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Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Derulux] #2275851 05/14/14 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Derulux


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You don't get to be a medallist in the Olympics after just a few years of training, having been switched from another sport, unless you've already got the genetic makeup to be one.

I don't know that this is provable. I could just as easily say the opposite. If you take an already elite athlete and switch sports, a lot of the curve is already completed. Elite athletes are already in phenomenal shape, have high levels of coordination, and know how to learn material. Teaching them new material is relatively inconsequential by comparison.

A really quick, accessible example: check out the female Olympian gold medalist (couples skating) on "Dancing with the Stars." She definitely wasn't a professional dancer going into the competition, but after only ten weeks, she's nailed it. Imagine what a "few more years" could do...

Quote
And BTW, height is genetically predetermined, assuming optimum nutrition.

This one I definitely have to give you. But where does height absolutely stop you?

High-jumpers, long-jumpers........

Your example of that Olympic medallist excelling in dancing is a good example of the genetic component I was talking about - agility, timing, flexibility....

Here in the UK, we've had similar participation from Olympic medallists in our show 'Strictly Come Dancing' (which originated with the BBC, who sold the concept around the world, including USA, which gave their own versions different titles grin), with similar results: power athletes don't do well; those who medalled in sports that require agility and rapid reflexes excelled.

I watched the TV program which showed how coaches, sports scientists and researchers were sent to schools in Britain to look for potential Olympic hopefuls. All pupils who were 'sporty' were given various tests to determine which particular sport they were best suited for - involving tests of power, endurance, agility, flexibility....as well as height and build. (All these are genetically pre-determined.) And then, those who excelled at any of them were offered specialist training in the particular sport that required those specific characteristics. It didn't matter that the kid had never tried that sport, or even knew anything about it (as one football-mad kid who was encouraged to try fencing, another to switch to rowing, yet another to cycling....).

BTW, coordination, endurance and power are all three different things. Just ask a marathoner, a sprinter and a gymnast. They don't do well transferring to the other categories which require different attributes.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Atrys] #2275857 05/14/14 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
Originally Posted by EM Deeka

Any accessible reference to support this statement ?

High school education, logical deduction. Anyone who knows the first thing about genetics and their inability to be "changed" or "altered" (insofar as the living human) will know this.


So in your circles if you tag an Emerson quote and throw around a few "global maximum" and local minima people get convinced !

Quote
Anyone who knows the first thing about genetics and their inability to be "changed" or "altered" (insofar as the living human) will know this.


And there are people who are convinced the earth is 6000 years old based on their high school education and logical deductions !!
And you have identical twins manifesting differently "genitically" determined physiological diseases/conditions.

Last edited by EM Deeka; 05/14/14 06:31 AM.
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275884 05/14/14 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Your example of that Olympic medallist excelling in dancing is a good example of the genetic component I was talking about - agility, timing, flexibility....

All three of these can be acquired non-genetically. I am actually a good example of agility and flexibility. Genetically-speaking, my family has a history of very tight muscles. Yet, through my entire active career competing, I was able to perform a full split, hold my foot over my head, etc etc.

My example of the Olympic medalist is a great example of "transferable skills", not genetics. Almost anyone can acquire flexibility, agility, and timing over 20 years -- if you work at it, and you work at it correctly. Heck, I've taught people these exact attributes in the martial arts for more than 20 years, working with every body type, every set of genetic material imaginable.


Regarding height, yes the last two long jump world record holders were over 6', but consider that one of the greatest athletes of all time, Jesse Owens, was 5'10". High jump is a better example, but not perfect. Yes, the world record is held by a guy who I believe is somewhere between 6'3" to 6'5", but consider Spud Webb. He never high jumped a day in his life; he was a famed slam dunk champion who had a vertical of around 46-48". Spud was 5'7", so take his hip height of approximately 34" and add it.. 80". He might clear 6'10" (I say "might" because he never tried it, so we'll never know). In his day, that's only 6" off the Olympic gold medal, and in most years would have qualified him for the Olympics. The bronze was a little over 7', so he might not have won a medal, but still, I think it's a pretty good example. smile


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275898 05/14/14 09:09 AM
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Quote
I don't know that this is provable. I could just as easily say the opposite. If you take an already elite athlete and switch sports, a lot of the curve is already completed. Elite athletes are already in phenomenal shape, have high levels of coordination, and know how to learn material. Teaching them new material is relatively inconsequential by comparison.


