tv David Epstein Range CSPAN September 1, 2019 12:00am-12:45am EDT
how you get things done but i have a whole new window into it that i have put on a page in story form to try to make it funny and too opened up this. i don't see my journey at all of oneness idea lum lessened by reality. if anything i feel more empowered at the knowledge that i've acquired in different walks whether it's a journalist in the senate campaign and the white house says a u.n. ambassador but there's always something we can do and the state of the world right now we could feel very bleak. i think it's a call to idealism. if you're not in idealist now are you prepared to accept the world as it is? i'm certainly not pretty that i think we can do a lot better than we are doing now.
most of the education of an idealist a memoir by ambassador samantha power comes out in september. this is a quick preview and oyyou're watching booktv on c-span2. .. >> good morning, book lovers, how are you? can we stop for a moment and acknowledge the librarian, hard-working staff and the volunteers? absolutely. [applause] >> i'm chairman for the national endowment of humanities, we proud to continue partnership of national book festival, change-makers and one way we are doing so is to discuss topic on the bottom level of the convention center, they'll we will recognize importance of 19th document,
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will be filled with fascinating presentations from world class authors and every discipline they'll be books w to acquire to have signed bid authors meetings with fellow book lovers, and treasure hunts, of course, for children and we're delighted to start activity with author david and fen engage new book range by journalist triumph specialized world. david is in investigator reporter at propublaka majored in environmental science and astronomy.y. his master's degree is an environmental science and journalism. he served as senior writer "sports illustrated" respecialize at the intersection of sports, in fact,ive reporting and talk about technology that many of you have seen and about technology and sports performance certainly worth your consideration.
he writes how to benefit change of breath interdisciplinary in a world that incentivize hyperspecialization, if that is the challenge then i would say indeed that range answers the question so please welcome david and my colleague the honor role who will conduct the interview. thank you. [applause] , david i hope you're going to think i'm a generalist because these are my notes to draw questionses from. you have so much in your book. you're a -- story teller. which is fascinating because in
many ways this is about leadership a book about about how to become a leader and how to become somebody who takes in many, many experiences and solves problems. so for me, i was fascinated to see that not only you tell great stories, great examples, it is filled with data but the data sort of sneaks in and you find yourself remembering all of your points not particularly because of the data but because of the stories. so what i'm going to try to do is pull some of the i'm going to call them prompts out of book so you can tell the stories because they're s fascinating. i also wanted to -- give you a shoutout for talking about francis -- she is alive which you told me she's 103. she's the woman who saved the
girl scouts, and her ability to help shape leaders was recognized by peter who called her the greatest ceo of all time basically. and so i know you've been influenced by her but i think you've taken it a whole step further. so without further adieu, i was wondering if we could start out with the story that deal with repetition. you know when play sports and you're a sports writer, the idea is we need to keep practicing certain thing practicing, practicing -- but you're saying that's not always the best, best thing to do. so there's your first pitch. yeah. thank you very much. and we should back to francis with aom big influence and how e approach this book. good to hear it be so book starts in sports partly because seat of it sort of came out of kind of out of a debate that i
had with malcolm glad we will when i wrote a book about -- sports science previously when i was at "sports illustrated" and it -- sit krit tyke to 10,000 hour rue or on a panel together and introduce each other recently he said this is davidod epstein who devoted first book to criticizing my work.ot [laughter] so a little bit of a heroing introduction. irbut so we were invited to conference at m.i.t. to debate essentially sports development and he had written about narrow specialization in what is called liberty practice to e repeat same thing over and over again and i wasve a science writer at "sports illustrated" i said let me look at data so i sawer sport around world to become elite with a scientist call a sampling period where they play this wide variety of sports, they gain broad general skills early on that scaffold these later technical skillings that learn about their own interest and
ability and systemly delay specializing until later on piers but that's the norm and we never hear that story when we hear is the tiger woods story tessentially, and sort of you know very selective version of it where he was 7 about months old his father not turn him into a golf or but a ten month imitating swing at two years old, he's on national television golfing you know three years old saying i'm the next great pass forward greatest golfer in the world but that's the vast exception as i argue in the book, that story has been proanl the most powerful mod endevelopment story and it has been extrapolated to -- literally in some books to anything else you want to do in life and one the arguments i make is that golf is actually a horrible molds of almost everything else that humans want to learn. [laughter] and so the model may work for golf. we've been making a really
