What Makes People Successful?

Posted on May 8, 2006  Comments (0)

A Star Is Made – The Birth-Month Soccer Anomaly by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt (authors of Freakonomics (an interesting book):

If you then examined the European national youth teams that feed the World Cup and professional ranks, you would find this quirk to be even more pronounced. On recent English teams, for instance, half of the elite teenage soccer players were born in January, February or March, with the other half spread out over the remaining 9 months. In Germany, 52 elite youth players were born in the first three months of the year, with just 4 players born in the last three.

Why? Read the article by the Freakonomics authors for an explanation. In reading the article you get an example of why scientific thought is so important. The data can lead to all sort of conclusions, the article offers several:

a) certain astrological signs confer superior soccer skills; b) winter-born babies tend to have higher oxygen capacity, which increases soccer stamina; c) soccer-mad parents are more likely to conceive children in springtime, at the annual peak of soccer mania

The ability to examine such questions effectively is one of the benefits of learning to think scientifically. Then we can find sensible explanations instead of accepting crazy explanations. In this case the scientist, Anders Ericsson, is looking to learn how people become successful in a field. He concludes we far overestimate talent and far underestimate training and desire.

More information on the topic of the article from the Freakonomics web site.

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