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Author Topic: Its all about the small details  (Read 39463 times)

theguywitha645d

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #120 on: February 22, 2012, 09:40:32 am »

Nature/nurture? Come on, you think that nature has no rôle, that nurture can stuff a dead turkey with the power of flight?

Rob C

I am not on any particular side of the fence. I think this is a complex process where talent can be both innate and learnt to various degrees.
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jjj

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #121 on: February 22, 2012, 10:07:17 am »

I am not on any particular side of the fence. I think this is a complex process where talent can be both innate and learnt to various degrees.
To start splitting hairs - Except that is not what talent means. Talent is normally used to refer to inherent/natural skills, ability would be a better word to describe both learned and innate skills.

I think anyone can be taught all the technical aspects of photography there are and yet still not be a photographer. Most of us can learn to be good at most things with enough time and effort. But when it comes to creativity and that certain flair that's the bit that cannot be learnt. Though many hide their lack of this by copying other's work.

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jjj

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #122 on: February 22, 2012, 10:09:34 am »

Nature/nurture? Come on, you think that nature has no rôle, that nurture can stuff a dead turkey with the power of flight?
Ha, ha.  ;D
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jjj

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #123 on: February 22, 2012, 10:38:21 am »

This is an interesting story which potentially could shed a lot of light on this debate. But because it was an amoral study on twins that were deliberately separated at birth to observe Nature Vs Nuture, the result have been put under wraps. Even Dr Neubauer, the chap in charge finally realised that maybe it was an unacceptable experiment and decided that to reveal the results would be harmful to those involved. Which if there was no correlation between the twins behaviour, harm is unlikely to be the outcome.

Twins seperated at Birth

More info re study on a one pair of twins

Interview with another pair of the separated twins

"It was just a natural instinct to start comparing . . . we had 35 years to catch up on. How do you start asking somebody, 'What have you been up to since we shared a womb?' "
THEY discovered similarities: they both sucked the same pointer and middle fingers, studied film at university, edited their high school newspapers and took pride in their typing speed and have a habit of "air typing". They shared the same tastes in books and slept with toy bears into their adulthood.
"Actually, I still do that," admits Schein. "Paula slept with a bear until she met her husband."

« Last Edit: February 22, 2012, 10:52:21 am by jjj »
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stamper

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #124 on: February 22, 2012, 11:49:05 am »

Call that interesting? More like still born.

jjj

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #125 on: February 22, 2012, 12:38:27 pm »

Call that interesting? More like still born.
I said the story was interesting and the study amoral, so what point are you making?
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Isaac

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #126 on: February 22, 2012, 01:44:01 pm »

Like Capa's images of the Normandy invasion?
(I realise that you were commenting about something quite different; but I'm going to hijack your example and use it to slam "Everything matters in photography" some more, and slam that slogan because I don't think it's in-the-least helpful or useful.)

"Over the next hour and a half, however, [Capa] managed to shoot two rolls of film before jumping onto a landing craft taking wounded soldiers back to a ship. As soon as he landed in Portsmouth, he had the films sent to the London office of Life. There, the picture editor urged his darkroom staff to develop and print the negatives as fast as possible in order to put them on a plane to New York in time for the magazine's next issue. In the event, they worked too fast, putting the 72 negatives into an overheated drying cabinet. All but eleven were ruined, and even these were blurred. But the results turned out to be some of the most memorable photographs of that extraordinary day: the blurring only makes them more dramatic."

p168 Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the Twentieth Century. Brassaï, Capa, Kertész, Moholy-Nagy, Munkácsi


There is a trivial sense in which "Everything matters in photography" -- What if Capa's parent's had never met? -- yada yada yada.

Apart from that, Capa's D-Day photographs show example after example of details that we would sensibly think should matter but actually don't.
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John Camp

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #127 on: February 22, 2012, 02:17:04 pm »

@jjj,

The root of our disagreement is in definitions. You're using a common definition of 'talent' which is not used in these books we're discussing. You're using 'talent' like most people use 'theory,' where theory=guess, or general idea, which is correct in popular usage, but not in scientific usage.

In the books we're discussing, talent is always seen as a product of performance: you're not considered talented unless you demonstrate that talent. Intelligence and physicality (among other things) are inherited, in this scheme, but talent is developed. The question is, where does the talent come from? These books argue that what we regard as "talent" largely derives from a particular kind of training.

