Talent Does Not Exist

Abdurraheem Green

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Channel: Abdurraheem Green

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The speakers discuss the importance of talent and how it is not a matter of one's faith. They also touch on the challenges of learning about race and the importance of purposeful practice in developing talent. The speakers emphasize the need for hard work and embracing one's own potential for growth and development, and stress the importance of acknowledging one's successes and learning from them. They also mention historical precedent for pushing boundaries and bringing up the idea of race as a threat to society. The moderator thanks everyone for joining and mentions a moderator handing over to moderators next time.

AI Generated Transcript ©


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Joining us for this really I think is really important topic. talent doesn't exist. Genius is born. It's it's not born, it's made. We're just gonna go live on my YouTube channel as well. For life we live

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Yeah, okay so Salam aleikum, everyone,

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this is not a particular is particularly Islamic Copic per se, it's part of the series that deep think that we're also running on clubhouse is just some topics that I think of use a very important to everybody.

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Whether you're a Muslim or not a Muslim, it actually doesn't matter. Because these topics are things that are of big interest to all of us. And the consequences, I think of the subject matter that we're discussing, is very, very far reaching. It's really interesting that I was popping into a room earlier today with one of our moderators, a tech mogul. And, you know, we they were having a similar discussion,

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we got the vibe that this was some

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racial supremacist, quasi, I don't know what we it did not sound healthy. And they were pushing the notion quite the opposite, that everything is in your genes is your programmed, you know, your intelligence is what it is, when you're born, and there's literally nothing you can do to change it.

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And it's just the, I think the first thing is the evidence is so strongly stacked against this particular position. And it's also evidently, I think, quite dangerous. It's not healthy for us as human beings to think like that, to believe that. This whole nature nurture argument is, even from a scientific point of view, a massive simplification, as I read in a book very recently, it gave an analogy, that, it's a bit like saying cookies are made of flour, sugar, and eggs.

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And it's just so broad, it's just not helpful.

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And actually, when you actually break it down from a perspective from of looking at it from an evolutionary perspective, and I think that actually, there's not necessarily a contradiction here, whether you believe in evolution, whether you believe there's a creator, I actually think in many ways, the, the results are the same in terms of how we think about how the human beings work, it doesn't seem to matter to me, right?

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And that's perhaps a deeper topic of conversation, right?

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But from the evolutionary perspective, think about it this way, if you are claiming that genius, that

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talent is a pure product of these two things, right? Of your genetics, and your environment, nature, and nurture, if that's what you believe. Basically, what you are saying is that

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you have literally been programmed or evolution has programmed

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someone to be Beethoven, Einstein.

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Whatever genius you can think of Serena Williams, yeah. Whatever, you know, whatever genius you can think of whether it's a sporting genius, whether it's an intellectual genius, whether it's a musical genius, whether the Orland Leonardo da Vinci, right, whether you are some even even KU, you know, some poetic genius, some Homer, whoever, whatever, right? As some philosophical genius, you've been programmed by evolution just to pop into existence. Right? And that what how would this work from a purely evolutionary perspective? Because that would mean that not only, I mean, that would mean what's the point in for example, Einstein popping into existence in you know, 150 BCE? It will be of

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absolutely no use.

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It has the property that I mean, you've got this you that we'd have these geniuses, because you're claiming that DNA has literally programmed these people to pop into existence with all their genius intact, but it would it only makes any sense for them to exist within the particular framework in a particular time, and it goes against the whole idea of the efficiency, because you know, evolution is supposed to be extremely efficient, right? It makes no sense, right? What does make sense however, is that

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that

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Rather, we have a process, we have a system that allows our brains to adapt to our environment when that system is activated and implemented. And so that basically, it's not to deny the role of, you know, of our DNA or a sort of our created nature, we could say, it's the, it's what we do with it. And that's the thing is that so therefore, within every human being is this potential, this potential exists within us, we just need to activate it. And this is really what is being shown through the study of the human mind, through understanding how the human brain works,

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then we're this is what we're discovering is that really, within nearly every single human being apart from some basic fundamental, you know, there are, of course, genetics is going to, you know, the way you are your particular body size, your particular, it's going to play a part in some things. And the example I love to give, for example, the example I love to give is that if you are,

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obviously, if you're seven foot tall, you're going to have some advantage in the basketball court over someone who's three foot tall. So there are some, you know, basic, you know, genetic markers that are going to give you some advantages in some situations, right. But apart from these very, very few basic things, and there may be some geographical,

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you know, components in terms of diet. And another example that you one could give is, for example, if you live in the part of the world where you need to, you need to you need to walk or run to school 20 miles every day, there and back. Well, guess what is probably going to help you quite a little bit to be a good marathon runner, right? So, yes, for sure, there are going to be particular circumstances that are going to favor a person developing particular skills, a particular skill base, right.

