Story of the Day for Tuesday May 22, 2012
Brick by Brick
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; with knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize winner in economics at Carnegie-Mellon, performed an experiment with fellow psychology professor, William C. Chase.
The experiment utilized chess players: one group consisted of novices, the second, of intermediate chess players, and the final group was composed of chess masters with international rankings.
Simon and Chase set up a partially played chess game, and each participant was given five seconds to look at the board. Then they were asked to re-position the pieces on a blank chessboard from what they recalled of their five second observation.
Who do you think did the best? You got it. With twenty pieces left on the board, the chess masters correctly recalled the piece and position of 81 percent of them. The novices only placed about a third of the chess pieces correctly.
So far, this experiment isn’t interesting, since anyone could predict the outcome. Their second experiment, however, was surprising. But, before we get to it, can I ask you something? Why do you think the chess masters did better than the novices?
The most obvious answer is that chess masters are brilliant people; no one can compete at the international level unless they have brains as big as cantaloupes. Another explanation is that chess masters have developed mental techniques for recalling the pieces.
These are good guesses – which is why the next experiment was so surprising. Chase and Simon set up the chess board again, and gave each participant five seconds to view it. This time, however, the pieces were randomly positioned by a computer. When each group tried to re-create the board from memory, the chess masters did slightly worse than the novices! So much for big brains or memory techniques.
What enabled the chess masters to do so well in re-creating an actual chess game from memory was not brilliance, but experience. By years of practice, they can “see” the game with exquisite insight. In five seconds, they can “see” it, “Ha! The King’s Gambit versus the Nimzovich Defense.”
The Lord makes no connection between wisdom and brilliance. Spiritual wisdom is not based on intelligence, but humility. Through humility we accept God’s grace and love. And, through humility, we let God teach us the best way to live.