The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Talent is innate

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/3/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,802 times Debate No: 19657
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)




We are here to discuss what decides the athlete, the artist, and the genius. Often, we assume that these people are born with some sort of gift or trait that give them an advantage over the rest of us. However, I would like to discuss what really determines talent in a person. As Con, I will argue that talent is not innate, that a person's talent is mainly decided by the circumstances they are brought up in. The Burden of Proof is shared in this debate. Pro can decide if he or she wants to begin in round one or just accept and wait until round two.

Thank you.


I'd like to thank my opponent for opening this challenge. Some definitions to start:
Talent - Aptitude or skill.
Innate - Inborn; determined at birth

I'm going to make a bold prediction. The winner of the men's 100M Olympic final at London next year will be black.

I'm not being racist, I'm just saying that after years and years of watching black people win that particular race (almost continuously since Jesse Owens), I've come to the conclusion that there is some correlation. Both black people and white people train really hard for that race. Both black and white people were brought up racing. But these similar circumstances mean nothing at the Olympics, where inevitably, people from certain races perform much better. For instance, you never really see Asians win that contest. It cannot be just a cultural thing, because many Asian children are brought up to race too. Exactly the same circumstances, very different results.

In other words, being black does not make you fast, but some black people have genetic traits that make them faster. An obvious example might be leg length. Long legs give you an innate talent - running fast. I have fairly short legs, so I could train as much as I wanted, but would never win the men's 100M final.

So that's a short introduction to my case. I'll elaborate much more later, but I'd like to see my opponent's argument so without further ado, I wish my opponent very good luck for his first substantive round.
Debate Round No. 1


Greetings Larztheloser and all other readers,
Pro has brought up a very good point about genetics, but I believe he has missed the mark with his argument. I will analyze his arguments more closely after I give my own.
Talent is often associated with as many meanings as can be derived from its definition of "aptitude or skill." I think we need to look at this closer to find what we really mean by talent and who has talent. It is a certain skill that is displayed from a certain person that not everyone has. I could say I have talent at blinking my eyes because I'm good at it. The problem is, everyone else is good at blinking as well. If I could blink twenty times a second, that would really qualify as talent, though a bizarre one.

When looking at many of the geniuses or experts of mankind, what we have to figure out is if they are really any different than anyone else at birth. Certainly they have a certain look and certain traits to them, but there is no evidence that their success is due to genetics. Instead, the difference in their future abilities are derived from the environment they are brought up in. A great example was Mozart. He showed an interest for music at a very young age, and this may lead one to believe that this was genetic. But his talent really developed when his father recognized his interest and put him to work. It was the teaching and intense practices from his father that turned him into a prodigy; there's nothing to show he was a prodigy from the beginning. Many children are interested in music and can even grasp musical concepts at a young age, but without anything else, they won't ever be good at music. Other children may show no signs of musical ability at all and become great musicians.
Like I said, the environment is a huge factor in talent. Mozart had a father who put all his efforts into his son's musical career. Athletes are often in the same situation as Mozart. When first interested in a certain sport, their parents make sure they have opportunities to succeed. Or take the example of the Polg�r experiment where L�szl� Polg�r decided to train his three daughters to become master chess players under the theory that "Geniuses are made, not born." Oddly enough, Judit, the "slow-starter" became the most successful of the three. Another factor contributing to talent could be finer details of growing up. What toys did they play with, what sort of events were going on around them, how did people act when they were them… This could be the spark of a certain interest or talent in a specific subject at a young age. The last and most important aspect to talent is practice. If you look at any talented person, at least successful ones, you will find that they have had much practice.
My argument basically comes down to the fact that no evidence shows that anyone has any genetic advantage over another when it comes down to skill. Practice and environment are the main contributors to skill.

My opponent argued that genetics could influence ability. Talent, however, is not simply ability as I have already expressed. Usain Bolt has an unusual amount of fast-twitch fibers, partially due to genetics. This doesn't make him skilled anymore than it makes a tall person skilled at basketball. There are plenty of tall people who are absolutely rubbish at basketball, and then there are people who are less than six foot who are tremendously talented. Usain's brother, for example, doesn't have all those fast-twitch fibers, but he probably could if he trained like Usain does. There are people who have genetic diseases that hurt their endurance in athletic abilities, but they still might be skilled at their sport. At best, a black person winning the 100m is an exception, but I think it is more of a misrepresentation of what talent actually is. This interpretation of talent excludes any skill. Interestingly a study showed that genetics had very limited effect on a sprinter's ability*. One of the professor's students was theoretically a better built sprinter than some of those who were experimented on. The skill comes when many Jamaicans are obsessed with running, so naturally they will produce talents. I'll hand it back over to Pro.