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But as this beautiful phrase, there's this beautiful phrase, myelin doesn't care who you are, it just cares what you do. And what is myelin. Right? Myelin is basically an insulator that forms on your synapses. And the stronger this insulator is over a particular sign ups, the faster a signal is transmitted through your brain. And that's basically all skills are, skills are a series of connections in your brain. And they these skills developed through hard work when you work hard at something, right. And this is where this is where all of us

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whether we're religious, or spiritual, spiritual, religious or not, there's a crossover, this is where the connection between everything happens

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is that especially I would say, within the, this is true in any religion, but within the Islamic paradigm, the whole, the whole idea of struggle of life, being a struggle of life, being a test of the process, through which we improve ourselves and develop ourselves and grow ourselves, both individually and collectively, as human beings is through the process of struggle, right.

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And, and this, this process of struggle is exactly what causes our, you know, these pathways to form.

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And the more we develop skills in a particular area, the more this, this Milea, which is a type of fatty substance that is insulates our synapses, that the stronger they form, the quicker the signals, and therefore, the better we are at developing those skills. And it doesn't matter what you apply it to, it could be tennis, it could be golf, it could be driving a car, it could be figuring out the theory of relativity, it could be any or you know, playing an instrument or it could be spiritual things as well. By the way, it could be anything to do with religious practice meditation, prayer, studying religious texts, it doesn't matter the basic process what is going on in the brain

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is exactly the same. So So theoretically,

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you know, someone like, let's say Serena Williams, although like so it's interesting, right? So you took this whole look at this whole argument of nature versus nurture, but you have these individuals these

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There's the list is almost endless, really. And the evidence is really overwhelming that you can take someone who traditionally and you know, I remember,

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and I'm you know, I'm quite open about the sort of pretty racist background that I, you know, came from. We had this discussion last week about empirical race theory, right? And we had this discussion about oh, well, why are that literally? Why are there no black racing drivers, for example? Well, obviously, now we have Lewis Hamilton is probably the one of the greatest who's ever lived. Right? But we'd have this discussion because it wasn't around then why are there no, you know, black racing drivers. And there were people, I don't even know if I was one of them, or these people were in my family would say, Well, you know, black people are just not genetically disposed

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towards it, they don't have the genes for it, you know, that they don't have the environment for it, and so on and so forth. But then you have someone like Lewis Hamilton, who's raised by his dad with this, you know, loving Formula One having this dream of formula and being trained in you know, go karts. So this is really interesting. Because the real key so he, you know, he goes through this training, he has this passion, he has this drive, and he trains in this incredibly intense way. So what is the really evidence so far is that actually geniuses are made, they are not born. And they are made through purpose, what is called purposeful practice, right? Purposeful practice. It's not

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just any old practice. It's a particular type of practice, that that is born out of constantly being confronted with your mistakes, challenging being challenged to the very limits of your abilities.

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And through this purposeful practice, one develops this very, very finely tuned skill set in a particular area. Right.

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And they, as they say, it takes something like 10,000 hours of purposeful practice, which is about 10 years. Right. So like, often the challenges to this okay, well, how about child prodigies? For example, this child geniuses, these savants? You know, these kids who are, you know, six years old, 10 years old people often mentioned Mozart, for example, as an example. Well, I mean, Mozart's is a good example, because actually, his early compositions are the Bronte sisters, for example. So this is this stuff has become legendary, but partly because it's just to do with cognitive bias. And it's not, they're not actually based on facts. We like it because it's dramatic. We like it because it

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plays into our biases and our prejudices, right. But they're not really based upon facts. Mozart, his dad was a music teacher, by the time he was nine years old, he had already gone under. And it's the method of teaching, you have to you have to understand it's the method of teaching, it is possible for someone at the age of 10, to have gone through a huge amount of practice. He wasn't actually particularly gifted at that age. It's only later. But the foundations had been laid from a very, very young age. It's the same with the Bronte sisters. In fact, they also if you look at the early literature that they composed, it was pretty terrible. But the fact was that they were

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practicing writing a lot from an extremely young age. Right. So this idea that there's myths perpetrated, but the reality is, you find that usually, almost always these kids, you know, have this intensive training taking place from from a very young age support. What's your feelings about all of this particular topic?

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Yeah, I mean, you mentioned genetic determinism for a while, so a little while ago.

