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Why the lil people will NEVER win at the game!


Moderator, Equal opportunity annoyer!
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Oct 15, 2012
This guy is a bit arrogant but I can’t say I disagree with him:

Here are some facts about how stupid we all actually are...

The average adult with no chess training will beat the average five year old with no chess training 100 games out of 100 under normal conditions.

The average 1600 Elo rated player – who'll probably be a player with several years of experience – will beat that average adult 100 games out of 100.

A top “super” grandmaster will beat that 1600 rated player 100 games out of 100.

This distribution is pretty similar across other domains which require purely mental rather than physical skill, but it's easy to measure in chess because there's a very accurate rating system and a record of millions of games to draw on.

Here's what that means.

The top performers in an intellectual domain outperform even an experienced amateur by a similar margin to that with which an average adult would outperform an average five year old. That experienced amateur might come up with one or two moves which would make the super GM think for a bit, but their chances of winning are effectively zero.

The average person on the street with no training or experience wouldn't even register as a challenge. To a super GM, there'd be no quantifiable difference between them and an untrained five year old in how easy they are to beat. Their chances are literally zero.

What's actually being measured by your chess Elo rating is your ability to comprehend a position, take into account the factors which make it favourable to one side or another, and choose a move which best improves your position. Do that better than someone else on a regular basis, you'll have a higher rating than them.

So, the ability of someone like Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk or Hikaru Nakamura to comprehend and intelligently process a chess position surpasses the average adult to a greater extent than that average adult's ability surpasses that of an average five year old.

Given that, it seems likely that the top performers in other intellectual domains will outperform the average adult by a similar margin. And this seems to be borne out by elite performers who I'd classify as the “super grandmasters” of their fields, like, say, Collier in music theory or Ramanujan in mathematics. In their respective domains, their ability to comprehend and intelligently process domain-specific information is, apparently – although less quantifiably than in chess – so far beyond the capabilities of even an experienced amateur that their thinking would be pretty much impenetrable to a total novice.

This means that people's attempts to apply “common sense” - i.e., untrained thinking – to criticise scientific or historical research or statistical analysis or a mathematical model or an economic policy is like a five year old turning up at their parent's job and insisting they know how to do it better.

Imagine it.

They would not only be wrong, they would be unlikely to even understand the explanation of why they were wrong. And then they would cry, still failing to understand, still believing that they're right and that the whole adult world must be against them. You know, like “researchers” on Facebook.

That's where relying on "common sense" gets you. To an actual expert you look like an infant having a tantrum because the world is too complicated for you to understand.

And that, my friends, is science.

-Tom Danton-


Gold Chaser
Jan 4, 2020
These two words undo his entire premise. Let me explain why.

The modern "academic" mind is trained in such a way that it borders on indoctrination. To use the world of physics as the example, to be able to speak the language of the physics world (mathetmatics), one has to be able to think algorithmically, in abstracts and irrationally. Why, because the language is abstract, irrational and algorithmic. In isolation, it isn't a bad thing as it allows the human brain to comprehend what is perceived to be the nitty gritty of the universe and try make sense of it. However such thinking becomes so all encompassing, it leads to in effect a very blinkered and very narrowly defined view on pretty much anything. In a situation where data arises that makes a mockery of a specific model or models (which is what the physics world runs on primarily), such "trained thinking" prevents one from taking this data on board in any way, shape or form.

Enter the "untrained mind". The untrained thinker might not be able to nut out the fine details of a model or mathematical process that leads to a model, but the untrained thinker will be able to more readily see when a piece doesn't fit in the puzzle. This is simply because they have never had their thought processes honed into narrower and narrower paths. To use the puzzle analogy again, the "expert" has come to focus on one or two pieces of the puzzle with exceptional detail and clarity afforded to him because of their training. Whereas the untrained thinker in effect sees more pieces of puzzle but without the nuance and precision of the trained thinker.

There is a reason the phrase "take a step back" exists.