Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

For a depressing analysis on where all the Hungarian geniuses came from and why they vanished: https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/05/26/the-atomic-bomb-consid...



He mentions Curie as non-Ashkenazi, but even with her I don't know, she was born Polish with full name "Maria Salomea Skłodowska"(-Curie), her middle name "Salomea", given after her grandmother sounds to me like Jewish origin. I wonder how percentage of Nobel price winners/etc. would look like if you'd really dig deeper few generations or did genetic tests.


Marie's grandchildren are still alive and could presumably be genetically tested to see their heritage if there was any real question.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A9l%C3%A8ne_Langevin-Joli...


I have a hypothesis that almost all of the greatest intellectual achievements come from a very small number of bloodlines. I really doubt the idea that people are born and some just end up as the smartest in generations, I think theres more to the story


> I have a hypothesis that almost all of the greatest intellectual achievements come from a very small number of bloodlines.

Nice hypothesis, but not exactly backed up by history. So many different societies have made so many diverse contributions to innovation, I'd be pretty amazed if you could draw a cohesive line through all (or most) of them.

Also, separately, it's pretty difficult to separate "bloodlines", which I assume you mean genetically inherited traits, with socially inherited traits.

A great physicist is probably more likely than average to have offspring that are also great physicists. But is that because of their "blood" (i.e. DNA) or because the children grew up in a household exposed to physics at a much higher degree than average. The children's "blood" is an inherited DNA trait, but their upbringing is an inherited social trait.

The question boils down to the age-old nature vs. nurture argument. All signs seem to point to nurture being the far more powerful influence.


I think the underlying mechanism is simply natural selection, just like you can breed dogs, tulips or bacteria for traits, humans can be "breed" into intelectual performance. None of religions/cultures do it, with exception of Ashkenazi.


> I think the underlying mechanism is simply natural selection

Genetic natural selection takes thousands of years, or at an absolute minimum multiple generations. Social selection occurs far more rapidly, often within a single generation. A person born in the 1950s that is genetically predisposed to manual labor may do well for the first few decades of their life, but as society changes and starts valuing white collar work more, they will do far worse. Their genetics didn't change, but society did.

Those that favor nature over nurture vastly under-estimate the time-scales which it takes natural selection to occur as compared to social selection.


I think you underestimate how powerful this mechanism can be. Take 20 years for one generation, ie. 100 years is 5 generations. We're talking about roughly time from 800 CE, that is 60 generations. Imagine taking smartest people to reproduce, then taking smartest from their kids and so on - 60 times. You will see an effect. You can optimize on anything, ie. "time you can dive underwater" you will see the difference compared to other people after 60 generations, see https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/indonesian-divers-ha...


Actually this isnt really true. If you go back over the last 200 hundred years, intellectual contributions are extremely concentrated. My point was further along these lines:

But what I am saying is this, the highest levels of genius, I would argue, are categorically different than just highly intelligent people. I think theres something different about the way their brains are structured. I've interacted with some of the top minds in a few fields, and I never come off with the feeling that they are merely farther along some kind of "intelligence spectrum". It always feels as if their thinking is different, i.e. its source and methods are a different type of brain. I think theres a few mutations floating around in a few different pools of the population


I am not sure that a ‘bloodline’ is a valid genetic concept. It depends a lot who the partner is, after all they provide 50% of the offspring’s genetic material. Put another way, if you are a genius in some field, the chance of having a child with someone of equal or greater aptitude is effectively zero.

The ‘more to the story’ is possibly just affluence and family stability, which are also culturally embedded.


> Put another way, if you are a genius in some field, the chance of having a child with someone of equal or greater aptitude is effectively zero.

aka regression to the mean


> The ‘more to the story’ is possibly just affluence and family stability, which are also culturally embedded.

At a guess I would think these are the more important factors.

Being born into an affluent family gives access to higher likelihood of more varying influences and stimuli from an early age. Children are by their nature curious creatures, so having the possibility to satisfy their curiosity in more avenues should reflect on their later ability to absorb new information in these fields (because they already have an established baseline knowledge).

Family stability probably helps to support curiosity and emotional safety. When failures are treated as positive experiences ("what did we learn from this?"), as opposed to wasted effort, you are more likely to allow yourself to seek more such experiences.

Of course there are outliers. But over generations, I would expect more innovations and brilliant minds to emerge from families who can provide and support their offspring with the environment to flourish in their fields of interest.


But what I am saying is this, the highest levels of genius, I would argue, are categorically different than just highly intelligent people. I think theres something different about the way their brains are structured. I've interacted with some of the top minds in a few fields, and I never come off with the feeling that they are merely farther along some kind of "intelligence spectrum". It always feels as if their thinking is different, i.e. its source and methods are a different type of brain. I think theres a few mutations floating around in a few different pools of the population


This is just unnecessarily many moving parts. All it takes to have extra geniuses is for grad students to marry each other and have a bunch of kids, instead of dating in the general pool. Also, the thinking of regular people is different in myriad ways, if you pay attention.


this looks about up your alley: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology


Interesting. I never knew about the link between Ashkenazi genetics and intelligence.


Its not talked about alot, but basically ashkenazis are the genesis of alot of modern intellectual ideas and companies. both FB and Google are ashkenazi creations


Also Bernie Madoff , Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein; should we be quick to talk about their origin?


I do think theres something to all of it, not interested in getting my account banned though...


Uber too, Adam Neumann is Ashkenazi Jewish.


You mean wework? Was there someone at Uber as well?


Yeah wework is the opposite of a great creation.


Oops, yes of course WeWork. Weird mistake, but in my defense I had a cold.


I don't know about the genetics part, but what I have noticed is that Jewish "leaf nodes" tend to be great mathematicians or otherwise intellectual. What I mean by this is a child/person of Jewish descent, that is no longer religious and also does not have children. They are thus a leaf node in the tree. A current example would be Grigory Perelman.

I don't like to conjecture about cleverness and intellegence and especially not genetics. But if there is one thing these Jewish leaf nodes have in common it is a really good education.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: