Thursday, March 14, 2024

Trying to debunk the Racialist Hypothesis

The NAACP called on Black student athletes to boycott Florida universities in light of the Sunshine State’s crackdown on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

NAACP leader Derrick Johnson on Monday announced that they told Black NCAA prospects via a letter to reconsider playing for "PWI" public colleges and universities in Florida. PWI is typically referred to as a "predominantly White institution."

Black athletes have been overrepresented in Florida college scholarships, compared to the population. If Blacks really want racial equity, then Florida should play White athletes at those PWIs.

The idea that Blacks might be better at some athletic skills is called the racialist hypothesis, and is attacked in a new academic paper:

In this manuscript we have analyzed the last twenty years of race data for the 100m and 1500m and found it in conflict with the dominant racialist models that suggest regional African ancestry has a role in determining running ability. With respect to the 100m, the emergence of South African and East Asian sprinters challenge the argument that West African ancestry rather than culture is what underlies Caribbean success in sprinting. Cataloguing the morphological diversity and biomechanical variation across elite 100m sprinters, ...

We propose a psycho-cultural framework that considers multiple sources of psychological impact that occur within and between races. This framework allows us to quantify and validate what many athletes have frequently expressed, that belief is paramount.

So Jamaicans are not really naturally talented sprinters; they do well because they believe they can.

As you can see from the above link, the fastest sprinters are overwhelmingly West African, and the fastest long distance runners East Africa. Maybe that is just coincidence, or belief.

To substantiate this, they point to progress in video game scores!

, the psychocultural framework that we have developed is by no means exclusive to sports. ..., and observe the recent developments in Tetris a classic video game known for being simple, yet cognitively challenging [93]. Despite being out since 1989, and maintaining a large enough cult following to support yearly championships since 2010, it was finally completed for the first time at the beginning of 2024 [94]. And then twice more in the next month [95] - suggesting that even without the strictures of scientific racism, limits are subconsciously set far below the pinnacle of human achievement across many different domains.
Tetris is supposed to follow the example of the four minute mile:
When progress appeared to plateau after the second world war, scientists declared it may be physiologically impossible to break that "four minute barrier" [47], perhaps further delaying the event - which finally occurred in 1954 when Roger Bannister of England ran 3:59.4 [48]. The "barrier" now broken, another sub four clocking occurred again only 46 days later, eight more times over the next three years, and the following decade saw the largest improvement since records were first recorded (see Figure 3-b).
This is a widely-believed misconception. People say that no one could run a 4-minute mile before 1954 because no one thought it was possible, and then, once it was shown possible, everyone could do it.

No, that is nonsense. What really happened was that modern polyurethane/rubber tracks replaced the old cinder tracks, and everyone ran about 2% faster. The elite runners who ran 4:02 on cinder suddenly did 3:58 on synthetic. Nobody got faster on the same track.

In Tetris, someone recently figured out a winning strategy that a highly skilled gamer could execute. Yes, revealing the strategy allowed others to mimic it. Not like running at all.

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