Born with talent, or created?

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I agree with this, which is a restatement of the old "Tabula Rasa" view. Whether or not you become a math or art or music adept has more to do with how you're stimulated in the first years of life than anything else.
I completely disagree with this oversimplified statement. You look different from your best friend, your girlfriend, the taxi driver, and a turtle. Those are phenotypic traits determined by a complicated sequence of Hox gene expression and transcription factors that shape all of us. The new science of epigenetics/Evo-devo is where you need to look for the answers to these questions. We don't look the same, and our brains are not the same, they are not tabula rasa. Just like some people have big noses and little hands, some people have big anterior cingulates and little red nucleus's. It's OK, it doesn't mean that anyone is more special than anyone else. It does, though, mean that some people have a better natural proclivity for math and some for painting. What you're exposed to in your first years of life have an influence but it's not as influential as the complicated process through which progenitor neuroepithelial stem cells time their delays to create the areal divisions of the cortex. These processes are different in different individuals and yield different local areal dynamics in relation to global brain function.

How these areal dynamics play out is currently what cutting edge neuroscience is investigating right now. We've recently had a big surge of data into the literature from fMRI studies and others but its still a pioneering area of research so its hard to make definite conclusions. I personally have found, though, that a safe haven for generalization is the of the cliche left brain right brain dichotomy. I know this because I stink at math no matter hard I try but I can sing and write one heck of a song. I don't why, but I'm guessing my ancestors liked to sing and dance more than they did to measure fenced yards. I'm trying, though, and wbn is helping me through it. I'm trying Griffiths next :smile:
 
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She was drawing recognizable stick figures sometime between the age of 12-18 months and by 18 months she was able to explain the story behind the drawings.
Just a note Evo, the human brain undergoes it's principal explosion of synaptogenesis in the frontal cortex between 12-18 months, so that's a trivia byte for ya :smile: Huttenlocher pioneered that research if you want to look it up. I eat that stuff up.
 
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I just saw the movie Trading Places last weekend. Funny movie, but hardly believable.
 

Evo

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I too think that this idea of being born with a gift is bunkum.
Call it a proclivity or propensity instead of a "gift". Art was all my older daughter wanted to do, it's now her career. My other daughter was/is the complete opposite. Of course even showing such a strong desire to do something at a very early age requires practicing it, but some people do seem to have a natural desire and/or ability to do things easier than others. Even if they were raised similarly by the same person.
 
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I definitely had to work much less hard at learning mathematics when I was young than any of my peers did. I do remember one year where the cool thing to do among the fourth-grade boys was drawing, and we did that all the time. Even with all that practice, my stick figures were still substandard.
 
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Call it a proclivity or propensity instead of a "gift".
Yes, I meant no disrespect to your post Evo, though proximity might make it seem otherwise. I think we had one of those where your post appeared while I was composing mine. I also have two boys, born a year or so apart, same mother, same father, same upbringing – very close because of a wealth of shared experience – who are nonetheless very different in character. The older one is very charismatic, very gregarious, shows many characteristics of leadership, and is more technical in his talents. The other is quieter, much more insular, sometimes outrageously self-centred, and of an altogether much more artistic temperament. I suppose this reinforces the point about the complexity of the point under discussion, but I was really talking about something very different. There are those, my own mother among them, who when confronted with someone displaying an extraordinary talent – a musician of exceptional ability for example – are wont to declare it something that person was born with. That, as I said, seems to me to diminish their genuine achievement.
 
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The kickflip is considered a beginner move, which many accomplished in far less time than you, and who then moved on to more advanced tricks which I wouldn't doubt are out of your grasp. Correct answer: yes.
Did I say how much I practiced? Did I say at what age I started trying to do it? Did I say I could even skateboard before even trying to do the kickflip? Did I give any information other than the duration I practiced? No. I could have practiced one kickflip a day for a month. You don't know. So with so little information, why are you so confident in your answer?
leroyjenkins - What are you trying to argue - that innate ability plays no role? Do you really think that it if you trained hard enough you could run 100 meters in 9.6 seconds like Usain Bolt? Or that height makes no difference when playing basketball and that someone who is 5' 6" tall can be just as good as someone who is 7' tall if they practice hard enough? It seems obvious that in physical contests, accidents of genetics and development play a significant role. Why not the same in mental pursuits?
Why couldn't I beat Usain Bolt in a race if I trained hard enough? I'm prepared to be underwhelmed by your necessarily fabricated reason.

