David Epstein's new book The Sports Gene is getting a lot of attention. For example, this New Yorker review is quite good, as are these interviews: NPR, Atlantic.
Atlantic: ... I lost so much sleep over this. I literally almost backed out of writing this book, because the issues of race and gender got me so nervous. Eventually my agent and one of my colleagues convinced me to just do it, in the best way I could.Of course, it's all been covered on this blog already: 10,000 hours rule is nonsense (Epstein's example of the former basketball player turned high jumper who barely trained yet won the world championship is excellent), myostatin mutation, etc.
But I remember being at the 2012 American College of Sports Medicine Conference, talking to the head of the physiology department at a major research university. The head of the department was telling me that he had data on ethnic differences in response to a certain dietary supplement during an exercise program, and that he would never publish it. He didn't want to get into that issue.
I heard this a number of times: He was worried it would be extrapolated into saying somehow that there were also innate intellectual differences between black and white people. When I heard that, I said, "That is a huge problem. That means science could be disappearing into the filing cabinet, into the garbage cans, because people aren't willing to take this on."
And that's when I thought, I have to do this. I'm not going to do that same thing and leave it on the cutting-room floor.
"Horses ain't like people, man, they can't make themselves better than they're born. See, with a horse, it's all in the gene. It's the fucking gene that does the running. The horse has got absolutely nothing to do with it." --- Paulie (Eric Roberts) in The Pope of Greenwich Village.