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The Science of Success (theatlantic.com)
21 points by anuleczka on Dec 9, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 2 comments

I'm currently reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers: http://www.amazon.com/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwel...

It's a fascinating account of what makes people successful. Major points I've picked up so far:

* the contribution of IQ to success maxes out at around 120; beyond that, IQ points don't matter much, because you're smart enough to get by.

* What Robert Sternberg nicknames "practical intelligence" (http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/practicalintelligence.shtml) is extremely important to overall success. Affluent and middle-class parents tend to be much better at passing this sort of intelligence along to their kids than lower-income ones.

* Seemingly irrelevant details like birthdate play a major role too. He shows how the day you were born has >10% contribution to academic success, because if you don't make the cutoff date for going to school, you'll be one of the older, and thus more mentally mature individuals in your class. Consequently, these individuals are more likely to be selected for gifted programs. And because of the academic grooming, they end up being more likely to go to college. He also shows how, for example, professional Canadian hockey players are almost never born in the later months of the year for similar reasons; if you don't make the cutoff date, you'll be one of the older players on your team, and scouts will confuse your increased maturity for inborn talent and you'll move up the ranks and get better training as a result.

It's a somewhat disturbing book because it shows how success isn't a direct function of an individual's aptitude. But I think it's also important, because, by observing these factors, you can hack your way into success even if the factors are going against you.

The author mentions 'key behavioral genes'. Does anyone know more about these?

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