Author Topic: 'An Appalling Report'  (Read 41997 times)

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Offline drogulus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #280 on: November 22, 2008, 09:13:57 AM »
I think, a spark of inspiration beyond mere accomplishment.

Otherwise, Telemann would be a genius  8)

     Sure, Karl, so we quantify when possible, and then use fuzzy criteria when it isn't. We think Bach wrote music that requires a kind of thought that's well beyond what even the most skillful of lesser talents can accomplish. Telemann did everything a non-genius can do, just like Salieri in that dreadful Mozart movie. >:(

     People who are unhappy about the vagueness of this are jousting with shadows. There's nothing beyond our determining genius other than our ability to recognize the rarity of what some people do. It's as though our incomprehension about exactly how these talents operate or what boundary exists between them and more ordinary skills means that we aren't justified in using this distinction. I don't agree.
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karlhenning

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #281 on: November 22, 2008, 10:25:13 AM »
. . . It's as though our incomprehension about exactly how these talents operate or what boundary exists between them and more ordinary skills means that we aren't justified in using this distinction. I don't agree.

You and I agree, I think, Ernie.

Offline Florestan

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #282 on: November 22, 2008, 01:36:09 PM »
Florestan,

What is it then that you disagree with in ACD´s original entry on this topic ?

Here:

http://www.soundsandfury.com/soundsandfury/2008/10/gee-what-a-surprise.html

Why is he wrong ?

Well, Eric, you should have provided the link to the original article:)

I agree wholeheartedly with the core of that article, with one caveat.

That many people attend college without having developped the required intellectual abilities is true. But I wonder how many of those people are naturally unable of the intellectual effort required by serious college study and how many of them were denied their natural potential because of a wrong educational philosophy applied during their high-school years.

And this needs to be stated more often.... Thank you.

IMHO, the worth of a person is not dependent on her / his academic credentials. I'd have the iignorant Joe the Plumber over the intellectual Goebbels anytime.
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." - Victor Hugo

Offline drogulus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #283 on: November 22, 2008, 01:58:43 PM »

     Using the Mozart/Salieri distinction as the movie (I think correctly) portrayed it, what was the difference between them? In order to understand this it would be better not to concentrate on the works, but instead on what Salieri saw and heard. The key is the scene where Mozart is just improvising on the keyboard and in the process going far beyond Salieri's reach, which the poor guy recognized immediately and with no doubt. I know how it must have felt, and so do most people: "I will never, ever be able to do that".

     But do what? What is Mozart actually doing that Salieri can't. What I think is going on is that Mozart is faster than everyone else, which means that mental time is much slower, and the genius is always faster in this way. This shows in the consideration of far more possibilities in the same amount of time than even the above average can do. Now at first this may look like an insufficient explanation. Sure Mozart was faster and geniuses always are but there must be more to it than that. There must be superior thoughts in there somewhere, not just more of the same kind. But I think not, because I've decided that if someone was thinking much faster than you he would find a better use for that speed than playing 25 opponents in chess. This would be one of those cases where quantity is turned into quality.

     Instead of thinking faster the genius would think like a parallel processor. The thoughts would be networked better, connections would be made and broken faster so that by the time you considered one choice the genius has considered 5 and then sorted them for quality at high speed. The extra speed is being used to do extra things, not the same things faster. Speed is turned into parallelism, effectively multitasking where others are single tasking. It wouldn't look faster, it would look....better in some not easy to explain way. Quality is something we all recognize and would all produce if we had the patience. It's possible that having patience, or concentration is much easier when you can do many things, or do them faster, or some combination of both. It may be more fun, too.

     Turing would have agreed, I think. He was the one who said that any universal serial processor (Turing machine) of sufficient speed could emulate any other processor (what is called today software emulation). So a genius can reprogram for all kinds of tasks like finding useful variations on melodies, harmonies, etc. You see this with the great athletes like basketball and hockey players who don't pass to the spot where the shooter is located, they pass to the spot where the lucky fellow will be. That's definitely parallelism, passing not to the best point, but to the point your teammate will think you think is best.   :D
« Last Edit: November 22, 2008, 02:00:50 PM by drogulus »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #284 on: November 22, 2008, 02:08:54 PM »
Amadeus (the movie) is crap. Salieri was no more an assassin than Mozart was an idiot.
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." - Victor Hugo

karlhenning

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #285 on: November 22, 2008, 02:10:09 PM »
     Using the Mozart/Salieri distinction as the movie (I think correctly) portrayed it, what was the difference between them? In order to understand this it would be better not to concentrate on the works, but instead on what Salieri saw and heard. The key is the scene where Mozart is just improvising on the keyboard and in the process going far beyond Salieri's reach, which the poor guy recognized immediately and with no doubt. I know how it must have felt, and so do most people: "I will never, ever be able to do that".