I thank my opponent for his opening case. Now I will to explain my case more fully, and address my opponent's case.

Various studies have found the heritability of IQ to be between 70% and 80% in adults ( Put another way, according to scientific experiments, such as identical twin studies, only 20-30% of your brain power is determined by your environment. The vast majority is determined by how smart your parents were. So having a smart set of parents - even if you were adopted away to a family of really dumb people immediately after birth - is enough to make you talented, because you are likely to have inherited a high IQ, which gives you the ability to acquire skills far more easily.

We (mostly) get our bodies and mental ability from our parents. I doubt my opponent will really contest that point, and he hasn't done so thus far. How we use our bodies, or to what purpose we put our minds, is our individual decision alone. But what really determines our ability to excel in what we choose to put our minds to is our innate ability. Everyone can practice and become proficient at doing something. Only those with innate potential can excel and thereby become truly "talented".

All of my opponent's examples only serve to prove this point. My opponent mentioned three people he considered talented - Mozart, Judit Polgar, and Usain Bolt. Mozart's father had obviously passed some of his musical ability on to his son, as well as encouraged him as he grew up. Lots of people were encouraged to be musical at a young age (myself included). What set Mozart apart, however, was that his brain had more creativity and musical aptitude than an average brain. That's because so much of his brain's make-up was determined by his parents at birth. Mozart wasn't born to be a great composer, but rather with the ability to become a great composer.

Judit Polgar is an interesting case. Chess has traditionally been a very male-orientated game, largely because the female brain is in many ways unlike the male brain, and the structure of the game of chess generally favors the kinds of thinking in which men are superior. That's why despite working at least as hard as any top chess player, Polgar has never been ranked higher than 8th in the world, and is currently only about 30th. When it comes to the World Chess Championship, or any other competition, it doesn't matter that Polgar has put in just as many hours as all the men she is surrounded by. What matters is that she's a girl, and therefore she's at a disadvantage. That's why chess usually has women's leagues. The point is that Judit, being a girl, does not have an innate talent for chess, and that's why she (or any other given woman) does not have the same potential to be the world number one. But even if we were to accept the presumption that Judit Polgar qualifies as talented, the source of her chess-playing prowess would undoubtedly be her mind, most of which was inherited from her father, who was himself a famous Hungarian chess player. Again, being the daughter of a top chess player does not automatically make you good at chess, but it gives you the potential to do better than somebody without such ancestry. Being male does not automatically mean you will beat Judit Polgar, but it does give you a slight competitive edge.

Usain Bolt, my opponent has already agreed, has certain genetic attributes that allow him to run fast. My opponent hypothesises that with training Usain's brother could sprint that fast as well, which only seems to agree with my point that this ability is inherited. Unlike many other people in the world, the Bolt brothers have the inborn ability to run fast. Others may practice running fast and gain average placings in municipal marathons, but it takes a Usain Bolt to go further. Lots of runners push themselves, but as history proves, fast running is tied to certain genetic characteristics, like being black. As for my opponent's study, just because many people don't use their full potential doesn't mean they are not talented. All that the study really showed was that some people have the genetic power to do well in marathons, and that these people aren't necessarily the ones doing the marathons. To borrow from my opponent's example, being able to blink 20 times a second is a talent, even if you never do it. So these people who have the genetic power to do well in athletics, and yet choose a life of academics instead, still qualify as talented.

Basketball is not a sport where being tall is vital, however, being taller does give you an advantage in goal scoring. Lots of people try really hard to be top basketball players, but every single year, the top scorers in the NFL are also among the tallest. Again, that's not to say that being tall automatically makes you a good basketballer, but it gives you the ability to play basketball well (and if you have good hand-eye coordination or can slam dunk a ball easily, those are advantages too). All these things are mostly innate. The future top scorers of the NFL are therefore mostly decided with every new birth.

