Thursday, November 07, 2002

Thoughts inspired by bowling, II
I'm a better bowler than most of my friends (excepting Kenshin, and I haven't bowled with him a long time). However, it's an open question whether this is because I have some superior degree of intrinsic skill, or whether it's just because I spent every Sunday senior year of high school bowling. While the egotistic part of me would like to believe the former, the truth is that it's probably the latter, because bowling is hardly unique in this respect. There's a very long list of activities in which I've become pretty good simply by doing more of it than your average person, and hence in which I would consider myself better than average. (Bowling is one example; quizbowl is another, and I could make this list much longer if I wanted to bore you further.) However, these activities also share something in common: while I was initially interested in them, and enjoyed them long enough to become pretty good, I never was willing to take the additional steps needed to reach "master" level. (To stick with these two examples, I've never sat down and memorized the things I really would need to memorize in order to become really good at quizbowl, nor have I learned how to properly curve the ball in bowling.) Having fun, and improving naturally, was something I could do easily; but when improvement required explicit work rather than simply more practice, I just wasn't sufficiently interested to put in all this effort for some not-really-tangible result. Consequently, there's a lot of stuff I'm pretty good at, but nothing in which I can say that I'm better than anyone I know.

I'm not yet sure whether the above pattern applies to physics or not.

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