« The human side of the hereditary nature of psychological disorders | Main | Will Mike Huckabee be the Republican nominee? »

December 11, 2007

Comments

You should do some searching on current USCF politics. She was elected as the chairman/president, and now her buddy Paul Troung is facing a lawsuit for posting on Usenet under a false identity, smearing a former elected chess official for years. Weird stuff.

Maybe you ought to get to know Susan Polgar in person ... she's single now, and reasonably hott.

Maybe you ought to get to know Susan Polgar in person ... she's single now, and reasonably hott.

Whoops, cancel that suggestion, she recently remarried.

Apropos of the earlier chess thread, her new husband sounds like he's Asian (Paul Truong).

HS,

One of the differences between the Ivy Leagues and other sports programs is that since the Ivy League is not paying the tuition, a student can quit the team and stay in school. It is different at other schools where quitting the team really means leaving the school.

Also, one of the dirty little secrets in college sports is that playing on a sports team generally means that you are limited in your major. There is little time for organic chemistry lab or architecture homework when one is a college athlete.

Washingtonian Magazine had an article about how a world class swimmer can pass up the college scholarship because they get enough money in endorsements. http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/4769.html

superdestroyer, if you are successful at something that pays a lot of money and that doesn't require a college degree, and a lot of sports come to mind here (as well as modeling, being a pop music star, etc), then college is not only unnecessary, it's a wasteful distraction from your true calling.

Some level of musical training is very accessible to the lower class and high level training is among the most prestigious for the upper class.

On the low end a kid can participate in school music programs, can often borrow an instrument or rent one cheaply. Mere participation helps on college aps.

Rich parents can afford private lessons on expensive instruments and other perks.

Cheap starter brass instruments are a few hundred dollars new. Orchestral quality instruments, particularly strings, can be thousands of dollars. And there's everything in between. No matter what one's social status learning a musical instrument can help a kid immensely even without oodles of talent.

Yes, HS, but even most college scholarship athletes playing in "power conferences" don't play professionally. Even a minority of the players at the BCS Championship game won't make money at their sport. Ivy League athletes are significantly less talented than athletes in top Division IA scholarship programs, so someone who is going to be an Ivy athlete already knows he's not going to go pro.

So athletics can still be useful as an admission chip to get into an Ivy League school. But the commenter is right; a person who uses athletics only to get admitted to an Ivy might find the tradeoff of a less difficult major not worth it (this guy says his son switched from Computer Engineering to Computer Science due to football constraints):
http://www.johntreed.com/matsdad.html

There's another scandal at the Ivies: Since they are not governed by the NCAA scholarship limits, they recruit about twice as many athletes each year as the scholarship programs. So they always have several times more athletes around than they need, to the point where they have dozens of "players" that aren't even considered worthy of a seat on the team bus to away games. So a kid who wants to play his sport is likely to find himself 7th string and also find that the coach is actively recruiting 3 or 4 new players for his position next year. Scholarship schools don't have 7th string.
(same source)

(that last post was in reply to HS's "distraction from your true calling," and should read that a "a minority of the players...will make money")

"... To this extent, I don’t think that the girls accomplished that much. ..."

This is unfair to Judit. Many of the men she competes with had intense early training as well. I don't believe Kasparov had anything like a normal childhood.

Using the Ivies to illustrate the effects of sports programs at prestigious colleges is misleading. As noted, they don't offer athletic scholarships, and their football teams compete in the college equivalent of the minor leagues. It's much more useful to look at prestigious colleges that offer athletic scholarships and compete at high levels. Examples would include Duke, Stanford, Notre Dame, Michigan and Northwestern.

James is correct. Inflicting this kind of hothouse, intensive, early-life training is not at all unusual among parents who expect their children, male or female, to grow up to be top chess players.

James B. Shearer, I suspect that every current top level chess player had formal training when they were young. Chess is a pursuit that is now played at such a high level at the top that one can't get to the top without starting out early. But none of the other top players where trained to the same extent as the Polgar sisters.

One out of a hundred is about right. Although no women have won the Fields Medal, you would expect roughly one or two out of a hundred medals awarded, go to women.

Women who are talented in male-dominated areas such as chess or physics, tend to be anomalous. A burst of testosterone at a key moment of brain development and voila! A woman who can use her inherited brain power in male ways.

While held up by women as champions of the sex, they actually illustrate the functionality of judicious amounts of male hormone.

The difference between the sexes in game performance is even more notable in bridge. In the US the majority of all bridge players are female. Yet in the top ranks of bridge they are all male.

Eli Culbertson - the father of modern contract bridge - created the game to appeal specifically to women. At one time the only Life Master in the game was Helen Sobel. Sobel was always said to, "think like a man".

Its like basketball. Most US basketball players are white - only the very best are black.

It does demonstrate that a big part of chess is merely being trained to be a chess player.

Absolutely. There have been studies that demonstrate that when chess pieces are placed on boards in combinations that aren't normally encountered by players, skill level falls dramatically. Even excellent chess players are hardly better than novices under such circumstances. Experience, a good work ethic, and a good memory appear to count for a lot in chess.

