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Age Nepotism I


TheLastWolf

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20 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Experience.  That is what age provides. There is very little that can substitute for it.  

A 20 something year old WW/Nam 'veteran' has experienced more of the world than a 50+ something senator. While the former would most likely be a pacifist anti war chap (if he had a triple digit IQ and learnt anything from the futile wars), the latter would be passionately harking about the glory to be won. This ain't a template saying that's how ALL members of the two aforementioned types behave. But for arguments sake, in this case if it happens so and people are ignorant of the 20 something's experience, they'd invariably get jingoistic vibes from the grey haired asshole sending off sons and fathers to die for another term 

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17 hours ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

As a cranky “old” (the worst type, a middle aged grammar scold old), I’m first going to quote Fezzick and point out that “nepotism” “does not mean what you think it means.”  Nepotism means giving a relative favored treatment in terms of promotions or preferment, usually in the context of employment.  I will admit that I knew that as a hot shot “young” because I knew that “nepos” was the word for “nephew” in Latin, that then filtered through Italian to become “nepotisme”.  It came from the practice of Catholic Bishops and Popes appointing their “nephews” *cough cough* to important and lucrative church positions.  It’s actually in many ways, exactly the OPPOSITE of what you are suggesting, in that tremendously unqualified young people were appointed to important positions by their elders.

I do know what nepotism means sir/ma'am, but I couldn't think of a better word to describe this situation. If such a word exists for this context, please be kind enough to mitigate my ignorance. 

17 hours ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

That totally aside, while I remember the experience of frustration that you feel now (I was, and still am, a hot shot), I can tell you that my judgement and analysis is WAY better today than it was when I was a 20 something who thought I should be a master of the universe.  It’s not that I made bad decisions or had bad judgement when I was a young.  I made great decisions in general*.  But the weight of experience does, in fact, have a great deal of meaning, particularly in my profession, which is giving other people advice.

Thanks a lot. But in the OP I've already given my general argument against experience 

But there have been a lot of people quoting experience as a point while not attempting to negate my stand, which fundamentally makes theirs null. 

For convenience sake 

On 6/30/2021 at 10:08 AM, The_Lone_Wolf said:

As for the experience argument, fair enough. Oldies more experience, but some/most of it would have shaped their biases and prejudices, stoked their stereotypical mindset. It may be racial/ethnic, gender, religious whatnot. Problem is, like every other person with problems, they are mostly ignorant that they HAVE problems.

 

On 6/30/2021 at 10:08 AM, The_Lone_Wolf said:

But the more grey hairs they have doesn't necessarily mean more grey cells. I've a few grey uns myself lol. Genetics not malnutrition.

I believe it must have originated when we were cavemen, low life expectancy, high risk factor from the elements and other life forms. So if a person has survived past the average lifespan, he had to be physically and mentally fit to survive in the wild so long. Clans thus had such ex alphas. My theory about the reason for such a common social phenomenon across diverse cultures doesn't stem from anthropology or behavioral psychology. But this is not relevant anymore in a modern civilization where merit trumps anything and everything else. 

And this is turning into one of those threads of mine (usually first glance crackpot, beyond the wall subforums) where 9/10 people make (great) arguments against the OP and walk home with lots of likes and thanks to their comments :D

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12 hours ago, IFR said:

That being said, the process of human maturation is not uniform, and as other people have mentioned, some people advance at a greater biological rate than others. An extreme example would be an adult with autism. Autistic people tend to have an underdeveloped superior temperoral sulcus; a non-autistic teenager is likely to have a more developed Theory of Mind.

I would like to note that this is not an uncontroversial claim, nor a neutral one. I understand where it comes from but it contains some assumptions about the internal life of people both with and without autism.

Per the rest, I'd make the point that an important variable is not just experience but learning. I know plenty of people of all ages who've had a lot of life experiences but are poor at learning from them, for various reasons. Having had experience is not as important as being able to reflect on and learn from that experience. 

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38 minutes ago, The_Lone_Wolf said:

I do know what nepotism means sir/ma'am, but I couldn't think of a better word to describe this situation. If such a word exists for this context, please be kind enough to mitigate my ignorance. 

Thanks a lot. But in the OP I've already given my general argument against experience 

But there have been a lot of people quoting experience as a point while not attempting to negate my stand, which fundamentally makes theirs null. 

