Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peter Orszag, writing in...

...Bloomberg, weighs in on Nature vs. Nurture (my emphasis):

The research does not suggest that genes are dominant and training is irrelevant; instead, it says that the benefit from training is partially driven by genetics, so that a combination is required for top performance.

Consider professional baseball players. A batter needs years of practice to recognize subtle clues about pitches and thereby have a better chance of hitting them. This is why even the best baseball players tend not to hit well when they face softball pitchers; their accumulated clues are of little use.

Yet professional batters also tend to have extremely good vision -- they can see the small nuances in a pitcher’s delivery to begin with. One study of minor and major league baseball players found that their average vision measures 20/13, which means they can read a letter at 20 feet that a normal person could make out only at 13 feet. To see how rare this is, consider that, in a large sample of eye tests from China, vision better than 20/17 occurred in only 1 in 200 people.

What Orszag doesn't talk about is whether or not an individual's propensity to work hard at something is also gene-based. I would argue that it is.

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