extrapolation from golf to other afnght where is that approach is not so good. >> well story of the firemen who do repetition all of the time. >> this by the way -- this chapter called learn to drop your familiar tool was hardest strirl industrial writing challenge i've ever face sod so-called hot shot wilderness firefighters and -- smoke jumpers who parachute or heck into dig trenches around them to contain them are are high performance teams but a psychologistrm named karl who studied them qowld notice when theyot face something unexpected for example, they would be an a hillside and fire would be on other hillsides and a little bit jump across a golf chase them up hill they would be ordered to drop tools to run away from the fire and they would refuse, and what he noticed was that when these --
high reliability disaster would happen and refuse to do something that would seem obvious to outsider so repeatedly when there was a tragedy firefighters would be found having died next to their les too chain saw, ax, drip torch hundreds of pounds of equipment andnd maybe there was within 100 feet from safety, and what he realized what's happening was that when training was very, very repetitive that was really good as long as you were facing same situation over and over again but when something changed, you get stuck in that pattern and do same thing anyway so firefighters would refuse to drop those tools even though it would have saved their life and he started to see this in all sorts of areas so most of commercial air a disasters occur when the flight crew stick to initial plan they've done before even when ran don outsider is clear that they'reid heading for disaster or-- f example he said was karl wallenda walking across a title rope between buildings started
to waiver. grabbed instead of grabbing at the rope below him grabbed at balance pole and kept grabbing for ambulance tool instead of wire that could have saved him so a poxy or being flexible, in the face of something different and this gets to this finding i write about thatdi can summarizd as transfer that means your able to take your skills and knowledge and apply them to a situation you haven't quite seen before.t for something changes and what predicts a your able to do thats a diversity of experience that you have during training so you have to be very careful about going things that 10,000 hours away unless you're engaged in activity like chest or golf which are so-called kind learning environments that we can talk about if -- >> well the -- i would say fascinating too in your chapter how the wicked world was made when you you start talking i.q. because, of
course, when i was growing up, that was it. i mean, everything got judged by i.q. but then in your chapter you talk about i.q. is gotten higher everywhere. >> yeah. i don't feel so special anymore. [laughter] >> well, you should feel special because they are going up so -- everyone who came before you you know you're-- >> okay. but yes so this -- and this is not just that i.q.sess have gone up this is so-called flynn affect so gone up about three point per decades a over course of 20th century ad didn't just got up but least expected toup so i.q. raven progress that is -- it is just ab tract pattern's one is missing and you have to deduce rule and destill and pattern and culturally reduced nothing done in life or school should haveg affect on able to o well on this test so martian
landing on earth we can give theme test to see how clever they aregi and, in fact, that turned out to be at least stable test that's where we've seen higher rise and it has to do with the way that our minds have changed to accommodate modern work so some of the studieses that sort of aluminated where this was happening look at a natural experiment in soviet unionpe where remote areas sovit socialize agricultural land and took what was substance farmers living premodern condition starg to force and coordinate with other people and they have to think about people work that they's didn't actually do. so they have to think outside of their own experience to coordinate work and some of the people were still in that condition because this change was sort of spreading and group of psychologist went and studied them and found that -- in the people who were still in the premodern situation they're thinking was -- it wasn't worse it was just adapted to a different situation where they have to rely on very
concrete experience. so if they would be asked something, like -- where is cold and snow all of the bears are white. and they say -- what color are the bears and i can't tell i haven't been there. you have to ask someone who was there and never get them to extrapolate outside of their own experience where it is a little exposure to modern work where people have to start thinking about work they don't do that completely change how minds work to where they would get better grouping things by abstract concept and never experience them and we continue to go where we have to -- question of to live by what is called transfer taking our knowledge applying it to situations that wee haven't seen to work that we haven't done before that's how we get by we take it for granted and that's caused us to get better at dedyings rule essentially. when they're not there and change the way we think so particularly abstract parts of
i.q. test we've seen these huge rises and by the way, this is a side point but -- and measure in some ways of gender equity in the society because your dosage of modern work and life is proportional to how you see this i.q. rise so less allowed to engage in modern work you see the efnght separating from men and women. right so if you see point effect not progressing the same for men and women then i think it can be indirect c measure of that in ts society. >> well i don't know if you're aware of this in weekends here in washington in government buildings where, of course, all would love people to be working even on weekends they turn off air-conditioning, heat whatever and you say saturday is a great day to get things done. >> i stole that from oliver who was -- a scientist who digitized by
