Chunking and Effortful Study (part deux)

Just wanted to point out that the Gladwell article Stephen recommended (which is really, really good!) had some similar points to make regarding genius, namely that geniuses ‘see’ the whole playing field – so to speak – and are already foreseeing the results of their actions. They weigh them subconsciously and act on the best one with barely a second’s thought. Additionally, the surgeon mentioned in the article, Charlie Wilson, learned how to do a very difficult procedure (transphenoidal surgery) because he 1) became determined to do it, 2) studied from the very best, and 3) practiced it until he knew it!

Gladwell goes on to point out that the physical ability is necessary, but that it’s secondary to the drive to make it happen and do it right.

Another exciting piece was that the ability to recognize your mistakes and learn from them is critical (duh, right?!). But it’s amazing how few there are out there who take that one to heart!

This piece from the above article is really good:

“When psychologists study people who are expert at motor tasks, they find that almost all of them use their imaginations in a very particular and sophisticated way. Jack Nicklaus, for instance, has said that he has never taken a swing that he didn’t first mentally rehearse, frame by frame. Yo-Yo Ma told me that he remembers riding on a bus, at the age of seven, and solving a difficult musical problem by visualizing himself playing the piece on the cello.”

It makes me think of (and Stephen will especially appreciate this) my early artistic career. I think I can successfully pin the poor proportions of my drawings of people on the fact that I really cannot visualize what I’m going to draw in advance. The especially funny thing about this (to me, at least) is that when it comes to math diagrams, graphs, etc. (even 3-D sketches) I do really well. It just has to do with what one can ‘see’ and sort of wrap one’s mind around.
Very cool stuff! In fact, the more I read of the article, the more I liked it.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Stephen!!!


6 Responses to “Chunking and Effortful Study (part deux)”

  1. repercussio Says:

    Supposedly Einstein was so good at what he did because he was actually *not* very strong (relatively, no pun intended) in math, so he had to rely on visualization of the concepts.

  2. it’s an interesting dichotomy – some of the worst science out there (we’re talking old-school, here) was due to relying too heavily on visualizing as opposed to knowledge. And yet some of the greatest leaps came from the same source.

  3. Stephen Says:

    Example of “some of the worst science out there” due to heavy visualization?

    Do you mean (misled) intuitive “science” like the belief that flies spontaneously generated from filth?

  4. responding to Stephen – yeah, right.

    A couple more examples that come to mind:
    1) Color comes from different combinations of white and black (hence, you get see a rainbow every time you look at a white/black border through a prism) – I think this is attributable to Goethe, but Newton got to the bottom of it.

    2) Well, the second one is eluding me, but I think Humphry Davy had a pet theory that was later proved wrong by Michael Faraday (in Pete’s book, (Five Equations That Changed the World). Have to read it again to check that out.

  5. repercussio Says:

    Goethe, in addition to being a lot of things (botanist among them), was also one the most set poets by lieder composers of Germany in the 19th century.

    The point for me is that no matter what the idea, as long as someone is willing to submit it to review, then the truth will works its way out.

  6. Never meant to suggest otherwise (ideas should definitely be shared) – but in some cases, as with that piece on Humphry Davy that I can’t quite pin down – people aren’t willing to give up a favored idea. He actually undermined Faraday for challenging him.

    Ideas are good – the blind adherance to them because a respected guy dreamed them up is not.

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