GMG Classical Music Forum

The Back Room => The Diner => Topic started by: Homo Aestheticus on October 20, 2008, 07:11:33 PM

Title: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 20, 2008, 07:11:33 PM
ACDouglas  has an excellent comment today:

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

Unbelievable.

And did this whole trend really begin in the 1960's ? 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on October 20, 2008, 07:27:31 PM
Most if not all colleges and universities have aptitude tests, so can the college really be expected to offer a refund of a potential graduate fails to make the grade? Why not attack Gyms and Rec Centres for their lack of committed customers? Failing at university or college doesn't mean failing at life, despite what they'd like to make you think.

OTOH, I saw some incredibly suspect "adjustments" to bring class averages higher, and wierd teacher incentives to improve standing with students who didn't like their marks. It was a wierd day when I ended up with over 100% on an exam! No doubt this was to allow for a)more students to pass, and b)collegial bragging rights for student averages.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: M forever on October 20, 2008, 10:11:49 PM
http://www.soundsandfury.com/soundsandfury/2008/10/gee-what-a-surprise.html

Since the Sixties, a college "education" after graduation has, for most high school students, taken the place of a saner era's far more sensible and hugely more useful vocational school education; an education that would actually prepare most high school students for a life's work more suited to their intellectual capabilities, and of far more benefit to society as a whole. As it largely was in saner eras, a college education is, or ought to be, an undertaking reserved for a society's intellectual elite exclusively irrespective of that elite's ability to pay which last was, sadly, not often the case even in those saner eras, the availability of scholarships notwithstanding.

Damn right! And let's not forget that in that saner era, black people couldn't go to most colleges at all, no matter how smart they were or not. Those were indeed saner times! People just have to know their god-given places.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: lisa needs braces on October 21, 2008, 12:39:50 AM
Most if not all colleges and universities have aptitude tests, so can the college really be expected to offer a refund of a potential graduate fails to make the grade? Why not attack Gyms and Rec Centres for their lack of committed customers? Failing at university or college doesn't mean failing at life, despite what they'd like to make you think.

OTOH, I saw some incredibly suspect "adjustments" to bring class averages higher, and wierd teacher incentives to improve standing with students who didn't like their marks. It was a wierd day when I ended up with over 100% on an exam! No doubt this was to allow for a)more students to pass, and b)collegial bragging rights for student averages.

Well ranked universities graduate an overwhelming majority of their students. But there are hundreds of colleges in the U.S and I'm guessing this problem probably has to do with your run of the mill universities (I attend one of these, so not being an educational elitist here) and community colleges.

I partially agree with the OP. I see far too many students who have been going to college for 6 years or more hoping that a degree will give them better job prospects. And it does! College graduates earn more than non-college graduates on average. But under the current system, even students who aren't academically inclined are encouraged to waste years and money pursuing an "education" they may never complete. Hence why you have so many students avoiding challenging majors like math and the hard sciences ( or Philosophy or even English!) and instead opting for less challenging majors like global studies, sociology or psychology. The point is to have a degree and go through the rite of attending college and then being ready for real employment! A more direct way of funneling students from high school to the workforce would be nice. As it stands, most students today are using college as an avoidance tool. I should say though that I don't entirely embrace the whole genetic determinism thing that Eric is so fond of.

Here's a better article than the OPs elucidating the current educational crisis from a personal perspective:

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

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 21, 2008, 04:23:52 AM
Since the Sixties, a college "education" after graduation has, for most high school students, taken the place of a saner era's far more sensible and hugely more useful vocational school education; an education that would actually prepare most high school students for a life's work more suited to their intellectual capabilities, and of far more benefit to society as a whole. As it largely was in saner eras, a college education is, or ought to be, an undertaking reserved for a society's intellectual elite exclusively irrespective of that elite's ability to pay which last was, sadly, not often the case even in those saner eras, the availability of scholarships notwithstanding.

Damn right! And let's not forget that in that saner era, black people couldn't go to most colleges at all, no matter how smart they were or not. Those were indeed saner times! People just have to know their god-given places.

Why are you bringing race into this ?   Race has nothing to do with this issue.

Most of us know personally what it means to be below average in athletic ability or spatial ability or musical ability or interpersonal and intrapersonal ability but when it comes to intellectual/academic, (meaning linguistic and logical-mathematical ability) we as a society have difficulty accepting the reality.

Why is that ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 21, 2008, 04:27:50 AM
"A saner era" is rose-tinted simplification.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on October 21, 2008, 06:12:01 AM
"A saner era" is rose-tinted simplification.

Especially when one considers that there are excellent vocational-technical programs at many high schools. My alma mater, for example, offered everything from journeyman status in welding to Microsoft network certifications. Believe you me, there was no dearth of interested students in most of their programs. The problem isn't whichever theory Eric has grafted on to his "intellectual outlook," which theory is, for whatever reason, his latest idée fixe, but high-school counselors who feel the need to push students into four-year programs. Indiana has a great community-college system and the big state schools (e.g., IU and Purdue) even offer two-year degrees. High schools want better four-year-college acceptance rates, and, for that reason, will send kids to four-year programs when the kids would be better served going across campus to the VoTech or Ivy Tech CC.

While I love a good discussion about the decline and fall of Western culture, I think one is better served by doing a simple cui bono analysis of the situation. Run that calculus, and you'll see that the iron triangle of high schools, colleges, and helicopter parents guarantees college for most and failure for some.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on October 21, 2008, 07:04:47 AM
Damn right! And let's not forget that in that saner era, black people couldn't go to most colleges at all, no matter how smart they were or not. Those were indeed saner times! People just have to know their god-given places.

Just because things didn't conform to modern day sensibilities doesn't mean people weren't wiser in other respects back in those days.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on October 21, 2008, 09:27:05 AM
Just because things didn't conform to modern day sensibilities doesn't mean people weren't wiser in other respects back in those days.

While, as I've said, I'm generally pretty happy to do a whole decline-and-fall thing, I think it's misstating the situation to imply that (1) "modern day sensibilities" on some matters are somehow to be derided, and (2) that there wasn't debate on important topics. For example, without getting into the attendant discussion of merits, the Warren Court managed to spark a lot of debate.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: M forever on October 21, 2008, 02:55:30 PM
Just because things didn't conform to modern day sensibilities doesn't mean people weren't wiser in other respects back in those days.

Dr Goebbels would have completely agreed with you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: M forever on October 21, 2008, 02:57:16 PM
Why are you bringing race into this ?   Race has nothing to do with this issue.
"A saner era" is rose-tinted simplification.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on October 21, 2008, 03:47:10 PM
ACDouglas  has an excellent comment today:

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

Unbelievable.

And did this whole trend really begin in the 1960's ? 
Sometimes 4-year colleges aren't the best way to go...... 
if you want to make really big money, it's obviously a necessity.
However, you can still make pretty good money. If I come out of school (technical school) in less than a year from now and get internship doing computer programming, and then work for 7 years, i can make $90,000 a year. Not to mention that I'll have school paid off before it's even over (not even $3000 in total, plus i'm working on getting a few hundred or so for financial aid).
Not bad when compared to some of the college degrees that can leave you struggling to find a job and in debt for the rest of your lufe....
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on October 21, 2008, 04:08:41 PM
Dr Goebbels would have completely agreed with you.

Yes, and it took a "saner" society to oppose and defeat Goebbels and his illustrious superior. I have a feeling our present day society (which is all sanity and enlightenment! praise be our liberal overlords) would probably prefer to roll over and capitulate rather then lose millions in a large scale conflict against a strong tyrant (as opposed to a peep-squeak like Saddam). Do you really think our apathetic and amoral population would even bother to lift a finger to end segregation today? How easy it is to look upon the past with scorn when the hard work has already been done for you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 21, 2008, 06:19:44 PM
People just have to know their god-given places.

But that's exactly how the gods created us. Most of the people in this world are not above average in intellectual ability. And there's nothing wrong with that!

The phrase "many people are just not gifted enough..." would be completely uncontroversial if it described any ability  but  intellectual.

Imagine for a moment that each sentence begins with "No matter how much training I get..."

"I am just not gifted enough to do a somersault with a half twist off the pommel horse" (kinesthetic).

"I am just not gifted enough to understand why someone would choose to compose a piece in B major rather than C major" (musical).

"I am just not gifted enough to see a chessboard in my mind and move pieces on it" (visual-spatial).

"I am just not gifted enough to be a first-rate teacher" (inter-personal).

"I am just not gifted enough to stick with a no-sweets diet" (intra-personal).

None of these tasks is difficult for someone who is well above average in the ability in question. All of them are extremely difficult for people who are around the average. All of them are impossible for people who are well below average, not just difficult, but impossible. To be below average in any ability is to be quite limited in the things one can do. And when children show up at the school room door, 50 per cent of them are below average in every single one of those abilities.

Now apply the same test to the last two abilities:

"I am just not gifted enough to understand text with big words and complicated syntax" (linguistic).

"I am just not gifted enough to factor an equation" (logical-mathematical).

Fifty percent of children are below average in linguistic and logical-mathematical ability. Being below average means that they are limited in the things they can do in reading and maths. It is no more remarkable than being limited in the things one can do in sport or music.

And yet to say such things in public is to invite shock and ridicule.

Again I ask you... why is that ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on October 21, 2008, 06:31:03 PM
But that's exactly how the gods created us. Most of the people in this world are not above average in intellectual ability. And there's nothing wrong with that!

Easy to say when you are living in a developed nation rich in intelligent and educated folks. It's not so funny when your country has a national IQ average of 85- and everything is screwed up as a result of it.

And yet to say such things in public is to invite shock and ridicule.

Again I ask you... why is that ?

Because once you begin to establish that people are born with different latent abilities, whether mental or physical, and that those abilities are restricted by genes, the next step might lead to notice that certain groups of individuals seem to be more fortunate then others in the prevalence of the specific genetic advantages they receive. Thus, one may begin to notice that among those who score in the highest IQ ranges, Jews, East Asians and Europeans might be vastly over represented, while Black athletes seem to be overwhelmingly popular (and overwhelmingly successful) in most major sport events to a degree which is completely out of proportions with their relative numbers.

This in turn may lead one to suspect that all the "racist" theories so prevalent during the 19th century, the very same theories upon which Hitler based most of his ideas regarding race and civilization, may not have been completely wrong after all. Scary thought, ain't it?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: M forever on October 21, 2008, 07:07:40 PM
Yes, and it took a "saner" society to oppose and defeat Goebbels and his illustrious superior.

Man, that really cracked me up! Thanks for the laugh. Or maybe it's not a laughing matter. Do you really think that "saner" society - with its "segregated" (what a nice and euphemistic word!) army opposed Goebbels and his "illustrious superior" because of their racism and other more than questionable ideological views and practices? Because they were a "saner" society? Seriously now, do you really believe that? Do you think that the stalinistic Soviet society which contributed most - by far - to winning the war was a "saner" society, too? Could anybody in these "saner" societies speak their mind freely as we can today? Goebbels says: no. McCarthy says: no. Beria says: no.

Do you really think our apathetic and amoral population would even bother to lift a finger to end segregation today?

The vast majority of the population today, no. Just like the vast majority of the population back then didn't bother to lift a finger against segregation. That wasn't an achievement of the majority of people or their "saner" society back then - it was an achievement of a minority against the vast majority of people and their hypocritic society back then.

That is what we should never forget.

How easy it is to look upon the past with scorn when the hard work has already been done for you.

How easy it is to look upon the past when you don't know much or understand much about it. Who says all the "hard work" has already been done? Well, you do.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on October 21, 2008, 08:34:39 PM
Man, that really cracked me up! Thanks for the laugh.

I aim to please.

Or maybe it's not a laughing matter. Do you really think that "saner" society - with its "segregated" (what a nice and euphemistic word!) army opposed Goebbels and his "illustrious superior" because of their racism and other more than questionable ideological views and practices?

Yes, that's precisely what i think. It was because our forefathers were evil racist scumbags that they rushed bravely at the front by the droves. But fret not, i'm sure the squalid aggregation of spineless self-serving consumer drones which characterize our current national identity would have done a far better job in their position, particularly considering one of the greatest contributions America offered in the fight against the Axis was the massive mobilization of their industrial might with the purpose of aiding the war effort. All this was possible thanks to "saner" values held during those days. Our current generation of mollified degenerates barely lifted a finger to help our effort in Iraq. How impressive.

Because they were a "saner" society? Seriously now, do you really believe that? Do you think that the stalinistic Soviet society which contributed most - by far - to winning the war was a "saner" society, too?

My historical knowledge may be a bit hazy compared to your well established erudition, dear sir, but from what i remember the Soviets had no particular choice on the matter. It was either fight or succumb to German rule. Not so for the Americans, who could have simply brushed Pearl Harbor aside and decide to lay down, thus incurring minimal loss while the Europeans massacred each other, which is precisely what Hitler expected them to do. Unfortunately for him, that didn't really pan out, did it.

Could anybody in these "saner" societies speak their mind freely as we can today? Goebbels says: no. McCarthy says: no. Beria says: no.

Could anybody in our "liberated" societies even achieve 1/10th of what our forefathers did? Where are the great geniuses of today?  What major accomplishments have we made in this past several decades that will be remembered in generations to come? Is cultural decay really the price we have to pay for individual freedom, or is it the result of some insidious form of insanity which is turning our values inside out? 

The vast majority of the population today, no. Just like the vast majority of the population back then didn't bother to lift a finger against segregation. That wasn't an achievement of the majority of people or their "saner" society back then - it was an achievement of a minority against the vast majority of people and their hypocritic society back then.

That is what we should never forget.

All major historical events were the result of the actions of a small minority, you are not saying anything that is particularly insightful or damning. The allegation i made expanded beyond the "majority", in that i'm firmly convinced nobody today would have lifted a finger to fight segregation, and i mean, really fight it, not merely trying to "raise awareness" or whatever other ineffectual method our pathetic liberal elites like to come up with to make themselves feel good about themselves without suffering any inconvenience in the process, which is essentially what the civil rights movement has become. I'd wager blacks, particularly those living in the inner cities, have it worst today then they did during the days of Martin Luther King. Is anybody doing anything about it? Nope.

That is what we should never forget.

Why? What purpose does that serve? When was the last time a culture or a society found it necessary, nay, absolutely imperative to remember of the failings and the evils committed in the past, while relegating it's greatest accomplishments to the heap of forgotten history? It's sheer masochism, and for what purpose, the faint possibility that we may not repeat the same mistakes in the future? Is that really the ultimate destiny of a civilization, to perpetually brood and agonize over it's own sins from now until the end of time? Call me crazy, but i don't think such a culture has a future. 
 
Who says all the "hard work" has already been done?

The point i was trying to make is that it's easy to take the moral high ground concerning an issue that has been resolved a long time ago (segregation). The double standard we apply to ourselves and minorities from esoteric cultures, particular Islam is a perfect example of this. We like to decry many facets of Islamic culture, such as the issue of the burka which must be worn by all Muslim women, but we tolerate what in our own culture would be intolerable because we understand that most Muslims don't know any better. When we meet a Muslim in the streets we do not attack him for his believes, we just hope they'll come to their senses at one point. Likewise, when can't judge our past based on modern standards, because for the most part, we didn't know any better at the time. We do now of course, but that isn't reason enough to defame the memory of our forefathers, and it would very arrogant of us to do so in light of the advantage of our current understanding of things. Do you really think we are so much better then they were, and that raised under the same conditions we would behave any differently?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on October 22, 2008, 12:37:18 AM
Is cultural decay really the price we have to pay for individual freedom, or is it the result of some insidious form of insanity which is turning our values inside out? 

That's a very interesting question, although its terms need some qualifications.

It is an undisputed fact that today there are more libraries, more museums, more orchestras, more theaters and opera houses, more publishing houses, more universities, more schools and high-schools than there were in all pre-1900 centuries put together. The vast majority of the cultural heritage of humanity is easily available to anyone interested.

And this, I think, is precisely the real issue: who is interested? One would presume that, given the above picture, there should be consequently more people interested than were in the preceding centuries and, moreover, that every high-school or college graduate should have developped an interested in, and appreciation for, arts, sciences and philosophy. But reality teaches us otherwise: the percentage of people interested in studying and appreciating mankind's cultural achievements remains low; besides, one can meet no small number of graduates who don't have the slightest interest, let alone appreciation, for culture.

There is something of a paradox in this situation. The educational system of the older times, restrictive, not compulsory, not standardized and not easily available, produced an astonishing percentage of great artists, scientists and philosophers. Our contemporary system, universal, compulsory, standardized and accessible to all, produces an astonishing percentage of "illiterate graduates", whose reading abilities and interests don't extend beyond newspapers and glossy magazines and whose musical culture, for instance, is limited to Marylin Manson or Brittney Spears.

In connection to this, one can also mention an interesting fact: the intellectual and moral quality of the politicians declined sharply. The old educational system produced statesmen like, for instance, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Talleyrand, Metternich, Guizot, Disraeli, Gladstone, Bismarck, Count Cavour etc, most of whom were also men of arts and letters, who mastered two or more foreign languages, who could express themselves in a polished and cultured fashion and who possessed strong convictions which they were ready to defend "sword in hand". Comparing them with political products of the contemporary education, like Bush sr. & jr, the Clintons, Sarkozy, Schroeder, Blair, Berlusconi, Putin etc. is futile: the intellectual mediocrity of their discourse, the coarseness of their language, their hypocrisy and lack of authentic convictions is evident.

Bottom line, the old educational system produced, generally speaking, intellectual excellence, moral integrity and strong men. The contemporary educational system produces, generally speaking, intellectual mediocrity, moral dishonesty and weak men.

Why this is so I will not venture to theorize about. It is a dangerous trend and, unfortunately, in the present climate, there is no hope of halting it.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 22, 2008, 05:04:31 AM
That's a very interesting question, although its terms need some qualifications.

It is an undisputed fact that today there are more libraries, more museums, more orchestras, more theaters and opera houses, more publishing houses, more universities, more schools and high-schools than there were in all pre-1900 centuries put together. The vast majority of the cultural heritage of humanity is easily available to anyone interested.

And this, I think, is precisely the real issue: who is interested? . . .

[snip]

Bottom line, the old educational system produced, generally speaking, intellectual excellence, moral integrity and strong men. The contemporary educational system produces, generally speaking, intellectual mediocrity, moral dishonesty and weak men.

Why this is so I will not venture to theorize about. It is a dangerous trend and, unfortunately, in the present climate, there is no hope of halting it . . .

[snip]

Most interesting musings throughout, Andrei.

A few points, too briefly, not only in response to your considered thoughts, but to the thread in general:

1.  Bemoaning the fact that the function of colleges/universities in our day differs to that function (and demographic percentage) in the allegedly 'saner age' strikes me as next-door to pointless;  society, culture and the function of the higher educational institutions have changed.  We cannot "go back" (and any sane person would admit that there are many respects in which we should not in the least wish to return to the allegedly 'saner age').

2.  On the whole, I should have thought it a good thing that more of the world's accumulated knowledge and culture are more widely available than ever before.

2a.  Consider the analogous benefit we all enjoy, fundamentally, on this forum:  we all have much more exposure to a great deal of the world's music from all eras and places . . . that's only going to seem a negative to someone who likes a few pieces, and has convinced himself that knowing any more music is a pointless dstraction  8)

3.  The who is interested? question is indeed at the heart of the matter.  I am disinclined to find a clean opposition of [where there's less available, more are interested to seek it out] and [where much is available, there is necessarily laziness].  Intellectual laziness needs to be overcome in either case;  there was always some element of (to allude to Pistol from Henry V) base, common & popular disdain for intellectual pursuits, and for the eggheads who were (some of) the pursuers.

4.  The problem is, indeed, creating an environment to foster self-motivated inquiry.  I don't think it a problem at all unique to our age.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on October 22, 2008, 05:44:20 AM
Most interesting musings throughout, Andrei.

Thank you, Karl.

Bemoaning the fact that the function of colleges/universities in our day differs to that function (and demographic percentage) in the allegedly 'saner age' strikes me as next-door to pointless;  society, culture and the function of the higher educational institutions have changed. 

That's true. There is a question to be asked, though: have these changes been for better or for worse? I believe that in some respects they have been for better; in some other, for worse. To label our present social, economical and political system as "better" than any other in the past, without further qualifications, is just as pointless as declaring an older age as "saner" than ours, without further qualifications. 

We cannot "go back" (and any sane person would admit that there are many respects in which we should not in the least wish to return to the allegedly 'saner age').

"Going back" is of course impossible. It would be, moreover, pointless: going back to the past means that some time in the future we'll come again to the present situation.

On the whole, I should have thought it a good thing that more of the world's accumulated knowledge and culture are more widely available than ever before.

It is a very good thing.

Consider the analogous benefit we all enjoy, fundamentally, on this forum:  we all have much more exposure to a great deal of the world's music from all eras and places . . . that's only going to seem a negative to someone who likes a few pieces, and has convinced himself that knowing any more music is a pointless dstraction  8)

Agreed on all accounts.

The who is interested? question is indeed at the heart of the matter.  I am disinclined to find a clean opposition of [where there's less available, more are interested to seek it out] and [where much is available, there is necessarily laziness]. 

I don't believe that, either. Actually, my theory is that, broadly speaking, whoever is so inclined, will find the way towards knowledge or culture regardless of eras or societal arrangements, and formal education is not necessarily a prerequisite for that. There is a long list of great artists, philosophers and scientists who either had little formal education or were self-taught.

The problem is, indeed, creating an environment to foster self-motivated inquiry

Yes, precisely. But it seems that the prevailing educational theories are not conducive to that noble goal.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 28, 2008, 01:51:17 PM
M,

Why can´t you understand that people are unequal in charm, beauty, strength, speed and, yes, intelligence.

You have been deeply indoctrinated that they shouldn't be... There is a good deal of truth to the notion that life is a cosmic lottery. This is the core truth that has made inequality so troubling to us in the last century, when fewer people rationalize inequality in terms of God's will.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Kullervo on October 28, 2008, 01:59:04 PM
Pink, it's always so obvious when it isn't you writing. Maybe the real reason you are against everyone attending college because they don't look kindly upon plagiarism.

And don't send me a PM about it, either. I will delete it sight unseen.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 28, 2008, 03:37:09 PM
Why can´t you understand that people are unequal in charm, beauty, strength, speed and, yes, intelligence.

Eric, to read your posts, is indeed to understand that people are unequal in charm, beauty, strength, speed and, yes, intelligence.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on October 28, 2008, 05:55:03 PM
Maybe the real reason you are against everyone attending college because they don't look kindly upon plagiarism.

Well, he's not against everyone attending college, just against anyone who isn't a bronze-chested, oak-limbed intellectual titan attending college. There's some room for debate about how well the current educational system serves people who don't really want to go to college -- and who would be happier learning a trade -- but to hear our man perseverating about one book is like listening to that guy in high school or - gasp! - college who reads the one book and won't stop talking about it.

After a while, you don't.
Title: A Brief Note on 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Catison on October 29, 2008, 04:51:36 AM
[Note: This post has been updated (2) as of 8:07 AM Central Daylight Time on 29 October. See below.]

The appalling thing is that people still read the "random musings" of AC Douglas.

Update (7:54 AM Central Daylight Time on 29 October):  Oh gawd, I just checked out his site again.  Some things never change, I guess.  He has yet to give up indulging in Taruskin-esque meandering English, but whereas Taruskin, that academic wordsmith, is worth the dissection, ACD disguises his lack of thought, if he ever had one, behind a wall of silly subordinate clauses, hoping his reader gives up, merely assuming there must be some insightful, pithy comment of value.  Only his ego has excluded reality far enough that he can not, nor will he ever, understand that no one remotely cares what he has to say other than his blogger buddies, participating in a round of unanswered self-love.  Here's to the dream that he will get a clue and close up shop.  Now there's a good fellow.

Update (8:07 AM Central Daylight Time on 29 October):  I can never figure out, is he using the Royal or academic "We"?  Funny, he's neither.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 29, 2008, 04:54:00 AM
The appalling thing is that people still read the "random musings" of AC Douglas.

Do we know for a fact that any do?  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Catison on October 29, 2008, 05:37:41 AM
Do we know for a fact that any do?  8)

See update.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 29, 2008, 05:41:06 AM
Very good.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on October 29, 2008, 05:51:14 AM
Gentlemen, please enlighten me: who's AC Douglas?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Catison on October 29, 2008, 05:53:32 AM
Gentlemen, please enlighten me: who's AC Douglas?

Exactly.

Don't say I didn't warn you: http://www.soundsandfury.com/
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 29, 2008, 05:55:57 AM
Apart from your commendable thirst for knowledge, Andrei, I don't know if enlighten is quite le mot juste  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on October 29, 2008, 06:13:18 AM
Quote
Misguided champions of pop culture have the curious notion that it's somehow a bad thing to "make distinctions between high and popular culture" even though it's blazingly clear that not only are there clear distinctions between the two, but a vast gulf that, in one direction — from pop to high — is all but unbridgeable for the overwhelming majority of those who've not been specially schooled when very young to prepare them to be able to understand and appreciate the complexities of things high cultural, music in particular

Pompous crap, indeed! Curiously enough, it strongly reminds me of the "cultural-context theory" formulated by another high priest of music and culture --- nomina odiosa!.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Catison on October 29, 2008, 06:22:26 AM
A laugh riot: http://www.soundsandfury.com/display.htm

Quick, let me change my settings so that I can properly display Sounds and Fury!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 29, 2008, 02:20:39 PM


Well, he's not against everyone attending college, just against anyone who isn't a bronze-chested, oak-limbed intellectual titan attending college. There's some room for debate about how well the current educational system serves people who don't really want to go to college -- and who would be happier learning a trade -- but to hear our man perseverating about one book is like listening to that guy in high school or - gasp! - college who reads the one book and won't stop talking about it.

After a while, you don't.

Patrick,

I can understand most people dismissing  The Bell Curve  but all I ask is that you give his recent book, Real Education a chance. It is really excellent.

It is broken down into 4 "simple truths":

1. Ability varies.

2. Approximately half of all people are below average in intellectual ability.

3. Too many people are going to college.

4. America´s future depends on how we educate the academically gifted.

To get a preview of his book you can view this 10 minute segment from CSPAN:

http://www.technorati.com/videos/youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DhmTr2EMt66c

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on October 29, 2008, 02:22:41 PM
Catison,

About half of the time I do not agree with the views of ACD but you have to admit that he's highly articulate and refreshing.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 29, 2008, 04:09:04 PM
It is broken down into 4 "simple truths":

You do well to cast that in scare-quotes.

You don't seem to understand what truth, or a fact, is, Eric.  No. 3 is not a truth, it's an unsupported assertion;  it's front-loaded with preconceptions.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 29, 2008, 04:16:03 PM
I should have thought, too, that America's future depends on how we educate . . . all Americans, not just the academically gifted.

Not all the academically gifted are gifted in the same way.  I am not at all "academically gifted" in the sciences, for instance.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on October 29, 2008, 04:49:00 PM
You do well to cast that in scare-quotes.

You don't seem to understand what truth, or a fact, is, Eric.  No. 3 is not a truth, it's an unsupported assertion;  it's front-loaded with preconceptions.

Well, I don't think that this post is necessarily probative of the fact that Eric has a hard time understanding what is a "fact [or truth]" and what is a "ideologically motivated, unsupported assertion passing itself off as a fact," largely -- though not entirely -- because that difficulty has been demonstrated over and over again in all of Eric's shifting guises (he would do well to delete his old accounts). Saying something doesn't make it true.

I'm telling you, this is just like that guy freshman year who read one book and wouldn't be quiet about it. Until, of course, you dropped him from your circle.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on October 29, 2008, 04:56:21 PM


2. Approximately half of all people are below average in intellectual ability.

Is it just me, or does this statement sound a little strange?  :D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on October 29, 2008, 05:57:07 PM
Is it just me, or does this statement sound a little strange?  :D
Greg, I don't know, but that is by far your funniest avatar yet! ;D I majorly lol'd!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on October 29, 2008, 06:02:12 PM
Is it just me, or does this statement sound a little strange?  :D

It's tantamount to "water is wet," yes.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on October 29, 2008, 06:42:19 PM
It's tantamount to "water is wet," yes.

It's even more banal than that. At least you can define "wet" in a coherent and consistent way that takes into account all potential variations on "wetness." Try doing that for intellectual ability. You are, then, just assigning quantities to qualitative (and frequently biased) judgments, running them through some statistical processes, and then pronouncing them highly significant because they return axiomatic results. It's bad science and worse math. Indeed, I dare not apply the term mathematics to this neat trick, since a result in math has a sort of absolute, objective meaning -- while this sort of faulty quantification and its attendant results are just gibberish.

Nicking the great teacher Ms. Hoover, what has been said here is tantamount to "water is cromulent."
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on October 30, 2008, 01:00:36 AM
"simple truths"

I fear "simple truths" as the Devil. Truth is never simple, otherwise everybody would be able recognize it and we'd have no need for philosophy or science.

2. Approximately half of all people are below average in intellectual ability.

Please:

(a) define intellectual ability
(b) define its average
(c) explain how the above statistics was arrived at.

3. Too many people are going to college.

Please explain us how the optimum number of college-attending people can be calculated and, based on that and the actual college-attending population, let us know what is the excedent percentage.

America´s future depends on how we educate the academically gifted.

History teaches us that a country with very well-educated intelectual elites but with poor-educated and ignorant masses has no future. As Simon Bolivar, a true liberal of the old school,  excellently put it: An ignorant people is the blind tool of its own destruction.

The real issue is, IMHO, the prevailing educational philosophy which results not in too many people being educated but, on the contrary, in too many people not being educated. (I'm talking about people who do go to high-schools and colleges, mind you!).
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on October 30, 2008, 03:14:01 AM
Greg, I don't know, but that is by far your funniest avatar yet! ;D I majorly lol'd!
just thank drogulus.  0:)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 03, 2008, 02:34:59 PM
Please:

(a) define intellectual ability
(b) define its average
(c) explain how the above statistics was arrived at.

Florestan,

On page 1 (my 203rd post) I cited the Gardner model of human abilities but just to reiterate:

Just about everyone understands what below average means for some of the abilities. Either you know people who fit the bill or you fit it yourself.

For example, aout half of us are below average in bodily-kinesthetic ability. We were picked late when choosing teams for playground games. Or we weren´t good enough to try out for varsity. Perhaps you liked playing some sports but you couldn´t make your body do the things some of your friends could do. If it´s not true of you, these statements are probably true of the people you know.

Many of us are below average in certain kinds of spatial ability. If you had to take shop class you could not make the band saw cut the wood into exactly the right shape. Everything you nailed or glued together was a little bit off. Or perhaps you go to art museums and cannot figure out why some people spend so long looking at one painting. What more is there to see after the first glance?... If not true of you these statements are probably true of the people you know.

Many of us are below average in musical ability. You cannot carry a tune very well and never got the hang of a musical instrument your parents made you practice as a child. If you learned to read music it was like a poorly learned foreign language.... your linguistic ability let you memorize the grammar and decode the symbols but the poety escaped you. You learned the technical difference between  C-major and F-major but you could not listen to compositions and recognize the difference. If not true of you these statements are probably true of people you know.

Many of us are below average in certain interpersonal skills. Perhaps you are painfully shy. Perhaps you are socially abrasive, don´t read body language very well or find it hard to empathize. If not true of you, these statements are probably true of people you know.

Many of us are below average in certain intrapersonal abilities. Perhaps we procrastinate. Perhaps we are careless or fearful and choke under pressure, occasionally break your word or give up if the going gets tough. If not true of you these statements are probably true of people you know.

In short, just about everyone understands from personal and vicarious life experiences what below average means for bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal ability and for the aspects of spatial ability associated with hand-eye coordination and visual apprehension.

It´s only when we come to linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities (which are the main abilities associated with intellectual/academic) that we are told that we can expect everyone to do well.

The point I am making, Florestan, is that our culture of educational romanticism is imposing immeasurable costs on children and their futures because it is pursuing egalitarian ideals of educational achievement (e.g. all children should perform at grade level) at the expense of attainable egalitarian ideals of personal dignity.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 03, 2008, 05:04:42 PM
The real issue is that our schools have become vagina vocational centers:

http://www.mensaction.net/video/Vagina-Vocational-Centers.html

 ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 04, 2008, 12:37:38 AM
For example, aout half of us are below average in bodily-kinesthetic ability. We were picked late when choosing teams for playground games. Or we weren´t good enough to try out for varsity. Perhaps you liked playing some sports but you couldn´t make your body do the things some of your friends could do. If it´s not true of you, these statements are probably true of the people you know.

That physical qualities of people are not the same for everyone is a truism.

Many of us are below average in certain kinds of spatial ability. If you had to take shop class you could not make the band saw cut the wood into exactly the right shape. Everything you nailed or glued together was a little bit off.

That some people are better than other at handiwork is a truism as well.

Or perhaps you go to art museums and cannot figure out why some people spend so long looking at one painting.  What more is there to see after the first glance?...

That different people have different tastes is a truism, too. But in this respect you have to take in account that taste can be educated.

Many of us are below average in musical ability. You cannot carry a tune very well and never got the hang of a musical instrument your parents made you practice as a child. If you learned to read music it was like a poorly learned foreign language.... your linguistic ability let you memorize the grammar and decode the symbols but the poety escaped you. You learned the technical difference between  C-major and F-major but you could not listen to compositions and recognize the difference. If not true of you these statements are probably true of people you know.