The reason that a huge percentage of NFL hockey players are born in January and February is that the best and most extensive hockey training is done in Canada, and Canada divides its hockey classes by birthday, starting with January 1. That means that kids who are born early in the year are as much as a year bigger and stronger than kids born very late in the year. They therefore get more attention right at the beginning, get higher in league play faster, and therefore get better coaching, etc. Their physicality (inherited) results in talented players (training). Following the logic that you propose, everybody with X level of physicality is a "talented hockey player," even if he's born in Brazil and never saw a puck. What the authors of these books define as a "talented hockey player" is a person who plays hockey at a very high level.

Our disagreement is that simple: I've adopted the implicit definition from these books of talent=performance. You've stepped back from that, and said that intelligence=talent or physicality=talent, and these books would not do that. These books would say that intelligence and physicality are simply inherited traits that may or may not be developed into specific talents. Arguing about that is pointless. It's like arguing that the popular definition of "theory" is better than the scientific one, when in fact, they're simply different.

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jjj

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #128 on: February 22, 2012, 03:08:57 pm »

@jjj,

The root of our disagreement is in definitions. You're using a common definition of 'talent' which is not used in these books we're discussing. You're using 'talent' like most people use 'theory,' where theory=guess, or general idea, which is correct in popular usage, but not in scientific usage.
No, I'm not confusing my word usage, you or your precious authors are.
Talent and theory as words are not exactly comparable. One has a common meaning and a scientific meaning and the other simply has a common meaning.

Quote
In the books we're discussing, talent is always seen as a product of performance: you're not considered talented unless you demonstrate that talent. Intelligence and physicality (among other things) are inherited, in this scheme, but talent is developed. The question is, where does the talent come from? These books argue that what we regard as "talent" largely derives from a particular kind of training.
And it's a simplistic view based on poor studies. Please try and address the specific points I raised about these flawed studies and even worse the generalisations from a specific example in a prior post and not simply ignore anything that contradicts your argument.

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The reason that a huge percentage of NFL hockey players are born in January and February is that the best and most extensive hockey training is done in Canada, and Canada divides its hockey classes by birthday, starting with January 1. That means that kids who are born early in the year are as much as a year bigger and stronger than kids born very late in the year. They therefore get more attention right at the beginning, get higher in league play faster, and therefore get better coaching, etc.
Which is what I said. Being older gives them an edge, because of a selection system. The problem that undermines your stance, is that some of the players that were born in Nov/Dec may actually have been even better than those in Jan/Feb if given the same opportunity, as opposed to being severely disadvantaged.  Plus it may be the case that the NHL players whose birthdays are in Dec got through a system that was biased against them, because they were more talented.

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Their physicality (inherited) results in talented players (training). Following the logic that you propose, everybody with X level of physicality is a "talented hockey player," even if he's born in Brazil and never saw a puck.
Lots of people have latent talents that they have never explored for whatever reason. Doesn't make them any less talented does it? It's like saying people who have never had the chance to go to college as they live in a college free zone must all be thick as they never went to college.

 
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What the authors of these books define as a "talented hockey player" is a person who plays hockey at a very high level.
Using commercial success as a the yardstick of talent is simplistic, especially if you again widen a specific definition  of success to other non-related fields. Again you have not addressed the examples I gave of how talent is not necessarily measured in the now or by money.

Quote
Our disagreement is that simple: I've adopted the implicit definition from these books of talent=performance. You've stepped back from that, and said that intelligence=talent or physicality=talent, and these books would not do that. These books would say that intelligence and physicality are simply inherited traits that may or may not be developed into specific talents. Arguing about that is pointless. It's like arguing that the popular definition of "theory" is better than the scientific one, when in fact, they're simply different.
Sounds like backtracking on your part to me not on my part. You say that the books meaning is 'implicit', so have you conflated talent with success, which have distinctly different meanings and not the authors?
And if a couple of books use talent in a different way to everyone else are we all supposed to jump in line, despite 'talent' not being a scientific term like 'theory' is?

I'm curious, do you have any experience of teaching and in complex skills that are not simply rote learnable?
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daws

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #129 on: February 22, 2012, 05:49:34 pm »

The question is, where does the talent come from? These books argue that what we regard as "talent" largely derives from a particular kind of training.

The problem with that argument is that it ignores the fundamental question, "who trained the first trainers?"

See David S. Whitley's Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief.
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hjulenissen

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #130 on: February 23, 2012, 05:07:49 am »

Mathematicians are more likely to do their Nobel-price winning work while they are young (in their 20s?).

This seems to indicate that the bulk of experience and knowledge accumulated through a long career is not the only factor in doing groundbreaking work.

I suspect that the level of creativity and dedication needed to do a mathematical breakthrough is similar to what a photographer would have to do to stand out.

