Do you still have a chance to succeed

    How much time do you need to exceed 140 points on the IQ test? Is half a year of hard work from morning to night enough? Surely. This means that you will become better than 99% of the tested. This is approximately 2.5 thousand hours - after deducting breaks for sleep, food and other trifles. But Malcolm Gladwell in his famous book "Geniuses and Outsiders" gave another figure for achieving the level of skill - 10,000 hours. He did not invent it, but derived from the statistics of the Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson, who published a study in 1993 that masters of violin and piano are not born, but become. An important nuance - he compared groups of musicians, not the most talented units.

    Masters of violin business needed on average just as many hours of practice to be different from professionals (on average 5,000 hours) and good lovers (2,000 hours). Gladwell popularized this figure, expanded speculatively to other areas of activity and presented it to readers as a guarantee of success. Work only 5 years hard and everything will be. Among the evidence, he also cited examples of business programmers from Billy Joy to Bill Gate. Since then, he has been regularly criticized both for the size of the numbers and for the approach - they say everyone has their own brains and their teaching methods.



    In Ericsson’s study, the calculation of 10 thousand hours is made on the example of super-professionals, but we ourselves can easily estimate that 5 years in normal operation at the workplace produce tangible professional results. And if we discard the minor nit-picking, Gladwell’s main idea is understandable, although banal - “you can’t easily remove a fish from a pond.” Why so much debate?

    The debaters are motivated by different goals. Some are driven by curiosity and the search for scientific truth, while others sell educational methods and magical medical manipulations. But everyone wants to find a magical recipe for success or sell it to those suffering in fame and fortune.

    Criticism of the idea is carried out from 3 sides. The first - genes decide everything, the second - environment and behavior in childhood (family), the third talk about the teaching methodology and the characteristics of the profession or industry being studied. In a recent article, the authors voiced the results of metadata processing in 88 of the most relevant publications on these topics.

    The first conclusion deserves the “thank you cap” reaction - that practice helps the results. But the authors' goal was a correlation, in the meanings of which they saw a lot of strange things for themselves. For example, it took one chess player 26 years to reach the grandmaster level, and another only 2 years. What kind of chess player is involved in the study is not given; also omitted what to consider a career start. But for reference, Sergey Karjakin became the youngest grandmaster at age 12. Today's leader of the chess world Magnus Carlsen achieved the title at 13 years old. Bobby Fisher received the title of Grandmaster at 15.5 years. By the time they received the titles, they were playing: Karjakin - 7 years old, Carlsen - 8, Fisher - 9. It is not possible to rate in watches - this is to their parents or biographers. It should only be noted

    Chess players, athletes and musicians begin to practice, as a rule, at an early age. The child’s brain is very flexible, neural connections are actively formed until the age of 12, and any conditioned reflexes at this age become unconditional for life. At a more mature age, learning is much harder. That is, the child's practice on the effectiveness of training is "a year in two, or even three." In the early start, there is one more advantage - you get the most attention and this process takes on the character of an increasing progression. The more success you have, the more they write about you, the more mentors you have, access to inventory and equipment, orders and other resources that allow you to hone your skills. Success itself motivates, of course, too.



    If hourly comparisons of professional achievements are far-fetched, what about objective factors? For example with genes. Nobody questions the role of genes. The abilities of identical twins, for example in drawing, are demonstrated by them equally stably after 10 years. Among the twin twins, some retain more abilities, others less. The influence of genes is evident. The only question is, what weight determines heredity in a person’s success. The consensus opinion of scientists today is that genes set wide boundaries of possibilities, but quite flexible. Relatively speaking, if the length of the entire IQ scale is 90 units - from 55 to 145 points, then the range of abilities of a particular person (and his identical twin, if any) is 70 points - slightly higher or slightly lower than the average, that is, from 55 to 125 or from 75 to 145, respectively.

    Separate exceptions only confirm the rule and are most often determined by the assessment methodology. For example, a study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. The Miriam Mosing team discovered in 2014 that absolutely identical genetically identical twins have the same musical ear for a different volume of practical exercises. Practice does not give any additional success in this area. In other areas, practice is still needed. In my opinion, the innate nature of musical hearing is obvious, and Swedish scholars are approaching British ones with such studies.

    In protruding the exclusive role of heredity or childhood experience, it is “outrageous” not to think that there are other factors of success besides labor. This is clear. The idea that labor can be replaced by something unattainable is unbearable, and even more so the assumption that this factor provides success more than labor. Gladwell and Ericsson have equalized the chances of people to succeed, and Mosing destroys them. In vain, as mentioned above, the young grandmasters worked even less than adults on the path to fame, but they also worked pretty well.