It's interesting to think about! I will say that while general conditioning, familiarity with similar coordination, flexibility and endurance are all transferable, it appears that a lot of what makes an athlete so successful in his or her sport is not, actually, very generally applicable to anything else.

Apparently, the complex neural map that permits an elite athlete to do with precision the thing that he or she does best is incredibly sport-specific. I was watching a show or a documentary recently on the subject and they took professional baseball players who were hitting specialists. Their eyes can immediately assess how the ball is leaving the pitcher's hand, unconsciously find relevant information in the movement of the pitcher's arm, adjust and do their thing in a split second. They calculate, judge, and fire so fast it's almost hard to contemplate. They took these elite players and put them in front of an elite softball pitcher. You would THINK that the general principle of "ball hurling at me from person throwing ball, swing bat" would still apply, but even after giving them time to think about the differences, observe the pitcher, and practice, their hit rate was no better than "pretty good" for the sport of softball. Their brains just could not make the same predictions nearly as fast and as efficiently as they could within the confines of their sport and they were knocked down to mortal levels. And in softball, the ball is bigger and moves more slowly. The neurological system they developed so incredibly well was, in the end, utterly specific.

Which means that there's a lot of carryover in terms of general familiarity with a similar activity, there's a limit, after which everybody is the same again. So I'm not surprised that Olympic athletes would do well in dancing with the stars. I'd also not be surprised that a very good pianist could probably make satisfactory progress on the violin in short order: he understands sound and music, has a good ear, knows about practicing well, limiting tension and is patient and comfortable with repetition and incremental progress. But after a certain amount of progress is made, you're left with the same thing everybody is left with: how to put everything together in a highly coordinated and useful way for advanced skill? Issues of intonation, creating nuances of sound and resonances, textures, etc. with tiny and imperceptible movements of the bowing arm against little movements of the left hand.... Not happening any faster than "normal" people.

I don't know. I just thought it was kind of interesting!

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Parks] #2275903 05/14/14 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Parks
Dear Fiona,

May I give you my advice? Music is a very personal endeavor. Meaning, making music is the result of expressing yourself - your real self. Oscar Wilde says, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

Giving the world a unique interpretation means giving them yourself, because you are unique - and I think all the geneticists out there will agree with me on that one ; ) Consequently, it's not the interpretation itself that is unique, but rather expression of it. Your expression.

There are performers out there who capitalize on giving the public what they want. Making them go "Wow!" or "Hey, they can't do that," or " . . . . " etc. You can't make anyone do anything. You can't tell them how to react to your playing.

Therefore, play for yourself, wow yourself, surprise yourself. Those vibrations go into the world, whether or not you are accredited for it. It goes into your Being. Your Being Yourself.

The man who spoke those words, "If music be the food of love, play on," did not make it, did he? He didn't get the girl for which he was convinced only music would ease his unrequited condition. He got something better, and 'making it' was not what he thought it was. In fact, that 'making it' was right beside him the whole time.

Big stage, 9 foot Steinway, fame, these indeed 'seem,' for they are actions that a man might play, but you have that within which passeth show, these but the trappings and the suits of 'making it.'
; )


Thank you so much! Very beautiful and inspiring. smile I totally agree. I only please myself when I play even if it means breaking some of the "rules" because I do believe that musicality is individual freedom.


*Fiona*

"If music be food of love, play on!"
P.S. I am in love with Beethoven, infatuated with Liszt, and crazy about Chopin!
And when he behaves, Rachmaninoff is my darling! ;p
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2275917 05/14/14 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
Quote
I don't know that this is provable. I could just as easily say the opposite. If you take an already elite athlete and switch sports, a lot of the curve is already completed. Elite athletes are already in phenomenal shape, have high levels of coordination, and know how to learn material. Teaching them new material is relatively inconsequential by comparison.


