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A response to Ari Massoodi on Twitter

I’ve always had an aversion to the fixed quantified of talent or innate gifts. Never felt there was deep enough study or evidence that proves the existence of such things beyond circumstances. No one has explained Mozart or any other well known genius; we don’t have objective facts that prove its inbuilt not trained. Instead we have a lot of well reasoned (and not so well reasoned) debate on the subject. 

How someone is trained and how they understand things they learn is crucial. If they don’t connect principles and patterns underlying what they are taught then learning remains hard work. However if a child is lucky enough to learn how these things connect together early enough, they will, with hard work, advance rapidly. Caveat – with a supportive environment!

For me, until proven conclusively otherwise, I take what I feel is a slightly positive view of humanity: innate talent is too fixed an idea and that the correct training, at the right time, with sufficient work can produce miracles. 

In other words, if I was to be a virtuoso at violin, I needed to have started very young with the right training. Please note, it’s not even merely a matter of 10,000 hours of hard work – it is quality of training as well. So it’s not a view that means everyone can become anything-timing and luck play as large a part for one. 

I think I take a view that the idea of inborn gifts is not a useful one: it offers us no forwards path for individuals and is an idea that conceptually supports a fixed mindset.

My note here is purely a personal view of innate gifts-a debate that will probably continue for decades unresolved.