What my opponent seems to be essentially arguing is that without a nurturing environment the many thousands of potential musical geniuses won't grow up to become musical geniuses. If you grow up without a chessboard, you are unlikely to become world chess champion. My argument is, however, that this advantage pales in significance compared to whether you actually have the mental capacity to play chess really well, or the creative ability to be a Mozart. Many people are trained, but only very few excel. What makes you truly talented, beyond the norm, is not the training (because otherwise all who train would excel) but natural ability. That's what matters, and that's what's innate. My opponent needs to explain why he believes that, with sufficient practice, anyone could be a top-class sprinter. That's like saying we're all the same. We're not.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 2


When looking at the heritability of IQ, we must not make assumptions about IQ, because it is the subject of much debate. It does not always directly correlate with ability to acquire talent and does not even necessarily decide intelligence. There are many people with average IQ with unusual ability. You can find chess grandmasters, exceptional musicians, and artists all of average IQ.
Polgar still doesn't seem an inherited case. My opponent suggests that Polgar inherited some of her father's chess genius. There isn't really any evidence for this; neither of her parents were unusually talented chess. Her parent's training is likely a far better explanation. Also, her sisters had a great influence as well. Judit also became more successful than her sisters because she was the youngest and naturally curious about her sisters' hobby. Her experiences as the youngest brought about a different dedication to chess that her sisters didn't exhibit. The fact that she outperformed her sisters is also strong evidence for my case. My opponent made a case that she is thwarted by her female brain. However, I would say that this greatly favors my arguments. Yes, there are differences in the male and female brains, but how great are they? How much do they affect talent? The fact that Polgar has overcome a supposed weakness in the female brain and become the youngest grandmaster of her time shows that such effects can be overcome. My opponent must remember that she defeated some of the greatest male chess players of her time. The point is not whether one can be the greatest at something anyway. Talent is not defined as being the most skilled something, but rather it has to do with being very skilled at something. Polgar ended up being unusually good at chess even though others might have genetic advantages of her. As I said, a genetic advantage is not equivalent to talent.
If someone has the genetic potential to do well in athletics, yet they don't choose to do athletics, will they be talented in athletics? No, they will probably not be very good at them. If a person is supposed to be fast but has never learned to run then they will be very slow. Those uncoordinated people at school are uncoordinated because of their lack of athletic involvement or timidness when it comes to it. Genetically, they are built to be runners like every human is–except those with genetic disabilities.
Remember, it's NBA, not NFL. Let's say there is a competition to see who can reach the highest. I suppose a giant would win since giants a tallest. But that doesn't really qualify as talent. Talent in sports, especially the ones we are discussing, is often a mix between genetic advantages and skill. You usually need both in order to be talented. A midget wouldn't be much of a basketball player, but if a person is tall and unskilled, neither are they. For this reason, sports like basketball and running are poor examples that don't really help either case. This is also why I play soccer because all you need is skill and hard work. Lionel Messi, the best player on earth, grew up with a hormone deficiency but overcame all odds with his genius and skill.
My opponent lowers human potential down to a level where some can succeed and others are destined to fail. This is very detrimental to individuals on both sides. Studies show that telling kids they are gifted hurts their ability to succeed. They begin to slack off because they feel they are born with their ability and it will always stay with them. Human potential is much greater in that, while it may be easier to acquire skills or some people have some edge, it can usually be made up with dedicated practice. Speaking of unique cases, yes, there is some genetic heritability of IQ and there are some advantages, but there are so many other factors that could be more responsible than these genetics.
Let's look closely at my opponent's main point: "Many people are trained, but only very few excel. What makes you truly talented, beyond the norm, is not the training (because otherwise all who train would excel) but natural ability."
There is nothing to support this, and there are plenty of examples where this fails. Polgar's case is one. Chess players build patterns in their head through repeated practice. It takes around 10 years to become an expert. Polgar is certainly an expert, and her career isn't over. Even if they do have some genetic bonus, those who excel do so because of determination and practice. What person has succeeded without determination and practice? Michael Phelps had a body structure perfect for swimming, but more importantly, he had been swimming since he was five and had an extremely intense practice routine. Studies also show that IQ is not a determining factor of success but rather practice is most important. With determination average people excel constantly.


