Book review: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Gladwell has taken what would be a few ordinary blog posts and added enough eloquent fluff to them to make them into a book. There is probably a good deal of truth to his conclusions, but the evidence is much weaker than he wants you to think.
For his claim that 10,000 hours of practice are needed to become an expert, he doesn’t discuss the possibility that the causality often runs the opposite way: having the talent to become an expert creates a desire to practice a lot. He gives at least one example where the person seemed to lack expertise before getting the 10,000 hours of practice, but it’s not hard to imagine a variety of immaturity-related reasons why that might happen without the amount of practice causing the expertise.
I’m confused by his claims about how much practice he thinks the Beatles had before becoming successful. He points to somewhere between 1,200 and 1,800 hours of practice they had by late 1962 (which is about when Wikipedia indicates they became successful in the UK). Gladwell seems to say they weren’t successful until they came to the US in February 1964. He implies that they had 10,000 hours of practice by then, but I don’t see how he could claim they had much more than 3,000 hours of practice by then. So calling the 10,000 hour estimate a rule appears involve a good deal of exaggeration.