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-   -   Specialization and cognitive skills (http://forums.lylemcdonald.com//showthread.php?t=33259)

lostmyoldaccount 05-05-2017 11:31 AM

Specialization and cognitive skills
 
I remember Lyle saying that specialization will win out athletically instead of being a jack of all trades, i.e. power lifting vs Crossfit. The average powerlifter who specializes can pick-up Crossfit and do well but a Crossfit guy can't do the opposite.

At least I think I'm remembering what he said correctly.

Does this apply to cognitive skills? For example a physicist being able to switch over to something easier like biology?

lylemcdonald 05-05-2017 10:28 PM

No because they require totally different knowledge base sets and that's not the same as transferring a physical capacity one direction or the other.\

for me to switch from physiology to physics would require a decade plus of study of based and advanced concepts to get anywhere close.

For a powerlifter to be able to do crossfit takes about 3 weeks of conditioning.

BigPecsPeter 05-09-2017 02:23 AM

OP's analogy is flawed/incomplete.

What you're meaning to ask, essentially, is whether specialisation in academics would enhance somebody's potential for generalisation more so than would be the case for a generalist trying to turn to specialisation.

I guess the problem with this line of enquiry is pinning down precisely what a generalist is in the context of academia. What is the academic equivalent of a cross fitter, if you will?

Even so, notwithstanding these difficulties of classification, I think the answer is clear: somebody who has specialised and attained a deep knowledge in one particular subject, is probably more likely to be able to easily and more rapidly acquire a general understanding of many subjects, than a 'general knowledge expert' will be able to turn his mind to the deep understanding of one subject.

I think the reasons for this are obvious.

w1cked 05-09-2017 05:41 AM

Knowledge and expertise is domain specific, there's no 'general knowledge expert' really.

Totentanz 05-09-2017 06:12 AM

I think calling crossfit a 'jack-of-all-trades' equivalent is flawed anyway. Despite the whole focus on GPP, I've met approximately zero of them who actually have a physical ability to meet most general situations. Heck, strongman competition training would probably be better for general stuff than crossfit.

Crossfit is quite good at helping you break your spine in half though.

Aathar 05-09-2017 09:47 AM

There is no academic equivalent to a crossfitter these days. Even in interdisciplinary fields, people specialise within those fields. You can't compete otherwise. The whole nature of academia is becoming a specialist, from your dissertation to your publications, and even hiring. It is the only way to deal with the sheer amount of information, make novel contributions, and distinguish yourself for hiring committees.

As for specialists becoming generalists more easily, that is true, but only because they have already demonstrated ability to research well. It's like comparing NFL athletes to crossfit games competitors. The former are preselected to be exceptional, so they are better able to be generalists than the latter. But that's because they were better in the first place. The barrier of entry for generalists is lower, so it is harder to separate wheat from chaff, and attracts lower quality applicants anyway.

As for specialists transferring to other fields, it does happen. But there is usually large overlap, such as math and economics, or the specialist fills an underserved niche that benefits from their specialty. When those don't apply you get stuff like Linus Pauling thinking that vitamin c cures cancer.

w1cked 05-09-2017 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aathar (Post 302250)
There is no academic equivalent to a crossfitter these days. Even in interdisciplinary fields, people specialise within those fields. You can't compete otherwise. The whole nature of academia is becoming a specialist, from your dissertation to your publications, and even hiring. It is the only way to deal with the sheer amount of information, make novel contributions, and distinguish yourself for hiring committees.

As for specialists becoming generalists more easily, that is true, but only because they have already demonstrated ability to research well. It's like comparing NFL athletes to crossfit games competitors. The former are preselected to be exceptional, so they are better able to be generalists than the latter. But that's because they were better in the first place. The barrier of entry for generalists is lower, so it is harder to separate wheat from chaff, and attracts lower quality applicants anyway.

As for specialists transferring to other fields, it does happen. But there is usually large overlap, such as math and economics, or the specialist fills an underserved niche that benefits from their specialty. When those don't apply you get stuff like Linus Pauling thinking that vitamin c cures cancer.

So much this. Basically, if knowledge is a circle, a bachelors is at thin slice of pie coming outta the center towards the edge of the circle. A masters is a little more. A doctoral degree is creating a bump on the circumference of the circle.

lylemcdonald 05-09-2017 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BigPecsPeter (Post 302238)
OP's analogy is flawed/incomplete.

What you're meaning to ask, essentially, is whether specialisation in academics would enhance somebody's potential for generalisation more so than would be the case for a generalist trying to turn to specialisation.

I guess the problem with this line of enquiry is pinning down precisely what a generalist is in the context of academia. What is the academic equivalent of a cross fitter, if you will?

Even so, notwithstanding these difficulties of classification, I think the answer is clear: somebody who has specialised and attained a deep knowledge in one particular subject, is probably more likely to be able to easily and more rapidly acquire a general understanding of many subjects, than a 'general knowledge expert' will be able to turn his mind to the deep understanding of one subject.

I think the reasons for this are obvious.

I think the reasons for this are not obvious because they are wrong.

At best my 30 year specialization in say, physiology, gives me the background to do time efficient research in another field.

But in that I have exactly zero background in say, geology, I couldn't pick it up any faster than if I didn't have my specialization. I'd still have to start from jump ball and the beginning to get even the basic background.

And yet someone who is strong can dominate a crossfit workout in about 2 weeks if it takes that long. Plenty of videos showing some top ranked Ol'er outperforming crossfitters the first time they do the workout.

So the onyl thing obvious is that you're wrong.

lylemcdonald 05-09-2017 01:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Totentanz (Post 302244)
I think calling crossfit a 'jack-of-all-trades' equivalent is flawed anyway. Despite the whole focus on GPP, I've met approximately zero of them who actually have a physical ability to meet most general situations. Heck, strongman competition training would probably be better for general stuff than crossfit.

Crossfit is quite good at helping you break your spine in half though.

I guess that depends on what you mean by general situation.

Xfitters at best have moderate strength, endurance, etc. they are a jack of all trades in that sense; they have basic development in each capaacity. And like circuit training, they have no good deveoopment in anything. They are mediocre at a lot of stuff.

A strongman can develop endurance more quickly than an xfitter can develop strength. Becuase the former is far easier to develop than the latter and a guy who can flip a 600 lb tire can automatically do a 300 lb tire easily. A guy who can flip a 300 lb tire for 60 seconds can't move the 600 lb tire


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