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Old 07-16-2015, 08:55 AM
Robert163 Robert163 is offline
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Specific question about African Americans and sports

I asked this question in the other thread but got no real response. What I don't understand, for people who think Slavery and Captivity contributes to African Americans abilities in sports, why, do they think this. Let me clarify:

If blacks are better at sports: football, basketball, baseball or track.... and it is because they were selected for size and strength and stamina, well, what do physical characteristics that make one good at growing and picking cotton or sugarcane or tobacco or any similar crop or similar activity.... how does proficiency in those physical characteristics translate into being better at football or basketball or the 100 yard dash?

The movements for sports and the movements agriculture are significantly different, are they not?



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Old 07-16-2015, 08:58 AM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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You'd think we'd see lots more black Olympic curling champions...
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:13 AM
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If you want to know the reason people think this, it's because most people don't understand science and evolution, in general, and genetics, in particular.
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:22 AM
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I don't think much of the initial hypothesis, but I don't think the OP here makes much sense either.

If you grant the premise of the initial hypothesis, it's unlikely that any slaveowners were scientific about it to the point of selecting for physical characteristics that were specific to picking cotton. More like a general idea that a big strong guy is probably going to be a better worker than a weak runty one.
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:34 AM
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I don't think much of the initial hypothesis, but I don't think the OP here makes much sense either.

If you grant the premise of the initial hypothesis, it's unlikely that any slaveowners were scientific about it to the point of selecting for physical characteristics that were specific to picking cotton. More like a general idea that a big strong guy is probably going to be a better worker than a weak runty one.
Ok, yeah, I know it is kind of a difficult topic to talk about but you did the best job of describing what I was trying to describe.....
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:55 AM
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I don't think much of the initial hypothesis, but I don't think the OP here makes much sense either.

If you grant the premise of the initial hypothesis, it's unlikely that any slaveowners were scientific about it to the point of selecting for physical characteristics that were specific to picking cotton. More like a general idea that a big strong guy is probably going to be a better worker than a weak runty one.
If there was some sort of selection bias, it's most likely that it happened earlier on: big, strong, well-fed slaves were more likely to survive the horrifying conditions at sea and the working conditions on plantations (particularly those in the Caribbean, from where they might later be shipped again into the US.)
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:05 AM
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If there was some sort of selection bias, it's most likely that it happened earlier on: big, strong, well-fed slaves were more likely to survive the horrifying conditions at sea and the working conditions on plantations (particularly those in the Caribbean, from where they might later be shipped again into the US.)
Though it should be noted that smaller people actually have an advantage when food is scarce, since they need less of it. (It's thought to be for this reason that women tend to survive at higher rates in such situations - e.g. the Donner Party; if available food is distributed evenly, then the ones who need less of it will have a better chance at survival.)
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:07 AM
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If there was some sort of selection bias, it's most likely that it happened earlier on: big, strong, well-fed slaves were more likely to survive the horrifying conditions at sea and the working conditions on plantations (particularly those in the Caribbean, from where they might later be shipped again into the US.)
Not necessarily. It might be the slaves who were better at storing fat reserves who survived the voyage. But the point really is that there could be any number of reasons for survival of the middle passage, one of them being luck (being on board a ship with one of the "kinder" captain and crew). But this sort of stuff is not really a testable hypothesis, so it's more in the realm of folk science than real science.
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:50 AM
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Former slaves and their descendants aren't all bigger than average. Jockeys in horse racing were predominantly slaves, former slaves, and their descendants for a long period of time until someone decided to 'purify' the sport. I can't see selection as that great a factor here, many people who survived in the days before modern medicine were healthier than what is considered normal these days. The opportunities to compete on a fair basis is what made a difference. If you look at sports before the various color barriers were broken you see clear dominance by Americans of European descent.

