What’s the Latest Development?
Facing criticism from several fronts, Malcolm Gladwell is defending his claim that 10,000 hours worth of practice is generally necessary before becoming an expert in highly complex fields such as chess, musical composition, or elite sports roles like an NBA point guard. “In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals,” said Gladwell. “Nobody walks into an operating room, straight out of a surgical rotation, and does world-class neurosurgery. And second, …the amount of practice necessary for exceptional performance is so extensive that people who end up on top need help.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The brunt of criticism against Gladwell’s theory, based on a decades-old experiment which concluded that chess players need between 10,000 and 50,000 hours of practice to reach the level of master, comes from a new book by author David Epstein called The Sports Gene. In it, Epstein points out that natural ability accounts for a greater majority of sporting talent than Gladwell’s 10,000 hour-theory can account for. In Gladwell’s response, he points out that many of Epstein’s examples come from obscure sports, such as skeleton, darts, and Australian basketball, where strong competition is generally lacking.
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