     But do what? What is Mozart actually doing that Salieri can't. What I think is going on is that Mozart is faster than everyone else, which means that mental time is much slower, and the genius is always faster in this way.

I think the key is more scenes like (not sure this made the movie) the one in which Salieri is in a room adjacent to that in which there is a performance of the Gran partita.  Salieri hears the Adagio of the third movement, and Peter Schaffer has him wax effulgent over its apparent simplicity, and yet its subtle mastery.  The character of Salieri is not merely abashed at the speed and effortlessness of Mozart's work/performance;  he recognizes that he is noweher near Mozart's league, and he despairs.  Or, rather, becomes embittered, and plots to destroy him.

This isn't a character who figures, If I could ratchet my speed a bit, I should be a match for Mozart. He rages against the Almighty for having made Mozart better than him

karlhenning

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #286 on: November 22, 2008, 02:11:01 PM »
Amadeus (the movie) is crap. Salieri was no more an assassin than Mozart was an idiot.

More of a frightful cartoon, than an 'adaptation' of Pushkin's verse-drama.

Bulldog

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #287 on: November 22, 2008, 02:22:55 PM »
Amadeus (the movie) is crap. Salieri was no more an assassin than Mozart was an idiot.

I thought it was a great movie except for the use of a modern orchestra for the soundtrack.

Offline adamdavid80

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #288 on: November 22, 2008, 02:25:43 PM »
Good fun movie, that needs to be taken as about historically 100% accurate as Pearl Harbor the movie was(complete with FDR crawling out of his wheelchair - polio be damned!!! - to hit the panic button).
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Homo Aestheticus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #289 on: November 22, 2008, 02:29:37 PM »
Florestan,

Well, Eric, you should have provided the link to the original article:)

Sorry, but it was linked at the bottom of  AcDouglas´s post....   :)

In case you missed it, here is another good one from  The Atlantic Monthly  that appeared last June:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/college

« Last Edit: November 22, 2008, 02:31:58 PM by The Ardent Pelleastre »

Homo Aestheticus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #290 on: November 22, 2008, 02:46:58 PM »
´Are you unhappy about the absence of an absolute test? I'm not. There no genius in nature, only our determination to distinguish several kinds of mental excellence with this one word.

We don't have to do anything to decide whether Fermat is or isn't a genius. He meets the criteria which is made as tight or as loose as necessary. You've made the case for Fermat, which answers what to do about it. Since there are quantifiable (IQ) as well as unquantifiable (however you get into MIT, however you get to be the greatest composer, painter, etc.) criteria, there will always be an objection, and none of them matter. In fact, if we accepted your criticism about quantifiability (which you simultaneously mock, we would have to wonder exactly what your Fermat problem amounts to. If you think he's a genius, aren't you using my pragmatic criteria, without quantification?

Drogulus,

Just curious... since you are defending the practice of quantifiability, to what extent do you agree with the ideas of Charles Murray and others who believe that quantifying intellectual ability gives us much useful and objective information ?   Or are his educational policies wrongheaded in your view ?   

     

Homo Aestheticus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #291 on: November 22, 2008, 02:58:52 PM »
But I wonder how many of those people are naturally unable of the intellectual effort required by serious college study and how many of them were denied their natural potential because of a wrong educational philosophy applied during their high-school years.

Florestan,

I take it then that you do not agree with ACD´s comments on that article and his idea that college should be reserved for a society´s intellectual elite ?




Offline Florestan

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #292 on: November 22, 2008, 03:05:09 PM »
Florestan,

I take it then that you do not agree with ACD´s comments on that article and his idea that college should be reserved for a society´s intellectual elite ?

You're wrong. I do agree with that idea.

What I don't agree with is that one can determine who belongs to that elite after 12 years of schooling under the prevalent educational philosophy.

