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Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice
Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice
Price: £6.49

67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good message but fails to sufficiently evidence the point, 28 Jun. 2012
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This book seeks to argue that success is down to long and purposeful practice rather than talent. The author seeks to evidence this by showing that champions are those that practice the most rather rather than those that are necessarily more "talented". Although this would be a nice inspirational result (if it were true) I was unconvinced that the author sufficiently proved this point. In particular the author seems to ignore (or miss) the potential correlation/causality ambiguity.

There are several occasions this occurs. For example, the author uses the example of the orchestra musicians to show that the elite practiced longer than less able musicians. But its overly simplistic to simply say that it was practice that made them better than others. To see why note that an hour of practice has both a benefit and a cost: the benefit is the improvement in your playing skill; the cost is what you would have done instead e.g. watch tv, sleep, meet up with friends. If you were more "talented" (i.e. learnt more quickly) then you will get a greater benefit and, all things equal, are more likely to practice. Put another way, two people who practice the same amount will not be equally good; the more talented person will be better. The problem is that you cannot easily observe talent. But amount of time they devote to practice might be a proxy for talent for the very reason they choose to practice rather than do other things. The examples of champions that Mr Syed gives further muddies the water since they clearly all had able parents: Tiger Wood's father was a good baseball player; the father of the chess playing sisters was obviously clever enough to come up with the experiment; Mozart's father was a top musician... The talent myth argument would have far greater weight if these people become champions that was unrelated to what their parents did: Tiger Woods a piano player despite the father being a sports man; the sisters becoming golfers despite the father being an academic etc. Instead we are left with the impression that they did obtain some talent through their genes. A second example of the "correlation-causality" problem is when the author discusses positive thinking. The author argues that sports people with a strong belief they can win, are more likely to. Tiger Woods is again used as an example. However, it may be that top athletes are able to think that way, because having become used to winning through out their career. This makes the belief easy to sustain. It may be much more difficult to sustain a positive attitude if instead you lose all the time. That is, it may not be the belief they can win that causes them to win, but instead the winning that causes them to believe they can win.

To conclude, I don't agree with the author that "talent is a myth" (at least the author has failed to sufficiently argue the point). What is more plausible is that hard work vastly exaggerates differences in talent. Despite this, I do think the book has value. What is true is that through work hard you can achieve much more than you could ever think possible (even though you are 10% more talented than me, I can beat you if I work 20% harder). So I do think its worth the read.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2015 10:49 AM GMT


Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, 26 Jun. 2012
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This book looks at the changes that have occurred in the bible and the reasons for these changes. I enjoyed reading this book. The author has clearly researched the subject thoroughly. The overarching conclusion (i.e. that the bible has changed a great deal) is perhaps not all that surprising since it was copied by hand and is a book written by humans. The book provides compelling evidence of these changes. However, this book gives much more. It provides a fascinating history of the how the bible developed, the context behind the changes that occurred and an insight to the purpose of these changes. This is an interesting book and well worth the read whether you are religious or not (I am not).


Kenwood SB056 Smoothie 2GO Black
Kenwood SB056 Smoothie 2GO Black
Price: £24.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent product for price, 20 Sept. 2011
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I've had this for about six months now. I like it very much. Has a clever design where the cup that blends the smoothie turns into a cup, so you only have to clean one vessel. I use it for fruit smoothies and milkshakes. The only problem I have have is that the speed knob falls off now and then. But its easy to put back on. Overall, for the price, you can't go wrong.


One Up On Wall Street: How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market (A Fireside book)
One Up On Wall Street: How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market (A Fireside book)
by Peter Lynch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent investment book for small private investors, 11 Sept. 2011
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I've read quite a few investment books and this is one of the better ones. When I first started reading investment books, I naively hoped they would tell you exactly what to invest in and when. They don't. Nor can they. At the end of the day it's up to you to make investment decision using your own talent. The most you can hope for in a book like this, is to take you as far along the investment decision path as possible, give good practical advice and help you avoid making silly mistakes. On this basis, "One up on wall street" is one of the best I've read (the worst incidentally is "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"). This book is especially helpful for those (like myself) without specialist financial knowledge. It explains how you can use everyday knowledge that we all have to pick stocks and explains key financial data in a simple way. More generally, it reads easily and is quite short (roughly 300 pages). I would recommend it if you have a small portfolio and have limited financial knowledge.


Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings (Wiley Investment Classics)
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings (Wiley Investment Classics)
by Philip A. Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, but not the best book for small investors, 11 Sept. 2011
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I enjoyed reading this book, although for a typical small investor this isn't the best stock picking book. This book describes the author's method to pick companies that one can expect to achieve high growth. However, for a typical private investor, there's a couple of weaknesses. First, the book was originally written in the 1950s so it's quite dated. Amusingly it talks about the new technology of the "pocket calculator" and then there's this gem: "If a man, he usually gives but a tiny fraction to handling his investments than he devotes to work. If a woman, the time and effort given is equally small to that devoted to her normal duties". More problematic is that it focuses mostly on manufacturing industry, which might have been the most relevant in the 1950s but less so now. For example, it says you should invest "when the factory is about to come on line". The main reason for this focus is, as the author explains, where his strengths and knowledge lie. By the author's own admission the advice is less relevant to other industries. Second, the advice it gives is more useful for someone who is managing a fund and has the time to spend investigating firms. The author's main point is to spend lots of time talking to management, employees and customers of the firm to find out its prospects. I doubt most small investors could do this. It's not as if I could get a luncheon appointment with a CEO. A fund manager with more experience in this may be able to, which is why I think this book is more suited to them.

One final point worth mentioning is the inexplicably pointless preface and introduction by his son, Kenneth. It serves no apparent purpose and worst comes across as an ego trip. On the first page Kenneth (the son that is) manages to mention that "Who knew that I would go on found a large investment management firm, write my own books, and become the sixth-longest-running columnist in Forbes magazine ...". Who knew and who cares? I recommend skipping the preface and introduction and go straight to the book itself!

All this aside, as noted earlier I did enjoy reading this book. As a small private investor, it's not the most useful book for me (that is instead, by the way, "One up on Wall Street"). But if you're generally interested in business and fund management, this is a good read. There's lots of interesting anecdotes and gives good insight on fund management.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2015 5:41 PM BST


Jimmy Stewart is Dead: Ending the World's Ongoing Financial Plague with Limited Purpose Banking
Jimmy Stewart is Dead: Ending the World's Ongoing Financial Plague with Limited Purpose Banking
by Laurence J. Kotlikoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An unbalanced view, 15 Jan. 2011
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I read this book as I was researching the issue of universal banking for a work project. If you want an insightful, objective assessment of the cause of the financial crisis... this isn't it. The author seeks to argue that limited purpose banking would solve the 'problem' of the financial sector. The main problem with this book is its drenched with banker bashing. Kotlikoff thinks bankers are crooks. Much of the book is devoted to it. But there's no real substance. All of which makes it quite hard to take any of his points seriously. If you want to read about the crisis I would instead recommend "Too big to fail" by Andrew Ross Sorkin.


Formula 1 2010 (Xbox 360)
Formula 1 2010 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Ace Goods Co. Ltd
Price: £8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent game, 15 Dec. 2010
I rarely give reviews, but this is a really high quality game. I've had many other racing games before. What makes this one far superior to others is the attention to detail. It offers many options to suit your skill level (or preferences). For example, at a basic level you can allow automatic gear shifts, traction control and auto braking. At harder levels you have to make pitstop choices, deal with tyre wear, car setup, using the pit lane limiter etc. I like to do the full race conditions (i.e. 3 practice seasons, qualifying and full race length). The graphics are fantastic. When you follow cars in the dry, you can see the beads of tread from the tyres fly off the car in front. When its starts to rain during a race, your visions gets covered in spray from cars in front. Brilliant, just brilliant. A must for F1 enthusiasts.


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