Former White House budget director Peter Orszag has left behind the hurlyburly of recession-making and taken up residence at The New York Times as a sub-Gladwellian popularizer of aperçus that are every bit as wise as that thing you thought of the first time you got high. Here's Washington's most potent man elaborating on shocking new proof that success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration:
In effect, the stars among us have practiced so much that they are better at what psychologists call "chunking." Imagine trying to remember 41 letters or numbers. Most of us couldn't come close to doing that. Now imagine trying to remember a sentence with 47 letters or numbers, like: "Imagine trying to remember 41 letters or numbers." Most of us can do that with little difficulty, because we are chunking the letters and numbers. We remember the words, and we know the letters in each word.
[The author of the "most important book" Orszag has "read over the past six months"] shows that most better performers have practiced so intensely that they chunk better at their tasks than normal people. So we see impressive performance and think someone is naturally skilled, whereas the reality is that person has simply practiced for longer and more intensely than others.
I don't know about you, but in this author's breast, relief that this man is no longer near the levers of the U.S. economy vies with dismay that a terrible pundit is born. It's just a matter of time before the budget wiz has his own twice-a-week d'jever-notice column and we all end up blowing more chunks than one of Orszag's exes in her first trimester.