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posted by azrael on Saturday July 05 2014, @09:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the innate-excellence dept.

The deliberate practice model (DPM) of expertise holds that talent does not exist or makes a negligible contribution to performance, and that initial performance will be unrelated to achieving expertise and that 10 years of deliberate practice is necessary. A study looked at the performance of sprinters before formal training to see whether the model applied and found that in almost all cases, world class sprinters were exceptional already before any training.

Our studies are the first to systematically show that: (1) a strong predictor, probably a precondition, for elite sprinting performance is exceptional speed prior to formal training, (2) this exceptional ability is at least partly specific to sprinting, and (3) many elite sprinters reach world class status in far less than 10 years, although they usually make modest improvements even after that.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bradley13 on Saturday July 05 2014, @09:27AM

    by bradley13 (3053) on Saturday July 05 2014, @09:27AM (#64477) Homepage Journal

    This "deliberate practice model" sounds more like "deliberate denial of reality".

    Anyone who pays attention has noted that some people have natural talents: music, athletics, mathematics, whatever. I could practice music as much as I like, I will never be better than mediocre. Same for any sort of endurance sport. That's life...

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Runaway1956 on Saturday July 05 2014, @09:40AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 05 2014, @09:40AM (#64481) Journal

      No, they're not kidding at all. For decades now, we've heard one study after another claiming that there is no difference between boys and girls - yet, females who compete in traditional boy's sports suffer injuries far more frequently than boys. And, girls are still born with nearly perfect color vision, while boys are often color impaired.

      Likewise, any differences in humans based on ethnicity, culture, or race is dismissed as imaginary. We're all supposed to be the same - yet black athletes dominate some sports, and white athletes dominate others.

      I'm pretty sure that these "researchers" were trying to justify some progressive viewpoint.

      --
      ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
      • (Score: 2) by tathra on Saturday July 05 2014, @07:46PM

        by tathra (3367) on Saturday July 05 2014, @07:46PM (#64614)

        For decades now, we've heard one study after another claiming that there is no difference between boys and girls
        ...
        Likewise, any differences in humans based on ethnicity, culture, or race is dismissed as imaginary.

        both of these are because both sexism and racism are still very much alive in today's world. if they ever end, only then will we be able to actually discuss the differences between genders and races, but this kind of overcorrection is only occurring because some people see any difference as an excuse to say that race/gender is inferior (and in the case of race, that they should be slaves/confined to zoos/killed off entirely), as some kind of sick justification for oppression.

        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday July 06 2014, @05:07AM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 06 2014, @05:07AM (#64738) Journal

          Tathra - sexism doesn't cause the injuries that females experience when they try to compete with the boys on the boy's terms. Sexism hasn't prevented any women from passing the USMC's infantry officer advanced training courses.

          THERE ARE PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN. Those physical differences enable women to do things that almost no man can do, and at the same time prevent women from doing other things that men can do.

          We can go into any town in the world, and find females from infant age to pretty advanced ages who can do a perfect split - one leg out to either side, while sitting upright on the floor. How many males can do that?

          Women are built differently, they respond to the environment differently, the react to stimuli differently - and they suffer when they attempt to compete with the boys. It's really that simple. You may CALL it sexism, or anything you like to call it, but you will never change those physical differences.

          --
          ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
          • (Score: 2) by tathra on Sunday July 06 2014, @08:06AM

            by tathra (3367) on Sunday July 06 2014, @08:06AM (#64771)

            read my post again, i know there are differences, i never said that there werent. i said that the constant claiming that there arent are an overreaction to the sexism that is still very much alive in the world today.

            • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday July 06 2014, @11:40AM

              by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 06 2014, @11:40AM (#64815) Journal

              My apologies - I guess that I didn't actually read what you posted. Instead, I must have filled in parts that I EXPECTED to see, from past discussions and arguments on other forums.

              Specifically, I failed to understand "overcorrection is only occurring because some people see any difference as an excuse to say that race/gender is inferior". Denial of differences is most definitely an "overcorrection".

              Like most people, I tend to think of myself as a near-perfect example of humanity. I've looked at others, and felt kinda sorry for them, that they didn't enjoy all of my advantages. But then - there are two ethnic or race groups that I kinda envy. They have definite advantages over my own "group". One being south Pacific islanders, including a tribe from the Philipines. Big, huge, soft looking people - but extremely strong, fast moving, and tireless. They can beat me in any physical contest, without ever breaking a sweat. I know, because my squad leader did it time and time again! And, he was the runt of his family!

