took Physics at the U of Chicago. As an undergraduate the first year was a big winnowing. Lots of kids wanted to take physics as their major. None of those kids were stupid, they were all at an elite University. But the size of the class was cut in two by the end of the first 10 weeks. Why do you think it was nature not nurture that got the survivors past the winnowing. Or perhaps it was just like you and the NBA or me and the peloton? No amount of training, upbringing, or desire can make a person without the genetic potential can be excellent at what they are not born to do. This is true for athletics and it is for other more purely intellectual venues. Oddly enough, those of us who did “make the cut” at physics likely could not make the cut in, say, law school or other fields. Just like for sport for which endurance, twitch, spatial judgement, and many other factors are required in different measures so too are different intellectual gifts required for different fields. And like in sport, some people are highly gifted at everything and some at a select few.

    Uhm, Your peer groups don’t train you. Don’t push you, don’t test you. Parents do a lot of that. You know that. Peer groups mostly get in your way and pull you down.

    Another point is that liberals are stupid about this. They are perfectly willing to admit (tout if fact) genetic advantages that non-whites possess. Nigerians are genetically gifted at running. Samoans at &c. Lots of race have lactic intolerance, Asians don’t tolerate alcohol well, the list goes on. But are there intelligence related racial factors? Of course there are. Can people like Mr Lindsey get his head around that fact? Nope. Why? At a guess it would be ideologically inconvenient.

    In the post-war Physics community it was often asked about Hungarians and why so many of them were so excellent at maths and physics. Race? Hmm.

  5. Mark says:

    Regarding torture,

    I’m going with #1.

    The torture makes sense if you consider useful information is a secondary, not primary goal of the regime torturing people.

    Oddly that primary goal was not irrelevant to the anti-terror campaign either.

  6. Boonton says:

    You make an interesting point about nature and atheltics, however there is something odd…we’ve been getting better over time. World records in all sports tend to get broken, how is that possible since our genes aren’t changing?

    Here the sorting aspect has a lot to do with it. Nature is responsible for 100 of variation only after you have eliminated all nurture variations. Only when all cylists are pushing their training at 100%, can you say variation in results is all due to nature.

    But professional sports is highly refined in its training and measures of success are very objective and easy to measure. Even then I don’t think you can claim we’ve exhausted nuture. I’m sure you wouldn’t be shocked if I told you there are people who could have been great in the NFL or NBA but were never developed and cultivated. That despite the millions in incentives thrown at sorting out the best basketball and football players in the world.

    Work, of course, is a lot less objective and specific. IQ likewise is pretty vague and not great at sorting for specific skills. Imagine you are a basketball recruitor. What would you want to look at, stats for a long list of HS basketball players or the athletic equilivant of IQ….some generic ‘fitness’ quotient?

    Anyway in political terms it is, of course, not a problem that even with 100% dedication by 100% of the population results will not turn out exactly equal. If we were at a point where the only differences in results were due to uncontrollable genetic differences it would be fine. We are nowhere near there, not even for professional sports.

    Oddly that primary goal was not irrelevant to the anti-terror campaign either.

    Primary goals of intimidating opposition? Here that might be relevant when you’re talking about a regime in a country…..an Egyptian did worry about being taken and tortured by the regime. In terms of the war on terror you’re talking about a few dozen people from among millions. I think the probability of getting captured and tortured by the US was too low to intimidate the low level masses of those sympathetic to terrorist groups and not relevant to those who had dedicated their lives to terrorism in high positions.

    Again the report asked the CIA to produce examples of useful information produced from torture and no non-trivial information was produced. Perhaps you are correct that in the history of torture it has produced helpful info, but ‘could have’ is not a reality here. I could have played for the NFL!

  7. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I’m not sure what your point on improvements yields. You (or I) could never be a professional athlete. No nurture would have got us there. We don’t have the genes for it. The point is not that “all cyclists pushing their training 100%” can you say variations are due to nature. The point is that normal non-professional cyclists, unless genetically gifted, could train at 150% (which is to say harder than all the other actual professional cyclists) but still won’t be able to win a race.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t be shocked if I told you there are people who could have been great in the NFL or NBA but were never developed and cultivated

    I don’t disagree. There are genetically gifted people who don’t capitalize on their particular gifts. But without the genetics … you don’t have a chance. Let me put it another way. If a modern professional trainer started working with you when you were 3 (or I), you still would never play in the NBA. Likewise, Lance Armstrong (or pick your athlete), given similar training in maths wouldn’t be on the short (top 50) candidate list for a Fields medal in mathematics.

