Monthly Archives: January 2014


Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein labors to light the way forward in an arena where results are easily measureable, ultimately concluding that our genetic makeup confers sometimes unexpected advantages…Epstein performs a helpful public serviced by dispelling such fantasies and reminding us that greatness, in sports and elsewhere, is often God-given.” Michael M. Rosen

Practice, Practice?

Great athletes are born, not made.

BY MICHAEL M. ROSEN • The Weekly Standard • JAN 20, 2014, VOL. 19, NO. 18 •  p. 36, 37

Few social scientists doubt that both nurture and nature contribute meaningfully to human achievement. But the balance among the cognoscenti tumblr_mim2x3R21Y1qbxllno1_500has tilted in recent years toward the perfectibility of the body and mind through practice, even in athletics.

In this thoughtful exploration of the conundrum, Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein labors to light the way forward in an arena where results are easily measurable, ultimately concluding that our genetic makeup confers sometimes-unexpected advantages. He recognizes the truism that “nature and nurture are so interlaced in any realm of athletic performance that the answer is always: it’s both.” Still, he persists in exploring “how, specifically, might nature and nurture be at work here? .  .  . How much does each contribute?”

In search of answers, Epstein circles the globe, journeying from the Arctic Circle, where he observes a gold-medal skier, to Jamaica, where he seeks out the world’s fastest men and women, to Kenya’s hallowed Rift Valley, where he tracks champion distance runners among the Kalenjin tribe. Along the way, he carefully traverses the minefields of race, evolution, and genetic determinism to conclude that, in many cases, athletic achievement cannot just be learned.

In particular, Epstein takes a hatchet to the famed “deliberate practice” theory, pioneered in 1993 by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson. Ericsson’s research, an examination of the practice regimens of violinists at the Music Academy of West Berlin, revealed that “many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years.” Specifically, Ericsson found, rigorous practice for at least 10,000 hours enabled the musicians to overcome any innate differences. Malcolm Gladwell injected this theory with anabolic steroids in Outliers (2008), inflating it into the now-infamous “10,000-hourrule” in various fields and surmising that, for a young hockey player, “without ten thousand hours [of practice] under his belt, there is no way he can ever master the skills necessary to play at the top level.” In Gladwell’s telling, myriad practice hours are both necessary and sufficient for success in a wide variety of athletic and cognitive endeavors.  Continue reading

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Get Married

“The U.S. is steadily separating into a two-caste system with marriage and education as the dividing line.  In the high-income third of the population, children are raised by married parents with a college education; in the bottom-income third, children are raised by single parents with a high school diploma or less.” Heritage Foundation

“Given how deep the problem of poverty is, taking even more money from one citizen and handing it to another will only diminish one while doing very little to help the other.”  Ari Fleischer

How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married

Ari Fleischer, The WallStreet Journal, January 13, 2014, p. A 15

Wedding_ringsIf President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family. A man mostly raised by a single mother and his grandparents who defied the odds to become president of the United States is just the person to take up the cause.

“Marriage inequality” should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t. According to Census Bureau information analyzed by the Beverly LaHaye Institute, among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty. By contrast, when families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.

And the number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America. A 2012 study by the Heritage Foundation found that 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%. In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not. Continue reading

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Dobson’s Response

“My heart breaks for the destruction of the family, which was a gift to mankind by the Creator in the Garden of Eden.  It survived as the fundamental unit of society for 5,000 years, but now appears to be headed toward the ash heap of history.”  James C. Dobson

The following blog is Dr. Dobson’s response to a recent polygamy decision in Utah.  It deserves a careful and prayerful read….editor


To my conservative friends,

In 2004, I published a book entitled Marriage Under Fire. In it, I expressed alarm over what was happening to this 5,000 year-old institution, and said its demise appeared to be eminent. It was clear to anyone paying attention that the advent of same sex marriage would lead directly to polygamy, which would provide the final push down the slippery slope toward ruin. Here is what I wrote almost a decade ago:

The introduction of legalized gay marriages will lead inexorably to polygamy and other alternatives to one-man, one-woman unions. In Utah, polygamist Tom Green, who claims five wives, is citing Lawrence v. Texas as the legal authority for his appeal. In January 2004, a Salt Lake City civil rights attorney filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of another couple wanting to engage in legal polygamy. Their justification? The Supreme Court ruling known as Lawrence v. Texas. The ACLU of Utah has actually suggested that the state will “have to step up to prove that a polygamous relationship is detrimental to society”as opposed to the polygamists having to prove that plural marriage is not harmful to the culture. Do you see how the game is played? The responsibility to defend the family now rests on you and me to prove that polygamy is unhealthy. The ACLU went on to say that the nuclear family “may not be necessarily the best model.” Indeed, Justice Antonin Scalia warned of this likelihood in his statement for the minority in the Lawrence case. It took less than six months for his prediction to-become reality.  Continue reading

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