Why Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

Boy in front of chess game

The old joke goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Punch line: Practice, practice, practice.

In an age when Malcolm Gladwell has popularized the notion that anyone can do anything if they practice for 10,000 hours — in a way, codifying the old saying, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” — the idea that maybe practice can’t get us as far as we’d like seems overly pessimistic.

But a new study from Princeton University suggests that practice doesn’t always make perfect. Unless you’re predisposed to staccato greatness, the only way you’re getting to the famed New York City concert hall is by buying a ticket, no amount of practice to the contrary.

The study tracked the impact of deliberate practice — defined as “activities designed with the goal of improving performance” — and found a:

    26 percent boost in games like Scrabble and chess

    21 percent boost in playing a musical instrument

    18 percent boost in sports

    4 percent boost in education (like a psych course)

    less than 1 percent boost in professional skills, like piloting a fighter jet or refereeing a soccer game

“The view that essentially anyone can do essentially anything is not scientifically defensible,” says David Lubinski, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University.

Practice remains an important part of getting better, of course, and the researchers aren’t suggesting we stop trying to improve. Instead, the study suggests that practice alone won’t put a person atop the leader board.

    Lennon and McCartney needed practice — but what the Princeton study might say is they also needed the talent that made them Lennon and McCartney.
“There is no doubt that deliberate practice is important, from both a statistical and a theoretical perspective. It is just less important than has been argued,” says Brooke Macnamara, the lead researcher, who earned her Ph.D. at Princeton.

The finding counteracts Gladwell’s rule, which essentially adds up to years. Just ask the Beatles (whose years on German stages Gladwell attributes to their later success) or more recently, Dan McLaughlin, who traded his photography career for a commitment to go from basic golfer to the PGA tour with 10,000 hours of dedicated study on the links. He started his mission two years ago, and he’s just under halfway there, according to his latest blog entry.

Lennon and McCartney needed practice, in a Gladwellian sense — but what the Princeton study might say is they also needed the talent that made them Lennon and McCartney.

For us regular Joes, it may be time to hang up those dreams of Olympic greatness or star-studded stages if we’re hoping practice will overcome our lack of talent. That doesn’t mean you can’t train your body to run farther, or that all those Words With Friends games won’t help you best your brother at Scrabble (finally). It just means you might need to temper some of your expectations. 

As for McLaughlin, he’s had some golfing success so far. Is this commentary on the nature of the PGA and his chosen sport? Or has he found a hidden talent? Only another 4,000 and some odd hours to go before we’ll know if his nature is enough to let his practice pay off. 


70% of employees working under deplorable conditions – Survey

Labour Port

Over 70 percent of employees in Ghana work under very deplorable and vulnerable conditions, according to a report by the National Development Planning Commission, (NDPC), and the British Council.

The report also revealed that the welfare of most workers in the country is less of a priority for most employers.

The report also blamed government partly for the low productivity in especially public institutions because the structures to ensure decent work with favourable working conditions have been broken for long.

At the launch of the report in Accra, the Director General of the NDPC and an economic advisor to the President, Dr Nii Moi Thompson said the Commission will study the gaps identified in the report critically and work towards bridging them.

source: ghanaweb

fraudster exposed by CCTV footage


An alleged fraudster said to have swindled clients of some commercial banks in the Kumasi metropolis of their cash in excess of GH¢50,000.00 has been grabbed by the police.

Kwaku Badu, always smartly dressed to deceive, would hang around the banking hall, present himself to clients, who showed up to deposit money as a bank official and under the guise of assisting those with bulk sums, flee with the money.

The victims would wait for long hours and after enquiries from the bank staff come to realize that they had been duped

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Aba Afari, the Kumasi Central Divisional Crime Officer, said so far nine of such people had identified the suspect.

The suspect did not operate from a single bank but went from bank to bank and these included SG-SSB, Ecobank, Unibank and the Royal Bank.

According to the Police the suspect’s activities has been going on for the last four months

She said the suspect was captured on closed circuit television (CCTV) installed by the banks and that aided the police to apprehend him.

source: ghanaweb

Dumsor is distressing Ghanaians - Dr Osei

Dr Akwasi Osei Psychiatric Boss

The Chief Psychiatrist of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Akwesi Osei, Wednesday said mental health cases had seen an increase and linked it to the current power crisis the country was experiencing.

The condition he said were mainly associated with stress observed in business persons and workers as they crumbled under the pressures of the current general economic situation caused largely by the power crisis.

He told the GNA in an interview that “depression itself is a mental disorder, so is anxiety. Somebody becomes unduly anxious and apprehensive and that comes with all kinds of complications. Now if this continues for some time it can even manifest physically with you getting hypertension, stomach ulcer, worsening cases of diabetes”.

Dr Osei said somebody might come with depression “and then you realize there is stress going on in the mind which may have precipitated the depression. As we go further to find out his business is collapsing or has collapsed or he is not getting the returns that he expects and that is because of the uncertain power situation.”

He said the crisis had become really stressful “because for example at home you don’t have power to do what you want to, students studying don’t have an alternative when the lights go off. This can be really stressful situation and can no doubt cause mental defects.”

“People who are in business suffer more than anybody, students, government workers … they are all suffering but business owners are mostly the victims especially small scale businesses,” Dr Osei said.

A psychologist, Dr. Annie Gaisie, in an interview with an Accra Television station said she had been getting calls from students who complained of lack of sleep or inability to study because of the power crisis.

“We’re not only talking about just a few individuals…. The power outage is all that people are talking about and you realize that they are distressed. We’re not only talking about business owners or the casual person walking on the street, we are talking about children and high school students as well who are complaining they can’t sleep properly and cannot do their work because of the power situation,” she said.

