If success is defined from an economic point of view in absolutes it makes sense. As the best predictor of your wealth is your parents wealth.
"Intelligence" is harder to add to the equation as it is more difficult to measure than parents wealth and there are known bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect) that makes people think that they are smarter/more competent that they really are. So it is even possible that a superiority complex or insecurity are relevant even when the participants in the survey don't think so. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Triple_Package)
This results show the consequence of a diminishing socio-economic mobility. The same traits and skills in a high mobility society are going to have a big weight in "success" achievement. In an stagnated society where the system is rigged to make poor stay poor and rich stay rich "success" becomes an inherited trait making "socioeconomic background" the only and best predictor.
Coming from an Eastern European country, my parents were making less than $10000 a year combined in the '80s and '90s. Nowhere near "wealthy" by western standards. However, they gifted me with a strong STEM education, which translated in material affluence 25 years later on a different continent.
Might consider that the biggest transferable wealth across generations is a good education and a life long example of thrift and hard work.
That's the very definition of anecdotal evidence and survivorship bias. Both things that a strong STEM education should help squash.
It's also based on a historical peculiarity. In the west, and in particular in the US, to get a good STEM education you statistically have to be middle class or wealthy in the first place. (It's not impossible to have one if you're not -- just more difficult and rare). That wasn't the case in Eastern Europe, where the state provided easier access to higher education.
I had cable internet very early in it's history, and I used to for things other than playing Half Life.
I did not end up going to Stanford, but I went to a decent state school and while I'm not rich, I'm certainly much better of than friends who had other majors.
> which translated in material affluence 25 years later on a different continent
Yes. And that's why emigration has a big impact in improving world-wide socio-economic mobility.
But suppose that you have started your live in an already rich country. In that case that country socio-economic mobility, by definition, is what gives you how dependent is your wealth on your parents wealth.
World wide socio-economic mobility probably is quite good. As it is easier and cheaper to emigrate than ever and also because there has been a lot of growth in non-western countries. But the article was talking about North America. And in that case, as it is also true on all western countries, mobility is shrinking. In that scenario education, love, good habits are still important for your well being. But they are not strong indicators of your absolute wealth.
Direct ways of transferring wealth between generations never fail. And there's a lot of those going on too.
Transferring values is hard. Transferring cash is easy.
Sure it does.
Plenty of heirs "lose the farm."
It's been said that the first generation builds the business, the second generation manages it, and the third generation loses it.
Maintaining and growing wealth are different than receiving and spending.
The transfer still worked. And people who get success more on their own sometimes lose the farm too (more often, I'd bet - I don't think there are any low risk strategies of getting richer than your parents).
It's much easier than getting it in the first place, though.
Ah, but how diluted does it get with each increasing cohort of heirs?
Not always easy. There are disasters too - hyperinflation, nationalization, monetary/land reform, privatization.. any of them can cause you to lose large amount of wealth.
So many of my mid-to-highschool classmates mates had desite for, air quote, me "working all the time", end of air quote. Can't ignore that.
They do not involve asking people how intelligent they think they are, which is the only way Dunning-Kruger would influence the results.
On the contrary. A lot of the standard methods are crude and coarse measures of intelligence.
> ... whether general "intelligence", or g, even exists.
I'm talking about the one that is for example measured in standardized IQ tests.
Intelligence is a measure of aptitude, but aptitude applies to a broad range of activity, and not all aptitude is numerically quantifiable (in any meaningful sense, at least). For example, two broad categories of intelligence are academic intelligence and emotional intelligence. Excellence in one field does not necessarily transfer to all fields, otherwise socially gifted people would always make the best academic students, and from personal observation I can see this doesn't tie up with reality.
It's not the wealth. It's all of the cultural things that correlate strongly with wealth. Case in point: Two million Cuban-Americans came to the US with nothing but the clothes on their backs, within the last 60 years. Today, they've found their way to the middle and upper classes in about the same proportions as non-hispanic white people.
It's whether your parents taught you to read by age 5, cooked vegetables for dinner, encouraged you to play an instrument, drove you to tournaments on weekends, picked a neighbourhood with an IB program even if that means no yard, paid for braces, etc etc.
Patents with low income can choose to do formative things, with personal sacrifice.
Anecdotally, social mobility happens when your parents choose to prioritize you, and you also somehow get introduced to the good life and determine to 'make it' at whatever cost.