    Nature trumps nurture at the elite levels. I don’t see how you can disagree with that.

  8. Boonton says:

    I’m not sure what your point on improvements yields. You (or I) could never be a professional athlete. No nurture would have got us there. We don’t have the genes for it.

    No doubt that is true, but largely irrelevant as almost certainly both of us are far away from exhausting what nurture can do for us. If, say, we started a 3 times a week intensive training program, we both would become dramatically better as athletes.

    Nature is a bit blurry here IMO. Part of our limit on our improvement potential is set not by our DNA but by the decisions we made in our youth. There’s a whole field of epigenetics which is based on the facts that it isn’t just our DNA but given our DNA certain genes will switch on or off based on our environment.

    For example, if a mother is not eating well in utero, a gene that controls metabolism might ‘assume’ the child is developing in a food scarce environment and switch on resulting in a slower metabolism. If the child is then born in a food rich environment like our fast food soaked culture, he will be prone to obesity, which is pretty fatal to a career as a cyclist.

    Is that nature or nurture?

    Nature trumps nurture at the elite levels. I don’t see how you can disagree with that.

    It’s not so much disagreement as questioning a hidden assumption you are making…namely everyone has maxed out on nuture therefore it’s useless to look for anything but nature. But we haven’t so the NBA and NFL are not recruiting by asking mass numbers of people to submit DNA tests, they recruit by support training training programs in schools and colleges.

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    It’s not so much disagreement as questioning a hidden assumption you are making…namely everyone has maxed out on nuture therefore it’s useless to look for anything but nature.

    Haven’t claimed that, so it’s not a hidden assumption. My claim is simpler, at the elite levels of human performance you need nature, i.e., the right parents, to get there at all.

    The NBA/NFL aren’t asking for DNA tests, because no DNA test will give them the answers they seek. My point regarding NBA/NFL is that for most of us, you and I included, no amount of nurture would get us to the NBA or NFL, we don’t have the right parents.

  10. Boonton says:

    My claim is simpler, at the elite levels of human performance you need nature, i.e., the right parents, to get there at all.

    Let’s say performance happens to be 50% nature and 50% nurture. Clearly we can control nurture to some degree so if we’ve put 100% effort into providing everyone with perfect training, then the only cause of remaining differences in performance would be nature.

    But imagine a different world where there was no nurture. No grade and high school football, no football camps, no playing football at the childhood level. The NFL recruits from open try outs of 19+ year olds. Clearly nature differences alone would mean some would do better than others. But in that world 100% of differences would then be nurture. A genius team recruitor might discover by simply getting a few high schools to put together football programs he could assure himself of a crop of excellent players in a few years. We would then be hearing about how elite players are made rather than born.

    In the real world, though, neither is optimized. There are plenty of natural talents who are not cultivated and plenty of talents that can be nutured to elite levels because of that. You are only limited if you have maxed out all you can on nurture.

    Consider cycling. Imagine 100 people who have the ‘nature’ for it. How many are cultivated? All 100? Then sorry it’s a game of nature then. But certainly that isn’t the case. Given a natural gift, you gotta start cultivating it early. How many are identified and pushed to do that? How many fail to take up interest in it? If only 50% of pure natural talents don’t even show up the race can still be determined by training.

  11. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    You’re not getting it. I’ll try again.

    Consider cycling. Imagine 100 people who have the ‘nature’ for it. How many are cultivated? All 100? Then sorry it’s a game of nature then. But certainly that isn’t the case. Given a natural gift, you gotta start cultivating it early. How many are identified and pushed to do that? How many fail to take up interest in it? If only 50% of pure natural talents don’t even show up the race can still be determined by training.

    No. It matters not that of the 100 people in your pool of people with the potential to be cyclists only 5 or 2 actually become cyclists. The point is nobody without the genetics (in the pool) can become pro cyclist.

