10,000 Hour Rule

Malcolm Gladwell, an accolade author, and journalist made a bold claim that it takes 10,000 hours of apprenticeship and practice to master any activity or profession in his book, Outliers. He garnered research from many social experiments and researches conducted by psychologists and social scientists and found that the preponderance of evidence points to a direct relationship between hours of practice and accomplishment. I will use the Baloney Detection Kit to ascertain his theory.
To verify Gladwell’s claim, I researched him and the data he had used to come to this conclusion. Malcolm Gladwell based his theory on the findings of a credible psychologist, Anders Ericsson’s research, who conducted an experiment on 41 students of 21-years of age, studying violin at the elite Music Academy of West Berlin. The purpose of this research was to find out how why the violinists were accomplished and prodigious: was it because of their practice sessions or simply genetic. They found that the most accomplished violinists had put an average of ten thousand hours of practice by the time they were twenty years old. So the preponderance of evidence indicated that there was a direct relationship between hours of practice and accomplishment and it also shows us that Gladwell has used a credible source to gather data for his theory. He also provided positive evidence that supported his theory.

Gladwell used this research to create the base of his theory. He did play by the rules of science by using positive evidence and scientific research to prove his theory. Having said that, Gladwell jumped to conclusions while making his claim. The data showed that there was a direct relationship between hours of practice and accomplishment; however, it did not prove that only 10,000 hours was needed to master an activity or occupation. For instance, in the experiment conducted with the 21- year old violinists 10,000 hours of practice, it took them 10,000 hours of practice to become promising students who would have a bright future in the music industry; however, it would take altogether another ten years for them to start winning international competitions.

There are many reasons as to why Gladwell could have interpreted the data inaccurately. It often happens that humans want to find a pattern in the data, even if there aren’t any. Fortunately, in this case, there was a pattern, but there wasn’t a set number that signified the hours of practice that is needed to master an activity. Gladwell might have desperately wanted to find a number amongst the data that proved this and so this hindered his ability to reason. This incapacity to think logically might have been due to personal reasons, such as greed or becoming famous and successful. Also, this easy 10,000-hour-rule satisfies the human desire to uncover a cause-and-effect relationship: just practice for ten thousand hours straight, and you will become a master of that activity. However, it doesn’t actually work that way and Gladwell’s interpretation of the data invalidated his claim.

In conclusion, Gladwell was accurate in stating that a tremendous amount of practice and dedication is needed to accomplish something in that field. But it is inaccurate for him to state that 10,000 hours of practice is needed to master a study, as the research does not show that.

Bibliography:
http://www.salon.com/2016/04/10/malcolm_gladwell_got_us_wrong_our_research_was_key_to_the_10000_hour_rule_but_heres_what_got_oversimplified/
http://www.fastcodesign.com/3027564/asides/scientists-debunk-the-myth-that-10000-hours-of-practice-makes-you-an-expert
http://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/complexity-and-the-ten-thousand-hour-rule
http://www.wisdomgroup.com/blog/10000-hours-of-practice/

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2 thoughts on “10,000 Hour Rule

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