EDIT: Damn, I just saw the suggestions to take this philosophical discussion to another thread / let it lie so as not to ruin the RR. If there is another thread, I'll cut & paste this reply over. I don't want to ruin this RR with more noise...
Originally Posted by OldBoldPilot
You don't need to say anything. Your point was quite clear -- and quite valid -- to the less argumentative and less defensive of your many fascinated readers.
And I'll just add one small point: I believe that we ARE all created equal; we're just not created the same. Any of us can go as far as we want to as long as we understand where our particular skills and talents lie, and as long as we act with that knowledge in mind.
The problem with answering in writing is that, it’s always a time and space limited sub-set of what you’re really thinking. I always see it as trying to take a 32 million 50MP picture full of complexity, and reducing it down to a 256 color compressed version. Without taking a lot of time and effort, others won't see the full picture. It’s not worth the effort sometimes.
The truth is, both AntiHero and ItsNotTheBike are correct – it’s not the bike, but it is, also the bike. My Uncle is the world’s leading researcher in EpiGenetics, and we talk about the topic quite a lot. Long story short, every organism is a selection of compromises; in order to be optimised for certain strengths, you have to be weak in others. I’ve got a lot of gifted people in my family, and they’re all borderline extremes. My father was headhunted by NASA, and is literally a genius. He can comprehend the highest levels of mathematics at speeds that seem absurd. He’ll do very difficult calculations in his head, holding the products of each step in memory whilst performing all the calculations, corrections, etc, whilst driving the car and telling you about why that step has to be done and this correction is needed for these variables etc. But socially, he’s really awkward. BUT – he worked VERY hard on social interaction and he’s learned how to socialise like normal people through incredible hard work and effort. But when he gets tired, most of that drops away and he’s back to being completely unintelligibly eccentric, and totally socially inept.
So, he’s proof that we CAN learn to do almost anything through persistence, effort, and sweat, BUT if that function is not innately genetically enhanced/optimised, we will never be as good at that function as someone who genetically is gifted to do that.
My cousin recently graduated as a doctor, and, one of his classmates is obsessed with being a surgeon. But, he doesn’t have the coordination and tremor-free hands a surgeon needs. He’s almost driven himself mad practicing surgery in his own time but has never managed to quite get his hands to the level of dexterity that will enable him to go down that path. Once again, genetics. He’s a better surgeon through his obsessive hard work than many in his class who are gifted naturally yet have never bothered to work that gifting, BUT those people would eclipse him in 3 weeks if they decided they wanted to.
I read Sir Jackie Stewart’s autobiography, and he has quite severe dyslexia. Teachers called him stupid, and he felt like he was retarded. YET, Jackie has a perfect photographic memory, impeccable timing and depth perception, and recounts one story where he desperately needed to win the formula 1 in order to keep his family financially afloat. This meant winning the Nurburgring race, so he would remain within reach of the title.
The race was held in torrential rain, and Jackie raced the entire track in torrential rain purely from his photographic memory. He drove the nurburgring by memory. When he finished the race, he was something like 7 minutes ahead of the next person!! Jackie always thought he was no-one special, that everyone else was like him and could do what he could but he realised after this that, this dyslexia was not a disability but a gift. An incredible, amazing genetic optimisation. To be able to race the Nurburgring by memory, to drive the track literally from the complete video recording he had in his head… this was something no-one else in the race could do. Now, there is no shadow of a doubt if one of the other racers devoted 6 years and every day of those 6 years to memorising the track that they would then achieve what Jackie did ‘accidentally’ through his genetic gift; there’s no doubt that others *through extreme hard work, sweat, application and focus* could match that feat… but having the innate gifting genetically made this task a LOT easier.
A discussion like this which has unfolded is one in which every party reading what other’s have written must be able to comprehend all the most finely grained nuances of meaning from each participant; not only that, timbre, tone, and cadence of how the writer has intended their message must also be correctly imputed as well. The exact same piece of text can be read by me to be a calm, pragmatic, scientifically explanatory piece of prose; another can read it and feel anger, conflict, and attack. This is why it is so hard to really have these sorts of debates in a public forum – because, given our drama-based, offence-addicted societies, it is almost instinctive to feel offence, conflict, anger and opposition from things other people write.
I had a period with a previous girlfriend where I used to preface some of the stuff I wrote with a very vivid and clear description of the tone it should be read in. I worked really hard on the cadence and rhythm of this prescriptive paragraph, so that the very flow of the words themselves were soothing and calming. So by the time she read what I wrote she would hopefully be reading it, and hearing in her mind the right tone of voice and the right kind of vibe I was imagining when I was writing it. She (being a girl) got pretty offended when I first did it (as girls generally do) but after patiently explaining why I was going to do it for important emails from then on, begrudgingly agreed it was probably a good idea. FWIW, it really worked – it cut down so much conflict and misunderstanding.
However, back to the matter at hand of ‘all being created equal’, the genetic facts are all are not created equal. FOR ANY GIVEN TASK. Every single person is gifted genetically with a strength that, should they find it and exploit it, gives them a natural advantage over others in that arena. I’m just finishing reading a book about mine defusers in WW2 Britain; some of the best mine defusers were Aussies from backwater country lives. One guy defused 2,000lb double booby-trapped acoustic & magnetic fused mines 7-12m underwater in tidal flow with ZERO visibility purely by feeling alone, THROUGH A DIVING SUIT getting buffered by water, seaweed, debris, etc. The guy could perform mine microsurgery in these conditions with no visibility. But back home, he couldn’t hold down a job, was a bum that got kicked out of the navy, a drunk, and what most people would consider a complete waste of resources. But somehow he was insanely gifted at this kind of manual dexterity. An Aussie guy who was a no-one good for nothing earned a George Cross from the British Crown for his extremely impossible exploits in the theatre of war. Of course, in this capacity it was not just genetic ability which caused him to become the best in this field, there was a lot of reward, desire, and obsession; but one could say that when you find what it is you’re ‘built’ for, then doing that will be rewarding. Thus you enter a feedback loop of effort-reward that brings incredible satisfaction.
I’ve got a mate who’s insanely gifted at riding and driving. I’ll never be as good as he will. BUT, I know if I work really hard, apply myself and focus I’ll be faster around the track than he will one day. He doesn’t care to develop that skill, so it stays at the level of incredible natural talent. If I work hard, I can force my brain and body to perform. But should he do 1/10th of the learning and application I do, he’ll leapfrog me again. It’s annoying knowing that, but, them’s the genetic dice. However, that being said, he cannot write or think anywhere close to my capacity. He could get close, but I am innately gifted with seeing information in ways his brain never will. My genetics have imbued me with awesome information processing short-cuts.
Quite often we humans fall into the mistake of thinking there’s only 2 sides to a coin. There is generally many more.