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Old 07-16-2015, 10:58 AM
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One thing we can consider, though, is that Africans have the largest genetic diversity of any population on earth. It should therefore not be surprising if Africans produce the largest % of "genetic outliers". But the other thing to remember is that African-Americans are, on average, are about 20% European. If there actually is a skew in the distribution for African-Americans in terms of sports ability, it might be because they are an admixture of different population rather than the descendants of one particular population (and, of course, "Africans" can't even be considered "one population" in the first place, so let's keep that in mind).
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:07 AM
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Strength is strength. If someone is strong enough to be good at toting barges and lifting bales, then they would be strong enough to push someone out of the way (football and basketball) or hit a ball a long ways (baseball).
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:11 AM
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Strength is strength. If someone is strong enough to be good at toting barges and lifting bales, then they would be strong enough to push someone out of the way (football and basketball) or hit a ball a long ways (baseball).
Yeah, I assume that is true. But is it also true that the whole idea is junk science, in other words, is 300 years too short a time to significantly alter the genetics of a group of people.... see, it seems to me like maybe it could be but that is just my uninformed opinion.
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:11 AM
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Strength is strength.
No, it's not.

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If someone is strong enough to be good at toting barges and lifting bales, then they would be strong enough to push someone out of the way (football and basketball) or hit a ball a long ways (baseball).
Except that men (and women) not good enough at those things were not kept from reproducing. There were all kinds of slaves in the South, and the cotton plantation that most people think of as typical was actually late on the scene.
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:26 AM
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I asked this question in the other thread but got no real response. What I don't understand, for people who think Slavery and Captivity contributes to African Americans abilities in sports, why, do they think this.
Well, the real answer is that they want to justify racial disparities in a way that doesn't make them feel uncomfortable about our current society (and, often, particularly lets them feel superior to others based on something other than personal accomplishments), so they search for some (any) quasi-scientific sounding explanation that doesn't implicate social organization, and also doesn't contradict their assumption of the white race's inherent moral superiority.

So you know, when someone starts with a conclusion and looks for an argument to justify it, you're not going to get them to change their mind by using scientific evidence and logic.

I mean, nobody argues that slavery instilled a capacity for hard work and mental toughness that lazy whites simply lack, and that's the real reason for relative success of African-Americans in sports, even though that's no less plausible that 'slaves were bred for strength' . Do you really wonder why that is?
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:34 AM
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Well, the real answer is that they want to justify racial disparities in a way that doesn't make them feel uncomfortable about our current society (and, often, particularly lets them feel superior to others based on something other than personal accomplishments), so they search for some (any) quasi-scientific sounding explanation that doesn't implicate social organization, and also doesn't contradict their assumption of the white race's inherent moral superiority.

So you know, when someone starts with a conclusion and looks for an argument to justify it, you're not going to get them to change their mind by using scientific evidence and logic.

I mean, nobody argues that slavery instilled a capacity for hard work and mental toughness that lazy whites simply lack, and that's the real reason for relative success of African-Americans in sports, even though that's no less plausible that 'slaves were bred for strength' . Do you really wonder why that is?
Great answer. Thank you. I admit, I am trying to clear up some of my own prejudices on this topic. In that regard could you please take a look at post number 12 and respond...
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:52 AM
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Dropping the "Americans" part.

I really want to echo what John Mace said about Africa being incredibly diverse. People need to stop lumping them all together as if they were one uniform group. They aren't.

Several recent sprint champions have West African ancestry. Several recent long distance champions have East African ancestry.

But not all champions come from those areas. Nor do all people from those areas excel at those sports.

One of the biggest factors seems to be having the opportunity to develop in those sports. Something a lot of people never get the chance.

Maybe it's genetics. Maybe it's due to the diversity, genetic pool thing. Maybe something else.

Also note, the Watusi and the Central African Pygmy groups might have some people that excel at sports of some type, and quite different ones at that.

I don't see slavery/European crossbreeding as being anywhere as near as significant as well as borderline (and sometimes no-so-borderline) racist.
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:53 AM
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Strength is strength. If someone is strong enough to be good at toting barges and lifting bales, then they would be strong enough to push someone out of the way (football and basketball) or hit a ball a long ways (baseball).
No. This ignores the well-documented distinctions between fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers. American sports mostly require the former.
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Old 07-16-2015, 12:16 PM
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Yeah, I assume that is true. But is it also true that the whole idea is junk science, in other words, is 300 years too short a time to significantly alter the genetics of a group of people.... see, it seems to me like maybe it could be but that is just my uninformed opinion.
It could be enough time, but it depends on the circumstances. Keep in mind that the Slave Owners weren't all part of some huge eugenics project, and there is very little evidence for ANY attempts to "breed" a certain type of slave. Remember that most farmers were small farmers and didn't won any slaves. They would be doing farm work themselves, as would peasants all over the world. 18th Century agricultural life was tough, so you'd similar selective pressures all around the world.
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Old 07-16-2015, 12:32 PM
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No, it's not.



