An Observation on Kyrie Irving
Do extreme athletic traits correlate with extreme psychological traits?
Kyrie Irving, an all-star NBA player currently on the Brooklyn Nets, has a truly strange mix of physical and psychological traits. He recently made headlines by retweeting a link to a documentary “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” that is full of anti-semitic tropes and other flagrantly false and ridiculous ideas.
“The Movie "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel by proving the true ethnicity of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Sons of Ham, Shem & Japheth. Find out what Islam, Judaism and Christianity has covered up for centuries in regards to the true biblical identity of the so-called "Negro" in this movie packed with tons of research.”
Tons of research!!!
Here is the Amazon description of the book on which the documentary is based.
The book "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" touches on subjects too controversial for most authors to reveal to the people. This book will expose the truths that have been hidden by the powers that be in America. Since the European and Arab slave traders stepped foot into Africa, blacks have been told lies about their heritage. This was all by Satan's design for he is the father of lies. There is an old stereotypical expression that says "If you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book." Well, this is THE BOOK that ALL Black people must read! Since biblical times, there has been a satanic agenda to destroy God's Chosen People. This agenda still exists today and is carried on by man in many forms. Satan knows who God's Chosen People are, but for centuries we have been blind to this knowledge even though it's been right in front of our face. After many years of research, the time has finally come for ALL Black people to know the truth. Inside Hebrews To Negroes you will find the answers to all the burning questions you have wanted ask your parents, teachers and pastors for years. It has been said that the mind has a strong drive to correct itself over a period of time if it can touch some substantial ORIGINAL historical base about itself. This time period is ending and the truth is being exposed!
So there’s that—a crazy thing to believe/support for sure but maybe it’s just a one-off. Au contraire my friend, we are just getting started.
Kyrie Irving also famously refused to get vaccinated causing him to get suspended and forfeit over 11 million dollars. Refusing vaccination is one thing—he’s in good company with ~ 30% of Americans—but doing so even when the penalty is millions of dollars is quite another (his net worth is purportedly 90 million, but still 11 million ain’t chump change). By September 2021, 95% of NBA players were vaccinated so he's definitely an outlier here even amongst his peers.
There’s also the whole flat earth thing. From a 2017 podcast:
“This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat. It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us. What I’ve been taught is that the earth is round, but if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move and the fact that, can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets aligned, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these planets… Because, everything that they send—or that they want to say they’re sending—doesn’t come back,” Irving explained. “There is no concrete information except for the information that they’re giving us. They’re particularly putting you in the direction of what to believe and what not to believe. The truth is right there, you just got to go searching for it”
You’ll be shocked to know that he has also questioned the moon landing:
“You tell me who filmed, I’m asking you like this. Do you know they filmed the actual spacecraft leaving from the moon, right? Who the hell is filming that? You tell me… Also, I have a question. Why is it that the footprints that they saved, because they collected the footprints…. What’s his name? Was it Neil Armstrong? I don’t even know. Literally, as simple as this: Why is it that the the steps – in terms of the pictures that they say he stepped on – why do they look completely different than the ones that are actually in the museum that he walked with? I just want to know. I just want to know these things. I have questions. I just want to know what actually happened? I don’t know. I don’t know, either. I just want to know. I just want to know.”
Kyrie is the quintessential “Just Asking Questions Here” guy.
He has also questioned the existence of dinosaurs and says things like: “I’m not eating a whole bunch of animals anymore. Once you become awake, you don’t see that stuff anymore.”
You get the idea. And why does anyone care what he has to say? Because he is one of the most talented ball-handlers and finishers (scoring on acrobatic shots close to the rim) of all time.
Not that he’s the greatest player of all time or anything (he’s not a great passer, defender, or teammate—he’s a weird guy to play with as you might imagine), but in terms of raw offensive skill there has really never been anyone like him. Kyrie really is a Newton/Einstein/Von Neumann-level genius when it comes to balance, coordination, and flexibility—his ability to instantaneously contort his body into whatever position is required is basically unparalleled.