Height makes a difference in basketball because of the nature of the game. Just like a shorter person would naturally be better at limbo dancing. Now if you could tell me the specific trait that makes someone better at skateboarding kickflips, then I'd love to hear it.
Genetics plays a role? Ok, which skateboarding genes does Tony Hawk have that I don't?
What genes does Bobby Fischer have that makes him good at chess that I don't have? You say it's genetic, then you must know the specific genes responsible for it.
"It must be genetics" isn't an argument unless you provide evidence that, for example, Usain Bolt is more genetically fit for running fast than I am (which still doesn't prove that I would never be able to beat him in a race. You could never prove that, so I don't know how you can argue it.)
 
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WannabeNewton

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This argument is pointless. In the end, the truly successful and talented people will care little about this. They actually have the success to show for it. Until then it is all moot.
 
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Did I say how much I practiced? Did I say at what age I started trying to do it? Did I say I could even skateboard before even trying to do the kickflip? Did I give any information other than the duration I practiced? No. I could have practiced one kickflip a day for a month. You don't know. So with so little information, why are you so confident in your answer?
My goodness you would be a difficult person to converse with.

Were you skateboarding when you were 8 months old? When you were 80 years old? No to both?

Were you trying to do tricks on a skateboard before having learned how to skateboard? No to that too?

Did you attempt one kickflip a day? Highly unlikely, considering that's akin to reading a sentence out of a large novel each day, with the hopes of actually finishing it one day.

So as you can see, I was being reasonable with my response, in assuming that you were a.) old enough to be physically capable of doing a kickflip (why else would you be attempting to do one, otherwise?), b.) knew how to ride a skateboard, and c.) practiced at a reasonable rate over the course of a month.

All of this is entirely pointless banter, anyway, considering it's dealing with a tiny anecdote that you provided.
 
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My goodness you would be a difficult person to converse with.
Difficult in what way?
Were you skateboarding when you were 8 months old? When you were 80 years old? No to both?
No. Does that mean unless I'm under 8 months or above 80 years, age doesn't matter in regards to getting good at skateboarding?
Were you trying to do tricks on a skateboard before having learned how to skateboard? No to that too?
Maybe. That's just more information you lacked when you complacently made your conclusion.
Did you attempt one kickflip a day? Highly unlikely, considering that's akin to reading a sentence out of a large novel each day, with the hopes of actually finishing it one day.
You don't know what my hopes were. Yet more information you lacked.
So as you can see, I was being reasonable with my response, in assuming that you were a.) old enough to be physically capable of doing a kickflip (why else would you be attempting to do one, otherwise?), b.) knew how to ride a skateboard, and c.) practiced at a reasonable rate over the course of a month.
You were being reasonable, but you just proved the very point I was making earlier that people just want the easy answer. You're prepared to ignore all of the information you lacked, and all the variables that go into a situation like that, and go ahead and make a conclusion. Not only did you not care about those things, but you seemed taken aback that I would even mention them as relevant.
All of this is entirely pointless banter, anyway, considering it's dealing with a tiny anecdote that you provided.
The tiny anecdote is all that's needed to reveal the responses that I was just arguing were illogical.
 
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I wasn't about to interview you over an asinine anecdote, inquiring as to your age, intentions, time spent each day, etc. I made reasonable conclusions from the given information.

