[ExI] Expected Cultural and Genetic Effects in the Present

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu Apr 23 04:31:32 UTC 2009

Jef (Aware) wrote

> On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 5:27 AM, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
>> Even *ten* years ago, a white kid I knew
>> mentioned that he went to a math competition
>> here in the bay area, and out of a hundred or
>> so kids there, he was the only white.
>> That's just the reality. Go to the elementary
>> classrooms yourself, and try to talk to kids
>> about math or chess or something, if you don't
>> believe me...
> Lee, you make a good point and I don't dispute that there's some
> genetic component, but I think it's even more to do with culture.

That sounds more plausible than the case in which
I have a tremendous amount of experience, namely,
as a chess instructor for over forty years (with
one U.S. champion to my credit, and eight other
masters). I've just got a very strong feel watching
people play chess, and especially kids: I am seeing
a genuine talent component at work.

(I also happened to once have have a conversation
with my opposite number on the other side of the bay:
his notes compare precisely with mine.)

> I lived in Japan for a few years, and traveled and worked extensively
> throughout Asia for over a dozen years.  I felt at home with the
> people there, to the extent that the culture shock coming "home" to
> big brash barbaric California was greater than the adjustments I made
> as an expat.
> And I saw the same kinds and ranges of personality there as here, and
> roughly the same distribution of intelligence throughout the
> population.

In fact we should expect to have a biased sample here
in America. The kids I see, who appear so effortlessly
talented, are almost all Chinese---and of course there
is a selection immigrant gradient. But still! It's
just over the top (i.e., even matched IQ kids of other
ethnicities don't play chess as well, I think).

> But the biggest difference I saw between smart there and smart people
> here--which still jars me on a daily basis--is the western emphasis
> (incoherent in my opinion) on what an object *is*, contra the Asian
> emphasis on what an object means, based on its relations within
> context.

There must be (or should be) some striking intellectual,
economic, or other competitive results that stem from
this. Any idea what?

(BTW, it's widely thought that the Chinese will be supreme
in chess by and by, and that the reason they're not already
is that by far most of their effort along these lines
goes into Go. On the other hand, we're not seeing SFAIK
unusual numbers of scientific or mathematical breakthroughs
from there.)

> Ironically, over several years on the Extropy list, you were my
> biggest test case.  Trying to see whether a smart, highly verbal,
> highly motivated "rationalist" could ever cross the divide.

On one side, I am the one upbraiding Libertarians all the
time for not seeing our beloved theories in the context
of a given civilization or society. On the other side,
your efforts I hope were not in vain: I do make more of
a conscious effort to be aware of context. Well, sometimes.


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