Except that men (and women) not good enough at those things were not kept from reproducing. There were all kinds of slaves in the South, and the cotton plantation that most people think of as typical was actually late on the scene.
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It could be enough time, but it depends on the circumstances. Keep in mind that the Slave Owners weren't all part of some huge eugenics project, and there is very little evidence for ANY attempts to "breed" a certain type of slave. Remember that most farmers were small farmers and didn't won any slaves. They would be doing farm work themselves, as would peasants all over the world. 18th Century agricultural life was tough, so you'd similar selective pressures all around the world.
Ok well I actually mean this, I am not being sarcastic, you seem to know what you are talking about so I have a specific question, about plantation life in general and slavery. AS to your comment above:

There were all kinds of slaves in the South, and the cotton plantation that most people think of as typical was actually late on the scene.

Yes, but how different, in any and all aspects, how different really was picking or planting cotton from working with sugarcane or tobacco or wheat or corn or any other crop..... ?
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:10 PM
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It could be enough time, but it depends on the circumstances. Keep in mind that the Slave Owners weren't all part of some huge eugenics project, and there is very little evidence for ANY attempts to "breed" a certain type of slave. Remember that most farmers were small farmers and didn't won any slaves. They would be doing farm work themselves, as would peasants all over the world. 18th Century agricultural life was tough, so you'd similar selective pressures all around the world.
It should also be pointed out that when breeding for particular traits in domestic animals, breeders select from an extremely small pool of individuals - probably less than 1% of the total population. They also practice close inbreeding, mating siblings or offspring and parents. Even so, it normally takes many generations in order to produce a consistent change in phenotype. And once you allow interbreeding with the non-selected population, those traits will often be lost or diluted.

Even if selective breeding of slaves occurred in some limited times and places, it was never sufficiently intense or prolonged that it would have produced any long-lasting effect.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:19 PM
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It should also be pointed out that when breeding for particular traits in domestic animals, breeders select from an extremely small pool of individuals - probably less than 1% of the total population. They also practice close inbreeding, mating siblings or offspring and parents. Even so, it normally takes many generations in order to produce a consistent change in phenotype. And once you allow interbreeding with the non-selected population, those traits will often be lost or diluted.

Even if selective breeding of slaves occurred in some limited times and places, it was never sufficiently intense or prolonged that it would have produced any long-lasting effect.
Thank You Colibri
I've told you once or twice before
I allways appreciate you logging onto one of my threads and giving an explanation
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:26 PM
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Ok well I actually mean this, I am not being sarcastic, you seem to know what you are talking about so I have a specific question, about plantation life in general and slavery. AS to your comment above:

There were all kinds of slaves in the South, and the cotton plantation that most people think of as typical was actually late on the scene.

Yes, but how different, in any and all aspects, how different really was picking or planting cotton from working with sugarcane or tobacco or wheat or corn or any other crop..... ?
Or cleaning houses, doing laundry, shoeing horses, building houses... Slaves were used for all types of works, not just farm work. But let's say, for the sake of a stupid argument, that picking cotton was representative of "slave work". How would that translate into "being good at sports"? You don't need to be a sports physiologist to see the hole in that argument.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:28 PM
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It should also be pointed out that when breeding for particular traits in domestic animals, breeders select from an extremely small pool of individuals - probably less than 1% of the total population. They also practice close inbreeding, mating siblings or offspring and parents. Even so, it normally takes many generations in order to produce a consistent change in phenotype. And once you allow interbreeding with the non-selected population, those traits will often be lost or diluted.

Even if selective breeding of slaves occurred in some limited times and places, it was never sufficiently intense or prolonged that it would have produced any long-lasting effect.
I agree with the second paragraph but not with the first, specifically the comparison to animals.