Again I thank my opponent for his rebuttals. In this round I will respond to all that my opponent just said.

First, sorry about confusing the sports leagues for various American sports. Please forgive me, I'm not really a sporty person.

My opponent seems to continue to narrow down who he calls "talented" more and more. Mozart has been completely neglected by my opponent. Sports stars, my opponent has said, don't help either case, because apparently genetic advantages (such as being tall) don't "really qualify" as talent in sports where genetic advantages matter. After all, "a genetic advantage is not equivalent to talent." I don't accept the premise that genetic advantages don't qualify as talent. That's what we call a tautology. My opponent is attempting to turn this debate into a truism, because if genetic advantages (such as being tall) don't "really qualify" as talent, then neither does any effect of those genetic advantages (like winning reaching competitions) including skills and aptitudes, and thus by our agreed definitions talent cannot be innate. The problem is that the premise has only been asserted by my opponent without any supporting evidence. Indeed, our definitions of what qualifies as talent seem to contradict this new restriction - reaching is an aptitude. In any event, redefining the debate in a tautological way (a form of squirreling) is entirely unfair. Then just to show how confused my opponent is, he brings up two new sports stars to help his case (Messi and Phelps). I'll deal with them later.

First, let me turn back to chess and Polgar. Were any of Polgar's parents talented at chess? As I've told you, her father was an international chess master from Hungary. Is it "usual" to be an international chess master? No. Therefore her father was unusually talented at chess. And despite her dedication, the differences between the male and female brain are great enough to put 30 places between the greatest female player of all time (by a considerable margin) and the best male player of the day. And since some kids have become chess grandmasters at the age of eleven (and they probably weren't playing chess before the age of one), the big "it takes 10 years to become an expert" figure for chess is simply fallacious. By the way, chess is not just a memory game. It also involves position analysis, creativity, staring down opponents and so on.

What if Polgar never played? Well, then her mind would still be optimised for playing chess. She would still beat other people who never played chess. I've made it very clear she would not be considered talented by international standards, but her talent would lie in her ability to win games against her equals routinely. Not every talented soccer player has gone to the World Cup. Some are just talented because they can score a goal against their friends. Being better than one's peers (more aptitude and skill than usual) amounts to talent. I agree that "If a person is supposed to be fast but has never learned to run then they will be very slow", however, they might well be very talented. As I showed last round with my as-yet-unrefuted blinking analysis, just because someone doesn't use all their talents to their full potential doesn't mean those talents don't exist. Without practice, the talents could not be used, but everyone can practice. Without innate ability, the talents would (usually) not exist - and not everybody has innate ability. Coming back to Polgar, I'd say the same thing. If she had never practiced, she would not use her incredible female chess mind (although she COULD do so if she ever played, which would mean she is still talented). If she did not have such an incredible mind, however, her practice would not have made her nearly as talented as she is today. As I explained last round, one of those pales in comparison to the other.

To win the men's 100M final at the Olympics next year, one athlete will need both. The reason why my opponent can't rebut my prediction is because we all know it's true. I'm not saying some are destined to succeed and others to fail. That would be supposing that everyone who is talented at something actually does that thing. It would also be supposing that genetics is everything. It isn't. Think of it like horse racing. Some horses are brought up on much better pastures and have far better jockeys. But at the end of the day, the number one determinant of the horses' speed is their breeding. That's not to say that one breed wins every single race. It is to say, however, that some breeds are strongly advantaged over other breeds. The same is true of humans. You and I were not born identical, and some of our traits make us more predisposed towards doing well at one activity or another. Therefore my prediction is a pretty safe bet.

What about Messi? Well, given that his team couldn't even beat New Zealand (yay!) in the last World Cup, and didn't get through the group stage, I'd have my doubts that their captain really is the best player in the world as my opponent claims. But even if I was to grant that, a hormone deficiency has very little bearing on ones ability to play soccer. Soccer involves multiple aptitudes, such as running fast, having good endurance, and being co-ordinated enough to accurately pass a ball. These things aren't mostly hormone dependant. They're mostly dependant on your genetic make-up. On Phelps, he wasn't the only swimmer with an intense practice regime. I wonder why my opponent thinks he succeeded when hundreds of people around the globe, who also practice swimming intensely, have not even made an Olympic final? It's because the hundreds of other swimmers don't have a body like Michael Phelps.