It's interesting to think about! I will say that while general conditioning, familiarity with similar coordination, flexibility and endurance are all transferable, it appears that a lot of what makes an athlete so successful in his or her sport is not, actually, very generally applicable to anything else.

Apparently, the complex neural map that permits an elite athlete to do with precision the thing that he or she does best is incredibly sport-specific. I was watching a show or a documentary recently on the subject and they took professional baseball players who were hitting specialists. Their eyes can immediately assess how the ball is leaving the pitcher's hand, unconsciously find relevant information in the movement of the pitcher's arm, adjust and do their thing in a split second. They calculate, judge, and fire so fast it's almost hard to contemplate. They took these elite players and put them in front of an elite softball pitcher. You would THINK that the general principle of "ball hurling at me from person throwing ball, swing bat" would still apply, but even after giving them time to think about the differences, observe the pitcher, and practice, their hit rate was no better than "pretty good" for the sport of softball. Their brains just could not make the same predictions nearly as fast and as efficiently as they could within the confines of their sport and they were knocked down to mortal levels. And in softball, the ball is bigger and moves more slowly. The neurological system they developed so incredibly well was, in the end, utterly specific.

Which means that there's a lot of carryover in terms of general familiarity with a similar activity, there's a limit, after which everybody is the same again. So I'm not surprised that Olympic athletes would do well in dancing with the stars. I'd also not be surprised that a very good pianist could probably make satisfactory progress on the violin in short order: he understands sound and music, has a good ear, knows about practicing well, limiting tension and is patient and comfortable with repetition and incremental progress. But after a certain amount of progress is made, you're left with the same thing everybody is left with: how to put everything together in a highly coordinated and useful way for advanced skill? Issues of intonation, creating nuances of sound and resonances, textures, etc. with tiny and imperceptible movements of the bowing arm against little movements of the left hand.... Not happening any faster than "normal" people.

I don't know. I just thought it was kind of interesting!

I think this is very similar to the "Dancing with the Stars" example, in that these elite athletes had very little time to prepare. Give them 10 or 20 years of batting against a softball pitcher (like they had in baseball), and we might see that they can, indeed, perform at the highest level.

If you want a control group, compare these elite baseball athletes to regular people off the street who have never swung a bat. Then, compare the elite athlete's skill level to that of the non-athlete. I'm confident you'll see a world of difference. In fact, I'd wager at least some of the non-athletes won't even hit the ball, and none of them will hit it regularly enough to determine a batting average. There's a whole host of transferable skills here, things the baseball player worked on for years: flexibility, agility, coordination, stance, swing mechanics, and I'm leaving alone general exercise and fitness levels that lead to the strength, speed, and power necessary to hit balls well at this level.

Also, I'm not familiar with this experiment, but consider that, if they used a softball diamond, it is only 43 feet from home plate, instead of 60 feet. Doesn't seem like much, but a 90mph fastball is traveling at 132 feet per second. That means it will take .45s to reach home plate. An 80mph softball will reach home plate in .36s. That's equivalent to a baseball coming in at 114mph. Nobody in baseball would hit that ball regularly.. just look at the wild success of pitchers like Nolan Ryan, who barely broke 100mph with their fastball.


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275924 05/14/14 10:57 AM
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Daughter attends a school where she is surrounded by musical prodigies from across the world. From what I've seen adolescence age is the major hurdle to cross!

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275930 05/14/14 11:15 AM
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While I can appreciate and respect all the scientific knowledge displayed in this thread, my own point was very un-scientific and very simple: There seems to be a component in acquiring musical proficiency (or proficiency in mathematics or chess, for that matter) that cannot be attributed to anything other than "innate" or "natural" talent. Talent that exists at birth. My "evidence" is purely observational, and not based on science.

