Re: Practice Makes Perfect

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Wed May 29 1996 - 21:17:35 BST

> From: "Chan Dorothy" <>
> Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 12:38:31 GMT
> People are born to be the same.

Are they? Same size? Same build? Same speed?

> Obviously, there are different
> capacities that some of us possess but the others, and these help to
> shape us into different eventual patterns of abilities. Evidence
> (Ericsson 1993) had been found which indicated that training and
> practice can have their effects on people who initially thought to
> be "non-gifted" individuals.

Rather, when you look closely at what eventually led to the success of
"gifted" individuals, it seems to be largely because of the long
intensive practice they have done through a critical period, rather than
because of their gifts, which may simply have been a minor initial
flair, or something mistaken as such by their parents (who then fostered
or forced the practice!).

> Although, there are also evidence
> suggested that some children may be biologically predisposed to
> certain expertise however, these may be the consequences of some
> external factors, i.e. due to the fact that some parents or teachers
> may "assume" that a particular child may possess some innate
> abilities in certain field, then he or she will be more likely to
> have more opportunities in that particular field and this may
> actually promote the special capacity that that child may have.

They are more likely to infer it than assume it, but infer it from
something minor or accidental, like a little bit of a head-start in
ability over age-mates, or a greater preference for doing some things at
a certain age.

> One
> may argue that practice may be able to help in technical expertise
> but it will not settle the differences in creative kinds of
> performance.

What IS the difference?

> However, this does not necessarily mean "innate" or
> "gifted" abilities, but they are just different perception in
> expressivity of any kind.

Not clear what that sentence meant.

> It is right to say some individuals are
> more likely to have a better success in practicing certain expertise
> but different people have different attitudes towards practicing,
> self-motivated or appreciation is also needed to be taken into
> account when defining whether a child is possessed with in-born
> talented abilities.

Yes, motivation, and energy, and perseverence are all potentially part
of the special "ability." But the point Ericsson makes is that most of
the action, most of the variance, most of the real causal source of
exceptional achievements is in the practice and not in the proficiency.

Is this true?

And what about the relation of this to Pasteur's dictum about "chance"
and "preparation"?

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