    If only 50% of pure natural talents don’t even show up the race can still be determined by training.

    This is your mistake. The talent pool is large enough that only those with talent become pro. Like the NBA. There may be people with the talent to be a pro athlete who do not. That is irrelevant. Nobody without the talents will make it.

    You need both, nature and nuture. But what you are missing is that it there isn’t a case for “more nurture” will make a difference. If you have the nature, you have a chance. Your nurture (or choices) can fail you. But without the nature, you don’t have a chance.

  12. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    In the real world, though, neither is optimized. There are plenty of natural talents who are not cultivated and plenty of talents that can be nutured to elite levels because of that. You are only limited if you have maxed out all you can on nurture.

    Not my argument. For NBA (and say a PhD in science at an elite university) you need the right talents to succeed. Lacking that, no amount of “wishing” might get you there.

    Without talent you can’t make it. If you don’t nurture the talents you have, you can’t make it either. But you no amount of training can make up for the wrong parents.

  13. Boonton says:

    So you are saying for something like the NBA or professional cycling, while ‘natural talents’ have been left to rot on the vine so to speak (in other words kids ‘with the genes’ either were not cultivated or were not interested in the sport so that talent was never utilized), so many natural talents have been cultivated that there is no room for someone lacking the natural side to compensate by added training or better training….

    That would seem to argue against elite trainers being well paid. If training has been maxed out and competition is nothing more than a game of how slight variations in genes will play out on the playing field then whats the point? Yet a considerable infrastructure of ‘sports management’ has appeared to have been built up around almost all major professional sports.

  14. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    That would seem to argue against elite trainers being well paid.

    No. If two people are comparably talented then training and coaching make the difference. At the NBA level, which is an extreme, you can’t be there without both talent and good (full time) training/coaching.

    The point is that there are many disciplines that require talent, that nobody without the inborn gifts, for cyclists you require natural gifts for VO2_Max, recovery, pain tolerance and competitive drive. Without a coach you can be a top amateur. With a coach you can be a pro. For both, years of training are also required (VO2_MAx and endurance specialization takes years for muscle development and adaptation to occur, … it takes time for your body to realize it has to grow lots of extra capillaries in the muscles in use). Some strength/speed/twitch sports don’t require a decade of training to get to the top like cycling.

    Mental gifts are also natural talents not evenly distributed and are not generic. I had a good friend in college who wanted to be a physicist. He washed out, and got a degree in social sciences, went on to Harvard Law and got high marks in both. The point is he was very bright. But just not very good at the maths and thinking required for physics. Likewise, I and probably most of my physics peers probably wouldn’t be able to get good grades in the classes he took. It’s why, back when, in the discussions of “Obama is smart” my POV was that I have no reason to think it is true (or false). I can judge talent for maths/physics (which he probably doesn’t have), but that doesn’t mean I can judge or even recognize the sort of signs that indicate a lawyer is bright.

    Look it is liberal pablum that “everyone is talented at something.” That “you” might not be a NBA talent but you have just as much talent as, say, Michael Phelps … but just not for swimming. This is, of course, hokum, but to believe such things also requires one to minimize the nature end of things in the nature/nurture question. The “give everyone the same chances” traction goes along with the thinking that we if only we’d recognize talents, everyone would be a Phelps/Jordan/Armstrong just in their own particular field of expertise. This is absolutely wrong. Right along side that is the Hollywood notion that the best talent can express itself without years of training. You have these gifted people appearing and being really good at things with no training at all. That bugs me no end.

  15. Mark says:

    Think of talent (for NBA or whatever field requiring actual high levels of skill) as your entry card. Without it you can’t be better than a interested amateur. If you have the talent, you’ve one the lottery and have the chance to buy an entry ticket. Now you have to pay the price (training) to enter.

  16. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Another thing on trainers, if you have the talent to make 10’s or 100’s of millions of dollars … any marginal chance for improvement and extension of that high payoff period (age *will* take out out of the elite soon) makes sense. Right?