Regardless, this whole argument is based on psychology, and you never really get anywhere when arguing about psychology because of the inability to conduct most experiments, or to reproduce many results. I just thinks it's cute that you think that you can run as fast as Usain Bolt if you *really* wanted to.
 

phyzguy

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Why couldn't I beat Usain Bolt in a race if I trained hard enough? I'm prepared to be underwhelmed by your necessarily fabricated reason.
Well, if you really think that you could train hard enough to beat Usain Bolt in a 100 meter dash, then I guess there's nothing more to say. However, I think if you're honest with yourself, you know this isn't really true.

Genetics plays a role? Ok, which skateboarding genes does Tony Hawk have that I don't?
What genes does Bobby Fischer have that makes him good at chess that I don't have? You say it's genetic, then you must know the specific genes responsible for it.
How do you figure that? I can say with confidence that the genetics of a cheetah makes it faster than a cow. That doesn't mean that I can point to the specific genes which differ between a cheetah and a cow that make the cheetah faster. Or do you think the cheetah is faster because it trains harder?
 
Talent is genetic, you are born with it.
 
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I tend to consider the human brain before and shortly after birth simply as an widely untrained neural network, not significantly predisposed to anything.

Incoming neural stimuli train the brain one way or the other; and that's, up to my private, totally unsupported, laymanly theory, the process during which intelligence and talents are "created".

Or not, if the stimuli are too few or inconsistent.
Curious, is there any actual science behind this?
As I said, that's my layman's pov only.

It's only "based" on my personal reading of some Freud writings, some very good (physics) mentor's advice regarding learning efficiency and subsequent observation and self-observation and attempts to recap what I learned at which age and why.
And on some knowledge of neural networks, of course.

But this
the human brain undergoes it's principal explosion of synaptogenesis in the frontal cortex between 12-18 months, so that's a trivia byte for ya :smile: Huttenlocher pioneered that research if you want to look it up.
fits quite well into my little model.

---

Let's consider the following "stimulus" for fun.
Little Spock is simply not hungry but Mama Amanda looks sad because little Spock does not eat his Plomeek broth (a Vulcan delicacy).

So little Spock "learns" he has to like(!) his Plomeek broth to make Mama happy, regardless of his appetite.

The hitchhikers guide even has info that an Earthling named 'Watzlawick' provided an example of mothers demanding that kids should like doing their homework. But the Vulcan Science Directorate has decided that this scenario is absurd, even by Earthling's standards.

Does that stimulus contribute to the development of logical thinking?
Does that stimulus promote emotional competence or creativity?
 
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I completely disagree with this oversimplified statement. You look different from your best friend, your girlfriend, the taxi driver, and a turtle. Those are phenotypic traits determined by a complicated sequence of Hox gene expression and transcription factors that shape all of us. The new science of epigenetics/Evo-devo is where you need to look for the answers to these questions. We don't look the same, and our brains are not the same, they are not tabula rasa. Just like some people have big noses and little hands, some people have big anterior cingulates and little red nucleus's. It's OK, it doesn't mean that anyone is more special than anyone else. It does, though, mean that some people have a better natural proclivity for math and some for painting. What you're exposed to in your first years of life have an influence but it's not as influential as the complicated process through which progenitor neuroepithelial stem cells time their delays to create the areal divisions of the cortex. These processes are different in different individuals and yield different local areal dynamics in relation to global brain function.
I think all this is irrelevant. It's not the hand you're dealt, it's how you play it. Those who get the right stimulation at an early age are better players. Feynman was no math genius. The reason he taught himself calculus at 15 was because his father encouraged him to be curious and analytical. Asians aren't all born with better "math lobes" than everyone else. They tend to do better because academic excellence is stressed at home by their parents. The majority of people demonstrate a genius ability to pick up their native language and speak it fluently, just as their parents speak it, regardless of the fact that they all have different language centers, some much better than others. Language is constantly stimulated. I think math and art can be equally stimulated or neglected.
 
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I think all this is irrelevant. It's not the hand you're dealt, it's how you play it.
Hmm, well, if your dealt a 3 of clubs, a 4 of hearts, and a 7 of spades, your not gonna beat the guy with 3 aces, now are you? I don't care how good your poker face is.