This happens to be true of me, I'm a musical illiterate. But I happen to know a few adults and children who've started playing an instrument at a very early age and they are quite good at that. Maybe the children will not become professional performers, nor have the adults became; they are engineers, physicians or even manual labourers. But they will always be able to perform at enough good level for them to have fun and enjoy that.

Two more comments here:

Had I been exposed to music-making and musical theory early in childhood perhaps I too would have learned to read, write and perform music. Actually, as a schoolboy I was dreaming about learning to play the flute. For several reasons this dream never came true, and sometimes I feel frustrated for lacking an opportunity to be educated in matters musical.

Had my acquaintances not been exposed to music, on the basis of the theory that they are below average anyway, they would have never been able to play the violin or flute or piano or whatever it is they play, and a major source of joy and spiritual uplifting would have been denied to them.

Many of us are below average in certain interpersonal skills. Perhaps you are painfully shy. Perhaps you are socially abrasive, don´t read body language very well or find it hard to empathize.

Another truism.

Many of us are below average in certain intrapersonal abilities. Perhaps we procrastinate. Perhaps we are careless or fearful and choke under pressure, occasionally break your word or give up if the going gets tough.

Yet another one.

To summarize, no one will deny the evident validity of the above points, with the caveats I made. Yet none of them have anything to do with "intellectual abilty" as long as you do not provide its definition, which you didn't

It´s only when we come to linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities (which are the main abilities associated with intellectual/academic) that we are told that we can expect everyone to do well.

If the point is that we can expect every child, except the mentally retarded, to learn to read, write and perform basic arithmetic calculations, I do agree. I can't remember anyone of my elementary school mates not being able to do it. Of course, some read quicker than others, some had a more beautiful handwriting than others, some could tell seven times eight in a second while others needed half a minute. But after finishing school, all of them could read a newspaper, write a love-letter and keep their household bookings. Now, would you agree these are average intellectual abilities?

(BTW, half of all people being below average is a mathematical nonsense. The very meaning of average implies that most of people are there.)

If the point is that we can expect everybody to be able to read and understand Dante, Milton or Faulkner; everybody to be able to understand calculus; everybody to be able to learn statistical thermodynamics --- I of course disagree. This is why we have high-schools and colleges / universities: for anyone who is interested to pursue their education at higher levels. I agree that not everyone is apt for college, or even for high-school. But I see no reason whatsoever to deny elementary education to any child.

The point I am making, Florestan, is that our culture of educational romanticism is imposing immeasurable costs on children and their futures because it is pursuing egalitarian ideals of educational achievement (e.g. all children should perform at grade level) at the expense of attainable egalitarian ideals of personal dignity.

Agreed. But then again, the problem is not that there too much people in schools, high-schools and colleges; the problem is that schools, high-schools and colleges fail to properly educate them.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 04, 2008, 12:53:22 AM
And if you need proof that some universities have ceased to be places of learning and study and have became a mixture of tavern and brothel this "appalling report" will suffice.

Hmm ... brief rundown of peculiar Rice University events!

- "O-Week." The week before school starts, freshmen get "oriented" through various handy information sessions, as well as ridiculous rallies and 2AM runs to the local "House of Pies." The week concludes with "Disorientation," which is a campus-wide drunken party.
- "Night of Decadence." This is also a campus-wide drunken party. Basically, a theme title is chosen based on the quality and obviousness of its innuendo (for example: KryptoNOD: Superman Dat Ho, or James Bondage), and then people dress up to resemble the theme (this year being "KryptoNOD," it was superhero costumes), using as little clothing as possible. At least two of my friends have seen females naked for the first time just by standing on a sidewalk near the party. NOD is more than a little ridiculous. This is the party that the good people of Houston used to be allowed into, until the school realized that creepy street people were ogling the Rice girls. The Rice police department and EMS services charge $7,000+ to staff this one-night event.
- "Willy Week." This is also a whole week. Basically, Monday through Thursday, the various residential buildings play pranks on each other. Then, Thursday night, there is a campus-wide drunken party, followed by, on Friday, another campus-wide drunken party, followed by, on Saturday, a campus-wide drunken party from roughly 6 am to 10 am, at which point (you are not expecting this) we have the largest water balloon fight in world history. Every year. Not kidding. Last year's was something like 4 times the previous Guinness record. We used ... crap ... was it 200,000 water balloons? Anyways, after this there is a ritual entitled "Beer Bike," a relay race involving chugging beers (or water for under-21-ers) and bike racing. After this, there is ... a campus-wide drunken party.  ;D
- "Bacchanalia." I'm feeling like you guys can figure this one out.  ;D

For the record, I managed to miss most of the events of "Willy Week" because my oldest and best friend was in town, and I hadn't seen her in several years. I was a security officer for Night of Decadence last year, which was quite an experience. Yeah. Did I mention that, academically, Rice's peer institutions include Harvard, Yale, Duke, Northwestern and Stanford?

 ;D ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 02:40:53 AM
I've learnt something reading this thread.  When Eric sticks to basic truisms, he doesn't go far wrong.

Beyond that, is the mischief  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 04, 2008, 04:24:32 AM
I've learnt something reading this thread.  When Eric sticks to basic truisms, he doesn't go far wrong.

Beyond that, is the mischief  8)

Can it be said to be a truism if its proponent thinks it a new and earth-shattering revelation? Would that we all could take axiomatic propositions to heart to the degree that, as far as we know, such propositions are the only ideas we've (n)ever had.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 04:26:13 AM
Can it be said to be a truism if its proponent thinks its a new and earth-shattering revelation?

Look, wheels are round. So why do we all need to go to college?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 04, 2008, 04:31:26 AM
Look, wheels are round. So why do we all need to go to college?

I know, right? Nothing could be simpler. Such argumentation will now be a part of my daily life:

Cars have wheels. Therefore, I deserve half your sandwich.
The sun is bright. Why can't I eat ice cream in class?
Movies are fun. Give me $20.

What do you mean I'm not six years old?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 04, 2008, 07:56:29 AM
Patrick and Karl,

You are missing the broader point.

Let me put it this way:

Think of a time when you were a child and some smiling, well-meaning person in authority said ´You can do it if you try´... and you knew you couldn´t. I will go first.. I was eight or nine years old, it was Little League, it was the last inning, the Bruins were behind and I (usually a bench-warmer) was coming to bat. Inexplicably, the coach chose this moment to go up and down the bench assuring everyone that I, statistically the worst hitter not just on the Bruins but in my town´s entire Little League, would get a hit and win the game. More than almost 2 decades later, the memory of going up to the plate after that pep talk and, of course, striking out is seared into my psyche... There are other bad experiences from academic settings as well.

Now it´s your turn. Whatever painful experience comes to mind, it surely has something in common with mine. When your smiling, well-meaning person in authority said... ´You can do it if you try, and you knew it was not true, the well-meaning person was not raising your self-esteem. Not getting you to find untapped resources within you.... He was humiliating you.

Now imagine having substantial intellectual shortcomings. It is in the nature of any school system that your shortcomings will first become humiliatingly public to your classmates when you are about 6 years old, and that you will have to live with that kind of humiliation until you leave school. There´s no way to avoid it completely. If you are in a school that tracks by ability, you will know you are in the class for dummies. If you are in a school that does not track, you will be the kid who doesn´t know the answer when the teacher calls on you, or the kid on whom the teacher never calls because you won´t know the answer (and everybody knows why the teacher never calls on you).... But at least the schools can avoid making it worse.     
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 04, 2008, 07:57:26 AM
Florestan,

I agree that not everyone is apt for college, or even for high-school. But I see no reason whatsoever to deny elementary education to any child.

Of course not... And of course parents and teachers should encourage children to try hard. It is a good thing to teach children that they should not give up easily. It is better to push a child farther than he can go (occasionally) than not push at all. But one of the responsibilities of parents and teachers is to appraise the abilities that a child brings to a task.

One of the most IRRESPONSIBLE trends in modern education has been the reduction in  rigorous, systematic assessment  of the abilities all of the students in their care. To demand that students meet standards that have been set without regard to their academic ability is wrong and cruel to the students who are unable to meet those standards.



Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 07:58:09 AM
Patrick and Karl,

You are missing the broader point.

No, we aren't.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 04, 2008, 08:05:21 AM
To demand that students meet standards that have been set without regard to their academic ability is wrong and cruel to the students who are unable to meet those standards.

Be careful! You're employing the very language of the "educational romanticists" you so abhor.  :)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 04, 2008, 08:07:05 AM
One of the most IRRESPONSIBLE trends in modern education has been the reduction in  rigorous, systematic assessment  of the abilities all of the students in their care. To demand that students meet standards that have been set without regard to their academic ability is wrong and cruel to the students who are unable to meet those standards.

So? You are employing the very same type of flawed logic that is causing our educational standards to be lowered across the board so that nobody is left behind. I thought the purpose of our scholastic institutions was to educate people, not to make sure their feelings didn't get hurt in the process.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 04, 2008, 08:13:13 AM
So? You are employing the very same type of flawed logic that is causing our educational standards to be lowered across the board so that nobody is left behind. I thought the purpose of our scholastic institutions was to educate people, not to make sure their feelings didn't get hurt in the process.

Exactly.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 04, 2008, 08:38:58 AM
Patrick and Karl,

You are missing the broader point.

Let me put it this way:

Think of a time when you were a child and some smiling, well-meaning person in authority said ´You can do it if you try´... and you knew you couldn´t. I will go first.. I was eight or nine years old, it was Little League, it was the last inning, the Bruins were behind and I (usually a bench-warmer) was coming to bat. Inexplicably, the coach chose this moment to go up and down the bench assuring everyone that I, statistically the worst hitter not just on the Bruins but in my town´s entire Little League, would get a hit and win the game. More than almost 2 decades later, the memory of going up to the plate after that pep talk and, of course, striking out is seared into my psyche... There are other bad experiences from academic settings as well.

Now it´s your turn. Whatever painful experience comes to mind, it surely has something in common with mine. When your smiling, well-meaning person in authority said... ´You can do it if you try, and you knew it was not true, the well-meaning person was not raising your self-esteem. Not getting you to find untapped resources within you.... He was humiliating you.

Now imagine having substantial intellectual shortcomings. It is in the nature of any school system that your shortcomings will first become humiliatingly public to your classmates when you are about 6 years old, and that you will have to live with that kind of humiliation until you leave school. There´s no way to avoid it completely. If you are in a school that tracks by ability, you will know you are in the class for dummies. If you are in a school that does not track, you will be the kid who doesn´t know the answer when the teacher calls on you, or the kid on whom the teacher never calls because you won´t know the answer (and everybody knows why the teacher never calls on you).... But at least the schools can avoid making it worse.     
http://www.takimag.com/site/article/the_bell_curve_tolls_for_thee_especially_at_school/
You mean "let some other guy put it this way"
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 08:41:05 AM
You mean "let some other guy put it this way"

Expecting Eric to write his own material is . . . cruel!

 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 04, 2008, 10:56:34 AM
Well, plagiarism is definitely a philosophy, and it's nothing we haven't seen before.

As amusing as I find Eric's eternal return to quoting without citing, I find his argument that, because someone somewhere once felt bad about themselves after trying and failing, we shouldn't ever let anyone who could, perhaps, fail even try even more wonderfully humorous.

Plagiarized arguments are always hi-larious.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Catison on November 04, 2008, 11:08:01 AM
I had a thought on this subject this morning. But specifically about British school children.

Every year Britain’s school-children provide gratifying evidence of their increasing smartness. More leave primary school having done well in tests of reading, writing and arithmetic; more get top grades in national exams at ages 16 and 18. Nay-sayers, though, think this progress overstated, even illusory. They attribute rising marks to dumbed-down curricula, downward-drifting grade boundaries and teaching to the test. But even the gloomiest assessment, it appears, may not go far enough. In important ways, the country’s children appear to be becoming dumber.

Michael Shayer of King’s College London has been testing children’s thinking skills since 1976, when he and colleagues started studying the development of reasoning abilities in young people. In 2006 and 2007 he got 14-year-olds to take some of the same tests as 30 years earlier. The findings, to be published early next year, are sobering. More than a fifth of youngsters got high scores then, suggesting they were developing the ability to formulate and test hypotheses. Now only a tenth do.

The tests did not change, so the decline was not caused by different content or marking. And since they explored the ability to think deeply rather than to regurgitate information or whizz through tasks, the results matter deeply. In the purest test of reasoning, pupils were shown a pendulum and asked how to find out what affects the rate at which it swings. “Their answers indicated whether they had progressed from the descriptive thinking that gets us through most of our days, to the interpretative thinking needed to analyse complex information and formulate and test hypotheses,” Professor Shayer explains.

In 1976 more boys than girls did well, a fact the researchers put down to boys roaming further out of doors and playing more with tools and mechanical toys. Both sexes now do worse than before, but boys’ scores have fallen more, suggesting that a decline in outdoor and hands-on play has slowed cognitive development in both sexes. Britain’s unusually early start to formal education may make things worse, as infants are diverted from useful activities such as making sand-castles and playing with water into unhelpful ones, such as holding a pen and forming letters.

British children’s schooling may be hampered, too, by the tests that show standards rising. These mean teachers’ careers depend on coaching the weakest, rather than on stretching all children, including the most able. This interpretation is supported by another, more positive, finding from the research: that fewer children do very badly now than did 30 years ago.

When asked to speculate further on why fewer British teenagers now display mature reasoning, Professor Shayer eschews local explanations and puts the blame squarely on television and computers. They take children away from the physical experiences on which later inferential skills are based, he thinks, and teach them to value speed over depth, and passive entertainment over active. That chimes with other researchers’ findings of cognitive gains on tasks that require speed rather than close reasoning—useful, perhaps, as the pace of life accelerates, but hardly a substitute for original thought.

So what of children elsewhere? Britain’s are not the only ones kept inside for fear of traffic or paedophiles, or slumped in front of a screen for much of the day. “There is no similar evidence from elsewhere,” says Professor Shayer. “No one has looked for it.” Perhaps they should.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 04, 2008, 11:19:36 AM
Don't forget to cite your source now:

http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12516456

 ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 11:20:43 AM
Good to see you got the joke, "Josquin"!

Well played, Brett!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 04, 2008, 11:56:50 PM
Indeed!

Now, Eric, in the future please be so kind to address me if and only if what you write is either personally thought or properly sourced. You have crossed too far the border of intellectual dishonesty.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 05, 2008, 04:09:59 AM
I shall do that, Florestan. And thanks for your thoughtful responses throughout.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 05, 2008, 04:13:10 AM
I shall do that, Florestan. And thanks for your thoughtful responses throughout.

You're welcome.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2008, 06:03:16 AM
Indeed!

Now, Eric, in the future please be so kind to address me if and only if what you write is either personally thought or properly sourced. You have crossed too far the border of intellectual dishonesty.

Too far, and too often.

We still have hope for you, Eric . . . .
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 05, 2008, 07:30:34 AM
Too far, and too often.

We still have hope for you, Eric . . . .

Zager and Evans gave us a time-frame for the fulfillment of the hope.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 05, 2008, 12:46:29 PM
Karl,

I missed this the other day:

Not all the academically gifted are gifted in the same way.  I am not at all "academically gifted" in the sciences, for instance.

That does not matter. You have a quick mind and you write very well. You are a person of high linguistic ability and  that  is what is most important, not an aptitude for understanding scientific concepts.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 05, 2008, 12:47:09 PM
Please:

(a) define intellectual ability

Florestan,

I cannot provide an exact definition of intellectual ability but it essentially involves an ability to grasp concepts and to reason.

Basically, there is a very intimate interconnection between intellectual ability and  reading comprehension,  yes ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on November 05, 2008, 03:08:31 PM


Basically, there is a very intimate interconnection between intellectual ability and  reading comprehension,  yes ?


Completely depends on what you're reading and if you're interested in it in the first place- or how much you already know about it. But still, I think you might be onto something.  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 05, 2008, 07:53:00 PM
Florestan,

I cannot provide an exact definition of intellectual ability but it essentially involves an ability to grasp concepts and to reason.

Basically, there is a very intimate interconnection between intellectual ability and  reading comprehension,  yes ?

Reading comprehension of what? There is, I can assure you, rather a difference between some general-consumption article on, say, education theory (as we have seen) and the Restatement (Second) of Contracts or a text on Galois Theory. So, what you'd be doing to measure intellectual ability (assuming that I accept the half-cocked idea that reading comprehension provides some sort of "very intimate" measure, which I don't) would be, for fairness' sake, be measuring everyone to the standard of a twelfth-grade student. But which twelfth grade? A public school? A private school? What about schools that are very good at math and science, but lacking on the English and foreign-language fronts? You'll say, let's go by state curricula. Which state? Which curriculum per state? For example, Indiana offers two "academic" high-school diplomas, the Core 40 diploma (basic) and the Indiana Academic Honors Diploma (self-explanatory). While the curricula are different, they're not so different as to make one the clear choice, though I wouldn't know why you'd measure off of the "special," advanced degree. In other words, there's no way to get a reliable, accurate measurement of this one variable.

It's a nice, comforting idea to be able to quantify intellectual ability, but it's crap science. Indeed, it bears such little resemblance to science that it might as well be called "a piquant blend of phrenology, numerology, and soothsaying."

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 06, 2008, 12:01:17 AM
Eric,

First you write this:

That does not matter. You have a quick mind and you write very well. You are a person of high linguistic ability and  that  is what is most important, not an aptitude for understanding scientific concepts.
(emphasis mine)

then this:

I cannot provide an exact definition of intellectual ability but it essentially involves an ability to grasp concepts and to reason.
(emphasis mine)

And to add obscurity to confusion, you eventually write this:

Basically, there is a very intimate interconnection between intellectual ability and  reading comprehension,  yes ?

Rather contradictory, don't you think so?

High linguistic ability does not necessarily imply concept-grasping ability and viceversa; reading comprehension is quite different from reasoning; reasoning is one thing and expressing the thoughts in a linguistically proper manner is another thing.

Now, if you imply, in an oblique way, that intellectual ability means:

(a) high linguistic ability

and

(b) an ability to grasp concepts and to reason

and

(c) reading comprehension

and that a person is "intellectually able' if s/he fufils all these requirements at all time and in all circumstances, I'm afraid that nobody --- and I really mean nobody of all people who have lived, who live and who will ever live on Earth --- fit the bill.

As an excellent Romanian gentleman of the old school (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandru_Paleologu) very aptly put it, the difference between an intelligent person and a stupid person is that the intelligent person is stupid in fewer cases.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 06, 2008, 04:59:26 AM
Patrick,

It's a nice, comforting idea to be able to quantify intellectual ability, but it's crap science.

But why is it that when I read Charles Murray´ Real Education  or even some sections of the The Bell Curve it rings so true of my own academic experiences ?  It makes a heck of a lot of sense to me.   (However, RE is a better book)

I definitely consider myself below average in intellectual/academic ability. In retrospect, I feel very angry that my teachers in elementary, middle and high school never really spoke up about my total inability to ever keep pace and instead gave me passing grades probably because I was very quiet/polite. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have benefitted greatly from the kind of early and rigorous testing of ability that Murray advocates.

Thanks anyway for your input on this topic. 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 06, 2008, 05:00:21 AM
Florestan,

Reading comprehension is quite different from reasoning; reasoning is one thing and expressing the thoughts in a linguistically proper manner is another thing.

I guess that´s correct.

A friend of mine defines ´reason´ in two ways:

1. The ability to organize experiences into a context that can be understood or interpreted.

or more precisely:

2. A rarified form of cognition which allows one to evaluate the validity of assertions and statements.

High linguistic ability does not necessarily imply concept-grasping ability

Why not ?   

I thought that `concept´ was a synonym for ´word´.  Aren´t they basically interchangeable ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 06, 2008, 05:15:51 AM
A friend of mine defines ´reason´ in two ways:

1. The ability to organize experiences into a context that can be understood or interpreted.

or more precisely:

2. A rarified form of cognition which allows one to evaluate the validity of assertions and statements.

A friend of yours who goes by which name?

And why "rarified"?

I thought that `concept´ was a synonym for ´word´.  Aren´t they basically interchangeable ?

"Tree", "red" and "anxiety" are words. Which one is also a concept?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 06, 2008, 05:18:18 AM
A friend of yours who goes by which name?

Oh, it's sounding like . . . BUSTED!  $:)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 06, 2008, 05:27:25 AM
A friend of yours who goes by which name?

He was an online friend from the Richard Dawkins website a couple year back. When I offered to define ´reason´ as the ability to organize experiences into a context that can be understood and interpreted, he said it was an inadequate definition and then gave the above.

Quote
"Tree", "red" and "anxiety" are words. Which one is also a concept?

Tree ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 06, 2008, 05:38:58 AM
Tree ?

I'd go rather for "anxiety".
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 06, 2008, 06:15:09 AM
Patrick,

But why is it that when I read Charles Murray´ Real Education  or even some sections of the The Bell Curve it rings so true of my own academic experiences ?  It makes a heck of a lot of sense to me.   (However, RE is a better book)

Whether or not it makes sense to you or anyone does not make it good science. The same thing goes for whether or not your subjective experiences conform to the theories proposed. They are, i.e., the theories, simply put, pop-science gobbledygook of the first order for the Reader's Digest set. I, for one, think there's a place for pseudo-science, but I don't think one should be allowed to get by with it at the margins of any field of study. When charting new territory, there is something to be said for intelligent, scrupulous, and punctiliously correct science.

This ain't it.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 06, 2008, 06:38:37 AM
It's a nice, comforting idea to be able to quantify intellectual ability, but it's crap science. Indeed, it bears such little resemblance to science that it might as well be called "a piquant blend of phrenology, numerology, and soothsaying."

Actually, whatever it is that IQ tests measure, it is a pretty consistent value when it comes to predicting academic and sometimes economic achievement. How is that unscientific?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 06, 2008, 08:03:54 AM
Actually, whatever it is that IQ tests measur[e], it is a pretty consistent value when it comes to predicting academic and sometimes economic achievement. How is that unscientific?

I think you're rather overstating the predictive value, statistically speaking, but you might have a point. Until, of course, you remember that you're arguing that a measurement of something, without ever knowing what you're measuring, is a predictor (of some value) of a couple of things.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 06, 2008, 08:22:00 AM
Until, of course, you remember that you're arguing that a measurement of something, without ever knowing what you're measuring, is a predictor (of some value) of a couple of things.

Except of course we do know what IQ is measuring, it's just not clear how much of it pertains to the totality of what we define as "intelligence". Ultimately, it seems to me that it is you who's trying to understate the concept of g.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 06, 2008, 12:09:42 PM
Except of course we do know what IQ is measuring, it's just not clear how much of it pertains to the totality of what we define as "intelligence". Ultimately, it seems to me that it is you who's trying to understate the concept of g.

I do tend to understate social-science mumbo-jumbo, just I tend to deprecate certain theories in physics that are so mathematically complex as to be untenable. There is, of course, some physical evidence for g, which cannot be said for some concepts in modern physics. At the same time, there is something highly suspect -- along many of the same lines as the mathematically derived "particles" so currently in vogue -- about something that is, being uncharitable, rather an abstraction or, being more charitable, derived from its "accidents."
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 06, 2008, 01:55:34 PM
Actually, whatever it is that IQ tests measure, it is a pretty consistent value when it comes to predicting academic achievement.

I believe that it is, too.  But why I wonder does our culture want to continue sweeping this under the rug ?

Why does our culture place so much faith in  self-discipline and motivation  in predicting academic success ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: lisa needs braces on November 06, 2008, 03:40:56 PM
Patrick,

I definitely consider myself below average in intellectual/academic ability. In retrospect, I feel very angry that my teachers in elementary, middle and high school never really spoke up about my total inability to ever keep pace and instead gave me passing grades probably because I was very quiet/polite. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have benefitted greatly from the kind of early and rigorous testing of ability that Murray advocates.

Inferiority complex, thy name is Eric!

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 06, 2008, 04:02:10 PM
Inferiority complex, thy name is Eric!

I am often overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and miserableness, yes.

Let me just say that the intellectually gifted must be told explicitly, forcefully and repeatedly that their talent is a gift that they have done nothing to deserve. They are not superior human beings, but very, very lucky ones.

They should feel humbled by their good luck.

   
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on November 06, 2008, 04:37:31 PM
Still, talent isn't everything. Think of child prodigies that play piano or something you hear about that end up not really going anywhere. Then think about those who just put in hard work day after day until they did what they had to. Talent + hard work is the best, but I don't see how you can't do stuff nearly anyone else can without hard work.
Maybe the reason you had trouble "keeping pace" had more to do with your learning style. I know I find it harder to understand a lecture than to read about a subject and then put it into practice.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 06, 2008, 05:53:11 PM
I agree with Greg. Case in point: Benjamin Grosvenor
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FJeOaRjZaE&feature=related
Two Scarlatti Sonatas + Balakirev's Lark
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL8rPM3Kl2w&feature=related
Carl Vine - 5 Bagatelles (I think you'll like this one a lot Greg)

He's amazing at 12 years old, but I watched a bio on him, and he's been playing since 7 and practices at least 6 hours a day 6 days/week. I dunno, maybe all that practice makes him a 'non-authentic' prodigy/genius or whatever, but don't see why...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 06, 2008, 06:21:51 PM
Thank you for the kind words and encouragement, G$ and J.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on November 06, 2008, 08:16:37 PM
I agree with Greg. Case in point: Benjamin Grosvenor
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FJeOaRjZaE&feature=related
Two Scarlatti Sonatas + Balakirev's Lark
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL8rPM3Kl2w&feature=related
Carl Vine - 5 Bagatelles (I think you'll like this one a lot Greg)

He's amazing at 12 years old, but I watched a bio on him, and he's been playing since 7 and practices at least 6 hours a day 6 days/week. I dunno, maybe all that practice makes him a 'non-authentic' prodigy/genius or whatever, but don't see why...
Man, I should get a complete set of Scarlatti sonatas one day. I liked what I've heard so far.
(even though that has nothing to do with our discussion) hehe
Title: !
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 06, 2008, 10:15:19 PM
It's a music forum. IMO, I think that any classical music performance easily bypasses thread topic constraints. ;D

PS How about that Carl Vine? I had never heard of him until this video!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 06, 2008, 11:29:53 PM
I am often overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and miserableness, yes.

What you lack is not intelligence, but confidence and a proper focus. It's no wonder that existentialism and agnosticism appeal so strong to you, since you can use them to justify and rationalize your situation; but they will only make it worse. What you need is not theories about life, but life itself.

Title: Re: !
Post by: greg on November 07, 2008, 04:19:44 AM
It's a music forum. IMO, I think that any classical music performance easily bypasses thread topic constraints. ;D

PS How about that Carl Vine? I had never heard of him until this video!
Both links say Benjamin Grosvenor. Is he in one of the videos?
Title: Re: !
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 07, 2008, 10:47:54 AM
Both links say Benjamin Grosvenor. Is he in one of the videos?
No...he's the one who wrote the 5 Bagatelles in the 2nd video.
Title: Re: !
Post by: greg on November 07, 2008, 12:17:07 PM
No...he's the one who wrote the 5 Bagatelles in the 2nd video.
I've read about him in a book I have. It says he's Australian, and he wrote the score to the closing ceremony of the 1996 Olympic games.

You're right- I did like them!   :D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 07, 2008, 01:22:12 PM
What you lack is not intelligence, but confidence and a proper focus.

Thank you, Florestan.    :)

Let´s go back to the original topic for a moment.

O.k., so we have not been able to define intellectual ability, but in your opinion how many people are intellectually qualified to cope with college-level material in the core disciplines of either the arts or the sciences, not how many can  survive  four years at today´s colleges, shop for easy courses and walk away with diplomas.

Correct me if I am wrong but isn´t real college-level material hard ? 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 07, 2008, 01:28:30 PM

Correct me if I am wrong but isn´t real college-level material hard ? 

I didn't find it hard.  Did you have trouble?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on November 07, 2008, 02:23:19 PM


Correct me if I am wrong but isn´t real college-level material hard ? 
Wouldn't that completely depend on what it is and how much of it you already know?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 07, 2008, 02:33:19 PM
Thank you, Florestan.    :)

Don't mention. I was stating an obvious fact.

Let´s go back to the original topic for a moment.

O.k., so we have not been able to define intellectual ability, but in your opinion how many people are intellectually qualified to cope with college-level material in the core disciplines of either the arts or the sciences[...]

Correct me if I am wrong but isn´t real college-level material hard ? 

How many? I don't know, honestly. It depends on too much variables.

Is college-level material hard? Again, I don't know. It also depends on too much variables.

This is why I am strongly opposed to enforcing an universal, compulsory, standardized and unique schooling system.  











Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 07, 2008, 02:45:34 PM
Wouldn't that completely depend on what it is and how much of it you already know?

You have to understand that Eric is referring to a very narrowly defined set of subjects and readings. The theories advanced are the very apotheosis, the summa, even, of the notions that education should be a great books course and that you are what nature made you.

In other words, we're still a few hundred years off from even 19th-century notions of education.

That's what's so risible about this current course of "discussion." Science will prove who is superior and who isn't, so to speak, and we can give the glorious intellectual overlords the Great Authors of Western Civilization that they might think deep thoughts and hold great ideas while giving the plebs enough to make them productive members of society. I am, admittedly, being hyperbolic, but not by much. When these pernicious, antediluvian, and specious ideas are revealed in their fullness and considered for what they are, there are some nasty consequences implicit.

There's an intelligent debate to be had over this subject, but, since I don't like making value judgments, I'll leave it at that.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 08, 2008, 06:14:02 AM
I didn't find it hard.  Did you have trouble?

Don,

I barely made it out of high school back in 1990.

Honestly.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 08, 2008, 06:14:39 AM
When these pernicious, antediluvian, and specious ideas are revealed in their fullness and considered for what they are, there are some nasty consequences implicit.

Patrick,

We know that Mother Nature is no egalitarian when it comes to mental ability but what are those ´nasty consequences´?

How are the lives of the less intellectually capable now threatened ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 08, 2008, 06:15:07 AM
Florestan,

This is why I am strongly opposed to enforcing an universal, compulsory, standardized and unique schooling system.
 

Interesting. Could you elaborate ?

Are you saying that all classroom based teaching should stop ?

This reminds me of something I read a while ago.

We are heading to an era in which schooling will change profoundly. The teacher will not be the talking head at the front of the classroom, but the expert on students' learning styles, the educational equivalent of a medical doctor. Children will no longer be grouped by age. Each student will advance at his or her own pace in each subject area through individualized tutorials, student-centered group learning and a cornucopia of new technology and software...

Here is the whole article:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C07EEDD1638F931A15751C1A9669C8B63

Do you agree with the above or is this another example of ´educational romanticism´?












Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 08, 2008, 06:21:11 AM
Are you saying that all classroom based teaching should stop ?

Another example of your woolly thinking, Eric, I'm afraid.

And yes, I am saying that all woolly thinking should stop  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 09, 2008, 06:29:38 AM
We are heading to an era in which schooling will change profoundly. The teacher will not be the talking head at the front of the classroom, but the expert on students' learning styles, the educational equivalent of a medical doctor. Children will no longer be grouped by age. Each student will advance at his or her own pace in each subject area through individualized tutorials, student-centered group learning and a cornucopia of new technology and software...

Here is the whole article:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C07EEDD1638F931A15751C1A9669C8B63

Do you agree with the above or is this another example of ´educational romanticism´?

I strongly disagree. It's "educational romanticism" at its worst. (Actually, I believe the correct term would be "Rousseau-ism" rather than "romanticism".)

I especially take issue with two points.

Our school system was created for an industrial society

Wrong. This educational system has been the norm since times when industrial revolution could not even be conceived of as a dream.

we will recognize so-called disabilities for what they really are -- differences in how people learn. Rather than call them learning disabilities, we will call them learning differences.

The supposed learning disabilities are detected after the pupil spends years in school and in most cases has nothing to do with the pupil, but with the schooling. When during years one teaches nothing essential to a child and after that another one finds that child to have "learning disabilities" it's like a thief crying "Catch the thieves!".


Are you saying that all classroom based teaching should stop ?

God forbid! Not at all!

What I'm saying is that education should not be the monopoly of the state

Now, of course it's one of the missions of a civlized State to educate the children at all level through a network of state-funded, public elementary schools, high-schools, colleges and universities, open --- but not compulsory --- to all children. But the state should also permit, encourage and protect privately-funded schools, high-schools, colleges and universities. .The more diverse the educational systems, the better for the society.




















Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 09, 2008, 03:48:26 PM
Patrick,

We know that Mother Nature is no egalitarian when it comes to mental ability but what are those ´nasty consequences´?

How are the lives of the less intellectually capable now threatened ?

Putting any significance in measurement is the problem, Eric. In that instance, it is all too easy to start drawing lines and making distinctions because, well, people will buy into anything if it's "scientific" or "researched." If you start drawing educational lines based on this nonsense, then you can draw all sorts of other lines. And then we have a problem.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 09, 2008, 11:40:02 PM
Putting any significance in measurement is the problem, Eric. In that instance, it is all too easy to start drawing lines and making distinctions because, well, people will buy into anything if it's "scientific" or "researched." If you start drawing educational lines based on this nonsense, then you can draw all sorts of other lines. And then we have a problem.

Indeed, the abuse of science in order to push ideological agendas on society is a big problem.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 11, 2008, 07:07:38 AM
Putting any significance in measurement is the problem, Eric. If you start drawing educational lines based on this nonsense, then you can draw all sorts of other lines. And then we have a problem.

