How Competent is Your Average Man in Recognizing Talent or Ability Outside of Context and Beyond Being Told Something is True or Good?
In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time,approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.
About 4 minutes later The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
At 6 minutes A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
At 10 minutes A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.
At 45 minutes The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
After 1 hour He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.
This experiment raised several questions:
* In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
* If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
* Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .
How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?
Snopes confirms that the story is true
The kids instinctively heard that the "fiddler" was special and wanted to hear him play -- shades of the Pied Piper.
However, with the exception of a miniscule percent of adults, on the other hand, "grown-ups" had no clue whatsoever that the street violinist represented the pinnacle of his profession.
My experience definitely confirms the truth of Joshua Bell's story. Most "adults" in real life know that something is "true" or "good" only if they are told that it is "true" or "good" and if the attendant environment fits their expectations, regardless of the actual reality.
In fact, we were led to post the above story because of an email from a critic who explained to us that some of our ideas about economics would not cut it with "mainstream" economists, as if that made any difference to us.
Some people only know or think they know that which the so-called "established" world tells them. How sad to be unable to have a mind of your own and to determine for yourself what is good and not good and what is true and not true.
Indeed, in the course of their seemingly "own" life", almost all adults ultimately adopt the religion and political views of their parents, all the while proclaiming that they are thinking independently for themselves, whereas in fact they merely inherit their views from their elders. It is no difference with science, law or economics. Perhaps it takes a special character not to be just a parrot.
Hat tip to CaryGee.