Joined: May 2008
Location: Mountain View, CA
You guys are pretty much completely misreading what I'm saying, as usual. I made it clear up above that sports does have a genetic aspect, some do anyway. However, I also pointed out how, in the modern world, once we gave a broad spectrum of people a chance to see if they like and excel in sport, and also a social impetus to do so (fame, money, chicks, etc...), then every single record since then has been obliterated. And, more importantly, the difference between the best and the rest of the field at the top is miniscule generally. The point being, all of these capabilities are not unique, they aren't commonplace, but they aren't unique either.
As to Einstein and it being all about work, I didn't say that either. I said, from my first post, that it's a combination of talent, work and luck. Einstein had the talent, and he worked very hard, and he had some luck. If you look back through the history of scientific discovery, it's VERY rare that anyone comes up on something out of the blue. It's almost always the case that what gets discovered is floating around in one form or another very actively and lots of folks are working on it (though 'lots' is relative to the number of scientists at the time.) Often the same discovery is made separately and almost simultaneously by other people, but (popular) history forgets those folks.
The ideas that made up special relativity were floating all around in the air at the time. Eistein though was young enough to make a claim (completely unproveable at the time) that came to him through just complete immersion in the subject and not really any great investment in the existing theories (since he was young and not even a professional scientist at the time.) And he hit on the right idea. He wasn't some genius to whom this idea was handed down.
And for general relativity, that was a long and torturous process, and one of the key ideas of it (the combination of space and time together than his old teacher Minkowski had proposed) he had rejected for some time as just mathematical complications. It was, as is always said, 99% persperation, and anyone who reads up on the history of his work on GR will see that's true. He had the talent, he worked very hard, so all he needed was a fairly reasonable amount of luck and he was in the right place and right time to take advantage of it.
Not that people like Einstein or Mozart are a dime a dozen. They obviously had a very significant talent in their area. But even if someone has the latent talent, and the opporunity, a LOT of them just won't do the work, either because they are never encouraged to do so, or their early environment made them want to be something else or never gave them a chance (at the young age it would have taken) to realize that they did have the talent for it and develop it in time, or whatever other reasons.
A prime example of the issue is, why is it so easy for young kids to learn other languages and so much harder once you get older? The same thing applies to creativity, mathematics, science, etc... If you take a child and immerse him in a subject in a way that makes him want to do it, and prove to him at an early age that he can learn and can master a subject, and have someone who devotes their life to developing the talent that's there, it will never be given a better chance to blossom if it's there.
But this happens so seldom (relative to the number of children on the planet.) And, of course out of those, how often is it the case that the person who happens to give them this immersion happens to hit on the thing that they have a talent for? It's just a huge element of luck that you happen to have all the elements come together. Throw in the fact that MANY children in the world grow in up an environment where learning is actively discouraged, even ridiculed, by parents and/or peers, and almost all that potential is pretty much FFB. Once in a while one will through great effort overcome that handicap, but what it costs us in terms of human potential is immeasurable (both literally of course, but clearly also in real measure.)
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