Patrick,

Point taken. But I still see no great harm if elementary schools provided some kind of systematic assessment of aptitudes. I undoubtedly would have suffered much less in life had I received more ´aggressive academic guidance´ starting at say, age 6.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 11, 2008, 07:09:50 AM
What I'm saying is that education should not be the monopoly of the state

Now, of course it's one of the missions of a civlized State to educate the children at all level through a network of state-funded, public elementary schools, high-schools, colleges and universities, open --- but not compulsory --- to all children. But the state should also permit, encourage and protect privately-funded schools, high-schools, colleges and universities. .The more diverse the educational systems, the better for the society.

Florestan,

A tangential question:

If a person has both the money and the time for individual/private tutoring, is this a bad thing in your opinion ? 

Isn´t this how some became educated in the ancient world ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 11, 2008, 07:15:32 AM
Eric, you don't want an apostrophe for its in your signature.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on November 11, 2008, 07:16:55 AM
Eric, you don't want an apostrophe for its in your signature.
It goes before the i.......  ;)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 11, 2008, 07:29:05 AM
If a person has both the money and the time for individual/private tutoring, is this a bad thing in your opinion ? 

On the contrary, it's a very good thing.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 11, 2008, 07:48:42 AM
On the contrary, it's a very good thing.

Florestan,

Just to be clear, I was referring to a person receiving their complete education solely through private tutoring, not as a complement to the classroom experience.

Is this still a problem ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 11, 2008, 07:52:46 AM
Florestan,

Just be clear, I was referring to a person receiving their complete education solely through private tutoring, not as a complement to the classroom experience.

Is this still a problem ?

No problem at all AFAIC.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 11, 2008, 07:56:45 AM
Just to be clear, I was referring to a person receiving their complete education solely through private tutoring, not as a complement to the classroom experience.

Is this still a problem ?

Not a problem in regard to acquisition of knowledge and skills of the intellect.

The classroom is also a place where one learns social skills broader than the family.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 11, 2008, 08:01:43 AM
It would also have been a problem for me as someone learning to be a musician.  If I had done all my schooling at home, and none in a school, there would have been no opportunity for me to play in a band, to sing in a chorus.

And thus, no foundation for me to decide at age 18 that perhaps what I wanted to become, is a composer.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 11, 2008, 08:06:59 AM
If I had done all my schooling at home, and none in a school, there would have been no opportunity for me to play in a band, to sing in a chorus.

Why assume that? Your private music teacher could have very well involved you in bands and choruses.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 11, 2008, 08:32:28 AM
Why assume that? Your private music teacher could have very well involved you in bands and choruses.

That's not an assumption;  I am adjusting my actual experience by the hypothesis.  All of my musical participation (taking a fancy to learning the clarinet, singing in chorus) resulted from chances dependent on (a) interaction with schoolmates, and (b) being in a school hallway at the time when, it happened, a chorus rehearsal was about to start.

I'm not saying that it's impossible for anyone to become a clarinetist or composer in such circumstances.  Only that, in my case, remove the social interaction of the school environment, and participation in music would not have arisen.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 11, 2008, 08:51:19 AM
Not a problem in regard to acquisition of knowledge and skills of the intellect.

The classroom is also a place where one learns social skills broader than the family.

This last point is essential.  Interaction with others - how to negotiate, how to publicly speak and behave - these seemingly innocuous, tiny things that happen simply by existing in a public environment, they're lost with home schooling.

Plus, home schooling is predominantly in this country done by families who don't want their children exposed to the sciences/to learn the theory of evolution.  That's a shame.  These people might feel expert in Bible Study, but to have no respect for science, to not provide your child with a basic understanding beyond, "Gravity exists because God wants it to"?  That's a mite bit scary.  If you ever see the documentary "Jesus Camp", this is EXACTLY what goes on.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 11, 2008, 09:58:58 AM
This last point is essential.  Interaction with others - how to negotiate, how to publicly speak and behave - these seemingly innocuous, tiny things that happen simply by existing in a public environment, they're lost with home schooling.

In pre-modern times there were no public schools. Education meant either home-schooling or privately operated schools. And yet the social skills of the educated people were no worse than today. Actually, the social marks of an educated person in those times --- the arts of conversation, writing letters and mastering the good manners --- are all but lost in our times.



Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 11, 2008, 01:06:40 PM
In pre-modern times there were no public schools. Education meant either home-schooling or privately operated schools. And yet the social skills of the educated people were no worse than today. Actually, the social marks of an educated person in those times --- the arts of conversation, writing letters and mastering the good manners --- are all but lost in our times.

Well, even in an age when most people weren't going to school very long, if at all, there were plenty of well-educated bores and boors. The numbers were much smaller, of course, if only because most people were toiling in fields, in the armed forces, or losing various appendages to various industrial machines.

Who has time for a bon mot when you've got a hand caught in a loom or a thresher? Not I, sir. Not I.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 11, 2008, 04:46:02 PM
In pre-modern times there were no public schools. Education meant either home-schooling or privately operated schools. And yet the social skills of the educated people were no worse than today. Actually, the social marks of an educated person in those times --- the arts of conversation, writing letters and mastering the good manners --- are all but lost in our times.

But you're also talking about pre-Industrial Revolution era, yes?  With the advent of major industry and urban life, the ned for social interaction and skills is imperative.  plus, the larger issue of having an experts perspective on sciences, art, history, etc.  Your parents will only know so much on a given subject.  The creative process of teaching (which, yes, is slowly dyign out by formatted national class requiremtns, no child left behind, etc)

educaton and knowledge are the most sacred things in the world, far as I'm concerned.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 12, 2008, 12:58:09 AM
Well, even in an age when most people weren't going to school very long, if at all, there were plenty of well-educated bores and boors.

That's true. Just as there are plenty now. Nothing has changed in this respect.

Your parents will only know so much on a given subject. 

Correct. But Eric's question, the way I understood it, was not about home-schooling by parents, but about schooling at home with private teachers --- a different matter altogether. I reiterate that, if a child's family has the money and the willingness to so educate her / him, I see no problem with that.

For instance, this is how Felix Mendelssohn received his entire pre-University education; still, judging by all contemporary testimonies, he didn't lack any social skill, on the contrary, he was a perfect gentleman.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 13, 2008, 07:25:55 AM
Florestan,

But Eric's question, the way I understood it, was not about home-schooling by parents, but about schooling at home with private teachers --- a different matter altogether

Yes, private teachers; I was very clear about that.

Getting back to something you wrote earlier:

The real issue is, IMHO, the prevailing educational philosophy which results not in too many people being educated but, on the contrary, in too many people not being educated. (I'm talking about people who do go to high-schools and colleges, mind you!).

A few questions:

1. You seem to have a lot of faith in the intellectual potential of most people. Is that correct ?

2. What validity does the concept of  g  and aptitude tests have for you ?

3. If a person is to acquire knowledge and enhance their understanding of the world isn´t it preferable that  most  do it outside the halls of academe ?

4. Correct me if I am wrong but isn´t the college experience mostly about reading books and analyzing their content. And then applying those ideas and principles and determining their effectiveness ?




Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 13, 2008, 07:32:37 AM
3. If a person is to acquire knowledge and enhance their understanding of the world isn´t it preferable that  most  do it outside the halls of academe ?

Why, exactly, Eric?  Why should a preference break either way?

You seem to have a lot of prejudice against academia. Is that correct?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 13, 2008, 08:39:14 AM
1. You seem to have a lot of faith in the intellectual potential of most people. Is that correct ?

The only thing I have faith in is God. Everything else is debatable. :)

Now, based on my experience, I would say that most people, given the opportunity, have the intellectual potential to learn reading, writing and arithmetics.

If by "intellectual potential" you mean interest in, and ability to understand, specific subjects such as Literature and Foreign Languages, History, Geography, Sciences, Philosophy etc --- I can't say "most" or "few". 
What I can say is that, given proper opportunity --- and this includes a lot of variables, like, for instance, family environment, school environment, school facilities quality, teachers' committment and methods, social image of education and educated people, etc etc etc --- it is possible (a) to arouse a child's interest in pursuing higher education and (b) to develop in the process her / his intellectual abilities.

2. What validity does the concept of  g  and aptitude tests have for you ?

Aptitude tests may have an orientative validity but not an absolute one. I personally know people who graduated as engineers and whose intellectual interests outside their trade goes no further than reading tabloids and watching football matches. Conversely, I personally know people who never completed their high-school education and with which I can discuss topics such as moon eclipses, folk songs or the hydromechanics of battle ships.


3. If a person is to acquire knowledge and enhance their understanding of the world isn´t it preferable that  most  do it outside the halls of academe ?

Each person is unique and, if interested, will eventually find the educational medium most suited to her / his personality. Some people are incomfortable with the idea of classrooms, assignments and tests. Some others are perfectly fine and happy in an academical environment. Some learn for their pure pleasure and out of pure intellectual curiosity. Some others learn with a career in their mind. Some are prone to individual, solitary study. Some others derive pleasure and profit from intellectual intercourse with their mates. Etc etc etc.

There is no single, universal and success-guaranteed educational system and trying to enforce such a Procustean measure on the society is always going to have effects contrary to those intended.

The "halls of academe" are as legitimate and honorable places of education as the open fields and mountains under a summer starry night.

Now, there are no small numbers of philosophers, artists and scientists who never made it past high-school, if this at all. But they were either geniuses or at least very gifted intellectually. Ordinary people, though, need guidance in their learning and education.


4. Correct me if I am wrong but isn´t the college experience mostly about reading books and analyzing their content. And then applying those ideas and principles and determining their effectiveness ?

If that was your experience, then you certainly went to the wrong college, I mean, a college not suitable for your personality.




Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 13, 2008, 10:55:08 AM
Important article, and more or less on topic...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/opinion/13kristof.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 13, 2008, 12:36:14 PM
Important article, and more or less on topic...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/opinion/13kristof.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Kristof writes:

"Let’s pick up where we left off in the 1970s and mount a national campaign to make high-school graduation truly universal, and to make a college education routine..."

This is exactly the kind of educational policy that Charles Murray finds foolish, cruel, and counter-productive.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 13, 2008, 12:45:57 PM
So much the worse for Charles Murray.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 13, 2008, 12:46:41 PM
Soeaking of "foolish and counter-productive" . . . .
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 13, 2008, 12:57:48 PM
Florestan,

The only thing I have faith in is God. Everything else is debatable. :)

I too have faith in the existence of benevolent supernatural being...  :)

Some very sensible comments throughout. Thanks.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 13, 2008, 01:15:15 PM
So much the worse for Charles Murray.

Karl,

Here is a very good defense and summary of what Charles Murray is saying by a commentator named William Asher.

Charles Murray is talking about a rational and realistic approach to education utilizing what we now know about variations in human traits governed by genetics. A child born with an IQ of 90 cannot be a brain surgeon, but he can be a janitor, mechanic, farmer, landscaper, etc, etc. Murray is not saying that one’s specific station in life is determined by their intellectual capacity. No reasonable person can possibly read Murray this way.

As for writing kids off … well, if you spend decades pretending that education is everything and constantly  degrade  non-degreed occupations then you wind up with a social scenario where janitors, mechanics, farmers, landscapers, etc are worthless, as human beings. It is not Murray who is writing off kids for having only the capacity of being janitors and framers, it is the sorts occupying our educational establishment.

I run and operate my own yacht detailing business with my brother, no employees. It is actually a very good business and I really enjoy what I do. I can attest that attaining respectability in social situations is something that I have to achieve but would be a default position if I were in a “professional” occupation. Why are people, mostly men, in trades and service professions socially “written off”.

It’s this rank elitism that so many of us loathe.

Instead of pretending like every child ever born is a brain surgeon, we can actually help those with a capacity of becoming nothing more than a janitor, farmer, landscaper, mechanic etc to live happy and socially productive lives.

Murray is dangerous to the sorts here because his thesis undermines the notion of education uber alles. Unfortunately, for you, Murray is doing nothing more than exposing the narcissistic and grandiose claims of the education establishment. There are many paths to living a happy, socially productive and fulfilling life, and many of them only pass tangentially through formal education.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 13, 2008, 01:41:59 PM
Eric, this isn't meant as a criticism, because I find nothing wrong with substantiating one's point of view with an 'expert' in a given field. However, it is intellectually invigorating to exercise the art of rebuttal or discussion. Perhaps you wouldn't have such an inferiority complex if you had faith in your own ability to reason? This only comes with practice.

Just a thought.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 13, 2008, 02:43:50 PM
Karl,

Here is a very good defense and summary of what Charles Murray is saying by a commentator named William Asher.

Charles Murray is talking about a rational and realistic approach to education utilizing what we now know about variations in human traits governed by genetics. A child born with an IQ of 90 cannot be a brain surgeon, but he can be a janitor, mechanic, farmer, landscaper, etc, etc. Murray is not saying that one’s specific station in life is determined by their intellectual capacity. No reasonable person can possibly read Murray this way.

As for writing kids off … well, if you spend decades pretending that education is everything and constantly  degrade  non-degreed occupations then you wind up with a social scenario where janitors, mechanics, farmers, landscapers, etc are worthless, as human beings. It is not Murray who is writing off kids for having only the capacity of being janitors and framers, it is the sorts occupying our educational establishment.

I run and operate my own yacht detailing business with my brother, no employees. It is actually a very good business and I really enjoy what I do. I can attest that attaining respectability in social situations is something that I have to achieve but would be a default position if I were in a “professional” occupation. Why are people, mostly men, in trades and service professions socially “written off”.

It’s this rank elitism that so many of us loathe.

Instead of pretending like every child ever born is a brain surgeon, we can actually help those with a capacity of becoming nothing more than a janitor, farmer, landscaper, mechanic etc to live happy and socially productive lives.

Murray is dangerous to the sorts here because his thesis undermines the notion of education uber alles. Unfortunately, for you, Murray is doing nothing more than exposing the narcissistic and grandiose claims of the education establishment. There are many paths to living a happy, socially productive and fulfilling life, and many of them only pass tangentially through formal education.



Who's pretending that every child has the potential to be a brain surgeon?  The argument is, every child has potential.  Let's say within the realm of drawing: someone may not have an all-around ability, but mgiht have an incredible sense of depth perception, or color, or layout.  But the only way anyone is ever going to find out is if the opportunity is given.

George W Bush himself would call you out for these statements.  "The soft bigotry of low expectations".  Also, it's worth noting that a childs parents income directly links in to tapping their potential.  If the parents can't afford to buy the children supplies, or books, or tutors, who can?  Government programs and incentives.  Overall, it's an investment in the countrys future.  Problem is, it's not something where you "see" short-term results.  But long-term?  Worth every penny.  Why not read the Kristof article...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 13, 2008, 04:29:20 PM
Quote from: Asher
There are many paths to living a happy, socially productive and fulfilling life, and many of them only pass tangentially through formal education.

Strawman, of course.  A pity you chose it for a curtain line, Eric  ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 14, 2008, 12:36:10 AM
The Kristof article, while making some valid points, is a perfect embodiment of the (historically failed) Enlightenment optimism vis-a-vis the power of education to make the world a better place. It is also curiously self-contradictory: if, by 1970, US was far ahead of the rest of the world in education, this implies logically that US population was highly educated and the American society was mostly composed of enlightened persons who should have had the natural tendency to preserve this trend. But instead we have educational stagnation and even regress! It doesn't make any sense...

...unless, of course, we take into account that (a) quantity is not the same as quality and (b) a wrong kind of education can be more harmful to persons, and dangerous to society as a whole, than no education at all.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 14, 2008, 01:26:02 AM
If the parents can't afford to buy the children supplies, or books, or tutors, who can?  Government programs and incentives. 

Or private foundations. Or community-based, non-governmental foundations. Or religious communities. Or... or... or...

Government is only one of a myriad knots in the society's network.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 14, 2008, 05:20:00 AM
The Kristof article, while making some valid points, is a perfect embodiment of the (historically failed) Enlightenment optimism vis-a-vis the power of education to make the world a better place. It is also curiously self-contradictory: if, by 1970, US was far ahead of the rest of the world in education, this implies logically that US population was highly educated and the American society was mostly composed of enlightened persons who should have had the natural tendency to preserve this trend. But instead we have educational stagnation and even regress! It doesn't make any sense...

To claim that the US might be "far ahead of the rest of the world in education" invites a skepticism similar to the "greatest composers" discussion, related to the nature (and narrow scope) of the criteria.

Not all that unrelatedly, the decline in education in the US seems to me in large part to result from curiously narrow (and in certain misapplied ways, 'scientific') notions of the nature of education.

OTOH, and notwithstanding the genuine ill effects of poor education, this thread demonstrates in part what a dead end is disdain for the education one does not have.  (Even the self-taught can have a perilously poor education.)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 14, 2008, 05:37:56 AM
To claim that the US might be "far ahead of the rest of the world in education" invites a skepticism similar to the "greatest composers" discussion, related to the nature (and narrow scope) of the criteria.

Well, Kristof's claim is that US were far ahead prior to 1970, but your point is still valid.

Not all that unrelatedly, the decline in education in the US seems to me in large part to result from curiously narrow (and in certain misapplied ways, 'scientific') notions of the nature of education.

Could you elaborate a bit, Karl?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 16, 2008, 01:42:26 PM
Florestan,

Here is a very nice summation of most of Murray's ideas, excerpted from chapter 3 of his recent book, ´Real Education.´ It also addresses a few misconceptions that some have had in this thread... (i.e. that below average students should automatically be directed towards career/vocational studies or that they should not be exposed to the humanities)

He also provides examples of introductory college level material for freshmen in various subjects to remind people of the difficulty.

If you have the time to read it very carefully, I'd like to know where you believe he is misguided... I invite everyone who has been following this thread to share their thoughts. I believe he says many important things throughout.

******

Who Should Acquire A Liberal Education ? And When ?

To ask whether too many people are going to college requires us to think about the importance and nature of a liberal education. "Universities are not intended to teach the knowledge required to fit men and women for some special mode of gaining their livelihood," John Stuart Mill told students at the University of St. Andrews in 1867. "Their object is not to make skilful lawyers, or physicians, or engineers, but capable and cultivated human beings."  If this is true (and I agree that it is), why say that too many people are going to college ? Surely a mass democracy should encourage as many people as possible to become "capable and cultivated human beings" in Mill's sense. We should not restrict the availability of a liberal education to a rarified intellectual elite. More people should be going to college, not fewer.

E. D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge as the Skeleton of a Liberal Education

Yes and no. More people should be getting the basics of a liberal education. But for most students, the places to provide those basics are elementary and middle school. E.D. Hirsch Jr. is the indispensable thinker on this topic, beginning with his 1987 book 'Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know'. Part of his argument involves the importance of a body of core knowledge in fostering reading speed and comprehension, an important pedagogical finding that I discuss in the notes to this chapter. With regard to a liberal education, Hirsch makes three points that are germane here:

1. Full participation in any culture requires familiarity with a body of core knowledge. To live in the United States and not recognize Teddy Roosevelt, Prohibition, Minutemen, Huckleberry Finn, Wall Street, smoke-filled room, or Gettysburg is like trying to read without knowing some of the ten thousand most commonly used words in the language. It signifies a degree of cultural illiteracy about America. Not to recognize Falstaff, Sistine Chapel, Apollo, Sistine Chapel, Inquisition, Twenty-third Psalm, or Beethoven signifies cultural illiteracy about the West. Not to recognize solar system, Big Bang, natural selection, relativity or periodic table is to be scientifically illiterate. Not to recognize Mediterranean, Vienna, Yangtze River, Mount Everest, or Mecca is to be geographically illiterate.

2. This core knowledge is an important part of the glue that holds the culture together. All American children, of whatever ethnic heritage, and whether their families came here three hundred years ago or three months ago, need to learn about Pilgrims, Valley Forge, Duke Ellington, Apollo 11, Susan B. Anthony, George C. Marshall, and the Freedom Riders. All students need to learn the iconic stories. For a society of immigrants such as ours, the core knowledge is our shared identity that makes us American together rather than hyphenated Americans.

3. K-8 are the right years to teach the core knowledge, and the effort should get off to a running start in elementary school. Starting early is partly a matter of necessity: There's a lot to learn, and it takes time. But another reason is that small children enjoy learning myths and fables, showing off names and dates they have memorized, and hearing about great historical figures and exciting deeds. The educational establishment sees this kind of curriculum as one that forces children to memorize boring facts. That conventional is wrong on every count. The facts can be fascinating (if taught right); a lot more than memorization is entailed; yet memorizing things is an indispensable part of education, too; and memorizing is something that children do much, much better than adults. The core knowledge is suited to ways that young children naturally learn and enjoy learning. Not all children will be able to do the reading with the same level of comprehension, but the fact-based nature of the core knowledge actually works to the benefit of low-ability students --- remembering facts is much easier than making inferences and deductions. The core knowledge curriculum lends itself to adaptation for students across a wide range of academic ability. In the twenty years since 'Cultural Literacy' was published, Hirsch and his colleagues have developed and refined his original formulation into an inventory of more than six thousand items that approximate the core knowledge broadly shared by literate Americans. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Foundation has also developed a detailed, grade-by-grade curriculum for K-8, complete with lists of books and other teaching materials and of course topics involving the mechanics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The Core Knowledge approach need not stop with eight grade. High school is a good place for survey courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences taught at a level below the demands of a college course and accessible to most students in the upper two-thirds of the distribution of academic ability. Some students will not want to take these courses, and it can be counterproductive to require them to do so, but high school can put considerable flesh on the liberal education skeleton for students who are still interested.

In summary: Saying "too many people are going to college" is not the same thing as saying that the average student does not need to know about history, science, and great works of art, music, and literature. They do need to know - and to know more than they are currently learning. So let's teach it to them, but let's not wait for college to do it.

Liberal Education in College

Liberal education in college means taking on the tough stuff. A high school graduate who has acquired Hirsch's core knowledge will know, for example, that John Stuart Mill was an important 19th century philosopher who was associated with something called Utilitarianism and wrote a famous book called 'On Liberty'. But learning philosophy in college, which is an essential component of a liberal education, means that the student has to be able to read and understand the actual text of 'On Liberty'. That brings us back to the limits set by the nature of college-level material. Here is the first sentence of 'On Liberty':

"The subject of this essay is not the so-called liberty of the will, so unfortunately opposed to the misnamed doctrine of philosophical necessity; but civil, or social liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual."

I will not burden you with 'On Liberty's last sentence. It is 126 words long. And Mill is one of the more accessible philosphers, and 'On Liberty' is one of Mill's more accessible works.

The difficulty of college-level material is obvious in engineering and most of the natural sciences, where students cannot get a degree unless they can handle the math. "Handle the math" means being able to pass courses in at least advanced calculus and statistics, a requirement that immediately makes the 10 percent estimate plausible. In the humanities and most of the social sciences, the difference between high school work and college-level work is fuzzier. It is possible for someone with average reading ability to sit through lectures and write answers in an examination book. But people with average reading ability do not understand much of the text in the assigned readings. They take away a mishmash of half-understood information and outright misunderstandings that probably leave them under the illusion they know something they do not.

Perhaps the best way to convey how tough it is to deal with genuine college-level material is to remind you what the books are like. Each of the following passages of about a hundred words is taken from texts commonly used for college survey courses. To quash the temptation to cherry-pick the most difficult text, I used the same page number for selecting each passage (page 400, chosen arbitrarily).

Western History. "The Protestant Reformation could not have occurred without the monumental crises of the medieval church during the 'exile' in Avignon, the Great Schism, the conciliar period, and the Renaissance papacy. For increasing numbers of people the medieval church had ceased also to provide a viable religious piety. There was a crisis in the traditional teaching and spiritual practice of the church among its many intellectuals and laity. Between the secular pretensions of the papacy and the dry teaching of the Scholastic theologians, laity and clerics alike began to seek a more heartfelt, idealistic, and -- often in the eyes of the pope -- increasingly heretical religious piety." D. Kagan, S. Ozment, and F. M. Turner (1983). 'The Western Heritage' (2nd ed. New York: Macmillan.

Art. "Although the Humanists received with enthusiasm the new message from pagan antiquity, they nevertheless did not look upon themselves as pagans. It was possible for the 15th century scholar Laurentius Valla to prove the forgery of the Donation of Constantine (an early Medieval document purporting to record Constantine's bequest of the Roman empire to the Church) without feeling that he had compromised his Christian faith. The two great religious orders founded in the 13th century, the Dominicans and the Franciscans, were as dominant in setting the tone of 14th and 15th century Christian thought as they had been earlier, and they continued to be patrons of the arts." H. de la Croix and R.G. Tansey (1975). 'Gardner's Art Through the Ages (6th ed.) New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Economics. "Suppose any industry like wine-grape growing requires a certain kind of soil and location (sunny hillsides, etc.). Such sites are limited in number. The annual output of wine can be increased to some extent by adding more labor and fertilizer to each acre of land and by bidding away some hill sites from other uses. But as we saw in chapter 2, the law of diminishing returns will begin to operate if variable factors of production, like labor and fertilizer, are added to fixed amounts of a factor like land. Why is that ? Because each new variable addition of labor and fertilizer has a smaller proportion of land to work with." P.A. Samuelson and W. D. Nordhaus (1985). 'Economics' (12th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Psychology. "An exciting feature of artificial neural networks is their capacity to learn from experience, as some interconnections strengthen and others weaken. Their learning, together with their capacity for parallel processing, enables neural network computers to pick up how to navigate, play soccer, mimic others' expressions, and recognize particular shapes, sounds, and smells -- tasks that conventional computers find extremely difficult. A striking example: Thomas Landauer and his colleagues applied principles of computer neural networking to 'read' a previous edition of this textbook. As their 'Latent Semantic Analysis' program read the entire book, it associated all the individual words with one another." D.G. Myers (2004). 'Psychology' (7th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.

Philosophy. "The most prominent philosophical outcome of these several converging strands of postmodern thought has been a many-sided critical attack on the central Western philosophical tradition from Platonism onward. The whole project of that tradition to grasp and articulate a foundational Reality has been criticized as a futile exercise in linguistic game playing, a sustained but doomed effort to move beyond elaborate fictions of its own creation. More pointedly, such a project has been condemned as inherently alienating and oppresively hierarchical -- an intellectually imperious procedure that has produced an existential and cultural impoverishment, and that has led ultimately to the technocratic domination of nature and the socialpolitical domination of others." R. Tarnas (1991). 'The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View´. New York: Ballantine Books.

English Literature: "If a man chooses to call every composition a poem which is a rhyme, or measure, or both, I must leave his opinion uncontroverted. The distinction is at least competent to characterize the writer's intention. If it were subjoined that the whole is likewise entertaining or affecting as a tale or as a series of interesting reflections, I of course admit this as another fit ingredient of a poem and an additional merit. But if the definition sought for be that of a legitimate poem, I answer it must be one the parts of which mutually support and explain each other." Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Biographica Literaria." In M. H. Abrams et al. (eds.), The Norton Anthology of English Literature (4th ed., Vol. 2, 1979). New York: W. W. Norton and Co.
_____

On any random page of textbooks for introductory courses in the core college disciplines, that's the kind of prose that a freshman must be prepared to read and understand. It's not easy. The sentences in the passages average twenty-six words (by way of comparison, the length of the average sentence in a well-regarded high school history textbook is thirteen). Long sentences demand a high degree of focus if the syntax and vocabulary are simple. But the syntax in the passages I just quoted actually ranges from demanding to tortuous, involving intertwined independent and dependent clauses and frequent interpolations of material. Then the reader has to figure out what the words mean, and the barriers are many. The passages are studded with unexplained references that impede understanding if the reader is unfamiliar with them (Avignon, diminishing returns, Dominicans, Early Medieval, Franciscans, Great Schism, Humanists, parallel processing, Platonism, Reformation, Renaissance, Scholastics).

Then there are words that most students use in ordinary conversation, but are being used in the text to convey a less familiar, sometimes downright obscure meaning ("......admit this as another fit ingredient......," "......affecting as a tale......, "......by bidding away some hill sites......," "......fixed amounts......," "......the distinction is at least competent to  characterize......," "......he had compromised his Christian faith......," "......a futile exercise," "......elaborate fictions of its own creation," "......rhyme, or measure, or both......," "......religious orders," "......the whole project of that tradition").

Finally there is the relentless use of words that not many high-school seniors know. Excluding the specialized vocabulary and historical references, these short passages contain twelve words that are not among the 20,000 most frequently used English words: obloquy, alienating, clerics, conciliar, foundational, heretical, imperious, impoverishment, interconnections, pretensions, subjoined, technocratic, and uncontroverted. Nor should one bet that more than a minority of high-school seniors know baleful, antiquity, articulate, characterize, converging, existential, hierarchical, inherently, laity, latent, monumental, neural, pagan, papacy, patrons, piety, pointedly, semantic, viable and alembic.

All these difficulties arise in passages totaling not much more than the length of a single page in a typical college textbook. The intellectual demands of traditional college-level material in the social sciences and humanities cannot be described as concretely for engineering, mathematics, and the sciences, but they are as severe in their own way.

It would be nice if everyone could acquire a fully formed liberal education, but they cannot. We are once again looking at the 20 percent tops, and probably closer to 10 percent, who have the level of academic ability necessary to cope with the stuff of a liberal education at the college level. Should all of those who do have the academic ability to absorb a college-level liberal education get one ? It depends. Suppose we have before us a young woman who is in the 98th percentile of academic ability and wants to become a lawyer and eventually run for political office. To me, it seems essential that she spend her undergraduate years getting a rigorous liberal education. I will make this case in detail in the next chapter. The short version is that, apart from a liberal education's value to her, the nation will benefit. Everything she does as an attorney or as an elected official should be informed by the kind of wisdom that a rigorous liberal education can encourage. It is appropriate to push her into that kind of undergraduate program. But the only reason we can get away with pushing her is that the odds are high that she will enjoy it. The odds are high because she is good at this sort of thing -- it's no problem for her to read Mill´s 'On Liberty' or Plato's 'Symposium' or Milton's 'Paradise Lost'. It's no problem for her to come up with an interesting perspective on what she has read and weave it into a term paper. And because she is good at it, she is also likely to enjoy it. It is one of Aristotle's central themes in his discussion of human happiness, a theme that John Rawls later distilled into what he called the Aristotelian Principle: "Other things equal, human beings enjoy the exercise of their realized capacities (their innate or trained abilities), and this enjoyment increases the more the capacity is realized, or the greater its complexity." And so it comes to pass that those who take the hardest majors and who enroll in courses that look most like an old-fashioned liberal education are concentrated among the students in the top percentiles of academic ability. Getting a liberal education consists of dealing with complex intellectual material day after day, and dealing with complex intellectual material is what students in the top few percentiles are really good at, in the same way that other people are really good at cooking or making pottery. For these students, doing it well is fun. Every percentile down the ability ladder -- and this applies to all abilities, not just academic -- the probability that a person will enjoy the hardest aspects of an activity goes down as well. Students at the 80th percentile of academic ability are still smart kids, but the odds that they will respond to a course that assigns Mill or Spinoza or Milton are considerably lower than the odds that a student in the top few percentiles will respond.  Virtue has nothing to do with it. Maturity has nothing to do with it. Appreciation of the value of a liberal education has nothing to do with it. The probability that a student will enjoy 'Paradise Lost' goes down as his linguistic ability goes down, but so does the probability that he works on double acrostic puzzles in his spare time or plays online Scrabble hour after hour, and for the identical reason. The lower down the linguistic ladder he is, the less fun such activities are.

And so we return to the question: Should all of those who have the academic ability to absorb a college-level liberal arts curriculum get one ? If our young woman is at the 80th percentile of linguistic ability, should she pushed to do so ? She has enough intellectual capacity, if she puts her mind to it and works exceptionally hard. The answer is no. If she wants to, fine. But she probably won't, and there is no way to force her. Try to force her (for example, by setting up a demanding core curriculum), and she will transfer to another school, because she is in college for vocational training. She wants to write computer code. Start a business. Get a job in television. She uses college to take vocational courses that pertain to her career interests. A large proportion of people who are theoretically able to absorb a liberal education have no interest in doing so. And reasonably so. Seen dispassionately, getting a traditional liberal education over 4 years is an odd way to enjoy spending one's time. Not many people enjoy reading for hour after hour, day after day, no matter what the material may be. To enjoy reading 'On Liberty' and its ilk -- and if you're going to absorb such material, you must in some sense enjoy the process -- is downright peculiar. To be willing to spend many more hours writing papers and answers to exam questions about that material approaches masochism.

We should look at the kind of work that goes into acquiring a liberal education at the college level in the same way that we look at the grueling apprenticeship that goes into becoming a master chef: something that understandably attracts only a limited number of people. Most students at today's colleges choose not to take the courses that go into a liberal education because the capabilities they want to develop lie elsewhere. These students are not lazy, any more than students who do not want to spend hours learning how to chop carrots into a perfect eight-inch dice are lazy.

A liberal education just doesn't make sense for them yet colleges do their best to avoid admitting this.

******
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 16, 2008, 02:47:56 PM
Helluva "excerpt". 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 16, 2008, 05:12:44 PM
Helluva "excerpt". 

It would have been even more powerful were it probative of anything in particular.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 17, 2008, 01:21:36 AM
It also addresses a few misconceptions that some have had in this thread... (i.e. that below average students should automatically be directed towards career/vocational studies or that they should not be exposed to the humanities)

I don't remember anyone in this thread endorsing such ideas.