It's true that you need intense and consistent breeding to produce the kinds of changes that animal breeders produce, but that's because the scale of change that animal breeders are trying to produce dwarfs the types of changes that are being contemplated here. No one is suggesting that the differences between blacks and whites are remotely comparable to the differences between - for instance - beef/dairy cattle, or egg/meat poultry or the various breeds of dogs or horses etc. These are very small differences being discussed, and you would require a much less intense program to produce them.

That said, there doesn't seem to be much evidence that there was any sort of widescale eugenics at all, so there's reason to be skeptical of these claims. But I don't think you can show much by pointing to how intense of a breeding program is required for animal breeding.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:34 PM
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I agree with the second paragraph but not with the first, specifically the comparison to animals.

It's true that you need intense and consistent breeding to produce the kinds of changes that animal breeders produce, but that's because the scale of change that animal breeders are trying to produce dwarfs the types of changes that are being contemplated here. No one is suggesting that the differences between blacks and whites are remotely comparable to the differences between - for instance - beef/dairy cattle, or egg/meat poultry or the various breeds of dogs or horses etc. These are very small differences being discussed, and you would require a much less intense program to produce them.

That said, there doesn't seem to be much evidence that there was any sort of widescale eugenics at all, so there's reason to be skeptical of these claims. But I don't think you can show much by pointing to how intense of a breeding program is required for animal breeding.
OK, then outline for us a breeding program, designed to select for a specific trait, that involves hundreds of thousands of individuals.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:48 PM
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OK, then outline for us a breeding program, designed to select for a specific trait, that involves hundreds of thousands of individuals.
I'm not certain what you're asking for.

But if slaveowners routinely controlled mating of their slaves in order to produce "better" offspring, and there was a widespread belief that bigger/stronger parents would produce "better" offspring, then you would expect that bigger stronger slaves would have, on average, more children than smaller/weaker slaves. Which would imply (after some regression to the mean etc.) that the percentage of bigger stronger slave children would be higher than it would be in a comparable population that had not been interfered with in this manner. Not remotely higher enough to produce a separate breed of people, of course, but if you were measuring for the percentage of big/strong people in the population, there would be some disparity.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:55 PM
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Intensive breeding involves getting rid of the undesirable offspring. Slaves were too valuable to do that.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:57 PM
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But even if you don't have "intensive breeding" you could still have a (smaller) disparity produced by less intensive breeding.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:22 PM
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I'm not certain what you're asking for.

But if slaveowners routinely controlled mating of their slaves in order to produce "better" offspring, and there was a widespread belief that bigger/stronger parents would produce "better" offspring, then you would expect that bigger stronger slaves would have, on average, more children than smaller/weaker slaves. Which would imply (after some regression to the mean etc.) that the percentage of bigger stronger slave children would be higher than it would be in a comparable population that had not been interfered with in this manner. Not remotely higher enough to produce a separate breed of people, of course, but if you were measuring for the percentage of big/strong people in the population, there would be some disparity.
If they did this, they would see their slave population dwindle very quickly and then they'd be dealing with a small population. But you're already saying they are picking a small % of the population to breed together. If they have a large population of bigger, stronger slaves, then they don't need to breed for it. They need to breed the weaker traits out, and those weaker traits are in... you guessed it... a small population.

You can't get around the idea that if you don't control the breeding tightly, and work with a small, genetically similar population, you aren't going to get the trait you want.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:23 PM
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But even if you don't have "intensive breeding" you could still have a (smaller) disparity produced by less intensive breeding.
A small disparity in a small population.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:35 PM
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If they did this, they would see their slave population dwindle very quickly and then they'd be dealing with a small population. But you're already saying they are picking a small % of the population to breed together. If they have a large population of bigger, stronger slaves, then they don't need to breed for it. They need to breed the weaker traits out, and those weaker traits are in... you guessed it... a small population.

You can't get around the idea that if you don't control the breeding tightly, and work with a small, genetically similar population, you aren't going to get the trait you want.
What you're essentially saying here is that it's very unlikely that any sort of eugenics program happened. That's fine with me. I'm not claiming that it happened, and I expressed skepticism in previous posts to this thread including my first.