I'm not advocating telling kids they are going to fail or succeed at any given enterprise, and indeed I think genetics isn't thoroughly understood enough to jump to those kinds of conclusions. It should be noted that these kinds of assessments are already made, usually by subjective instead of objective measures, in school reports. That, however, is irrelevant to the debate. It's another question entirely whether we should actually tell kids what they're good at, to whether what kids are good at is innate or not.

My opponent asks who was ever successful without practice. Ghengis Khan didn't get to practice conquering the known world before he did it. My little brother won a debate tournament with me once without ever having debated before. Several great early New Zealand statesmen, such as William Hobson, had absolutely no prior training or experience in governance, and yet they are some of the most revered figures in our history. I aced a test once that I had not studied for. Every time somebody does something for the first time in their life and you say to yourself "what a natural" or "I can't believe (s)he's never done that before!" (or "that's probably just beginner's luck"), then you have an example of a successful person without practice. Unless you believe in reincarnation, people who live to great ages have a talent for staying alive, but have never practiced. There are literally thousands of examples. There are literally no examples of a person being successful without any innate ability. Practice can only amplify the talent you are born with.

I look forward to the final round.
Debate Round No. 3


I have tried to make this my most comprehensive argument yet. The others were a bit rushed.
My opponent wishes me to comment more on Mozart so I will. Without any sort of evidence, Pro insists that Mozart's father passed down some sort of genetic music ability. Pointing out that his father was a musician does nothing for his case because there is no way to tell he has any sort of innate ability either. It is a fact that Mozart's father gave Mozart training and fed his musical taste from an early age. If Mozart picked all his talent up on his own without practicing then that would be a different story.
When I said that genetic advantages do not qualify as talent, I meant that in themselves these advantages are not talent. I'm not meddling with the definition. As I tried to explain in the second round, aptitude can't be exclusively talent, and least not the talent we are speaking of. The definition is a little more complex because the definition also should entail a certain amount of skill. Genetic advantages are influential in sports, but so is skill. Sports favor Pro's position in that physical bonuses can influence performance, but Pro has failed to show any genetic influence in the realm of skill. So aptitude has something to do with talent, but it is not equivalent to it. Likewise, skill is dependent on certain aptitudes. If we don't have a brain, we cannot be skilled at anything really.
Let's talk about chess. My opponent incorrectly claims that Laszlo Polgar was an international chess master. When he decided to experiment on Susan, the oldest, he originally was going to choose mathematics, but she happened to stumble across a chess set. He was only an amateur at chess and there was no family history of brilliant chess players. Laszlo just took the game and started to teach his daughters at a very young age. [1] Also, after research, I found that the game doesn't even favor the male brain. Males overwhelmingly outnumber females – that's the likely explanation. Like many of my opponent's assertions, he gives no evidence or source for males being more suited for chess.
About my statement that it takes 10 years to become an expert, it is obviously an approximate statistic. The youngest grandmaster, (at the age of 12 mind you) took around 6 or 7 years to become an expert. This is still plausible with intense practice. Also, we develop skills quicker at a young age. The point is if someone practices at something for around 10 years, they will probably be ridiculously good at it. My opponent says chess requires more than memory, but it is mostly dependent on memorization of patterns. It isn't like the other things like, "position analysis, creativity, staring down opponents" can't be taught.
If Polgar was never educated in chess, there is no evidence whatsoever that, "her mind would still be optimized for playing chess." But let's take the example of someone who outperforms his or her peers. Yes, they are talented, but does it derive from genes or is it dependent on their other skills and that they have grown up transferred to other areas of life? My opponent's argument here is based on the baseless assumption that we are optimized from birth for a certain talent. Instead potential talent could be developed at an early stage. Again, I'm not finding anything that supports my opponent's case in this argument potential talent. He is just restating his opinion. He points out that anyone can practice; yet not all are talented. Well, not everybody dedicates the amount of practice necessary to become uniquely talented at something. Also, personality and earlier circumstances must be taken into consideration.
I will agree that winning the Olympic 100M will probably require an athlete especially built for sprinting, but it will also require someone with experience and skill. It will be someone who has made himself faster and worked on every aspect of racing. This is why it doesn't really confirm the resolution. But it doesn't support my position either, because racing is dependent on some genetic factors as well. Racing doesn't compare to something like chess or soccer, which is very skill and memory oriented. Racing is more of an exception because of how much height and muscle fibers matter. When looking at talent in general, whether it is being able to speak well or being a good tennis player, genetics play a very little part.
I won't get into a debate with Messi being the best in the world. He has been declared the best player by FIFA twice now. Anyway, I would strongly disagree that the aptitudes described are unusual to the average person. Speed and endurance are important, but there are many untalented soccer players with speed and endurance. Also, it is something that can be worked on. Those who are especially slow are probably so because they weren't as involved in athletics at a young age. Basically, most athletically inclined persons have enough speed and endurance for soccer, but most of them are not talented in any way at soccer. Soccer skill comes with practice. Coordination to pass comes from passing over and over thereby creating muscle memory. The best players have therefore been playing soccer their whole lives. The reason that not everyone who has been playing soccer their whole lives succeeds is usually because they are unwilling to make a full commitment.
Regarding Michael Phelps, I was trying to make the point that much of his ability comes from the untypical amount of practice he put in throughout his life. Sure, he gets an edge from his body structure, but others have similar body structure and can't beat him.
The fact that kids don't do as well when they are told they are gifted just shows how influential practice and hard work is in determining talent.
My opponent has answered the crucial question of who was ever successful without practice. Genghis Khan is the first example. My opponent seems to not realize that his father was a tribe leader who educated Genghis from a young age about battle tactics. I would say that his father's teachings were crucial to his success as a leader. He also had other experienced leaders around him. To claim Genghis Khan had no practice at all before his conquest is quite ridiculous.
I cannot really comment about my opponent's little brother since I nor anyone else has any knowledge about him. It's not a very good example for this debate. William Hobson clearly obtained skills necessary to be a statesman over his life, and that can be contributed to his success. I think this principle can be used with your other examples as well.
Then Pro claims, "There are literally no examples of a person being successful without any innate ability." I would agree to certain extent, but we are not simply talking about ability but talent. We all need a brain to debate, but we need talent to debate well. I'll leave the rest to the voters.