(I'm not disagreeing. Intuitively I'd tend to agree with you that those things would have a measureable effect. I just don't trust intuition in this sort of thing. :) )
Malcolm Gladwell writes about this too, in Outliers  (chapters 3 and 4). His aim was to dispel the myth that success derives from intelligence.
Edit: while I'm sure I'm smart (who isn't sure the are?), luck has a lot to do with any success I've had.
Does anyone expect that by sitting around doing nothing they'll get lucky and become successful? Do one's choices mean nothing?
I know (and admire) many many less successful people who work a lot harder than me, who display most of the traits that are meant to make people successful, but the halo effect, being white and male, getting easily bored, and being brought up in an environment where suggesting I could be the Prime Minister one day was met not with derision but with book suggestions were surely the keys to my success, and also the basis for all my choices.
The key belief - in my experience - between the Left and the Right is that the Right doesn't believe in luck, good or bad.
Getting easily bored was helpful?
Working hard on non-productive things is not going to get one anywhere. Everybody has choices on what to work on. Working hard waiting tables is not going to help create a hit album - working hard on guitar skills might.
To be successful, you have to have a plan that makes sense, then work that plan, not something else.
Talk about a non sequitur. Grandparent said, essentially, that luck is necessary for success. You seem to be arguing against a strawman who you imagine claims that luck is sufficient for success.
You have accomplished much, Walter, and you deserve to feel proud. You also should feel lucky, however.
I know a number of successes and failures. The successes tend to be people who take responsibility for their lot in life, the bad as well as the good. The failures tend to be people who blame others or bad luck for their lot.
The empowering thing about taking responsibility is then you can do something about it.
Also not being a billionaire!= not being successful.
I.e. if you're not out there swinging, you are never ever going to hit the ball.
No one denies that Facebook was built through hard work and perseverance, but how many people have doctor parents, a software engineer for a private tutor in middle school, admittance to the richest private boarding school in the country, a (former) best friend whose father is a wealthy industrialist, and a number of other untold privileges?
Using Zuckerberg as an example of a self-made person really hurts your argument.
Where are all the multibillion unicorn startups created by people from working class backgrounds?
Elon Musk - engineer father, privately educated
Jeff Bezos - landowning grandfather who was also regional director of the Atomic Energy Commission, engineer father
Bill Gates - father lawyer, mother on the board of IBM, privately educated
Steve Jobs - working class adoptive parents (but a complicated and interesting genetic background), father not an engineer but encouraged tinkering
Larry Page - father had PhD in CS and encouraged tinkering on hardware around the house
Sergey Brin - father maths professor, mother NASA researcher
I'm not sure if this has been researched, but it looks as if success in tech correlates with high IQ parents and plenty of opportunities for experimentation and hands-on tinkering.
I'm sure there are people doing okay in tech who had no parental input at all, but I'd guess they're much rarer than those who had opportunities and encouragement.
I'm looking at my FB friends list, counts well over 600 people, the bulk are from well to-do families all privately educated, top unis, top careers. I don't think any, would have their parents allow them to drop out of Uni irrespective of whether it was the next FB they were building and write them a $100k cheque to get going.
This is an example of luck that many ignore in the narrative. However major kudos to Zuck his ad product has basically guaranteed me a career for the rest of my life. For that alone I'm grateful for FB being invented.
Yes, that of their employees, who proceeded to get bread-crumbs compared to the "owners" (ie: mostly outside investors) who did a tiny fraction of the work.
The reasoning seems to go like this: Asians-Americans make more money. Chinese-Americans are Asian-Americans. Raise your kids the way Chinese parents do. If you look at the stats, Chinese-Americans don't do especially well.
You'd be better off raising your child in the "Filipino style" if such a thing exists.
Indian American : $127,591
Taiwanese American : $85,566
Filipino American : $82,389
Australian American : $76,095
Latvian American : $76,040
British American : $75,788
European American : $75,341
Russian American : $75,305
Lithuanian American : $73,678
Austrian American : $72,284
Scandinavian American : $72,075
Serbian American : $71,394
Croatian American : $71,047
Japanese American : $70,261
Swiss American : $69,941
Slovene American : $69,842
Bulgarian American : $69,758
Romanian American : $69,598
Chinese American: $69,586
(including Taiwanese American)
I'm drafting 'The Bushwacking hymn of the Tasmanian Tiger mother' as we speak.
The secret to great kids is:
1) Call them Bruce.
2) Give them a proper knife
3) Plenty of prawns of the barby
4) Regular croc wrestling
There's a lot of not super wealthy older Chinese families in the US, who came over a long time ago. Contrast that with Taiwanese American families, they're coming more from the 60s & 70s of the 20th century (not all, but more).
