Consider the Bohr family—
developed the modern understanding of the atom, for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. His father, Christian Bohr
, discovered the Bohr effect in hematology. His brother, Harald Bohr
, was both a great mathematician in his own right, and one of Denmark’s top football players; he led the team to a silver medal in the Olympics, and “when he defended his doctoral thesis the audience was reported as having more football fans than mathematicians”. Niels’ son Aage Bohr
won another Nobel Prize in Physics, his other son Ernest Bohr
was another Olympic athlete, and his grandson Tomas Bohr was another physics professor.
At least part of the answer could be the Hero License; the belief that you too can be a hero. For the majority of the world — becoming a great isn’t even on our radar. So we never try.
But if like Sir George Darwin
— your father was the Charles Darwin
, It’s probably within your mental frame to think you too can propose great ideas
. Same with George Bush Jr.
Eliezer Yudkowsky sometimes talks about the idea of a Hero License
- ie, most people don’t accomplish great things, because they don’t try
to accomplish great things, because they don’t think of themselves as the kind of person who could
accomplish great things. I don’t run for President, partly because I rationally conclude I won’t win, but partly because I’m not cool enough to be President and I know it. Presidents are some different species with whiter teeth and better smiles than me, and I couldn’t set out to become one any more than I could set out to become a dolphin.