Here it’s would-be hard-headed conservatives arguing that intellectual greatness comes from genetics and the accidents of birth and demanding we “accept” this “unpleasant truth”.And it’s would-be compassionate progressives who are insisting that no, it depends on who works harder, claiming anybody can be brilliant if they really try, warning us not to “stigmatize” the less intelligent as “genetically inferior”. I sometimes blog about research into IQ and human intelligence.I think most readers of this blog already know IQ is 50% to 80% heritable, and that it’s so important for intellectual pursuits that eminent scientists in some fields have average IQs around 150 to 160.In Math, I just barely by the skin of my teeth scraped together a pass in Calculus with a C-.Every time I won some kind of prize in English my parents would praise me and say I was good and should feel good.My teachers would hold me up as an example and say other kids should try to be more like me.Meanwhile, when I would bring home a report card with a C- in math, my parents would have concerned faces and tell me they were disappointed and I wasn’t living up to my potential and I needed to work harder et cetera. Every time I was held up as an example in English class, I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. I didn’t study at all, half the time I did the homework in the car on the way to school, those essays for the statewide competition were thrown together on a lark without a trace of real effort.
Overweight people, and especially people who feel unfairly stigmatized for being overweight, tend to cluster on the biologically determined side.
And pretty much all of those people still got more educational opportunities than Ramanujan did. First, we can say that a lot of intelligence is innate, that Ramanujan was a genius, and that we mortals cannot be expected to replicate his accomplishments.
Or second, we can say those poor people are just not trying hard enough.
Take “innate ability” out of the picture, and if you meet a poor person on the street begging for food, saying he never had a chance, your reply must be “Well, if you’d just borrowed a couple of math textbooks from the local library at age 12, you would have been a Fields Medalist by now.
I hear that pays pretty well.” The best reason not to say that is that we view Ramanujan as intellectually gifted.