Psyching out

“I can’t draw at all - I cant even draw stick men!” This is something I hear a lot. It’s always adults who say it - never children. Children haven’t yet learned to prejudge their drawing skills and so allow themselves to just give it a try.

This is from Sketching People. But it could easily have been in any of the drawing books I’ve read recently.

Our own minds are such a barrier to learning that every book is compelled to justify their very existence. To insist that drawing skills, like almost anything, aren’t an inherent trait. That they can be mastered with time, practice and study.

Of course some people are gifted. They pick up things quicker and achieve heights the rest of us seem incapable. But just because I may never eclipse Ray Allen’s free throw percentage (89%) doesn’t mean I can’t become insanely good. And even he had to earn the first 80, (85?) percent the same as the rest of us.

When do people learn to make perfection a barrier to even trying? And how do we unlearn that?

My emphasis

We really hate uncertainty

One urn is see-through and contains a mix of 50 white marbles and 50 black marbles. The other urn also contains 100 marbles, but it is not transparent, and the ratio of black-to-white marbles is unknown. So the question is: “If you can draw a black marble in one pick, without looking, you win $100. Which urn do you draw from?”
Most people, Mueller wrote, choose the left urn. But why? Wasn’t it possible the question-mark urn was filled with only black marbles? Mueller explained that people usually picked the see-through urn to avoid uncertainty. At least when they could see the marbles they knew exactly where they stood. This type of decision-making is called the Ellsberg Paradox, named after Daniel Ellsberg, the man who introduced the urn test and established the concept of “ambiguity aversion.”

From an interesting article($) on why innovations in sports often take ages to catch on. Maybe explains why we're loathe to recognise it in our public discourse.

My emphasis.

Are you signalling what you think you're signalling?

Education researchers have known for decades that being good at something and being good at teaching something are two completely different skill sets. In fact, universities are mostly ranked on the strength of their research, and, of course, the brand name can be worth a lot. Something similar holds true for MasterClass, whose impressive roster of talent feels like a who’s who of elite professionals, a gallery of the meritocracy’s winners.

The easy, obvious heuristics are, often, just so bad. How many simple signals of what’s good or proper are actually just status quo bias rather than reliable indicators we should use to make decisions?

From an interesting article on Masterclass in The Atlantic.

My emphasis.

Why can't you draw?

To make significant progress in drawing, it is important to be aware of your strengths and challenges. Don’t just say, “I’m not good at drawing faces.” Try to learn specifically why you find it challenging to draw faces? Is it getting the proportions right? Shading? Anatomy? Break down challenges into small steps and tackle them one at a time. The clearer you are, the better prepared you will be for devising a solution.

This is another gem from Pen and ink drawing: a simple guide.

I don't really think much of my drawing skills. That's why I like the word "scribble". I am always getting better, though.

So many don't even get past the first step. I regularly ask others to join me. But my invitations and provocations are usually, immediately, shut down with "I can't draw".

They're apparently so bad it's not worth bothering at all. Maybe I should start asking why and how.