Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

The Drosophila of cognitive science

From Scientific American’s 2006 article on “The Expert Mind:”

Without a demonstrably immense superiority in skill over the novice, there can be no true experts, only laypeople with imposing credentials. Such, alas, are all too common. Rigorous studies in the past two decades have shown that professional stock pickers invest no more successfully than amateurs, that noted connoisseurs distinguish wines hardly better than yokels, and that highly credentialed psychiatric therapists help patients no more than colleagues with less advanced degrees. And even when expertise undoubtedly exists–as in, say, teaching or business management–it is often hard to measure, let alone explain.

Skill at chess, however, can be measured, broken into components, subjected to laboratory experiments and readily observed in its natural environment, the tournament hall. It is for those reasons that chess has served as the greatest single test bed for theories of thinking–the “Drosophila of cognitive science,” as it has been called.

1 Comment

  1. Well, it’s the most de-contextualised skill you could think of. Isn’t the problem that all the other skills you mention are difficult to sever from the context.

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