From the archive
Robert Wright, The Secret of Jeremy Lin’s Success?, The Atlantic 2/14/2012:
One of the most intriguing cultural contrasts between eastern and western ways of viewing the world was documented in experiments by the psychologist Richard Nisbett, some of them in collaboration with Takahiko Masuda. The upshot was that East Asians tend to view scenes more holistically than westerners.
Robert Wright’s account of Jeremy Lin’s success is not only horseshit as sports commentary, it’s horseshit as social psychology. I say this in the friendliest way possible, of course.
James Fallows has added a note about what Beijing pickup basketball is like (How Would Jeremy Lin Fare in a Pickup Game in Beijing, 2/16/2012); and another with some lovely quotations about a different era’s stereotypes about basketball (Update on Lin, ‘Jewish Dominance’ of Hoops, and Ethnic Traits in Athletics and Life, 2/16/2012), e.g. this (from here):
New York Daily News sports editor Paul Gallico wrote in the mid 1930s that basketball “appeals to the Hebrew with his Oriental background [because] the game places a premium on an alert, scheming mind and flashy trickiness, artful dodging and general smartalecness.” We see how qualities such as cunning and wiliness were posited as the keys to Jewish basketball success and how these kinds of statements were indicative of early 20th century America.