How practice changes the brain and exceptions to the 10,000 hour rule


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I don’t think that I’ve ever noticed the word “nonconsciously” in my reading before.

I do know that in some activities you have to anticipate what your partner/opponent will do, based on intuition and tells. Boxers talk about “telegraphing a punch,” etc.


While the time delays involved in consciousness are interesting, the reason you see the flash of lightning before you hear the thunder is because sound travels a lot slower than light. Your brain’s going to take similar amounts of time processing each of them as it arrives (though maybe the different sensor systems have different speeds as well.)

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Just for shits and giggles since we’re talking about things that happen pretty quickly:

And yes, it’s not a bullet, it’s a pellet going considerably slower, but still… Wow.


Holy shit. Mad skills there.

I would anticipate that players at bat would ‘read’ the pitcher in a similar way. You would be swinging ‘at’ the torque on the elbow or the shoulder rotation or whatever.

also, if everything that you perceive happened a minimum of 80 milliseconds ago, then all the decisions you think you’re making were already made in the past. The fact that they were made by ‘you’ just makes it more creepy.


Well, IIRC, there have been experiments in which researchers (using electrodes etc.) can read a person’s decisions (something simple, like moving your arm left or right) before that person is consciously aware of deciding what they are going to do.


Except for those of us with auditory processing issues. I have to use closed captioning and people need to be facing me when they speak, because the time lag between what I see and what I hear is large enough that I am already reacting to the visual data before the auditory data is fully processed.

I know he’s just a drawing, but I’d like to punch that “You are not so smart” guy right in the mustache.

When I was in high school, I sang in our school choir, which was one of the great high school choirs. We traveled every year to perform in another city, sometimes to compete against other schools. A couple of times we sang in very large cathedrals where we’d have the issue of the choir director’s hand gestures not syncing with the sound right, because he would be placed so far away from us in order to conduct the pianist or orchestra. At the National Cathedral in the DC area and and the Cathedral of St. John in New York we had this problem. I’m trying to remember the workaround we used - a mirror? A talented student who would conduct the choir separately from the accompaniment? But I remember that we had to block out the accompanying music and focus just on our singing in order to get the timing right.

There was also a beautiful piece, sung by the chamber choir (the really good singers only) where they’d separate out 8 singers and they’d stand way way way across the hall from the main group. Again, I’m not sure how they cued the smaller group to keep the timing right, but I’m pretty sure there was a student who kept the time for them. But it was such a lovely sound to sit in the middle of the hall and hear the sound coming from all around you.

Those were definitely some of the most challenging moments of singing, because it was so counter-intuitive to have to sing off beat from the accompanying music, and since we didn’t encounter the situation often we were unprepared for it.

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I’m part of a (secular, although religious songs are also sung…from different religions) choral group and when we use a similarly large stone religious cavern, it’s almost always with a full orchestra and soloists, and sometimes with the pipe organ as well. By definition, the organ is locked in place with the organist facing away from everyone. A mirror is what’s used in that situation. That takes some talent!

Wow that sounds beautiful.

Oh, yeah, you know how beautiful it is to sing in that kind of setting if you get the acoustics right. We’ve done the soloists-in-other-spots staging too, so I know exactly what you’re talking about with regard to timing between the clusters of singers.

Here’s an example of the kind of song that does wonderfully well in house-of-worship settings despite not being religious:

That’s not us, of course, but we’ve sung Asimbonanga in the (cathedral-sized) chapel I mentioned above, and the call-and-response is simply fabulous.

Any astro fans here? That reminds me of Phil Plait’s (from Bad Astronomy) words recently – this, what astronauts do!

Predicting an asteroid’s position over the years is a dicey proposition at best. Small uncertainties in its measured position propagate into bigger errors down the line, so the farther into the future you try to predict where the asteroid will be, the fuzzier that position gets. As I’ve written before:

Think of it this way. Imagine you’re an outfielder in a baseball game. You see the pitcher throw the ball, and the batter swings. It’s a hit! But one-tenth of a second after the batter makes contact, you close your eyes.
Now, based on the fraction of a second you saw the ball move, can you catch it?

Speaking of BB guns and their lethality . . . when I was younger (so much younger than today) my parents stupidly allowed me to have a BB gun. This was made in England, so I don’t remember what marque it was – but it was what was commonly called an air rifle.

So I was about 14 years old, and living in Africa at the time (1970s). I remember shooting that rifle very well – at my boarding school we had had a rifle range and were shooting .22 real bullets at targets and I was surprisingly good at it. (Yes, I learned firearm safety very early on).

But what I remember about the air rifle was, that you held it in a certain way so that your shot would be silhouetted against the sky, you could actually see the bullet (pellet) leave the gun and travel in a distinct arc – it was really, really fast, but you could still see it.

The lethality of it makes me cringe to this day, and furthermore, lets me know that I am definitely going to Hell. Just to be assholes, my brother and I decided to shoot at birds. Little birds; sparrows, in fact. Sparrows flying around trees. To be honest, we never really thought we would hit anything. But one day, he did. He hit a sparrow in a tree, not more than 10 meters away. I guess you couldn’t miss.

The sparrow fell out of the tree, but did not die. We both began crying; what were we going to do now? It was so obviously alive, yet was not going to survive. This tiny bird that had been merrily flying around seconds ago, and now we were about to put an end to its tiny life forever.

I averted my eyes through my tears and told my brother to kill it. He did.

That was more than 50 years ago and I still have guilt pangs – even worse, later on in my life, when I was 17 or so, and had another rifle, I started to shoot lizards off walls. Just to do it. In Africa, these were fantastic things – all multicolored, about 12 inches long, and they would scamper up and down the concrete walls in our garden.

For some inexplicable reason, I decided that it would be “fun” to try to shoot them. I’m very sorry to say, but I have always ben an extremely good shot. So I hit them every time, from up to 50 meters away. I never went to see what happened to them.

I want everyone to know that I know that I will burn in Hell for all eternity, being turned over a spit above a fire by the devil’s representatives to those tiny creatures; while they float around on clouds and hear eternal melodies I will be tortured with long, blunt spears while being flayed and regrowing the skin, over and over and over for all of Eternity.

I just thought everyone should know that in advance, so I don’t have to gasp my explanation from the roasting pit every time someone drops by.

‘professional baseball players and boxers don’t have faster reaction times than the average human being.’

Bullshit, and obviously so. In order for us to expect this to be true we would have to think that reaction time (unlike every other human attribute from height to bone density to grip strength) does not vary at all in the human population.
More to the point however you can actually find the research with a few clicks: for example.
Where do you get this stuff? You’d just like it to be true (so that the 10,000 hour rule would actually make sense) and so you assume it?

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