If you have the time to read it very carefully, I'd like to know where you believe he is misguided...

Not so much misguided, as disingenuous, although he makes some valid points. I will only comment on those issues which I find either highly debatable or plain truisms. Let's see.

Quote from: John Stuart Mill
"Universities are not intended to teach the knowledge required to fit men and women for some special mode of gaining their livelihood. Their object is not to make skilful lawyers, or physicians, or engineers, but capable and cultivated human beings." 

"On LIberty" aside, to this I subscribe with the caveat that the word "only" be inserted before "intended" and "to make". If one goes to Harvard Law School, or to MIT's School of Engineering, s/he has a specific career in mind. I would think very poor of those universities were they not intended to make skilful lawyers or engineers.

Quote from: Charles Murray
On any random page of textbooks for introductory courses in the core college disciplines, that's the kind of prose that a freshman must be prepared to read and understand. It's not easy. The sentences in the passages average twenty-six words (by way of comparison, the length of the average sentence in a well-regarded high school history textbook is thirteen). Long sentences demand a high degree of focus if the syntax and vocabulary are simple. But the syntax in the passages I just quoted actually ranges from demanding to tortuous, involving intertwined independent and dependent clauses and frequent interpolations of material. Then the reader has to figure out what the words mean, and the barriers are many. The passages are studded with unexplained references that impede understanding if the reader is unfamiliar with them (Avignon, diminishing returns, Dominicans, Early Medieval, Franciscans, Great Schism, Humanists, parallel processing, Platonism, Reformation, Renaissance, Scholastics).

Now, wait a minute.

First, the excerpts Murray provides are not from "textbooks for introductory courses" but from academic books on their own.

Second, which colleges use these books as introduction for freshmen?

Third, if one is to become a cultivated human being, this requires personal effort to study, think and understand, i.e. the very things a college education is supposed to foster.

Fourth, taking  a random paragraph from page 400 (four hundred, mind you!) and pretending that the references are unexplained is the top of disingenuity. To understand that paragraph you need (a) all the 399 pages preceding it, (b) the footnotes or endnotes, and (c) a good amount of personal research.

Quote from: Charles Murray
All these difficulties arise in passages totaling not much more than the length of a single page in a typical college textbook. The intellectual demands of traditional college-level material in the social sciences and humanities cannot be described as concretely for engineering, mathematics, and the sciences, but they are as severe in their own way.

This paragraph is risible because it implies that the intellectual difficulties presented above pertain to engineering, mathematics and the sciences, and that those related to social sciences and humanities are as severe --- while the reality of Murray's text is completely the other way around.

Quote from: Charles Murray
It would be nice if everyone could acquire a fully formed liberal education, but they cannot.

Of course. It's common-sense. Can you name a specific person here who thinks otherwise?

Quote from: Charles Murray
The probability that a student will enjoy 'Paradise Lost' goes down as his linguistic ability goes down, but so does the probability that he works on double acrostic puzzles in his spare time or plays online Scrabble hour after hour, and for the identical reason. The lower down the linguistic ladder he is, the less fun such activities are.

Of course. It's common-sense. Can you name a specific person here who thinks otherwise?

Quote from: Charles Murray
And so we return to the question: Should all of those who have the academic ability to absorb a college-level liberal arts curriculum get one ? If our young woman is at the 80th percentile of linguistic ability, should she pushed to do so ? She has enough intellectual capacity, if she puts her mind to it and works exceptionally hard. The answer is no. If she wants to, fine. But she probably won't, and there is no way to force her. Try to force her (for example, by setting up a demanding core curriculum), and she will transfer to another school, because she is in college for vocational training. She wants to write computer code. Start a business. Get a job in television. She uses college to take vocational courses that pertain to her career interests. A large proportion of people who are theoretically able to absorb a liberal education have no interest in doing so.

Of course. It's common-sense. Can you name a specific person here who thinks otherwise?

Now, I infer from this lengthy excerpt that had I gone to a School of Engineering in the US I would have been forced to study not only Calculus, Fluid Mechanics or Technical Drawing, but also English Romanticism, Western History or Psychology. This I very much doubt.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 04:40:19 AM
Helluva "excerpt". 

Eric hasn't been to school, so he doesn't understand the concept of "summation."

Florestan,

Here is a very nice summation of most of Murray's ideas . . . .
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 08:40:50 AM
The real problem with the schools today:

http://www.mensaction.net/video/DBS-7B-Dysfunctioning-Educational-System-Grade-Schools/

http://www.mensaction.net/video/DBS-8B-Dysfunction-of-Educational-System-Part-2-High-School/

Please, take your time to watch those videos, takes about an hour. The masculine principle being driven out of our educational systems is where the problem lies. Turning schools into vocational centers won't solve anything. It is still a problem of imparting informations rather then knowledge, and it will still reward those who have a genetic advantage in dealing with informations (those who score higher in IQ tests), while ostracizing those who can acquire the knowledge, but cannot process informations as quickly and as fast as their more fortunate school mates. For the record, i agree with Eric that not everybody has the same "potential".
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 08:46:51 AM
For the record, i agree with Eric that not everybody has the same "potential".

Is anyone here questioning that simple notion?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 08:54:24 AM
Let me rephrase that then. Not everybody has potential, period. I'd reckon the vast majority of our female population does not posses the ability to create new ideas and concepts. In that sense, certain facets of our liberal education is wasted on them, which is why historically they were barred from pursuing particular paths. It was just a waste of time and resources.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 09:05:35 AM
I'd reckon the vast majority of our female population does not posses the ability to create new ideas and concepts.

You'd be out of your reckoning, then.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 09:16:57 AM
Plus, home schooling is predominantly in this country done by families who don't want their children exposed to the sciences/to learn the theory of evolution. 

Sources?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 09:22:41 AM
You'd be out of your reckoning, then.

I guess we'll see who's right once our boys are driven out of higher education entirely and the rate of scientific progress in America comes to a grinding halt.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 17, 2008, 09:43:37 AM
I'd reckon the vast majority of our female population does not posses the ability to create new ideas and concepts.

Delete "female," and you'd have my assent, though I hardly see why such a silly standard deserves any weight.

Of course, the existence of someone like Emmy Noether pretty much destroys any foundation upon which you might rest your "theories," especially when one considers that many of her innovations were not made by the men intervening between Évariste Galois and her. Add to that someone like Lise Meitner, and you might want to consider revise your notions of the way things "are."

Who, however, would want to study the history of science before making assertions about competence and aptitude?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 10:39:19 AM
Of course, the existence of someone like Emmy Noether pretty much destroys any foundation upon which you might rest your "theories," especially when one considers that many of her innovations were not made by the men intervening between Évariste Galois and her. Add to that someone like Lise Meitner, and you might want to consider revise your notions of the way things "are."

That hardly proves anything. If you want to truly understand how those proverbial exceptions to the rule occur (and make no mistake, there is a rule), read Sex and Character, by Otto Wieninger.

Delete "female," and you'd have my assent

You don't think that creativity is manifest in every facet of our society, and not merely in the higher spheres of human ingenuity? That's a very narrow point of view.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 17, 2008, 01:04:46 PM
That hardly proves anything. If you want to truly understand how those proverbial exceptions to the rule occur (and make no mistake, there is a rule), read Sex and Character, by Otto Wieninger.

You're up a creek if that's the best cite you can offer. Points for effort, I suppose.

Quote
You don't think that creativity is manifest in every facet of our society, and not merely in the higher spheres of human ingenuity? That's a very narrow point of view.

There's creativity and there's creativity. It is a narrow point of view, but, let's be realistic here, there is a manifest difference between a novel and elegant mathematical proof and figuring out how to fix a Chevy 454 block. Why not define at the high end? To do otherwise is to water down someone's accomplishments.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 01:33:40 PM
You're up a creek if that's the best cite you can offer. Points for effort, I suppose.

It's the best authority there is. Weininger got closer to the truth then anybody ever did, either before him or since, most definitely since now that we've replaced the pursuit of truth with feel-good make believe nonsense.

There's creativity and there's creativity. It is a narrow point of view, but, let's be realistic here, there is a manifest difference between a novel and elegant mathematical proof and figuring out how to fix a Chevy 454 block.

There is no difference when you are trying to determine a trend.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 17, 2008, 02:12:29 PM
Let me rephrase that then. Not everybody has potential, period. I'd reckon the vast majority of our female population does not posses the ability to create new ideas and concepts. In that sense, certain facets of our liberal education is wasted on them, which is why historically they were barred from pursuing particular paths. It was just a waste of time and resources.

Have you ever been married to a woman?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: mn dave on November 17, 2008, 02:15:30 PM
Have you ever been married to a woman?

 :D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 02:16:15 PM
Have you ever been married to a woman?

Ho wow, shame tactics, trying to get in touch with your femininity now? 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: knight66 on November 17, 2008, 02:19:23 PM
Does misogyny generally follow marriage; or preclude it?

Mike
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 03:30:12 PM
Rather then flung tendentious neologisms around how about addressing my assertions? Or is this some soft of knee-jerk reaction to the fact i may actually be right, and that you all spent your entire existance believing in a fairy tale? How far does our civilization need to fall before people begin to wake up to the truth?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 17, 2008, 03:34:20 PM
Some assertions are beneath responding to...

Name one CLEAR example of womens inferiority to men...show me one proof that the entire gender as a whole is somehow not as creative.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 17, 2008, 03:36:09 PM
It's the best authority there is. Weininger got closer to the truth then anybody ever did, either before him or since, most definitely since now that we've replaced the pursuit of truth with feel-good make believe nonsense.

I would hardly call something "the best authority" merely because it lends a sheen to your personal views.

Quote
There is no difference when you are trying to determine a trend.

Who's subscribing to feel-good, make-believe nonsense now? Some things just aren't culturally important, no matter how "creative." Don't like that idea? Too bad. Bad data is bad data for the purposes of your "trend."

How far does our civilization need to fall before people begin to wake up to the truth?

I didn't know civilization had much further to fall when we started lumping auto mechanics and mathematical geniuses together for the purposes of a "trend." Indeed, when mere technicians are the functional equivalents of men and women who advance human knowledge, I'd say we've just about reached perigee. Unless you're inordinately fond of forced leveling and absolute equality, then YMMV, of course.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: knight66 on November 17, 2008, 04:02:24 PM
JdP, Please point out the neologisms. I have read back through the thread several pages and saw none.

Mike
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 04:05:19 PM
I would hardly call something "the best authority" merely because it lends a sheen to your personal views.

Have you even read the book? Probably not. Would calling Schopenhauer to my cause add weight to my assertions?:

http://www.theabsolute.net/misogyny/onwomen.html

Who's subscribing to feel-good, make-believe nonsense now? Some things just aren't culturally important, no matter how "creative." Don't like that idea? Too bad. Bad data is bad data.

You are making no sense. If you want to determine a particular trend between two particular groups, you have to take into consideration ALL variables pertaining to said trend, whether they be high or low. Not that it matters. Even focusing among the highest spheres of creativity the trend remains obvious, since men outnumber women by the droves. In fact, you are not helping your cause by narrowing the field of inquiry to the higher levels of human creativity, because in the sphere of real genius, there is not a single female presence. Not one, not ever, not in the past, not in the present, nor will there ever be any in the future.

I didn't know civilization had much further to call when we started lumping auto mechanics and mathematical geniuses together for the purposes of a "trend." Indeed, when mere technicians are the functional equivalents of men and women who advance human knowledge, I'd say we've just about reached perigee. Unless you're inordinately fond of forced leveling and absolute equality, then YMMV, of course.

Sorry, but you are just rambling now. The fact that you can cite an example of a woman (seemingly) demonstrating great creative powers of an order of magnitude beyond those required in to fix a car engine does not change the proposition that men are more creative then women when the ratio of male mathematicians in relation to female mathematicians is the same as that of male engineers in relation to female engineers and so forth. It's the same as arguing that men are not physically stronger then women merely because Iris Kyle can bench press more pounds then your average schlock.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 04:07:03 PM
JdP, Please point out the neologisms. I have read back through the thread several pages and saw none.

Mike

I was pulling a fast one on account on the last thread we had about this, where Karl referred to "misandry" as a neologism.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: knight66 on November 17, 2008, 04:10:25 PM
Ah, Fine, thanks.....I was beginning to think I had not kept up with the meaning of the word.

Mike
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 17, 2008, 04:26:48 PM
In fact, you are not helping your cause by narrowing the field of inquiry to the higher levels of human creativity, because in the sphere of real genius, there is not a single female presence. Not one, not ever, not in the past, not in the present, nor will there ever be any in the future.

Really? No. Really? Seriously?

It seems to me -- at long last -- that you are beyond rational argument on this point, as it seems that you have excluded (by definition, despite an attempt to dress it up in philosophical or even social-scientific terms) even the possibility of a woman producing a work of "real genius." This is likely because you've either misunderstood (if at all) the import of some of the accomplishments of women or simply because you don't like the idea. The explanation is, in the final total, irrelevant largely because neither explanation is particularly rational. If women cannot enter the sphere of "real genius," whatever that means, then they won't. It's a tautology, and not a particularly attractive one at that. Since you've reduced the matter to a tautology of your own device, there is, then, no arguing with you since your proposition is "true" for every valuation.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 04:33:36 PM
Some assertions are beneath responding to...

And thus political correctness is born.

Name one CLEAR example of womens inferiority to men...show me one proof that the entire gender as a whole is somehow not as creative.

Name one single female who is a genius. I'm not talking about genius in a broader sense, but the highest conceivable form of human creativity. There in lies your answer.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 04:37:43 PM
I was pulling a fast one on account on the last thread we had about this, where Karl referred to "misandry" as a neologism.

Thanks for the reminder!

No such word appears in the OED between Misally and Misanswer.

So, yes, I refer to it as a neologism, and with authority.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 17, 2008, 04:40:55 PM
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/misandry?view=uk

 ???
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 04:47:21 PM
Really? No. Really? Seriously?

It seems to me -- at long last -- that you are beyond rational argument on this point, as it seems that you have excluded (by definition, despite an attempt to dress it up in philosophical or even social-scientific terms) even the possibility of a woman producing a work of "real genius." This is likely because you've either misunderstood (if at all) the import of some of the accomplishments of women or simply because you don't like the idea. The explanation is, in the final total, irrelevant largely because neither explanation is particularly rational. If women cannot enter the sphere of "real genius," whatever that means, then they won't. It's a tautology, and not a particularly attractive one at that. Since you've reduced the matter to a tautology of your own device, there is, then, no arguing with you since your proposition is "true" for every valuation.

I think it is you (and society at large) who is diminishing the definition of "genius" for the sake of inclusiveness, and by extension, it is you who is being irrational. If Weininger is correct, and i'm inclined to believe he is, even the sporadic contribution of women in any field of creativity does not count as a genuine feminine achievement, therefore, even stating that those contributions constitute genius (which they do not), the whole point remains moot. It is from masculinity that all creativity springs forth and no amount of intellectual concoction, such as the type employed in any form of politically corrected thinking, is going to change this basic principle.

But because our society has adopted the fantastic notion that men and women are equal (and thus interchangeable) our progress as a civilization has been marred, and this reflects in the lowering of our educational standards as well, where the feminine principle of the passive reception of raw information has replaced the masculine principle of concepts and ideas, that is, of developing knowledge and nurturing the innate masculine ability of dealing with the "unseen", as Elder George puts it.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on November 17, 2008, 05:07:28 PM
Let me rephrase that then. Not everybody has potential, period. I'd reckon the vast majority of our female population does not posses the ability to create new ideas and concepts. In that sense, certain facets of our liberal education is wasted on them, which is why historically they were barred from pursuing particular paths. It was just a waste of time and resources.

      Not everybody has the ability to create new ideas, and in fact a liberal education does not impart this ability to anyone of either sex. The value of a liberal education, which exposes students to the best ideas and the highest expressions of culture does not rest on some specious equality of the sexes or the inculcation of genius in anyone. There are fewer geniuses among women than men by any real measure of aptitude or achievement, though I don't see how this makes women unequal, or says anything about how women of superior intelligence should be treated. And the non sequitur highlighted above shows you don't understand this.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 17, 2008, 05:16:00 PM
I think it is you (and society at large) who is diminishing the definition of "genius" for the sake of inclusiveness, and by extension, it is you who is being irrational. If Weininger is correct, and i'm inclined to believe he is, even the sporadic contribution of women in any field of creativity does not count as a genuine feminine achievement, therefore, even stating that those contributions constitute genius (which they do not), the whole point remains moot. It is from masculinity that all creativity springs forth and no amount of intellectual concoction, such as the type employed in any form of politically corrected thinking, is going to change this basic principle.

But because our society has adopted the fantastic notion that men and women are equal (and thus interchangeable) our progress as a civilization has been marred, and this reflects in the lower of our educational standards as well, well the feminine principle of the passive reception of raw information has replaced the masculine principle of concepts an ideas.

First off, your "which they do not," more or less proves my point that you've created a tautology-by-definition that women cannot and, thus, do not create works of genius. I will iterate my point that I'm not sure you've fully grasped some of the consequences of the work of some notable women, which is, of course, a necessary consequence of your central tautology.

Let's lay this out, at the risk of "rambling":

(1) Women cannot and, therefore, do not create works of genius.
(2) Even assuming that a woman could create a work of genius, see (1), it would be a function of the "masculine," not the "feminine."

In order, then, for this to work, all women have to be feminine, which state of being -- by definition -- cannot produce works of genius. So, let's look at your premises here: (1) All women are necessarily feminine and (2) The feminine cannot produce works of genius. This leads, then, to the final statement: (C) Women cannot produce works of genius. This is tautological, since you hold it to be true for every valuation. Now, I'm sure you've got "reasons" for both your premises, but I would be loath to say that the argument is essentially "rational."

It's fine, you know. While it is certainly true that in the post-Enlightenment epoch, things with a rational basis are lent more weight by the man in the street, there is no reason why this should be the case. Indeed, things might have been a little better -- especially in contexts such as this -- in a world lit by candles and scented by incense.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 05:29:37 PM
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/misandry?view=uk

 ???

Quote
Site Unavailable at Present
The server is currently unable to handle your request due to a temporary overloading or maintenance of the server.

 8)

At any rate, the word probably appears in the Supplement (or later);  but I take the fact that it does not appear in the original edition of the Dictionary as demonstrating that the term is a neologism.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 17, 2008, 05:31:38 PM
Nazis...what can you do, huh?   ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 05:31:53 PM
"JdP" is fond to be fairly circular much of the time.  One notes (what likely appears obvious to most of us) that one need not posit anything like that men and women are "equal (and thus interchangeable)," to acknowledge that there are women of superlative genius.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 05:33:33 PM
Well, but you may be missing the genuine amusement value of that remark.  "Name one single female who is a genius."

But wait!  In case you reply (with any of two dozens women geniuses), "JdP" reserves the right to fudge genius to his liking ("I'm not talking about genius in a broader sense, but the highest conceivable form of human creativity.")
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 17, 2008, 05:36:18 PM
Well, but you may be missing the genuine amusement value of that remark.  "Name one single female who is a genius."

But wait!  In case you reply (with any of two dozens women geniuses), "JdP" reserves the right to fudge genius to his liking ("I'm not talking about genius in a broader sense, but the highest conceivable form of human creativity.")

I caught that.  It's not worth responding to, indeed.  Let history be all the proof needed.  Hitler, Olympics, Jesse Owens, that kinda example.  You can take the neo-nazi to the water, but that doesn't mean he'll have the common sense to drink...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 05:37:14 PM
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/misandry?view=uk

 ???

Here the page has now loaded for me, Joe;  and in fact, the reason I wanted to look it up in the paper edition was because it includes instances and dates of use.

Here in the on-line Campact edition, there's just the word and the definition, and none of the juicy extras which have made me so fond of the paper edition.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 17, 2008, 05:39:34 PM
The whole idea that recognition of women geniuses is somehow "misandry" is another peculiar conceit of his.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 05:55:58 PM
(1) Women cannot and, therefore, do not create works of genius.
(2) Even assuming that a woman could create a work of genius, see (1), it would be a function of the "masculine," not the "feminine."

In order, then, for this to work, all women have to be feminine, which state of being -- by definition -- cannot produce works of genius.

There's a bit of a misunderstanding here. I never stated that women are incapable of acts of creativity, but that creativity is masculine in nature, thus, all manifestations of creativity in a woman are the result of her masculinity. According to Weininger, there is no such thing as a purely masculine male or a purely feminine female. We all tend to stand in between those principles, and thus retain a mixture of either masculine or feminine elements in various proportions (as a side note, this tends to explain homosexuality as well). In an absolute sense, we have the M, the male principle, which is where all creativity springs forth, and then we have the F, the female principle, which does not create but is instead receptive. So a woman is fully capable of acts of creativity given that the M is present in sufficient degrees. However, when we talk about genius we are not merely talking about the ability to develop ideas, we are talking about the very pinnacle of all human creativity, which requires such an amount of the masculine element as no woman could possibly contain in her mental and physiological make up without ceasing to be woman. This is why historically there has never been a female genius, in the very absolute sense of the term (which is the only sense i consider to be valid).

Thus, it is not necessary that all women be feminine, and as i stated, pure femininity does not exist in reality, but a woman would require an higher proportion of the masculine in relation to the feminine, and that makes it not woman anymore.

And, at the cost of repeating myself (harr harr), the corroborating factor in this is that, again, there has never been a female genius, as far as i can see, at least in the particular fields in which i feel confident enough to be able to make such an assessment, such as music, where there's has never been a female Bach. It is possible that the same does not hold true in mathematics, or other fields, but i'm inclined to believe either wise.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 05:59:28 PM
The whole idea that recognition of women geniuses is somehow "misandry" is another peculiar conceit of his.

Don't be a fool. I conjured the word misandry to counter act your gleeful anti-male screed in the older tread. The type of arguments you used then are the same that are adopted today in the media or society in general. Men are stupid, all they think about is sports and women, and such and such. I never used the term in any other context, and i only used it as a sarcastic rebuttal to the mysoginist charge, which is ludicrous. I do not hate women, i'm merely standing by what i consider to be the truth. 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 06:05:26 PM
But wait!  In case you reply (with any of two dozens women geniuses), "JdP" reserves the right to fudge genius to his liking ("I'm not talking about genius in a broader sense, but the highest conceivable form of human creativity.")

I think it is pertinent to notice nobody has ever challenged my claim under the standard of genius i presented. In this sense it's irrelevant what you mean by "genius". Let's just say that women have never been capable of achieving the same heights of creativity such as those displayed by men of the same caliber as a Beethoven. Is this statement true or false?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 17, 2008, 07:24:29 PM
Not everybody has the ability to create new ideas, and in fact a liberal education does not impart this ability to anyone of either sex.

This is the problem with our educational system today. It only imparts data, it does not nurture the ability to develop new ideas and acquire knowledge. Knowledge in fact has been stripped entirely from the curriculum, leaving a barrage of empty information which most women accept readily, as per their nature, while boys find the whole experience exceedingly boring and without purpose, which is why they are being pumped with Ritalin more and more.

I disagree on the notion that not everybody has the ability to create new ideas. Men do it constantly, and are always scurrying and fumbling around to make those ideas reality, it's just that most of them have no real value to society at large. There is a difference. Women do not spend their time entertaining new ideas and attempting to create new things. Their entire existence is centered around the act of being. This is why it is often said that women mature faster then men. It is because their purpose in life is to become somebody, so their energies are devoted in emulating adult behavior and rituals. Boys on the other end are constantly trying to be original, but because their mental faculties are undeveloped, they usually end up appearing irresponsible and puerile in most of their undertakings.

The value of a liberal education, which exposes students to the best ideas and the highest expressions of culture does not rest on some specious equality of the sexes or the inculcation of genius in anyone.

But it is this specious sense of equality of the sexes that is stripping our liberal education of it's sense of standards and values, leaving only the empty carcass of it's corporeal vestige to be presented to the students. What sense is there in teaching Homer when the standard upon which his works were held has been displaced?

But you see, it is only men who can set a standard, it is only men who can give value, and masculinity has been essentially driven out of our educational institutions and has been replaced by a pure feminine oligarchy where there are no standards, there are no values, there is nobody to impart the importance of aesthetics, of ethics and morality, of conduct and discipline. If you are a boy in today's schools, there is no particular reason why you should read Shakespeare over Tolkien. If one is not really greater then the other, and it is all a matter of personal taste, why not chose the latter when it is so much more easily accessible and readily enjoyable? That is the type of mentality currently being imparted on our children, and it is a feminine mode of thinking, because femininity does not understand value.

There are fewer geniuses among women than men by any real measure of aptitude or achievement, though I don't see how this makes women unequal

It is not so much that women are not as capable as men, but the fact that women are different then men that creates the problem. When men in the past barred women from pursuing certain fields, it is not the fact that women were generally less capable that made them suspicious. Those men had a sense of the true nature of femininity, if even on a sub-conscious level, and they were afraid that, by bringing women in along with them the entire undertaking would have become contaminated and perhaps compromised forever. Their fears were entirely justified, and their predictions have become reality.

All this has an historical precedent. If you take the two rival city states of ancient Greece, we have one, Sparta, in which women enjoyed considerable freedom and were given many rights. They were taught reading and writing, and were enlisted along with the men in all their physical training and sport events. They could even own and control their own property. Then we have Athens, where women were given little freedom and no rights. In fact, the mere thought of imparting women with an education would have been met with scorn. Yet, which of those two cities contributed the most to the progress of civilization?

Now, technically, there is no particular reason why our higher education shouldn't be imparted to women, but such a possibility is practical only and only if the feminine becomes fully understood and male standards are maintained across the board. This, i think, was the situation we had through out the first half of the 20th century, and it worked rather well for all parties involved. However, because of the insistence that men and women are equal, and that all performance disparities between the sexes was a result of oppression, all male values have been driven out of the scholastic institutions on the pretext that they interfered with the rightful development of women. The results is that our schools are in a state of complete chaos. That's the price we pay when we substitute common sense with ideology.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 17, 2008, 08:07:21 PM
All this has an historical precedent. If you take the two rival city states of ancient Greece, we have one, Sparta, in which women enjoyed considerable freedom and were given many rights. They were taught reading and writing, and were enlisted along with the men in all their physical training and sport events. They could even own and control their own property. Then we have Athens, where women were given little freedom and no rights. In fact, the mere thought of imparting women with an education would have been met with scorn. Yet, which of those two cities contributed the most to the progress of civilization?

I think you might need to do some more research about Greek culture generally and the political and social rights of women in Athens and Sparta comparatively. I think, as a matter of fact, you're rather overstating the position of women in Sparta. So that you might avoid making a serious blunder, I will merely point you to page 1431 of the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3/e rev., second column, second paragraph, which deals briefly with the Spartan political and social system. I should trust that you will accept the OCD as a standard reference for the field, though the Pauly-Wissowa might be somewhat more detailed (if you have German), as do most practicing classicists.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 01:01:19 AM
Nazis...what can you do, huh?   ;D

JdP has some valid points. Calling him a "Nazi", besides betraying an ideologically-driven intolerance, is preposterous, since his ideas on women are a far cry from Nazi or Fascist (or Communist, for that matter) views on the issue.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 04:01:14 AM
Let's just say that women have never been capable of achieving the same heights of creativity such as those displayed by men of the same caliber as a Beethoven. Is this statement true or false?

False.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 05:04:10 AM
There's a bit of a misunderstanding here. I never stated that women are incapable of acts of creativity, but that creativity is masculine in nature, thus, all manifestations of creativity in a woman are the result of her masculinity.

Truly, that is a misunderstanding on your part.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 06:10:53 AM
JdP has some valid points.

Name three.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 06:15:02 AM
Don't be a fool. I conjured the word misandry to counter act your gleeful anti-male screed in the older tread.

I am not in any danger of being a fool, thank you heartily.

Your suggestion that anything I have written, anywhere and in any medium, is a "gleeful anti-male screed" is next door to idiocy, though.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 06:27:26 AM
Name three.

1.

This is the problem with our educational system today. It only imparts data, it does not nurture the ability to develop new ideas and acquire knowledge. Knowledge in fact has been stripped entirely from the curriculum, leaving a barrage of empty information

2.

What sense is there in teaching Homer when the standard upon which his works were held has been displaced?

3.

If you are [...] in today's schools, there is no particular reason why you should read Shakespeare over Tolkien. If one is not really greater then the other, and it is all a matter of personal taste, why not chose the latter when it is so much more easily accessible and readily enjoyable? That is the type of mentality currently being imparted on our children

(With the caveat that Tolkien might not be the appropriate example)





Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 06:50:05 AM
1.

2.

3.

(With the caveat that Tolkien might not be the appropriate example)







and why do you find these particularly insightful?  If you have a room full of people, yes, things are going to have to be standardized rather than centered around the individual.  is it ideal?  no.  wold it be nice if things could be a little more perfect?  of course.  it would also be soo totally cool if the Monopoly money were real.

And what you're speaking of is the overall educational system.  I was speaking of j's flat-out ignorance and bigotry.  whatever name he wants to give it, the end of the day, that's what it is.   and yes, i have better things to do with my day then bother engaging with him.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 06:51:32 AM
Andrei, I thank you for doing the weeding, so that we should not have to!  I admire the sturdiness of your machete!


Quote from: JdP
1. This is the problem with our educational system today. It only imparts data, it does not nurture the ability to develop new ideas and acquire knowledge. Knowledge in fact has been stripped entirely from the curriculum, leaving a barrage of empty information.


That is (or would be) a problem.  It still has the look more of a rant, than a valid complaint.  Cato is a teacher, and Cato's complaints on this head have force.  Nonetheless, it is clear from Cato's actions within the educational system, that there is 'internal' recognition of and resistance to problematic trends, and potential agency within the system for improvement.  Systemic and external problems, there certainly are. (And internal problems.)


Quote from: JdP
2. What sense is there in teaching Homer when the standard upon which his works were held has been displaced?


I don't quite follow the complaint here.


Quote from: JdP
3. If you are [...] in today's schools, there is no particular reason why you should read Shakespeare over Tolkien. If one is not really greater then the other, and it is all a matter of personal taste, why not chose the latter when it is so much more easily accessible and readily enjoyable? That is the type of mentality currently being imparted on our children


This point one takes with the huge chunk of salt, that "JdP" thinks more or less on the lines of "there are three supreme composers, they all spoke German, and any music else is a decline from that cultural peak."  There is a huge discussible center between the extremes of "JdP"'s 'selective-genius' model, and the "it's all personal opinion" strawman.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 06:57:29 AM
Your suggestion that anything I have written, anywhere and in any medium, is a "gleeful anti-male screed" is next door to idiocy, though.

Next door?  You, sir, are too kind.

I might add, you can replace "shakespeare" as standrad-bearer, and insert, for example, the three B's: Brahms, Beethoven, and Bach.  Why are these composers taught, or, even, still performed today?  Why not Bax, or Hummel, or Prokofiev?  Why is 4pm EST on MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews?  Why is Mozart's 21st PC in thekey of C?  Why did I eat a banana this morning instead of a bowl of cornflakes?

Ultimately, a choice has to be made.  A choice is only that: one of many options.  Hopefully, you pick the one that suits the situation best.  That doesn't mean it's perfect.  You go to war with the army you have, and all that...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 06:59:46 AM
Why did I eat a banana this morning instead of a bowl of cornflakes?

You see, I should have sliced the banana over the cornflakes, and eaten both.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: mn dave on November 18, 2008, 07:04:13 AM
Sometimes a banana is only a banana.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 07:06:38 AM
Sometimes a banana is only a banana.

(http://www.abestweb.com/smilies/dancing.gif)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: mn dave on November 18, 2008, 07:08:05 AM
(http://www.abestweb.com/smilies/dancing.gif)

 :D

And sometimes it's a dancing banana!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 07:11:25 AM
and why do you find these particularly insightful? 

Valid is not the same as particularly insightful. That water boils at 100 degrees Celsius is a valid point, but not particularly insightful.

If you have a room full of people, yes, things are going to have to be standardized rather than centered around the individual. 

Precisely. Now, the standard of 1908 differs from that of 2008. JdP thinks the old one was better. I don't see the problem.

i have better things to do with my day then bother engaging with him.
Nobody forces you to engage him. But dismissing him as a Nazi, without presenting the slightest evidence in this respect, is intellectually dishonest.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 07:23:00 AM
I don't quite follow the complaint here.

Why should anybody read Homer? Can anybody answer this question? Why is it important? Why is it necessary to enforce this particular work of literature upon our children? What is there to be profited from the experience?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 07:24:26 AM
I don't quite follow the complaint here.

If I understand JdP correctly, he points to the cultural relativism that doesn't place any special importance or significance in Homer more than in Danielle Steel.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 07:37:01 AM
If I understand JdP correctly, he points to the cultural relativism that doesn't place any special importance or significance in Homer more than in Danielle Steel.

Ah, well.  Practically no educator known to me personally would claim any literal equality between Homer and Danielle Steel.

I knew a doddering old former-pharmaceuticals-professor who couldn't think why Michael Jackson is musically inferior to Beethoven;  but he isn't driving the curriculum anywhere, so far as I can tell.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 07:39:44 AM
Echoes from another thread. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9922.msg248209.html#msg248209)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 07:48:10 AM
In fairness, as a dancer, Beethoven can't touch Michael.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 18, 2008, 07:56:41 AM
If I understand JdP correctly, he points to the cultural relativism that doesn't place any special importance or significance in Homer more than in Danielle Steel.