I don't think the age of the person at the time of his first musical exposure is important. What's important is the time span between that first exposure and the point at which the person achieves a high level of proficiency. So whether one starts lessons at 6, and is playing concerts at 10, or starts lessons at 20, and is playing concerts at 25, is irrelevant. Either way, 4, 5, or 6 years is an extraordinarily short amount of time to acquire such a high level of skill. And I don't believe any amount of "nurturing" can account for this.

Which is why I used the example of Cziffra. His life was so remarkably disadvantaged, yet the fact that he was able to improvise music at age 4, with absolutely no formal training, indicates (to me) a natural talent. I simply see no other explanation. And I find the usual arguments about "unknown environmental factors" to be a lot of hogwash. What unknown factors could possibly enable a 4-year old to hear melodies and then improvise on them at a high enough level to be hired as a public performer at age 5, and then enter a conservatory at age 9?

In all of the discussions on this topic, I've yet to hear an explanation that makes sense.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Old Man] #2275937 05/14/14 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Man

Which is why I used the example of Cziffra. His life was so remarkably disadvantaged,


Good evening. The thing is, judging from what you write about him, Cziffra's life was remarkable advantaged as far as music is concerned. And I'll bet that what you write isn't even the half of it: you have to realize, Cziffra was a Tzigane, a Gypsy, and there is an extremely rich musical tradition among the Tziganes ... in a country that as a whole has an extremely rich musical tradition. When you talk about his father, a Tzigane, playing the "cimbalom" in cabarets, I suspect that you don't realize what a high level of musicianship you are talking about.

You couldn't have picked a worse example!


Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Old Man] #2275942 05/14/14 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Man
While I can appreciate and respect all the scientific knowledge displayed in this thread, my own point was very un-scientific and very simple: There seems to be a component in acquiring musical proficiency (or proficiency in mathematics or chess, for that matter) that cannot be attributed to anything other than "innate" or "natural" talent. Talent that exists at birth. My "evidence" is purely observational, and not based on science.

I don't think the age of the person at the time of his first musical exposure is important. What's important is the time span between that first exposure and the point at which the person achieves a high level of proficiency. So whether one starts lessons at 6, and is playing concerts at 10, or starts lessons at 20, and is playing concerts at 25, is irrelevant. Either way, 4, 5, or 6 years is an extraordinarily short amount of time to acquire such a high level of skill. And I don't believe any amount of "nurturing" can account for this.

Which is why I used the example of Cziffra. His life was so remarkably disadvantaged, yet the fact that he was able to improvise music at age 4, with absolutely no formal training, indicates (to me) a natural talent. I simply see no other explanation. And I find the usual arguments about "unknown environmental factors" to be a lot of hogwash. What unknown factors could possibly enable a 4-year old to hear melodies and then improvise on them at a high enough level to be hired as a public performer at age 5, and then enter a conservatory at age 9?

In all of the discussions on this topic, I've yet to hear an explanation that makes sense.

I'm not sure Cziffra is as good an example as you think. landorrano's answer was far more specific than I could have been in this regard, but beyond that, his background also may have given him the "traits" necessary to reach the success he did. Unfortunately, since this all happened from 1921-1930, we may never be able to answer that question definitively.

For me, calling something "talent" because we don't know what it is (and/or can't identify it) is the same as calling it an "undefined quality". I'm fine calling it that. There are scientists who believe "gravity" may actually be a byproduct of a combination of other forces. And this is about 400 years after Newton. So, who knows what we'll know tomorrow?

Where I have difficulty is when people say things like, "Well, we don't know what it is, so it's obviously this other thing we can't define right now..." grin

Have you heard of Emily Bear? She's 12 now, I think? Anyway, she might be a decent person to watch because her life has been a little more shoved-in-the-public. The problem we run into, again, is that there is no "control" group. Because the definition of "talent" is self-fulfilling, we cannot find someone with equal "talent" who isn't performing at that high level, so we have nothing to compare these prodigies to..

To go all the way back to my original "traits", if you can find someone who fulfills those traits, and after years of study, still can't perform at that level, then I will, with no reservation whatsoever, concede the argument. (And no "handless wonders" please.. Venus de Milo is not a satisfactory example. grin )


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Old Man] #2275945 05/14/14 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Man
My "evidence" is purely observational, and not based on science.

