Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clone Wars: The Impossible Reality of Moscow's Female Russian Tennis Players

What are the Chances?

Over at the Women's Tennis Blog I found this feature that describes 17 all-Russian women tennis finals. The most recent of these match-ups was this past January, in Aukland where these two players met:
That's Elena Dementieva on the left and Elena Versina on the right. In the finals. Both were born...in Russia.

This Can Only Be Genetic Meddling
So who are these next two? Want to take a crack at it? Two more female Russian players in the top 100. Blond. Same ground stroke game. Right now, eleven women born in Moscow -- a city of 6 million -- are in the top 100 of the WTA tennis tour; and, twenty of the top 100 women come from a small geographic area including Moscow, all of which are former members of the USSR... And they are almost all blond, skinny, around the same age, and have identical ground strokes. Does that bother you? Why not? Is it a statistical possibility or probability?

What if there were 11 women born in New York City in the top 100? What if most of them looked alike? Would anyone say: "Whoa--that's not statistically possible?" Because it's not.
Approximately 1 in 13 million tennis players can expect to make the top 100 in professional tennis. So if there are 6 million people in Moscow and one out of fifty play tennis, you might expect less than 1/2 of one tennis player to make the top hundred in a generation. So are 11 possible? 11 blonds with the same game? No way.

Put it in Perspective

There has been no time in history when so many people from so constricted a geographic area have numbered so heavily in the top of their sport.

In all of women's professional sporting history, can you name two or three women from the same country who have achieved the top of their sport who look alike, have the same "game" and are around the same age? No. It is simply unprecedented.

Tennis is an international sport whose competitors come from everywhere; competition is year-round, and the chances of "making" it on the professional tour are infinitesimal. The Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Europeans, Australians, and Americans produce tens of thousands of tennis pros every year all of whom receive the top training, instruction and support, yet only a very small percentage of whom make it to the top 100. So could 11 girls born in Moscow between 1981 and 1992 be in the top 11 just by good luck or even with superior training (most Russian girls train overseas anyway)? NO.

And don't forget who we are talking about--the former USSR. These are the same people who championed the secretive use of professionals when the Olympics were an amateur event; and the same people who created hoarse-voiced female champion weightlifters by pumping them full of steroids. Now they have messed with the genetics of these girls, because mathematically there is no explanation. It can't be nurture so it has to be nature.




Messing With the Eggs
These women are genetically similar. Either they've been cloned or are related to the same sperm donor or egg recipient...or whatever the explanation; it is not up to me to explain how they did it but there is no doubt that we are looking at DNA evidence of a deception...or a crime.

And just like in court, if the DNA evidence is positive (= overwhelming statistical evidence) then you are GUILTY AS CHARGED....unless you can tell us why not, convincingly.

So let's ask Russia for their rationale. Let's ask them a whattssup wit dat!

Because now that the Russians know the game, who knows where they will use the knowledge next; I assure you it will be something less benign than in professional tennis.

Also See:
Maria Shapapova, Anna Kournikova, and the Russian Tennis Cloning Scandal
Kournikova and the Moscow Tennis Clones

16 comments:

Keven said...

Black people make up about 9% of the world's population, but about 95% of the final four in the NBA.

Yet it's not done through cloning.

It can easily be argued that they look as much alike as the female russian tennis players.

Dr.T said...

Moscow is an area of 417 square miles. Statistically, you cannot give me a formula that allows 11 top 100 women tennis players to originate from that area given the statistical probability that 1 in 13 million tennis players from all over the world could expect to make it to that level.

Regardless, your logic is backwards fallable. The NBA selects for the athletic talents of blacks, whereas tennis has no known selective pressure that favors any ethnic or geographic group; nor has it ever displayed this tendency in the history of the sport.

Studies clearly trace the genetic footprints of world class successful black marathoners back to Eastern Africa and larger more athletic African-Americans to Western Africa (see: http://www.amazon.com/Taboo-Athletes-Dominate-Sports-Afraid/dp/1891620398).

There is no similar teleological or statistical way to explain or understand this impossible clustering of statistical events in women's tennis. Just as "DNA testing" is accepted in a court of law because of the total improbability that such a statistical event could be repeated accidentally, so then the very existence of this impossible coincidence needs to be considered a "guilty" verdict until someone creates a rationale that defeats the mathematics of probability which are pretty clear in this event.