north carolina and most important worked occurred on saturday what he called saturday morning experiment so he told me people ask why i came into work other than saturday so -- and experimental and they would go into work and on saturday he said youys don't have to be rational ting they're unfunded i can play with other people equipment, in fact -- no really when his colleagues were going get rid of equipment instead of throwing it out they would label it with a label nbgbok5 no bloody good but okay for ol l very he would take it and play with it and do it on saturday morning and one of those saturday mornings where he was -- you know he got a key to the janitor closet goofing around vengted with one that revolutionize to separate molecule for study and in his 50s he took sabbatical two
floors away from his own office -- [laughter] to work with dna and lecture on chemistry and said i was going to t do chemistry sos that was seen astt getting off track but pioneer biochemistry but was a bolde hybrid and 50s becomes a geneticist and 60 win a nobel prize because he learns how to alter genes in animals so we can study them for disease and so -- i kept seeing that trend with creators toei have time set asie unfunded unstructured where they could sort of do this experimentation that's where they'reex break throughs would come -- >> ire would to get back to francis because i want you to explain your relationship to her and her study. and -- also listening to this ire story you just told probably not many of us in here are going to win
nobel prize ever, but in what we do -- in our every day we can learn from this and i think a lot of people are now thinking about saturday not so bad afterall. but -- but talk about francis because -- she's an amazing person. >> yeah. so nutshell of francis is grew up in pennsylvania when it was a big steel town and she had about a semester much college when her father got sick and was passing away so she had to take care of the family. and essentially she got married fairly young her husband went away so -- world war ii where he was a air photographer, and she was born in 1915, by the way. and came back and started photography studio and do whatever was needed so she was this jack-of-all-trades kind of person and by the way we always i think telling that we cut off that phrase full quote is is
master of one better known as of none so in her 30s a woman a prominent woman comes to her door and says would you like to volunteer to lead a girl scout troop i have a little boy don't know anything about leadership or little girls and about come says okay well we have to ban these families girls from modest family who is meet in a church basement and francis says fine six weeks and then find a real leader earn a turns out -- she enjoys it and stays with 7 years until they graduate high school. and sort of the short story is she keeps getting -- asked take on jobs with the girl scouts and keeps saying no, and then they say if you don't well we'll have to get rid of this program. and so keep saying fine for like a month and then these keeps getting big and asked to chair the campaign for girl scouts is and never wants jobs or looking and feels free to do whatever she wants to i'll get the steal and union to be supporters of
this and then united way is like a big supporter but she says well you told me to run it so i'll do it my way and john town pennsylvania has high pest per capita giving in the entire country and by the way second woman to ever lead that campaign was like last year, and she was doing it, you know, like -- decades ago. and so this keeps happens keeps taking bigger jobs and when she gets in her 50s she's asked to beat executive director said no that's a professional job i would never take an actual job ofng again they say like all right i guess question of to like -- so she says fine straighten up box and reads about history of girl scouts realizes this work is her vocation and starts her career mid-50s keeps going well and eventually asked to come to new york to intuf for job of ceo when girl scouts is in total crisis membership is falling off a cliff. it is s kind of a high bound place, and it is not very
diverse, and she says nope don't want that job and her husband says i'll drive to new york turn it down in person at least, and so -- she gets there and say what would you a do like previous gil scout leader captain dorothy who started women coast guard university with dean came and had like leadership in century education, francis has one of 355 local girl scout leaders with onene dmesser of college education and goes in and feelingme not bad throw everythg of out i would ged rid of that one hand book and i would make sure that every community when they look at us they see themselveses so if indigenous girl this is what she says i would make sure to see herself had in a girl scout uniform so i get rid of the camp site and teach them about math and all of this stuff so that was fun but -- it arrives in new york when she
proceeds to save as 130,000 volunteers pay in money but sense of missions that enormous diversity she's told when she gets there, fix the finances, then worry about diversity and she said no, diversity is the problem. that's the problem. that's what we're going to do to reflectiv community we want to seive so commissions research on messaging and neppedz messages like one target native girl says your names are on riffs and all of the beautiful messages, and so she saved girl scouts essentially. tried to retire next day is called by mutual of america so come see your office on madison avenue she said we'vere noticed you've never made a long-term plan many your life so give you an office and you'll figure out what to do with it and mow is head ofou the francis leadership institute in manhattant where se goes to work -- five days week at the age of 103 and a half. [laughter] and so this is is is in a chapter about the importance of
