September 02, 2006

Genetics and Fate

[Latter reply to a debate concerning what determines a person's fate and limitations]

I use the word "proof" not in the mathematical sense, but in the sense that a scientific hypothesis can be proved within the limitations of data and observations, using additional data.

It's not incompatible with you're system, Earl.

First, you are conceding that height is genetic, I believe.

That's a very vague thesis, Earl. Is the ocean wet? Is the sky blue? We have to get into specifics.

Why? This belief is only an inference from observations that we’ve made

When I said specifics, I mean specifics in relation to what genetics does when applied to specific things. When you talk about genetics being height or height being genetics, that is the specificity I hold in memory when I talk about how this that and the other are on one list, while others are on another list. The relationship between height and genetics, are specific, they should not be treated in a general format. That loses fidelity and sharpness of clarity.

When you outline your thoughts on the connection between height and genetics, you will find that it does not include every other thing you have listed as alike the contrast.


If I can show you that this is so for intelligence and disease, will you then concede that we have NO genetic limitations?

Genetics does not seem to be a coherent whole, attached as a singular entity. Meaning, if you can take it and apply it to one sector of human affairs, that does not mean everything else becomes just like that one application. So let's say if you can construct a model demonstrating that there are limits for intelligence and disease based upon known and proven DNA sectors and configurations. So what. We are not specifically talking about what genetics do or do not do, we or I, are talking about the strict human limitations of a person as opposed to his archetypal DNA structure. We can base our consideration of human limitations on genetic limitations, but that is not set in stone nor is it guaranteed to be the correct method in determining human limitations, as opposed to genetic limitations. Obviously genes have a limit, they are a biological system. All physical systems, which includes the biological as it obeys the conservation of mass and energy, have limitations that are consistent with other like systems.

Human limitations, are not a physical system, it does not obey the logical mandates we would otherwise assume holds.

Second, you neglected to mention Mozart. I know of few to no other toddlers who were performing/writing music as he did. Why is that…..if musical talent is equally distributed and its emergence depends solely on environment, then does it seem likely that the fame and wealth available to someone whose child was such a prodigy would not have tempted them to do whatever Mozart’s father did? Or did he know a secret that has escaped everyone else?

That is not the model that I choose to support, however. When I say that humans have limitations that are not strictly based upon their genetic pre-destined limitations, I mean exactly that. I do not deny that there are advantages confered upon a person when he is naturally gifted at a specific field in human endeavour. However, I do contest that the end result, the end human limits achieved or not achieved, is predominantly or even entirely based upon motivation, environment, and the shaping of the human personality/soul.

Mozart was trained early on as a performer, because his father was obsessed more or less with music and having a child prodigy. That kind of obsession produces character, a specific kind of character in a child. To please his father, to do well, and to utilize his gifts. Would a father have as much absolute end result success, if his child was not gifted in music? I believe that to be a positive answer, in so far as the child has an equal motivation. Mozart's motivation was to please his father, to do well, to work the music, and to learn music which he was good at. Those things that you are good at, you tend to specialize in, do you not. If a child is not good at music, what can you do to make him want to be good in order to balance out the natural advantage of a Mozart? Mozart's motivations come from his unique circumstance. If you can equal that motivation, your human limitations have now changed.

Let's say musical talent was distributed more or less equally. If being a musician pays nothing, and being a doctor pays a lot, which do you think fathers will attempt to motivate their sons to go into irregardless of what their sons really are good at? This is not a useful model to demonstrate anything, to presume that musical talent is spread out and ask why it doesn't show up. You end up more involved in human socioeconomic straits than with genetics.

I think that a FAR likelier story (not proved by science, just the inference to the best explanation) is that musical talent is NOT distributed equally to all of us.

SInce that has nothing to do with why if you worked, trained, became as motivated as Lance Armstrong and still could not be on his level, what worth is it to say whether talent is distributed or not? You didn't begin this by talking about where talent was distributed. You just defacto said that some people could not achieve the level of an Armstrong and what not. If you are going to go with talent distribution, then that only determines where people start, not where they end. Since you began with the end goal, your current subject does not support that end you are striving for.