That says everything.

If you want to look at science, you can find some here.

Quote
What unknown factors could possibly enable a 4-year old to hear melodies and then improvise on them at a high enough level to be hired as a public performer at age 5, and then enter a conservatory at age 9?

Try answering that question instead of asking it rhetorically, and you will become smarter.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Derulux] #2275947 05/14/14 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Derulux
Originally Posted by bennevis
Your example of that Olympic medallist excelling in dancing is a good example of the genetic component I was talking about - agility, timing, flexibility....

All three of these can be acquired non-genetically. I am actually a good example of agility and flexibility. Genetically-speaking, my family has a history of very tight muscles. Yet, through my entire active career competing, I was able to perform a full split, hold my foot over my head, etc etc.

My example of the Olympic medalist is a great example of "transferable skills", not genetics. Almost anyone can acquire flexibility, agility, and timing over 20 years -- if you work at it, and you work at it correctly. Heck, I've taught people these exact attributes in the martial arts for more than 20 years, working with every body type, every set of genetic material

Well, it's a pity you didn't 'teach' me flexibility grin.

I've never been able to touch my toes with straight legs since I was 14, i.e. after my growth spurt. Yet my calves were, and still are, very flexible - I can do calf stretches that gymnasts wouldn't sniff at. And I've never stretched my calves even when i was running marathons (while all the other runners around me were trying to push trees over wink ) - because I read an Australian study done on army recruits that found a higher rate of injury among those who stretched compared to those who didn't.

I spent about two years assiduously doing hamstring stretches because I took up a martial arts class in my gym, and many of the kicks were beyond me. My hamstrings did stretch a little - about couple of inches. I still couldn't reach the bottom part of my shins....and eventually gave up on those high jumping kicks. Within a few weeks of stopping stretching exercises, my hamstrings were back to their former state. I guess someone up high didn't want me to become a ballet dancer......

As for timing and agility, well, I can consistently throw scrunched up paper balls into a bin from over ten feet away, and I've never played cricket/baseball/etc in my life (too boring). Yet many of my sports-mad friends can't do this. On the other hand, they can do a standing jump of several feet. I've never managed two feet. But I can run marathons in under 3 1/2 hours. They out-sprint me in anything under 400m, but I beat them in anything further.

I learnt to play chess purely from reading books, and won the first chess tournament that I entered (a county junior championship), three years later. Prior to that, I'd never played any opponent other than my uncle, during school holidays. (Chess computers didn't exist then).

The more geneticists study these things, the more we realize how much of what we can do, or can't do, is limited by our genetic makeup. What we should be doing is to maximise what we have got, rather than blame our genes for what we haven't got. I have no truck with those who blame their genes for everything from getting fat, to alcoholism, to smoking, to not getting out of bed in the mornings to keep down a job. Yes, some of us may be more predisposed than others to having bigger appetites, to acquiring addictions and so forth. But we are humans, and can (choose to) exercise control over what we do.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275962 05/14/14 01:02 PM
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Derulux,

You need to delete some PMs. I can't send one. smile

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: landorrano] #2275963 05/14/14 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by Old Man

Which is why I used the example of Cziffra. His life was so remarkably disadvantaged,

Good evening. The thing is, judging from what you write about him, Cziffra's life was remarkable advantaged as far as music is concerned. And I'll bet that what you write isn't even the half of it: you have to realize, Cziffra was a Tzigane, a Gypsy, and there is an extremely rich musical tradition among the Tziganes ... in a country that as a whole has an extremely rich musical tradition. When you talk about his father, a Tzigane, playing the "cimbalom" in cabarets, I suspect that you don't realize what a high level of musicianship you are talking about.

You couldn't have picked a worse example!

I have no doubt about the level of musicianship required to play a cimbalom, nor would I ever underestimate what's required to play many instruments I've never heard of. grin (As a fan of tango, I know that the bandoneon is a beast of an instrument to play well, and very few in the world have mastered it.) So I'm in no way disparaging the musical skills of the senior Cziffra.