  17. Boonton says:

    It would be nice if everyone had some level of Phelps talent, then everyone could achieve great success but they would have to just find their nich. I agree that probably is not true, even if it was true you couldn’t get around the fact that different niches have vastly different rewards. If God is handing out ‘world’s greatests’ the guy who picks “basketball player” out of that hat is going to have more fame, money, adoloration and so on than the guy who nabs “curling”.

    I think you have identified very basic phsyiological traits necessary for peak sports and I’ll agree that while some of these traits might be able to be changed through training (i.e. pain tolerance) others are either set by genetics or ‘locked in’ at some early stage and are not able to be changed beyond that point.

    You haven’t made this case for cognitive activities. Your friend who failed at physics but did great at Havard Law…how exactly can you diagnose the cause of this was ‘nature’ rather than ‘nurture’? Can you say that the ‘math muscle’ in his brain was just born under-developed while he had an exceptionally strong logic and language ‘brain muscle’? Or perhaps he simply responded better to the ‘training’ he got in the social sciences and took off from there? In a different universe it might have been you that ended up studying law and he ended up in physics for reasons as minor as the comic books you read as a kid or the personality types of your elementary school teachers?

    of course I don’t discount nature. Clearly if you had both been born with brain damage or a severe nuerological disfunction you both probably could not have achieved anywhere near what you did. Likewise I could accept in theory that amazing intellectual performance might be linked to pure natural gifts, but it doesn’t seem clear at all. For example, I can clearly see that Michael Jordon has physical gifts that make him great at basketball…gifts like height that he couldn’t ‘train’ into. It isn’t obvious to me, though, that Einstein or Hawking (as examples) have phsyical gifts that made/make them different. You can perhaps tell your lack of an Olympic medal is at least part due to a lack of physical gifts…but can you say for sure the same applies to your lack of a Nobel or Field’s medal?

  18. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    I agree that probably is not true, even if it was true you couldn’t get around the fact that different niches have vastly different rewards.

    So? I don’t see what the problem with that.

    I think you have identified very basic phsyiological traits necessary for peak sports and I’ll agree that while some of these traits might be able to be changed through training (i.e. pain tolerance) others are either set by genetics or ‘locked in’ at some early stage and are not able to be changed beyond that point.

    Actually all of your physiological traits (besides things like “number (and length) of limbs”) are trainable. You can train your pain tolerance and the strength/speed of muscles, the density of capillaries, and so on.

    You haven’t made this case for cognitive activities.

    I’m sorry. Do you really believe that because you aren’t the mathematical genius of a P. Deligne because you’re parents didn’t play Mozart for you enough when you were 2? A big part of what separates athletes from the rest of us is mental not purely physical. Talents like reaction speed, depth perception, and the ability to perceive motion and distances in 3-d are mental. Ever heard of competitive drive? My daughter probably has many of the talents to be an elite gymnast, but doesn’t respond to the pressure of training and competition well and doesn’t have the drive to excel at it.

    Likewise I could accept in theory that amazing intellectual performance might be linked to pure natural gifts, but it doesn’t seem clear at all.

    Why? Some people have perfect pitch. My brother went to school (music major) and became good friends with a kid who could listen once to a Beethoven quartet (4 parts and about 15-30 minute duration) and afterwards could recall the score (without having seen the score). I don’t believe that this is something you can just train. What he is capable of is fairly unbelievable. Stories of P. Deligne and his mathematical talents are similarly amazing. Such stories abound in every field. I think that the burden of proof is more on your end. Physical talents are not generic and all trainable. It stands to reason that mental skills are likewise unevenly gifted.

    You can perhaps tell your lack of an Olympic medal is at least part due to a lack of physical gifts…but can you say for sure the same applies to your lack of a Nobel or Field’s medal?

    Exactly.

  19. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    P. Deligne story. When he was studying for his doctorate, his instructor (Fields medal winner Grothendiek) proposed a question/problem for him to work on figuring it would take 6 months to a year to research, work on and finish. Pierre sank back in his chair, stared into space for a few minutes, came out of his trance and had the solution … complete proof. He did this a few more times and Grothendiek quit maths to go into politics, saying with Deligne in the field there was not point in him doing maths any more.

  20. Boonton says:

    So? I don’t see what the problem with that.