Of course, that all depends on the rules of the game. We could invent a game where a 3, 4 and 7 was the best you can do. That's how it is with biology. Organisms adapt to their environments, and it's more genetic than the popular sentiment would lead you to believe. I do agree with you, though, that perseverance can overcome some otherwise perceived limitation. But that is a human quality. You don't find this anywhere else in the animal kingdom. You also don't find organisms pretending that all brains are tabula rasa's because it sounds nice. That's the other side of the human coin. But the OP's question is important to him/her, and I think you may be sugar coating the truth, which might not get him what he's looking for. From the original post:

For me personally, I love physics, I think science and mathematics are really really fascinating and definitely a beauty to behold. That being said...I'm horrid at math. Calculus I took every fiber of my being to complete with a C+. Anyway this got me thinking, do you all think that people are born with the innate ability for mathematics, or art?
This is a classic nature-nurture question. I personally want to know what I'm up against with my innate capacities and perhaps less-so capacities when I enter a project. Nothing is worse than feeling you've had a tabula rasa equal shot at something and then feel like you failed when you really didn't. You just needed to approach it from a different angle. I think in pictures when I try to solve physics problems. Equations just don't come to my head. Should I feel like I had an equal shot and messed up somewhere? Sometimes I do, but I counter that by knowing I'm a right brain thinker, which means the intuition of physics problems comes to me very quickly, but the quantitative takes more work than a left brain thinker. But this insight has only come through many years of studying the brain. I used to beat up on myself a lot unnecessarily when I was younger, because I didn't understand that.

...regardless of the fact that they all have different language centers, some much better than others.
Where did you get that info? The language system straddles the left perisylvian region in all humans from my awareness. Some right, just as some people have their hearts on the right side. But the language system is a pretty conserved feature in human brain anatomy/physiology.
 
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Hmm, well, if your dealt a 3 of clubs, a 4 of hearts, and a 7 of spades, your not gonna beat the guy with 3 aces, now are you?
Feynman and Einstein won Nobel Prizes and the physicists around them who were much better pure mathematicians did not.
This is a classic nature-nurture question. I personally want to know what I'm up against with my innate capacities and perhaps less-so capacities when I enter a project. Nothing is worse than feeling you've had a tabula rasa equal shot at something and then feel like you failed when you really didn't. You just needed to approach it from a different angle. I think in pictures when I try to solve physics problems. Equations just don't come to my head. Should I feel like I had an equal shot and messed up somewhere? Sometimes I do, but I counter that by knowing I'm a right brain thinker, which means the intuition of physics problems comes to me very quickly, but the quantitative takes more work than a left brain thinker. But this insight has only come through many years of studying the brain. I used to beat up on myself a lot unnecessarily when I was younger, because I didn't understand that.
The stimulation I'm talking about is external and beyond your control. The "tabula rasa" is written on by what you're taught and what you experience, how you're stimulated. The best example is the stories Feynman tells about how his father shaped and guided his attitude toward the world, encouraging his curiosity and analytical thinking. By the time you're in a position to acquire knowledge on your own, the basic abilities have already been stimulated or not.
Where did you get that info? The language system straddles the left perisylvian region in all humans from my awareness. Some right, just as some people have their hearts on the right side. But the language system is a pretty conserved feature in human brain anatomy/physiology.
Oh, don't play this game. When I say "different" language centers I'm obviously referring to language centers of different quality, as per you:
Just like some people have big noses and little hands, some people have big anterior cingulates and little red nucleus's.
There's no doubt there's a difference in the quality of the hardware from one individual to another, yet we all end up fluent in our own native language due to constant early exposure. "Fluent" in the simple sense we all pass as native speakers, a thing that becomes harder and harder the older you are when you learn. (Beyond 12, no one without language can learn any language properly.)

