General Question

GreatEscape's avatar

Is it possible that some races are more skilled at certain tasks?

Asked by GreatEscape (68points) August 3rd, 2008

O.k. we all hear the sterotypes, Asians are good at math, blacks are good at sports, white men can’t jump. But is there any proof that some races are have natural advantages / disadvantages.

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17 Answers

Scrumpulator's avatar

Africans are a hell lot better at standing in the sun for long periods of time, then say, and Irish man. One will burn severely and perhaps have to be hospitalized while the other will not. Does that answer your question, There is no indication that anyone race is better at any mental function over another. I might be possible to point out that the sociological factors involved with why Asians are good at math might have something to do with the unity of the family unit and the amount of pride taken into education. You might say that Americans are lazy and producing less engineers in the world because the family unit does not support and higher standard and competition as in some of the Asian countries that produce such mathematically smart people. And further the school days are longer and sometimes 6 days a week. Its a social factor about the society in question, it has nothing to do with the Mental abilities of the race over another.

They want to win and be good, while Americans think they already are and put far less effort into the whole thing, because of this we are falling behind on the technology and scientific factors compared to many other 1st world nations.

syz's avatar

<<running away from the slippery slope>>

Scrumpulator's avatar

did someone grease this hill?

GreatEscape's avatar

I’m not suggesting that one type of person is better than any other but I do think it’s possible that one race maybe genetically more adapt at certain things than others. I’m by no means a scientist and this has been from my personal obersavtion of friends.

My black friends typically lean toward jobs that require physical ability (sports training, cops, skilled trades)

My jewish friends typically are someone in finance or law (lawyers, business owners, bankers)

And my Asian friends are typically engineers or programmers.

I know it’s not PC but it does seem race does have some effect on one’s profession but like scrump says it good be because of the society they were brought up in. Has anyone found any good studies?

marinelife's avatar

There are not really any supportable studies. The slippery slope that my fellow Flutherers are referring to is eugenics.

You need to be very careful, my friend, because you are parroting a lot of racial stereotypes that are not accurate. If you were going to seriously discuss this question, you need a lot more intellectual rigor and a lot less of what sounds, prima facie, like prejudice when I read it.

There is no evidence in your anecdotal observations, which are very limited, that cannot be countered by contradictory anecdotal evidence. The statistics do not support your your contentions.

Jobs requiring physical ability:
Mark MaGwire
Dennis Eckersley
Larry Bird
Tom Brady
These are not isolated examples. I could do an endless list.

This is nothing but anti-Semitism that you are spouting.
Jake Gyllenhall Actor
Scarlett Johansson Actor
Paula Abdul Singer/Dancer/Choreographer
Beck Songwriter
Leonard Bernstein Composer
Brad Ausmus, Professional Baseball Player
Jordan Farmar, NBA player
Lyle Alzado NFL
Again, only a tiny fraction.

Engineers and Programmers
Kristi Yamaguchi Figure skater
Yao Ming, NBA
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Rox
Don Ho, Singer
Vera Wang, Fashon Designer
Zubin Mehta, Conductor
I.M. Pei, Artchitect
Again, the list is endless.

Please stop categorizing people or making unsupported, untrue generalizations about groups og people. You appear, at best, ignorant and ,at worst, blindly prejudiced.

AstroChuck's avatar

Racism is a horrible thing. We should all learn to hate each other on an individual basis.

GreatEscape's avatar

Wow there goes the PC police. Its funny how you can not even ask a question that involves race without causing someone to get upset. you need to stop being ignorant and read my post for what it is – a question. I was simply asking if anyone that is smarter than me knows anything that would support that some peoples are geared towards certain advantages and disadvantages and I purposely and not posting my views (by the way I am Jewish and suggesting I’m anti-semitic is just ridiculous)

If you can’t go into a forum and ask for other’s opinions on subjcts like these then why have a forum? I am simply asking if it is POSSIBLE that genetically some people are better equipped for certain things.

You give an example of some white athletes but if you look at statistics there are far more than whites and that’s a fact. You can try to ignore that facts but that just makes you ignorant and liberal – it does change the fact that many blacks (which I may or may not be) are better at things that require physical ability. Here is an interesting article I found in my research that suggests that although in the ultra Liberal US no one can even mention race in any topic there have been tests that prove evolution has played a part in making us very different.

interesting snippet (written jan 2000):

The book points out that of the 32 finalists in the last four Olympic Men’s 100 meter races, all of them were of west African descent. The probability of that occurring is less than: 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001 percent! Unless of course there is a very good reason for this to occur that is not tied to innate ability—but none can be found.

In this article:

the author suggests the reason blacks become the best athletes is because of a combination of genetics that gives them “fast twich fibers”. This isn’t to say that I believe all black people should do nothing but sports nor am I saying Jews should do nothing but banking – It’s just pointing out that although they are stero types the numbers don’t lie and you need to analyze the statistics before you jump on the PC hate wagon that bans people from talking about these things.

