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Genetics and physical abilities

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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31 July 2021 08:34
 

A few years ago there was a discussion about genetics relating to IQ.  I had some thoughts/questions geared towards physical traits and athletic abilities - in short saying the differing genetics of certain populations around the world would lead to people being able to run faster or jump higher.  There was some pushback on this forum (there’s no gene for “jump high”, environment plays more of a role, you don’t know what you’re talking about, are you a racist, etc.)
This came back to mind when I was discussing horse racing recently with a friend.  Would you rather have your one race horse bred from the fastest triple-crown winning horse, or have 20 random horses?  They’d all have the same nutrition, environment, and trainer. 
I understand that there’s not a single gene for “run faster” and it’s likely multiple things interacting.  To me this makes no difference.  Is there a fundamental flaw in thinking that different areas of the world will produce people with different athletic abilities?

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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31 July 2021 08:57
 

No news item and a thoughtfully presented question. I’m tossing this into the Halls.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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31 July 2021 09:18
 

Dominance in sports is more closely linked with access, opportunity, and motivation.

Hockey is a very expensive sport, and tends to be played more in cold climates.  There are still significant populations of black people in major cities where hockey is popular, and yet 97% of hockey players are white.  Strong legs which are good for jumping would still be good at going fast on skates.  High levels of coordination are still required for being a goalie or handling the puck.

Tennis is another sport associated with wealth.  81% of professional players are white.  Jumping and running faster is hugely important in tennis, as is muscle mass and density.  Being taller in tennis is extremely valuable as it makes your service harder to return.  Like a lot harder.  The body of a tall guard or shorter forward (in basketball) would be an extremely advantageous body in tennis.

With a population of 10 million people (compared to the US 330 million), the Domincan Republic produces 10% of all MLB players.  Only 71% of MLB players are from the US.  Why would this tiny, half-an-island produce so many baseball players in comparison?  First, the sport is extremely popular, and so all the children there play it.  Second, due to extreme poverty, baseball is a way out of poverty that every kid there can imagine.  They don’t think that they will have the chance to go to school and become a doctor or lawyer, and even if they did, they still see their more educated neighbors living close to their poverty anyways.  These baseball players get to live in America though, and become rich, famous, and have every opportunity.  They can come back to the DR as kings who are beloved in their community.  It’s almost like they have a massive incentive to get as good as they can at baseball.

In addition, horse and dog breeding programs are EXTREMELY selective.  Not just kind of selective, or slightly selective.  That same kind of selection in the natural process takes 100,000+ years, if not a million or more.  The very short time that humans have spread out over the Earth has not been enough for some literally skin deep changes, but little else.  Slavery wasn’t a strong enough selection factor, nor of significant enough duration.  Nor would it explain why African born athletes can be dominant in sports as well.

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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31 July 2021 11:29
 
weird buffalo - 31 July 2021 09:18 AM

Dominance in sports is more closely linked with access, opportunity, and motivation.

Here’s a thought experiment that will get rid of access, opportunity, and motivation (along with horse and dog breeding):
-Two multi-billionaires make a bet.  They are going to house and train 20 males from birth to win the 100 meter dash.  The best nutrition, the best trainers.  They’ve wagered $300 billion on this race that will take place when the males are 19 years of age.  The contestants are motivated because everything in their life is taken care of, and the winner of the race gets $30 billion.  One of the billionaires gets the next 20 males born from anywhere in the world - just the next twenty males born in order.  The other gets to pick the country of his choice, and then gets the next 20 males born in that country. 
Do you care which billionaire you are?  Is there any advantage?

 

 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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31 July 2021 11:29
 

Genetics as understood by that well respected scientist Jimmy the Greek.


SNL skit based on that little episode
https://youtu.be/JfEeldBw4_g

[ Edited: 31 July 2021 11:37 by mapadofu]
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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31 July 2021 12:11
 
DEGENERATEON - 31 July 2021 11:29 AM
weird buffalo - 31 July 2021 09:18 AM

Dominance in sports is more closely linked with access, opportunity, and motivation.

Here’s a thought experiment that will get rid of access, opportunity, and motivation (along with horse and dog breeding):
-Two multi-billionaires make a bet.  They are going to house and train 20 males from birth to win the 100 meter dash.  The best nutrition, the best trainers.  They’ve wagered $300 billion on this race that will take place when the males are 19 years of age.  The contestants are motivated because everything in their life is taken care of, and the winner of the race gets $30 billion.  One of the billionaires gets the next 20 males born from anywhere in the world - just the next twenty males born in order.  The other gets to pick the country of his choice, and then gets the next 20 males born in that country. 
Do you care which billionaire you are?  Is there any advantage?

Nope, I don’t care.

Even if you could show small genetic differences, the way you’ve now constructed the test, the odds of getting those specific genetic advantages are now extremely miniscule.

Lets take Jamaica, which has per capita produced a high number of sprinting world record holders.  How many people in Jamaica HAVEN’T set a world record?  Millions, while only a small handful have.  So, the odds of me randomly selecting someone who would never set a world record is very high.  If a genetic advantage existed there, the odds of capturing it with a random sample of 20 is like trying to win the powerball.

Of course, you still have the problem of having no direct evidence of that genetic advantage.  Circumstantial evidence as presented is insufficient to conclude that such genes exist.

Lets alter your scenario slightly.  Let’s make it 20 billionaires, and they have to bid for their draft order of countries.  I would save myself the money and bid $0, and even at the 20th country, I should be at no disadvantage compared to whoever wasted the extra money to go first.

Only if we were betting on which country would take gold at the Olympics would I care, since that alters resources and culture of the athletes, which will impact outcome.  Once we remove those factors, it’s going to be entirely random which runner will do best (from a pre-birth perspective, with no information on the parents).