Go has top female players, although they are unsurprisingly Asians whose brains seem to be built differently than those of their Caucasian sisters.

Experience, a good work ethic, and a good memory appear to count for a lot in chess

And good concentration, a mental attribute perhaps as equally important to chess success as high IQ.

peter,

If you look at the majors of the NCAA champion women field hockey team (a sport with no professional league and almost all white players), the majors of the 2007 team are (according to the 2007 press guide):

General College
Psychology
General College
Exercise and Sport Science
General College
Exercise and Sport Science
Business
International Studies
Exercise and Sport Science
Exercise and Sport Science
Management and Society
Communication Studies
Exercise and Sport Science
General College
General College
Exercise and Sport Science
General College
Journalism/Advertising
General College
Psychology/Sociology
Exercise and Sport Science
Art
General College
General College
General College
Journalism

I fail to see the benefit of being on a non-revenue sports team is if your degrees ends up in General College or Sports Science.

I presume that "Exercise and Sport Science" means one is majoring in playing sports.

"Despite the fact that these three girls were trained intensively in chess like no other humans before them in the history of the planet"

Like no other humans? That's bullshit. Even in my lame local chess circuit there were kids training 30+ hours per week and whose parents paid thousands of dollars to have them trained with Master+ level trainers. Other parents did the same thing with swimmers, gymnasts, football players, basketball players, etc.

While unusual, there's nothing unique about Laszlo's techniques. He just happens to have a PhD and recorded his parenting in a research paper.

Plus the whole idea of the natural prodigy has largely been disproven.

But if your kid is unathletic, chess is certainly an option.

Some parents might give up on sports too soon. Even kids who seem unathletic might be able to find a suitable sport.

I'm not sure if it was here that I mentioned this, but when I was in college (a smaller college with Div. III teams and no athletic scholarships) the rowing team functioned as a sort of fallback opportunity for students who hadn't played sports in high school and wanted to change things in college. Qualifying for the team required excellent physical conditioning but not much in terms of specific athletic skills, so it was especially hospitable to newcomers. There were several different squads, based on weight and competitiveness, so the overall team roster was quite large and offered ample opportunities. I knew a number of people who joined the rowing team and all of them were pleased with the experience.

And then, of course, you have me .... way too out-of-shape to have even thought of joining the rowing or any other team, I went through college without having participated in any sports at all. Today, many years later, I've discovered fitness and am in vastly better shape than in my college days. Unfortuantely, the near-complete lack of adult team sports opportunities - you can thank cartball mania for that - means that I will never share in the team sports experience, and there is nothing I can do about that. It sucks, horribly.

Many say this experiment proves that girls can play chess as well as boys. I don’t think so. Despite the fact that these three girls were trained intensively in chess like no other humans before them in the history of the planet, only one was able to become a top 100 chess player when compared to men.

I think you're vastly underrating how hard it is to break into the top 100 chess players.

Can you imagine a psychologist deciding to raise his 3 girls to be NBA (not WNBA) players? (Let's stipulate that they would all grow to at least 6'1".) Would you dismiss his accomplishment if only one of them made it? Can you imagine one of them even playing college ball on a good mens' team?

I think the account of the Polgars is some decent evidence that the innate gap between girls and boys in chess is much smaller than people think. Obviously, a sample size of 3 can't really tell us anything, but if they are representative at all, then we'd have to assume that if as many girls were pushed as hard to play chess as boys, there would be far more females in the top ranks.

And good concentration, a mental attribute perhaps as equally important to chess success as high IQ.

So can we apply this to the idea of using WordSum as a proxy for IQ and IQ as the sole determinant of the ability to have a happy life?

Its obvious to me that there are a lot of success factors in life beyond the ability to do word analogies- optimism, diligence and perseverance being some. And those are greatly influenced by the home environment.

I still think that the Blue/Brown Eye "study" was an unhelpful red herring, but we should at least acknowledge that there are a lot of success factors besides IQ. And not inherited wealth either.

A profile of Gata Kamsky, a male counterpart of the Polgar sisters.

HS,

You have lived a sheltered life if you do not know what a sports and exercise science major is. What do you think personal trainers and gym managers and aerobics instructors get their degree in?

HS:

"Although Gata has a ranking 3 places higher than Judit Polgar, he never made it to the top. He was not a natural chess talent."

Gata was ranked third in the world at one point (Judit's highest ranking was 8th). Seems pretty close to the top to me. And I am not convinced he had no natural talent. Of course Rustam claims it was all his doing but Rustam is a jerk. We don't hear about all the kids who were pushed by their parents but got nowhere because they really didn't have any natural talent.

So can we apply this to the idea of using WordSum as a proxy for IQ and IQ as the sole determinant of the ability to have a happy life?

I would never claim IQ is the sole determinant of happiness. I would claim IQ is very important to predicting socioeconomic success. I'm not very materialistic or status-seeking myself and so I understand that economic success isn't everything. At least, it isn't everything to people like me. I might be the rare exception.