20 players in the top 100 women come from Moscow, nearby Russia, the Ukraine and Belarussia, for no apparent or explainable reason except that....it's chance?

It's like you played roullette and the ball landed in the number "1" a hundred straight times. Would you not assume the wheel was rigged?

Women's tennis has been rigged, and that is PROVEN by the very existence of this situation, and it is the obligation of the accused to prove otherwise.

And they all look alike too.

Keven said...

Dr T. said "whereas tennis has no known selective pressure that favors any ethnic or geographic group; nor has it ever displayed this tendency in the history of the sport."

I disagree. How many African tennis players can you name?

I'm not suggesting I have an answer here, but rather, alternative factors that will weaken the strength of your thesis:

1. Great tennis players become great only by playing and practicing with other great players (as a tennis player myself, I know this all too well). It's a little hard to raise your game and play good players when you grow up in Pisswater Minnesotta. This means that the overall, I'd bet that over 80% of the world's top tennis players come from the 30 most populated cities in the world.

2. Up until 1989, your career path was pretty much set for you as an infant if you had the fortune/misfortune of being born in communist Russia. This in turn would mean that training and all of the necessary environmental factors that would enable a successful career would surround the person starting at an early age, often as young as 2. There are no other largely populated cities in the world that have this type of culture - typically, one might only decide to TRAIN to become a PRO at around the age of 16 (Michael Phelps excluded, but we'll get back to him in a moment), but in Russia, the necessary training starts far earlier. The fact that communism fell in 1989 is a small point - there's no reason this type of cultural norm would have disappeared alongside communism, and I suspect this to be a less, but still common practice to this day. In a nutshell, the women got an early start in their training. VERY EARLY.

3. As was proven with Michael Phelps, he began his training abnormally young (by western standards) at the age of 7. Though this is not the only cause for his phenomenal records, you can't ignore it's effect on his career.

4. Eastern Europe (and by extension, Moscow) has it's own tennis culture and greater emphasis on the sport, just like the US places more emphasis on Basketball, Canadians and nordic countries on Hockey, Africans on running, China has ping-pong and South Americans on Soccer. For every kid here in the US who says he wants to be a tennis pro, you can find 99 others who want to be a basketball pro. You CANNOT ignore the cultural emphasis on local sports.

When you suggest that they look alike, do you also suggest that swedish women also look a little too much alike? After all, they all have blond hair and nice physiques don't they?

Keven said...

PS - {XF}Martha says you're making the rookie mistake of confusing causation with correlation ;)

Dr.T said...

Your argument is all nurture versus nature, and is invalid.

There is no way to "nurture" a tennis player to be in the top 100... Tens of thousands of people try and they try every conceivable method; however, every tennis pro and organization and training academy will tell you: champions are born, not made.

True they frequently NEED top training, discipline, competition, etc. but you must be born with top .0001% ability.

So how could 11 people with top .0001% ability be born in Moscow, in the 1980's? Or 20 in that small geographic area?

You persistently refuse to address the statistical impossibility of this lone issue.

Truth is, if there were any formula that could "produce" a top 100 tennis player then everyone would use it -- the world has been "on" to intense tennis training for 25 years.

Your conjectures about where great tennis players are born are not held up by reality. They are definitely not clustered around big cities.

And your guesses about training for tennis are also off the mark. All over the world -- especially in Asia-- kids start training as soon as they can walk.

COMMUNISM FELL IN RUSSIA IN 1991. THESE GIRLS WERE BORN IN THE 1980'S. That argument is also dead.

You think there is a cultural emphasis on tennis in the USSR? Where did THAT come from? You mean it isn't hockey, figure skating, gymnastics, skiing, track and field? How about weigfht lifting, Greco-Roman wrestling, the luge, the bobsled, marksmenship...uhhh mink trapping.

Minks? You know what climate they live in? Snow. 8 months of the year.

Russians never played tennis; so, you think they suddenly just invented this super human tennis culture in the 1990's? With the 9 months of snow they have in the Ukraine? Right. A natural spot for tennis craziness.

