Re: Howe Response Sect 05-06

From: Saha Sanna (
Date: Tue Feb 24 1998 - 15:50:19 GMT

Comments on Anna Rowe's Comments [ar]

ar> So in some circumstances practise is of no help, but in others perhaps
ar> it is. For example practising playing the piano you can improve with
ar> practise. But I still believe that yes practise does help, but if
ar> these individuals didn't have an initial innate 'spark' to begin with ,
ar> no amount of practise will ver lead them to be exceptional. For
ar> example, practising at hockey, I played at school and I trained every
ar> week, got better, but was never amazing, but a friend of mine who
ar> started at the same time as me went on to play for the county. I think
ar> that you can improve but even playing for tens of thousands of hours
ar> you will only get to a certain ability ( Iknow, and it's frustrating!)
ar> whereas a few people within the same time constraints, do go on and
ar> excel.

I understand you are trying to show that talent is innate. However,
quite often an autistic will spend many hours per day concentrating
on his special interest. This may occur either involuntarily or
obsessively. Therefore, if Raymond is obsessive about remembering
everything in a book, he may simply develop the skill to do this
through practise over time and through sheer determination.
Eventually presented with any book, he will be able to skim read and
remember it. Nevertheless, if he picked up his first ever book and
was able to skim read and remember it without practise, talent could
be viewed as innate. It could also be possible that Raymond has an
innate component, where its main direct effect is to augment the
individual's obsessionality, rather than a specific skill.

ar> If this exceptional ability was not innate and therefore due to
ar> practise and social factors then wouldn't autistic individuals
ar> cognitive abilities improve with practise? (I know little about
ar> autism). Also, wouldn't ordinary individuals through practise be
ar> able to excel and be fluent in ten or so languages, and therefore
ar> wouldn't everybody be talented. I therefore again argue that talent
ar> is biological and innate.

I too know little about autism. But, languages can be learned by
anybody at a very young age, thus do not show talent.

ar> As I've said, practise may be important, but I think that innate
ar> spark has got to be there for exceptional achievements to occur.

I agree. However much I try to sing, with lessons and with practise,
I will never be able to sing very well. My friend who has the same
lessons and practise, but has that initial innate spark and ability
to sing, will always be better than me.

ar> Is it learning experiences or is it perhaps natural selection? (or
ar> am I way off track!). These abilities may have been passed on and
ar> improved on leading to these new high unrecorded capabilities.

It could be both or simply one. Perhaps Natural Selection passed on
good musical genes, because Mozart's parents themselves were musically
talented. Or it could be learning and practise. Mozart did receive
intensive and supervised learning from his parents from a very early
age. Also, much information about child prodigies, for example, a child
learning to read at five months , is based upon anecdotal and
retrospective evidence, so may not even be accurate.

ar> I think that talented and ordinary individuals both do improve with
ar> practise but talented individuals will do so with much more ease. ie.
ar> I think it is a naturel progression compared to ordinary individuals
ar> who I think improve but with much frustration along the way. For
ar> example, people who study maths try and try and often have to sit and
ar> read formulae over and over working it out in their minds until they
ar> understand, and even then may not be able to apply it to a new
ar> situation even though they seem to understand the concept. They can be
ar> good but not exceptional through practise. Talented mathematicians to
ar> me, seem to grasp concepts straight away and apply them with ease and
ar> progress naturally to new levels.

I agree, as I have already mentioned about my singing ability.
However, I think it is a mixture of innate and practise abilities. A
person also needs to be for example, motivated, self-confident,
enthusiastic, interested in their talent, committed and so on.
Parents also need to be actively involved and encouraging, as they
are often the initial impetus for a child to progress with their

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