All I'm saying is that the hypothesis is not based on anything as extreme as some people have suggested would be required, because the phenomena that are being explained are not as extreme either. So you can't refute it by pointing out the level of breeding control that would be required to produce truly extreme phenomena, e.g. separate breeds of animals. That's all. You want to say it's unlikely that there was any sort of breeding control at all, that's fine with me and something I've noted myself in an earlier post.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:41 PM
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What you're essentially saying here is that it's very unlikely that any sort of eugenics program happened. That's fine with me. I'm not claiming that it happened, and I expressed skepticism in previous posts to this thread including my first.

All I'm saying is that the hypothesis is not based on anything as extreme as some people have suggested would be required, because the phenomena that are being explained are not as extreme either. So you can't refute it by pointing out the level of breeding control that would be required to produce truly extreme phenomena, e.g. separate breeds of animals. That's all. You want to say it's unlikely that there was any sort of breeding control at all, that's fine with me and something I've noted myself in an earlier post.
No, that's not all I'm saying. I'm also saying that you have failed to outline a breeding program that can work with a large population. If you don't keep culling the population every generation, you're not going to breed for the trait. Even if you start with a large population, you will quickly find that the individuals you want represent a small population. But as soon as you present you breeding program, we can discuss whether it will work or not. All we have so far is hand-waving.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:50 PM
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Yeah, I assume that is true. But is it also true that the whole idea is junk science, in other words, is 300 years too short a time to significantly alter the genetics of a group of people.... see, it seems to me like maybe it could be but that is just my uninformed opinion.
It's not too short if certain conditions apply. A small founder population with little to no gene flow with outside groups can result in huge changes to gene frequency in just 5 or 6 generations. Or no change at all.

But that would only change frequencies within that target population (say, African slaves on a particular island), not with a larger population such as "all African slaves in the Americas."

Population genetics is weird.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:53 PM
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No, that's not all I'm saying. I'm also saying that you have failed to outline a breeding program that can work with a large population. If you don't keep culling the population every generation, you're not going to breed for the trait. Even if you start with a large population, you will quickly find that the individuals you want represent a small population. But as soon as you present you breeding program, we can discuss whether it will work or not. All we have so far is hand-waving.
Well you're not going to get much more than handwaving from me. I'm not saying any such program ever existed. Most likely it didn't.

If it were the case that slaveowners managed to encourage Big Guys to have more offspring on average than Little Guys, then the percentage of Big Guys in Generation 2 would be higher than in Generation 1, and the percentage of Little Guys in Generation 2 would be lower than in Generation 1.

Could this have happened in isolated instances? Possibly, e.g. a guy who had two males slaves and one female or the like. Did this happen on a widescale enough basis to make a difference in Generation 2? Unlikely.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:59 PM
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Strength is strength. If someone is strong enough to be good at toting barges and lifting bales, then they would be strong enough to push someone out of the way (football and basketball) or hit a ball a long ways (baseball).
Which explains why the greatest basketball player in the world was so successful at baseball when he tried it..?
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Old 07-16-2015, 03:18 PM
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If it were the case that slaveowners managed to encourage Big Guys to have more offspring on average than Little Guys, then the percentage of Big Guys in Generation 2 would be higher than in Generation 1, and the percentage of Little Guys in Generation 2 would be lower than in Generation 1.
Why? You haven't done anything to prevent the short slaves from producing more offspring. Intensive breeding is just not that easy and starting from a diverse gene pool makes it even more difficult.
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Old 07-16-2015, 03:20 PM
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Which explains why the greatest basketball player in the world was so successful at baseball when he tried it..?
Inky Lautman tried to play baseball?

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Old 07-16-2015, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
Well you're not going to get much more than handwaving from me.
Then why are you posting in GQ, where we're supposed to be dealing with factual answers to questions?

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I'm not saying any such program ever existed. Most likely it didn't.

If it were the case that slaveowners managed to encourage Big Guys to have more offspring on average than Little Guys, then the percentage of Big Guys in Generation 2 would be higher than in Generation 1, and the percentage of Little Guys in Generation 2 would be lower than in Generation 1.