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And I was thinking about the fact that even the people who push this idea of genetic determinism don't really

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have a up to date view, because that's the sort of view that may have been held a few decades ago. Now. Even the Darwinists are actually saying the environment creates a bigger role in terms of your development than does your genes. And we have this fascination of is in the blood, we have this fascination that genes equal, basically behavior, and that was the rise of, you know, the

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field of sociobiology. But back in the 70s, however, all of that stuff has actually been debunked pretty much now, by evolutionists, who are now actually much more open to the idea that our behavior is is impacted by not only and this is very interesting, not only are involved

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Riemann, as in our training, and so on and so forth, but also

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that, you know, the human mind has this amazing plastic ability, which we did not know, before, right, we had this sort of very antique view about how we have fixed traits, when now we have the exact opposite. And I just wanted to highlight, you know, Inshallah, in the coming months, we're going to be having a publication on evolution. And one of the academic editors of that is very interesting that he actually his parents were illiterate. And he's from a village in Buxton. And he's now actually got a PhD in evolutionary biology. So again, it's, you know, your parents being illiterate. And, and that type of stuff is not some genetic predisposition that you're just tied to,

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you can break out of it. And there's many examples of that.

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And I think this is really key. I mean, you know, the key thing is the implications of it. And the key thing is that, for me, the key thing is the implications, the fact that if you are ready to put in the time, you're ready to put in the effort you're putting, because it is it is time effort, it's not easy, right? So this, this, this substance in your brain, myelin does not form through wishful thinking, you know, floating around and lying on your bed and just just chilling and dreaming, right? It forms when real hard work is taking place. So let's not be you know, let's not be delusional about it, right? Talent is a product of extremely hard work. And I think one of the side

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effects of this idea of talent, oh, this person is talented, they're so talented. Yeah, it actually has quite a lot of negative implications, right. And this is evidenced as well, that once a person begins to think that they are talented, they actually usually stop performing so well. And the reason is, it's to do with mindset. So this is a very important topic. And this is a very important topic for all of us. I think this is so important for us as human beings.

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And the topic of mindset, whether you have what is closed, whether you have what is called a closed mindset, or a growth mindset, it is very much linked to your ideas or your belief system about talent or genius, because you're believing that talent, and genius is something that is, you know, it's just in your DNA, DNA, you're either good at it, or you're not, you know, either, you know, either, you know, God destiny, you know, your environment has brought you up in a certain way. And you're going to be able to achieve these things or not, right? What it gives you a particular outlook and a particular attitude about yourself, and in fact, everybody else in the world, right?

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Yeah, and especially the person thinks that they are innately gifted,

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then what unfortunately happens to people like that, is that when they are confronted with situations and environments in which they now really have to exercise a degree of real effort in order to be able to be productive or produce a particular result. This itself goes against their belief system, because they think that no, if I'm a genius, and if I'm naturally talented, then I shouldn't really have to try, I should be just able to do this without trying. And then in order to sort of justify this false belief system, these people will, unfortunately end up doing all sorts of unpleasant things like cheating, fixing the books, stealing all sorts of things in order to be able

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to

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keep up this story they have about themselves, because

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challenge is uncomfortable. They haven't let themselves get used to the idea whereas a person with a growth mindset, they accept challenges, they embrace them, every challenge for them, every difficulty for them, is embraced as a new learning experience. And so everything has this potential for them for growth and development because in fact, that's exactly what is happening in their brain. Every time you are challenged every time you are confronted with a difficulty. And if you embrace this struggle, this which it really is the inner struggle, embrace this struggle. Then you grow you develop you you increase your skill set, you broaden your ability to deal and cope with all

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sorts of things right? So you can see the day

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Friends, therefore, between these two types of approaches, and these two types of belief systems, the impact is really, really far ranging. So it's not really here, we're just not talking about something that is hypothetical. It's something that is really, really important in how on how it impacts how you Britt, bring up your kids. Right? How do you treat your kids? How do you speak to your kids? How do you educate your kids? Right.

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And it's also important in terms of,

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I think the one factor that I think that is really important is the idea of humility as well. Right. And I think this is where the that also something that is very important is the acknowledgement. And there is a factor here. That is something that most people would call probably a lot of people who are obviously secular would call it luck, right? And but you know, people who believe in God would think of it as destiny, or, you know, God's plan, that look, I mean, at the end of the day, you can train yourself to be the greatest, you know, runner, the fastest runner, the greatest sportsman, you know, a fantastic genius, and then something could happen to you, you could, you know, you could

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shatter your legs in a way that you could never recover, right? You could be in a car accident, and your brain could be damaged. And this is nothing that you possibly in any reasonable way, shape or form could have had control over. So one shouldn't imagine. Therefore, the other thing is important is that even when it comes to hard work, we should always be careful not to simply attribute everything, just to Yeah, I worked so hard at this, although that is very important. It's interesting that I came across a statement of Michelangelo.

