Merlin (with spoilers) Grundo, Coercion

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Thu May 29 09:07:52 EDT 2003


On Thu, 29 May 2003, Sally Odgers wrote:

> It depends on the purpose of the "race" then.  There is a school of thought
> that says failing to make use of ones talents is immoral - up to a point. I
> know a genius-IQ friend of my son's was not considered to behave well when
> he deliberately handed in substandard work, just to look "like the others".

	I can imagine being upset then myself! If the substandard work was
schoolwork or something important. 'Cause I really think it does depend on
the situation. And I agree with you that one should make best use of one's
talents, I'm just attempting to draw a distinction between using talents
and abusing them. I suppose what I'm trying to say is, to use your
example, that I think there's nothing wrong with being more intelligent
than others and thus doing better in school, because I would regard that
as being a Valid Arena for that particular talent, but I think there is
something dodgy about being more intelligent than others & deliberately
using that talent to belittle them or make them feel small. And then of
course there are lots and lots of grey areas, where people can be upset &
also maliciously envious of those who do better in school, & where is the
golden mean there, & the whole thing is incredibly complicated... but I
would draw the distinction anyway... I think it's useful.

>
> I have a tiny bit of experience with this reining in thing - and it doesn't
> tend to make most people feel good. I enjoy playing Scrabble, but the only
> person with whom I can play a fair-handed game is myself. If playing with
> social players or with my kids or most relatives, I had to rein in so as not
> to beat them by much - if at all. Thus they either complain that I'm not
> trying, or won't play me because I *am* trying.
>
> However, if I play with a *good* habitual player - i.e. my own sister or one
> particular acquaintance- I almost always lose.

	<grin> I know that situation *so* well. Have you tried just
handicapping your opponents as necessary? Scrabble Rows are very common
amongst my family & we have found that to be a good partial solution to
the problem!

	Anna

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