For convenience sake 

 

And this is turning into one of those threads of mine (usually first glance crackpot, beyond the wall subforums) where 9/10 people make (great) arguments against the OP and walk home with lots of likes and thanks to their comments :D

 

People in these parts of the board rarely travel beyond the wall  mainly due to experience.  We have been here so long that just about everything has been discussed and debated 100's of times already.  Yes this leads to the biased belief that there really is nothing more to discus until the next book comes out.  - You will get more people visiting then if that happens.

 

The thing about experience and why its valued.  If you want hire someone to re-wire your house  do you hire an apprentice* electrician or someone who has worked in the industry for 10 years?  The apprentice will be cheaper.

However experience is only valuable in its relative knowledge base.  I'm much more likely to trust the medical diagnose and treatment of a Junior Doctor than a 50 year old Plumber.

 

Then you have general life stuff not stuff related to employment or academic learning.  As life goes on you will encounter more situations and make mistakes.  Sometime you learn from those mistakes - this is what experience is.  Most people don't learn from other peoples mistakes and normally have to make the mistakes for themselves.

 

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A 20 something year old WW/Nam 'veteran' has experienced more of the world than a 50+ something senator. While the former would most likely be a pacifist anti war chap (if he had a triple digit IQ and learnt anything from the futile wars), the latter would be passionately harking about the glory to be won.

I disagree that your 20 year old war veteran has experienced more of the world than the 50 year old Senator.  He's certainly experienced war and its horrors, but he's not experienced peace as an Adult.  he's not experienced University or explored different cultures, he's not raised children he's not had to manage his own finances to feed and house himself.  Your Senator may well be harking on about glory but probably doing so not because he believes in glory but because it resonates well with his voter base, or for personal and political gain.  He is well aware that War is bad for those involved and the place war is carried out, but he don't really care.

 

 

 

*assuming its legal to do so

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29 minutes ago, The_Lone_Wolf said:

A 20 something year old WW/Nam 'veteran' has experienced more of the world than a 50+ something senator.

No. The 20 something year old would know more of *one aspect* of the world: armed conflict, with the camaraderie and stress that go with it. But that would not make him know more of "the world" or be wiser in any way. The 50+ senator, assuming he has led a moderately interesting life, would still have infinitely more experience of many things.

In fact, chances are that any young man having gone through war will have serious developmental issues. Throwing a human with an under-developed frontal cortex in a warzone means you very badly hurt their chances of growing into emotionally stable adults. You already know this if you think about it: just consider the rates of substance abuse, depression, suicide, domestic violence... etc, in war veterans, especially veterans who went to war before they were 25. They haven't "experienced more of the world," they are traumatized individuals who almost always require some kind of psychological help.

22 minutes ago, The_Lone_Wolf said:

But there have been a lot of people quoting experience as a point while not attempting to negate my stand, which fundamentally makes theirs null.

With all due respect, that's because your understanding of experience is so poor that it becomes impossible to "negate." Experience isn't something that is easily explained to someone who hasn't had much of it. Also, and again, with all due respect, this isn't something that people under 25 want to hear. When I was under 25, I certainly didn't want to believe just how ahead of me the adults were. I constantly focused on their defects and their flaws, which blinded me to what they had acquired.
Understanding there is always someone better than you (better skilled at something, more knowledgeable, and even wiser) and that pretty much everyone will be better than you at something is the main lesson that experience brings. Conversely, not seeing this, or refusing to take it into account is the main flaw of inexperience. I don't think an internet exchange is going to change your mind here ; you will most likely understand in a few years (and yes, I know how condescending this sounds, but sorry, there's noting I can do about it, there's a reason adults say this all the time).

And thing is, science also explains this. It's not just the brain, but hormones as well, that increase confidence in adolescents, especially males. And this isn't bad, it's part of the process: a certain degree of over-confidence is necessary to build your identity ; you can only reach your full potential by being slightly dismissive of the abilities of adults (especially your parents). You need to believe you can do better in order to try, and only as a middle-aged man will you be able to assess whether you have been successful or not (with serious psychological issues if you haven't). All of this is well documented btw (I'm not making any of this up, and if I'm wrong, I'm sure @Ormond will say so).

To quote Sapolsky again (Behave):

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Testosterone also increases confidence and optimism, while decreasing fear and anxiety. This explains the « winner » effect in lab animals, where winning a fight increases an animal's willingness to participate in, and its success in, another such interaction.