Everything you adduce as an argument sits opposite of the truth.

And Martha?

Playing with fire.

Keven said...

To address some of your points:

"There is no way to "nurture" a tennis player to be in the top 100... Tens of thousands of people try and they try every conceivable method;"Tens of thousands of people don't have the necessary training and discipline required.

Keep in mind also, career choices in communist russia were not done willy-nilly. Testing would be conducted in order to determine what the infant would be more inclined towards. They didn't take strong boned stupid kids and decide to make them into engineers.

"
You persistently refuse to address the statistical impossibility of this lone issue."
Your statistic of 0.0001% is rendered weak by my counterarguments, which is why I cannot address it directly"Truth is, if there were any formula that could "produce" a top 100 tennis player then everyone would use it"False for two reasons:
1. You require top notch coaches, which are not readily available to "everyone"
2. This 'formula' in contingent on environmental factors, which we do not readily possess in other areas around the world (ie., kids wanting to grow up to be Basketball players vs. Tennis players (99 to 1)

"Your conjectures about where great tennis players are born are not held up by reality. They are definitely not clustered around big cities."I didn't say they're born in these cities, but are raised in these cities.

"All over the world -- especially in Asia-- kids start training as soon as they can walk."

You are correct about Asia, but again, Tennis is simply not as popular there. Every culture has various sports to which they're drawn towards more.

"COMMUNISM FELL IN RUSSIA IN 1991. THESE GIRLS WERE BORN IN THE 1980'S. That argument is also dead."You misunderstood. Whether they were born before or after the fall of communism is irrelevant. The social norms of selecing a career path very young remains the same before and after"You think there is a cultural emphasis on tennis in the USSR? Where did THAT come from? You mean it isn't hockey, figure skating, gymnastics, skiing, track and field? How about weigfht lifting, Greco-Roman wrestling, the luge, the bobsled, marksmenship...uhhh mink trapping."1. I didn't say the USSR - I said Moscow, as an extension to Eastern Europe. Hockey aside, the importance in russia of the other sports you mention are just as popular there as they are here. We have our own olympic marksmen and bobsledders in the US, but I'm simply arguing that they are not as big a sport there as Tennis is. Don't believe me? Look at the last names of the top 100 male tennis players. A full THIRD are from eastern european countries, and another third from western europe. That's 2/3 of men's tennis champs from 10% of the world's population. Now tell me again there's no emphasis on Tennis in Europe.

"You know what climate they live in? Snow. 8 months of the year."Weather is irrelevant. I can name more indoor tennis courts here in Toronto than I can name outdoor tennis courts.

Lastly, I'll ask you why the world's top swimmers all hail from California? I know it's only 400 miles from Area 51, but do you suspect similar shenanigans?

Keven said...

PS - if there's a setting to allow comment editing in here, can you turn it on?

Dr.T said...

There is no chance 11 women could be in the top 100 in the same generation from the same city.

There is a 1 in 13 million probilility of any TENNIS PLAYER IN THE WORLD being number one.

11 unrelated women could not be born in Moscow in a 10 year period and fall into this category for the same reason that DNA evidence can be used in a criminal court to convict you of furniture theft; namely: IT IS NOT WITHIN THE REALM OF PROBABILITY TO HAPPEN.

You keep backing your arguments with "nurture" rationales that do not hold water scientifically.

There are no social, environmental or cultural explanations for this cluster. In science, you leave those arguments to the social scientists who nerver get anything done.

In science, when ten people in a watch factory get cancer of the tongue we look for an exposure -- and find radioactivity on their paintbrushes.

We don't explain away the impossible cluster of improbable events by citing their social circumstances.

These girls are the result of someone fiddling with their chromosomes. I'll bet you $100,000.00

jarrad said...

What would be the best way to prepare the sheep you have illustrated...... Oven or BBQ?

Dr.T said...

Eat it raw.

Dr.T said...