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." - Victor Hugo

greg

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #293 on: November 22, 2008, 04:54:15 PM »
     
     Instead of thinking faster the genius would think like a parallel processor. The thoughts would be networked better, connections would be made and broken faster so that by the time you considered one choice the genius has considered 5 and then sorted them for quality at high speed. The extra speed is being used to do extra things, not the same things faster. Speed is turned into parallelism, effectively multitasking where others are single tasking. It wouldn't look faster, it would look....better in some not easy to explain way. Quality is something we all recognize and would all produce if we had the patience. It's possible that having patience, or concentration is much easier when you can do many things, or do them faster, or some combination of both. It may be more fun, too.

This is what I've been thinking about a lot lately. I don't think genius is much of an innate skill rather than a habit that can be developed. But why isn't everyone who is musically educated an amazing composer? Simply because it is a discipline that can only be self-taught.

I've noticed, for example, if I pick up the guitar and make myself make up some solo, it can either completely suck or not be so bad. I have to think a certain way- just how you described- if I don't, I'll just be spinning out notes which leaves me thinking, "wow, that's just pitiful."  Everything about music has to be thought of as a very much graspable concept, learned so well that it's like breathing. But that's only part of it- I think the next step is what seperates the second rate from the first rate. You have to get in the mindset to where you have a million structures, or ideas, floating as if they are in the front of your mind, then be quick to choose what to say- and remember that everything is completely flexible.  Once I get into that mood, what I play on an instrument sounds so much better. The hard part is getting into that mood in the first place. It usually requires a spark, I guess.

Homo Aestheticus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #294 on: November 23, 2008, 07:46:42 AM »
What I don't agree with is that one can determine who belongs to that elite after 12 years of schooling under the prevalent educational philosophy.

Florestan,

That was very clear and concise! 

But do you really believe that this intellectual elite will comprise more than 20 percent of the population ?

Do you believe that more than 20 percent have the intellectual capabilities (let alone motivation) to take on courses on Logic, the writings of William James, quantitative reasoning, Shakespearean poetry, advanced geometry or Wittgenstein ?

 

Offline drogulus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #295 on: November 23, 2008, 08:18:11 AM »
Drogulus,

Just curious... since you are defending the practice of quantifiability, to what extent do you agree with the ideas of Charles Murray and others who believe that quantifying intellectual ability gives us much useful and objective information ?   Or are his educational policies wrongheaded in your view ?   

     


     The principle is sound. I don't understand how the information tests provide can be judged useful in an abstract way apart from how they are used and whether the predictions the tests make pan out, and I don't see testing as being freighted with ideological conclusions like some of those attributed to Murray. You can use tests to flavor your arguments about what groups are supposed to be better than others if you want to. These arguments don't really work for what their proponents want, which is to show how this group is better than some other. The tests are of individuals, though, and the difference between the curve for men and the curve for women can't tell you what to do about extraordinary individuals of either sex.

      Any test that can identify who can strip a rifle and reassemble it blindfolded or graduate with honors in 3 years or whatever other measure you want will have the effect of measuring the aptitudes we associate with genius at the high end. What does it matter what's on the test if you are correcting it for accuracy the way we have for a century? If we end up with a test to build a fort out of Tinkertoys and that tells you what you want then you have your result. Go looking for "real" intelligence forever if that appeals to you. I prefer the fake kind. It amounts to a quarrel over whether the measurable or observable is the real thing or is the real an "essence" we can't see. Since we can't see the essence I say it isn't there. In order to be proved wrong it would have to appear, and how would that prove me wrong?  :P :P :P :P :P
« Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 08:45:30 AM by drogulus »
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Offline drogulus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #296 on: November 23, 2008, 08:43:34 AM »
I think the key is more scenes like (not sure this made the movie) the one in which Salieri is in a room adjacent to that in which there is a performance of the Gran partita.  Salieri hears the Adagio of the third movement, and Peter Schaffer has him wax effulgent over its apparent simplicity, and yet its subtle mastery.  The character of Salieri is not merely abashed at the speed and effortlessness of Mozart's work/performance;  he recognizes that he is noweher near Mozart's league, and he despairs.  Or, rather, becomes embittered, and plots to destroy him.

This isn't a character who figures, If I could ratchet my speed a bit, I should be a match for Mozart. He rages against the Almighty for having made Mozart better than him

     The point of my post, Karl, is that the first is the mechanism for the second. Of course Salieri doesn't try to overclock his processor to achieve Mozartian results. Like almost everyone else he is an essentialist who blames God for giving special qualities to an unworthy bumpkin. I'm not analyzing Salieri's opinions, I'm trying to give an account of how quantities are turned into qualities.