Nonetheless, I can still try to answer what you said, if only for my own experience (ha ha). What you said is that in adults "some/most of [experience] would have shaped their biases and prejudices, stoked their stereotypical mindset."
That's not experience, that's age. Close, but not quite the same. As people age, the ideas that they held in their youth will become more "stereotypical", more entrenched, IF these ideas have not been confronted with actual experience.

If you think about politics for instance, people with the most biases and prejudices tend to be the ones with the least experience. For example, racism tends to come from a lack of relationship with different people. This is Gordon Allport's "Contact theory." It's still quite controversial - for obvious reasons- but being a political scientist myself, I can say there is literature to support the hypothesis. For instance:

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    • Thomas F. Pettigrew, « Social psychological perspectives on Trump supporters », Journal of Social and Political Psychology, vol 5, n°1, 2017.

    • Chris Lawton et Robert Ackrill, « Hard evidence : How areas with low immigration voted mainly for Brexit », The Conversation, 8 juillet 2016.

    • Rose Meleady, Charles Seger et Marieke Vermue, « Examining the role of positive and negative intergroup contact and anti-immigrant prejudice in Brexit », British Journal of Social Psychology, vol 56, n°4, 2017.

    • Michael Savelkoul et al., « Anti-Muslim attitudes in the Netherlands : tests of contradictory hypotheses derived from ethnic competition theory and intergroup contact theory », European Sociological Review, vol 27, n°6, 2011.

     

     

11 hours ago, IFR said:

I'm absolutely thrilled that Sapolsky has been mentioned. I recommend people read his book Behave (of which the quote Rippounet provided gives an abridged take).

Sapolsky is a treasure-trove of facts to understand the human animal.

42 minutes ago, The_Lone_Wolf said:

Nietzsche said there are no facts, only opinions 

Nietzche was full of shit.*

9 minutes ago, mormont said:

I would like to note that this is not an uncontroversial claim, nor a neutral one. I understand where it comes from but it contains some assumptions about the internal life of people both with and without autism.

Curious, as I understand it, that is rather well accepted on the contrary, especially since we now have autistic researchers working on autism - which means we no longer rely on assumptions about people's internal life.

This review of the literature is a bit old (2009), but I'm unware of any changes to the conclusions:

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https://www.cs.rutgers.edu/~biglars/Lit-Rev-Autism-ToM.pdf

After an examination of the scholarship of the last thirty years on the subject of autism andtheory of mind, one thing seems clear. There does indeed exist evidence that a lack of a fully functioning theory of mind is a core deficit in cases of autism. While there existed some controversy asto whether cases of Asperger's syndrome showed the same deficit, further study revealed that this islikely the case as well, that the ToM deficiency stretches across the entire autism spectrum. After thediscovery of this phenomena further testing with more advanced ToM tests have confirmed thesefindings many times. In a disorder with multiple possible biological causes and many differentbehavioral outcomes it seems that a lack of fully developed ToM at the cognitive level is what reallydefines the ASDs.

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Dog of England said:

And that is why books and reading are so valuable. One can learn, while young, from the distilled experience of those who have lived and learned. 

True to some extent though I’ve found their effect to be over blown, and not a substitute for experience. 
 

I went through a whole decade of furiously relying on books, but it is actually life events that have shaped me. 
 

Where books have a use is in giving a nudge in the right direction or helping to contextualise events that have actually happened to you. 
 

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6 hours ago, The_Lone_Wolf said:

My predicament isn't going to change. 

What predicament is that?  That of being 17 with opinions, but no credentials and experience, so not receiving the sort of respect and attention that an older professional in a field, who studied for years, continues to be active in research and development, continues to develop skills and expertise, who is deeply connected with all the others who are doing the same? 

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5 hours ago, Heartofice said:

True to some extent though I’ve found their effect to be over blown, and not a substitute for experience. 
 

I went through a whole decade of furiously relying on books, but it is actually life events that have shaped me. 
 

Where books have a use is in giving a nudge in the right direction or helping to contextualise events that have actually happened to you. 
 

I can't, and neither can anyone else, experience events that come before my existence. Books do let me experience those.

