Sunday, April 11, 2010

Derbyshire on living with differences

Is that famous English common sense genetic, or what?  From John Derbyshire's recent talk to the Black Law Students Association at the University of Pennsylvania on the government's role in eliminating racial disparities: 
We are all, to various degrees, aware of our own individual strengths and limitations. Certainly I am aware of mine. For example: My wife is a keen ballroom dancer. Because I love my wife, I did my best to become a ballroom dancer myself. For two years — two blessed years, ladies and gentlemen — I went along twice a week with her to the local Arthur Murray studio to take instruction. At the end of it, I still had two left feet. The instruction I received was like water poured on to a sheet of glass.

Even at the things we are good at, most of us are not very good. I make my living by writing; yet I can name, in my own small personal acquaintance, a dozen people who are better writers than I am. That's not even to mention the Shakespeares and Tolstoys. Most of us are hopeless at most things, and mediocre at the rest.

And yet — look! We don't lose sleep over this. We don't sink into rage and frustration at our own individual differences, or agitate for politicians to put balm on our psychic wounds. We accept our individual shortcomings with remarkable equanimity, playing the cards we've been dealt as best we can. That is the attitude of a healthy human being. To do otherwise would, most of us I'm sure would agree, be un-healthy. How much more unhealthy, then, to fret and rage and agitate about mere statistical abstractions?

(H/T Steve Sailer--not unfamiliar with common sense, himself.)

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