Danielle Steel? Don't be ridiculous. Everyone knows that John Grisham is every bit as important as Homer.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: mn dave on November 18, 2008, 07:57:40 AM
Danielle Steel? Don't be ridiculous. Everyone knows that John Grisham is every bit as important as Homer.

No! Jackie Collins!!!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 07:58:23 AM
No! Jackie Collins!!!

Dave! I can't believe you went there!

 ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 18, 2008, 08:00:06 AM
No! Jackie Collins!!!

Dare I utter the august, well-nigh-unutterable name? I dare, I dare.

Kitty Kelley.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 08:23:22 AM
Valid is not the same as particularly insightful. That water boils at 100 degrees Celsius is a valid point, but not particularly insightful.

Precisely. Now, the standard of 1908 differs from that of 2008. JdP thinks the old one was better. I don't see the problem.
Nobody forces you to engage him. But dismissing him as a Nazi, without presenting the slightest evidence in this respect, is intellectually dishonest.

The water boiling thing is a scientific fact...it's not a point of view, which is what a "valid point"...ahem...boils down to.  A world of difference.

The needs and demands of 2008 are completely different from 1908.  If 1908 is is so much better, and you want to revert back to that model, than should we eliminate computers from the curriculum and system?  Should motor vehichles be eliminated as the means of transport to the school?  Should females have to resort to all-women learning facilities like Vassar College?  Should they be eliminated from the workforce?  See?  Dumb.  There's no other word for it. 

And he wears the nazi badge with pride.  to him, its a compliment.  he's called himself a nazi on a number of occassions. 

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 08:26:48 AM
The needs and demands of 2008 are completely different from 1908.  If 1908 is is so much better, and revert back to that model, than should we eliminate computers from the curriculum and system?  Should motor vehichles be eliminated as the means of transport to the school?  Should females have to resort to all-women learning facilities like Vassar College?  Should they be eliminated from the workforce? 

Strawman. I won't even bother to respond.
 
And he wears the nazi badge with pride.  to him, its a compliment.  he's called himself a nazi on a number of occassions. 
Does "irony" ring a bell to you?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 08:27:18 AM
False.

Does this mean you are taking on the challenge? This is exciting.

Truly, that is a misunderstanding on your part.

A single glance at Emmy Noether reveals either wise:

(http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/91/46991-004-CBF00393.jpg)

;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 08:29:01 AM
Should females have to resort to all-women learning facilities like Vassar College?

Actually yes. I'm in full support of single sex education, for men and women alike.

Should they be eliminated from the workforce? 

Women, no. Femininity? Yes. Same goes for education, or society at large.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 08:31:43 AM
A single glance at Emmy Noether reveals either wise:

(http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/91/46991-004-CBF00393.jpg)

;D

This might be your strongest argument, J. It is a common, daily experience that, broadly speaking, feminity and intellectual interests are in inverse proportion.  ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 08:32:24 AM
Strawman. I won't even bother to respond.
  Does "irony" ring a bell to you?

You won't respond bc you know you've been checkmated.  If 1908 was so great, why did things evolve?  There' a bigger population now, needs have changed, the curriculum for all its flaws, IS better.  Sorry...you didn't learn the boiling point of water from the bible.  Period.

I know what irony is, and I know what a bigotry is.  J employs the latter.  Frankly, you defending him only casts a very poor light on you and your POV.   But then, your own bigotry has caused at least two people to leave this site, so where's the surprise?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 08:38:45 AM
You won't respond bc you know you've been checkmated.
Wishful thinking.

 If 1908 was so great, why did things evolve?
Some evolved, some devolved. Long debate.

you didn't learn the boiling point of water from the bible.
Of course. The Bible is no scientific textbook.

your own bigotry has caused at least two people to leave this site, so where's the surprise?

You're very fond of shallow words that mean nothing in particular; nevertheless, you're confusing me with someone else.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 08:44:13 AM
Frankly, you defending him only casts a very poor light on you and your POV. 

He is defending me because he sees the same problems i do. This doesn't necessarily means he agrees with my (admittedly) radical explanations for those problems. I take full responsibility for my ideas, and have no wish of dumping the burden upon others.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 08:50:34 AM
I'm not even defending JdP, for as he says, he can defend himself. I'm defending rational debate, free from name-calling, ideological parti-pris and sentimental strawmen.

Actually, this isn't a trial with defendants and prosecutors --- or is it?




Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 08:56:49 AM
I don't know. Here's more Emmy Noether for ya:

(http://www.learn-math.info/history/photos/Noether_Emmy_3.jpeg)

Was Weininger really that crazy?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 08:58:13 AM
Was Weininger really that crazy?

I haven't read him. Could you summarize his views for me?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 09:00:24 AM
How are you defending ratiojnal debate when youre refusing to respond?  Wishful thinking?  hardly.

And no,  I mean *YOU* FLOR.  JAY F was so disgusted by your bigotry he deleted his membership and left and took his business elsewhere.  If you see his past posts, it now registers as "guest".  You're the reaon why.  And one other left as well.

Unaware of that?  Great.  

But you know what?  You've proven your point.  Some people are incapable of learning.  Some people aren't worth the effort and expense.  
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 09:11:38 AM
I haven't read him. Could you summarize his views for me?

Can't get into it now since i'm at work, but you can find a free English translation of his book here:

http://www.theabsolute.net/ottow/sexcharh.html#

Some of his ideas my appear to be out of whack at first (though upon further reflection this impression may change), but consider he was only 23 when he wrote this and he committed suicide shortly afterwards, so he never got the chance to develop and expand upon his work.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 09:12:01 AM
How are you defending ratiojnal debate when youre refusing to respond?  

No, Adam. It was you who refused to respond to JdP. I did nothing but quoting you.

And no,  I mean *YOU* FLOR.  JAY F was so disgusted by your bigotry he deleted his membership and left and took his business elsewhere.  If you see his past posts, it now registers as "guest".  You're the reaon why.  

Please produce proof that I ever addressed him.

Besides that, if my views hurt some sensibilities to the point of leaving, the problem lies there and not with me.

I have been involved in many controversies and never left. I'm a man.



Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: mn dave on November 18, 2008, 09:14:48 AM
I'm a man.

With a manly avatar.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 09:16:41 AM
With a manly avatar.

That's my feminine part.  ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 09:17:19 AM
That's my feminine part.  ;D

That's the spirit.  :D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 09:21:23 AM
Ho wow, shame tactics, trying to get in touch with your femininity now? 

Make all the jokes you want, but I'd bet that you are very unfamiliar with women.  That would account for your ignorant views about them.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 09:34:47 AM
Make all the jokes you want, but I'd bet that you are very unfamiliar with women.  That would account for your ignorant views about them.

Maybe it is precisely because of my lack of contact with the "fairer" sex that i am capable of dealing with the matter of their nature in a far more objective manner. This seems to be what happened to cartoonist Dave Sim when he incidentally discovered the true essence of the female psyche:

http://www.theabsolute.net/misogyny/tangents.html

 ;D

Ether way, all this is irrelevant. You were attempting to discredit my argument by discrediting the person behind it. That was a fallacy. If you believe my ideas demonstrate ignorance, then please, take the time to refute them in a proper logical manner.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 09:38:36 AM
Does this mean you are taking on the challenge?

Hardly seems a challenge.  You imagine that only men can be possessed of genius. Why?  Because genius is (supposedly) a male trait.

If you fail to see that for circular reasoning and a non-starter, nobody can open your eyes for you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 10:04:14 AM
Maybe it is precisely because of my lack of contact with the "fairer" sex that i am capable of dealing with the matter of their nature in a far more objective manner.


But you know so little of their nature, and the result is ridiculous comments.  However, the worst aspect of your views is that you make judgements on a group basis.  Reasonable adults judge the individual.  In effect, your arguments are no different than from those who believe that African Americans are less intelligent than white ones.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 11:44:47 AM
No, Adam. It was you who refused to respond to JdP. I did nothing but quoting you.

Please produce proof that I ever addressed him.

Besides that, if my views hurt some sensibilities to the point of leaving, the problem lies there and not with me.

I have been involved in many controversies and never left. I'm a man.





Firstly, Don just nailed it.  Judging on a person's qualities on their gender, race, etc. is a flaw.  And the fact that J takes pride in limited exposure - but thinks that gives him the ability to make an informed assessment - to women...any scientific study depends on a control group.  No scientist can claim to be a scientist without proper study. 

"There goes a black man.  I bet he likes Tina Turner.  I know this bc three black people I've met like her music too."

This is akin to anyone who doesn't like classical music simply bc a) the last time they heard it was either in 3rd grade or a butter commercial, or b) they think it all sounds the same.

Flor, I agree that Jay's leaving had more to do with him than with you, in the sense he's not the type to either overlook or simply deal with something he vehemently disagrees with.  But nonetheless, you were simply unaware of how insensitive your comments in another thread here in the diner were.  And that IS your problem, because you're alienating people and you're not even aware of it. 

If someone were to make a comment along the lines of "Hey, Romanians don't deserve equal rights, and their existence is an abomination according to the Bible" and they said this completely aware of your heritage, than they're flat-out racist bigots.  If that comment is made unaware of your heritage being Romanian, then that comment is either ignorant, narrow-minded, bigoted, or a combination of all three.  Overall, you seem like a friendly person who might be unawares of some traits (who isn't?), but sometimes, I get a very different impression.

And the reason I won't engage J in conversation is he likes to push buttons.  If he beleives half the crap he spews...by definition, someone who is a radical is NOT a moderate.  And that's an extemist.



On topic, here's something from todays NY Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/opinion/18salins.html?ref=opinion
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 11:49:59 AM
But you know so little of their nature, and the result is ridiculous comments.

I think it is you who knows very little on the subject. Experience clouded by emotional involvement only leads to misunderstanding. There is no objectivity in the way most men look at women.

In effect, your arguments are no different than from those who believe that African Americans are less intelligent than white ones.

No doubt, since i'm one of those people.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 12:16:05 PM
No doubt, since i'm one of those people.

That's not a very intelligent thing to think.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 12:20:17 PM
I think it is you who knows very little on the subject. Experience clouded by emotional involvement only leads to misunderstanding. There is no objectivity in the way most men look at women.


One doesn't gain knowledge out of ignorance.  You have bigoted attitudes, and you look for ridiculous studies that will support your bigotry.

You need to ask yourself the following:  Why do I insist on believing that women and those of different color are lesser beings?  

Anyways, I wish you luck in your quest for some sense.  If you never do change your views, I pity the woman who ends up with you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 12:47:18 PM
You have bigoted attitudes, and you look for ridiculous studies that will support your bigotry.

Nonsense. I merely see reality for what it is, and i collect informations to supplant the knowledge i already acquired through observation, inquiry and contemplation. If this conflicts with your complacent fairy world, so be it.

You need to ask yourself the following:  Why do I insist on believing that women and those of different color are lesser beings? 

I never stated any such thing and i consider your interpretation of my views to be misleading and reductive. If you need some time to get acquainted with those concepts, i'd recommend perusing this website first, then comment on the data contained there in:

http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/index.html

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 18, 2008, 01:26:09 PM
It is hardly "reality" to develop a tautology philosophically, apply that tautology to data as a discriminating function, and then declare that the data support your tautology.

Analogy:

All ice-cream is chocolate-flavored.
I refuse to consider any non-chocolate-flavored frozen salt milk as ice-cream.
Ergo, all ice-cream is chocolate-flavored.

My colleague sitting next to me informs me this very instant that this is called the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. I submit, then, that this is what we're dealing with here. I don't see how fallacious argument is "rational" or reflects "reality." Once again, it's OK to hold irrational beliefs. Everyone does.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 01:28:29 PM
Once again, it's OK to hold irrational beliefs. Everyone does.

The Voice of Reason!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 18, 2008, 01:32:07 PM
The Voice of Reason!

Don't go that far. There's still a merit judgment to be made about the beliefs in question.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 01:38:26 PM
Granted (with alacrity).
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 01:47:25 PM
Granted (with alacrity).

Have you noticed the quotient of people with "henning" in their names are far more likely to use the word "alacrity" in their posts that use parentheses?  Surely, this displays that "henning"s are much more apt to be products of a liberal, communist education.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 02:00:11 PM
An Appalling Parenthesis?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 02:04:10 PM
Nonsense. I merely see reality for what it is,

No, you likely create your own reality to prop up your low self-esteem.  But I still would like to know why you insist on lumping folks into a large group and then make pronouncements about them.  Why not simply judge the individual?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 02:07:36 PM
No, you likely create your own reality to prop up your low self-esteem.

Whatever.

But I still would like to know why you insist on lumping folks into a large group and then make pronouncements about them.  Why not simply judge the individual?

Because i'm trying to achieve a particular conclusion about the group?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 02:11:15 PM
Because i'm trying to achieve a particular conclusion about the group?

But why do you want to reach a particular conclusion about women? 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 18, 2008, 02:15:21 PM
Because i'm trying to achieve a particular conclusion about the group?

Recognizing that you are cooking the data in order to reach the conclusion you want, is an important step to rehabilitation.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 02:17:52 PM
Analogy:

All ice-cream is chocolate-flavored.
I refuse to consider any non-chocolate-flavored frozen salt milk as ice-cream.
Ergo, all ice-cream is chocolate-flavored.

I guess the key here is to determine whether non-chocolate-flavored frozen salt milk is ice-cream, is it. The fact i haven't acknowledged your definition of genius, and to imply that that is a sign my argument is tautological is fallacious and in and of itself. Why to you take your own definition for granted, thus creating a tautology of your own? Can you show me the female counterpart to Bach? Yes or no?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 02:19:32 PM
Recognizing that you are cooking the data in order to reach the conclusion you want, is an important step to rehabilitation.

You still haven't proven that that is what i'm doing here. 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 02:24:07 PM
But why do you want to reach a particular conclusion about women? 

To fight the lies propagated by political correctness, lies which in my view have been instrumental in the lessening of our achievements as a civilization?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 02:24:18 PM
Can you show me the female counterpart to Bach? Yes or no?

That is one dumb question. ::)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 02:24:55 PM
That is one dumb question. ::)

Just answer it.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 02:25:49 PM
To fight the lies propagated by political correctness, lies which in my view have been instrumental in the lessening of our achievements as a civilization?

So you're a fighter?  Try fighting your bigoted beliefs.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on November 18, 2008, 02:26:54 PM
Just answer it.

No, I'll leave the dumb stuff to you since you are so good at it.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 02:30:09 PM
Wait...since black people are less intelligent than white people...and Barack Obama is now the president-elect...adna  graduate of Harvard law...does that mean J is dumber than a black man?

Because with that info, J has got to be one stupid white boy.  Stupider than a black man...sheeee-it!!!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 18, 2008, 02:49:46 PM
I guess the key here is to determine whether non-chocolate-flavored frozen salt milk is ice-cream, is it. The fact i haven't acknowledged your definition of genius, and to imply that that is a sign my argument is tautological is fallacious and in and of itself. Why to you take your own definition for granted, thus creating a tautology of your own? Can you show me the female counterpart to Bach? Yes or no?

With pleasure. Just a couple of things, though.

By which standards shall I analyze all female composers -- or is it just female Baroque composers -- to arrive at a conclusion on whether or not there is a female counterpart to Bach? Furthermore, why is music the subject for the analysis? Why is music the logically necessary fiftieth-percentile measure of genius, other than the fact that you think yourself more competent in that field than, say, particle physics or visual arts?

Now, I've got other things to do tonight, but I'll keep an eye out for your response. I doubt that you'll articulate both a rationale for choosing music and standards by which we shall analyze composers. Why? Well, standards are simply unnecessary to your program. Even if you did have guidelines, they would apply only to men -- as a necessary consequence of your general "assumption," so it would be difficult to apply them to women. That's not entirely correct: We would be applying standards designed explicitly to favor men to women, as opposed to applying neutral standards equally and fairly.

No, you've built a system designed to ensure that a woman doesn't enter consideration in any regard, and you act as though it's a great result that women aren't in your system. That's like putting $20 in a box and saying, when you open the box, "I found $20." Of course you did, you put it there. I keep harping on this, but I'll say it again: Your "objective" approach to this subject is anything but, since you don't abide by basic laws of proof and analysis. It is, then, a little disingenuous on your part to demand "Can you show me the female counterpart to Bach?"

Don't ask questions and then say that the answers are not correct because you've predefined the answers as incorrect. That's dirty pool in my book.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: lisa needs braces on November 18, 2008, 03:45:24 PM
Sexual Frustration, thy name is Josquin des Pres!

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 04:03:23 PM
By which standards shall I analyze all female composers -- or is it just female Baroque composers -- to arrive at a conclusion on whether or not there is a female counterpart to Bach?

Pick whatever standard you like. It is not my business to tell you how to determine genius. Such a realization can only come within yourself. The question is moot of course. You won't answer it because you can't. There is no female counterpart to Bach, or Beethoven, or Shakespeare, or Homer. We all know that.

Furthermore, why is music the subject for the analysis?

It is not music that is the subject of the analysis, genius is.

Don't ask questions and then say that the answers are not correct because you've predefined the answers as incorrect.

Except the answers are actually incorrect. I'm bidding you to give me a correct answer, but you won't. In fact, you won't go as far as defending those particular answers which i consider to be incorrect, but which in fact, if not erroneous, should be very easy to prove correct, because that would put you in the same position you are trying to corner me with: how do you prove that which cannot be quantified, but can only be understood?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on November 18, 2008, 04:14:37 PM


     There's no female counterpart to Bach. Because of the inherently subjective nature of such estimations, that is a social fact. It's also an indication of a more general phenomena, the higher frequency of certain kinds of intellectual "hypertrophy" among males. Though that wouldn't prevent the emergence of a female Bach, it would certainly greatly reduce the probability of such an event. So we are observing 2 phenomena which interact in hard to unravel ways: The social reinforcement of gender differences that are based on genuine differences in nature. The reinforcement by social prejudice acts to turn what is a tendency into dogma about capabilities. Nothing prevents the occasional female genius, and they exist, though they may be steered towards some expressions of it and away from others. Like the males, the female geniuses will find some way to use their abilities, so I don't think unfavorable social conditions could prevent us from finding them. The distribution, IOW, is real. Male geniuses rarely stay hidden, I think, so that's probably the case for females, too. It's unlikely that there are "missing" geniuses of either sex.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 04:25:14 PM
Wait...since black people are less intelligent than white people...and Barack Obama is now the president-elect...adna  graduate of Harvard law...does that mean J is dumber than a black man?

Because with that info, J has got to be one stupid white boy.  Stupider than a black man...sheeee-it!!!

I never said that all those of African descent are less intelligent than all whites, because that would imply that all whites are intelligent, and heaven forbid! It is a simple matter of distribution. I would also be careful in using terms such as "superiority". It depends on the context. Ever wondered why blacks seem to dominate most popular sports in America? Besides, whites, of any variety, are not exactly the smartest people around. Ashkenazi Jews earn that title.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 18, 2008, 04:38:10 PM
The reinforcement by social prejudice acts to turn what is a tendency into dogma about capabilities.

Yes, but the way our society goes about in dispelling the dogma is by insisting that there is no tendency.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 04:39:14 PM
In effect, your arguments are no different than from those who believe that African Americans are less intelligent than white ones.

To which J responded that he is one of those people.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 18, 2008, 04:50:13 PM
I never said that all those of African descent are less intelligent than all whites,

But wait, you did!  It's in print and everything!  Or are you now saying that not all white people are more intelligent than all black people?  So some black people are smarter than some white people?  Oh my god, so it's not a matter of the overall group, but it does come down to each individual?  So all of your sweeping generalizations are for naught? 

Of course there's no male counterpart for Bach...there's no male counterpart!  He's considered the most important, singular musician of all time...by definition, he's peerless. 

as for all of your theories, I'm going to go with not heriditary but environment being the determining factor: and that cmes down to each and every individual.  Even look at how a boy or girl child is treated: girls are frm the day they're born treated very sweetly, and encouraged to look pretty, whereas boys father's - for example - are trained to "put up yer dukes" etc.  30 years ago a woman was encouraged to develop social graces to attract a man of refinement...in th next 50 years, that will be completely wiped away and will be a very quaint memory (it more or less already is).

Historically, the only "heroes" black children have had were in athletics: Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, etc.  That's also ging to change with the successes of the likes of Obama, Rice, Powell, etc.  In the next 30 years - as the next generations grow and mature - this will also see a major shift.  All environment. 

And that comes back to education.  Build it, as the cliche goes, and they will come.  But the opportunity has to exist first.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on November 18, 2008, 05:30:58 PM
Yes, but the way our society goes about in dispelling the dogma is by insisting that there is no tendency.

      It's an understandable error. There are women geniuses, and a desire to compensate for a history of discrimination. That's how these dogmatic positions get established. I consider the question of the relative frequency of genius level intelligence to be empirical, and both sides are addicted to a priori ideas that say that female genius is either as common as male or nonexistent. It seems the real situation of relative scarcity is hard to deal with for dogmatists on both sides.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 18, 2008, 07:13:42 PM
Pick whatever standard you like. It is not my business to tell you how to determine genius. Such a realization can only come within yourself. The question is moot of course. You won't answer it because you can't. There is no female counterpart to Bach, or Beethoven, or Shakespeare, or Homer. We all know that.

How do we know that? If you can't promulgate a standard of genius, then admit it. Of course, to do that would be to undermine your argument, so I understand fully your deep reluctance to fess up to the fact that you do not apply any standard save personal taste.

And that, for the purposes of your "argument" as you have presented it, is worse than worthless. It's also silly to make sweeping, normative conclusions based solely on personal taste, but don't let that stop you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 18, 2008, 11:48:59 PM
you were simply unaware of how insensitive your comments in another thread here in the diner were.  And that IS your problem, because you're alienating people and you're not even aware of it. 

If this is supposed to make me feel guilty, it won't work. "Alienating people"? Come on, Adam! For God's sake, anyone can ignore me with a scroll of the mouse. Someone who feels alienated by some comments in an internet forum has big problems.

If someone were to make a comment along the lines of "Hey, Romanians don't deserve equal rights, and their existence is an abomination according to the Bible" and they said this completely aware of your heritage, than they're flat-out racist bigots. If that comment is made unaware of your heritage being Romanian, then that comment is either ignorant, narrow-minded, bigoted, or a combination of all three.

Agreed. But this, in respect with me, is a strawman, unless you could produce evidence that I ever employed this kind of thinking.

Overall, you seem like a friendly person who might be unawares of some traits (who isn't?), but sometimes, I get a very different impression.

Nobody's perfect.  :)

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on November 20, 2008, 04:19:21 PM
How do we know that? If you can't promulgate a standard of genius, then admit it. Of course, to do that would be to undermine your argument, so I understand fully your deep reluctance to fess up to the fact that you do not apply any standard save personal taste.


    Where it's possible you should use objective aptitude measures and mostly objective achievement tests like discovering or inventing. In the aesthetic fields where personal opinion is the only method (whatever objective features exist only matter because of how they are subjectively valued) only a consensus can be applied. You need agreement about Bach, whereas disagreement about Newton is both more difficult to find and trivial to deal with. If you don't like the laws that's your problem.  :)

     There's no essence of genius. It isn't a predefined quality, but something we are determined to measure, and the measurements are adjusted to most clearly fit what people do that is mentally distinctive.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on November 20, 2008, 06:48:06 PM
    Where it's possible you should use objective aptitude measures and mostly objective achievement tests like discovering or inventing. In the aesthetic fields where personal opinion is the only method (whatever objective features exist only matter because of how they are subjectively valued) only a consensus can be applied. You need agreement about Bach, whereas disagreement about Newton is both more difficult to find and trivial to deal with. If you don't like the laws that's your problem.  :)

     There's no essence of genius. It isn't a predefined quality, but something we are determined to measure, and the measurements are adjusted to most clearly fit what people do that is mentally distinctive.

"Should use" rarely implies, as a necessary consequence, a law. In any event, for aesthetic achievement, it's mob rule, and for scientific achievement, it's "discovering" or inventing for a test?

I don't know that either of those standards are particularly compelling (for example, Fermat had the rudiments of calculus before Newton, what do we do about that? Apply a consensus test?).

There is just no way to quantify this, and that's too bad. Unless, of course, people can get over an obsession with quantifying things because, well, if you can assign a number to it, then it must be true. Right?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 21, 2008, 04:38:36 AM
Florestan,

Third, if one is to become a cultivated human being, this requires personal effort to study, think and understand, i.e. the very things a college education is supposed to foster.

Fourth, taking  a random paragraph from page 400 (four hundred, mind you!) and pretending that the references are unexplained is the top of disingenuity. To understand that paragraph you need (a) all the 399 pages preceding it, (b) the footnotes or endnotes, and (c) a good amount of personal research.

Thanks for making these good points but I still wonder about something discussed earlier regarding reading comprehension.

If  reason  and  language  are the 2 key elements which make us cognitive individuals why is it incorrect to state that there is an intimate connection between intellectual/academic ability and reading comprehension ?

The following was written by psychologist/educator Edward Thorndike:

"Reading comprehension involves 2 steps: the linguistic ability to decode and grasp the precise meaning of the words from the text and the logical-mathematical ability to infer, deduce and interpolate. The mind is assailed as it were by every word in the paragraph. It must select, repress, soften, emphasize, correlate and organize, all under the influence of the right mental set or purpose or demand..."

_______

Doesn´t it come down to  conceptual and reasoning ability ? The conceptual, whether it be grasping the precise meaning of a word from the general English vocabulary like ´obloquy´ or a basic term from psychology like ´operant conditioning´ or a basic concept from chemistry like ´Boyle´s Law´ or an idea from philosophy like ´phenomenology´or, as mentioned earlier something abstruse from mathematics like ´Galois Theory´... And the reasoning, which involves grasping the main ideas from the text and making inferences, deductions, interpolations as he says ?   

   
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 21, 2008, 05:48:15 AM
If  reason  and  language  are the 2 key elements which make us cognitive individuals why is it incorrect to state that there is an intimate connection between intellectual/academic ability and reading comprehension ?

It's not incorrect. It's true.

Look, if your position boils down to the fact that not everybody has potential for intellectual careers and those who haven't should be rather going to vocational schools than to colleges (without this fact diminishing in the least their worth as human beings), I agree completely.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 21, 2008, 09:07:02 AM
Sidebar relation, There is research that proves that the illiterate have much stronger memories.  Which is reasonable, bc there is an innate subconscious recognition that they will have to strore and retain information much more effectively than others who are able to read.  So as far as cognitive ability, reading ability is no measure of intelligence.

Economic prosperity probably plays a much higher role as anything.  You'll never see the child of a millionaire at a vocational school, just as  - WITHOUT, SAY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION - children of those below the poverty level could never get into the "finest" private schools - whether that be at the grade-school or graduate level. 

Even those with "talent" or ability have to work at it constantly.  Lan Lang I assure oyu, for whatever prodigy abilities he had as a child was in front of the keyboard or studying music in some regard hours upon hours everyday of his waking life.  Talent doesn't mean a thing compared to drive and ambition.  And you're not going to have the chance to exploit that drive and ambition with no opportunity.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 21, 2008, 10:45:40 AM
Florestan,

Look, if your position boils down to the fact that not everybody has potential for intellectual careers and those who haven't should be rather going to vocational schools than to colleges, I agree completely.

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 ?

(without this fact diminishing in the least their worth as human beings)

And this needs to be stated more often.... Thank you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on November 21, 2008, 12:38:58 PM
Lan Lang I assure oyu, for whatever prodigy abilities he had as a child was in front of the keyboard or studying music in some regard hours upon hours everyday of his waking life. 
So what happened? ;D ;)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 21, 2008, 12:42:24 PM
So what happened? ;D ;)

 ;D

I knew I shouldn't have gone with Lang as my example...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 21, 2008, 12:51:08 PM
Richard Wagner would have gasped at the exquisite art of Lang Lang . . . .
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 21, 2008, 12:53:46 PM
Richard Wagner would have gasped at the exquisite art of Lang Lang . . . .

Is this a reference?  ???

 is this the same kind of gasp my grandfather makes when he has to visit the proctologist?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 21, 2008, 12:55:47 PM
Is this a reference?  ???

The Ardent one's tag.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 21, 2008, 01:09:32 PM
The Ardent one's tag.

Damn it.  I knew it seemed strangely familiar.

Why can't I be cognizant and comatose like everybody else??
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 21, 2008, 01:13:15 PM
Damn it.  I knew it seemed strangely familiar.

Why can't I be cognizant and comatose like everybody else??

You had a strategy, but you got hit.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on November 21, 2008, 01:36:12 PM
"Should use" rarely implies, as a necessary consequence, a law. In any event, for aesthetic achievement, it's mob rule, and for scientific achievement, it's "discovering" or inventing for a test?

I don't know that either of those standards are particularly compelling (for example, Fermat had the rudiments of calculus before Newton, what do we do about that? Apply a consensus test?).

There is just no way to quantify this, and that's too bad. Unless, of course, people can get over an obsession with quantifying things because, well, if you can assign a number to it, then it must be true. Right?

     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?

     
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on November 21, 2008, 01:56:30 PM


     Genius is used to describe both those people who are really smart and those who are really accomplished, and though there is a good amount of overlap many examples exist of people who meet one of these and not the other. And some fields are too inherently subjective for quantification. Even though we know this, it doesn't inhibit us from using the word genius for the most obviously qualified, which means that the word is a mark of distinction which doesn't need to be backstopped. "Handsome is as handsome does" is the "rule", and quantifiability only comes into it when we need a predictive measure, like for the draft board or school admission. Asking if it's real is not useful. You want to know if the prediction pans out, and if it does the measurement criteria is justified.

     
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 22, 2008, 08:43:31 AM

     Genius is used to describe both those people who are really smart and those who are really accomplished . . . .

I think, a spark of inspiration beyond mere accomplishment.

Otherwise, Telemann would be a genius  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus 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.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning 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.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan 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 (http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i34/34b01701.htm)!  :)

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.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus 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
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 22, 2008, 02:08:54 PM
Amadeus (the movie) is crap. Salieri was no more an assassin than Mozart was an idiot.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning 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
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning 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.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog 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.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: adamdavid80 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).
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 22, 2008, 02:29:37 PM
Florestan,

Well, Eric, you should have provided the link to the original article (http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i34/34b01701.htm)!  :)

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

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus 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 ?   

     
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus 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 ?



Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan 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.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg 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.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus 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 ?

 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus 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
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus 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
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan 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.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning 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 . . .  ::)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus 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. 



Title: Eyes on the Whinge
Post by: karlhenning on November 25, 2008, 10:24:52 AM
Quote
It is a classic example of life not being fair.

As with most any Eric thread: Follow the Whinge.

Hardly any of us expects life to be completely fair; but for Eric, it's personal.
Title: Re: Eyes on the Whinge
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 25, 2008, 12:35:39 PM
Karl,

As with most any Eric thread: Follow the Whinge.

Hardly any of us expects life to be completely fair; but for Eric, it's personal.

Those were Murray´s words (page 30), not mine.
Title: Re: Eyes on the Whinge
Post by: adamdavid80 on November 25, 2008, 12:35:56 PM

Hardly any of us expects life to be completely fair; but for Eric, it's personal.

Hellllllllooo, new siggie...   ;D
Title: Re: Eyes on the Whinge
Post by: karlhenning on November 25, 2008, 12:57:33 PM
Hellllllllooo, new siggie...   ;D

(* chortle *)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: lisa needs braces on November 25, 2008, 06:35:36 PM
The whole "below average" thing is blatant nonsense. It doesn't follow that a child who is below "average" in innate mathematical ability should never learn the type of algebra and geometry one comes across in high school, unless the child is severely handicapped. Just because something doesn't come easy to someone doesn't mean learning it is an insurmountable task. It's as if Eric wants other people to be identified as congenitally stupid just so he doesn't feel alone (he has essentially said as much upthread.)



Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 25, 2008, 11:58:28 PM
It doesn't follow that a child who is below "average" in innate mathematical ability should never learn the type of algebra and geometry one comes across in high school, unless the child is severely handicapped. Just because something doesn't come easy to someone doesn't mean learning it is an insurmountable task.

That's correct, in principle. If I understand Eric (or is it rather Murray?) correctly, though, he makes the point that, of all children "below average" in innate mathematical ability, few have the interest of learning high-school algebra, geometry or calculus, and the time they spend  struggling compulsory with them is lost for other subjects, presumably more suitable and interesting for them.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 26, 2008, 04:45:15 AM
That's correct, in principle. If I understand Eric (or is it rather Murray?) correctly, though, he makes the point that, of all children "below average" in innate mathematical ability, few have the interest of learning high-school algebra, geometry or calculus, and the time they spend  struggling compulsory with them is lost for other subjects, presumably more suitable and interesting for them.

I think there's a balance.  I had no interest in (or subsequent use for) calculus.  But then again, I was not compelled to study calculus.  I had modest interest in geometry;  and I don't know how I can judge, at this point, "interest" in algebra (on the principle of, when I was in high school, I had no interest in Debussy;  how could I have, when I was almost completely unaware of him?).  I did study geometry and algebra in high school, to fulfill my math component;  and I found them both engaging.

I think it fairly obvious that there is value for the individual in being 'compelled' to learn more than he quite has an 'interest' in.  But then, I also think it obvious that a parent feeds a child more kinds of food than the child 'feels like' eating.  I don't think that the individual is being tyrannized in either case, just by virtue of considerations broader than his personal, momentary 'interest'.