There's also like an order of magnitude or two more (non-Taiwanese) Chinese American than there are Taiwanese American.
It would be more like if you cherry picked out the current class of very rich Chinese who send their kids to Uni in the US and buy up investment visas, and then were surprised when their descendants were richer.
>It would be more like if you cherry picked out the current class of very rich Chinese who send their kids to Uni in the US and buy up investment visas, and then were surprised when their descendants were richer.
Actually, I think if we included the super rich mainland Chinese who buy their way in we'd see even lower declared incomes.
Study reveals awfulness of Canadian investor immigration [most of whom are Chinese]; income tax averages C$1,400 per millionaire
For example, WE can cherry-pick some of the most successful Indians from India, and many are likely to want to move to America.
Many of the Europeans however, may just as easily find success in their respective countries, and their populations are smaller.
Indian here, I believe its combination of couple of factors. US gets the cream of India but Indian parents drill into their kids heads that you have to get good grades or else you will fail in life.
Considering all that few Indian cities do have a healthy startup culture and Indian angel investors who have worked in the US and American VCs have started funding big amounts.
DO recently opened a datacenter in Bangalore to capture all this new growth.
Within first generation, there is that segment of taxi drivers, gas stations, store owners as well but again, there is a huge entrepreneurial drive in those segments as well and many of them own their stores, gas stations etc instead of just working there. But then again, a lot of first generation Indians are also very well educated and they come for the STEM jobs as we all know.
Scientific discoveries don't follow narratives: narratives are things we impose post-facto to make it easier to tell an engaging story. For example, the 10,000 hour rule makes for a nice story about effort, and Gladwell brings up a lot of examples: of course, if you look at the meta analysis, it turns out that it's completely wrong: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/10000-hour-rule-not...
The problem with having a nice narrative is that it's too tempting to fit facts into your story for the sake of having a clean, linear narrative. If you were to write an honest book about the latest findings in social psychology, it would spend several chapters discussing statistical power and meta analysis, it would be incredibly cautious, and it would be full of results which are contradictory.
The only thing worse than social psychology in this regard is business school books. The numbers are even smaller, the tendency to pursue narratives even bigger, and the professors get paid a lot more.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is an awesome book.
I'm unfamiliar with the literature, real scientific literature Blink was based on. 10,000 Hours or whatever it's actually called is based on the study of expertise in psychology. The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance covers it in depth. K. Anders Ericsson founded the field.
Would love to see the same for Blue Ocean Strategy!
Internet-only polls fared well in 538's analysis of 2012 election polling: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/which-po...
crowd-sourcing platforms need their own bias adjustments and I'm not even convinced that it's possible to adjust for the bias caused by using these platforms, unless you really are interested in putting a lower bound on human ability. Not a statement about the quality of people on Turk, just the amount of effort they often (rightfully!) put into below-developed-world-minimum-wage work...
There's a big difference b/w posting flyers/ads in target-rich environments and providing a low friction way for people to get involved in the study. But if you do something on Amazon Turk you're basically guaranteeing a very particular type of person, because random guy with a high paying job probably isn't going to have a turk account and won't have the patience to create one just for your survey.
In some cases you can make a good case that this doesn't totally invalidate any sort of generality in the results, but for the most part I throw out papers -- on face -- that proceed in this ways without extended, evidence-based discussion of why the hell I can expect any sort of conclusion except "our result generalizes to a population of people who really need an extra dollar or two (literally) and are looking for pretty much any way to get it."
Online surveys are certainly becoming more popular as they are significantly cheaper to conduct than the alternatives, and yield publishable results that garner media attention. There are peer reviewers that will be sympathetic to these issues, regardless of the method's robustness.
However, there are others that would say this reeks of dredging (p-hacking) in a very murky pool of data. Their "scepticism" rarely makes the New York Times (or a bestselling book), though.
Awesome game. Hard as hell, though.
Every time you start the game all the levels are randomly generated. Each level has a treasure room which contains an item that may give a boost to your status or give you a special ability. Some items make the playthrough a lot easier, some can make it even harder. The items you get are basically down to luck.
The game is still hard anyway. There's no item that guarantees you'll win and, fortunately, there are strategies that help you make the most out of what you got. If you're good enough at the game the items may not even matter, you're just that good.
Unfortunately we don't have infinite tries at life like we do in a video game to learn how to get better. You have to learn while you play the only run you've got.
That's how I see the whole issue of luck vs. merit.