Its obvious to me that there are a lot of success factors in life beyond the ability to do word analogies- optimism, diligence and perseverance being some. And those are greatly influenced by the home environment.

Right, but you're still not going to become a grandmaster in chess with an IQ of 85, no matter how good your work ethic or how optimistic your outlook on life is.

This thread has some very interesting implications. To the Polgar sisters exhibit, I would add the Williams sisters and one Tiger Woods. Less certain, but perhaps equally relevant are the Manning brothers.

Granted we don't know all the wash-outs that underwent intensive training from their parents.
But could it be that in contradiction to the stereotype that obsessive parental training in a winner-take-all field yields unhappy, mal-adjusted kids, the reality is that with a modicum of applicable raw talent (IQ or athletic) spectacular absolute results can be achieved?

If so, rather than sports and chess, might a middle class parent of moderately high intelligence, but nothing MIT quality, be well served intensively training one's children on stock market investing and speculation?

What other fields are under-competitive as measured by the genetic barrier to entry relative to the compensation of the top 10% in the field?

(To clarify, the genetic barrier to entry is obviously highest in sports. Track and field easily being the highest. Adjusted for compensation I think the NBA follwed by the NFL have the highest genetic barriers to entry. Ladies tennis and men's golf I would say offer the lowest genetic barriers among sports one can make a highly lucrative living from.)

So what about non-sports careers? Investment banker I think has relatively low genetic barrier, but is highly competitive and takes a decent amount of random luck (getting into the right school, in the right year, then hired by the right firm). Stock market speculation by contrast seems under-competitive. There are lots of arm-chair day-traders with no formal training whatsoever. Additionally it has very low barriers to entry and one's success does not rely on much randomness, though a good lucky break never hurts. Finally, it can be highly renumerative.

But I'd like to hear other nominations.

I don't agree Kamsky wasn't a natural talent. He was the only 16-year-old ever rated in the top 10 in the world. Of all the prodigies in the history of chess, he might be the strongest.

Also, he came back a few years ago and is now contending for a match with Topalov, the ex-champion. If he wins, he will get a match with the world champ. So, he isn't done yet.

What kind of a psychologist uses his children as guinea pigs for his theories?

I'm a little bitter because my older sister was pushed into a particular sport and it screwed her up for life.

Better his on kids than someone else's.

Parents who want their kids to be great at something need to start training them at the age of four.

Of course there are exceptions to this assumption, which isn't far fetched to begin with. This individual didn't pick up the guitar until he was 12 yrs old. And he wasn't taught by the best, he primarily taught himself how to play; although did have great influences while growing up.

And this individual didn't start playing until he was 18 yrs old and he too was primarily self taught. He practiced 8 hours a day, just about every day while working towards a degree at Harvard.

Perhaps the older you are, the harder you have to work at mastering it? If it weren't for our stupid jobs and school (not to mention our stupid bosses and co-workers) anybody could master anything with the proper motivation along with time to master the said skill.

Parents who want their kids to be great at something need to start training them at the age of four.

Of course there are exceptions to this assumption, which isn't far fetched to begin with. This individual didn't pick up the guitar until he was 12 yrs old ... And this individual didn't start playing until he was 18 yrs old and he too was primarily self taught.

Tony "The Tiger" Thompson, among the top seven or eight heavyweight boxers in the world (and the highest-ranked American), didn't take up the sport until he was 26 years old.

"Better his on kids than someone else's."

True.

Here is a recent paper about sex differences in chess ability. I think it supports the idea that there is an innate male advantage on average.

http://math.bu.edu/people/mg/papers/SexDiffsChess.pdf

Psychological Science
Volume 17 Issue 12 Page 1040-1046, December 2006

Sex Differences in Intellectual Performance:
Analysis of a Large Cohort of Competitive Chess Players

by Christopher F. Chabris, Harvard University
and Mark E. Glickman, Boston University School of Public Health

Abstract
Only 1% of the world’s chess grandmasters are women. This underrepresentation is unlikely to be caused by discrimination, since chess ratings objectively reflect competitive results. Using data on the ratings of 250,000 tournament players over 13 years, we investigate several potential
explanations for the male domination of elite chess. We find that: (1) the ratings of men are higher on average than those of women, but no more variable; (2) matched boys and girls improve and drop out at equal rates, but boys begin chess competition in greater numbers and at higher performance levels than girls; (3) in locales where at least 50% of the new young players are girls, their initial ratings are not lower than those of boys. We conclude that the greater number of men at the highest levels in chess can be explained by the greater number of boys who enter chess at the lowest levels.

Speaking of sex differences, did anyone hear the absurd Diane Rehm show this morning on NPR? She interviewed Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano who wrote "Playing With the Boys" and who may be the most delusional people I've ever heard on radio, including the UFO conspiracy nuts.

Joe:

I heard that and I thought it was ridiculous too.

The comments to this entry are closed.