And, in my own public school experience, again, I enjoyed both modes:  pursuing subjects which engaged me profoundly, and acquisition of the discipline of learning subjects 'in the abstract', apart from whether it was quite something I 'felt like' learning.  The latter, too (meseems), is a whetstone to sharpen the mind.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 26, 2008, 05:26:53 AM
I had no interest in (or subsequent use for) calculus.  But then again, I was not compelled to study calculus. 

Is calculus not required in US high-schools? Here in Romania it is studied  9th through 12th grade.

when I was in high school, I had no interest in Debussy;  how could I have, when I was almost completely unaware of him?). 

That's a very good point.

I think it fairly obvious that there is value for the individual in being 'compelled' to learn more than he quite has an 'interest' in.  But then, I also think it obvious that a parent feeds a child more kinds of food than the child 'feels like' eating.  I don't think that the individual is being tyrannized in either case, just by virtue of considerations broader than his personal, momentary 'interest'.

Agreed.

What I think is, though, that by the time of high-school graduation, a man knows, broady speaking, what his interests and abilities are, so he can choose what kind of education (if any) he'd like to pursue further.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 26, 2008, 05:43:51 AM
Is calculus not required in US high-schools? Here in Romania it is studied  9th through 12th grade.

Argh! That would be hell.

In the US, the responsibility for public school curricula is largely local;  calculus was not required in my high school, at the time I attended (for all I know, it may be different now).  I remember that graduation requirements varied even for friends of mine in nearby towns.  There is a lot that is 'standard', I just don't know that much of that is specifically 'managed' from the Federal level.  To an extent, there's a free market ambience to education, too;  and some Fed attempts to regulate or 'improve' educate across-the-board have been more controversial than effective ("no child left behind," anyone?)

Interestingly, the very college system against which the OP rages is one of the 'free-market' forces for standardization.  Most colleges require that applicants have taken a test such as the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), which has an English and a math component.  It was decades ago, and I may be misremembering, but what was strange in my case was that while by inclination I am more a language person than a numbers guy, I scored higher in the math component than in the English (though I did well in both, and had a strong score).

Quote from: Florestan
What I think is, though, that by the time of high-school graduation, a man knows, broady speaking, what his interests and abilities are, so he can choose what kind of education (if any) he'd like to pursue further.

Aye.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 26, 2008, 05:54:26 AM
Argh! That would be hell.

Well, I mistyped 9th for 11th, but even so, it is hell. I remeber scoring so bad in calculus in my 12th grade, that I began to fear I would never pass the admission test for college. (Eventually, I did pass it all right.)

To an extent, there's a free market ambience to education, too;  and some Fed attempts to regulate or 'improve' educate across-the-board have been more controversial than effective

Speaking of which, is it possible for someone to choose freely his elementary, secondary or high school, or are the choices limited to the area in which one lives?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 26, 2008, 05:57:07 AM
In general, there's always some degree of choice.  In most places, anyway.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 26, 2008, 06:00:31 AM
Well, I mistyped 9th for 11th, but even so, it is hell. I remeber scoring so bad in calculus in my 12th grade, that I began to fear I would never pass the admission test for college. (Eventually, I did pass it all right.)

I remember a passel of friends who had 'the math talent' in my class, and they always sounded like the calculus class was putting them through the wringer.  It was their choice, though (as I say, I didn't have to do it).  My old mate John made it pretty easily into MIT, so he did enjoy the fruit of all that labor.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on November 26, 2008, 06:19:21 AM
In general, there's always some degree of choice.  In most places, anyway.

I ask this question because recently, in two Romanian cities, the choice has been curtailed. Someone living in neigbourhhod A cannot got to a school in neighbourhood B. The rationale behind it was that schools downtown had too many pupils, while schools at the periphery were all but closed from lacking pupils.

I strongly disagree with this measure. In Romania, downtown schools are full of pupils because of their teachers' quality, while peripheral schools are not an option because they lack that quality. Forcing children to attend bad schools just for the sake of rescueing those schools from perish is plain stupid. Besides, this measure is going to discriminate against poor people, who generally live in cheap, peripheral neighbourhoods and whose children will attend disfunctional schools, while the children of rich people, who can afford living in expensive downtown quarters, will continue going to the best schools.

Whoever took the abovementioned decision has big problems with logic and common-sense.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 26, 2008, 01:31:54 PM
That's correct, in principle. Though he makes the point that, of all children "below average" in innate mathematical ability, few have the interest of learning high-school algebra, geometry or calculus, and the time they spend  struggling compulsory with them is lost for other subjects, presumably more suitable and interesting for them.

That´s exactly right, Andrei.

Murray makes this point in Chapter 3:
_____________

Before you conclude that the schools just didn't do a good enough job of presenting the material, talk to elementary and middle school teachers about their experiences trying to teach children who are well below average in logical-mathematical ability. Yes, given time, you may be able to get such a child to understand percentages, right angles, cubes and decimal notation but a few days later you have to explain it anew, and a few days after the same thing; the understanding is lost again. The concept of a right angle will not stick. Similarly, the concept of decimal notation may be grasped for the duration of the tutoring, but it does not stick. A few days later, given a fresh exercise using decimal notation, the student will miss every question because the concept of decimal notation is beyond the capacity of that child  to absorb and retain.

Could such a child absorb and retain the concept of decimal notation if the teacher is given unlimited time and resources ? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but the investment of time must be so large that it cannot possibly be generalized to the whole curriculum.

Limits on logical-mathematical ability translate into limits on how much math a large number of children can learn no matter what the school system does.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 26, 2008, 01:35:14 PM
Abe,

Quote
It's as if Eric wants other people to be identified as congenitally stupid just so he doesn't feel alone (he has essentially said as much upthread.)

Not at all... I simply want to better understand why ´educational romanticism´ pervades the American school system.

The whole "below average" thing is blatant nonsense. It doesn't follow that a child who is below "average" in innate mathematical ability should never learn the type of algebra and geometry one comes across in high school, unless the child is severely handicapped.

Just because something doesn't come easy to someone doesn't mean learning it is an insurmountable task.

Murray addresses this in more detail in Chapter 2:

The first task is to understand what below average means when it comes to academic ability. The best way is to show the kinds of test questions that people with below average mathematical ability have trouble answering. I take them from items that have been used on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It is administered periodically to nationally representative samples of students in the fourth, eighth and twelfth grades. It is a test designed to test what has been learned, not academic ability, and is regarded as the gold standard for measuring academic achievement at the elementary and secondary levels. The examples I will use are from the test for eighth graders. I begin with a simple mathematics problem:

Example 1. There were 90 employees in a company last year. This year the number of employees increased by 10 percent. How many employees are in the company this year ?

(A) 9 (B) 81 (C) 91 (D) 99 (E) 100

By eight grade, it would seem that almost everyone should be able to handle a question like this. Children are taught to divide and to calculate percentages in elementary school. Dividing by ten is the easiest form of division. Dividing a whole number by ten is easier yet. Adding a one-digit number (9) to a two-digit number (90) is elementary. It is a problem based on a simple mathematical concept, using simple arithmetic, requiring a simple logical interpolation to get the right answer. It is an excellent example for starting to think about what below average means in mathematics -- because 62 percent of eight graders got this item wrong. It does not represent an item that below-average students could not do, but one that many above-avergae students could not do. Actually, more than 62 percent did not know the answer, because some of them got the right answer by guessing.

Example 2. Amanda wants to paint each face of a cube a different color. How many colors will she need ?

(A) Three (B) Four (C) Six (D) Eight

Twenty percent of eight graders did not choose C. Approximately 27 percent did not know the right answer.

Example 3. How many of the angles in the triangle next to letter e (bottom left) are smaller than a right angle ?

(http://www.mcgrawhill.ca/school/schoolGraphics/MDM12_RPS_SimilarTriangles_Q1-1.jpg)

(A) None (B) One (C) Two (D) Three

Thirty-one percent of eighth graders did not choose C. Approximately 41 percent did not know the right answer.

Example 4.  What is 4 hunderdths written in decimal notation ?

(A) 0.004 (B) 0.04 (C) 0.400 (D) 4.00 (E) 400.0

Thirty-two percent of eight graders did not choose B. Approximately 40 percent did not know the right answer.
_________

The schools are the usual scapegoats for results like these. But how much can they be blamed that three-quarters of eighth graders did not know the answer to the question about percentages ? Ask those same children what 10 percent of 90 is, and you will find that many if not most of them learned enough multiplication and percentages to give you the answer. Ask them what 90 plus 9 is, and you will find that almost all of them can add those numbers. What they failed to do was  put everything together -- to realize that first they had to take 10 percent of 90, and then add the result to 90. This logical step does not lend itself to being taught in the same way that the rules for addition and multiplication can be taught. A teacher can explain the logical step for this particular example. That's why teaching to the test can work: If teachers know that the state competency test will include one item of this particular type, they can drill the students and raise the proportion that answer it correctly. But if the test uses a new context and puts a different twist on the problem (for example, asking students to calculate a percentage reduction instead of a percentage increase), it is up to the students to  generalize their knowledge, and that calls upon logical-mathematical ability.

It is even harder to blame the schools for mistakes in the other three math examples about cubes, right angles and decimal notation. All eight graders have encountered cubes, right angles, and decimal notation in the classroom before eight grade. Before you conclude that the schools just didn't do a good enough job of presenting the material, talk to elementary and middle school teachers about their experiences trying to teach children who are well below average in logical-mathematical ability. Yes, given time, you may be able to get such a child to understand percentages, right angles, cubes and decimal notation but a few days later you have to explain it anew, and a few days after the same thing; the understanding is lost again. The concept of a right angle will not stick. Similarly, the concept of decimal notation may be grasped for the duration of the tutoring, but it does not stick. A few days later, given a fresh exercise using decimal notation, the student will miss every question because the concept of decimal notation is beyond the capacity of that child  to absorb and retain.

Could such a child absorb and retain the concept of decimal notation if the teacher is given unlimited time and resources ? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but the investment of time must be so large that it cannot possibly be generalized to the whole curriculum. Limits on logical-mathematical ability translate into limite on how much math a large number of children can learn no matter what the school system does.




Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on November 26, 2008, 01:36:37 PM
Karl,

I think there's a balance.  I had no interest in (or subsequent use for) calculus.  But then again, I was not compelled to study calculus.  I had modest interest in geometry;  and I don't know how I can judge, at this point, "interest" in algebra (on the principle of, when I was in high school, I had no interest in Debussy;  how could I have, when I was almost completely unaware of him?).
 
I´m not sure that aesthetic experiences and scholastic work is a valid comparison.

Quote
I did study geometry and algebra in high school, to fulfill my math component;  and I found them both engaging.

Same here, but I found those subjects extremely difficult. It would have been impossible for me to pass those courses without the MAJOR HELP of private tutors, three hour sessions, twice weekly.

Quote
I think it fairly obvious that there is value for the individual in being 'compelled' to learn more than he quite has an 'interest' in.  But then, I also think it obvious that a parent feeds a child more kinds of food than the child 'feels like' eating.  I don't think that the individual is being tyrannized in either case, just by virtue of considerations broader than his personal, momentary 'interest'.

And, in my own public school experience, again, I enjoyed both modes:  pursuing subjects which engaged me profoundly, and acquisition of the discipline of learning subjects 'in the abstract', apart from whether it was quite something I 'felt like' learning.  The latter, too (meseems), is a whetstone to sharpen the mind.

But Murray makes a very important point here and I don´t see how anyone can disagree with him on this:

"It is a good thing for parents and teachers to encourage children to try hard. It is a good thing to teach children that they should not give up easily. It is better to push a child farther than he can go (occasionally) than not to push at all. But one of the responsibilities of parents and teachers is to  appraise  the abilities that a child brings to a task. One of the most irresponsible trends in modern education has been the reduction in rigorous, systematic assessment of the abilities of all the students in their care. To demand that students meet standards that have been set without regard to their academic ability is wrong and cruel to the children who are unable to meet those standards..."   
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 26, 2008, 02:35:46 PM
I´m not sure that aesthetic experiences and scholastic work is a valid comparison.

Your thinking's gone woolly there, Eric. That statement is not a "comparison of aesthetic experience and scholastic work."  It's a simple observation that much that is worthwhile studying, is outside one's awareness;  and that education is partly a process of extending the individual's field of awareness.

Quote from: Eric

Quote from: karlhenning
I think it fairly obvious that there is value for the individual in being 'compelled' to learn more than he quite has an 'interest' in.  But then, I also think it obvious that a parent feeds a child more kinds of food than the child 'feels like' eating.  I don't think that the individual is being tyrannized in either case, just by virtue of considerations broader than his personal, momentary 'interest'.

And, in my own public school experience, again, I enjoyed both modes:  pursuing subjects which engaged me profoundly, and acquisition of the discipline of learning subjects 'in the abstract', apart from whether it was quite something I 'felt like' learning.  The latter, too (meseems), is a whetstone to sharpen the mind.

But Murray makes a very important point here and I don´t see how anyone can disagree with him on this:

"It is a good thing for parents and teachers to encourage children to try hard. It is a good thing to teach children that they should not give up easily. It is better to push a child farther than he can go (occasionally) than not to push at all. But one of the responsibilities of parents and teachers is to  appraise  the abilities that a child brings to a task. One of the most irresponsible trends in modern education has been the reduction in rigorous, systematic assessment of the abilities of all the students in their care. To demand that students meet standards that have been set without regard to their academic ability is wrong and cruel to the children who are unable to meet those standards..."

First of all, Murray essentially agrees with me in the first two sentences there, although he reserves a complaint with the parenthetical "occasionally."

Second, he adds (what I did not trouble to) that a teacher appraises the child's abilities in the task.  This is something I did not bother to spell out, as fairly obvious.  And again, in no classroom in which I took part, was any pupil 'tyrannized'.  Nothing in the school curriculum made "wrong and cruel" demands (what a fondness for whingely quotes you have in this thread, Eric!) of any of my schoolmates;  not a single one.

Third, as to the 'demand' sentence closing your quote (which I must imagine is what you feel is the "very important point") you appear to want to take this one assertion as somehow 'damning' the whole system, Eric;  but so far as I can tell (again, going back to my own school experience) the school made accomodation for those students whose abilities did not match the (not in the least 'wrong' or 'cruel') demands of the standard curriculum, in Special Ed sections.

Far from a "very important point," Murray's statement does not (from the only experiemnce with which I can judge) have much purchase on reality.
Title: A Non-Appalling Tangent, at 'Dial "M" for Musicology
Post by: karlhenning on November 26, 2008, 06:45:15 PM
[ A tangent. (http://musicology.typepad.com/dialm/2008/11/fish-on-academic-freedom.html) ]
Title: Re: A Non-Appalling Tangent, at 'Dial "M" for Musicology
Post by: Florestan on November 27, 2008, 12:00:20 AM
[ A tangent. (http://musicology.typepad.com/dialm/2008/11/fish-on-academic-freedom.html) ]

Quote from: Stanley Fish
And you just have to love a book — O.K., I just have to love a book — that declares that while faculty must “respect students as persons,” they are under no obligation to respect the “ideas held by students.” Way to go!

A very strange assertion for an intellectual, to say that ideas held by someone else than you or your peers are not worth respecting.

Does this apply the other way around as well?
Title: Re: A Non-Appalling Tangent, at 'Dial "M" for Musicology
Post by: karlhenning on November 27, 2008, 05:58:05 AM
A very strange assertion for an intellectual, to say that ideas held by someone else than you or your peers are not worth respecting.

If we change "are not" to the modal "may not be," is your objection answered, Andrei?  :)

I think the idea is that challenging someone's ideas is not offering injury to his person.
Title: Re: A Non-Appalling Tangent, at 'Dial "M" for Musicology
Post by: Florestan on November 27, 2008, 06:01:43 AM
If we change "are not" to the modal "may not be," is your objection answered, Andrei?  :)

Yes.

I think the idea is that challenging someone's ideas is not offering injury to his person.

Ah, well, put this way I can't help but agree. But then again, this very reasonable position works both ways. :)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on November 27, 2008, 05:03:52 PM
Certo.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 01, 2008, 01:36:28 PM
But so far as I can tell (again, going back to my own school experience) the school made accomodation for those students whose abilities did not match the (not in the least 'wrong' or 'cruel') demands of the standard curriculum, in Special Ed sections.

Karl,

Just a note:

Special education is for those who are borderline mentally retarded, not for the students who are merely below average... There´s a difference.

And the current system makes life as difficult as possible for them, well at least when I was growing up in the 1980´s. Falling quietly between the cracks while most of the teachers attributed our mediocre grades to a lack of discipline.
Title: an appalling report
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 01, 2008, 01:41:50 PM
Florestan,

An interesting piece explaining how and why educational romanticism took root:

http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.27962/pub_detail.asp

Although I am not sure I agree with this statement:

"Elite white guilt explains much about all kinds of social policy from the last half of the 1960s onward, but especially about education"

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on December 01, 2008, 02:11:13 PM
Karl,

Just a note:

Special education is for those who are borderline mentally retarded, not for the students who are merely below average... There´s a difference.

And the current system makes life as difficult as possible for them, well at least when I was growing up in the 1980´s. Falling quietly between the cracks while most of the teachers attributed our mediocre grades to a lack of discipline.

In a decent school system, those needing special ed. are not falling between the cracks.  Teachers of regular classrooms simply request testing for kids doing poorly.  If the test results indicate a special needs child, that child is placed in the special ed. program.  Having had a special needs child in the 1980's, I know the drill (and the school system was in Albuquerque, not exactly a highly regarded system).
Title: Re: an appalling report
Post by: drogulus on December 01, 2008, 04:11:48 PM


Although I am not sure I agree with this statement:

"Elite white guilt explains much about all kinds of social policy from the last half of the 1960s onward, but especially about education"



     
     Many parents are persuaded that the intellectual measures that are being used somehow disadvantage their little darlings, so they naturally will support any effort to make the kids above average, even by act of Congress. I think Murray is right that abilities are inborn and not much affected by quality of schooling. And he's also right that teachers waste too much time teaching the marginal to be smarter, which hurts the competent and even more the gifted.

     I'm not sure that guilty elites are the reason for the romanticism. I think it comes in waves, and it looks like the hard-headed/soft-hearted distinction of William James, a struggle between what we know to be true, that children have different abilities, and what we'd like to be true, that our good intentions can establish their own facts, and goodness can defeat excellence.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Szykneij on December 01, 2008, 04:14:37 PM
Karl,

Just a note:

Special education is for those who are borderline mentally retarded, not for the students who are merely below average...


Absolutely false, at least in any school system I'm familiar with.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: c#minor on December 02, 2008, 05:45:47 PM
 Just read the link and I am not going to read the 17 pages worth of discussion but, what the hell are students supposed to do, not go to college and thwart their attempts at getting a high paying non tech career. The system might be flawed (which it is but I do not believe in the way the article said) but that the way it is and people either accept it or fall behind.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 02, 2008, 11:18:35 PM
people either accept it or fall behind.

It's rather accept it and fall behind...
Title: Re: an appalling report
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 03, 2008, 06:51:39 AM
Drogulus,

I think Murray is right that abilities are inborn and not much affected by quality of schooling.

And he's also right that teachers waste too much time teaching the marginal to be smarter, which hurts the competent and even more the gifted.

Do you feel that systematic assessment of students´ aptitudes/abilities throughout elementary and middle school would help with this problem ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 03, 2008, 06:53:13 AM
C#minor,

What the hell are students supposed to do, not go to college and thwart their attempts at getting a high paying non tech career. The system might be flawed (which it is but I do not believe in the way the article said) but that the way it is and people either accept it or fall behind.

What Murray and others are saying is that educational success needs to be redefined.... In the current system today if you don´t get a BA many people assume it is because you are too dumb or too lazy. And all this because of a degree that seldom has an interpretable substantive meaning.

These two articles provide a clear picture of the current problems:

For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time

1. http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.28460/pub_detail.asp

2. http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.25464,filter.all/pub_detail.asp

You need to read the second one also as it complements the first.


Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 03, 2008, 07:05:48 AM
Quote from:  Charles Murray
Finding a good lawyer or physician is easy. Finding a good carpenter, painter, electrician, plumber, glazier, mason--the list goes on and on--is difficult

I don't know about US, but here in Romania this is absolutely true, especially so when one adds car mechanics to the list.  :)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on December 03, 2008, 07:07:39 AM
I don't know about US, but here in Romania this is absolutely true, especially so when one adds car mechanics to the list.  :)

Don't get me started on contractors in Massachusetts  ;D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: c#minor on December 03, 2008, 08:35:22 AM
C#minor,

What Murray and others are saying is that educational success needs to be redefined.... In the current system today if you don´t get a BA many people assume it is because you are too dumb or too lazy. And all this because of a degree that seldom has an interpretable substantive meaning.

These two articles provide a clear picture of the current problems:

For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time

1. http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.28460/pub_detail.asp

2. http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.25464,filter.all/pub_detail.asp

You need to read the second one also as it complements the first.




I am sorry but I cannot accept that. I am attending a community college right now and about to move on to get my bachelors. I have learned more in the past two years than I have in my life. I believe the issue is that students don't give a damn. It's not that college is a waste of time, the students make it a waste of their time. AND... If you are going after a set major it's worthwhile. I have a friend who has switched majors four times and yes, it has been a waste of his time. But for me it has been very worthwhile. For another friend of mine who is studying studio recording, it's been worthwhile. It also acts as the junction between dependant youth to independent adult. College degrees (unless in a specialized field) are there for "work competency). If you made it through college you can do work.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on December 03, 2008, 08:56:32 AM
I am sorry but I cannot accept that. I am attending a community college right now and about to move on to get my bachelors. I have learned more in the past two years than I have in my life. I believe the issue is that students don't give a damn. It's not that college is a waste of time, the students make it a waste of their time. AND... If you are going after a set major it's worthwhile.

Excellent point:  Education is not something that 'happens' to a passive lump;  it is what you make of it.

And if anything, I think that is a positive aspect to 'the system'.
Title: Re: an appalling report
Post by: drogulus on December 03, 2008, 02:14:14 PM
Drogulus,

Do you feel that systematic assessment of students´ aptitudes/abilities throughout elementary and middle school would help with this problem ?


    Some measurement is necessary, and measuring continues in the face of opposition. It can be useful to know, for example, that the bored student with low grades isn't subnormal, and in fact has above average abilities that are not being served. In other cases students are simply not able to achieve at the level expected of them. The problem with the idea of bringing everyone to the same level is that it inevitably means leveling down, since up isn't possible. The educational system is being run according to irreconcilable principles, to treat everyone according to their abilities and needs, and to treat everyone the same. The problem isn't the tests, it's this inability to respond adequately to what the tests mean.

     It's mostly a good thing that Americans are so egalitarian. It's led to the questioning of the supposed inferiority of groups, and the correction of many wrongs that are now rightly seen as prejudices. It can be taken too far, though, by insisting that people really have equal abilities that are being submerged by the same kind of prejudice, and this is not true. At the individual level, people vary widely in abilities, and you can't make the gaps go away by tinkering with the tests.

      I wouldn't go so far as to say that college is a waste of time for the untalented. It might still serve some good purpose at the level of socialization and maturation. You need to learn to navigate the system in any case, even if it's not an ideal one.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 03, 2008, 11:35:01 PM
When you find that mechanic in Romania he won't have the part you need, anyway  ;D

That's also true, in general. Even the car dealers oftenly don't have them. :D

If your car breaks down near one of the painted churches around Suceava, in won't matter so much, though...

Have you been there?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 04, 2008, 12:35:07 PM
Oh, yes. [...]

Nice.  :)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 04, 2008, 03:56:27 PM
I am sorry but I cannot accept that. I am attending a community college right now and about to move on to get my bachelors. I have learned more in the past two years than I have in my life. I believe the issue is that students don't give a damn. It's not that college is a waste of time, the students make it a waste of their time. AND... If you are going after a set major it's worthwhile. I have a friend who has switched majors four times and yes, it has been a waste of his time. But for me it has been very worthwhile. For another friend of mine who is studying studio recording, it's been worthwhile. It also acts as the junction between dependant youth to independent adult. College degrees (unless in a specialized field) are there for "work competency). If you made it through college you can do work.

Hi C # minor,

Thanks for sharing that. I attended community college between 1990/1993 and in my case it was most definitely not a matter of 'not giving a damn'. I was placed on academic probation several times despite being motivated, studying my tail off and having the guidance of some excellent private tutors...The college expelled me in April 93.

So when I read an article by a leading social scientist who says:   

While concepts such as "emotional intelligence" and "multiple intelligences" have their uses, a century of psychometric evidence has been augmented over the last decade by a growing body of neuroscientific evidence. Like it or not, g exists, is grounded in the architecture and neural functioning of the brain, and is the raw material for academic performance. If you do not have a lot of g when you enter kindergarten, you are never going to have a lot of it. No change in the educational system will change that hard fact.

That says nothing about the quality of the lives that should be open to everyone across the range of ability. I am among the most emphatic of those who think that the importance of IQ in living a good life is vastly overrated. My point is just this: It is true that many social and economic problems are disproportionately found among people with little education, but the culprit for their educational deficit is often low intelligence. Refusing to come to grips with that reality has produced policies that have been ineffectual at best and damaging at worst.


..... I am able to stop berating myself for being intellectually slow and realize that yes, a few of my educators in high school (during junior/senior year) had no clue about the nature of the problem when they wrote their progress reports saying:

Your son is apathetic towards academics. More discipline is recommended.

The fact that my father is a physician and all of my siblings went to Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Wellesley didn't help my situation.... I was the black sheep of the house (i.e. the only one who had major scholastic problems, the only one who is not adept socially, the only one with strong libertarian views, the only one who is fanatical about opera/classical music)

I enjoy what I do for a living but it's a 'nonprofessional occupation' and it requires practically no intellectual horsepower. 

So yes, I am still very convinced that nurture and environment has little effect on intellect (the ability to grasp concepts and to reason). 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 04, 2008, 11:49:11 PM
I was the black sheep of the house (i.e. the only one who had major scholastic problems, the only one who is not adept socially, the only one with strong libertarian views, the only one who is fanatical about opera/classical music)

I enjoy what I do for a living but it's a 'nonprofessional occupation' and it requires practically no intellectual horsepower. 

So what? What difference does it make in respect to your worth as a human being? None.

So yes, I am still very convinced that nurture and environment has little effect on intellect (the ability to grasp concepts and to reason). 

First, in order to be a libertarian one has first to "grasp concepts" (such as life, liberty, property, negative rights etc) and to "reason" (about how society should best be arranged in order to protect them). Second, your "linguistic ability" is certainly not in the bottom percentage.

Don't underestimate yourself.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 05, 2008, 07:56:05 AM
Florestan,

Don't underestimate yourself.

Thank you.

Quote from: Florestan
Second, your "linguistic ability" is certainly not in the bottom percentage.

Let me explain what has been going through my head for a while now.

First some questions:

Can the words of a language (any language) be arranged in a graduated order of difficulty ? For example, there are approximately 600,000 words in the general English vocabulary (excluding technical/scientific terms). Would it be possible to arrange them not alphabetically, but according to their level of difficulty ? Do words have their own 'precise slot' in the lexicon ?

Second, I have this belief that my ´functional´ vocabulary would improve dramatically if I were to spend time in a private study reciting out loud and repeatedly every example sentence of every word in the general English dictionary. I have this fantasy that somehow through this long (but not boring) process most of the English language would sink in my mind and I´d become very articulate. My self-esteem would improve greatly were I to possess this skill. 

As a supplement to this are 'comprehension/recall exercises' where I reading the World News and Commentary/Opinion sections of the following:

BBC, Times of London, The Guardian, The New York Times, Daily Telegraph and  Associated Press.

The exercise involves two steps:

1. Find the precise definition of any unfamiliar words and record it in notebook with the sentence.

2. Find the main idea of the article and then synthesize verbally or in writing all of the supporting factors, arguments, details, etc.

Now my question:

Am I completely misguided in this whole endeavor and am I wasting my time ?   

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 05, 2008, 12:51:40 PM
Florestan,

Thank you.

Let me explain what has been going through my head for a while now.

First some questions:

Can the words of a language (any language) be arranged in a graduated order of difficulty ? For example, there are approximately 600,000 words in the general English vocabulary (excluding technical/scientific terms). Would it be possible to arrange them not alphabetically, but according to their level of difficulty ? Do words have their own 'precise slot' in the lexicon ?

Second, I have this belief that my ´functional´ vocabulary would improve dramatically if I were to spend time in a private study reciting out loud and repeatedly every example sentence of every word in the general English dictionary. I have this fantasy that somehow through this long (but not boring) process most of the English language would sink in my mind and I´d become very articulate. My self-esteem would improve greatly were I to possess this skill. 

As a supplement to this are 'comprehension/recall exercises' where I reading the World News and Commentary/Opinion sections of the following:

BBC, Times of London, The Guardian, The New York Times, Daily Telegraph and  Associated Press.

The exercise involves two steps:

1. Find the precise definition of any unfamiliar words and record it in notebook with the sentence.

2. Find the main idea of the article and then synthesize verbally or in writing all of the supporting factors, arguments, details, etc.

Now my question:

Am I completely misguided in this whole endeavor and am I wasting my time ?   



     Do you know any articulate persons who achieved their proficiency in this way? So far as I know a large vocabulary is just something a child picks up in the course of reading, and listening to and speaking with other people with large vocabularies, in particular with parents. You can expand your vocabulary by studying a subject that requires you to learn new words and usages, and in my own case I never sought to enhance my vocabulary as an end in itself. You have to be interested in a great variety of things, and the vocabulary you need to pursue these interests follows from the study that you engage in.

     I'm not sure I understand what you mean by difficult words. I'm more familiar with difficult subjects and the process of coming to grips with a set of concepts that's beyond what you've previously encountered. That's where you may need to look up definitions. I see vocabulary acquisition as something that happens in the process of learning new things, and in my case that mostly amounts to reading books that are a little bit over my head, and then rereading them until I can understand what I'm reading. So I don't see anything like linguistic ability as anything separate from that. Maybe I'm just lucky, though, and other people have to focus on words more than I do.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: c#minor on December 05, 2008, 01:30:14 PM
Hi C # minor,

Thanks for sharing that. I attended community college between 1990/1993 and in my case it was most definitely not a matter of 'not giving a damn'. I was placed on academic probation several times despite being motivated, studying my tail off and having the guidance of some excellent private tutors...The college expelled me in April 93.

So when I read an article by a leading social scientist who says:  

While concepts such as "emotional intelligence" and "multiple intelligences" have their uses, a century of psychometric evidence has been augmented over the last decade by a growing body of neuroscientific evidence. Like it or not, g exists, is grounded in the architecture and neural functioning of the brain, and is the raw material for academic performance. If you do not have a lot of g when you enter kindergarten, you are never going to have a lot of it. No change in the educational system will change that hard fact.

That says nothing about the quality of the lives that should be open to everyone across the range of ability. I am among the most emphatic of those who think that the importance of IQ in living a good life is vastly overrated. My point is just this: It is true that many social and economic problems are disproportionately found among people with little education, but the culprit for their educational deficit is often low intelligence. Refusing to come to grips with that reality has produced policies that have been ineffectual at best and damaging at worst.


..... I am able to stop berating myself for being intellectually slow and realize that yes, a few of my educators in high school (during junior/senior year) had no clue about the nature of the problem when they wrote their progress reports saying:

Your son is apathetic towards academics. More discipline is recommended.

The fact that my father is a physician and all of my siblings went to Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Wellesley didn't help my situation.... I was the black sheep of the house (i.e. the only one who had major scholastic problems, the only one who is not adept socially, the only one with strong libertarian views, the only one who is fanatical about opera/classical music)

I enjoy what I do for a living but it's a 'nonprofessional occupation' and it requires practically no intellectual horsepower. 

So yes, I am still very convinced that nurture and environment has little effect on intellect (the ability to grasp concepts and to reason). 


I do not want to come off as an intellectual prick because I am anything but. Your academic struggles sound, well like my life. After years of Adderal, Ritalin, Concerta, Vivance, ect. I gave them all up and decided to go it with no meds. I failed, and miserably. I am a highschool graduate but it took five years. I was considered an "at risk" student under Bush's famed no child left behind plan, so my highschool pawned me off on a "middle college" which is exempt from the No Child rating system. The black sheep situation you faced me too. My principle of my grade school saying to my parents (with me there none the less) "What is wrong with this boy, his sisters were such good students and hard workers." I have put my family and myself through hell but I do not believe for one second that I am stupid. I regularly outperform most of the other students in my classes in discussions and papers, but on tests I fail. I can't learn anything from a book because I do not retain any knowledge that way. I literally just failed speech because I could not write the complex/precise outlines. My friend I am not saying the system is not broken, because I am a testament to its brokenness. But I still think if people want to learn they can. Though I am below a 2.5 GPA (even with some bullshit filler courses) I have still learned many things that will help me later on in life. I do give a damn because I am not there to pass, I am there to learn. I believe I need to pass but I have refrained really from worrying myself about it because worrying won’t help.

To sum it all up, yes the system is broken. But college is not the culprit; the culprit is an education system that lets students with different learning styles fall through the gap. These people are extraordinarily competent and can contribute in unique ways that the majority cannot, but it's cheaper just to focus on the majority and society ostracizes differences. It's a social problem, the colleges are not to blame.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 05, 2008, 02:18:41 PM
After years of Adderal, Ritalin, Concerta, Vivance, ect. I gave them all up 

What the heck are these?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 05, 2008, 02:21:02 PM
Am I completely misguided in this whole endeavor and am I wasting my time ?   

