Nov 14, 2014

It’s tempting to despair. If amateurs make mistakes, and experts just make different mistakes, what hope is there of eliminating mistakes? But those chess experiments suggest a different conclusion. “At the highest level of expertise – Grand Master – it gets much harder to trip players up with the Einstellung effect; you can do it, but the less obvious solution has to be really difficult to find. It’s as if there were two kinds of expertise: one in which people are simply guided by experience, and a superior kind in which they’re hyper-aware of the limits of expertise itself. Zen Buddhists famously speak of “beginner’s mind”, and it can sound as if they’re recommending a state of dopey ignorance. But perhaps beginner’s mind is better thought of as this expertise that sees past the edges of expertise, to the ignorance beyond – which, if we don’t stay aware of it, can make a monkey out of any of us.