If height is limited genetically, why is it such a stretch to think that maximum muscle size is also limited in that way?

For one thing. Bones suffer from what is known as support problems, basically physics. Muscles operates based upon biology, not physics. In physics, steel does not become harder the more you use it or the more stress is placed upon it. Bone is not steel, but it is limited simply because of gravity and what purpose it serves. It's always a stretch to compare the Sun and the Moon, the atom and the ion, anti-matter and matter. Strength from body building, comes from years of building muscle because muscle gets better the more it is used. Arnold, who used bodybuilding as a way to get out of poverty, had more of a motivaton to utilize those years building up muscles, then some guy living the high life at hollywood training at a gym.

As bones grow larger and longer, they require ligaments that are genetically designed for a certain specific range of weight and size. Artificial growth does not work as nature designed things to work. Muscles do not require bone, since muscles move themselves. The limitations for height as opposed to muscle are not the same. Therefore whatever data you collect on the data, are not comparable. Those observations are independent of each other, you cannot just construct a hypothesis using data from two independent things and then just link them together without the correct correlations.

I trained hard - twice a day, watching my diet, etc.

Let's think about this and analyze it.

Does this story support my idea that mile-running ability is unequally distributed and that if Eddie and I did PRECISELY the same training regiment he would always have a genetic advantage over me? Or does it support (NOT “prove”) your contention that mile-running ability is equally distributed and that if Eddie and I trained in preciselythe same way, we would end up with the same time in the mile?

I wouldn't really care whether ability is unequally distributed or not. But that, as i mentioned above, was not where you started from. You started with the thesis that people like you and others, cannot achieve the level of skill and ability of current top dogs. Cannot, meaning as in never, always limited, predestined by birth. Your story supports the theory that he who has a lead, can maintain that lead if he doesn't slack off. That's just physics, force and acceleration, inertia. A mass in motion, will tend to stay in motion until an equal and opposite force stops it.

I don't contend that basic genetic predispositions do not accelerate a person's skill, ability, and talent set. What I contended, was that genetics are neither the majority or primary causes of whether a person reaches the height of power and skill.

You're going down an irrelevant path here. You need to explain why genetics predetermine people's careers and potential successes. You need to explain why you think early successes in a person's life brought on by genetic talent or other factors does not increase people's motivations. You need to then explain, why a person is limited by his genetics, when in fact, he is limited by his personality, life goals, and motivational construct.

See, it really doesn't matter who has what talent, on what kind of distribution system, or in which time date. What really matters, is whether you can adequately construct and explain your hypothesis, your hypothesis being that genetics pre-determine a person's fate, regardless of any other factor.

I don't need to believe that genetics are "equally distributed", for you to be wrong. As I explain, your theory is wrong simply because how far people go is determined by their motivation and early life experiences. But I don't arrive that the point using inductive logic, the kind of logic you use when you think of science and experiments, Earl. Genetics only matter in the sense, that it molded their early life experiences and gave them additional reason to excel. Thus, Lance's superiority to you, is not his genetics, it is his motivation. He pushes his limits all the time, you believe some are the way they are because they were born that way.

I'm done with the conclusion, now here's the other miscellaneous stuff.
P.S.
Well, Ymarsakar - perhaps you’re correct and if I’d really applied myself, I could have been the equal of Van Cliburn, but you know what…..? Much as I admire my potential in all kinds of ways, I don’t think so. I don’t have the same genetics as Van Cliburn, and the evidence is pretty firm that that counts.

That's right, Earl. You don't think so. You think you don't have the same potential, the same limitations, because you don't have the same genetics. You base your thinking on genetics, your conclusions on your hypothesis concerning genetics.

