Do you need balls to play snooker? EDITED

ADDED: This post is in part a testimony to my bad memory. It turns out that Papineau does explicitly cite Davis, who appears below in the quote. See also comment three below.

I am a bit inclined to think this actually makes it worse. There in fact isn’t very good reason to think that Davis does understand the bottom line of his own motivation, still less that that understanding should be transferred to philosophy to explain a dearth of women. It is entirely possible, for example, that snooker involves employing and increasing 3 d geometrical understanding. It is actually very possible that that is quite pleasureable. It’s also the case that some of the enjoyment comes from the competition, which may transfer all too problematically to philosophy.

Please let us know what you think of these suggestions.

It turns out that that Papineau’s claim about snooker, and by analogy philosophy, being too trivial for women has some precedent:

It is the type of claim to drive the mildest mannered folk potty and send ripples across the smoothest of green baize surfaces. The fact it came from a master of the art only made it worse. The normally hushed reverence that surrounds the sport of snooker erupted into a fierce row last night after six-times world snooker champion Steve Davis said women lacked the “single-minded obsessive type of brain” to compete with men at the highest level of the sport.

Davis said he could not envisage a woman competing in the final stages of the World Snooker Championship, even though it is open to female players. He was backed by the world’s leading women snooker players last night, but Sally Gunnell, the Olympic 400-metre hurdles gold medallist, said it was not the case that women lacked single-minded determination to compete at the top flight of any sport.

Davis, who will be a BBC pundit in today’s World Championship final, told the BBC World Service’s Sports Hour: “The male of the species has got a single-minded, obsessional type of brain that I don’t think so many females have.”

Women lacked “that single-minded determination in something that must be said is a complete waste of time – trying to put snooker balls into pockets with a pointed stick”.

In fact, i would not especially want to join an all male competition like snooker because it is likely, I would have guessed, to have some of the worse faults of philosophy. Recently I’ve seen yet another case of refusing merit to justify discrimination. AKA, cheating, IMHO.

Or, dare I say it, borrowing someone’s words without any attribution. (This last crack is not about Papineau. Again, see comment three below.)

4 thoughts on “Do you need balls to play snooker? EDITED

  1. It doesn’t just “turn out” that Papineau’s claim has some precedent. Papineau’s article explicitly credits Steve Davis with the observation about snooker; that section of the article begins

    To take an analogy – which I hasten to add is limited – consider professional snooker. Even though women are eligible to compete as professionals, none is ranked in the top hundred. The six-times world champion, Steve Davis, has no doubt about the reason. It is not that women are incapable of the highest levels of skill. It is rather that as a group they are disinclined to devote obsessive effort to “something that must be said is a complete waste of time – trying to put snooker balls into pockets with a pointed stick”. As Davis sees it, “practising eight hours a day to get to world championship level” ranks high among the “stupid things to do with your life”.

    and so actually quotes (again, with explicit attribution) some of the lines from Davis quoted in the Independent story.

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