Could this have happened in isolated instances? Possibly, e.g. a guy who had two males slaves and one female or the like. Did this happen on a widescale enough basis to make a difference in Generation 2? Unlikely.
If you're saying to could have happened in isolated places, then I guess you're withdrawing your objection to Colibri's first point. The fact of the matter is that if you want to change a low-frequency trait into a high-frequency trait, you have to start with a small population (that is, the ones with the low-frequency trait) and carefully control the breeding. Otherwise, the low-frequency train will continue to be... low frequency.

Last edited by John Mace; 07-16-2015 at 03:24 PM.
  #38  
Old 07-16-2015, 03:23 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Why? You haven't done anything to prevent the short slaves from producing more offspring. Intensive breeding is just not that easy and starting from a diverse gene pool makes it even more difficult.
I said "if". I underlined the word. I gave an example of how such a thing might theoretically come to pass (guy with more male slaves than females marries off only the biggest ones).

Don't know what more I can say - that might be as much effort as I'm willing to put into the theoretical possiblity of something that I don't think happened anyway.
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
If you're saying to could have happened in isolated places, then I guess you're withdrawing your objection to Colibri's first point. The fact of the matter is that if you want to change a low-frequency trait into a high-frequency trait, you have to start with a small population (that is, the ones with the low-frequency trait) and carefully control the breeding. Otherwise, the low-frequency train will continue to be... low frequency.
No, I still object.

I noted that historically it's unlikely to have been more than isolated. But in order to have the effect that we (ostensibly) see today it would not have to be as pervasive as creating a new breed of animal. So the hypothesis can't be refuted by comparing to breeding animals.

Last edited by Fotheringay-Phipps; 07-16-2015 at 03:26 PM.
  #39  
Old 07-16-2015, 06:16 PM
D18 D18 is offline
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Which explains why the greatest basketball player in the world was so successful at baseball when he tried it..?
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Well, MJ batted .202 in 127 games in one season of Double-A ball. There are a hell of a lot of guys who work all their lives to try to play professional baseball, never make Double-A in the first place, and bat less than .202 once they get there. I get the point that he wasn't major-league baseball material, but he accomplished much more than most of us amateur ball players could ever dream of.
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Old 07-16-2015, 06:47 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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[Hijack]
Well, MJ batted .202 in 127 games in one season of Double-A ball. There are a hell of a lot of guys who work all their lives to try to play professional baseball, never make Double-A in the first place, and bat less than .202 once they get there. I get the point that he wasn't major-league baseball material, but he accomplished much more than most of us amateur ball players could ever dream of.
[/Hijack]
Right. He is also very good at golf as well. No, he can't make the PGA tour but he can beat the overwhelming majority of serious amateur golfers. Michael Jordan is a pretty terrible example to use to demonstrate specificity to a single sport. He is a pretty incredible all-around athlete with enviable skills in other sports that are very different from his main game. The only worse example I can think of is Bo Jackson who played both major league football and baseball during the same period and made the All Star team in both sports. He was also a star track and field star in college competing as a sprinter, hurdler, jumper, thrower and decathlete.

Vanishingly few people are super-athletes like that but general athletic skills tend to be positively correlated with one another and often strongly if the basic skills required cross over enough. That is why many people described themselves as 'athletic' rather than 'soccerish'. They are good at many athletic endevours while others are the opposite.
  #41  
Old 07-16-2015, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
No, I still object.
You can object as many times as like, but that doesn't change the fact that you're simply wrong.
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
No, I still object.
Do you actually know anything about selection, evolution, or animal breeding? Or is the objection based on just your personal opinion? Because John Mace is quite correct, and you are quite wrong.

Quote:
But in order to have the effect that we (ostensibly) see today it would not have to be as pervasive as creating a new breed of animal. So the hypothesis can't be refuted by comparing to breeding animals.
How do you know this, exactly?

It would have to be very pervasive and intensive and go on for a long time even to have the effects proposed for it today. (I probably shouldn't have brought up the example of creating new breeds of animals, because you'll probably continue to go on about that instead of the more general case.)