short-termta planning and how -- [laughter] there's a lot of research to suggest that long-term plans are actually really counterproductive. but became a huge she became a bit of a role model more than a bit of a role model for me and really affected she had this saying -- she had two great things that she repeated one is leadership is not a matter is a matter of how to be not a matter of what to do and other was you have to carry a big bafnght to bring something home which meant -- she would go to training and people would say i'm not getting anything from this i know this and if you're open minded you'll get something from anything she said that i was statistic with my own writing and i decided to -- take a beginner online fiction writing course you know saying beginning writing class, maybe that will help, and it didn't help in way i thought but what happened was i had an exercise to write a story with no dialogue web and i realized i was leaning on dialogue in a lazy way i didn't understand to let another scientist explain it
and through manuscript a ton of quotes replace be more clear narrative writing, and that really came out at first saying you can do anything and if you bring an open mind to it you will and now convinced there's no amount of -- beginners writing courses i can take and not learn something from so when i noticed someday a wizard in neighborhood, and i went over to hotel and realize there was like a campus like an may conference over there so i sat in on beginner writing class and you know, about i'm probably not going to write any japanese comic but -- [laughter] and don't say never. no, i definitely wouldn't. believe me. but like it is structure. it is dialogue it is like conflict and -- so -- that she really made a big impression on me in a lot of ways so i was honored to include her in the book in a weird way. when i read her name in her book i found her, her book about leadership. the difference i think, you were inspired by her but i think you've taken it a whole new --
a whole new way meaning when you read her book which is amazing it is a how to. we do this, this, and this and then if it this happens we do this -- but it doesn't tell stories. and i keep thinking i keep going back to the fact that way you tell the story makes it you can remember it. i don't think it is a matter of advancing age that i can't remember everything that she says. and i find myself like point one, point 2, 3, but it all really comeses in where are book and i think she must love your book. i was nervous about what she was and i think a she does. in my writing to write in a way that i know help build people network to remember the point so i do that proactively.
>> when i read this story -- of venice and which i love for you to talk about about -- i thought this guy should be writing our history then people would read it. you know? but -- [laughter] that's interesting one of the great books for me was getting to dive -- getting to build these ground myself in areas of art and music that allow me to change anywhere experience of a concert or museum and so that -- what you mention so this was a story about music is one of the areas that we associate with early specialization so i to tae it on early in the bock so in venice there was a vibrant sex industry, and there was a problem with -- especially baby girls dropped in the canals. when sexex worksers couldn't tae care of them essentially. and so -- venice started these very progressive social service institutions called -- [inaudible conversations] where there was like -- they would take girls and raise
them, and it was like you know when you put your luggage in like the check thing to see if you can carry it on the plane and box and if baby fit in the box they would raise her no questions asked, and they were they wanted to make girls, you know, citizens who could be kind of self-sustaining these kind of things and teach them skills say give them incentive to learn different skillses they're getting skill they get less chores and they were donating instruments to the institutions. and some of the girls trying to learn all ofnd them, and what the -- governors of the institution started noticing is that they would play and people would come by and money starts pouring in like donations so they start soliciting donations and venice was the ground zero of musical and modern piano fnghted and minor and major keys that we rely on today and girls were most famous musician in the world and what they would start as learning every different instrument they can and became a
musical laboratory that started fighting to compose for them so -- one of thebl people who won that write and composed a fouren seasons and they became world fails and only odd thing was instead of starting focused they started by learning all of the instruments that, in fact, looks exactly like the -- like theli research on musician look like in sports those who become elite have a sampling period where they try a variety of instruments they spread their early practice across a lot of instruments and lightly structure environments even famously musicians -- quit first two instruments didn't like them and quit music for a while and came back to cello and found his love. and so you know i think it is -- we all remember the battle hymn of the tiger mother opened with a signing violin to her kid and five hours of practice and everybody remembering that part but not later in the book she said you picked that and not quit that part to your credit didn't stick.