    Not a problem per say but I think you’re playing up a straw man with your assertion that:

    Look it is liberal pablum that “everyone is talented at something.” That “you” might not be a NBA talent but you have just as much talent as, say, Michael Phelps … but just not for swimming.

    First, being ‘talented at something’ entails a lot of value judgements and cultural accidents. Take basketball…it’s a game that consists of many ‘odd’ traits that are needed in a particular combination that is of no special evoluationary advantage until modern times when we, for whatever reason, decided we really like watching excellent basketball. In contrast consider the game of Pyramid which is portrayed on Battlestar Galactica. Kinda of like basketball but different. If that was a real sport it would probably have a different combination of ‘natural talents’ that would be needed to be excellent.

    So Michael Jordan has natural talent for basketball. Jim Smith in Utah has natural talent for Pyramid. Jordan knows because our culture puts a huge amount of effort into finding and cultivating anyone who might become a great basketball player. Jim doesn’t know because no one really plays Pyramid and there’s naturally no great effort to find and cultivate talent there. So even if ‘everyone is talented at something’ what does that really mean if many talent combinations are for things that have no market or social value in our culture? Even if this was something many liberals believed, its functionally no different from believing that some people just aren’t talented at anything.

    Actually all of your physiological traits (besides things like “number (and length) of limbs”) are trainable. You can train your pain tolerance and the strength/speed of muscles, the density of capillaries, and so on.

    Now you seem to be totally backtracking. If all this stuff is trainable, then what is this whole nature argument you are trying to have? Are you saying that if you are born blessed with a good density of capillaries, you have an advantage in that you can use your training time to work up other traits?

    I’m sorry. Do you really believe that because you aren’t the mathematical genius of a P. Deligne because you’re parents didn’t play Mozart for you enough when you were 2?

    Beats me, it isn’t obvious to me that if I could ‘reset the game’ and play out life again I couldn’t win a Nobel or be make cutting edge discoveries in physics or be a famous lawyer. I do suspect, however, that many areas of elite sports would be outside my domain of potential achievements no matter what variations I could have plausibly experienced since bith. I can accept there are some cognative abilities that might simply be freaks of nature (such as those with photographic memories who can recite books they read 20 years ago from page numbers you supply them) and such ‘freaks’, if properly directed could achieve great intellectual accomplishments. You haven’t made the case that this is required for great success in more intellectual fields.

    Stories of P. Deligne and his mathematical talents are similarly amazing. Such stories abound in every field. I think that the burden of proof is more on your end. Physical talents are not generic and all trainable.

    What evidence do you have that his talents were physical? “Trainable” is not the opposite of “nature”. Some events might be the result of such complex sets of interactions that they could never be fully mapped out let alone developed into a training program that would be coaches could use to reliably turn out Deligne’s the way the NFL turns out new players every year.

    As for burden of proof, well we know clearly that both nature and nurture are inputs into the results of what we produce both in terms of physical activity and intellectual activity. I stand agnostic between the two unless you have evidence to offer. I don’t claim that “Deligness” is trainable nor do I claim it may be something you could inherit. For all I know it may have been a combination of events that can only happen once in a Universe’s lifetime and the only way to produce it again is to reproduce the entire Universe from Big Bang onwards.

  21. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Even if this was something many liberals believed, its functionally no different from believing that some people just aren’t talented at anything.

    I see the modern educator slogan “Everyone is good at something” isn’t actually something that you think many liberals believe to be true.

    If all this stuff is trainable, then what is this whole nature argument you are trying to have?

    Think of it this way. Pick a particular skill or ability. Your genetics gives you a rubber band tacked to that axis. Your training (or lack thereof) can pull your actual current ability to the left or right, but that rubber band has a particular rest length (the ability you can hone with little or no practice/training) and a stretch moduli (further training will stretch the band). The limit to which you can stretch is inherent in the band. Every actual skill, be it basketball or abstract maths requires many skills. This means lots of bands in a multi-dimensional space. I’m not sure how you don’t see that some people can stretch their talents to put them in the NBA and almost every skill required for playing in say the NBA is trainable (obvious exceptions are like height, which after you stop growing isn’t trainable). The skill set for Pyramid may be slightly different than basketball. It might be that height does not help a Pyramid player like it does in the NBA and that other skills are preferred.