Great excerpt from the link above:

Of course, there are successful white athletes but, overall, black supremacy on the race track is blindingly obvious – of the top 200 official times at 100 metres, not one has been run by a white athlete. Only black sprinters have (officially) run under 10 seconds. Solomon Wariso, a graduate in biotechnology and 400— and 200-metre runner, says: “It’s just stating facts that black athletes can run faster and for longer. Among themselves athletes don’t even bother to discuss it. It’s just like saying the track is red.”

I cross several different genetic lines and I would never prejudge a person before getting to know them but I find it interesting that many of my personal friends (including myself) fall into the sterotypes of our races,religion,culture, but everyone tries to fight against it.

Sorry to focus on just blacks vs whites but it was the easiest to find information on. It’s really tough to research and find information on “why are Asians so good at math” and what makes it more difficult is their aren’t any awards or records that the sporting industry have.

AstroChuck's avatar

The personal computer police?

GreatEscape's avatar

politically correct – but funny :)

lapilofu's avatar

As scrump pointed out up top, there are sociological factors that could be suggested for all of the situations you brought up. The first thing you learn in a statistics course (not that your anecdotal evidence is a statistical sample, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend it is) is that you should never assume causation, even when you have a correlation. For example, most people in hospitals have some sort of illness or another, but it would be erroneous to assume therefore that hospitals cause illness.

So, for instance, it may be that instead of your black friends being genetically predisposed to sports, they simply feel that larger societal pressure to involve themselves in sports or less societal faith that they can be predominantly white jobs such as lawyers and bankers. Not to mention that racism is still a major factor in getting a job, or even living in particular neighborhoods—so you may be mistaking their inability to get jobs like that for genetics.

Coming from an Asian family (here’s my anecdotal evidence) there was always a lot of pressure on my to excel academically. It’s a huge part of many Asian families in the U.S. and that is more likely the cause of the “mathematical Asian” stereotype than genetics.

The same can be said of your Jewish friends—a group that is even more nebulous and less genetically linked than the other “races” you mentioned. It seems extremely unlikely that all Jews share those genetics that cause us to be bankers—considering that we are such a spread out group that has not really been one identifiable race for a long time.

Something else interesting about the racial divide in olympics. Check out this first paragraph of an old NY times article about Kenyan runners:

“When he was 10 years old, Richard Chelimo would run back and forth to school every day from his home in the Rift Valley of western Kenya, the region that has produced many of the world’s greatest distance runners. He had to run. There are no school buses in the rural hills of Kenya.”

Can you imagine an American child doing that? No wonder they’re such good runners in Africa.

Now, obviously that wouldn’t account for any African-American runners your statistics include (the article you linked didn’t seem to mention any, however… interesting!), but the other factors I outlined above can explain some of that, but also, simply the prevalence of African runners in the media might explain it. After all, if you see someone who looks like you on television doing something great, maybe you think to yourself, “Hey, if he can do that, I can do that.” And then maybe you go out and do it.

I’m not saying it’s not possible that genetics accounts for some things. Obviously it does—as scrump cleverly pointed out, “Africans are a hell lot better at standing in the sun for long periods of time, then say, and Irish man.” Just because a concept like Eugenics makes us uncomfortable doesn’t mean we should reject it outright. But most of the notable literature that exists right now (the stuff that I’ve read anyway) suggests that any truth in the stereotypes you’ve pointed out come more from cultural effects than genetics.

lapilofu's avatar

Okay, your article does actually mention some African-Americans who are good at sports. One is quoted as saying, “When it came to my academic subjects I was virtually ignored. My teachers basically wrote me off because I was good at sport.”

Isn’t it possible that his teachers actually wrote him off because he was black. If your teachers assumed that you couldn’t be good at anything but sports, wouldn’t you be likely to, well, do a lot of sports?

GreatEscape's avatar

Again, I know this is a hot button topic but at the end of the day I’m asking a question not making an assumption. I don’t study this and I’m sure there are many people in here that are much more educated in this field than me but with that said from my expeirence people let emotion get in the way of this question and 99/100 people know less than me and are just answering based on emotions – not science.

All that I am suggesting – again. Is that there is no conclusive evidence that genetics don’t play factor unless you count that 80’s movie with Eddie Murphy /Dan Akeroid and those two old men that bet a $1 on Nature vs nurture…

I do think it’s possible that genetics have nothing to do with the sterotypes we see and maybe it is based more on families and culture but there is no real evidence against genetic advantages / disadvantages. I thought those two articles I found gave some great resources for the subject and they are hard to find because any writer that would even suggest that some races have different genetic strengths and weaknesses would be ripped apart by the ultra liberal US. Can you imagine a conclusive study in the NY Times saying “Conclusive Test Shows On Average Asians Are Smarter Than Any Other Race” or “New Tests Show White’s Are More Likely To Stab You in The Back To Climb The Corporate Ladder” or whatever sterotype you can think of? The answer is no. This is because society will not even recognize that there maybe something pre-determined in our genes that push us in a direction – Notice how I’m not saying forcing us but pushing us.