              Then, there are the Apache. An Apache who is required to get physicals (such as truck driver's DOT required annual physicals) always go home to their family physicians. Doctors who don't know the Apache always get excited when they check pulse and respiration - they think the guy is about to drop dead on the examining table.

              There are so many other differences - usually less dramatic than those two - that make us unique. Not better, but different, and unique. I value those differences. One day, an epidemic may wipe out huge segments of the human population - but some of those who are different may survive BECAUSE they are different. No one can say yes, or no to that. But, it is safe to say that those differences increase our odds in case of a catastrophe!

              --
              ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by umafuckitt on Saturday July 05 2014, @10:36AM

      by umafuckitt (20) on Saturday July 05 2014, @10:36AM (#64491)

      I think, as usual, the truth is somewhere in between and some skills will respond better to practice than others. The practice idea came to the fore with Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule. The idea being that it takes that many hours to become an expert at something. Naturally, others have come forward to debunk [msu.edu] the notion. IIRC, there's a team of psychologists in Florida from who the 10,000 hour idea originated.

      Whilst I don't believe practice is everything, I do believe practice can often go an long way. e.g. within a particular field, someone with less innate skill can make up for this with more practice/work. Also, starting early in childhood matters for becoming outstanding in many fields. There is also emphasis on the correct sort of practice. In particular, learners often experience plateaus, which are epochs during which practice doesn't lead to improved performance. Coupled with the resulting de-motivation, performance can actually regress during a plateau epoch. Many learners give up when they hit a plateau, believing that they they lack innate skill. However, it has been shown that plateaus can be over-come by altering practice strategies and identifying performance bottlenecks. So, really, becoming an expert often boils down to the right practice strategy, motivation, and dedication. You may not become "the best" this way, but you can likely become much better than you might think. It's common sense, really. Moonwalking with Einstein [amazon.com] is a fun little book that showcases these ideas. In it, journalist Joshua Foer attempts to become a memorisation champion in (IIRC) a year. He starts from zero, explains the techniques, and describes his progress. It's an interesting glimpse into the process of learning a--what turns out to be--useless skill.

      • (Score: 2) by AnonTechie on Saturday July 05 2014, @12:20PM

        by AnonTechie (2275) on Saturday July 05 2014, @12:20PM (#64507) Journal

        I concur with most of what you say. In fact, I too wanted to highlight "Moonwalking with Einstein" as an example. There was a documentary series on the BBC regarding this. Also, Following Joshua Foer to the USA Memory Championship ( http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/01/following-joshua-foer-to-the-usa-memory-championship.html [thedailybeast.com] ) was an interesting read. Another aspect, that some of the commentators allude to, are the physical traits. Even if one had 20,000 hours of practice, I doubt that a 150 cm (5 feet) tall male could be competitive in professional basketball (for example).

        --
        Albert Einstein - "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @08:07PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @08:07PM (#64623)

          I think Muggsy Bogues [wikipedia.org] might be a bit insulted, he wasn't quite 5' flat but at 5'3" he still managed to be world class player.

      • (Score: 1) by steveha on Sunday July 06 2014, @07:22AM

        by steveha (4100) on Sunday July 06 2014, @07:22AM (#64763)

        The "deliberate practice" guys don't claim it applies to absolutely every endeavor. They claim that "experts" are usually people with lots of experience, but when was the last time you heard a world-class sprinter called an "expert" sprinter? "Gifted" maybe, "expert" not so much.

        Wikipedia has a quote from K. Anders Ericsson, the psychologist from Florida: "Only a few exceptions, most notably height, are genetically prescribed." I think he would be willing to class the sprinters thing as being among the exceptions.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Practice_(learning_method)#Deliberate_practice [wikipedia.org]

        Also, I don't think anyone would deny that every task has a minimum intelligence level associated with it, and some set the bar higher than others. If you don't have enough intelligence to remember what 3+4 is, you will never be a world-class brain surgeon, no matter how many hours you put in.

        I can usually remember what 3+4 is, after I have had my coffee. Haven't put in any hours on brain surgery though.

