12 March 2008

Expertise and belief

Two interesting articles that I want to point out.

The first is a Psychology Today article on magical thinking. This, to me, is another way of looking at the more fundamental question about the basic nature of belief, which fascinates me. Why do people believe something or not? Are there limits to what we can believe? And as a teacher, how can I affect what people believe -- or should I?

Second is a Time article looking at research into expertise. As a teacher, I want to pass on expertise. As a researcher, I want to hone my expertise. How do I do that?

Ericsson's primary finding is that rather than mere experience or even raw talent, it is dedicated, slogging, generally solitary exertion — repeatedly practicing the most difficult physical tasks for an athlete, repeatedly performing new and highly intricate computations for a mathematician — that leads to first-rate performance. And it should never get easier; if it does, you are coasting, not improving.

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