I'm afraid you are.

Drogulus put it very well:

     You have to be interested in a great variety of things, and the vocabulary you need to pursue these interests follows from the study that you engage in.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Joe_Campbell on December 05, 2008, 10:24:17 PM
What the heck are these?
At least one of them is a medication...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 09, 2008, 06:48:14 AM
Drogulus and Florestan,

Thanks.

Do you know any articulate persons who achieved their proficiency in this way?

I thought these kinds of exercises along with active reading of the dictionary were an essential supplement to achieving this... Now, in my case it is largely a compensatory activity. Admittedly, it does not feel natural and often fatiguing but I force myself into doing the 'comprehension/recall' exercises anyway, even when an article holds no interest for me because I have convinced myself that my intellect will improve regardless.   

Quote from: drogulus
In my own case I never sought to enhance my vocabulary as an end in itself.

But I see verbal fluency as the most enviable of skills. What else can make someone feel more secure and confident than knowing the precise meaning of the words in his or her native language ?   

Quote from: drogulus
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by difficult words. I'm more familiar with difficult subjects and the process of coming to grips with a set of concepts that's beyond what you've previously encountered. That's where you may need to look up definitions.

A simple example:

Grasping the meaning of a word from the general English vocabulary like ´meretricious´ is easier than grasping a basic term in psychology like 'operant conditioning'.

Quote from: drogulus
Maybe I'm just lucky, though

Lucky yes, and also highly intelligent as your replies/arguments in the old Religion Thread very clearly show.   
 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 10, 2008, 05:10:02 AM
Andrei,

Some personal info:

Back in 1998 at the age of 25 I took the standard WAIS I.Q. test along with a battery of aptitude tests lasting 9 hours.

My I.Q. score was a  102  and the results from most sections of the aptitude tests were in the very low range (i.e. Inductive/Deductive Reasoning, Numerical and Spatial ability, Visual Perception, Word Learning and Memory, Structural Visualization, and so on... The highest score was an average (though on the low side) in Clerical Speed.

Two questions:

1. How strongly do you believe the following ?

"Like it or not, g exists, is grounded in the architecture and neural functioning of the brain, and is the raw material for academic performance. If you do not have a lot of g when you enter kindergarten, you are never going to have a lot of it..."

2. Am I justified in citing those scores if someone were to ask about my numerous scholastic failures or why I hadn´t chosen a 'professional' occupation ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on December 10, 2008, 05:15:04 AM
Lucky yes, and also highly intelligent as your replies/arguments in the old Religion Thread very clearly show.   

Ernie is a bright fellow, certainly, Eric;  but you are apt to confuse agrees with my opinion and is clearly intelligent.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 10, 2008, 06:13:28 AM
1. How strongly do you believe the following ?

"Like it or not, g exists, is grounded in the architecture and neural functioning of the brain, and is the raw material for academic performance. If you do not have a lot of g when you enter kindergarten, you are never going to have a lot of it..."

In order to give an answer, I must first know what "g" means.

2. Am I justified in citing those scores if someone were to ask about my numerous scholastic failures or why I hadn´t chosen a 'professional' occupation ?

I don't know.

I have a few questions for you as well:

- how did you discover classical music?

- do you like reading books?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 10, 2008, 06:51:45 AM
In order to give an answer, I must first know what "g" means.

Here is the Wiki explanation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_intelligence_factor
 
Quote
I have a few questions for you as well:

How did you discover classical music?

Late one night in July 1988 at the age of 16 when I accidentally left my radio dial set to WXQR station (New York)... It was the most ravishing thing I'd ever heard...   Eugen Jochum conducting 'The Good Friday Spell' from  Parsifal... And so with the operas of Wagner it all began.

Quote
Do you like reading books?

Honestly, I don´t really enjoy reading books; it's quite fatiguing and I've never understood why. I think I have serious reading comprehension problems. The only books in my room are limited to general opera. There is a separate shelf that contains about 50 books on Pelleas et Melisande alone.

I enjoy reading about world events, the opinion/commentary sections and the occasional debate over whether there exists a supernatural being but that's about it.   
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 10, 2008, 07:18:24 AM
Thanks for answering.

Late one night in July 1988 at the age of 16 when I accidentally left my radio dial set to WXQR station (New York)... It was the most ravishing thing I'd ever heard... What was it ?  Eugen Jochum conducting 'The Good Friday Spell' from  Parsifal... And so with the operas of Wagner it all began.

So then, you're intelligent enough to listen to classical music...

The only books in my room are limited to general opera. There is a separate shelf that contains about 50 books on Pelleas et Melisande alone.

...and intelligent enough to read books about it.

Now, if these provide you instruction and pleasure and, besides, you are content with your life and your job (are you?) --- why do you need IQ tests or why do you need to consider yourself stupid just because you can't / won't read Proust or Kant?

Each of us has a unique personality and our worth is not dependent on "professional" careers. A cobbler can be happier than a king just as an illiterate shepherd can be happier than a scholar, and the world needs all of them.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 10, 2008, 01:18:01 PM


Two questions:

1. How strongly do you believe the following ?

"Like it or not, g exists, is grounded in the architecture and neural functioning of the brain, and is the raw material for academic performance. If you do not have a lot of g when you enter kindergarten, you are never going to have a lot of it..."

2. Am I justified in citing those scores if someone were to ask about my numerous scholastic failures or why I hadn´t chosen a 'professional' occupation ?



      The first is true, and it appears very likely that the second is as well, though I'm basing this just on what you're telling me. I do wonder about the relation between low intelligence and impaired function. There are people who score low and achieve anyway. I knew a junior college teacher who had an IQ of 86*. The tests can't make fine grained distinctions like "tests poorly but smart anyway".** They have a statistical validity which doesn't predict cases with precision.


      *She taught English at Suffolk Community College in New York, and wrote a short novel which I read.
     


    ** Did I actually say that? ::)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 11, 2008, 01:08:27 PM

      I'm reading a book by Douglas Hofstadter, who wrote Godel, Escher, Bach, and in the current book he described his school days as a math whiz who then went on to take advanced math courses only to discover that at the higher level all his math intuition deserted him. He had hit a wall, and though he could do the work by memorization it was clear that a future as a mathematician was not going to happen the way he wanted.

      Looked at from the supergenius level that Hofstadter just misses belonging to, the problem could be seen as a learning disability, and that raises the question of whether disabilities are just normal variation and not really evidence of organic malformation. What's a real disability anyway? If no lesion or other abnormality shows up on a brain scan you're just normal. Normal just turns out to be more variable than had been supposed before the tests revealed how different learning potential is for each of us. Maybe Hofstadter is a learning impaired supergenius.*


     *Even if you can't be a mathematician at the highest level, you don't have to dig ditches for a living. This is from the Wiki on Hofstadter:

     Hofstadter's thesis about consciousness, first expressed in GEB but also present in several of his later books, is that it is an emergent consequence of seething lower-level activity in the brain. In GEB he draws an analogy between the social organization of a colony of ants and the mind seen as a coherent "colony" of neurons. In particular, Hofstadter claims that our sense of having (or being) an "I" comes from the abstract pattern he terms a "strange loop", which is an abstract cousin of such concrete phenomena as audio and video feedback, and which Hofstadter has defined as "a level-crossing feedback loop". The prototypical example of this abstract notion is the self-referential structure at the core of Gödel's incompleteness theorems. Hofstadter's 2007 book I Am a Strange Loop carries his vision of consciousness considerably further, including the idea that each human "I" is distributed over numerous brains, rather than being limited to precisely one brain.


      :)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on December 11, 2008, 01:17:41 PM
Some loops are stranger than others.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 11, 2008, 02:25:55 PM
Thanks Andrei.

And, besides, you are content with your life and your job (are you?)

Yes I am.

Quote
Why do you need IQ tests or why do you need to consider yourself stupid just because you can't / won't read Proust or Kant?

Because it's very easy to feel like a "preliterate" in our highly sophisticated culture, filled as it is with abstract concepts and analyses.

Quote
Each of us has a unique personality and our worth is not dependent on "professional" careers. A cobbler can be happier than a king just as an illiterate shepherd can be happier than a scholar, and the world needs all of them.

Yes we need all of them but don't you (deep down inside) stand in special awe of those humans with superior linguistic ability ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 11, 2008, 02:26:59 PM
Drogulus, thanks.

The first is true, and it appears very likely that the second is as well, though I'm basing this just on what you're telling me.

Yes.. The only thing missing here are my SAT scores which I took in 1989. Combined it was  740  (which is very low) and all this with some intensive tutoring beforehand. The highest score possible back then was 1600.

Btw, here is an angry response to the Murray calling it 'toxic nonsense':

What makes his arguments especially dangerous is that SOME of what he says is true and thus the reader can be lulled into believing it all.  Yes, putting political correctness aside, some people are really smart and some (gasp!) are really slow.  He's right that all the talk about emotional intelligence and multiple intelligences don't change this simple fact.  And yes, half of all people are of above average intelligence and half are below.
 
But how do people become smart/intelligent?  I'm no expert on the research, but it seems abundantly obvious that it's a combination of nature and nuture.  There was something special about Albert Einstein's brain that made it capable of operating on an entirely different level than the rest of us.  Similarly, there are people who, no matter how much good parenting or schooling they get, simply aren't going to be very bright, however one wants to measure this. 
 
I hypothesize that, at birth, the intellectual outcome of every human 25 or so years later -- again, however you want to measure it, but for simplicity, let's just say IQ -- is going to be on a bell curve -- even two idential twins, with identical brains at birth might end up with very different IQs (for the average person, the bell curve is centered on an IQ of 100).  But then the nurture part kicks in -- in a HUGE way.  If the child is loved, well fed and healthy, is read and spoken kindly to, is exposed to lots of positive experiences (travel, museums, etc.), has parents (or teachers or other role models) who teach (and lead by example) the values of discipline, hard work, being nice and the importance of education, and, most importantly, goes to a great school with great teachers who excel at motivating, inspiring and imparting knowledge, then the average child is HIGHLY likely to end up MUCH smarter than average (say, an IQ of 120, equal to the 90th percentile).  Conversely, if the child does not have all of these factors -- in particular, a lousy school with mostly lousy teachers -- then he/she will end up with, say, and IQ of 80 (10th percentile). 
 
This is Murray's first major flaw: the intelligence is somehow immutable. If Albert Einstein had grown up in a broken family, in which no adult had graduated from high school, in a chaotic and dangerous community, and attended failing schools for his entire life, I have no doubt that Murray would have tested him as an adult and concluded that he was stupid. My experience is that it's actually quite remarkable how nature spreads out innate intelligence.I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who were born into privilege and who’ve had every educational advantage, yet are complete dopes; and, conversely, how many people I’ve met who come from modest beginnings but are brilliant...The key is what happens AFTER birth.


Here is the whole article: http://edreform.blogspot.com/2007/01/intelligence-in-classroom.html

***********

And that's the 64 million dollar question... What effect does early nurture, opportunity (and personal motivation later on) have on intellectual ability ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 11, 2008, 04:12:48 PM


     I think the upper limit is fixed by nature. Nurture can help you get close to that limit. So Murray is mostly right, and this is mostly wrong:

     I hypothesize that, at birth, the intellectual outcome of every human 25 or so years later -- again, however you want to measure it, but for simplicity, let's just say IQ -- is going to be on a bell curve -- even two idential twins, with identical brains at birth might end up with very different IQs (for the average person, the bell curve is centered on an IQ of 100).  But then the nurture part kicks in -- in a HUGE way.  If the child is loved, well fed and healthy, is read and spoken kindly to, is exposed to lots of positive experiences (travel, museums, etc.), has parents (or teachers or other role models) who teach (and lead by example) the values of discipline, hard work, being nice and the importance of education, and, most importantly, goes to a great school with great teachers who excel at motivating, inspiring and imparting knowledge, then the average child is HIGHLY likely to end up MUCH smarter than average (say, an IQ of 120, equal to the 90th percentile).  Conversely, if the child does not have all of these factors -- in particular, a lousy school with mostly lousy teachers -- then he/she will end up with, say, and IQ of 80 (10th percentile). 

     Either this means nurture develops potential, in which case it's in agreement with Murray on a noncontroversial point, or it's just plain wrong.

     
Quote
But then the nurture part kicks in -- in a HUGE way

     Wrong.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 11, 2008, 11:54:59 PM
Yes I am.

Fine. What else do you need, then?

Because it's very easy to feel like a "preliterate" in our highly sophisticated culture, filled as it is with abstract concepts and analyses.

Eric, for God's sake, stop pittying yourself! Leave the "abstract concepts and analyses" to those interested in them and live your own life!

Yes we need all of them but don't you (deep down inside) stand in special awe of those humans with superior linguistic ability ?

I pride myself that my own linguistic ability is high enough not to feel envy towards anyone in this respect.  ;D :D

Now, seriously, yes, I "stand in awe" of geniuses and people with superior intelligence and talent. But this does not diminish my self-esteem, nor do I consider myself stupid.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 12, 2008, 12:03:11 AM
And yes, half of all people are of above average intelligence and half are below.

This is pure mathematical nonsense. If half of all people are above average and half are below average, then who the heck is average?




Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Philoctetes on December 12, 2008, 12:24:29 AM
This is pure mathematical nonsense. If half of all people are above average and half are below average, then who the heck is average?






The ones in the middle.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 12, 2008, 12:30:53 AM
The ones in the middle.

Which ones? The third half?  :D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on December 12, 2008, 05:44:43 AM
Which ones? The third half?  :D

You've picked apart the error expertly, Andrei.

Fact is, there's only one chap smack dab in the middle.

It's him Eric is burning in envy of  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 12, 2008, 12:26:57 PM
Eric, leave the "abstract concepts and analyses" to those interested in them and live your own life!

I do live my own life, however I often dread family gatherings, despite having great parents and 5 wonderful sisters, because I am rarely able to contribute to most of their discussions.. It's dispiriting.. Sometimes even my little sister has to help me with math questions or interpreting official documents or writing simple business letters. And now with four highly verbal and competent brothers-in-law added to the mix there are moments when I just want to crawl under a rock.
 
(Yes, I need to get over this self-devaluating crap.)
 
-------
 
The other day you asked what  g  is... Here is an excellent overview from an article in  Scientific American  by Linda Gottfredson... A much better explanation than the Wiki or Murray I think.

"No subject in psychology has provoked more intense public controversy than the study of human intelligence.. Despite some popular assertions, a single factor for intelligence, called g, can be measured with IQ tests and does predict success in life. From its beginning, research on how and why people differ in overall mental ability has fallen prey to political and social agendas that obscure or distort even the most well-established scientific findings. Journalists, too, often present a view of intelligence research that is exactly the opposite of what most intelligence experts believe

[....]

This gulf between equal opportunity and equal outcomes is perhaps what pains Americans most about the subject of intelligence. The public intuitively knows what is at stake: when asked to rank personal qualities in order of desirability, people put intelligence second only to good health"


http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/intelligence/cache/1198gottfred.html
 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 12, 2008, 02:07:00 PM

I do live my own life, however I often dread family gatherings, despite having great parents and 5 wonderful sisters, because I am rarely able to contribute to most of their discussions.. It's dispiriting.. Sometimes even my little sister has to help me with math questions or interpreting official documents or writing simple business letters. And now with four highly verbal and competent brothers-in-law added to the mix there are moments when I just want to crawl under a rock.
 
(Yes, I need to get over this self-devaluating crap.)
 
-------
 
The other day you asked what  g  is... Here is an excellent overview from an article in  Scientific American  by Linda Gottfredson... A much better explanation than the Wiki or Murray I think.

"No subject in psychology has provoked more intense public controversy than the study of human intelligence.. Despite some popular assertions, a single factor for intelligence, called g, can be measured with IQ tests and does predict success in life. From its beginning, research on how and why people differ in overall mental ability has fallen prey to political and social agendas that obscure or distort even the most well-established scientific findings. Journalists, too, often present a view of intelligence research that is exactly the opposite of what most intelligence experts believe

[....]

This gulf between equal opportunity and equal outcomes is perhaps what pains Americans most about the subject of intelligence. The public intuitively knows what is at stake: when asked to rank personal qualities in order of desirability, people put intelligence second only to good health"


http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/intelligence/cache/1198gottfred.html
 


(http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/intelligence/cache/1198gottfred_sample.gif)

     Is this the kind of thing that gives you trouble? From what you're saying it shouldn't be easy to get these right.

     I don't see how you can just get over a problem like this. The only thing I can think of is to find something you're good at and pursue that. Many people become actors or comedians or composers not only because they're good at it, but also because they are remarkably bad at so many other things. And even though you may be no better than average or even a little worse than that at some tasks, it's very likely that you have some strong points which you could leverage if you could figure out what they are.

     After all, if your conceptual ability was so bad in every way, you would hardly be likely to spend so much time in discussions about such difficult subjects as you do here. Even if you tend to borrow many arguments from other sources, how did you know they were the right ones to borrow? Or did you borrow that ability, too?  :D
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: greg on December 12, 2008, 02:21:08 PM

Because it's very easy to feel like a "preliterate" in our highly sophisticated culture, filled as it is with abstract concepts and analyses.


Hmmmm? Now when do you live again?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 12, 2008, 03:06:02 PM
Drogulus,

I appreciate the encouragement..

Even if you tend to borrow many arguments from other sources, how did you know they were the right ones to borrow?

Or did you borrow that ability, too?   :D

No...  ;D  What you've seen for the past few weeks is my spontaneous self, using words that come most naturally at the moment of posting.

Back on topic:

I suppose this is the strongest argument against Murray's piece, 'Intelligence in the Classroom'. It's a letter by Robert Steinberg, former professor of psychology at Yale and past president of the American Psychological Association.

He makes 5 separate points. To what extent Mr. Steinberg is correct on any of them I have no idea.

"Charles Murray 'Intelligence in The Classroom' is an article by a non-scientist filled with serious distortions and misunderstandings of the current state of scientific theory and research on intelligence. His column gives a false and misleading view of the state of research on intelligence. I believe responsible scientists will not take it seriously. Unfortunately, many laypeople will not be in a position to realize that the statements are seriously misleading and paint a picture of research on intelligence that does not correspond to reality..."   

It begins here:     

http://danerwin.com/research/pdf/sternberg_v_murray_intelligence.pdf


Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 15, 2008, 12:24:24 PM
Andrei,

Did you find Gottfredson's exposition of the  'general mental ability factor'  persuasive ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 16, 2008, 01:30:40 AM
Andrei,

Did you find Gottfredson's exposition of the  'general mental ability factor'  persuasive ?

Some people are naturally very intelligent and their intelligence will show up even with minimal (if any) schooling. Some others are naturally less intelligent and no amount of schooling will make them more intelligent than they are. Most people have an average intelligence and their schooling will reveal precisely this. That's all common-sense supported by daily experience. I need no theory to persuade me of such an evident truth.

If this implies that it's a waste of time to try to educate people beyond their intelligence threshold, I agree.

I also agree that the prevailing educational philosophy is deeply flawed and hurts the smart and the not-so-smart alike.

Anything else? :)



Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2008, 05:29:18 AM
Some people are naturally very intelligent and their intelligence will show up even with minimal (if any) schooling. Some others are naturally less intelligent and no amount of schooling will make them more intelligent than they are. Most people have an average intelligence and their schooling will reveal precisely this. That's all common-sense supported by daily experience. I need no theory to persuade me of such an evident truth.

If this implies that it's a waste of time to try to educate people beyond their intelligence threshold, I agree.

And the smart and the not-so-smart alike do learn something through the educational process.

Speaking of a waste of time . . . there were imperfections, in environment, in the classroom, in the overall curriculum, in any number of the several institutions of learning where I attended (four grammar schools or equivalent in various places, a junior high school, a high school, a liberal arts college, and three state universities).  So far as I can tell, no pupil/student is going to experience a perfectly efficient use of his time . . . some time is going to be wasted, and from time to time.

Long, long ago, I learnt that it were a waste of time and energy to rail against this.  (a)  The benefits of my education over time far, far outweighed the negatives (including, but not limited to, time wastage), and (b) where it was a pity that time was wasted back when I was in school, for me to waste my own time and energy kvetching about it now, were far worse, because that would be the individual himself electing the wastage.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on December 16, 2008, 05:42:36 AM
And the smart and the not-so-smart alike do learn something through the educational process.

Absolutely. But Gottfredson's and Murray's basic idea seems to be, if I understand correctly, that no man can learn more than his native intelligence allows him to learn. This I tend to agree with. Non omnia possumus omnes.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2008, 06:15:39 AM
Absolutely. But Gottfredson's and Murray's basic idea seems to be, if I understand correctly, that no man can learn more than his native intelligence allows him to learn. This I tend to agree with. Non omnia possumus omnes.

Likewise.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 16, 2008, 07:12:09 AM
Thanks Andrei.

Some others are naturally less intelligent and no amount of schooling will make them more intelligent than they are.

Quote
But Gottfredson's and Murray's basic idea seems to be, if I understand correctly, that no man can learn more than his native intelligence allows him to learn. This I tend to agree with


But what about the three points that Steinberg makes against this idea?  Are all of them fallacious ?


1. IQ is NOT a "ceiling," and I don't know of any responsible psychologist who believes it is. IQ gives rough prediction of a child's school performance, as does socioeconomic status, motivation, and any other number of variables. But none of these variables sets a ceiling on children's performance. First, they are all highly imperfect predictors--success is multi-factorial. Second, they are subject to error of measurement. Third, they are not etched in stone. Research by Stephen Ceci and others has shown that IQ increases as a function of schooling, and that it is the schooling that is responsible for the increase, not the other way around.

2.The temporary effects of interventions to increase intelligence are in large part because the interventions themselves are temporary and usually extremely shortlived. If you have a child living in extreme poverty, in a challenging and possibly dangerous environment, and with parents who are not in a position to provide the best possible education for their children, it is not surprising that short interventions-the kinds most easily funded by grants--are difficult to maintain. Consider an oftmade analogy to exercise. You can exercise to improve your muscles. But if you stop exercising, your muscles revert to what they were before. The same is true of your intelligence, and research by Carmi Schooler and others shows precisely that.

3. Our own peer-reviewed, published research has shown that broader measures of abilities--based on the "multiple intelligences" that Murray disdains--can substantially improve prediction of academic success at the college level at the same time that they reduce ethnic-group differences. These assessments do not replace traditional measures--they supplement them. They are not "refutations" of the existence of the analytical skills measured by tests of general ability, but rather, demonstrations that such measures are relatively narrow and incomplete in their measurements of abilities. These conventional tests measure important skills, but not the only skills that matter for academic and other forms of success. Indeed,teaching to a broader range of abilities, our research shows, also can significantly improve school achievement over teaching that is more narrowly focused.







Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 16, 2008, 01:21:30 PM
Thanks Andrei.


But what about the three points that Steinberg makes against this idea?  Are all of them fallacious ?


1. IQ is NOT a "ceiling," and I don't know of any responsible psychologist who believes it is. IQ gives rough prediction of a child's school performance, as does socioeconomic status, motivation, and any other number of variables. But none of these variables sets a ceiling on children's performance. First, they are all highly imperfect predictors--success is multi-factorial. Second, they are subject to error of measurement. Third, they are not etched in stone. Research by Stephen Ceci and others has shown that IQ increases as a function of schooling, and that it is the schooling that is responsible for the increase, not the other way around.

2.The temporary effects of interventions to increase intelligence are in large part because the interventions themselves are temporary and usually extremely shortlived. If you have a child living in extreme poverty, in a challenging and possibly dangerous environment, and with parents who are not in a position to provide the best possible education for their children, it is not surprising that short interventions-the kinds most easily funded by grants--are difficult to maintain. Consider an oftmade analogy to exercise. You can exercise to improve your muscles. But if you stop exercising, your muscles revert to what they were before. The same is true of your intelligence, and research by Carmi Schooler and others shows precisely that.

3. Our own peer-reviewed, published research has shown that broader measures of abilities--based on the "multiple intelligences" that Murray disdains--can substantially improve prediction of academic success at the college level at the same time that they reduce ethnic-group differences. These assessments do not replace traditional measures--they supplement them. They are not "refutations" of the existence of the analytical skills measured by tests of general ability, but rather, demonstrations that such measures are relatively narrow and incomplete in their measurements of abilities. These conventional tests measure important skills, but not the only skills that matter for academic and other forms of success. Indeed,teaching to a broader range of abilities, our research shows, also can significantly improve school achievement over teaching that is more narrowly focused.









     I don't read this as a refutation of Murray, though the author would like you to think he has done this.

     IQ is not a ceiling on performance, it measures the underlying aptitudes which have an upper limit, and that limit is fixed. Steinberg is right that there are other factors that can affect performance. They can get you up to speed, though they don'r provide you with a new, more powerful engine. That engine is what determines how fast you can go.

     On the second point, what Steinberg says actually indicates just how hard it would be to improve performance. Again this is a nondenial denial. Steinberg want you to read what he says as contradicting Murray. It doesn't do that.

     The third point says "multiple intelligence" tests can predict future success. He also says they don't refute Murray or replace traditional tests. So....what? If the tests are that good we'll use them, right?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 17, 2008, 12:34:45 PM
Drogulus,

I found another piece by Gottfredson titled  'Pretending That Intelligence Does Not Matter'

Even though I agree with basically all of her points, I sometimes wonder if she is being a bit 'alarmist' with all of this... What do you think ?

Here is an excerpt:

One of the mantras of American schools is that students are being prepared for “full participation in a more complex world” of technology, multiple health care options, rapid-fire communications, and public policy debates. But as we move into a world where intelligence may be the individual’s most nec­essary resource—necessary not only to succeed but to cope at all—the persistent, major dif­ferences among us in sheer brainpower, which we call “IQ,” may stand in the way of today’s dream of greater social equality.

Two discoveries about intelligence confirm its pivotal role in shaping our life chances. The first is that intelligence is a perva­sively useful tool. Critics commonly assert, mistakenly, that intelligence is a narrow “academic” skill, an artifact of social class background, or simply a reflection of acquired knowledge—meaning that it need not be taken seriously in many, if any, real-life settings. In fact, however, intelligence is such a general ability, having to do with processing information of any kind— apprehending, comprehending, transforming, and applying it—that it applies everywhere in everyday life: in our ability to turn things over in our minds, to fill in gaps, to see connections, to draw distinctions, and so on. It can take the form of aptness in reasoning, problem solving, learning complex material (as distinct from rote memorization), and other critical thinking skills—all general intellectual skills that observe no boundaries of subject matter, setting, or stage in life.

A look at the hypothetical IQ test items shown above shows how IQ tests call forth this same general ability. They pose questions that steadily increase in the com­plexity of their information-processing demands. The first column shows relatively simple items and the second relatively com­plex ones. This difference—complexity—is the active ingredient in IQ tests. It has nothing to do with the general content of the task, which is similar across the two columns. Instead, the more complex items require processing more bits of information, drawing more inferences, and the like, regardless of whether the information is carried by words, numbers, or figures. Differences in people’s ability to deal with such complexity, not any familiarity with the obvious content of test items—which is where the charge of cultural bias mistakenly appears—account for their differences in IQ-test performance.

What does research show about how well people with different levels of intelligence are able to carry out everyday tasks? And why are we doing so little to simplify those tasks? Now we see why intelligence is useful in so many realms of life.  Life is complex and getting more so all the time. Virtually everything we do on a daily basis requires taking in, understanding, or providing information—whether it be deciphering job applications, tax forms, bus schedules, or the moods of friends and lovers; or keeping up with new rules and regulations, changing technology in our homes and cars, and our children’s latest escapades. Experience helps, but it never negates the advantages of better critical thinking skills. Above-average intelligence may be decisive in only a few of these activities, but it is useful in all. Low intelligence is like a head­wind that one must constantly battle. High intelligence is a tailwind, always helping one move ahead, sometimes with little conscious effort. These persistent winds gradually create enormous differences in the outcomes of people’s lives over the years.

Here is the full article: http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=3228


**********

Here was a reply to her article by one of my acquaintances:

"I find all such attempts to deal with intelligence utterly meaningless. Simple economics dictate that a person of below-average "cognitive ability" who can provide a valuable service will be in greater demand than a person of above-average cognitive ability who cannot provide a valuable service. Put another way, if you need a widget, then who's more valuable to you: the fool with a widget or the genius with nothing? Since intellect affects nothing about the equation, divide it out, and you're left with the simple question: Who has a widget I can buy?

An economic view of society is not necessarily the most appealing or comforting, but it has a certain charm inherent in the notion that anyone who can create something that other people demand will be rewarded accordingly..."


Your thoughts on this or is Gottfredson mostly right ? 


 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on December 18, 2008, 04:57:28 PM
This is pure mathematical nonsense. If half of all people are above average and half are below average, then who the heck is average?

What he probably meant to say is that half of all people are average, the other half being either above or below average.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 18, 2008, 05:46:44 PM


     Eric, the situation is the same as the one between Steinberg and Murray. The rebuttal is not a denial. It's more like "I don't like your tone". Nothing is being effectively rebutted. All that about the below average guy with the widget versus the genius with nothing is just smoke. In the real world the smarter you are the greater the chance that you already have the widget. You have to read these supposed rebuttals carefully.

What he probably meant to say is that half of all people are average, the other half being either above or below average.

     It should be the median, right? Anyway, half above and half below is correct, I think.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on December 18, 2008, 06:05:55 PM
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.

I disagree, i think there IS a kind of superior thought process in there somewhere. The mere fact Mozart had a superior mental capacity (or IQ, whichever you want to call it), over Salieri, doesn't automatically explain why one was a genius while the other wasn't. Compare Mendelssohn with Beethoven using the same measure employed in the Mozart/Salieri comparison. Now, there's no denying that both composers possessed out of the ordinary mental abilities, but it seems to me that it is Mendelssohn, not Beethoven, who would take the prize in a IQ test. Yet, it is Beethoven who is the real genius.

Thus, it seems to me that genius requires a special type of mental ability entirely independent from the power, speed and efficiency randomly awarded by nature to some individual's brains. Take the case of Alessandro Manzoni for instance, a man of dubious mental abilities who nonetheless managed to produce one work of genius (according to Goethe anyway, i haven't read The Betrothed myself), one over which he struggled for many years, as if his genius had to wrestle with the limitations imposed by his brain every inch of the way.

It is my belief that genius is non others but the ability to tap into the unseen, the world of Forms in their true essence, and to bring back some of the truth thus gleamed for all of us to see. I don't presume to know where this type of perception comes from, whether it is really metaphysical in nature or bound to a specific and yet to be discovered function of the brain (a function which is however seemingly independent from the raw physical performance of this organ, as we have seen), but i do know that it exists, and i do know that this function is tied to masculinity as argued previously (this also implies that the soul can only exist in conjunction with masculinity, a concept which isn't all that shocking if you know anything about religion). It is also where true knowledge comes from, which is why i believe our current educational systems are deeply flawed, in that they seem to be based on the idea that education is synonymous with the inculcation of information (a particular environment where those endowed with the specific mental gifts currently under scrutiny tend to flourish), where no learning of any sort is actually taking place. Even the mere acquisition of the skills necessary to operate within and maintain an industrial workforce (let's not mention how grim a prospect it is that the purpose of a liberal education is to train people in the use of the plough, or whatever fancy modern counterpart you can thing of) occurs outside of the schools, directly into the work environment. Why even bother sending our children to school then, when they are in fact acquiring nothing that is valuable, either to themselves or to their future?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 19, 2008, 03:56:17 PM




It is my belief that genius is non others but the ability to tap into the unseen, the world of Forms in their true essence, and to bring back some of the truth thus gleamed for all of us to see. I don't presume to know where this type of perception comes from, whether it is really metaphysical in nature or bound to a specific and yet to be discovered function of the brain (a function which is however seemingly independent from the raw physical performance of this organ, as we have seen), but i do know that it exists, and i do know that this function is tied to masculinity as argued previously (this also implies that the soul can only exist in conjunction with masculinity, a concept which isn't all that shocking if you know anything about religion). It is also where true knowledge comes from, which is why i believe our current educational systems are deeply flawed, in that they seem to be based on the idea that education is synonymous with the inculcation of information (a particular environment where those endowed with the specific mental gifts currently under scrutiny tend to flourish), where no learning of any sort is actually taking place. Even the mere acquisition of the skills necessary to operate within and maintain an industrial workforce (let's not mention how grim a prospect it is that the purpose of a liberal education is to train people in the use of the plough, or whatever fancy modern counterpart you can thing of) occurs outside of the schools, directly into the work environment. Why even bother sending our children to school then, when they are in fact acquiring nothing that is valuable, either to themselves or to their future?

    I think this is an argument for essences, and therefore noncomputational, which gives the brain no means to shift to the qualitative from the quantitative, a shift that's essential* to the physicalist interpretation that underlies modern attempts to understand brain function at every level. Going through the whole argument would be a long process and it's best done at book length. Besides I'm probably not the one to do it. I'm just outlining what I think is needed to actually understand what's going on. Basically there isn't any thinking stuff in the brain. Our computational abilities and our general thinking ability have to be the same and at the limit the genius is adapting the same set of skills. I don't believe each quality has a stuff associated with it. All thinking must be computational at bottom or a brain couldn't do it. It's the universal character of our evolved brain/mind that makes a Beethoven and a Pauly Shore possible.  :D

     Turing's conjecture was that a universal thinking machine could be adapted to do anything with programming that any other thinking machine could do. All "qualitative" features (so we brainiacs detect!) are disguised quantitative features which we understand at approximately the same level of abstraction as the creator did. We don't need to understand at the physical level, and we mostly don't, so for us the abstract ("symphony") level is the output. Quantity becomes quality because that's the level we understand it on, and the computational substrate doesn't matter to us.