but i thought the -- one i wanted to restore place in history they were lost and many -- the composure was famous partly because they were women and didn't have families partly because troops threw records out of the window when they arrived in venice. >> i volunteered over the phone i volunteer again -- to go to venice and we look at the paintings that are many of them in the ofdali i'm sure a lot of women in those pictures with musical must be members that have group you have to figure out who they are i'm sure. >> there was a painting in national gallery not long ago where they went unidentified like w the women playing instruments. >> i'm going to -- i could go on forever and i know you can as well. i highly recommend this book line five is where he'll be signing them but we have 15
minutes left and i think it would bee fun for people to ask is question es so we can hardly see because of the light. but if there -- there are microphones and to you come up to microphone and ask is a question if you want to identify yourself. as generalist but one of the stories that you got to get the book to read this -- is an analysis of the challenger crash it is really important to read this. anyway. go ahead. ... scout 11 years. [laughter] >> when i speak to teenagers 18, 19 who are going to college and what their majors are going to be, everyone says they have no desire to major in english or history or any of what i consider liberal arts and their concern is the amount of money
it costs to go to school and that they have to come out and get a technical job right away, i wonder if you had any thoughts >> but let me address one so innt the book i read about the timing of the students foosing major so and economists founded the national experiment in england and scotland and the systems are very similar except in england they had to decide but in scotland they could continue sampling throughout if they wanted who wins the trade-off those that go abroad in a study with more variety of classes so the due early
specialized others do have lsthat income laid loan - - lead because they are more specific but whentc the later does have a pick the match quality is higher so their growth rates are faster and by your six they bypass the dead by then the early specializedd others start to quit - - start to quit because then they had to pick early but that said that then they have fast growth rates so there is a rude renewed emphasis on vocational training which has abuses but the outcomes are that if you match for parental education
the only difference is they get broad general or specialized they do have the income lead but they have a more narrow skill set so they spend much less time overall in the labor market so they losen,f long-term but to me in the book sometimes the things you can do to undermine your long-term development and that is deeply counterintuitive because the psychology is not set up to accommodate that so student debt makes it more and more prone that if you start something you can't leave it even if it's wrong because you have a feeling once you start to go down this road and then they know that you'll keep
insisting to work out that's how conmen work so there set up in the wrong way what research says the way wee should develop. > you mentioned the individual on the other side of the continuum of 10000 hours i thank you referenced in your book as well that with respect to hockey players and when they were born and school year as well like september born individual versus the march born part of that is
because of their body weight or how their mind works as well. can you talk about that in the context of range you brought up chess i remember that one chapter where one family had chess champion after chess champion and i was curious as to that dichotomy with respect to any other type of academic environment versus sports. >> great questions. that 10000 our original study was published last month it did not close to replicate so that original study is now consideredot to be true and the most influential paper ever.
and malcolm said i now believe i completed two ideas with what is true what you should do this as early as possible which is false. also the relative age affect the earlier you push to elect something those that were born early in the selection cohort. to be seven or eight or nine or ten months earlier. so those who are born late are three times more likely to be adhd. so you see the whole junior national team but at the top
level it disappears which shows you are deselecting an enormous amount of people to bebe kicked out of the pipeline. and then to diversify that entry point so that they could pull themselves up by their bootstraps. the other question was chess. that's important it gets to a fundamental part of the book why is it wrong to extrapolate chess because i talk about tiger woods and then thehe family training the three daughters in chess i'm showing any kid can become a genius in
anything if they start early specialized practice so the grand master chess players but that is a kind of learning environment where patterns repeated never change this year will like next year you get feedback on something that is immediate and most of the things that we do is where nobody has told you all the rules. this yearal may not look like last year you may get feedback that teaches the wrong message. so that new york doctor who became rich and famous he could tell when they had shown no symptom to develop typhoid
and that he was even a better conductor than typhoid mary. [laughter] so that was delayed in one of the arguments is by far we are in these wicked environments early is the trick but not specialization you don't want to be where super specialization there is a reason why it's so easy to automate but that's not really where you want to be so to extrapolate everything else people want to learn. >> listening to the anecdotes there is an aspect to the way it changes from industrialization to the economy and the way people respond to that so to think
about going into the future what have you thought about what changes for what you describe cracks or what is changing quick. >> that is why i was looking at specialized vocational trainingen and coming out of the industrial economy because people could expect that to do the same thing over and over again faster andla faster but the problem is that doesn't make so much sense anymore. if you think of the education is getting worse but there is no question that kids today have a better grasp of skills. not even close.
but the challenges move even faster. so then to teach in different ways so when the atm was invented they thought the bank tellers would go out of business quicker it totally changes the job from one repetitive task transaction to where the professional is a customer service representative with a much more marketable skill so now those that will be more automated we want to focus on the other skills and the way they teach to force people to have that knowledge so like
randomized math some were blocked others where they're all thrown in the hat then you draw them out at random they leave rate their teachers worse and then they are frustrated that they have to master at a giant's and then to execute procedures and then they are destroyed. they go for the 50th to the 80th percentile so we have to embrace this learning that forces people even though it's frustrating and slow to learn the conceptual model. >> how are you doing.
some in a world of winners and losers and what does that look like those are late bloomers and specialization quick. li>> i think it says something good about late blooming. in fact some of what has coincided is what they call speed of light history. so the slower the benchmarks come along in their development the more clever that organism is to slow down the speed of light history so
we should design things for late blooming. and that with his conceptual knowledge and then as the investment they took something from my introduction and said what do you think is the average age of the founder that becomes a blockbuster? they were interested in investing the answer is 45 and a half. even they don't know that but if i was a leader with that gender equity and then on the same footing.