Slavery existed in the US for about 250 years, or 10 generations. That's just not long enough for selective breeding (especially if it were localized and/or intermittent) to create a significant effect in a large population. And any enforced selective breeding was discontinued over 150 years ago, or 6 generations. It's unlikely for much of a trace of any selective breeding that did occur to persist under free interbreeding among a large population.
  #43  
Old 07-16-2015, 11:48 PM
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I asked this question in the other thread but got no real response. What I don't understand, for people who think Slavery and Captivity contributes to African Americans abilities in sports, why, do they think this. Let me clarify:

If blacks are better at sports: football, basketball, baseball or track.... and it is because they were selected for size and strength and stamina, well, what do physical characteristics that make one good at growing and picking cotton or sugarcane or tobacco or any similar crop or similar activity.... how does proficiency in those physical characteristics translate into being better at football or basketball or the 100 yard dash?

The movements for sports and the movements agriculture are significantly different, are they not?


http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...&postcount=158
I did not post in the other thread because I was waiting for someone to provide a somewhat more factual answer. However, as with any thread that starts with the assumption that certain races are better at sports, it's important to keep in mind that there are a lot of variables--other than simple athleticism--that could play a role here. Stereotypes change over time when circumstances change. At one point in the first half of the 20th Century, for example, Jewish-Americans were considered to be racially suited to basketball:

Quote:
"[Basketball] appeals to the Hebrew with his Oriental background," he wrote, according to Arieh Sclar, the author of A Sport At Which Jews Excel. Gallico added that it sat well with the "temperament of the Jews" because it "places a premium on an alert, scheming mind, flashy trickiness, artful dodging, and general smart alecness."
  #44  
Old 07-17-2015, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
Right. He is also very good at golf as well. No, he can't make the PGA tour but he can beat the overwhelming majority of serious amateur golfers. Michael Jordan is a pretty terrible example to use to demonstrate specificity to a single sport. He is a pretty incredible all-around athlete with enviable skills in other sports that are very different from his main game. The only worse example I can think of is Bo Jackson who played both major league football and baseball during the same period and made the All Star team in both sports. He was also a star track and field star in college competing as a sprinter, hurdler, jumper, thrower and decathlete.
Deion Sanders is obviously an even worse example than Jordan, since he played both sports. Mark Hendrickson recently played in both MLB and the NBA, as did Danny Ainge.

The number of pro athletes who COULD have played other sports had they chosen them is a very long one indeed; Tom Glavine, a baseball player, was an NHL prospect. Dave Winfield, a baseball player, was drafted into both the NFL and NBA. A list of NFL QBs drafted into other sports could take a whole thread; Troy Aikman, Daunte Culpepper, Tom Brady, Akili Smith, and others were all MLB draftees. Wayne Gretzky famously excelled at any sport he ever tried. Baseball pitcher Tom Candiotti is one of the greatest bowlers of his time.

I cannot remember precisely where I read it so I can't link to it, but someone did a study once and found that top success in a sport is strongly correlated with the ability to excel at other sports. If you have two young men of the same age, physical characteristics, statistics and accomplishments, but one if very good at many other sports while the other is only good at the one sport, the young man who excels at many sports is far, far likelier to be a long term success.
  #45  
Old 07-17-2015, 09:03 AM
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At one point in the first half of the 20th Century, for example, Jewish-Americans were considered to be racially suited to basketball:
And then some goy had to go and invent the jump shot.

There was similar commentary around that time about how well suited the Irish were to baseball.
  #46  
Old 07-17-2015, 09:14 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Do you actually know anything about selection, evolution, or animal breeding? Or is the objection based on just your personal opinion? Because John Mace is quite correct, and you are quite wrong.



How do you know this, exactly?

It would have to be very pervasive and intensive and go on for a long time even to have the effects proposed for it today. (I probably shouldn't have brought up the example of creating new breeds of animals, because you'll probably continue to go on about that instead of the more general case.)

Slavery existed in the US for about 250 years, or 10 generations. That's just not long enough for selective breeding (especially if it were localized and/or intermittent) to create a significant effect in a large population. And any enforced selective breeding was discontinued over 150 years ago, or 6 generations. It's unlikely for much of a trace of any selective breeding that did occur to persist under free interbreeding among a large population.
The entire point of my comment was to object to your example of creating new breeds of animals, so you're right that I will continue to go on about that and resist your attempts to frame it as being about something else.