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6 hours ago, mormont said:

I would like to note that this is not an uncontroversial claim, nor a neutral one. I understand where it comes from but it contains some assumptions about the internal life of people both with and without autism

As you say, I draw my assertion from Sapolsky. I would certainly be interested in research that disputed this position. I say that sincerely. I'm not a professional neuroendocrinologist, of course, so I'm certainly not deeply informed on this discussion.

Et al,

I think a point that has been regularly acknowledged in this thread but still bears emphasis is that age on average provides more depth of knowledge and wisdom. There are plenty of historical examples where youth has been an advantage and advanced years has been an active impediment. A famous example is Albert Einstein. His most substantial period of scientific contribution (literally called his miracle year) was when he was 25 years old. He formulated his theory of general relativity well into his thirties, but afterward his developed prejudices deterred him from accepting many aspects of modern science, particularly the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Notably, scientists Einstein admired (such as Planck and Mach) couldn't - due to the prejudices established by age - accept Einstein's ideas, such as photons or relative time. (Side note: Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais is an excellent biography of Einstein).

Isaac Newton made much of his progress on calculus and the mechanics of motion by the age of 23. (Never at Rest by Richard Westfall is a good biography of Newton). You also have numerous other examples of youth seeming to be a necessary component to advancing knowledge in a field, and age actually being an obstacle. One should be more inclined to heed an 18 year old Terrence Tao in his subfield of mathematics than a 50 year old professor of a rural community college.

This extends beyond science and mathematics. David Hume published his most influential work when he was 28, after working on it for 4 years.  There were many philosophers older than he who contributed far less insight. There are many other examples in politics, art, etc.

These examples are outliers, of course, but deserve consideration, and one could potentially establish a distribution. I do not know how the distribution would be characterized, but if we considered it from the standpoint of a Gaussian distribution, a five sigma outlier in a population of 7 billion is 1.6 million.

With instant and immediate worldwide communication, and selection bias, there's a good probability that through an online medium you'll encounter someone with a large age difference from you who has a more profound insight on many issues than that which you have.

And this particular phenomenon is not only fascinating and paradigm shifting, it is probably historically unprecedented.

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1.  If you want another word, try “bias”, “preference”, “predilection”, “partiality”, “respect”, “veneration”, “reverence”, “esteem”, or, perhaps, the more casual “props”.

2.  I think you will find that in Western societies, this phenomenon you have identified is less pronounced than it may feel to you right now.  There is a reason that “ageism” was coined and “age discrimination” exists as a claim.  In the workplace in the US, it is increasingly harder for someone to get a new job after a certain age (usually 50s, unless you are a Hollywood actress, where it is...younger).  I also think it is possible to find plenty of outliers whose most productive periods of work were later in life.  It’s all about your sample and examples (and also your definition of success - despite the Zuckerberg outliers, I think on average founders who are over 40 when they start their businesses do better).

3.  Of course experience isn’t the same as learning, and of course learning does not give you experience.  There are plenty of 55 year old idiots and plenty of 20 year old whiz kids.  That is Ormond’s point on averages.  But because I want to LEARN, I ask people with EXPERIENCE for advice, that I can then assimilate and apply.  Somebody (can’t find the quote right now) said “I wish I knew as much now as I knew when I was [20]” (could have been 25 or 16 or when I was a teenager - anyhow, you get the jist).  The point is that there is a certain arrogance that comes with youth (to quote again, which is wasted on the young) which (hopefully) falls away with wisdom.  

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8 hours ago, The_Lone_Wolf said:

I do know what nepotism means sir/ma'am, but I couldn't think of a better word to describe this situation. If such a word exists for this context, please be kind enough to mitigate my ignorance. 

Ageism would be the germane word choice. 

---

More directly to the topic, 20 year ago me likely would've eviscerated the OP. Current me however, while reading [and remembering my own uncouth youth and then-feelings of intellectual and moral superiority] had a few chuckles.    

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1 hour ago, IFR said:

These examples are outliers, of course, but deserve consideration, and one could potentially establish a distribution. I do not know how the distribution would be characterized, but if we considered it from the standpoint of a Gaussian distribution, a five sigma outlier in a population of 7 billion is 1.6 million.

Yes, they are outliers. And in fact, they are examples from the earlier part of the 20th century when numerous field were wide open for research (for instance, high energy physics was mostly unexplored). An easy way to get a distribution is to consider the average age of Nobel laureates. Again, this isnt the general population, but there is maybe a point at the end of this post. The average age of Nobel laureates has slowly been trending upwards:https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37578899

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The 2016 Nobel laureates for physics, medicine and chemistry: all men, at least 65 years old and mostly over 72.