But that still leaves the little matter of time. Years 0-4. Considering that children have a few other things to learn from 0-2, like how to crawl, walk, talk, feed themselves, etc., I think we can safely lop off two of those years. Which leaves only a year or two of what might be considered "devoted listening" to his sister.

I don't care how musically gifted the rest of the family is, the idea of improvising at age 4 is, by any standard, extraordinary. We're not talking about learning to read notes and play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". Improvisation, even at an elementary level, is a far more complex enterprise, that has eluded many of the greatest classical musicians. So to attribute this skill to the "extremely rich musical tradition" he was exposed to seems a bit facile to me.

I've known more than one family (including my own) whose home life was suffused with music, and who made extraordinary sacrifices to nurture their children's musical life. And while many of the children did go on to have successful musical careers (not I!!), none of them went on to "make it", in the sense that the OP defines that term. I think with the right combination of training, determination, perseverance, etc. we can all advance along the musical continuum. But to deny that we each have naturally imposed limits to that progression is, IMO, naive.

So I still stand by the Cziffra example. I would agree that his family's rich musical tradition may have instilled in him a love of music, and inspired him to learn about it. But I'm equally convinced that the actual ability to execute it, and progress at such a rapid pace, was due to his natural gifts.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2275970 05/14/14 01:27 PM
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As per Spanish... there ARE lots of different accents in Spain, even though it is a small country. Also, what you call Spanish is really Castilian, the common language. There are 5 official languages in Spain, ALL of them are Spanish.

Just saying this because this small difference means a lot politically.

Below are some results from a language survey. Participants of the survey were allowed to mark one or several languages, as they are co-official in parts of Spain, also around 3% speak other languages due to immigration.

Of course, people in areas where not only Castilian is spoken are expected to understand this language and be truly bilingual, so that people can at least travel within Spain and understand each other. A bit like German and Italian dialects, but these are official languages.

There are extreme differences to the accent from the 4 cardinal points in Spain, and I mean talking in Castilian.

- CASTILIAN, spoken and understood everywhere in Spain. About 89% of Spanish people think in this language and the rest are expected to know it.

- CATALAN / VALENCIAN / BALEARIC - very similar languages, and a lot of political tensions between these. The Catalans basically want to unify all of these, showing a lot of respect. Spoken in Cataluña, Comunidad Valenciana, Islas Baleares. (North East, East) 9%

- GALICIAN, spoken in Galicia (North West) 5%

- EUZKERA, VASQUE, a really old, strange and isolated language, no known root, whilst all the others are from Latin origin. (North) They want to anexionate part of France and other autonomic territories of Spain... so much for respect, too. 1%

- ARANES - just to complicate things more.. also spoken in a part of Cataluña... really minimal exposure but fierce protection. <1%

- Several other languages NOT officially recognized, such as ARAGONES, or ASTURLEONES.

So really, we have a bit of a Babel territory. I remember that even the Andalucians were pushing to get their language -accent, really- officially recognized...

Not sure either to laugh or to cry, sometimes...


As per prodigies go, I think that Emily Bear is one, or at least far more than the little Elias, I cannot remember his surname. And definitely she knows how to deal with people. Not only does she play but she also composes. For me this is far more artistic than just playing, it doesn't matter how fast or well.



Last edited by evamar; 05/14/14 01:58 PM.

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Re: Prodigies????? [Re: phantomFive] #2276001 05/14/14 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
Originally Posted by Old Man
My "evidence" is purely observational, and not based on science.

That says everything....

It doesn't. And I'd say this on principle even if I didn't mostly agree with the gist of what OldMan is saying, which I do.

Science only looks at what it looks at, and the limits of what it looks at can limit how meaningful the findings are. Plus, it has to be good science in order to be meaningful at all, and that gets into whether something is "good science" or not, or whether it's really science at all -- those things are debatable as often as not.

And anyway, isn't "observation" one of the the main ways that we begin judging whether something is good science? i.e. whether it seems consistent with what we have seen, and with things that we "know"?