Yes I believe it is a possibility that maybe the black kid gets more attention from the PE coach in elementary but I don’t believe this is because of racism. Maybe it’s because he has a natural advantage and is the strongest runner or whatever. I grew up with several black friends and they all have been the uber athletes since the first grade. We all were on the same soccer / wrestling team but they were always the quickest, fastest, and strongest. I don’t think it was because of any outside influence of coaches especially because my dad was an assistant wrestling coach. They were just simply better… It could be a coincidence I guess but being they made up probably 4% of my graduating class and dominated sports and PE since 1st grade I doubt it.

This goes for all the other stero types as well. My asian friends always excelled in school and had the highest grades. We can close our eyes and pretend that all kids have an equal chance of becoming anything they want but what I am suggesting is maybe – just maybe some have a slight advantage to excel at certain types of jobs based of genetics.

By the way, here is someone in Yahoo Answers (Oh no!!!) that I think answered this question very gracefully without throwing in all the PC fluff that makes the liberal white americans feel better about themselves:

Great except:

_The scientific theories among scientists today hold the notion that the humans that left Africa 110,000 years ago into colder climates of Europe and Northern Asia required more thought and planning to obtain food than that of Africa. And that Northern Asia had more drastic temperatures than that of Europe. It’s evolution at work.

The absolute hypocrisy in all this is those who believe in evolution but yet believe human races that lived in drastically different environments for 110,000 years will have innate genetic abilities across the board that match exactly. Let’s not sacrifice science for political correctness._

marinelife's avatar

@lapilofu Now that is a well-reasoned explanation.

@GreatEscape In terms of “there is no conclusive evidence that genetics don’t play factor” (sic), one cannot prove a negative. Also, you have no evidence to support your contention that it is genetics. You do not accept arguments showing why it could be many other factors than genetics. All you have done is call people “liberal,” which I find totally irrelevant here.

I didn’t accept your premise, because you didn’t support it. I have read, studied, seen and experienced many things that refute it—not because I am a “liberal,” which I do not consider myself and you have no way of knowing. My argument is that these stereotypes are unsupported by evidence. I think lapilofu presented a masterful summary of why to assume the differences you cited (which I contend are inaccurate anyway) stem from a genetic advantage does not make sense.

GreatEscape's avatar

I’m not saying i’m 100% certain genetics play a factor I’m saying it’s possible they do. I will end it there because if you don’t read my articles anyway and I’m sick of the “we’re all unique snow flakes” talk. I believe we are all much more alike then we are different and I believe tens of thousands of years of evolution could effect who we are today.

lapilofu's avatar

Regarding Asian intelligence:

Here was a question tailor-made for James Flynn’s accounting skills. He looked first at Lynn’s data, and realized that the comparison was skewed. Lynn was comparing American I.Q. estimates based on a representative sample of schoolchildren with Japanese estimates based on an upper-income, heavily urban sample. Recalculated, the Japanese average came in not at 106.6 but at 99.2. Then Flynn turned his attention to the Chinese-American estimates. They turned out to be based on a 1975 study in San Francisco’s Chinatown using something called the Lorge-Thorndike Intelligence Test. But the Lorge-Thorndike test was normed in the nineteen-fifties. For children in the nineteen-seventies, it would have been a piece of cake. When the Chinese-American scores were reassessed using up-to-date intelligence metrics, Flynn found, they came in at 97 verbal and 100 nonverbal. Chinese-Americans had slightly lower I.Q.s than white Americans.

The Asian-American success story had suddenly been turned on its head. The numbers now suggested, Flynn said, that they had succeeded not because of their higher I.Q.s. but despite their lower I.Q.s. Asians were overachievers. In a nifty piece of statistical analysis, Flynn then worked out just how great that overachievement was. Among whites, virtually everyone who joins the ranks of the managerial, professional, and technical occupations has an I.Q. of 97 or above. Among Chinese-Americans, that threshold is 90. A Chinese-American with an I.Q. of 90, it would appear, does as much with it as a white American with an I.Q. of 97.

There should be no great mystery about Asian achievement. It has to do with hard work and dedication to higher education, and belonging to a culture that stresses professional success. But Flynn makes one more observation. The children of that first successful wave of Asian-Americans really did have I.Q.s that were higher than everyone else’s—coming in somewhere around 103. Having worked their way into the upper reaches of the occupational scale, and taken note of how much the professions value abstract thinking, Asian-American parents have evidently made sure that their own children wore scientific spectacles. “Chinese Americans are an ethnic group for whom high achievement preceded high I.Q. rather than the reverse,” Flynn concludes, reminding us that in our discussions of the relationship between I.Q. and success we often confuse causes and effects. “It is not easy to view the history of their achievements without emotion,” he writes. That is exactly right. To ascribe Asian success to some abstract number is to trivialize it.

This would be a good article for you to read

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