If you identify that 56% of successful people have Trait X you have no idea if Trait X is associated with success unless you also discover how many unsuccessful people have Trait X. Trait X can be "belonging to a given subculture".
Taking the entire population and subtracting the successful people does not leave you with the unsuccessful people. Unless you are prepared to define someone who is in the process of attempting something as unsuccessful.
That's apart from the pointlessness of defining "success" for a large population of individuals (happiness? wealth? freedom? connectedness?).
Also if you say "my group succeeded because we believe in our group" then you need to not analyse one generation but several generations together, because that statement is not about a single generation. E.g. the question is not why is the Jew John Doe successful, but why are Jews on average more successful now despite having faced a lot of trouble in the past?
While this article seems logical in itself, to me it actually gave the idea that the book may very well have a point, exactly because of common sense.
Given the self-selection bias that's involved, that doesn't sound very reassuring, granted the paper probably has a better discussion of methodology. Still as it stands it's pretty much impossible to guess the significance of the result from the news article.
Most of the time what I see is the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy. "The name comes from a joke about a Texan who fires some gunshots at the side of a barn, then paints a target centered on the tightest cluster of hits and claims to be a sharpshooter."
Cool to see some popular pseudo-science debunked. Things like this could bring us back to awareness and appreciation of science that actually follows the scientific method.
That seems to me a very important part of the equation if you're to imply some sort of causation.
Edit: Did HN changed the points to start with zero or are people downvoting really fast today?
Moving on I am always confused by these extremely low average IQ's for nations. 70 is the cut off for what is considered mental retardation... It seems pretty unbelievable that 50% of a stable nations population could actually be of a level of intelligence that normally indicates the inability to acquire and feed oneself reliably without limited support. To me this argument seems clearly contradicted by reality.
Final point is, average IQ of Europe 100 years ago on a modern IQ test is 70... so the argument that a nation of IQ 70 people would not have produced an 'Einstein' since the formation of the earth... is contradicted by the fact that a people of with an average IQ of 70 (in 1916) did actually produce Einstein in 1879.
> "The current scoring method for all IQ tests is the "deviation IQ". In this method, an IQ score of 100 means that the test-taker's performance on the test is at the median level of performance in the sample of test-takers of about the same age used to norm the test."
Now, you are comparing average IQ over a large population size (mean IQ in Ghana normalized over mean IQ in the entire world) against average IQ over an even larger population size (mean IQ over the "entire world"). You get 70 vs 100.
How can that difference be explained? Well, there are basically two ways:
1) People in Ghana is extremely dumber because of biological reasons. They are just very inferior in this regard.
2) IQ tests are rigged by education. Better education leads to better IQ scores, and Ghana's average education level is just worse than the world's average education level.
You chose to believe hyphotesis 1 is true. That is the part that makes me sad.
1. lack of very early childhood education/stimulation / abstract thought messing with brain development
2. epigenetic influence from parents' hard lifestyle, if you believe it is effectually hereditary in that manner (I don't think it's likely) (this is environmental in the sense it would only persist for a limited # generations)
3. parasite load
4. trauma from infectious diseases
5. severe nutritional deficiency (iodine, creatine, antioxidants, nutrients, whatever else we don't know about you can miss out on)
I can't prove what I think you're implying by #1 isn't the case, but I'm quite sure that 1 and 3-5 from my list do apply.
The only sadness is the smashing of a glorious idol, of the equality of man.
People in Ghana are probably extremely dumber because of a mix of environmental and genetic reasons.
In my time homeless I saw the exemplification of stereotypes. Black people are on more average dumber, more prone to anger, and have poor impulse control. Over and over again I saw this shit until I got the dumb ideology of equality out of my head.
Expecting less intelligent people to properly execute a higher-level task is a hideous sacrifice. For the god of equality you've sacrificed
1. The ability of the less intelligent man to do lower-level but socially needed jobs.
2. The ability of more intelligent people to do jobs that they are capable of executing perfectly
3. Truthful telling of a state of affairs.
4. The ability of peers to recognize and provide the appropriate services.
Congrats, you fucked over the Ghana(ians?) that you were so afraid to call less intelligent. They get fucked because you want to hold the idol of equality over your head and show everyone how fucking holy you are with the priestly and social clique.
You can't munch on psychotic saintliness, spit on reality's face, and then whine when evil reality reveals a more complex world.
There is nothing in my soul against individual men of virtue. But you have to admit, most of any human population is fucking dumb. When dealing with populations that dreg the lower edge of human ability, I'm fucking wary.