Why is it that a disproportionate amount of physicists are Jewish?

  • Thread starter kcajrenreb
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  • #26
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this is a very important point. in his book The Jewish Century, Yuri Slezkine makes the point that all societies have their own "jews". and what this amounts to is a sort of division of labor. Slezkine refers to the two groups as Mercurians and Apollonians. Apollonians are generally the warriors and farmers, and represent the indigenous population. Mercurians deal in trades that are easier for strangers to perform for various reasons, such as taboos, but tend not to be arts that are more labor-oriented.

i've also noticed a lot of sharp students here that are indian (continental), so for years i had a pretty high opinion of them generally. but i think perhaps what i might be seeing is simply a subculture of people that find their way here. same may be true of say, chinese. jumping across an ocean into a strange land is still a significant hurdle for most folks, and so i'm not sure it's good to read too much into the achievements of those who make it here, other than that they probably also represent high achievement in their lands of origin.
This is about a different phenomenon than the point I was making. The question is often raised why Jews seem to be, or to have been at one time, over-represented in banking. The answer is that Christians weren't allowed by their religion to loan money and charge interest. Jews had no prohibition against it, so they cornered the market by default.

That's a different issue than the general level of scholarship that is part of their tradition.
 
  • #27
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But I'm not asking which group of people is smarter like evo suggested.
 
  • #28
Evo
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But I'm not asking which group of people is smarter like evo suggested.
If you wish to change the topic you may, and that would be good.
 
  • #29
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I believe it's because of their tradition of scholarship that goes back, not just centuries, but millenia. For thousands of years Jews have maintained a tradition of intense daily study of their religious texts, and also of discussion and debate about them. This leads to them cultivating sharp, inquisitive, logical minds. The most religious of them respectfully debate fine points of religion daily with each other and are constantly examining the centuries-old commentary on the Torah by generations of great Rabbis, called the Talmud.

When Jews leave their faith and become secular they tend to plug all this scholarly intensity and facility for logic of any kind into equally demanding fields and that traditional discipline can last in families for a few generations, even removed from the initial religious demand for it. Jews are said to be disproportionately represented in many fields: medicine, law, music, commerce, film, to name some.

As far as science and medecine we see the Asians in the US becoming the new Jews. Same reason: they have a longstanding tradition of respect for math and medicine that is imparted and maintained by the family, not just in schools.
Well Put! But now what do we think will be the potential of South Koreans?
http://www.aish.com/jw/s/South_Koreans_Learning_Talmud.html
 
  • #30
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Well Put! But now what do we think will be the potential of South Koreans?
http://www.aish.com/jw/s/South_Koreans_Learning_Talmud.html
The Talmud is a bestseller in South Korea - even the government insists it is good for you, and has included it on the curriculum for primary school children.
Lee Chang-ro heads a literature research team at the Ministry for Education. He says: "The reasons why Korean children are taught Talmud are pretty obvious. Koreans and Jews both have a long history of oppression and surviving adversity with nothing but their own ingenuity to thank. There are no natural resources to speak of in Korea, so, like the Jews, all we can develop is our minds."

The fascination with Judaism does not end there. Media outlets regularly run newspapers columns on "Jewish education", weekly radio features, and television documentaries, all of them showing Jews in a glowing light.

Although average Koreans can boast that their bookshelves hold at least one or two copies of the Talmud, to think of Korea as a hotbed of latent Judaism would be wrong. The motivation is less to do with religion and more to do with aspiration. Korean parents value schooling above all else. Parents send their children to after-school crammers until midnight and will spend their last penny on tutors and extra lessons. And, shy of good role models on the quest to securing academic success for their offspring, mothers almost unerringly turn to the Jews for inspiration.
Mother-of-two Lee San-sook explains that the way that Jewish children are brought up is universally viewed as positive in Korea
Amazing! Thanks for posting that. I hadn't heard of this.
 