-h
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theguywitha645d

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #131 on: February 23, 2012, 10:25:08 am »

Please make sure we know who you are quoting (and not just who, but also from which post

It would be nice just to know what we are talking about...
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BJL

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greatness is often innate talent plus lengthy preparation
« Reply #132 on: February 23, 2012, 10:25:23 am »

Mathematicians are more likely to do their Nobel-price winning work while they are young (in their 20s?).
That is a bit of an urban legend, and certainly the 20s is too young: even most of the greats are still in graduate school at that age. My experience is that maybe 30's to 50's is the common peak: youth counts, but so does several decades of education and work! And again, in a discussion that started with advice on how to become a good photographer, not how to go back in time and be born a genius and child prodigy, it is misleading to judge the path to excellence by looking at the extreme outliers like Nobel prize winners: the vast majority of very good science is done only after a very long education, with not only a doctorate but some years of post-doctoral training beyond that. Most of us do not even have steady employment until age about 30!

But on the subject of youthful genius, the current most famous exemplar of a mathematical prodigy is Terry Tao, who was famous by his mid-twenties, but was also learning (and even teaching!) mathematics from age two, and taking university-level courses by age nine. As often, one can make a case for both a strong innate component, early strong parental support, and lengthy preparation.


Aside: mathematics does not have a Nobel prize, so we have to settle for the things like the Fields Medal (Canadian content!). Curiously, that Fields Medal has an age limit of 40, but that does not mean that the winners do nothing as good afterwards.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 10:44:22 am by BJL »
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hjulenissen

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Re: greatness is often innate talent plus lengthy preparation
« Reply #133 on: February 23, 2012, 10:48:17 am »

...in a discussion that started with advice on how to become a good photographer, not how to go back in time and be born a genius and child prodigy, it is misleading to judge the path to excellence by looking at the extreme outliers like Nobel prize winners: the vast majority of very good science is done only after a very long education, with not only a doctorate but some years of post-doctoral training beyond that.
I think that you are misinterpreting me. I am not suggesting that people go back in time and being re-born as a genius. I suggest that genes and young foolishness are significant contributors to doing ground-breaking work, and that a model that puts a lot of emphasis on 10.000 hours of training might conceal this. People may be offended or inspired by such a correlation, that does not change its correctness (if it is even right).

I am guessing that photography (to a larger degree than maths) benefits from "originality", "freshness", etc. If true, this would make it possible for a guy to "come from nowhere", get a camera, start making striking images, being discovered, having commercial success. Perhaps also artistic success, although that is a lot harder to measure objectively. I am certain that this happens from time to time with musicians.

-h
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jjj

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #134 on: February 23, 2012, 11:09:44 am »

I am guessing that photography (to a larger degree than maths) benefits from "originality", "freshness", etc. If true, this would make it possible for a guy to "come from nowhere", get a camera, start making striking images, being discovered, having commercial success. Perhaps also artistic success, although that is a lot harder to measure objectively. I am certain that this happens from time to time with musicians.
More like most of the time it is the fresh faced newbies who do new and original things in music.
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Ray

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #135 on: February 23, 2012, 11:28:58 am »

@jjj,

The root of our disagreement is in definitions. You're using a common definition of 'talent' which is not used in these books we're discussing. You're using 'talent' like most people use 'theory,' where theory=guess, or general idea, which is correct in popular usage, but not in scientific usage.

No, I'm not confusing my word usage, you or your precious authors are.
Talent and theory as words are not exactly comparable. One has a common meaning and a scientific meaning and the other simply has a common meaning.


I think this gets to the crux of the matter. So many disputes such as this arise as a result of different 'assumed' definitions of key words; in this case, talent.

The word 'talent' was used in Old English as talente, from the Latin talentum meaning unit of weight or money.

The word is now bandied around to refer to anyone who is particularly successful in any field, whether it be rock music, fashion designing, car racing or business acumen.

However, I wonder if those who argue that talent is not just an aquired state of skill above the ordinary, but something one is either born with or without, realise how arrogant their stance is.

Such a stance implies that they know exactly what talent is and its origins. It also implies that they can always recognise talent when they see it. Bear in mind that Van Gogh would have faded into oblivion had not the wife of his brother vigorously promoted his paintings after his death.

I also wonder if such people realise how negative they are being in asserting that 'talent' is something you either have or have not. Pompous, arrogant and negative, I would describe such people. Consider the many cases of people in history, who have later been recognised as having great talent, but who were informed early on by various authorities and contempories that they had no talent and should give up their pursuits.