According her, “majority of people are distressed and it cuts across a large portion of the population. People are not going home because they’re thinking by the time I get home the light is off and this is breaking marriages and distressing lots of people”

The new load shedding guide released by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) shows that large parts of the country are without light for 24 hours and 12 hours of light -- a schedule that has been described as the worst in the country's history.

Causes of the current power problem, according to the Power Ministry has been reduced to crude oil shortfall to power generating plants, low water levels in the Akosombo, Kpong and Bui dams.

SOURCE: ghanaweb

Microsoft is killing off the Internet Explorer brand

Microsoft is killing off the Internet Explorer brand. (Ted S. Warren, Associated Press)

Microsoft has hinted that Internet Explorer brand was going to be scrapped. Now it’s official.

Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s head of marketing, made the announcement Monday at the Microsoft Convergence conference.

Microsoft is placing its bets on its new and speedier flagship browser codenamed Project Spartan.

Project Spartan will not be associated with the Internet Explorer brand, Capossela said. Microsoft is working on a new name and a new brand for Project Spartan, he said.

“We’re now researching what the new brand or the new name for our browser should be in Windows 10,” Capossela said, according to The Verge. “We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is codenamed Project Spartan. We have to name the thing.”

Not that Internet Explorer branding will vanish entirely. It will still exist in some versions of Windows 10, but Project Spartan will be the main way Windows 10 users roam the Internet.

“Microsoft is making compelling software right now, software as good as Google and Apple. But they still have a perception of lagging and they are trying to break that perception and that includes retiring brands,” said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.

It’s the end of an era for Internet Explorer which launched nearly two decades ago.

Over the years, the browser became the bane of some office workers’ daily lives. A series of security flaws also damaged the brand.

Microsoft has struggled to revive the Internet Explorer brand as competition heated up from Mozilla’s Firefox, Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari browsers.

Dean Hachamovitch, the manager of the Internet Explorer team, left the company in December.

“At one point Internet Explorer commanded north of 80% share of the browser market, but with the explosion in mobility, that market share has dwindled to 30%,” said S&P Capital analyst Angelo Zino. “The platform isn’t cutting it on mobile devices and that’s where the focus is today.”

Project Spartan will run on phones, tablets and personal computers but was expressly made for the mobile experience, Microsoft says. It will also have the personal voice assistant Cortana built into it.

“Project Spartan is Microsoft’s next generation browser, built just for Windows 10,” Microsoft said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to make Internet Explorer available with Windows 10 for enterprises and other customers who require legacy browser support.”

Can Microsoft regain ground it has lost? It will have to deliver a better search experience, greater speed and new bells and whistles for mobile devices such as voice commands, basically borrowing a page from Google’s Chrome, analysts say.

Even then, “it’s really going to be difficult for them,” Zino said.

But he added: “This was definitely a must for them.”

source: usatoday

Mahama cannot solve our problems – Prof Gyan-Baffour

Gyan Baffuor 2011

Parliament was on Tuesday thrown into a state of chaos with the singing of ‘Cascala’ when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Wenchi, Prof George Gyan-Baffour, likened President Mahama to an old Russian vehicle known as ‘Cascala.’ It was said to be very ineffective on the road and needed a ‘strong’ manpower to start the engine.

According to the Wenchi MP, the minority in parliament decided to keep quiet and not heckle the president when he was delivering his State of the Nation address recently because “whether you heckle the president or not, he would still not be able to find solutions to the country’s nagging economic problems, particularly the ‘dumsor’ crisis.”

“Mr speaker, the president is just like Cascala; ‘wo wind no, wind no a,’ it is still Cascala; ‘wo pia no pia no, Cascala.’ Whatever you do to him he cannot move this nation forward. Whether you heckle him or not, he cannot solve the problems Ghanaians are facing,” he stressed.

The MP was making a contribution to the debate on the president’s address on the floor of parliament.

The first deputy speaker, Ebo Barton-Odro, asked the Wenchi MP to explain what ‘Cascala’ and the expression ‘wo wind no, wind no a; wo pia no, pia no, Cascala’ meant.

Prof George Gyan-Baffour said that soon after Ghana’s independence, because of the country’s affinity with the USSR, large quantities of Soviet cars called Cascala were imported into the country. But the vehicles, he explained, were road worthy for only a few months and thereafter, became the most ineffective vehicles on the road.

He said before one could start the engine, either the mate or the driver would have to stand in front of the vehicle and insert a crowbar into a console and wind it with a lot of energy. However, after a few months of using the vehicle, any attempt to start the engine would prove futile.

“So the description we gave to the car in our parlance was “Cascala, wo wind no, wind no a Cascala,” meaning “Cascala, when you crank it and crank it, it is Cascala, if you push and push, it is still Cascala. The car will not start, the car will not move,” he said stressing that the car is the exact replica of the president’s attitude to solving the country’s myriad problems.

He would then repeat, “President Mahama, wo wind no, wind no, wo pia no pia no a…,” then the minority members responded in unison, ‘Cascala.’

The description and the repetition of the chorus by the minority members threw some of the majority members into laughter.

The deputy majority leader, Alfred Agbesi, stood on a point of order and drew the attention of the speaker to the chorus and the description that was going for the president and said the rules of the House do not allow singing.

Prof Gyan-Baffour said because of the president’s ‘Cascala’ attitude to solving the dumsor problem, many precious lives had been lost and that those lives could not be compensated for.

“Mr speaker, a young man and his fiancĂ©e died tragically from inhalation of carbon monoxide at Dansoman, when they put a generator in their room, while many people have also died at the hospitals, especially children because of ‘dumsor,’ ‘dumsor;’ and as a group we are mourning with the families of these people,” he said, adding that an NPP government would not let Ghanaians go through these untold hardships and tragedies.

source: ghanaweb

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