Practice [doesn't always] make perfect.

| No Comments

The optimist in me would like to believe the man (or woman) who puts in the hard work will ultimately achieve success. But in this New York Times article, one thing is clear - sometimes practice isn't a perfect predictor of future mastery of a subject or activity. As the article bluntly states, "Sometimes the story that science tells us isn't the story we want to hear." Which is more valuable practice or pure talent?


The inevitable confirmation bias presents itself again. As I mentioned before, I would like to believe that the person who works the hardest should perform the best. Therefore, if I were a scientist, I would have a hard time accepting this very fact. From my own personal observations, I've witnessed students who put in a tremendous amount of hours studying for a test only to receive lower scores than the brainiac who always gets the highest score without studying. How can this be? There is something inherently unfair about the individual who works harder, yet doesn't find the same success as someone naturally talented. I realize this is life, but for some reason it irks me.

Recently, we have been discussing intelligence in human world. And as we know, intelligence is just as difficult to define as it is to measure. Nevertheless, this articles touches on the unfortunate truth that some people are just smarter than others...and those that are "smarter" by today's standards, naturally tend to "earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work." And frankly, the article tells us, there really isn't much we can do to change it.

Yet on the other hand, recall that our book mentions Chris Langan. Even as the smartest man in the world, Langan still chooses to work as a bouncer at a bar rather than pursue something higher or more scholarly. Therefore, while a high level of intellectual ability gives you an enormous real-world advantage, it doesn't necessarily imply that you will win the Nobel Peace Prize.

This doesn't mean that we should just stop practicing and give up all hope - just that talent or genes may play a larger role than most people anticipated. I believe the original author sums it up best with: "Nor is it to say that it's impossible for a person with an average I.Q. to, say, earn a Ph.D. in physics. It's just unlikely, relatively speaking."

Here is an intriguing video that discusses the role of parenting with this dilemma:

allowscriptaccess="always" allownetworking="all" allowfullscreen="true"

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by schus193 published on November 20, 2011 11:50 PM.

Practice [doesn't always] make perfect. was the previous entry in this blog.

Practice [doesn't always] make perfect. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.