06 October 2011

The Innateness of Greatness: Using the Best Ingredients

Every good cook understands that using the best ingredients can make all the difference between a good dish and a great dish. The concept is the same with human greatness: start with the best, then make it better. Practise will only get you so far. If you want to be great -- the best -- you will need something extra.

Michigan State University cognitive scientist Zach Hambrick looked at the influence of working memory on human performance. He and his team compared the performance of different individuals with different levels of working memory -- which is closely related to human intelligence.
In a provocative new paper, Hambrick suggests working memory capacity -- which is closely related to general intelligence -- may sometimes be the deciding factor between good and great.

In a series of studies, Hambrick and colleagues found that people with higher levels of working memory capacity outperformed those with lower levels -- and even in individuals with extensive experience and knowledge of the task at hand. The studies analyzed complex tasks such as piano sight reading. _SD

Hambrick disagrees with David Brooks and Malcolm Gladwell when thy claim that intelligence plays no role in lifetime achievement and success:
Hambrick’s response: “David Brooks and Malcolm Gladwell are simply wrong. The evidence is quite clear: A high level of intellectual ability puts a person at a measurable advantage — and the higher the better.”

Research has shown that intelligence has both genetic and environmental origins, Hambrick said, yet “for a very long time we have tried and failed to come up with ways to boost people’s intelligence.”

Hambrick and his fellow researchers continue to study the issue. “The jury’s still out on whether you can improve your general intelligence,” he said.

“We hold out hope that cognitive training of some sort may produce these benefits. But we have yet to find the magic bullet.” _Psychcentral
The PC Thought Police -- as personified by Brooks and Gladwell -- would like to paper over human biodiversity, and the importance of inborn traits and aptitudes. But modern human societies have gotten themselves in a deep mess, and need all the help they can get. If ever there was a time to develop human greatness to meet a challenge, this would be such a time.

And no, technology is not the answer. Technology will be helpful, but technology can lead to dependency, and the loss of certain human faculties. The technology-dependent human will be at a severe loss at times when his technology breaks down or is inaccessible.

Hambrick's research is a shy and tentative "toe in the water." Modern academia, media, and politics are extremely bigoted against the idea of human differences in aptitude and capacity for greatness -- although many of these same academics, celebrities, and politicians readily claim greatness and eliteness for themselves.

This is yet one more example of a crucial area of human study which is not being dealt with honestly or competently by the mainstream. A politically correct "consensus" is inadequate to the task of facing the real universe and its challenges.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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