Sunday, March 21, 2010

Latent talent abundance

From NY Times review How to Be Brilliant (via 3quarksdaily) of The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong by David Shenk:
"Shenk doesn’t neglect the take-home point we’re all waiting for, even titling a chapter “How to Be a Genius (or Merely Great).” The answer has less in common with the bromides of motivational speakers than with the old saw about how to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. .............
It’s in this self-help section that two weaknesses in Shenk’s argument become evident. The first is the matter of where the extreme drive and discipline that greatness requires are supposed to come from. .......

Shenk is also evasive about just what restrictions individual biology places on achievement. He is careful to say that we are not born without limits — it’s just that none of us can know what those limits are “before we’ve applied enormous re­sources and invested vast amounts of time.” He ducks the implication that these limits will, eventually, reveal themselves, and that they will stop most of us well short of Mozart territory. "
I think that the first point is valid but am not too sure of the second. We may fall short of Mozart territory but every bit contributes, provides diversity and finally gives the individual satisfaction or whatever of striving and doing. The point is that we do not know our limitations. Of course, meanwhile there is a simple problem of making a living.

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