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Who was it Michelangelo? Yeah, it was Michelangelo, who

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a very young age produced some extraordinary people piece of work a piece of art. And the people at the time, were calling him this little genius, he was only 20 years old or something. But in fact, he had been working since he was the age of six in these guilds, where he had been trained in tutored by masters. And again, he was brought up in this extremely rich environment of purposeful practice.

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And he actually objected to it. He said, If you knew how hard I had had to be working, you wouldn't say that it may appear that I've just, you know, produced this genius, but it's not as a product of hard work. But also one has to acknowledge that it is really only from the blessings of God that God has allowed you ultimately to fulfill that, that talent to fulfill that not that talent, but that, you know, that that all that hard work that you've put into it still, ultimately, there's something out there, that has allowed you. And of course, we believe that that's the Creator, right, that that has allowed us to fulfill, you know, whatever we whatever task we've put ourselves to, but I think

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from you know, from an Islamic perspective, generally, it's interesting, and I think maybe on clubhouse, some of our, you know, hosts can pick up on this is that, you know, that the Allah tells us in the Quran, the meaning of which is that, you know, whatever you strive for walk towards, that's what you're gonna get. And this is a basic rule, but you know, what you make an effort towards is what you're going to get. And so if you make an effort towards belief and Eman and faith and piety, that's what you'll get. And if you make, by the way, an effort, effort in the opposite direction, God is going to facilitate that for you, that is that, you know, whatever path you are

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going to choose, your Creator is facilitating that path for you. And that includes, you know, whatever it is that you want to do in your life. So this is, you know, this is a basic, underlying premise that we have also, you know, in the Quran, and, you know, there is an understanding that was given to us there. Any thoughts on that? Yeah, from a secular, I mean, for anybody who's, who's watching this, who's familiar with some of the secular way is that this principle is explained. They would call it the law of attraction. You know, that's what they wouldn't say. But we would say it's gathered, like you said, and just to add to your point about how powerful this idea actually is,

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that talent isn't genetic talent isn't something you're born with.

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I want to give a

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little sort of historical fact, which a lot of people don't know, which is one of the brilliant scientists who was behind evolutionary theory in the 19th century was Alfred Russel Wallace. who initially when he, him and Darwin, they actually came forward and published the theory it was not known as Darwin

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In stereo is known as Darwin and Wallace's theory. So even today, if you pick up works from the early 20th century in the late 19th century, it won't say Darwin's theory. It'll say Darwin and Wallace's theory. However, eventually he was whitewashed from history. And the reason is, he did a U turn, that humans are basically not products of natural selection. And the reason for that is because fugiens, who lived in South America, who are basically savages, he noted that if you bring them to Cambridge, they could be just as intelligent as your Cambridge graduate. And that made no sense to him. So he actually said natural selection applies to every living being except human

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beings. Right? Very, yes, very interesting thing. And Dr. Michael Shermer, who's actually a well known atheist, his PhD is actually on Alfred Russel Wallace. So that's a clear example of where a scientist does a complete U turn. Because he sees that talent isn't genetic talent is based on your work. The main thing that Wallace made Wallace do a u turn was his the fact that he noticed that human beings actually just could learn almost anything. And anyone from anywhere could adopt these, you know, amazing qualities through practice and an implementation. Yeah, yeah, of course, my my. That film, I don't know if anyone's seen us cool. I think it was called the missionary, or the

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missionaries are quite an old film, not black and white, all but quite old, were these Jesuit priests go to the, during the time of the Spanish conquistadores, they go into the South American jungle somewhere. And in order to try and prove that, you know, the natives were actually human beings, right, and not just some, you know, creatures to be enslaved and manipulated. They teach them, you know, the violin, and they teach them basically to, you know, to sing and to play the violin, and to do all of these sorts, you know, supposedly higher arts and higher functions.

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But it doesn't save them, they still get massacred.

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You know, which we should just show was, but it's very interesting that, you know, the brother that who was

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who was listening in with me to this conversation on this other group on clubhouse, was saying, this sounds really dangerous. These people who believe in, you know, nature and nurture, it sounds really sorted. They sound like Nazis. It's that he said, It sounds really dangerous, right? We need to do something about what is very interesting. He said that because the social Darwinists, who basically believed this, they were the ones who eventually inspired us to tackle and inspired the Nazis. So there's a historical precedent for why he's worried because, you know, even racist today and the new, I think it's called the American Renaissance, is this a new far right type of intellectual

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movement in America, and they try and push this idea that race is real. And, you know, genetic determinism, basically. So yeah, I mean, these ideas have real life implications.