The science does not bear out your hypothesis, Earl. We can break the science apart into many things. But since I already wrote my conclusion more or less, I'll just list the fundamental difference between one belief of a person and what science supports. Science supports specific DNA structures that allow greater initial performance than the competitors. What science does not support, is that Earl could not have been the equal of Van Cliburn, only because Van's genes are not Earl's genes. That's not an experiment science has done, with any sort of good accurate result.

People are not like other people because their souls are not the same, their personality are not the same. These are the primary reasons and causes for differences amongst individuals. Genetics do not decide good and evil, genetics do not decide success or failure. In fact, genetics is a crap shoot, it's nature's way of gambling and see who wins or not. Genetics Do Not Matter. Only victory and success matters, power and skill over your rivals. That is nature's goal, genetics are a means to an end. It is not the end goal itself. Because genes are not the end goal, they can be surpassed and bypassed. If you can't go through a wall because your genetics have spoken, then you can go around, dig under, climb ontop. Victory, however, cannot be bypassed, it cannot be stolen or fake copied. There is no way to make it so that we do not "need" victory, we will always need it. Genes, can be bypassed and circumvented, because genes are not the end goal while victory is.

What does all this have to do with you believing that I am contending that people are born with an equal amount of potential and talent? I don't care what they are born with, that's the whole point. It's what you end up as that matters. It doesn't matter if you use genes, a time machine, science, pseudo-limbs, or whatever to get at the end goal.

You can't use science to create models to determine whether a person's potential is determined by A, B, or C. Well you could, but you wouldn't succede. There are too many variables, you can't isolate specific variables you need in your experiment, and various other problems that arise. You think in terms of experiments, how can I experiment to see whether me and my friend here the runner, can end up the same if we did the same training regiment. Because the scientific methodology is inadequate to the task, you have to use something else. Just like with genes, if you can't do things one way because your genes said you can't fly, find a way around it.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Earl said...

I'm not sure what your background in science is, and it doesn't really matter, because it's the quality of the utterance, not the status of the utterer that counts. BUT, you do not say things about the issue we're discussing as if you're very well acquainted with what the scientific community has "proved within the limitations of data and observations".

Prime example: "Genetics Do Not Matter." It seems that you are aligning yourself here with Lamarck and Lysenko here....and to the extent that it is possible, this idea has been decisively refuted by observation, experiment, and in every other way accessible to us.

A simple example -- we know that muscles have both "fast-twitch" and "slow-twitch" cells. Human beings are born with differing proportions of these types of cells. Those with higher levels of fast-twitch cells excel at explosive sorts of athletic endeavor like jumping, sprinting, etc. Conversely, those with more slow-twitch cells excel at endurance and can be found among the champions of long-distance running and other such endeavor.

It appears that certain kinds of training can change these proportions, but only to a limited degree. If what we have currently discovered is factual, then regardless of what you or I may wish or believe, athletes with a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers are going to beat athletes with a smaller proportion, given the same types and intensity of training.

Observation bears this out....athletes with an African background assort themselves differently into the track and field areas. There are no West Africans of whom I'm aware who excel in the marathon. Conversely, can we find ANY Kenyans or Ethiopians who hold a record in the sprints? There is nothing that suggests differences in desire or training or commitment or effort. The inference to the best explanation is that the evolutionary background of these two groups has provided them with different genetic endowments, that can be overcome only to a limited degree.

Environment is important. Most of us are not bumping up against our genetic limits at any point. We limit ourselves 'WAY short of our potential by what we do or don't do.....but conceding that is not the same as saying that we do not have a limit on our potential.

And from what we "know" scientifically, our genetics limits the maximum length of our adult bones -- some of us CAN reach six feet if we are fed properly, and some of us can't. Physics can't explain this, but genetics can. It is simple logic (perhaps mistaken, but in line with most observation, and all our knowledge of genetics) to accept the hypothesis that the shape and maximum size of our muscles is limited in much the same way.

03 September, 2006 11:03  
Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It's a better idea to stick with what I've said, explained and set up, rather than introducing foreign impurities like Lamarck and Lysenko.

