Hooray for the Scots!

Photo by Kevin Bidwell on Pexels.com

Most notable achievements involve multiple factors… What this suggests is that an individual, a people, or a nation may have some, many, or most of the prerequisites for a given achievement without having any real success in producing that achievement. And yet that individual, that people or that nation may suddenly burst upon the scene with spectacular success when whatever the missing factor or factors are finally get added to the mix.

Poor and backward nations that suddenly moved to the forefront of human achievements include Scotland…

Scotland was for centuries one of the poorest, most economically and educationally lagging nations on the outer fringes of European civilization. There was said to be no fourteenth-century Scottish baron who could write his name. And yet, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a disproportionate number of the leading intellectual figures in Britain were of Scottish ancestry — including James Watt in engineering, Adam Smith in economics, Dave Hume in philosophy, Joseph Black in chemistry, Sir Walter Scott in literature and John Stuart Mill in economics and philosophy.

Among the changes that had occurred among the Scots was their Protestant churches’ crusade promoting the idea that everyone should learn to read, so as to be able to read the Bible personally, rather than have priests tell them what it says and means. Another change was a more secular, but still fervent, crusade to learn the English language, which replaced their native Gaelic among the Scottish lowlanders, and thereby opened up far more fields of written knowledge to the Scots.

Thomas Sowell, Discrimination and Disparities, pp. 9 – 10
Here’s an image I found on the Internet that purports to show where the different clans live.

And now for two of the best clans …


19 thoughts on “Hooray for the Scots!

  1. Chris Schallert, Idea Engine

    Good old Sowell. Love his stuff.

    What am interesting concept, that all that is missing is a single key to open the house
    For how many, I wonder, is that the case? And for how many could that key be reading and knowledge of an academic language?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The thesis of the book is that the phenom where a tiny proportion of the population have most of the success in one area, is the norm and not the exception, because of this very problem of all factors needing to be present. Often the missing piece is literacy, scholarship, and good study habits. Another critical piece is the “want-to.” For example, fewer women go into the hard sciences and fewer men into the helping professions because they just don’t want to. Fewer women have an unbroken career in the marketplace because we prefer to dedicate those years to being moms.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Benjamin Ledford

    It’s remarkable how poor and undeveloped many western, developed nations were in the recent past. Sweden, Ireland, Canada, Australia… Even 100 years ago you would not have pegged those countries to become the prosperous, highly-developed societies they are today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope your tartan is better looking than mine. When I visited Rattray in 1996 I stopped at a tartan shop to inquire about a Rattray kilt. $500! No thanks. The full outfit you see in parades and such must cost thousands.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You VISITED Rattray? Wow! Now you MUST write a guest post!

        Maybe buying an authentic kilt on site is sort of like buying authentic Parmesan in the original valley where it was made. Super expensive because you are paying for the authenticity. I could be wrong, but I’ll bet you can get things printed with the appropriate tartan more affordably, even if they do not have the claim to being official.

        I’m away from my computer just now, but later today, I will try to find images of each of our tartans and add them to the end of this post.


  3. Benjamin Ledford

    I think we have some connection to the Alexanders on Dad’s side, though he said it was likely that our ancestors were lower-class people who perhaps worked for the Alexanders, rather than actually being members of the clan.


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