Howe Comm Ericsson Freeman

From: Dunn Christopher (
Date: Mon May 11 1998 - 14:32:13 BST

Freeman or Howe:

   Howe et al.s compromise position is consistent with this account,
   and they cite Ackermans (1988) explication of it to support their
   argument. Hence, their paper does not reject the talent account in
   principle but rather rejects the pragmatic value of current methods
   of talent-based selection, which, however, doesnt allow them to rule
   out the as-yet-unmapped influence of biology on special expertise<

This is true as Howe, accepts that there are biological individual
diffrences, but disagrees with current evidence for the talent acount,
and in a way boths accepts and rejects the talent view.

>In order to refute the logical argument that the asymptote for
   performance has to be constrained by unmodifyable components (innate
   talents), it would be necessary to identify practice conditions
   under which individuals could acquire skills to circumvent basic
   innate characteristics (talent) or modify the basic components.
   Ericsson and Charness (1994) claimed that the acquisition of expert
   performance involved such practice conditions where the performance
   attained after years and decades of daily deliberate practice
   (Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Rmer, 1993) is often mediated by
   qualitatively different mechanisms compared to those observed for
   everyday skill acquisition. There are, at least, three qualitative
   differences between expert performance and everyday skill
   acquisition (Ericsson & Lehmann, 1996).<

This is true many examples Howe cites are not exmples of extreme talent
but just of skill. Another author cites the experimental method of
testing the limits were extremes of skill can be tested but first you
must have subjects who are experts, then you may be pre selecting your
subjets on genes giving talent, thus no conclusion could be drawn


>The authors cannot find any "firm" evidence of early manifestations
   of advanced abilities, which must emerge "in the absence of special
   opportunities to learn." (P. 11). However, as all children have some
   opportunities it is necessary to look at the strong indications from
   very early development. For example, work at the Fels Institute
   (Lewis & Michalson, 1985) found that by 2-4 months measured infant
   memory could indicate future IQ, early motor development could
   predict subsequent physical aptitude, and there are distinct but
   related paths of development which are stable over the first three
   years of life (Lewis at al, 1986: Lewis and Louis, 1991). The
   strongest path, which can be traced from three months, is verbal.
   Even newborns who habituate faster are providing indications of
   future higher level intelligence (Messer, 1990), and they do have
   innate preferences, such as for flavour<

The authors present counter evidence that Howe ignored for early signs.
Showing Howe may have selectiely presented evidence

>This denial of early signs appears to be based on questionnaire
   responses from the parents of 257 children selected for a
   prestigious school of music: no such signs were recalled. But when I
   had carried out similar research at the same school of music on the
   parents of 24 children with personal interviews, the parents often
   recalled distinct early signs, which was why they had taken trouble
   to encourage them (Freeman, 1995)<

Authors also report different results in a replicatrion of Howes
experiment that are not in line with Howes hypothesis

   <That early advancement was not sustainable at an outstanding level,
   no matter how hard the youngsters worked. In fact, the music school
   has been forced to broaden its initially highly focused music
   education to accommodate such pupils who discovered that talent is
   more than practice and enthusiasm. This also happened in Feldman's
   study of 6 boy prodigies (Feldman with Goldsmith, 1986): in spite of
   heavy tutoring and practice, their advancement fizzled out<

They also present evidence although autobiographical of instances
were talent fizzled out with practice

Thus they claim untill some firm evidence for either side of the
argument emerges, nothing can be determined. This may be true but the
extreme argument stimulates argument that will eventually discover
the answer.

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