Math, music, chess, story telling and social intelligence are all skills, all of which can be improved from a low base. In all of them higher g will be helpful because there’s very little where higher g isn’t helpful. If you want to learn about the science of skill building it’s better known as the study of expertise. K. Anders Ericsson founder the field. He wrote a popular book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
If you want the academic treatment there’s a Cambridge Handbook of Expeetise and Expert Performance.
If you want to read about how multiple intelligence theory á la Gardner has no empirical support start here.
> Multiple Intelligences, the Mozart Effect, and Emotional Intelligence: A Critical Review
> This article reviews evidence for multiple intelligences theory, the Mozart effect theory, and emotional intelligence theory and argues that despite their wide currency in education these theories lack adequate empirical support and should not be the basis for educational practice. Each theory is compared to theory counterparts in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuro- science that have better empirical support. The article considers possible reasons for the appeal of these 3 theories and concludes with a brief rationale for examining theories of cognition in the light of cognitive neuroscience research findings.
If you want attempts at something that kind of looks like multiple intelligence from people who actually know psychometrics look
up the work of Robert J. Sternberg. Criticism below
> Dissecting practical intelligence theory: Its claims and evidence
> Sternberg et al. [Sternberg, R. J., Forsythe, G. B., Hedlund, J., Horvath, J. A., Wagner, R. K., Williams, W. M., Snook, S. A., Grigorenko, E. L. (2000). Practical intelligence in everyday life. New York: Cambridge University Press] review the theoretical and empirical supports for their bold claim that there exists a general factor of practical intelligence that is distinct from ‘‘academic intelligence’’ ( g) and which predicts future success as well as g, if not better. The evidence collapses, however, upon close examination. Their two key theoretical propositions are made plausible only by ignoring the considerable evidence contradicting them. Their six key empirical claims rest primarily on the illusion of evidence, which is enhanced by the selective reporting of results. Their small set of usually poorly documented studies on the correlates of tacit knowledge (the ‘‘important aspect of practical intel- ligence’’) in five occupations cannot, whatever the results, do what the work is said to have done— dethroned g as the only highly general mental ability or intelligence.
I upvoted your comment to agree with your recommendation of the definitive book on the subject.
To answer the question you pose above about other domains, I have not seen language learning reported in the expert performance literature, but I was a language learner (native speaker of English who was studying Chinese) who perhaps arguably did reach expert level in my acquired language (I passed testing to be a contract Chinese-English interpreter for the United States federal government). It took perhaps 10,000 learning contact hours (many of those hours during a three-year stay overseas after completing my undergraduate degree in Chinese) to reach that level of language proficiency, which was confirmed by other tests. I also had excellent instruction in Chinese with some of the best materials then avaiable, and a lot of supportive help from linguistics that I studied at the time. Some of my advice on language learning
would probably help other learners get the most benefit per hour in their language learning situations that they can.
What I find most interesting about K. Anders Ericsson's research on expert performance is the suggestion that some domains have few or no experts, when experts are defined as persons with statistically reliably superior performance in the domain. The example I recall from one of his research papers is choosing common stocks in which to invest for sustained high returns. Some people beat the market for a while, but most stick-pickers do very little better than simply investing in a diverse basket of stocks chosen without conscious thought.
People act like being "world class" is some big mystery, but not in the 21st century. Extensive research has come to the conclusion that deliberate practice, over a long period of time, with the appropriate guidance of coaches and mentors is necessary and mostly sufficient to produce expertise in a field.
No, I don't think anyone can be Michael Phelps. In fact, it is clear that physical advantages go a long way in sports and athletic events. In almost everything else though, the right approach can produce mastery. The Polgar family is a living example of that w.r.t. chess. And most people are not looking to become world champions - they simply want to be successful in their endeavors. For that to happen, you must apply the same principles. To lose weight, I agree that saying "just diet and work out" is difficult, but most effective programs are either a result of intrinsic motivation or someone implementing a gradual program where you first cut out some sugar, then all soda, then cake, then you start eating one good meal a day, and so on and so forth.
In my view, this post marginalizes human willpower, which I consider one of the strongest forces in the world. Sure you won't be Michael Phelps, but you could say "No matter how hard you try, you will never become a Redwood," and I think the result is the same. Most people don't aspire to be world champion swimmers or extremely tall trees. They want to be successful in their endeavors, and for reasonably well off people in the Western world (which I think describes a large part of this board), there really isn't anything holding you back.
Ericsson et al. published a review of this field (expertise) in The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (http://www.amazon.com/Cambridge-Expertise-Performance-Handbo...). It's 900 pages but if you can't make it through a serious book then you sure as hell can't succeed in anything that requires real dedication.
Here are some excerpts: