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Does Talent really exist?

I have found an interesting article on the idea of talent. I had always wondered what "talent" really meant biologically -- was there some extra hormone these talented people had that "mortals" did not? Personally, I have always been skeptical of it, and have suspected there are better, less ambiguous explanations for extraordinarily high levels of achievement. Anyway, it suggests that we use superficial indicators -- such as keeping a ball up in soccer to represent "potential" or "talent," and it is this notion that often causes them to be successful by encouraging training. A "prodigy" for example may just be a 5 year old that loves chess, but this may get his parents excited and give him a coach right away to "take advantage"; "not waste this gift"; meanwhile more normal kids would not get this kind of attention, and so would have less access to ideal training. In this way it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as the article states: it may be more of the motivation to take advantage of the so called "talent" than the supposed indicators of it themselves that creates extreme success.

And "ideal training" is what the author seems to believe is really what makes you good. It's a lot of practice, but it often focuses on practicing aspects of the skill you want to learn (e.g., endgames in chess) in which you are not strongest in, rather than constantly repeating what you can do pretty well, as you don't learn and grow as much in this way.

http://neuroanthropology.net/2009/05/20/talent-a-difference-that-makes-a-difference/

What do you think?

Comments


  • 3 years ago

    Jacob30

    I have nothing against Zimbabwe nor chess and he did too state that men were born unequal. Don't give excuses for his absolute mistake, and let him answer in his own defense. If you are going to take this up like this and choose sides it's only fair for one of you to do the same for me. Otherwise this entire discuussion is none of your business. Have a nice day.

  • 3 years ago

    forrie

    @Jacob30, my friend, please read the post of Elubas again. Elubas did not mean men are born unequal in terms of human rights. Human rights (and that liberty-whatwhatwhat stuff) has nothing to do with chess capabilities.

    Elubas meant we are not born equal in terms of inherent intellectual, emotional etc capabilities (just like we dont have the same noses, hair or eyes)

    ;-)

     

    (on second thoughts: actually chess have always been a thriving sport in many countries where human rights were oppressed - I am so surprised about the quality of players from Zimbabwe - I met one player who work at a gas/filling station as an attendent here in South Africa but has almost a 2000 rating on the tournament database...I lost against him in a tournament and since started to follow his chess...)

  • 3 years ago

    Jacob30

    Too tired to focus on everything in these posts. One sticks out. All people are not created equal? There goes our constitution. Something not meant to be refuted. The constitution says that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Go back and read it will do you some good. My mom is more versed than you are. She is looking these things up. And you should too before you go shooting your fingers off.

  • 3 years ago

    Elubas

    Good post, forrie. Humans of course are never born completely equal -- people are different. But I think someone who is basically an average guy, but has a passion for chess and is willing to do anything to improve, can become as high as the world champion. It takes extreme dedication, but it's possible. That doesn't mean probable -- it's still a one in a billion shot.

    Pattern recognition, and the deep understanding and familiarity with those patterns is what makes you great at chess -- that's why normal guys like IM David Pruess could beat Einstein, who was only an amateur. Imagine -- Einstein would look clueless compared to him! Whoever finds the way to get the most patterns well understood into their head is going to become the chess genius. I think a lot of that is based on passion, and a willingness to look at your flaws. You can't just play ten-thousand games, or look at a thousand books. You have to continue to revise your play by, day by day, getting rid of the problems in your game. If you don't track down and exterminate the problems in your game, you won't improve no matter how many libraries you have.

    The above is all my opinion, of course.

  • 3 years ago

    forrie

    I dont think it is about talent and it is not about hard work either.You can work hard on some aspects but it wont improve you over the long term.

    It is about focus. Yes, focus.  Focus means you work on every aspect with a fixed goal and aim and you would do anything do get there. If you must learn 100 000 chess positions, no problem; if you must memorize openings 20 moves deep, no problem; if you must learn 10 000 endgames positions, bring it on.

    Is it hard work? Never. If you think about it as hard work then you would never be the best. It must be an integral part of your life - it is actually a huge huge sacrifice. It might look like hard work (or obsession) to other people but for the champion it is just like eating and drinking.

    Maybe Fischer had talent, but chess was also the only thing he thought about.

    Personaly I think this is exactly why men are better in chess, not because of more talent (or intelligence) than women, but because we can only do one thing at a time and focus more.

    Soooo......if you are an amateur (especially if you have a 8 to 5 job, and maybe kids and a business) you can forget ever to be in that league....ha ha and you are probably too late in your life even to make an attempt to reach the stars....