It would seem the same applies to his mind as well. I don’t know what you call this athletic trait, coordination comes the closest maybe but it’s more than that, sort of like coordination + improvisation—let’s just call it contortability for lack of a better term. Actually finesse might be a better term for what I’m talking about (with the caveat that this isn’t the finesse of a ballerina memorizing a routine, but more like a freestyle hip-hop dancer), but I’m writing this sentence after after having written everything below and I’m too lazy to rewrite it :)
So my hypothesis is that contortability of body correlates with contortability of mind—a trait that’s something like cognitive flexibility/openness of belief (it should also be noted that Kyrie doesn’t seem to have any other mental issues like depression or schizophrenia as far as we know).
I’m not going to act like I did a super deep dive here, but from what I can tell this is fairly novel idea (not to pat myself on the back like this was some brilliant insight or anything) and there is not much research on the correlation between athletic traits and psychological traits in general. Most of the work seems to be focused on the Big 5 personality traits (extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness) and athletic achievement. The closest personality trait to mental contortability (again, for lack of a better term—I’m sure there is some fancy psychological construct that captures what I’m getting at) is “openness” but this is typically framed as “openness to experience” which doesn’t feel like the exact same thing as “openness to belief”. That being said, research does show that champion athletes do score higher on openness (1, 2, 3), however these studies look at a wide range of sports, some of which (track & field) require nothing like physical contortability. Furthermore, even for sports that do require high amounts of physical contortability (basketball, soccer) you can be very successful without necessarily being very high in this characteristic compared to your peers (you are a set apart by exceptional size, speed, strength, etc.).
Elite athletes do appear to be more superstitious than non-elite athletes (1) but I don’t know if that captures mental contortability either (Kyrie is known to be superstitious but maybe not especially so compared to other athletes); in some ways superstitious thinking is the opposite of contortability, a kind of rigidity of belief (I wore these socks once and had a great game so I am going to wear them for every game for the rest of my life).
Anecdotally, it feels like there are a good amount of athletes which believe in conspiracy theories, but I don’t know if they are exceptional compared to the general populace. As one example, Terrence Ross, another NBA player who is a good ball-handler/scorer and would score pretty high on physical contortability (and therefore is in the 0.000001% of people on this trait), has also espoused some let’s say eccentric views in regards to Reptilians, Anunnaki, George Soros, BLM, Aliens, AI, and the Bloodlines.
Open questions/recommendations for future research:
Basketball players and soccer players who are good at ball-handling/dribbling would score highest on physical contortability/finesse. Do they tend to have stranger beliefs/more openness to belief compared to other athletes with lower contortability (e.g. defenders)?
The relationship between psychological traits and physical traits could yield some interesting results if conducted on a much more fine-grained level—we need to go beyond the Big 5 personality traits and level of athletic achievement.
Do certain kinds of athletic training change your psychological traits? Does training as something like a pole-vaulter or golfer (one repetitive task) make you less cognitively flexible?
As if Kyrie and his beliefs were not strange enough, I shit-you-not the idea for this post came to me in a dream. I was talking about Kyrie and his craziness last night with some friends so it was definitely fresh in my mind, but I don’t think we touched on anything like this. I don’t remember exactly what the dream was about but at one point I had a dream-thought like “huh it’s weird that Kyrie has such extreme physical and psychological traits, I wonder if there’s a connection” and now here we are. No doubt this will end up in the annals of scientific history as one of those famous dream hypotheses like Kekulé and his ouroboros dream.
The new understanding of benzene, and hence of all aromatic compounds, proved to be so important for both pure and applied chemistry after 1865 that in 1890 the German Chemical Society organized an elaborate appreciation in Kekulé's honor, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first benzene paper. Here Kekulé spoke of the creation of the theory. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (this is an ancient symbol known as the ouroboros). This is likely an example of the exercise of a particular imaginative state, involving homospatial and janusian processes, followed by stepwise logical thinking. (wikipedia)
Edit—comment from a reader (shared anonymously for obvious reasons):
I live with a high-performing athlete and she is indeed an inverate conspiracy theorist. From your standard chemtrails, antivax, etc,. to your less standard breatharianism, light-beings and niche concerns over German nationalism. It's truly a wild ride to live with her. Further anecdotal evidence for your theory!