For decades, teachers, managers and parents have assumed that the performance of students and employees fits what’s known as the bell curve — in most activities, we expect a few people to be very good, a few people to be very bad and most people to be average.
The bell curve powerfully shapes how we think of human performance: If lots of students or employees happen to show up as extreme outliers — they’re either very good or very bad — we assume they must represent a skewed sample, because only a few people in a truly random sample are supposed to be outliers.
New research suggests, however, that rather than describe how humans perform, the bell curve may actually be constraining how people perform. Minus such constraints, a new paper argues, lots of people are actually outliers. -Shankar Vedantam
"If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly."
Sunlight on the streets in the afternoon and shadows on the faces in the open-air-cafes. What for? Wrong question. You knock without knowing that you knocked. The door opens on a century of clouds and centuries of centuries of clouds. The bird sings among the toyons in the spring’s diligence of rain. And then what? Hand on your heart. Would you die for spring? What would you die for? Anything?