This kind of debate comes up constantly about sports, probably especially baseball. Some believe that the best answers come from scientific and statistical analysis, rather than tradition or seat-of-the-pants observation. I thought it was more than interesting when Bill James, probably the best and brightest of the statistical analysts (certainly the most influential), wrote about a bunch of lists of "100 best players of all time." There were about 5 such lists, all but one based on analysis, the other by an old school writer, Maury Allen, who did it just from his impressions. James said, in a "go figure" kind of way, that he found Allen's list the most 'correct.' And BTW James later did his own list, which I think is the best of all, in part because he made a point of including players from the old "Negro Leagues," on whom formal analysis is impossible because of a paucity of formal records.

Don't glorify science more than it deserves, and don't put down "observation." If we want to make the best sense, we need both, and good intelligent observation can make important contributions.

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2276010 05/14/14 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C

Plus, it has to be good science in order to be meaningful at all

This is completely wrong.

Originally Posted by Mark_C

Science only looks at what it looks at..

This is a meaningless tautology. Few things you say (write) are worth the read.

Observation is the very mechanism by which the process of science is even possible. It all begins with inference from observation. So yes, observation is important, but only insofar as its application to the scientific method in the acquisition of human knowledge and understanding.

Last edited by Atrys; 05/14/14 03:06 PM.

"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
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Re: Prodigies????? [Re: phantomFive] #2276024 05/14/14 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
Originally Posted by Old Man
My "evidence" is purely observational, and not based on science.

That says everything.

If you want to look at science, you can find some here.

Science? What I see is almost entirely conjecture and equivocation: Maybe this, maybe that, pretty sure about this, not so sure about that, some researchers adhere to the "native talent" theory, some don't, etc. etc. I think this sentence from the summary "says everything", as you put it:

Quote
To the question, "If talents do not exist, how can one explain the phenomena attributed to them?", we do not claim to have a full or precise answer.

Hmmm, I think that's all I've been saying from the beginning. I can't be sure (any more than these researchers can be "sure"), but based on what I've read, one's success as a musician appears to correlate with one's ability to acquire musical skills very rapidly, and often at a very early age.

Now correlation proves nothing, and I've never sought to prove anything. But based on the lack of proof on either side of this debate, I'll take correlation over nothing.

Also, I suspect that the authors of this paper have a little more than pure "science" up their collective sleeves (the highlighting is mine):

Quote
The evidence we have surveyed in this target article does not support the talent account, according to which excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts. This conclusion has practical implications, because categorising some children as innately talented is discriminatory. The evidence suggests that such categorization is unfair and wasteful, preventing young people from pursuing a goal because of teachers' or parents' unjustified conviction that they would not benefit from the superior opportunities given to those who are deemed to be talented.

There seems to be a bit of a political agenda here, because this is not the language of pure science, but at best, social science. The authors apparently embrace the "we're-all-equal-everyone's-a-winner" philosophy. While I believe we are all of equal value, we are most certainly not all equal. Unfortunately, reality sometimes rears its ugly head.

Originally Posted by phantomFive
Originally Posted by Old Man
What unknown factors could possibly enable a 4-year old to hear melodies and then improvise on them at a high enough level to be hired as a public performer at age 5, and then enter a conservatory at age 9?

Try answering that question instead of asking it rhetorically, and you will become smarter.

I don't think it was rhetorical. I was hoping someone would fill in the blanks and make me smarter. But keep in mind that while I'm eager to learn, I'm not a prodigy. smile

Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Fiona0424] #2276032 05/14/14 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Man

Science? What I see is almost entirely conjecture and equivocation...

For someone so close to the readings of Hitchens, you sure seem to lack facilities for critical analysis and reason. Maybe you should read the publication again, take notes, explore the citations, and form an educated, informed, objective opinion.


"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: Prodigies????? [Re: Atrys] #2276038 05/14/14 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys


Observation is the very mechanism by which the process of science is even possible. It all begins with inference from observation. So yes, observation is important, but only insofar as its application to the scientific method in the acquisition of human knowledge and understanding.


You took the words off my mouth.

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