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See Inside December 2006

Letters

The August issue garnered much interest--that is, vigorous reader dissent, questions and analysis. Although most letter writers welcomed guest essayist Mihail C. Roco's optimistic look at nanotechnology in "Nanotechnology's Future" [Forum], some issued thoughtful caveats about its unforeseen dangers.

The bulk of the dissent, however, was reserved for the cover story "The Expert Mind," by Philip E. Ross, which suggested that studies of the development of chess grandmasters' mental processes may reveal how expertise in all fields is fostered. For those readers who assume that innate ability is the foundation of great achievement, Ross cited research--relating to motivation and the ability to "chunk" information--indicating that experts are made, not born. Much of the criticism was echoed by Doug Jannusch of Kaneohe, Hawaii: "This is an insufficient dismissal of the role of talent in music, chess and sports," its greatest shortfall being "the lack of explanation for the role of intelligence in determining success. Let's face it--some people are simply smarter, faster or stronger than others."

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