But to the extent that you're actually disagreeing with me about anything else, perhaps you bring your superior knowledge of "selection, evolution, and animal breeding" to bear and try to explain something instead of declaring things to be so.

Suppose it were the case that the top 10% of a given population for some characteristic (in this case size/strength) had 20% more offspring than average and the bottom 10% had 20% less. Would this not produce any difference at all in this trait, on average, in the next generation (which would then be magnified in future generations)? If not, why not?

As to your final point, you are overestimating the amount of inter-ethnic mating in the US, which is not remotely comparable to "free interbreeding".
  #47  
Old 07-17-2015, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
No, it's not.



Except that men (and women) not good enough at those things were not kept from reproducing. There were all kinds of slaves in the South, and the cotton plantation that most people think of as typical was actually late on the scene.
The OP was not asking it is was true, only why someone would think it was true. If a breeding program can turn a wolf into a chihuahua, then it makes sense that one could turn slaves into super athletes. The problem with this hypothesis is not that it is outlandish but rather that it is not true.
First, it would take a massive amount of coordination between slave owners to only breed the strong ones and the average number of slaves per household was six. Secondly, there was not enough time to do so since people can only have so many kids and since generations are spaced out so far. Third and most importantly, it would be economically crazy to do so, since slaves were so valuable any owner would want as many as he could get and consciously restricting the supply by selective breeding would be a massive waste of money that would only pay off generations later.
Another reason we can be sure it did not happen is there is no record of it happening. Freed slaves wrote books about their experiences and gave numerous interviews. I have read dozens of slave narratives and nothing like a systematic breeding program is ever mentioned.
The reason people might think this is true is that it is obvious that black americans dominate most forms of athletics and africans did not do especially well until recently. Thus the hypothesis that what separates black americans from africans is something that happened under slavery.
  #48  
Old 07-17-2015, 11:54 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Another reason we can be sure it did not happen is there is no record of it happening. Freed slaves wrote books about their experiences and gave numerous interviews. I have read dozens of slave narratives and nothing like a systematic breeding program is ever mentioned.
I wouldn't go quite that far. Per Wikipedia:
Quote:
Ex-slave Maggie Stenhouse remarked, "Durin' slavery there were stockmen. They was weighed and tested. A man would rent the stockman and put him in a room with some young women he wanted to raise children from."
That said, it does appear that the historical consensus is against this type of thing having been consistent or widespread.
  #49  
Old 07-17-2015, 04:41 PM
mmmiiikkkeee mmmiiikkkeee is offline
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Chris Rock using the idea in a setup for a joke during one of his stand-up specials is probably one of the bigger reasons this myth is as widespread as it has been in recent years...
  #50  
Old 07-17-2015, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
The OP was not asking it is was true, only why someone would think it was true. If a breeding program can turn a wolf into a chihuahua, then it makes sense that one could turn slaves into super athletes. The problem with this hypothesis is not that it is outlandish but rather that it is not true.
First, it would take a massive amount of coordination between slave owners to only breed the strong ones and the average number of slaves per household was six. Secondly, there was not enough time to do so since people can only have so many kids and since generations are spaced out so far. Third and most importantly, it would be economically crazy to do so, since slaves were so valuable any owner would want as many as he could get and consciously restricting the supply by selective breeding would be a massive waste of money that would only pay off generations later.
Another reason we can be sure it did not happen is there is no record of it happening. Freed slaves wrote books about their experiences and gave numerous interviews. I have read dozens of slave narratives and nothing like a systematic breeding program is ever mentioned.
I'm not sure what you're objecting to since I (and others) said as much in my other posts in this thread and the original GD thread.

Quote:
The reason people might think this is true is that it is obvious that black americans dominate most forms of athletics...
Maybe one reason people think it's true is because some people perpetuate the false claim that "black americans dominate most forms of athletics". They may dominate some, but not most.

Last edited by John Mace; 07-17-2015 at 05:13 PM.
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