I thank my opponent for his conclusion and most comprehensive argument yet. As I see it, voters in this debate will have to decide two key questions...

1. Is there any evidence for talent not being innate?

It is false to say I presented no evidence that most of people's minds and bodies are inherited from parents. If you'll look back to round 2 you'll see my evidence for inheriting mental abilities. If you'll look back to round one, you'll see my evidence for inheriting physical abilities (ie speed in 100M final being tied to race). Very little of these abilities is actually determined by practice. Most is determined by innate ability. So when we're talking about evidence for Mozart, only one side in this debate has had any at all. Only one side had a relevant source. Only one side has not just been stating their opinion. The affirmative side alone has given you credible reasons to believe Mozart's talent, though undoubtedly honed by his upbringing, was mostly innate.

I'm absolutely sure that Laszlo was an international master at chess, because I happen to have one of his books (which, by the way, is about chess), where the blurb notes that the author was an international master. You can also find plenty of old games commentated by him on the Internet. The whole "changed his mind when Susan saw a chessboard" story is clearly a dream of my opponent, and on chessbase you can even find photographs of the press conference at which Laszlo, who had recently written a book about teaching young children to grow up to be geniuses (immediately after finishing his fourth book on chess) announced that his three as-yet-unborn children would each become experts at chess ( After this barrage of assertions, my opponent contradicts his earlier narrative with his assertion that chess doesn't favor the male brain. Countless years of scientific and psychological research contradicts that assertion. See and As an aside, the third page of the howstuffworks link also includes a quote from the person who examined Einstein's brain and found that its unusual structure must have been formed at birth. You may recall that I actually did justify all that previously with reference to the necessity of womans-only tournaments. Lastly, the reason why my opponent's 10 years figure is only approximate is because some people get chess much faster than others. These are the people with a genetic advantage. If training was most of what mattered, one would expect all three Polgar sisters to be the top three in the world, but only two are even grandmasters. That's indicative of a difference not in upbringing, which was nearly identical, but in how they actually think about chess. In other words, genetic variation. Being a trained scientist as well as a chess player, Laszlo Polgar knew the importance of control in his grand experiment.