People who are not stimulated in math (or art, or whatever) very early on may never develop their full original potential and will atrophy, just as the girl who was kept locked in a room here in San Diego till she was 12 could never learn to speak English properly the rest of her life.

Feynman and Einstein were not that advanced as far as mathematicians go. This may have been a "hardware" issue. Regardless, they were stimulated enough that they could acquire all the math they needed for their purposes. They didn't have to be Gauss (stipulating momentarily, for the sake of argument, that he represents the best in math "hardware") to accomplish what they accomplished.

On the other hand, we have to consider that Gauss' mathematical hardware may have been perfectly ordinary, genetically, and his parents stumbled on a kind of perfect stimulation of it by sheer, random accident, stimulating it with the same comfortable ease they stimulated his acquisition of language.

Everyone's "tabula" may be different, genetically, but they're all still "rasa" to start with, and what gets written early on makes the big difference.

The issue that confounds things the most, I believe, is pathologies, not genetics. Pathologies can lead to all kinds of imbalances and the development of "apparent" talents, talents that don't really reflect superior genes but which are, in fact, over compensations for deprivations in other areas.
 
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I wasn't about to interview you over an asinine anecdote, inquiring as to your age, intentions, time spent each day, etc. I made reasonable conclusions from the given information.
Do you make it a habit of pretending that other pertinent information doesn't exist/doesn't matter in favor of giving the quick, easy answer? All you did was serve as a perfect example of the type of people I was talking about at the beginning of this thread.
Regardless, this whole argument is based on psychology, and you never really get anywhere when arguing about psychology because of the inability to conduct most experiments, or to reproduce many results. I just thinks it's cute that you think that you can run as fast as Usain Bolt if you *really* wanted to.
It's not based on psychology at all, and I have gotten somewhere. I've argued my point pretty well. My point was that people like to say, basically that "he's just naturally good at it" or "he's just naturally bad at it" while comparing two people, even though there's an almost limitless amount of variables involved that people like you choose to ignore.

And I think it's condescending to say it's cute that I think I could run as fast as Usain Bolt if I really wanted to.
First of all, I never said I could, I simply asked how he knows I couldn't. That's a big difference. He apparently didn't have an answer to that question, and apparently neither do you. Acting flabbergasted that I believe I could (even though I never said I could), isn't an argument against why I couldn't. Crazy how that works, huh?
Or do you think court cases go like this...
Lawyer: "Your honor, I think it's cute that you think my client actually committed this crime."
Judge: "Well, now that you put it that way, I find the defendant innocent of all charges. He's free to go."
Well, if you really think that you could train hard enough to beat Usain Bolt in a 100 meter dash, then I guess there's nothing more to say. However, I think if you're honest with yourself, you know this isn't really true.
Lawyer: "Your honor, if you think my client actually committed this crime, then I guess there's nothing more to say. However, I think if you're honest with yourself, you know this isn't really true."
Judge: "Your logic blows my mind. Take those cuffs off the defendant right now and let him go home to his family."

Sound familiar? It's your argument put in a different setting. I hope it illustrates why your argument, or lack thereof, is illogical.
How do you figure that? I can say with confidence that the genetics of a cheetah makes it faster than a cow. That doesn't mean that I can point to the specific genes which differ between a cheetah and a cow that make the cheetah faster. Or do you think the cheetah is faster because it trains harder?
There's specific physiological features (due to genetics) that everyone knows about that causes a cheetah to be faster than a cow. You can look at a cheetah and know that genes play a role. It's been proven scientifically what makes a cheetah faster than a cow.
So if you want to use that analogy, what is it genetically about Tony Hawk that makes him better than everyone else at skateboarding? You know it must be genetics because he's the best? That's an argument from ignorance.
 

WannabeNewton

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Lol. Look you can believe whatever you want; if you think you can truly work really hard and excel at anything you put your mind to then go for it because the only thing that can stop you is reality. Arguing with hypotheticals for something like this is absolutely useless.
 