    But I must say, one must always try to improve for you own amusement. I was really stuck with my chess and after starting exercise tactics really improved.....but still, it is more for my own amusement...and hopefully I can give some guidance to my students (kids) on improving their chess - better than I ever had when I was a kid. I was just allowed to buy a chess book for birthday or Christmas - actually my first book was MCO when I was 15 and that surely learned me alot about openings although I had a hard time figuring out why certain moves were better than other! Luckily I joined a nearby club when I was 16. But it was always amusing for me (at the club) that some middle-aged men were just happay to be stuck at the same low rating for decades. But now, I also does not have a much higher rating than at school....and it was more than a decade ago....so maybe I now understand....Luckily I am able to buy chess books now not only for birthdays...but where do get the time to study......I hope that I will be able to improve a bit further....but where do one end? Luckily you can play chess your whole live....

  • 3 years ago

    FilipinoChess

    If you love to play chess in endless hours , 24/7 then you have the talent! LOL. Smile

  • 4 years ago

    Elubas

    Don't mind demetrios, everyone. The boy is just a little upset that I don't think a class player is capable of consistently beating grandmasters. Let him live in his sad, disturbed world.

  • 4 years ago

    diogens

    I think there is a natural talent, an chess-IQ. The main characteristic is spatial pattern recognition. Some people see the board and pieces as a whole while others look at it as a Gruyere cheese, full of holes an black spots.

    Of course training is essencial and without hard work, success is impossible. But natural talent exists.

  • 4 years ago

    RainbowRising

    True, but here we are talking of developing ones skills, not how hard you do the same tasks over and over.

  • 4 years ago

    3cardmonte

    And "ideal training" is what the author seems to believe is really what makes you good. It's a lot of practice, but it often focuses on practicing aspects of the skill you want to learn (e.g., endgames in chess) in which you are not strongest in, rather than constantly repeating what you can do pretty well, as you don't learn and grow as much in this way.

    Exactly...

    Success is proportional to hard work.

    Not always, a great number of people in the developed world are worked to death, or well, at least retirement, and yet success evades the majority of the them.

  • 4 years ago

    RainbowRising

    Success is proportional to hard work.

  • 4 years ago

    Jacob30

    You did not mention anything about sound in your first mentioning of the story of the tree.

  • 4 years ago

    __vxD_mAte

    The point is that if there was a sound then either there doesn't have to be an observer for the sound to exist or there does. So the question shows how we can define a sound to be that which we observe, not the physical forces involved in the waves of force travelling through the air. If nobody hears a sound, then it isn't a sound and didn't exist, another example of the bubble that the mind inhabits, thinking out of the box or is this all within the box ... here is another example 

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/is-consciousness-the-cent_b_645069.html

    If you think about the bad metaphor of the machine with no conciousness, does the machine really have talent? Perhaps talent is a quality of conciousness exclusively or is talent a myth disproven by the machines calculation, or is the machine simply a simulation built by a science. 

    I think answering whether every so-called talent could be a science is difficult, since natural ability is always useful in the study of anything. 

  • 4 years ago

    Jacob30

    I'm not sure what difference it makes if the story was philosophical or not.

  • 4 years ago

    Jpatrick

    Genius does what it must; talent does what it can.

  • 4 years ago

    __vxD_mAte

    Ok so was the "story" a philosophical question ?

  • 4 years ago

    Jacob30

    That's nice, but that's not how the story goes. It goes: if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? That is how it goes.

  • 4 years ago

    __vxD_mAte

    the story about the tree is about the concept of the observer, does the universe exist without observers or is existence itself a concept created by concious thinking minds ... 

    that leads to the overall notion that talent is a concept categorized by an observer, usually to refer to exceptional ability,  and intense calculation technically is talent, however talent is measured by ones peers and ofc computers are almost always of similar strength to their peers ... if everything can be computed then where is the talent ? The talent is in the computer, clearly, as a musician, scientist, writer, love maker, chess player, painter, poet etc etc. Art is the ability to influence the mind of the observer, and the computer could inevitably calculate what influences minds if programmed with enough psychology and artistic brute force.

  • 4 years ago

    Jacob30

    I think everything is correct here except the story about the tree. Supposed to be about sound. Anyway good comment.

  • 4 years ago

    __vxD_mAte

    Not suprisingly a philosophical question springs to mind, If a tree falls down in a forest and there is noone there to see it then does it really fall down? "Falling down" is the linguistic and concious interpretation of the change in physical states

    Have faith in the phenomenological nature of concious thought, there is no talent in the solution to chess it is simply brute force calculation, which is a biological / computational factor. Chess might get you laid but your methods can be performed by a machine. 

    Clearly Chess is a game of perfect information, but perhaps some talent exists in the ability to find strong lines of play without much calculation.

    There is another arguement - talent is simply computable and all skills and mathematical insight are also computable. Well machines still aren't (apparently) sentient which means that either it is impossible to make a sentient being out of circuits and mechanical components and that anything that even closely resembles a concious being from perceptive feedback or whatever may not actually be concious as a real observer of reality, or that perhaps a machine can be created that really has a soul, and in that case why not recycle human souls by storing them in machines after their mortal body dies. 

    I am actually vegetarian because I have sincere respect for chickens and other animals.

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