If Polgar was never educated in chess, there is very good evidence that "her mind would still be optimized for playing chess." That's because ~80% of her mind is inherited from her dad, who I've repeatedly explained was a good chess player. I'm not making this stuff up, and I'm not just restating my opinion. There is no perfect correlation between hours spent at the pool and world swimming ranking. There are hundreds of people who have played and practiced soccer just as much as, if not more than, Messi but who haven't managed to pay off FIFA ... err, I mean, who haven't been world champions yet. Claiming that Messi is the most committed player in the world is categorically wrong. Xavi, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka are all exceptional players who missed out, despite having been playing and practicing for much longer than Lionel Messi. Saying that none of these players have made a "full commitment" is both ignorant and disrespectful. The same thing goes with Phelps. Michael Phelps' training is not atypical for Olympic athletes, however it is he, not the hundreds of other competitors from all around the globe, who snatched the majority of the swimming gold medals. What made him the most talented swimmer at the Olympics? His body structure. Others may have similar body structure, but there are no knowlegable people that would deny his is the best.

2. Is there any evidence for talent being innate?

This one is easy. The answer is yes. Our mind and body are mostly determined before we are born. It is by using our mind and body that we are talented (although I'm not sure my opponent is really sure what he means by talent, given the numerous internal contradictions in his case as to the definition of talent, at least one of which was a clear squirrel and conduct violation). Talent implies the need for our abilities to be somehow superior to the norm. If our minds and bodies are mostly inherited, it follows that our performance is mostly inherited too. But this logical case, backed by sources, a counter-analysis of my opponent's example, and my example of the men's 100M final, were not enough for my opponent, so he asked for some more examples. Last round, I provided several. Two-thirds of them my opponent actually had some rebuttal to, so let me address that now.

According to the Secret History of the Mongols (the main primary source about Ghengis Khan), Ghengis Khan's father was killed by the Merkits when he was still a very young boy. I find it very unlikely that Ghengis Khan's father gave world-conquering lessons to a toddler, especially since my opponent asserts that it takes about ten years before talent can develop. After this time Ghengis Khan's father's tribe was taken over by a rival, and the future world-conqueror was forced into exile instead of learning the art of war. He survived by living as a slave among other tribes, and was later taken as a prisoner by the Kara Khitai, before claiming his tribe back again and immediately proceeding to conquer the world. I don't think a life of servitude and imprisonment is good education for conquering the world. Ghengis Khan is said to have had so little education that he couldn't even read or write. So how did Ghengis get such ability from his father if not by teaching? Simple. The secret to Ghengis' success was his genetics.

On William Hobson, it isn't enough to say "he learnt as he went along." Winners of marathons don't usually pick up new techniques as they run along and thereby win. Most of the debates I've learnt the most from are the ones I have lost. People don't learn much by doing well, and people don't do well from the outset without pre-existing ability. Hobson's pre-existing ability cannot be due to learning. That must be genetics. Hobson's continuing of doing well was not due to learning as he went, because he was doing well. It was due to the very same pre-existing ability, and the confirmation of his trust in it. Most early British colonial governors, such as the incredibly visionary George Grey when he was still in Australia, had absolutely no prior experience. It's also no coincidence that most failed horribly, but that a few succeeded is evidence of learning not from experience or learning, but from innate ability.


To meet my burden of proof, I did not need to show that practice counts for nothing. Experience is important too. You won't enter the record books without hard work and dedication. I have, however, shown two things. First, I have shown that not everyone who practices the most becomes the best. Second, I have shown that some people with very little or no practice can still be really good at something. These facts, combined with my empirical evidence, rebuttal of my opponent's arguments, and scientific sources, lead to one inevitable conclusion. Talent is not wholly, but mostly, a product of your genetics. I urge a pro vote. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by darkkermit 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO showed examples that demonstrated that talent is innate. CON made assertions that were not backed up.
Vote Placed by InVinoVeritas 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00 
Reasons for voting decision: If the subject of debate was "Talent MAY BE innate," then the arguments would be much stronger... and the winner would be Pro. But that's not the case.