One might wonder just how many people in history, of great 'talent', simply gave up because teachers and authorities, such as many posters in this thread, argued that talent was not something that could be acquired.

However, if one transcribes the generally understood meaning of talent to a more scientific phrase along the lines of 'inherited trait that may, by accident, be beneficial to an individual's survival or success', then one cannot deny that such traits exist. They are the basis of the Theory of Evolution.

As I understand, the process of Evolution relies upon both randon mutation of genes and the genetic variation resulting from different combinations of the male and female genes during procreation in life forms that have two sexes.

Is that 'talent'?  When an individual in a hot climate near the equator receives a survival advantage because he's born with a slightly darker skin than his fellows, as a result of what one might describe as an accidental mutation; is that 'talent'?

If that's your definition of talent, then you are right. Talent is something you are born with or without.

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BJL

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Re: greatness is often innate talent plus lengthy preparation
« Reply #136 on: February 23, 2012, 11:30:53 am »

I suggest that genes and young foolishness are significant contributors to doing ground-breaking work ...
No dispute from me or almost anyone else.
... and that a model that puts a lot of emphasis on 10.000 hours of training might conceal this.
And I was pointing out that your urban legend about mathematical greatness hides the decades of preparation, well over 10,000 hours I would estimate, that was needed even by a child prodigy like Terry Tao to reach his greatest accomplishments. Ditto for Picasso, by the way: his first great works came after well over a decade of training and work. So I see not the slightest refutation of the idea that many, many hours of preparations are _also_ important.

And surely, when giving advice, it makes sense to emphasize the part that people _can_ do something about! One frustration that I have as a teacher of mathematics, is this myth (far more common is the USA than in most Asian countries) that mathematical ability is an innate dichotomy, "you either have it or you don't", so often used by both students and parents as an excuse for not even trying.
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hjulenissen

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Re: greatness is often innate talent plus lengthy preparation
« Reply #137 on: February 23, 2012, 11:41:17 am »

So I see not the slightest refutation of the idea that many, many hours of preparations are _also_ important.
Sure. On average, training, genes, motivation all seems to play a significant part.

For any individual, it seems that one or two factors can occasionally dominate the outcome. It _is_ probably possible to make a "successful" piece of art with no training, but basing your choice of education and future on such an event to happen is probably very unwise. It _is_ possible that a few documents from a bored patent engineer will rock the world of physics, but chances are that they won't.

My experience as a student (not as a teacher) is that some get a reasonable understanding of maths with moderate effort, while others don't really grasp maths even though they seem to put considerable effort into it. Some are good teachers without ever taking ped classes, others have 5 years of university education in pedagogics but should never have been allowed to be a teacher. Some bands struggle for 20 years without ever having success, while others are "discovered" at their first ever concert at age 17. Life can be fair or unfair, but it is up to you to make the best out of what you got and enjoy the ride.

-h
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 11:45:14 am by hjulenissen »
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theguywitha645d

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Re: greatness is often innate talent plus lengthy preparation
« Reply #138 on: February 23, 2012, 11:50:26 am »

And surely, when giving advice, it makes sense to emphasize the part that people _can_ do something about! One frustration that I have as a teacher of mathematics, is this myth (far more common is the USA than in most Asian countries) that mathematical ability is an innate dichotomy, "you either have it or you don't", so often used by both students and parents as an excuse for not even trying.

And I wonder if that comes from the Western myth of the genius--the artist that is just brilliant. In Asia, or Japan with which I am more familiar, there is the idea of studying the form from a master and that skill can be handed down. Once the skill is mastered, then the artist has the potential to push the art beyond that. Spontaneous artistic expression, like we have in the West, is not really recognized in the traditional arts. This is not to say the Japanese model of traditional arts is not flawed, but it is a difference. Where the West stresses the ego, the East rejects it.

While we cannot teach an artist to be innovative, we can teach methods and techniques to be competent in a medium--just like math. Creativity does not have to be unique, it can also simply mean applying known conditions to create solutions.
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Ray

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Re: Its all about the small details
« Reply #139 on: February 23, 2012, 12:35:46 pm »

The point regarding apparent differences in martial arts talents, that some posters have mentioned, seems a bit specious to me.

Whilst it may be obvious that two newbies to the sport may exhibit vastly different talents, it may well be he case that the person who seems a 'natural'  has previously engaged in activities that require similar skills.

A young child who has already had experience in opening windows, and who then successfully opens a door for the first time, may seem to be innately talented in door-opening. However, opening windows is very similar to opening doors, so one should not assume that such ease in opening doors is an indication of a special inherited talent.
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