Ed Bradon wrote an article for Behavioral Scientist titled Expertise in the Age of YouTube.

« For decades, behavioral scientists have been poking and prodding the best musicians, chess players, and Olympians to understand what separates superstars from the merely great. Anders Ericsson, for example, studied master violinists and concluded that what matters is not just the volume of practice, but its quality. The best sort is “deliberate”: structured, effortful, with a purpose. A violinist who attacks the hardest parts of their pieces over and over again will learn much faster than one that pleasantly breezes through the easy bits, even if the latter puts in a lot more time. Better still is a coach to guide you: In a classic 1984 paper, Benjamin Bloom showed that one-on-one tutoring could improve performance by as much as two standard deviations.  »

« In 2009, Gary Klein and Daniel Kahneman argued that true expertise can only be inculcated in “high-validity” environments—that is, environments where the relationship between contextual cues, actions, and outcomes is stable enough to be learned. Low-validity environments such as financial markets or politics don’t afford the same opportunities for learning. Expertise built on their shifting sands is liable to collapse… »

« Carol Dweck has shown that the mindset you approach this practice with makes a big difference. A fixed mindset sees talent as a set quantity… If you’re not good now, you never will be. By contrast, a growth mindset understands ability as the product of effort… this mindset keeps you motivated in a way that transforms learning and performance over the long term. Relatedly, Angela Duckworth has famously made the case that character can matter just as much as raw talent in cultivating expertise. Some combination of resilience, conscientiousness, and grit seems to be essential. »

« It is up to our collected habits, institutions, and technologies to give the ingredients of expertise application in the real world. And it is here that the internet is quietly working big changes. »

« when examples of real expertise are rare, mediocrity begins to look like excellence. This “judgment creep” can inflate our perceptions of our own skill and put a brake on progress. »

« If you want to get better at hypnosis…or anything else, it is now your right to be spoiled for choice. There will be multiple YouTube channels with step-by-step tutorials, surprisingly constructive comments sections, and rapidly improving production values. They will all be free. There will be Reddit communities with tips, war stories, and memes. If you post a question, or a report on your progress, dozens of strangers will offer you personalized advice and encouragement. Most of them will be polite. And there will be Twitter and Instagram feeds full of inspirational examples, suggestions, and reminders. »

« All of these will be connected to each other. A glancing encounter with one is enough; the familiar magic of cross-promotion, algorithmic recommendations, and “like, comment, and subscribe” will do the rest. Before long, you can be consuming your own personalized curriculum in convenient, tweet-sized chunks. And if you get really into it, you can start contributing your own stories, advice, and YouTube instructionals. Friendships, career opportunities, and monetizable content await.  »


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