  • #31
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This is about a different phenomenon than the point I was making. The question is often raised why Jews seem to be, or to have been at one time, over-represented in banking. The answer is that Christians weren't allowed by their religion to loan money and charge interest. Jews had no prohibition against it, so they cornered the market by default.

That's a different issue than the general level of scholarship that is part of their tradition.
yes, and that is one of the issues that Slezkine covers. the point was made something along the lines of a non-jewish european might look at an education as a chance to increase ones wealth, but the jewish european would look at wealth as an opportunity to get education. these things in culture aren't all one or the other. and a lot of it really comes down to where cultures place their values. one culture places more value on an "honest day's work" doing some kind of labor, whereas the other devalues labor and values gaining wealth with ones wits. some of it is religious, and some of it really isn't, and has more to do with being a stranger in a strange land.

anyhoo, it's really too much to cover here.
 
  • #32
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Amazing! Thanks for posting that. I hadn't heard of this.
:smile:
 
  • #33
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This is about a different phenomenon than the point I was making. The question is often raised why Jews seem to be, or to have been at one time, over-represented in banking. The answer is that Christians weren't allowed by their religion to loan money and charge interest. Jews had no prohibition against it, so they cornered the market by default.
Where did you get this information please? :smile:
 
  • #34
Evo
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Where did you get this information please? :smile:
I've always read this in history books.

In the Middle Ages, the Church, in a misapplication of the Biblical prohibition against charging interest, forbade interest in all instances. The Talmud, in contrast, created an economic system in which loans could be converted into investments, so interest could accrue from them, but under the Christian interpretation, no credit market was possible. The way the Church got around that was by forcing the Jews to become the bankers. Back then, though, they were called “money lenders,” which is a much more pejorative term. “Banker,” at least at one time, represented a term of honor.
http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-rothschilds/
 
  • #35
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  • #36
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A number of factors. I think there is a cultural tradition at play. Also, as noted, the fact that Jews historically were forced into banking positions, which develops a need for cultural transmission of mathematics.

One thing I have always wondered about is the effect of circumcision on the development of Jewish culture. While this is somewhat speculative, it stands to reason that circumcising young children could have served as a form of "natural" selection, as I imagine that children with weaker immune systems might not have survived the process. You also have an emphasis in the torah on hygiene and safe food. So how these things affected the development of Jewish people is an interesting question.

Another thing to consider is that the specific population the OP is referring to are European Jews, or what are commonly referred to as Ashkenasi.
 
  • #37
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Thank you Evo. Where the Jews were employed as bankers and other things like presented in this wiki article. It might be of interest to some to know that were these systems of interest were set up, Jews to this day are not allowed to collect interest from other jews. I am not of course talking about criminals but Jews that follow Torah Law.
Wiki has an article on everything:

Loans and interest in Judaism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loans_and_interest_in_Judaism
The Torah expresses regulations against the charging of interest in the Exodus 22:25–27, Leviticus 25:36–37 and Deuteronomy 23:20–21. In Leviticus loans themselves are encouraged, whether of money or food, emphasizing that they enable the poor to regain their independence, but, like the other two places in the Bible, forbids the charging of interest on the loan[5]. All three places state that the charging of interest is exploitative. In Exodus and Deuteronomy it is clear that it would be acceptable to charge interest on any loan to a non-Jew[5].
But:
... Another significant loophole in the law was the biblical permission to charge interest on loans to non-Israelites, since this made it possible for an Israelite to charge interest on a loan to another Israelite, by making the loan through a third party who wasn't an Israelite; interest could be charged on the loan to the non-Israelite, who could then loan the money to the other Israelite at a similar rate of interest[16][17].
 
  • #38
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Wiki has an article on everything:

Loans and interest in Judaism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loans_and_interest_in_Judaism


But:
Short on time, wiki is my friend. Not the best friend.
Some where I heard that it's not following all the laws but knowing all the loopholes and I'm currently looking for one that is NOT big enough to fit over my head! :yuck:
 
  • #39
DaveC426913
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Short on time, wiki is my friend. Not the best friend.
Some where I heard that it's not following all the laws but knowing all the loopholes and I'm currently looking for one that is NOT big enough to fit over my head! :yuck:
This sentence makes no sense. You're looking for a loophole that does not fit over your head?
 