The one factor I might consider is quality of prenatal health care in a place.  Since any child born with impairment of the limbs would be a serious disadvantage for winning the race.  But even at 20 countries, I can still pick a country with a very good health care system.

[ Edited: 31 July 2021 12:18 by weird buffalo]
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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31 July 2021 12:25
 

Let’s alter the experiment - 500 male babies and one billionaire gets to pick his country and his opponent’s country.  Still don’t care?  Let’s say we’re the billionaires - I pick some west African country and will select Greenland for you.

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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31 July 2021 13:06
 
DEGENERATEON - 31 July 2021 12:25 PM

Let’s alter the experiment - 500 male babies and one billionaire gets to pick his country and his opponent’s country.

Let’s alter it again:

One billionaire picks the countries for each competitor’s ‘team’ origin.
Then the other billionaire picks the sport or competition.

Run this experiment a few thousand times to see if there is any statistically significant difference.

Edit: Also allow for betting or wagering.

15 Million Quadloos on the Norwegians…

[ Edited: 31 July 2021 13:11 by Jefe]
 
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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31 July 2021 13:25
 
Jefe - 31 July 2021 01:06 PM
DEGENERATEON - 31 July 2021 12:25 PM

Let’s alter the experiment - 500 male babies and one billionaire gets to pick his country and his opponent’s country.

Let’s alter it again:

One billionaire picks the countries for each competitor’s ‘team’ origin.
Then the other billionaire picks the sport or competition.

Run this experiment a few thousand times to see if there is any statistically significant difference.

Edit: Also allow for betting or wagering.

15 Million Quadloos on the Norwegians…

Why muddy the waters?  Do you want the west african or greenland babies for this 100 yard dash?

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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31 July 2021 13:41
 
DEGENERATEON - 31 July 2021 12:25 PM

Let’s alter the experiment - 500 male babies and one billionaire gets to pick his country and his opponent’s country.  Still don’t care?  Let’s say we’re the billionaires - I pick some west African country and will select Greenland for you.

Well, now you’re skewing the results by picking a country that has fewer than the required number of births.

Also, you have not introduced any new information that is evidence for why we should pick one country over another.  You’re just trying to make the set-up of the bet seem more appealing, but you have no evidence through which we can tell why one strategy should be better than another.

A thought experiment serves as a vehicle through which we can examine potential evidence.  With no genetic information or race outcome, the thought experiment serves no utility.  Your rules are made up, and the results don’t matter.

[ Edited: 31 July 2021 13:43 by weird buffalo]
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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31 July 2021 13:44
 
DEGENERATEON - 31 July 2021 01:25 PM
Jefe - 31 July 2021 01:06 PM
DEGENERATEON - 31 July 2021 12:25 PM

Let’s alter the experiment - 500 male babies and one billionaire gets to pick his country and his opponent’s country.

Let’s alter it again:

One billionaire picks the countries for each competitor’s ‘team’ origin.
Then the other billionaire picks the sport or competition.

Run this experiment a few thousand times to see if there is any statistically significant difference.

Edit: Also allow for betting or wagering.

15 Million Quadloos on the Norwegians…

Why muddy the waters?  Do you want the west african or greenland babies for this 100 yard dash?

I thought your basic premise was silly to begin with, so I ran with the silliness.

As far as the question of genetics, is there a significant genetic difference between west-africans and greenlanders?  Can you identify it in the human genome?

 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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31 July 2021 14:23
 

I don’t see any reason to favor 500 random children taken at birth and given the same training from any one country over any other for any specific sport after controlling for pre-natal healthcare and nutrition (as mentioned by weird).

To me honest, I can’t envision what kind of scientific study could be conducted to answer this hypothetical.

[ Edited: 31 July 2021 14:26 by mapadofu]
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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31 July 2021 15:42
 

Perhaps a better ‘experiment’ would be to take a few thousand kids from a variety of heritage groups and subject/inflict identical training, diet, and schedules to them all and see if any statistical anomalies crop up over the course of lifetimes of competition.  And over a variety of sports - ranging from high adrenaline burst-energy sports like short sprints, to bulk strength sports, to endurance sports…

We’d have to include error-bars for injury, cheating on diet/schedule etc, and other factors.  It would have to be a gruellingly exacting set of monitors.  Probably against several international laws against cruelty, confinement, etc…

[ Edited: 31 July 2021 15:45 by Jefe]
 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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31 July 2021 15:51
 

How bout this: we take farmers, right.  They gotta be good farmers if they’re doing it now.  So we set up laws so that their children have to be farmers too — ya know, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Of course, these genetically based skills have been honed by the particular environment, so we can’t have them moving around, so we’d also need laws that tied them to the land too.

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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31 July 2021 17:18
 

Ok what if the billionaires are just trying to grow the tallest human?  Same nutrition- no enhancing drugs.  Are there countries that are more/less desirable to choose from?
Is the contention that any group of people from anywhere in the world would have the same probability of being tall as anyone else given the same environment?

 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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31 July 2021 17:42
 

Motte & Bailey: now you’re only trying to defend a much simpler feature of humans.  I thought we were talking about sports.  Next you’ll contract it down to single factor genetic defects like sickle cell or tay-Sachs.

Even there I’m not sure how much of the presumed stereotypical difference in different nationalities’ heights is actually genetic.  What is the evidence that there are countries where the difference in average height between them is due to genetics (as opposed to environmental characteristics like income, diet and medical care)


Some stuff to chew on

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/07/27/487391773/americans-are-shrinking-while-chinese-and-koreans-sprout-up

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1180356/

 

[ Edited: 31 July 2021 17:55 by mapadofu]
 
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