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Lol. Look you can believe whatever you want; if you think you can truly work really hard and excel at anything you put your mind to then go for it because the only thing that can stop you is reality. Arguing with hypotheticals for something like this is absolutely useless.
What hypotheticals am I arguing with? I never said I could do anything hypothetically. You've misconstrued what I'm arguing if you think I'm arguing that anyone can hypothetically do anything they want if they just put their mind to it. I never once argued that. I'm arguing against the illogic that people commonly display, but no one calls them out on.

But I'm against telling anyone they can't do something. If someone says they want to train to be faster than Usain Bolt, why would I tell them that's impossible? First of all, I can't possibly know that. Usain Bolt has lost some races to people who were probably told by someone growing up that they won't be the fastest in the world. Bolt himself may have even been told that. What's the point of saying that to someone?
 
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... But I'm against telling anyone they can't do something. If someone says they want to train to be faster than Usain Bolt, why would I tell them that's impossible? First of all, I can't possibly know that. Usain Bolt has lost some races to people who were probably told by someone growing up that they won't be the fastest in the world. Bolt himself may have even been told that. What's the point of saying that to someone?
I know a kid who has been, and will be, constrained to a wheelchair for his entire life due to his genetics. Go ahead and tell him that his genes are equivalent to those of Usain Bolt, and that he just needs to be training harder.
 
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I know a kid who has been, and will be, constrained to a wheelchair for his entire life due to his genetics. Go ahead and tell him that his genes are equivalent to those of Usain Bolt, and that he just needs to be training harder.
You said this in response to me saying that I can't possibly know that someone will never be able to run as fast as Usain Bolt no matter how much they train.
So since you brought up the example of someone in a wheelchair, that must mean you think that since you can definitely say that someone in a wheelchair will never beat Usain Bolt, that means you can definitely say that about anybody? Is that really what you're arguing? If not, then I don't understand the relevance of bringing that up.
 

WannabeNewton

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Like I said, you can tell people whatever you want to tell them. You can fill them with as much hope as you want. In the end it is reality which lends a helping hand or deals the fell blow. There is no point in arguing this; people who are truly intelligent at something and who have a passion for said something have the tools to succeed regardless of where the intelligence comes from. I highly doubt they themselves care where it came from in the end, only the bystanders seem to care based on the plethora of posts that have come up regarding this topic.
 
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Oh, don't play this game. When I say "different" language centers I'm obviously referring to language centers of different quality, as per you:
Last time I checked, a "center" was a location, not a size.
 
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You said this in response to me saying that I can't possibly know that someone will never be able to run as fast as Usain Bolt no matter how much they train.
So since you brought up the example of someone in a wheelchair, that must mean you think that since you can definitely say that someone in a wheelchair will never beat Usain Bolt, that means you can definitely say that about anybody? Is that really what you're arguing? If not, then I don't understand the relevance of bringing that up.
It's a bit odd that you think you're being logical, but you really aren't.

"You said this in response to *my saying that I can't possibly know that someone will ever be able to run as fast as Usain Bolt no matter how much they train."

I obviously provided you with an example that proves this statement to be false. My friend has malfunctioning legs. His body is incapable of running. This is due to a genetic disease that he has had since birth. Once again: He cannot run. Not being able to run means that he will never beat Usain Bolt in a race, because races require their participants to be able to run, which my friend cannot do. Understand?

"So since you brought up the example of someone in a wheelchair, that must mean you think that since you can definitely say that someone in a wheelchair will never beat Usain Bolt, that means you can definitely say that about anybody? Is that really what you're arguing?"

No, that's obviously not what I'm arguing. Your reading comprehension has room for improvement. You supplied a statement saying "we cannot know this" yet I provided you with an example, "an" meaning ONE, which proved that statement to be false. All that is required of me is to provide you with one counter-example to show that what you said is false. In no way, whatsoever, did I ever even hint at the implication of my statement applying to everyone, and how you've drawn that conclusion baffles me.

"If not, then I don't understand the relevance of bringing that up."

Your inability to understand it is not my concern.
 

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