OR:

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
12 lamb chops
6 TBS fresh lemon juice
3 TBS chopped fresh rosemary,
3 medium cloves garlic pressed, ¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper


Directions:

Press garlic and let sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out its hidden health benefits.
Mix together lemon juice, rosemary, pressed garlic, salt and pepper. Rub lamb chops with mixture. Set aside on plate.
Preheat broiler on high heat, and place a stainless steel or cast iron skillet large enough to hold the lamb chops under the heat for about 10 minutes to get very hot (about 5-7 inches from the heat source). Be sure that the handle is also metal.
Once pan is hot, place lamb chops in pan, and return to broiler for about 4-5 minutes, depending on thickness of lamb. Lamb is cooked quickly as it is cooking on both sides at the same time. This is our Quick Broil cooking method.
Serves 4

Keven said...

C'mon. Only $100,000? I dont' get out of bed for anything less than $500,000

I think we're going in circles now - you ignoring my finer points (ie., world class swimmers coming from California).

Believe me when I tell you I consider myself as much a real scientist as there can be - I'll side with a neurologist over a psychologist any day, but until you can verifiably measure and quantify your claims (with verifiable stats), we remain in the realm of conjecture and frou frou science.

Saying that "they kinda look alike" is NOT SCIENCE.Note - there is a more logical explanation here, one which does not require frankenstein-like theories. Isn't a likelier explanation simply that they share the same dad's sperm? I doubt you could find out the truth, but if all the mothers underwent treatment to get pregnant, it would only take one doc to replace the real fathers' sperm with his own.

Dr.T said...

OMG--

Swimmers don't come from California, they move there and go to school there. And, anyway, California is a VAST state that cataclysmically dwarfs MOSCOW; Good grief, that's a finer point?

I'm not fudging anything--I have the FACT that 11 women of the top 100 coming from a 400 sq mile area of 6 million people is as impossible as hitting one on a thirteen million number roulette wheel ten times in a row. I told you the odds of making the top 100 tennis players is 13 million to one out of all tennis players.

Refute that. Tell me why the math is wrong, because that's all I base it on. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. You've given me NO FACTS. You make up NURTURE rationales that mean nothing.

We can't go in a circle until you address the basic argument that in a court of law these types of statistics are enough to put someone in the electric chair.

Tell me why the math is wrong.

Keven said...

Here's the first problem with you math, and in turn, your analogy to the roulette wheel:

"Approximately 1 in 13 million tennis players can expect to make the top 100 in professional tennis."Your basic premise is false, because you are assuming that 13 million tennis players have EQUAL odds of getting into the top 100. I am a tennis player, so does this mean my odds are equal to my twin brother who plays and trains 6 hours per day under the supervision of a world class coach?

Clearly, the odds are not the same, EVEN if we share the same DNA, therefore, nurture IS a factor in determining top 100 of any sport.

Keven said...

Assuming even that there was some tinkering, remember Occam's Razor, which is the other reason I'm having a hard time with the cloning argument.

Simpler explanations include:
1. Selective training
2. Selective breeding
3. Same father sperm donor (explained in an earlier comment)

-----------

You also indicated that your statistics are sufficient for putting someone to death can be done based on these probabilities; however, DNA evidence DOES come into play in these scenarios, which you currently do not possess. You are merely making a conjecture that they share the same DNA, which is a far cry from proving that they share the same DNA.

Show me the DNA test results being similar, and THEN I'll consider it.

Dr.T said...

My math is solid.

I live in a HOT BED of world tennis (South Florida) and have watched juniors from the acadamies of CHRIS EVERETT, HARRY HOPMAN, and NICK BOLLETERRI come from all over the world (Including Kournekova and Sharapopva) yet about one kid in every 5 years becomes a superstar FROM ALL THESE CAMPS COMBINED--no matter where they are from.

SO HOW DO 10 GIRLS FROM MOSCOW AND 20 GIRLS FROM THE SURROUNDING AREAS MAKE IT TO THE TOP 100 SIMULATANEOUSLY?

These pros tell ME "It's impossible."

Statistically? It's impossible.

In two weeks I am meeting with a world's SCIENTIFIC expert in genetics who has ofered to give to me his opinion ON MY DISCOVERY.

What do you think he's going to say:

This is chance?

This is the great Ruissian training system (born out of nowhere from nowhere and spectacularly successful immediately); or.,

It's cloning.

He's a scientist of the highest order. What will he say?

Will he say I'm an idiot or will he say I am right.

If he says I'm right, what next?