Diversity is strength

It’s pretty dumb to write about something that Steve Sailer and Chuck have already written about. But, I can’t resist adding a few thoughts about Tyler Cowen’s views on the Olympics.

If I had to name something for which diversity was indeed a strength, I’d probably say the Olympics. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hyped.

It’s impossible not to notice certain politically incorrect things while you watch the olympics. With a few exceptions, for example, good swimmers come from a few countries or have surnames indicating that their ancestors once came from those countries. The same thing is true for runners (though the countries are very different). Given how many swimming and running medals are given out, I suspect that medal counts won’t shift as much as people suggest.

For similar reasons, I’ll be surprised if Africa starts winning lots more medals. Many African countries do well in running events, but as their continent gets less diverse, they may even win fewer medals.

For example, most of Zimbabwe’s medals are in swimming. And almost all were won by this woman. Let’s just say vaguely that it’s unlikely that Zimbabwe will find another swimming star anytime soon.

South Africa has many more medals, but a brief perusal of the surnames of it’s medal winners coupled with some knowledge of current events in South Africa, would seem to suggest that South Africa is about to embark on a path of winning fewer (not more) medals.

Finally, I’ll close with a prediction that the Chinese will increase their domination of the weird individual sports that no one cares about.


5 Responses to Diversity is strength

  1. Handle says:

    Don’t underestimate the Chinese athlete breeding program. Like with Economics and GDP, the government feels it has to deliver constant growth, and “movement up the supply chain” (from obscure to mainstream / headline sports). They won’t just cede certain events away forever.

    If they have to coercively pair up the best male and female athletes in any particular sport as an exercise in Olympic “animal” husbandry, then they will.

    Who knows, by the time they’re done, after a dozen generations or so, they could end up with “Chinese” specimens that look remarkably like the ones that are currently winning gold in those events.

    Or they could just try to import that genetic talent now from much poorer countries that win gold, but I don’t think they’ll choose that option.

    • Foseti says:

      If the Chinese are breading awesome athletes, do you think they’re also trying to breed super smart people?

      • Handle says:

        First, I think China already has plenty of super-smart people, their problem is more reducing the fraction of the non-smart people. If the country with the largest population in the world also has on of the highest mean IQ’s, then it stands to reason that they have the largest collection of super-smart people on Earth. Derbyshire likes to point to the membership of US Math teams:

        An example of a true positive stereotype would be “East Asian kids are good at math.” That’s statistically true, as test results confirm — or you can just go check the results for the 2010 International Math Olympiad. The surnames of the U.S. team were as follows: Feng, Po-Shen, O’Dorney, He, Gunby, Deng, Na, and Yuan. So that’s a true stereotype, and it’s also a positive one … if you like math.

        Second, I think Chinese intelligence breeding occurs automatically and passively in the same Charles Murray Bell-Curve-hypothesis-esque manner as in the US – through assortative mating in key elite educational institutions which bring together the best, brightest (or at least most wealth, cunning, or well-connected) at precisely the right age-ranges – helping to establish a money-brains-power elite aristocratic caste (and one that will, eventually, an in true Marx-predicted fashion, want, and be capable of, refashioning the nation to benefit their class the most).

        Third, and finally, athletic win-loss competition is very zero-sum where tiny, marginal differences in performance make huge differences in outcomes. Consider the difference between Gold and Absolutely Nothing in women running over 6 miles was only 3 seconds a mile (though that was between two Ethiopians, sandwiching two medaling Kenyans).

        I don’t think there is at all a similar phenomenon, especially when it comes to social welfare or “national prestige” benefit when it comes to tiny improvements or differences in intelligence.

        My “The End of Ideas” thesis is that it’s getting much harder to innovate in genuinely economically-productive ways these days, and so to out-compete peers at the cutting edge requires the opposite of marginal advantage. Instead you need a lot of people who are a lot smarter and equipped with a lot more “innovative-capital” (in whatever form that may take).

  2. dearieme says:

    “I’ll close with a prediction that the Chinese will increase their domination of the weird individual sports that no one cares about.”

    And why not? North American spectator sports seem to be largely weird team sports that no one else cares about.

  3. Patton says:

    Sorry – couldn’t help lowering the level of discourse with other peoples’ humor:


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