Re: Practice Makes Perfect

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Fri Jun 07 1996 - 22:24:18 BST

> From: "Chalmers Jennifer" <>
> Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 10:09:56 GMT
> The term giftedness can be applied to those individuals who reach
> high levels of attainment in the absence of any deliberate effort to
> acquire it.

We've all seen examples of seeemingly talented people who did not seem
to do much with their talent; but are there really examples of people
who have EXCELLED without effort? Do our romantic ideas about gifts all
come from losers who seem talented but have not done much with it?

> As this only applies to the minority of individuals the
> general belief is that it is some pre-formed ability which enables
> the individual to excel in his particular field of expertise. This
> traditional view is not consistent with research findings. There is
> no firm evidence that giftedness is a biological phenomena.
> Substantial evidence supports the claim that deliberate practice is
> more likely a determining factor of ability rather than some
> biological attribute.

Of ability or of achievement? Ericsson and Sloboda and others are
suggesting that a threshold amount of ability is there in all of us; the
ability differences are trivial compared to the real factor: How much we
actually work in developing those abilities into actual skills and

> There is a strong correlation between levels
> of achievement and hours of practice and these apply to all skills
> such as sport, chess and music. It is suggested that merely telling a
> child that it possess a special gift may facilitate achievement
> through motivation, strong parental interest and opportunity to learn
> even if the gift is factually incorrect.
> It is possible that some individuals practice more than others
> because they possess some kind of innate potential that encourages
> them to do so. Therefore rather than possessing an innate gift
> individuals have a number of contributing factors such as motivation,
> competitiveness and self confidence which together with opportunity
> to practice enables them to acquire skills which facilitate learning.
> This theory is consistent with explanations for exceptional abilities
> performed by autistic savants whose abilities are accompanied by
> obsessive interest and very high degrees of practice.

Good reply. To push it over the top, relate it to Pasteur or algorithms.

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