    Ericsson unambiguously wrote that the factors are different, but a) no one succeeds without labor and b) hard work will definitely give success to everyone. No matter how lucky you are with genes or family support, you have every chance of catching up with the lucky ones. And the lucky ones will also have to work hard, there will be no freebies. The first myth is regularly refuted by examples of geniuses, the second is still stable.

    The authors of the article in Business Iinsider state that the tolerant idea of ​​equal opportunities has already reached its peak - racial and gender inequality in the social sphere has almost been reached, and eugenics is slowly gaining ground. Individual equality is being replaced by equal opportunities for competition within groups. Relatively speaking, a white American programmer can always be better than an average Russian programmer, although as a group American programmers are inferior to ours quite significantly. It may turn out to be genetically more talented from the beginning, and subsequently develop faster thanks to more practice. There are talents in every group, they are just less common. It’s not only necessary to generalize. Given this fact, Ericsson’s research can be both true and false - not everyone needs 10,000,

    Since children or future Habr musicians rarely read - what morality can there be for all of us adults in these studies without a clear answer to the question - what is the role of genes, how and how much does one need to work for success?

    A number of psychologists have reflected the effect of relative inertness of the brain in the theory of two parts of intelligence - mobile intelligence and crystallized. The first is the ability to think logically, analyze and solve problems independently of previous experience; the second is accumulated experience and the ability to use the acquired knowledge and skills. The first part of the ability develops up to 30-40 years, the second - up to 60-70.

    To check the balance of your intellect, try a simple exercise: take a deck of 52 cards and shift one by one, try to remember from memory when different cards of the same rank / rank (excluding color / suit) are repeated in three steps. For example, in the sequence: 6-8-9-K-8-7-K, they will be the figure eight and the king. Then check yourself. The more you remember, the more you have crystallized intelligence, of which memory is a part. If your memory is not so hot, it means that you have great scope for creativity. Unless of course you have started sclerosis ...

    The less you have been disciplined, focused or single-minded before - the more likely you are to have retained brain plasticity to this point. So you can master any skill now. Many competitors are ahead and pushing with their elbows will have more, but your skills will be fresh.

    The authors of the study agitate for eugenics, finding in it 2 indisputable advantages:

    1. Knowing their genetic predispositions, people will avoid careers in which there is no chance of becoming an outstanding figure. This is beneficial to both a specific person and society as a whole.
    2. Awareness of their limits will remove part of the blame from the talented for allegedly insufficient zeal - they can always say: I’m not a lazy person, I’m just slowly mastering it for genetic reasons. A joy for the therapist.

    However, one can argue with the authors. Firstly, knowing their inability, many will simply quit working - even where they have chances, albeit less. Secondly, nature creates a new one from mixtures of different abilities, and specialization is an evolutionary impasse. Like cats for example.
    Thirdly, the structure of the economy and society in general can be very different from the genetic distribution of abilities. It may happen that there will be millions of pilots and only hundreds of aviation mechanics. Well, let the aircraft mechanics be replaced by robots, but where to get so many passengers?

    I use the observations of the biologist Sergei Savelyev, who studies the brain, its size and variability. He claims, among other things, that specialization in sports, music or any kind of activity inevitably slows down the development of the brain in other areas. The biological structure of the brain determines the head start at birth by 3 times (the brain sizes differ so much), but the variability of the abilities of the adult brain (the sizes of individual specialized neocortex umbrellas) is 40 times different and completely compensates for this starting difference. Despite the huge difference in the number of neurons. A person can, like Mayakovsky, without a special biological predisposition, concentrate all the brain powers on one sphere and achieve great success in it.



    200 years ago, Francis Galton, founder of the scientific study of intelligence and cousin of Charles Darwin, analyzed the genealogical records of hundreds of scientists, artists, musicians and found that skill is determined by origin. At a time when only the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie were able to write (with simple counting and reading, things were better - depending on the country), and knowledge was a caste secret, such a conclusion is not surprising. Where there was knowledge, there were achievements. There were not as many career elevators as they are now, so relatives were grouped by industry. To break through in those centuries was probably more difficult than the current one. So much so that for many aristocrats and merchants, devastating wars have been a career and social elevator for hundreds of years. But back to the genes, education and practice.

    Today, if we consider the probability of success as a function of the availability of knowledge, the number of possible areas of activity and the speed of dissemination of information (orders and advertising), we can assume that 10,000 hours of Ericsson-Gladwell is not a constant, but a variable. In Darwin's time, it took significantly more than 10 years to search for books, practice, accumulate start-up capital, or search for career opportunities. At the time of John Lennon and Bill Gates for about 5 years. Now there are more markets and more accessible knowledge.


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