  • #40
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This sentence makes no sense. You're looking for a loophole that does not fit over your head?
DAVE!!!!!!!!!!! How is your fish? :!!)
 
  • #41
Evo
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This sentence makes no sense. You're looking for a loophole that does not fit over your head?
Perhaps she was referring to a noose?
 
  • #42
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Perhaps she was referring to a noose?
Thank you Evo.
But how could I let Dave out dumb me? I don't know how long I can play tonight but I will stir up the water as much as possible while the psych staff still has not found me. :biggrin:
 
  • #43
DaveC426913
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DAVE!!!!!!!!!!! How is your fish? :!!)
Doing OK. I think his fins are regrowing. Though my boss keeps sending negative waves about its death.

Perhaps she was referring to a noose?
As I wrote that and connected those particular dots, I was wondering if that's what she meant.
 
  • #44
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If you want an honest answer, it has to do both with culture and ethnicity. But separating people in races is a very ugly thing to do, because we have to judge a person by personality, not by race or any other thing. And having a belief that race/ethnicity has to do with success, and having a belief that people should be judged by personality is psychologically contradictory, even though it's not logically contradictory. And by admitting people of a certain race have more success than others because of their race it's also psychologically hard because it makes you feel you have less chances than others and you're inferior.

Sorry for the offtopic, but I feel most people avoid discussing anything about race or ethnicity to avoid these psychological problems in their minds, even if they do it unconsciously. And that's why so many people only speak about culture.
 
  • #45
Evo
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If you want an honest answer, it has to do both with culture and ethnicity. But separating people in races is a very ugly thing to do, because we have to judge a person by personality, not by race or any other thing. And having a belief that race/ethnicity has to do with success, and having a belief that people should be judged by personality is psychologically contradictory, even though it's not logically contradictory. And by admitting people of a certain race have more success than others because of their race it's also psychologically hard because it makes you feel you have less chances than others and you're inferior.

Sorry for the offtopic, but I feel most people avoid discussing anything about race or ethnicity to avoid these psychological problems in their minds, even if they do it unconsciously. And that's why so many people only speak about culture.
Although PF is American, we have many non-American members and we strive to make the forum a comfortable place for anyone. So what you said is entirely on target for what we try to avoid.
 
  • #46
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Doing OK. I think his fins are regrowing. Though my boss keeps sending negative waves about its death.

Dave, you gotta reflect those negative waves right back at your bosses favorite plant and my gurss you should aim at the

As I wrote that and connected those particular dots, I was wondering if that's what she meant.
Dave, you gotta reflect those negative waves right back at your bosses favorite plant and my guess you should aim at his triangle weed which he calls Bobo because he dosen't speak Spanish. Or maybe he does and he named it after himself. :rofl:
 
  • #47
Evo
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Thank you Evo.
But how could I let Dave out dumb me? I don't know how long I can play tonight but I will stir up the water as much as possible while the psych staff still has not found me. :biggrin:
We think alike Lacy! You are much loved here, and so is Dave.

What the heck...GROUP HUG!!! :tongue2:
 
  • #48
DaveC426913
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Dave, you gotta reflect those negative waves right back at your bosses favorite plant and my guess you should aim at his triangle weed which he calls Bobo because he dosen't speak Spanish. Or maybe he does and he named it after himself. :rofl:
BRILLIANT! I'll name the fish after him! Then he will have to send it positive waves!
 
  • #49
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We think alike Lacy! You are much loved here, and so is Dave.

What the heck...GROUP HUG!!! :tongue2:
Group hug around :!!) Bobo the Betta fish :!!) Thanks Evo! And Lisab. Who is holding on to her string? Oh gosh don't let go of that! :biggrin: Aw! Lisab :!!)
 

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