Monday, May 08, 2006

[political-researchp] Bloglines - EASILY STARTLED

Chronicle of the Conspiracy
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By Donald L. Luskin

Here's an example of what rubs me the wrong way about celebrated Freakonomics author Steven Levitt. In his New York Times column today he writes on the origins of talent:

...a 900-page academic book that will be published next month, makes a rather startling assertion: the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers -- whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming -- are nearly always made, not born. And yes, practice does make perfect. These may be the sort of cliches that parents are fond of whispering to their children. But these particular cliches just happen to be true.
This is typical of the over-heated self-aggrandizing tone that Levitt always assumed, designed to make his pedestrian insights seem like great revelations. In a single paragraph he calls a conclusion "startling" and then says it is a "cliche." Well, which is it? Or is it just startling to a narcissist like Levitt to learn that normal people alrdeeplyeeply know something he apparently didn't? That knowledge, by the way, consists of the profoundly democratic anti-statist truth that human beingscapableabale of making themselves into the people they wish -- they are not genetically pre-programmed robots to be sorted and disposed of by the state.

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