      At the physical level it may be that parallelism is not the effect of speed but rather the cause, so that how you're wired up determines how fast and how effectively parallel you can operate. So while it looks (to me) like speed producing bandwidth it's bandwidth producing speed, and it's Turing turned inside out. That makes sense, and it's a point the AI people have been making for some time.

     This leads me into some weird territory so I'll just say that all qualitative judgments are just as "computational" as the more objective-seeming ones.* The emotional system is a shorthand way of achieving quick responses (emotion and reason are the obvious parallels that lead to the search for deeper ones). You don't want to reason out the lions intentions, you want to be scared so you run away now. :D Being scared is just as computational as doing sums in terms of how it's done, just not how it seems. Consciousness is a series of myths that tells the story so a few words and images can stand for zillions of signal whizzing around in your head, since you really don't want it to seem like zillions of signals, do you?** :D No, you want it to seem like "Bach is the greatest composer" or "run away!!"! :)

    *This was the point of the Dennett quote I once used in my sig: "How can anything composed of material particles be the fun I'm having....?" The book Consciousness Explained is a sketch of how this works.

   **What would "seems like zillions of signals" be?  :D
« Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 10:11:52 AM by drogulus »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #297 on: November 23, 2008, 01:50:05 PM »
Florestan,

That was very clear and concise! 

But do you really believe that this intellectual elite will comprise more than 20 percent of the population ?

Do you believe that more than 20 percent have the intellectual capabilities (let alone motivation) to take on courses on Logic, the writings of William James, quantitative reasoning, Shakespearean poetry, advanced geometry or Wittgenstein ?

I stand by what I said: not everybody has the "intellectual capabilities and motivation". As to the exact percentage, I don't know, although I tend to believe it's rather small.
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karlhenning

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #298 on: November 24, 2008, 06:27:28 AM »
To "take on", Eric?

Anyway, do I think that Shakespeare's poetry, broadly speaking, has something to offer more than 20% of the population?  Yes.

Now, go ahead, Eric, argue that a pair of boots is more important than Shakespeare . . .  ::)

Homo Aestheticus

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Re: 'An Appalling Report'
« Reply #299 on: November 25, 2008, 10:05:47 AM »
Drogulus,

Thanks for your comments.

Quote
I don't see testing as being freighted with ideological conclusions like some of those attributed to Murray

True. Neither do I... And I don´t understand what those "nasty consequences implicit" are, as Patrick said before. Nor do I see why "putting significance in measurement" is a problem or why drawing educational lines on this principle "leads to drawing all sorts of other lines"

You can use tests to flavor your arguments about what groups are supposed to be better than others if you want to.

"......."

If we end up with a test to build a fort out of Tinkertoys and that tells you what you want then you have your result. Go looking for "real" intelligence forever if that appeals to you.

For the record, these things do not interest me in the least. I am concerned solely with the quantification of intellectual ability, its validity and how it plays out in the academic setting.

Murray makes a point in Chapter 3:

Educators who proceed on the assumption that they can find some ability in which every child is above average are kidding themselves. It is not Howard Gardner's fault, but his theory of multiple intelligences (1983) (bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, linguistic, and logical/mathematical) has become a justification for educational romanticism. The truth that people may possess many different abilities is  unthinkingly transmuted into an untruth: that everyone is good at something, and that educators can use that something to make up for the other deficits.

Empirically, it is not the case that we can expect a child who is below average in one ability to have a full and equal chance of being above average in other abilities. Those chances are constrained by the observed relationship that links the abilities. In the case of bodily-kinesthetic and musical ability, those relationships are small enough that they don't matter much. In the case of interpersonal and intrapersonal, the relationships are somewhat larger, and they have to be recognized. In the case of the 3 components of academic ability (spatial, logical-mathematical and linguistic), the relationships are extremely close.

It is a classic example of life not being fair.

Many exceptions exist, of course, and educational practice at any good school should ensure that exceptions are identified. But it is one thing to be on the lookout for exceptions, and another to talk breezily about multiple intelligences and how different children learn in different but equally valid ways, and pretend that if only we tap the special abilities that reside in every child, everything will work out.