Go back to the first half of the 20th Century, however, and the average laureate was "only" 56. Physics laureates, now typically a group of men in their late-sixties, used to have an average age of 47.

In fact, in all of the traditional sciences there has been a significant trend of Nobel laureates winning prizes later in life, starting from around the 1950s and continuing into the present day.

You could argue that it takes a while for the prizes to catch up with all the research being done at young ages or....with some much science going around, it takes years of accumulated experience before you are able to contribute substantially to be awarded something.

 
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1 hour ago, Dog of England said:

I can't, and neither can anyone else, experience events that come before my existence. Books do let me experience those.

You also can’t experience events from reading a book. You can imagine what those events were like, but you don’t experience them in the same way. 

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When I was graduating highschool, I was number three in my class, an apprentice mason, spoke passable french and Spanish, with a 75% scholarship offer from to top 20 university.  It thought I had as good a grasp on the world as anyone.  

About the only constant since then in my life has been learning how very little I actually knew; that life is a gradual release from ignorance.

The OP is something that would have resonated very much and quite thoroughly with my younger self, though I doubt I'd have made the argument as well as our young lone wolf did.

There are plenty of older and more 'experienced' people who have bumbled along through life without learning a damn thing, but there are plenty of others who have managed to live in this world, not merely on it, and are going to have a more through understanding of their field and life in general than 99% of the 18-25 year olds out there.

Not to say that there aren't exceptions, but I have learned a lot through failure and mistakes, and when I find someone with more experience than me on a topic I try to pick their brain, at least to avoid unnecessary pitfalls and setbacks.  I do think that there are very many areas where there is no real substitute for experience.

 

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1 hour ago, larrytheimp said:

When I was graduating highschool, I was number three in my class, an apprentice mason, spoke passable french and Spanish, with a 75% scholarship offer from to top 20 university.  It thought I had as good a grasp on the world as anyone.  

About the only constant since then in my life has been learning how very little I actually knew; that life is a gradual release from ignorance.

I believe Messrs Dunning and Kruger had a model for this.
 

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Ok. Since this is an argument, let's just make him a 50 yr old grey haired academic looking man on a news channel out for TRP. Minus the PhD IMF/WHO thing. My predicament isn't going to change. 

That's a very recent trend and not all prevalent 

 

Then he's hosting the news channel, not being presented as an expert; consequently no-one's* suggesting that you respect his opinion or take his word as accurate on the basis of his age.


Recent, but then, so is the ability to bypass personal experience to directly learn from other people's. I suspect it may also not be as recent as you may think.


*Or at least, no-one who doesn't have a significant agenda and is more interested in propaganding than educating.

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3 hours ago, IFR said:

As you say, I draw my assertion from Sapolsky. I would certainly be interested in research that disputed this position. I say that sincerely. I'm not a professional neuroendocrinologist, of course, so I'm certainly not deeply informed on this discussion.

Not sure I did say that, but anyway. :)

I don't want to derail the thread as this is a pretty substantial discussion in its own right, but I do have a personal stake in this (not myself, but someone I care for). To summarise: I say it's 'not uncontroversial' for two reasons. First, the idea that autistic people lack a 'theory of mind' has, unfortunately, contributed to harmful stereotypes around autistic people, suggesting that they lack empathy, that some of their behaviour can be ascribed to not understanding or caring about the impact on others, and so on. (The opposite is usually the case in my experience - the autistic people I know well are deeply anxious to the point of being preoccupied about the potential impact of their behaviour on others, can be highly sensitive to other people's emotions, and are distraught if they think they have upset someone.)

Second, there are some valid questions about the research - specifically, the interpretation of the test results and some assumptions made about what they mean. This article summarises some of those concerns, noting that the research shows that a lot of non-autistic people have similar deficits, that not all autistic people show such a deficit, and that a lot of the deficit correlates with difficulties in communication rather than comprehension.

I'd add that in my view, the concepts behind theory of mind and the tests that we use for it are simply loaded with cultural baggage that we don't necessarily notice as neurotypical people.

None of this is to say that the research here is wrong - that's not what I'm saying at all. I am saying that it's not settled fact, nor is it value-neutral.

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