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So I think, for our YouTube broadcast, we're just gonna I just want to finish with something, and then we'll log out of this and continue on clubhouse. For anyone who wants to join the conversation, guys, sorry about that, you know, this was just an introduction with me and support, support. And by the way, he'll be joining us on clubhouse as well. He's just not on there right now. Because of, you know, because of the transmission and feedback and stuff like that. He's, you know, if you for those of you who don't know him, I would say he's our sort of Muslim expert on the field of evolution. He's done a degree in the philosophy of science. And, you know, I really encourage you guys to look

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at if you're interested in this, you know, is there a contradiction between evolution theory and what Islam teaches? If so, where and how do we reconcile it suborder Ahmed is the guy to go to and listen to what he has to say about ATS some very, very, you know, interesting ideas, and generally orthodox as well. So, you know, Al Hamdulillah. Hopefully, you know, he, I think he reconciles the two things in a really, really nice way and shows that it's not necessarily a contradiction.

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So, yeah, so please check that out. One final thing I want to, I want to finish with with this guy is, you know, in terms of geniuses geniuses are, geniuses are not born, they are made. Okay. And so the guy I want to mention is this guy called Laszlo Polgar. I was first introduced to this man, when I read Matthew sides book bounce, which I have

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Highly recommend, as a good, easy to read introduction to this whole topic, about there's no such thing as talent, right? There's no such thing as talent or genius. It's something that is made. It's not intrinsic, it's not genetic. You're not just born popping out talented, you know, singing opera and coming up with theories of relativity, right. It's something that you you learn, right through hard work. And, you know, and I used to say this to people as well, and they say, Oh, they're him. You know, you're, you know, you're a good speaker, you're just talented. I just think I was not born coming out of, you know, I didn't, I wasn't born going And Alhamdulillah

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Like, it didn't happen like that. I you know, I went down to Speaker's Corner for 10 years, every Sunday, right? I, you know, was standing out there for hours being heckled out by people and, you know, like, at the end of the day, Alhamdulillah you know, I say the praises for Allah, thanks for Allah that he you know, facilitated that but that's just not the deny the fact that a lot of hard really, really hard, really hard work went into it. But anyway, I want to talk about Laszlo Polgar, this guy is extraordinary because he had he, he turned his life into a scientific experiment. He's Hungarian, he had studied intelligence. And he was absolutely convinced that, that, you know, this

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is actually his, you know, I think it's a statement of he has translated that, you know, genius is not born, it's made. And he was absolutely convinced. So he literally turned his life into experiment into an experiment. And so basically, what he did, is in order to prove this, this idea, he basically married someone who was purposefully married someone, a Russian lady, who was of an himself wasn't particularly like super high IQ. He married someone, similarly, who has an average IQ. They had two children, two girls, he really struggled with, with the Hungarian authorities to allow him to homeschool his kids. And basically, all he did was he just basically turned them into

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chess masters. And he, he taught he chose chess, because he said, It's scientific, it's mathematical, it's easy to measure, right. And basically, he did all of this to prove that just to, you know, ordinary people, through which, you know, they could raise their kids with the right training, right, to be, you know, chess masters. And indeed, that's what happened, his daughters went on to be some of the greatest female chess players that that have, have lived. And I'm not gonna go into detail about this guy, you can check it out on on Wikipedia, it's got a really nice sort of summary of you know, what he did in his of his life. But I think, you know, this guy really

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showed that the idea that geniuses are born and not made, he proved it with his life, and just showed that it's just, you know, really about the training. It's really about the practice that purposeful practice that discipline focused practice. And I think it's inspiring for all of us for what whoever you are, whatever you do, whether it's trying to, you know, get her show, in your Salah,

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memorize Quran or become a sports genius, or study a language or languages or whatever, right? The key is really this hard work this purposeful practice, this discipline, testing yourself. There is a particular method, there is a particular format, that is the best way to do it. And it's also understanding about how the brain works. But really, this is what the conversation is, if anyone in their life has some stories has some inspiration, some motivation through which we can motivate ourselves and others to put in that hard work to develop ourselves and to develop others. That's really what we're hoping to do on clubhouse today. And so for those of you who have joined me on

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YouTube, may Allah bless you just soccer locker. I hope you benefited from that. And for those of us who are waiting on clubhouse, thank you so much for waiting. We're going to be handing over to the moderators now to you know, start the conversation. Let's see how it goes. Thank you so much, everybody until next time, as salam aleikum, may God's peace and blessings be upon all of you. Anything else to finish with support? That's it.