    The problem with “everyone is good at something” implies that everyone has some “bands” tacked so they can excel at something, that everyone is excellent at something. I think that some people are better at everything than other people. Some people just suck at everything. It’s life. Fortunately human dignity is not measured by excellence.

    What evidence do you have that his talents were physical?

    Uhm, because I think his cognition occurs in his brain. I’ll bet you think so too.

    Are you saying that if you are born blessed with a good density of capillaries, you have an advantage in that you can use your training time to work up other traits?

    No. I’m saying you (or I) can never train our VO2_Max to be at the same level as Lance Armstrong and that Lance Armstrong needed to aggressively train his (genetically advantaged) VO2_Max to be a professional cyclist. That sort of statement shouldn’t controversial. I’m not sure how you could think differently.

  22. Boonton says:

    I see the modern educator slogan “Everyone is good at something” isn’t actually something that you think many liberals believe to be true.

    Good? Sure everyone’s probably good at something. I’m not sure that’s the same as saying you are as good at (basket weaving, knowing the names of all Star Wars characters, flying paper airplanes, hip hop trivia) as, say, Michael Jordan is at basketball. For education purposes is such a level of excellence required? Would you say cycling was not worth the effort you gave it given that you will never be great at it? And does this comparison have any real meaning? Can we say the world’s best basket weaver is “the Michael Jordan of weaving”? Can we quantify Jordan’s basketball greatness and quantify everything else and make valid comparisons? I don’t think so.

    Pick a particular skill or ability. Your genetics gives you a rubber band tacked to that axis. Your training (or lack thereof) can pull your actual current ability to the left or right, but that rubber band has a particular rest length (the ability you can hone with little or no practice/training) and a stretch moduli (further training will stretch the band).

    This is an interesting analogy. Keep it two dimensional. The rubber band consists of all of the players relevant ‘talents’. As the team manager, your team wins if it sum of all the ‘stretches’ exceeds other teams.

    It is true if you stretch every band to the max, then ultimately all that’s left is ‘nature’….there’s no real need to have competitions since the outcome is determined only by the nature of the bands themselves. All you really need to do is find a recruiter who really knows how to find the strongest, most stretchable bands. But in reality many bands won’t be stretched to their max. And some bands may be broken by too much stretching. In the real life of team sports there’s also synergies that this analogy doesn’t capture (i.e. imagine a rubber band that stretches far, but makes the other bands around it stretch less….or a ‘Rudy’ band that doesn’t stretch far but somehow gets the other bands to stretch beyond what they should). It’s far from clear here that nurture has been exhausted leaving us with only nature.

    The problem with “everyone is good at something” implies that everyone has some “bands” tacked so they can excel at something, that everyone is excellent at something. I think that some people are better at everything than other people.

    You’re confusing ‘good’ with ‘better than everyone else’. The recruitor is interested in the person who is ‘better than everyone else’. The educator wants the student to find what they are good at.

    This also reminds me of comparative advantage. Imagine the world’s best lawyer who is also the world’s fastest typist. Should he type all his briefs himself at 400 wpm or should he hire an average admin. who can only type 40 wmp? The answer is he should hire the secretary since a billable hour for him is a lot more than what he would pay in salary to the secretary. Even though he could do her 8 hours of typing in less than an hour, it would cost him more to give up even a single hour he could bill to a client. Even though the secretary is not better in anything compared to the lawyer, it is better off for both that she has mastered something to be good at. Even if on every level someone else is better than you (and that’s probably the case since you probably don’t have a non-trivial answer to put in the blank of “I’m the world’s greatest ____”), it’s still worth knowing what you’re good at.

    Uhm, because I think his cognition occurs in his brain. I’ll bet you think so too.

    As far as I can tell my brain your brain and his brain are all the same organ. To use your Armstrong analogy, you can say with confidence that neither of us could ever have trained to outperform Armstrong. It’s not clear to me that neither of us could never have trained to outperform Einstein or Hawking. That very well might be the case, I’m just saying I’m not seeing that as clear as I would for Armstrong.