In a town close to Bangor, Pennsylvania, a small number of Italians that originated from Roseto lived together as a community. Roseto, Pennsylvania was its own tiny world, and had stayed strictly Italian from the day it was formed to several decades after 1900. The town remained unknown by most of the world until a physician named Stewart Wolf discovered it. Wolf started to investigate everything about the residents of Roseto, from death certificates to their family genealogies with a few of his students and colleagues. They had “decided to do a preliminary study… in nineteen sixty one” (Outliers 6). They tested every adult in Roseto, and “no one under fifty-five had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease… the death rate… in Roseto… was 30 to 35 percent lower than expected” (Outliers 7). I thought it was amazing how the people of Roseto had very little heart disease even though their diets were about as unhealthy as the average american’s diet in the 1950’s.
Even though things like “cholesterol-lowering drugs and aggressive measures to prevent heart disease” (Outliers 6) were not done yet, the people of Roseto were healthy because of “where they were from” (Outliers 9). They had created a semi-isolated community that protected them from the pressures of the outside world that the americans were exposed to at the time. I thought it was amazing how one’s community could have such a great impact on health. I knew that stress from peer pressure, or stress in general, could affect cardiovascular health, but I had never assumed it could affect health to this extent. Even though psychiatrists in the U.S. earn a large amount of money because of the number of patients they recieve. But my relatives in Turkey haven’t seen a psychiatrist because most of them share their problems with their friends and neighbors and solve issues as a community. As a result, most of them are much healthier and happier. This supports the hypothesis that Stewart Wolf came up with which was about how community affects one’s health. These observations taught me that by reducing the negative influences in my community I can improve my mental health greatly, which in return will improve my physical health.
In Canada, thousands of boys start to play ice hockey at a young age, but only the best players are chosen for the Memorial Cup. The hockey players are said to be judged based on their performance and ability, not where they live or how much income their family earns. But, a canadian psychologist named Roger Barnsley observed that most of the chosen hockey players were born in January, February or March. This occurs because in Canada “the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey is January 1” (Outliers 24). Those who are born in those earlier months are older than the rest of the competitors. Because of their age, they have been exposed to more hockey techniques and have had more practice. Many American schools use the same system as canadian hockey. To begin kindergarten, children in California are required to be five years old by September. In my experience, my older peers that were born in the months of October, November, and December performed better than my younger peers because they were almost a year older than those who were born in the summer. They were physically and mentally more competitive and as a result, they learned how to read and write earlier. More of the older students were placed in classes for gifted children in contrast to the younger students.
The Four-year colleges in the U.S. also employ the same method, and the youngest students in each class “are under-represented by about 11.6 percent” (Outliers 29). These pieces of evidence brings us back to the main point of the first chapter of “Outliers”; “those who are successful… are most likely to be given… special opportunities that lead to further success” (Outliers 30). Students and athletes that are ahead of their peers only the slightest bit are given wondrous advantages that help them get even further ahead of their peers. I think that if more people knew about this phenomenon of relative age, institutions would work on making their system much more fair to gifted students and athletes. When applying to university later on in my life, I plan on keeping in mind that my date of birth impacts my chance of being accepted more than I thought, and that I am lucky to be born in April, and not later on in the year.
In “Outliers”, Gladwell makes an interesting point about how multi millionaires in the technology industry such as Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs may have become successful because of the year they were born, and the amount of practice they were able to get. Bill Joy was born in 1954, Steve Jobs was born in 1955, and Bill Gates was born in 1955. The pattern seen in their birthdays and the early years of their lives, is that they were born just at the beginning the computer age and were given opportunities to develop their talents. They utilized the opportunities that they were exposed to by working very hard to improve their technical talent. Each one of them worked around 10,000 hours to improve their skills, rose above the few people that were in the field of technology and programming. Gladwell presented an example of how if Bill Joy was born earlier, he would have had to “face the drudgery of programming with computer cards… he would have studied science” (Outliers 67).
Similarly, The Beatles rose to their fame because of their extraordinary talent and the amount of practice and opportunities they got. The Beatles were one of the few early rock and roll groups. To play in a club in Hamburg, Germany created an opportunity for the band to greatly improve their musical skill. They were required to play eight hours a day, “seven days a week” (Outliers 49). As a result, they took the opportunity and practiced much more than most early classical rock bands did in their whole musical career. They completed and exceeded the thousand hour rule of success. I thought this chapter of the novel was compelling; I had always wondered what successful people did to become so successful. I knew of the 10,000 hour rule, but I had not known that some of the most successful americans today owed their success to 10,000 hours of practice in their field. I had assumed that some people just had an innate talent for certain things. This chapter was highly applicable to my life, because it helped me understand that I should practice skills such as writing and painting much more to become more proficient. As it has been said by so many people, “practice makes perfect.”
Chapter 3 of the novel “Outliers” discusses how having an exceptionally high IQ affects the lives of several people. One of the topics of this chapter is a man named Chris Langan, who is said to possess an IQ of 195. An average person has an IQ of around 100, so Langan’s IQ is considered extraordinary. Langan was said to “walk into a test in a foreign language class, not having studied at all… he could skim through the textbook and ace the test” (Outliers 71). Another of the man topics is of a man named Lewis Terman, a psychology professor at Stanford University. Terman met Henry Cowell, the janitor of a “one-room schoolhouse not far from the Stanford campus” (Outliers 73).
Terman took interest in Cowell and tested his IQ; Cowell scored over 140. In 1921, he decided to give the brightest students in each elementary school in California an IQ test. He combed through the tests and discovered “1,470 children whose IQ’s averaged over 140 and ranged as high as 200” (Outliers 74). He called this group of children the “Termites” and watched over their lives. He observed that his “Termites” excelled at school and any competition they participated in, and thought that they were “destined to be the future elite of the United States” (Outliers 75). But it has been proven that an individual’s IQ and their success only correlate until one point. For example Nobel Prize winners do not have the highest IQs, their IQs are merely good enough. Their intelligence matters only until one point. After that, other things like creativity start to matter much more. Different tests, such as the divergence test are better representatives of an individual’s creativity because they require one to use “imagination and take your mind in as many different directions as possible” (Outliers 87). While this chapter was an interesting read, the information mentioned in it was not necessarily relevant to my life. I assume I have an average IQ, however I would like to explore my creativity and find a university that nurtures my skills.
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