Those with higher levels of fast-twitch cells excel at explosive sorts of athletic endeavor like jumping, sprinting, etc. Conversely, those with more slow-twitch cells excel at endurance and can be found among the champions of long-distance running and other such endeavor.

This means people are fated to be what their genetics have predestined. The science calculates your belief, but that is not how it should work. Instead of asking if such things are probably true, you should ask yourself if they should be true.

It appears that certain kinds of training can change these proportions, but only to a limited degree.

These are the means of course, not the end goal. Has science devoted much effort and time to figuring out how to change genetics through exercise, meditation, and training? No. The military focuses on bettering a person, and working in a team to offset initial weaknesses. Science does not care about the fate of humans as its end goal, and since it is the fate of humans we speak of, science is not the best method to determine the fate of humans.

If what we have currently discovered is factual, then regardless of what you or I may wish or believe, athletes with a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers are going to beat athletes with a smaller proportion, given the same types and intensity of training.

But fate doesn't give a fair playing field. Fate and luck didn't give people the same genetics, and therefore they will not give the same type and intensity of training, simply because the individual choices people make are derived from their intelligence and their specific personality.

In this way, genetics does not matter because genetics have a way of balancing out the strengths and weaknesses inherent in its application.

When refering to fate, I am not speaking of scientific experiments in which a fair playing field is setup for this athlete with fast twitch vs this guy with slow twitch. It is a useful comparison, I admit, to determine the underlying variables, but it does in no way determine the end game result in the long term.

What should be in true, then, is based upon all the variables that are in play. Every single thing that can and is present in a human beng's individual life span, has to be calculated to determine what his fate is to be. You focus on his genetics setting his fate, I say not only does the science not support that, but that the science is unable to conduct experiments that isolates all variables independently.

but conceding that is not the same as saying that we do not have a limit on our potential.

I do believe there are limits, but I also believe that those limits are not pre-set by genetics. If what you said is true, and it most probably is, then genetics gives you a head start and a higher relative potential than other people. But that's all it is. Genetics doesn't actually allow you to fullfill your potential, you still have to do the work, make the choices, and succede in reality.

People with brains in universities and with Ph.D.s, are naturally gifted. Why are they unable to determine the psychological warfare elements that will allow a victory against Islamic Jihad if they are so naturally a genius? Because in the real world, genetics are not the primary component in setting up the end results of a person's fate.

For every genetic pre-disposition trait, that you can prove to be advantageous to a person in one way or another, it is equally offset by a whole slew of other variables in life. That is why I say it does not matter. Genetics is a variable that is being divided into a much larger number, and while it has an effect, the numerator is the number that determines predominantly what the end result is, given that the denominator is a constant (dna).

to accept the hypothesis that the shape and maximum size of our muscles is limited in much the same way.

There's two kinds of maximums as I see it, Earl. The Maximum in absolute terms, given all variables checked and requirements fullfilled, and the maximum that a person can realistically accomplish given certain limitations.

You were talking about Mr. Universe, if I recall. By stating that muscles have a maximum amount that cannot be exceeded, that is a different conclusion than the one about Mr. Universe, who has reached a certain high order level, amount, and tone of muscle.

You claim that any person cannot achieve the level of Arnold, as he is and as he was. How do you know this when the maximum amount of muscle is realistically unachievable by any sort of scientific experiment or reality result?

You have a foundation, Earl, but your application and interpretation into real world events is the problem, as I contend. Even if your hypothesis was true, it does not determine the truth or falsity of your conclusions concerning real life events. Logic deals in variables and foundation supports. You're missing the one piece that connects the real world to your hypothesis, whether of muscles or genetics.

Most likely, this is due to science being unable and indisposed towards calculating and judging systems with large numbers of variables, with few constants. What is true with a limited playing field and isolated variable data, as with an experiment Earl, can translate improperly into the real world because the real world has more variables you might not have accounted for. Same goes for scaling up in terms of engineering. Things cannot be scaled up perfectly 1 to 1, given certain variables like gravity and what not and their effects together.

04 September, 2006 10:45  

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