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Speaking from a similar point of view here, I MUST say that this is an incredibly well-documented essay. Well done!

To some extent, yes.. When I'm in a lecture hall in college & the professor is talking about theoretical physics, I feel pretty stupid & I'm confused & don't really understand what's going on. So, yes, I guess I do.

Really illuminating paper here! I appreciate you sharing this. Here's what I think - innate ability is overvalued, everyone! If you hone your skills over time you will seem smarter than you are & you lose some of your shyness & inhibitions w.r.t. asserting yourself & expressing your opinion. My top grades were a 2200 on my SAT's, 31 on my ACT's, & I was an honors student in college. That being said, I don't think that correlates with intelligence. That just correlates with testing well. Isaac Newton made major contributions to his STEM career in science, and he DID have a lot of innate ability but he also worked at it, which I like. I don't feel that Warren Buffet has a lot of ability, yet he uses the math skills he has to sell stocks profitably. The common character trait of these two examples is that they work at their skills - no one gets a free ride.

Productivity matters more than ability. When I first sold the product Keysaver (1) I was embarrassed about becoming a 'career-driven adult' & being less academic, but I had to learn how to make a face & make that transition into adulthood & out of the school lifestyle. Nobody is outside of this paradigm.

I'll make this analogy:

When you're single, you might think you're great looking but if no one likes you there's no PROOF of that. When you have a thing with someone sexy, that's validation that you yourself are reasonably attractive & normal enough.

Innate ability or talent is great but there's no PROOF that it's great. When I try to prove that ability, that's validation that I'm reasonably smart & intelligent enough to work for a living.

(1) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appinventor.ai_ak_Lars.Keysaver

great post, Acadamian! Thanks for sharing.

great article, PhilGoetz! There is a similar, but much simpler situation that occurs when I try to play chords on a guitar to sing a song over a simple groove on a classical guitar in order to impress my girlfriend. It's easy for me to learn the first few chords but difficult to learn complicated songs with many layers to them.