Tag Archives: practice

Purposeful Practice and Expertise

The Expert Mind,” by Philip Ross, Scientific American, 24 July 2006, http://scientificamerican.com/print_version.cfm?articleID=00010347-101C-14C1-8F9E83414B7F4945 (from Slashdot).

The Schizophrenic Symptom of Flat Affect,” by Michael Crawford, kuro5hin, 17 August 2006, http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2006/8/15/35149/9787.

With Hugh MacLeod, Mark Safranski, and Francis Younghusband blogging on how to be creativity, two articles (one in a prestigious magazine, the other a quirky blog) that give a big hint: practice!

From a researcher at Scientific American, writing on chess:

The one thing that all expertise theorists agree on is that it takes enormous effort to build these structures in the mind. Simon coined a psychological law of his own, the 10-year rule, which states that it takes approximately a decade of heavy labor to master any field. Even child prodigies, such as Gauss in mathematics, Mozart in music and Bobby Fischer in chess, must have made an equivalent effort, perhaps by starting earlier and working harder than others.

And a suffer of schizo-affective disorder, writing on getting a date and learning how to smile:

What made the difference? Practice: one can learn to express emotion through conscious effort. With enough conscious practice, affective expression can become unconscious and natural. However, even after all these years I usually seem stoic and unemotional. That is, except when I play music or write, or am incredibly overcome.

My therapist warned that it was likely to take some time to reach my goal, but she asked me to regard every attempt to attract a woman as practice towards gaining the skills I needed to succeed someday. And friends, that’s what I did: during some sessions she assigned me the task of chatting up a strange girl, and at the next we would discuss my experience, as well as how I could do better next time.

Of course, readers of tdaxp know this already:


(The adaptive trait of learned helplessness lets humans practice more in some areas than others, allowing highly productive experts to network each other and out-compete groups of generalists. Such intricate self-organization is a feature of complex adaptive systems, such as the market economy. This increasingly social, networked style of man may be way the human brain begin shrinking about 15 thousand years ago.)