People don't rise from nothing. We do owe something to where we come from
People don't rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievements in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It's not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't.
I am considered a very intelligent student among my peers and I have read wide and deep across disciplines ranging from computers and management to core humanities subject. Before reading this book I used to think it is my hard work by virtue of which I have accomplished this by the age of 22. But after I read this book I realized in a poverty ridden country like India I was lucky to be born in a middle class family then I was lucky enough because my parents were extremely passionate teachers . I was born in a family where the only virtue of a person was his knowledge and character. I was born in a traditional "Brahmin" family, it is a caste which was at the top of hierarchy and were considered apt for intellectual work. Had I been born in my maids family I don't think my apparent hard work would have counted or even given a chance.
As a kid, I read an article in the Scientific American. It measured the efficiency of locomotion of various species on the planet. Bears. Chimpanzees. Raccoons. Birds. Fish. How many kilo-calories per kilometer did they spend to move?
Humans were measured too.
And the condor won. It was the most efficient.
Humankind came in with an unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list. But somebody there had the brilliance to test a human riding a bicycle. We blew away the condor. Off the charts.
This really had an impact on me. Humans are tool builders. We build tools that can dramatically amplify our innate human abilities. We ran an ad for this once that the personal computer is the bicycle of the mind. I believe that with every bone in my body.
Genealogical ancestry, therefore, is surprising. It works much differently than genetic ancestry. [...] None of these surprises in genealogies, however, contradict ...