        P.S. I remember I once heard a traffic cop talking. He said that traffic cops can eyeball vehicles and judge how fast they are going. "It's about like anything else," he said; "you practice it and you can learn it." There is a tight feedback loop: look at a vehicle, judge how fast, then measure with the radar gun. Repeat. After a few thousand repetitions you probably would have learned a new skill.

        After running a 100 metre dash a few thousand times, you are probably an expert at it. Doesn't mean you will be the fastest though.

        I wonder if those "weight guessers" at carnivals (people who bet that they can identify the weight, height, and/or age of anyone in the crowd) are simply people who have practiced the skill a lot.

    • (Score: 2) by TGV on Saturday July 05 2014, @02:07PM

      by TGV (2838) on Saturday July 05 2014, @02:07PM (#64526)

      I'm afraid hordes of business coaches and manager training gurus out there believe in DPM. Just D2G for it, and you'll be in for a shock: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=the+deliberate+practice+model [duckduckgo.com]

      But yes, it is delusional. If you're born without legs, you'll never run. While I think that most talent is indeed a matter of practice, exceptional talent is rare in any area, and not for lack of trying. Hundreds of thousands of children in my country alone play football (soccer), day after day, yet stay mediocre. It's not just running. Children have at least 10 years of education by the time they become 16. Shall we do a test to see how much talent they have for spelling or arithmetic?

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday July 05 2014, @12:11PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Saturday July 05 2014, @12:11PM (#64502) Journal

    I guess the reason to publish this result here is that it may relate to nerdish issues. But physical sports training may not necessarily apply to intellectual performances. The 10 000 hour rule seems more likely.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @12:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @12:20PM (#64506)

      10,000 hour rule? I've watched at least 10,000 hours of porn and still can't do it like they do.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @02:03PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @02:03PM (#64525)
        Do 10,000 hours of porn and then we'll talk, albeit from a distance and while I'm wearing a hazmat suit.
      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday July 05 2014, @02:36PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday July 05 2014, @02:36PM (#64535) Journal

        Yeah, and there are lots of people who watched 10,000 hours of football, and yet didn't become world class football players.

        Also the health effects of sports are clearly overrated: Lots of people watch sports every week, and yet they still get fat!

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @01:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @01:02PM (#64514)
      10000 hours ain't going to get a dog to do thinking tasks at a high level.

      Practice helps but you need the base ability. And the base is different for different people.

      There are many lower rank chess players that practice a lot but they still can't beat the #1.
    • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Monday July 07 2014, @01:36PM

      by lhsi (711) on Monday July 07 2014, @01:36PM (#65215) Journal

      I found another study after I had submitted this one that suggests that it applies to more than just sprinters:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702111033.htm [sciencedaily.com]

      The above study was a meta-analysis whereas the one in this story was research into a specific area.

      Nearly all of the studies showed a positive relationship between practice and performance: The more people reported having practice, the higher their level of performance in their specific domain.

      Overall, practice accounted for only about 12% of individual differences observed in performance across the various domains.

      However, the domain itself seemed to make a difference. Practice accounted for about 26% of individual differences in performance for games, about 21% of individual differences in music, and about 18% of individual differences in sports. But it only accounted for about 4% of individual differences in education and less than 1% of individual differences in performance in professions.

      Furthermore, the findings showed that the effect of practice on performance was weaker when practice and performance were measured in more precise ways, such as using practice time logs and standardized measures of performance.

      "There is no doubt that deliberate practice is important, from both a statistical and a theoretical perspective. It is just less important than has been argued," says Macnamara. "For scientists, the important question now is, what else matters?"

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @01:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05 2014, @01:11PM (#64515)

    You commented before that you run a lab. What kind of lab do you run? I am curious because you're are a prolific submitter (laudable as the queue here is not exactly jam-packed), and your stories have a certain common theme.

    • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Saturday July 05 2014, @10:02PM

      by lhsi (711) on Saturday July 05 2014, @10:02PM (#64645) Journal

      I don't run a lab. I browse a couple of science based sites and post things that sound interesting (usually on my phone).

  • (Score: 1) by el_isma on Monday July 07 2014, @01:34AM

    by el_isma (1819) on Monday July 07 2014, @01:34AM (#65037)

    We aren't talking about software development, right? (it took me a while to realize that)