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Nature vs. Nurture

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On GoTrackTownUSA, 3 time All-American female distance runner Alexi Pappas writes:

ALEXI PAPPAS: WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAID

By Alexi Pappas / TrackTown USA

EUGENE, Ore. – My family stood together in the small waiting room just outside the Oval Office, nervously smiling like a group of kids waiting their turn at the top of a waterslide. My brother Louis stood at the front of our pack, ready to walk in first – he had spent the past few years working on President Obama’s staff, and this was his last day on the job. The Oval Office door cracked open and laughter spilled out into the waiting room. The family ahead of us walked out, and there he was: the President of the United States, standing just a few feet away.

We shook his hand one by one. Louis introduced me as a professional runner from Eugene, Oregon. The President’s attention then focused directly on me. First, he told me about his visit to Hayward Field during his 2008 campaign. A wonderful place, we agreed. At that moment, Mr. Obama looked me directly in the eye. “You have a gift,” he said. “You were born with a body that was meant to run long distances, more than the average human.”

I was taken aback. Right away I knew what I wanted to say in response … but dare I risk embarrassing my brother and disagree with Mr. Obama? I started by thanking the President, and then I couldn’t help myself – I added that my performance in the sport is actually a result of hard work, motivation and support from my community.

This was not the answer the President wanted to hear.

“No, no,” he said, “Your body is able to flush out lactic acid better than the average person – running is what you were born to do.” Mr. Obama’s energy and tone were so confident and convincing that he could have told me the moon is really made out of cheese and I would have agreed with him. I nodded and thanked him. Besides, our five-minute meeting time was up. I left the Oval Office feeling very honored, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about what the President had said.

The idea that I was meant to run, that I was born with a special ability, felt like it subtracted from my own willpower and motivation to pursue something to the fullest and at the highest level.

A couple of Christmas-shopping seasons ago, the President was seen buying Sports Illustrated reporter David Epstein’s explicitly HBD book The Sports Gene. The Los Angeles Times reported:

But most of Obama’s choices lean more toward pure escapism.

“The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,” by Sports illustrated writer David Epstein, tries to dispel common myths about what makes athletes great.

Personally, I think that studying sports for patterns that are revealing about humanity in general, such as the roles played by nature and nurture, isn’t pure escapism.

 
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From the NYT Science/Medical section:

Short Sleepers May Catch More Colds
By RONI CARYN RABIN SEPTEMBER 2, 2015 1

Want to avoid catching a cold this winter? Start by getting more than six hours of sleep a night.

In what may be the first study of this kind, researchers say they found that adults who sleep less than five or six hours a night are four times more likely to catch a cold than than those who get at least seven or more hours of sleep.

“Sleep plays a role in regulating the immune system, and that’s how we think it influences susceptibility to the common cold,” said Aric A. Prather, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who is the lead author of the study, published online this week in the journal Sleep. …

The new study recruited 164 men and women aged 18 to 55 from the Pittsburgh, Pa., area between 2007 and 2011, and put them through extensive health screenings, questionnaires and interviews to determine their levels of stress, their general temperament and their use of alcohol and tobacco. Then the researchers measured the subjects’ normal sleep habits for a week, before sequestering them in a hotel and deliberately administering them nasal drops containing the cold virus.

I hate so much having a cold — as you know, some colds last a week and a half, while others are over in ten days — that I can’t imagine volunteering for this kind of study.

The volunteers were monitored for a week and daily mucus samples were collected to see if they had become infected.

Those who slept less than six hours a night the week before the exposure were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold compared with those who got more than seven hours of sleep, researchers found.

My impression is that I can sometimes fend off a cold I feel coming on (i.e., I’m developing a sore throat) by immediately getting 10 or 12 hours of sleep. (Of course, my now having a career as a Mysterious Recluse Blogger makes this more feasible for me than for people with real jobs who have to get to a breakfast meeting in Dallas and a client dinner in Atlanta.)

Presumably, conking out gives my immune system a chance for a last ditch effort at resistance while I sleep.

But as with anything involving immune systems, your mileage may vary.

 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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