    * :o
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: drogulus on December 19, 2008, 05:29:33 PM

It is my belief that genius is non others but the ability to tap into the unseen, the world of Forms in their true essence, and to bring back some of the truth thus gleamed for all of us to see.


     Yes, that's exactly what it appears like from the level we live on. We don't live at the neurochemical level, or the quark level, do we? So a symphony at the quark level of specificity would be incomprehensible, last until the Heat Death, and be spectacularly unrewarding.

     Size is related to speed, so mosquitos don't write symphonies or tell jokes. A mosquito joke would take so long to get to the punch line that.... you see the problem.....Salieri loses his concentration long before he arrives at the Mozartian conclusion! That, and not some substance explains the difference at the bottom level, which then ramifies all the way up to the music. So saying quality is not the same as quality is not taking all the facts into account. We have to start with how quality can be got out of the materials at hand and the processing power available and trace the pathway all the way up to where we experience the indefinable somethingness of all the quasi-abstract things abstractions like us enjoy. :)
   
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on December 20, 2008, 08:07:23 PM
The situation is the same as the one between Steinberg and Murray. The rebuttal is not a denial. It's more like "I don't like your tone". Nothing is being effectively rebutted. All that about the below average guy with the widget versus the genius with nothing is just smoke.

In the real world the smarter you are the greater the chance that you already have the widget. You have to read these supposed rebuttals carefully.

Drogulus,

Thanks for noting the untenableness of Murray's points... (And I was very convinced by that widget argument for a long time.   :-[)

Yesterday I came across the following abstract and was just amazed by some of the statements:

Today's neglect of the general intelligence factor (g) and IQ by psychologists, educationists and the media is the West's version of Lysenkoism. By 2000, hysterical denial of g became effectively the official science policy of the USA as Stephen Jay Gould, the author of The Mismeasure of Man -- and thus Arthur Jensen's main rival -- was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Rooted in an egalitarian ideology that the West had managed to expel from the field of economic policy in the Reagan/Thatcher years, denial of g has typically been supported by wilful ignorance, wishful thinking and downright censoriousness. Such denial provides a powerful base for social work and state education.

Those who deplore g and its links to heredity, achievement and race often rehearse the multifactorial/componential ambitions of the nineteenth-century phrenologists which eventually appealed to American psychologists in the 1930's and subsequently. Alternatively, g-denial may deploy both ancient and modern arguments that nothing can be 'measured' in psychology. These two contradictory positions of IQ's more scholarly detractors are especially considered in this chapter, as is the less-often-remarked problem for the London School that so few Christian-era philosophers and psychologists -- prior to Herbert Spencer and Sir Francis Galton -- made much room in their systems for g

Despite considerable tacit acceptance of Plato's stress on the centrality of reason in human psychology, Plato's elitism and eugenicism are feared for their supposedly authoritarian implications. A hypothesis is advanced here, and supported empirically, which attributes neglect of g by intellectuals partly to their limited experience of real life - across the full IQ range; and it is suggested that Platonic realism actually enjoys distinguished support in modern philosophy and provides a basis for a new liberalism.


****************

I especially like the first and last sentences:

"Today's neglect of the general intelligence factor (g) and IQ by psychologists, educationists and the media is the West's version of Lysenkoism. By 2000, hysterical denial of g became effectively the official science policy of the USA"

"Platonic realism actually enjoys distinguished support in modern philosophy and provides a basis for a new liberalism"


Here in full: Why ignore the G factor? -- Historical considerations (http://bussorah.tripod.com/nyborg.html)

 

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on January 15, 2009, 12:06:36 PM
Andrei,

Define intellectual ability

I know it's late but to me Gottfredson's is correct and simple:

"the ability to deal with cognitive complexity"

Quote
High linguistic ability does not necessarily imply concept-grasping ability and viceversa;

How can that be since concepts are encoded in all words ?  Whether it be clock, falling snow, pernicious, empiricism, osmosis, bed, phenomenology, rinse, thermodynamics, malleable, inordinate, bread and so on.

Quote
Reading comprehension is quite different from reasoning; reasoning is one thing and expressing the thoughts in a linguistically proper manner is another thing.

Quite different ?

My sister's ex-boyfriend was a double major in physics and philosophy at an Ivy League school and graduated with honors.... (Just so you know the ability to grasp all sorts of concepts, to comprehend thoroughly and to reason well does exist)


Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on January 15, 2009, 11:49:00 PM
How can that be since concepts are encoded in all words ? 

Have you never encountered, live or in print, persons who could talk or write endlessly, using  complicated words, parading them actually , about each and every subject under the Sun, without actually having studied none thoroughly and being as intellectually shallow as they got?

Quite different ?

Conversely, have you never encountered, this time live, very intelligent persons, accomplished scientists, engineers or physicians sometimes, who could not express their thoughts in an intelligible and linguistically propoer manner?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Josquin des Prez on January 16, 2009, 07:52:27 AM
Have you never encountered, live or in print, persons who could talk or write endlessly, using  complicated words, parading them actually , about each and every subject under the Sun, without actually having studied none thoroughly and being as intellectually shallow as they got?

Welcome to post modernism.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on January 18, 2009, 03:16:18 PM
Andrei,

Conversely, have you never encountered, this time live, very intelligent persons, accomplished scientists, engineers or physicians sometimes, who could not express their thoughts in an intelligible and linguistically proper manner?

No, I have not.

But I would like to know why you feel these are inadequate defintions of intelligence:

1. The ability to grasp concepts and to organize experiences into a context that can be understood/interpreted.

or

2.  A general capacity for inferring and applying relationships drawn from experience.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 19, 2009, 05:01:59 PM
Andrei and others,

I strongly disagree. It's "educational romanticism" at its worst.

(Actually, I believe the correct term would be "Rousseau-ism" rather than "romanticism".)

If you don't mind I'd like to resume discussion on this for a moment. Also, to refresh your memory your above quote was in reply to this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/22/opinion/tomorrow-s-education-made-to-measure.html?sec=health

Now, in the May/June issue of  Foreign Policy  magazine there is a special section called 'The Next Big Thing'. Howard Gardner, the famed professor of cognition and education at Harvard was one of the contributors with the following:

Personalized Education: A Quantum Leap In Learning Will Allow Everyone To Go To The Head Of The Class:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4844

******

Do you see these as positive developments to be endorsed or is it essentially the same philosophy as Mr. Levine was advocating ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 20, 2009, 12:18:39 AM
Quote from: Howard Gardner
to teach each person what he or she needs and wants to know in ways that are most comfortable and most efficient, producing a qualitative spurt in educational effectiveness

Who decides, and how, what a person needs and wants to know?

Something being simultaneously "most comfortable" and "most efficient" amounts to an oxymoron.

Just another piece of bla-bla-bla.






Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 20, 2009, 02:05:46 AM
Thanks Andrei.

Damn, this is Howard Gardner,  one of the leading men in his field. He is also the one who pioneered the theory of multiple intelligence back in the early 80's.

From his book 'Frames of Mind':

"In the heyday of the psychometric and behaviorist eras, it was generally believed that intelligence was a single entity that was inherited; and that human beings - initially a blank slate - could be trained to learn anything, provided that it was presented in an appropriate way. Nowadays an increasing number of researchers believe precisely the opposite; that there exists a multitude of intelligences, quite independent of each other; that each intelligence has its own strengths and constraints; that the mind is far from unencumbered at birth; and that it is unexpectedly difficult to teach things that go against early 'naive' theories of that challenge the natural lines of force within an intelligence and its matching domains..."
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 20, 2009, 02:15:30 AM
Damn, this is Howard Gardner,  one of the leading men in his field. He is also the one who pioneered the theory of multiple intelligence back in the early 80's.

I don't question his qualifications and competence. I just commented upon that specific article.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 24, 2009, 04:49:32 PM
Andrei,

Here is an article (from last week) which addresses the main concern I've had in this thread:

http://timesonline.typepad.com/schoolgate/2009/05/teaching-to-get-the-best-out-of-a-child-is-setting-or-mixed-ability-the-best-way.html

Where do you stand on this issue ? Should children be streamed according to ability ?

I am definitely for setting...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 24, 2009, 10:18:06 PM
http://timesonline.typepad.com/schoolgate/2009/05/teaching-to-get-the-best-out-of-a-child-is-setting-or-mixed-ability-the-best-way.html

Actually, I believe that any meaningful discussion of "how to best do something?" must start with "what purpose is doing that something?".

Before talking about "which is the better way to teach children?" (as one comment very aptly noted, it's not a matter of "best" but "better") we must first define the purpose of teaching children.

So, in your opinion, what should be the goal of elementary and secondary school teaching?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 26, 2009, 08:42:50 AM
Andrei,

Actually, I believe that any meaningful discussion of "how to best do something?" must start with "what purpose is doing that something?".

Before talking about "which is the better way to teach children?" (as one comment very aptly noted, it's not a matter of "best" but "better") we must first define the purpose of teaching children.

So, in your opinion, what should be the goal of elementary and secondary school teaching?

Honestly, I don't know.

But I am not sure that gathering 30 to 40 kids in a classroom with one teacher up front and where everyone is expected to do work at essentially the same pace (and with little outside help) is the best system.

All throughout I produced mostly 'D' schoolwork with the occasional 'C'.  For those with little academic talent, it does a lot damage to one's self-concept to have to go through that  year after year.

Shouldn't there be a better way ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on May 26, 2009, 08:46:38 AM
Andrei,

Honestly, I don't know.

But I am not sure that gathering 30 to 40 kids in a classroom with one teacher up front and where everyone is expected to do work at essentially the same pace (and with little outside help) is the best system.

All throughout I produced mostly 'D' schoolwork with the occasional 'C'.  For those with little academic talent, it does a lot damage to one's self-concept to have to go through that  year after year.

Shouldn't there be a better way ?


Perhaps you should have been in special ed where the pacing would have been more congenial.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 26, 2009, 09:02:25 AM
Perhaps you should have been in special ed where the pacing would have been more congenial.

That would not have been appropriate since I am not even close to being borderline mentally retarded...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: ChamberNut on May 26, 2009, 09:04:32 AM
That would not have been appropriate since I am not even close to being borderline mentally retarded...

That's not what special ed classes are for.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on May 26, 2009, 09:05:57 AM
And a peculiarly unfeeling remark on your part, Eric, especially considering all the sympathy you plead for on your own behalf.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 26, 2009, 09:08:52 AM
Andrei,

Honestly, I don't know.


Shouldn't there be a better way ?


If you have no idea about the goal to be attained, how can you tell this or that way to that goal is better or worse?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on May 26, 2009, 12:26:26 PM
That's not what special ed classes are for.

Correct.  Eric's just being defensive.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 26, 2009, 03:27:23 PM
And a peculiarly unfeeling remark on your part, Eric, especially considering all the sympathy you plead for on your own behalf.

No Karl, I sense the mild disdain in the wording of Don's remark.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 26, 2009, 03:27:45 PM
Chambernut,

That's not what special ed classes are for.

When I attended elementary and secondary school in the 70's and 80's 'special education' meant programs for the mentally retarded... I guess things have changed now ?

There was no real assistance for the merely 'slow' back then. The assumption was that they also had the potential to do very well if only they were focused, motivated and disciplined.

 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Bulldog on May 26, 2009, 03:32:41 PM
Chambernut,

When I attended elementary and secondary school in the 70's and 80's 'special education' meant programs for the mentally retarded... I guess things have changed now ?

There was no real assistance for the merely 'slow' back then. The assumption was that they also had the potential to do very well if only they were focused, motivated and disciplined.

One of my sons was in special ed. back in the 80's.  It wasn't meant for the mentally retarded back then at all.  The whole point of special ed. is to give a decent learning opportunity to children who have great trouble in mainstream classes.

By the way, I don't harbor any disdain for you.  I'd love to see you emotionally grow into a fine adult who can well handle life's challenges.  But you do frustrate me sometimes when I feel you're not really willing to make the leap.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on May 26, 2009, 03:34:48 PM
No Karl, I sense the mild disdain in the wording of Don's remark.

You misread Don entirely; I have not seen him direct any disdain towards you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 26, 2009, 03:41:48 PM
One of my sons was in special ed. back in the 80's.  It wasn't meant for the mentally retarded back then at all.  The whole point of special ed. is to give a decent learning opportunity to children who have great trouble in mainstream classes.

By the way, I don't harbor any disdain for you.  I'd love to see you emotionally grow into a fine adult who can well handle life's challenges.  But you do frustrate me sometimes when I feel you're not really willing to make the leap.

Kind words...

Thank you.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 26, 2009, 03:55:30 PM
Andrei,

If you have no idea about the goal to be attained, how can you tell this or that way to that goal is better or worse?

I am a bit confused now but bottom line are you saying that the educational system ideally should be more restrictive and not standardized ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 26, 2009, 11:08:08 PM
Andrei,

I am a bit confused now but bottom line are you saying that the educational system ideally should be more restrictive and not standardized ?

No. But this question is a good starting point for discussing the real issue: what does it mean to educate? What does it mean to be an educated person?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 27, 2009, 02:16:16 AM
Andrei,

Before others begin with that question I have two:

1. Do you dispute that there is such a thing called 'academic ability' ?

2. Of course there will be individual exceptions, but do you believe that by age 6 or 7, measures of cognitive ability are already pretty stable ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 27, 2009, 02:22:37 AM
1. Do you dispute that there is such a thing called 'academic ability' ?

No.

2. do you believe that by age 6 or 7, measures of cognitive ability are already pretty stable ?

I think a fair assessment can be performed after completing secondary school.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 27, 2009, 02:44:38 AM
But today we have many tests of learning difficulties and even diagnoses of kinds of emotional problems that can usefully be done at that age.

Do you object to this ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on May 27, 2009, 03:23:06 AM
Eric, have you got fundamental difficulties with the idea of education? With the fact that there are social aspects to education?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 27, 2009, 03:43:02 AM
But today we have many tests of learning difficulties and even diagnoses of kinds of emotional problems that can usefully be done at that age.

Do you object to this ?

Yes, I do. A six-year child is not a machine that must be tested in order to find out whether it works according to the operating manual or not. A six-year child has not even begin to properly learn anything that pertains to formal education, so how can he be diagnosed with learning difficulties?

That a horde of "psychologists" and "educational experts" make good careers and a lot of money from this whole business is undeniable, but this doesn't mean that their theories are sound. IMO, education is one of the fields where the emperor (i.e, the fashionable elite) truly has no clothes.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on May 27, 2009, 07:26:12 AM
Eric, have you got fundamental difficulties with the idea of education? With the fact that there are social aspects to education?

I thought that was obvious a while back (i.e., before the real world imposed so inconsiderately on my internet time).

That a horde of "psychologists" and "educational experts" make good careers and a lot of money from this whole business is undeniable, but this doesn't mean that their theories are sound. IMO, education is one of the fields where the emperor (i.e, the fashionable elite) truly has no clothes.

That is finally the problem, then, isn't it? It is, furthermore, a problem across the board for children today. If they do not conform in intellect, outlook, and behavior to certain "norms," then parents can receive all manner of useful pills and services for Junior or Janie from the same experts who establish the norms. Were it not clothed in "science" and were most people not terrified that their children aren't going to be successful at life (though deriving that conclusion from a six-year-old's behavior seems perverse), I think most folks would call this system a "racket."
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 27, 2009, 07:33:06 AM
That is finally the problem, then, isn't it? It is, furthermore, a problem across the board for children today. If they do not conform in intellect, outlook, and behavior to certain "norms," then parents can receive all manner of useful pills and services for Junior or Janie from the same experts who establish the norms. Were it not clothed in "science" and were most people not terrified that their children aren't going to be successful at life (though deriving that conclusion from a six-year-old's behavior seems perverse), I think most folks would call this system a "racket."

Excellent post all along but especially the highlighted part. Indeed, the idea that from the behaviour or the "learning abilities" of a six-year-old child could be predicted his future and consequently his place in society would be laughably ludicrous, were it not, in fact, highly dangerous.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on May 27, 2009, 07:47:36 AM
Indeed, the idea that from the behaviour or the "learning abilities" of a six-year-old child could be predicted his future and consequently his place in society would be laughably ludicrous, were it not, in fact, highly dangerous.

It's the apparent underlying assumptions that get really dangerous: (1) a person is at six or seven the person he'll be for the rest of his life and (2) there are standards by which you can measure a person free of pathologies in some predictive or metaphysical sense. The first assumption denies the very notion of childhood, and that jives with the way things have been going for a while. I'm sorry, but the six-year-old Pat Smith and the 18-year-old Pat Smith were fairly different in a lot of ways. That's anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I'm not sure I want to meet anyone who stayed essentially the same over twelve years. The second assumption turns intelligence and cognitive ability into something akin to blood glucose levels. That might be a case of reductio ad absurdum, but I think it makes my point.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on May 27, 2009, 07:50:57 AM
. . . I'm sorry, but the six-year-old Pat Smith and the 18-year-old Pat Smith were fairly different in a lot of ways. That's anecdotal evidence to be sure . . . .

Well, let us hear the evidence out  ;D ;)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on May 27, 2009, 07:56:41 AM
Well, let us hear the evidence out  ;D ;)

At the risk of giving too much away, I am pretty sure that 6-year-old Pat Smith would not have taken advantage of college in quite the same way that 18-year-old Pat Smith did.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on May 27, 2009, 08:00:06 AM
But . . . where do we go for a second opinion?  8)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on May 27, 2009, 08:07:57 AM
But . . . where do we go for a second opinion?  8)

That's the neat thing, isn't it?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 27, 2009, 03:45:45 PM
Andrei,

Yes, I do. A six-year child is not a machine that must be tested in order to find out whether it works according to the operating manual or not. A six-year child has not even begin to properly learn anything that pertains to formal education, so how can he be diagnosed with learning difficulties?

That a horde of "psychologists" and "educational experts" make good careers and a lot of money from this whole business is undeniable, but this doesn't mean that their theories are sound. IMO, education is one of the fields where the emperor (i.e, the fashionable elite) truly has no clothes.

Do you remember your elementary school days ?  Do you have any children ?

I deeply wish that I, who had pretty serious and identifiable learning problems could have been identified at age 6 and remediated.

My parents saw the symptoms but they couldn't put the pieces together.... Testing would have, I believe....that's all.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 27, 2009, 10:18:28 PM
I deeply wish that I, who had pretty serious and identifiable learning problems

How do you know?

Putting children who show no sign of retardation to various tests, in order to determine their "social skills", or "learning abilities" or what would you amounts to destroying the very meaning of childhood, as PSmith aptly noticed, besides being based on fallacious assumptions, which the same PSmith addressed. I have nothing to add in this respect.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 28, 2009, 06:58:14 AM
Andrei,

How do you know?

Putting children who show no sign of retardation to various tests, in order to determine their "social skills", or "learning abilities" or what would you amounts to destroying the very meaning of childhood, as PSmith aptly noticed, besides being based on fallacious assumptions, which the same PSmith addressed. I have nothing to add in this respect.

Sorry, but I just don't see tests of aptitude/ability as being fraught with ideology as you and Patrick want to believe.  Besides, even if what they show is mostly invalid or wrong won't a person's latent abilities eventually come through in daily living ?
 
On the other hand,  I DO agree that the business of psychological/emotional 'diagnoses' is another matter altogether and completely out of control...
 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: c#minor on May 28, 2009, 07:58:25 AM
I am going to have to agree with Eric. The benefits of determining deficiencies in learning and social aptitude is more important than the "innocence of childhood". The effect of deficiencies will affect the subject throughout their life, whereas the "innocence of childhood" will be far less important. I actually took one of these exams when I was 9. I was diagnosed with ADD but more importantly recommended to see a psychiatrist for depression. My parents did not heed the doctors warning. I was finally diagnosed with severe depression at the age of 18. For at least 9 years my depression went untreated and in that time it developed into other problems such as social anxiety and non-psychotic schizophrenia. With early treatment i could have taken care of the depression, or at least kept it at bay and prevented the other problems. So now that i have grown up to think of depression as normal, i also have problems adjusting to medication because being happy feels abnormal.

So to sum it all up. I had some tests that indicated some of these "problems" and there was no action taken. I didn't lose the "innocence of childhood" any more than I had already not had it. As well not doing anything about the results caused problems that i have to deal with today.

I say risk the "innocence" to be able to help then, because it is far easier to mold a child than it is to change an adult.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 28, 2009, 09:27:09 AM
Well said, c-minor.....and my sympathies.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on May 28, 2009, 11:50:45 AM
I limited my point to testing for non-pathological conditions -- a limitation I continue to accept. I would, I think with some justification, call depression a pathology, and thus outside the scope of my point. The fact that a child, otherwise pathology-free, does not conform to synthetic norms of aptitude or ability is another matter entirely. Conflating a real condition like depression or dyslexia or (to a certain extent) autism with something like not getting long division (which can be a real pain) serves no real purpose and is, to my mind, a false combination.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: c#minor on May 28, 2009, 12:37:31 PM
I limited my point to testing for non-pathological conditions -- a limitation I continue to accept. I would, I think with some justification, call depression a pathology, and thus outside the scope of my point. The fact that a child, otherwise pathology-free, does not conform to synthetic norms of aptitude or ability is another matter entirely. Conflating a real condition like depression or dyslexia or (to a certain extent) autism with something like not getting long division (which can be a real pain) serves no real purpose and is, to my mind, a false combination.

Unfortunately there is a social norm that people must conform to. If a child is showing non-conformist tendencies, those tendencies are more likely than not to manifest into adult non-conformist attitude. Our world, as much as we would not like to think, ostracizes those who are different. Those who conform are more likely to be successful. Anything to help a child grow up into a "normal" adult I think is worth the risks.

I do however think there is a problem with false diagnosis. Bipolar disorder in children is vastly over-diagnosed by primary care physicians who do not particularly know what they are doing in the world of psychological ailments.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on May 28, 2009, 01:54:12 PM
All of what you say could be true, but it also depends on who defines the social norms and who defines success. While pretty much everyone can agree on what constitutes social behavior, I daresay that the proper norms for behavior, while sharing some common elements, will vary from social group to social group. There is a lot of cultural baggage attached to any social group's definition of the norms to which it expects its offspring to conform. I would also warrant that social norms vary from economic group to economic group. The same undoubtedly goes with a definition of success. So, when you say that children deserve all the help they can get in conforming to social norms so they'll be successful, that really doesn't say much to me.

In any event, I find the notion that children be pressed into some hypothetical, synthetic mold "for their own good" specious. Indeed, it says more than I think we'd like about modern society when the idea that children are non-conformist to norms of cognition, aptitude, and behavior is so odious to parents and educators that a cottage industry of experts and pharmaceuticals has sprung up with the idea of correcting the deviations from tolerances.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on May 28, 2009, 03:10:24 PM
Unfortunately there is a social norm that people must conform to. If a child is showing non-conformist tendencies, those tendencies are more likely than not to manifest into adult non-conformist attitude. Our world, as much as we would not like to think, ostracizes those who are different. Those who conform are more likely to be successful. Anything to help a child grow up into a "normal" adult I think is worth the risks.

Not that you are necessarily saying this, but I don't see it as a clean "conformist/non-conformist" divide.  As a composer, statistically I am "different";  but I do not have great difficulty flourishing in social situations.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 28, 2009, 11:31:42 PM
I limited my point to testing for non-pathological conditions -- a limitation I continue to accept. I would, I think with some justification, call depression a pathology, and thus outside the scope of my point. The fact that a child, otherwise pathology-free, does not conform to synthetic norms of aptitude or ability is another matter entirely. Conflating a real condition like depression or dyslexia or (to a certain extent) autism with something like not getting long division (which can be a real pain) serves no real purpose and is, to my mind, a false combination.

Agreed.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 28, 2009, 11:32:21 PM
All of what you say could be true, but it also depends on who defines the social norms and who defines success. While pretty much everyone can agree on what constitutes social behavior, I daresay that the proper norms for behavior, while sharing some common elements, will vary from social group to social group. There is a lot of cultural baggage attached to any social group's definition of the norms to which it expects its offspring to conform. I would also warrant that social norms vary from economic group to economic group. The same undoubtedly goes with a definition of success. So, when you say that children deserve all the help they can get in conforming to social norms so they'll be successful, that really doesn't say much to me.

In any event, I find the notion that children be pressed into some hypothetical, synthetic mold "for their own good" specious. Indeed, it says more than I think we'd like about modern society when the idea that children are non-conformist to norms of cognition, aptitude, and behavior is so odious to parents and educators that a cottage industry of experts and pharmaceuticals has sprung up with the idea of correcting the deviations from tolerances.

And agreed again.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 28, 2009, 11:45:29 PM
I do however think there is a problem with false diagnosis. Bipolar disorder in children is vastly over-diagnosed by primary care physicians who do not particularly know what they are doing in the world of psychological ailments.

Precisely. Bipolar disorder in a six-year-old child? Let them give us a break form their nonsense.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 29, 2009, 05:57:36 AM
Andrei, 

Quote
How do you know

How ?

Because as far back as kindergarten I sensed my slowness.

Honestly, I cannot recall a single time when I didn't have serious difficulties in school. Only spelling (a relatively unimportant part of the language arts) came very easily to me.

At 25 I saw a career counselor who recommended that I take a very thorough and sophisticated battery of aptitude tests which lasted 9 hours. Like I said, I scored in the 'very low' range in most areas: convergent and divergent reasoning, analytical, numerical facility, silograms, observation and memory, spatial, rhythm/tonal memory, structural visualization, etc... Basically everything that correlates with academic success. Remember, they were 'very low', not just 'low'. There is a big difference there in terms of potential.

I came out 'average low' in visual perception and scored extremely high in one type of manual dexterity.

My counselor's exact words after review:

"Under the system in this country this is considered learning disabled... The amazing thing is that you are still here, that you managed to get through the system without having sabotaged your life in a serious way. You have a lot of resilience"
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 29, 2009, 06:01:55 AM
"Under the system in this country this is considered learning disabled... The amazing thing is that you are still here, that you managed to get through the system without having sabotaged your life in a serious way. You have a lot of resilience"

The crux of the matter: it's not you who had problems, but the system itself.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 29, 2009, 08:14:37 AM
The crux of the matter: it's not you who had problems, but the system itself.

But you acknowledged that academic ability is something real, yes ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 29, 2009, 10:04:11 AM
But you acknowledged that academic ability is something real, yes ?

Yes.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 29, 2009, 10:22:41 AM
How would you define it ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 30, 2009, 03:31:44 AM
Andrei,

Yes.

The reason I'm asking is that earlier in this thread you said that intellectual ability could not be defined but now you've said that academic ability is something real.

Could you clarify this ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Coopmv on May 30, 2009, 03:58:58 AM
ACDouglas  has an excellent comment today:

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

Unbelievable.

And did this whole trend really begin in the 1960's ? 

Does this raise the question why we need 3000+ colleges and universities in the US?  Perhaps admissions to college should be a more competitive process such as colleges and universities give their own entrance examinations instead of relying on standardized tests like the SAT ...
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 30, 2009, 04:06:42 AM
The reason I'm asking is that earlier in this thread you said that intellectual ability could not be defined but now you've said that academic ability is something real.

Could you clarify this ?

Sure. Academic ability is exactly what your counselor measured and found you to be lacking. Intellectual ability is different.

Take Einstein's case: he performed very poorly in high-school, to the point of being called a simpleton by his teachers. His academic ability was low.

He graduated from the Zurich Polytechnic Institute and worked as a clerk in the Patents Office, where he wrote the papers which made him famous. His intellectual ability was one of the highest in the world.

I hope you see now what I mean.

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 30, 2009, 05:11:15 PM
Andrei,

Sure. Academic ability is exactly what your counselor measured and found you to be lacking. Intellectual ability is different.

Take Einstein's case: he performed very poorly in high-school, to the point of being called a simpleton by his teachers. His academic ability was low.

He graduated from the Zurich Polytechnic Institute and worked as a clerk in the Patents Office, where he wrote the papers which made him famous. His intellectual ability was one of the highest in the world.

I hope you see now what I mean.

I thought they were synonymous but I see now.

Getting back to the Times of London article above, here is one of the letters:

Mixed ability teaching is the single most destructive set up ever.

There are four main reasons:

1. First, it is inefficient. The teacher needs to prepare for and teach three different abilities, the majority in the middle, extension work for the bright and something for the dim. Most do not manage this, especially if the range of ability is very wide.

2. Second, no child gets the optimum education for him/her. The teachers attention is dissipated throughout the class so any one groups' education is compromised.

3. Third, because the whole class must remain at a broadly similar level for the year, the teacher nor the school can have one part of it streaking ahead or another falling behind the average must be lower than it could be. This is the main reason for falling standards and for exams being simplified or else pass rates would have fallen, and that would not do.

4. Fourth, to spend one's education in a class where almost all can do everything better, faster and easier than you must be the most demoralising experience and the key reason why so many low ability children drop our and disrupt things.

Mixed ability teaching is the main reason why standards have fallen and exams to fall with them. Also the key advantage of independent schools over state schools. The independents do not do mixed ability. As in nature, independent schools have a few for the super bright, a few for the super dim and most in the middle where most of us are. That, to me is the ideal set up.

Selection works because then all children will get an education that is tailored for him or her which must be more efficient.

Mixed ability is premised on the dogma that all can be made the same, that ability differences are really class differences. This is nonsense. We are all born different in ability and character and for as long as people marry and raise children as they wish they will create different experiences for them so there is nothing that can be done about differences except for nature to take its course. The reality is that liberals in the 60s and 70s didn't like the idea that in life some people are just better than others. They saw streaming and setting as "elitist" and so tried to wipe it out with "mixed ability teaching".

Some people fail, some succeed. That's life. What a shock the real world must be to today's teenagers when they leave school.

*****

Do you agree ? And if not why is he wrong ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on May 31, 2009, 01:50:17 AM
Mixed ability teaching is the single most destructive set up ever.

(* yawn *)
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on May 31, 2009, 06:13:57 AM
(* yawn *)

Why not challenge one of the four points made instead of *yawning* ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on May 31, 2009, 10:13:38 PM
Do you agree ?

Yes, I do. My only contention is that the academic abiltiy cannot be measured at such an early age as six, when the child hasn't even begin to learn anything academical. I stand by my point: a fair assessment can be made after finishing the secondary school.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on June 08, 2009, 06:19:14 PM
Andrei,

Yes, I do


But the consensus of most respondents to that report was that mixed ability teaching does nobody any good. Well how is that much different from what Charles Murray was advocating in his book  Real Education  and from which I cited passages earlier in this thread ? You seemed to disagree with much of it. 

From The Book Review:

Charles Murray believes our educational system's failures stem from the fundamental lie that every child can be anything he or she wants and that such educational romanticism prevents progress. Four simple truths, he asserts, would prove better:

(1) scholastic ability varies, as all comparative measurements of it attest; (2) half of all children are and must be below average in scholastic aptitude; (3) too many are going to college; (4) America’s future depends on the education of the most gifted.

Murray takes care with his first point, discussing various types of abilities instead of the oft-maligned I.Q. measure; however, he does believe that test scores reflect ability. He argues that there are only a limited number of academically gifted people and these are America's future leaders, that only this elite can enjoy college productively and that the nongifted shouldn't be channeled by their high school counselors into training for that college chimera, which wouldn't make them happy anyway. Further, he argues, if the Educational Testing Service created certification tests covering what employers want applicants to know, these would become the gold standard for applicants, rather than college degrees.

Anticipating that these four points will be seen as justifying social elitism, Murray emphasizes rigor in the demands made of the gifted and opines that the preponderance of the gifted aren’t now in any elite. Furthermore, he advocates reducing the market importance of the BA degree while raising the value of nonscholastic educational attainment, such as the certifications of skilled trades and performance capabilities. An argument only ideologues and special interests should despise.

***
 
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: c#minor on June 10, 2009, 10:49:34 AM
We live in an information based society. College degrees are skilled trade degrees. I think Murray is romanticizing college. College is not anything special anymore. College is the norm, the average. To pass and graduate shows an aptitude for working in the real world. Also if you get employed in the area which you got your degree in you have education. It is true that not every child can be anything he or she wants, but college does not assert this, society does. Anyway why is it bad to have an "over educated" society. The errors of the educational system do not lie in the fact that college attendance is up, or that college is the norm, it is the lack of opportunities for those with unconventional learning skills. Maybe we need to rethink the way we educate inside the classroom, not tear down the classroom.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2009, 11:22:55 AM
We live in an information based society. College degrees are skilled trade degrees. I think Murray is romanticizing college. College is not anything special anymore. College is the norm, the average. To pass and graduate shows an aptitude for working in the real world. Also if you get employed in the area which you got your degree in you have education. It is true that not every child can be anything he or she wants, but college does not assert this, society does. Anyway why is it bad to have an "over educated" society. The errors of the educational system do not lie in the fact that college attendance is up, or that college is the norm, it is the lack of opportunities for those with unconventional learning skills. Maybe we need to rethink the way we educate inside the classroom, not tear down the classroom.

Yes, agreed.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on June 10, 2009, 11:31:33 AM
Definitely redeemed this thread, c# minor, thank you!
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on June 10, 2009, 12:07:35 PM
To pass and graduate college shows an aptitude for working in the real world.

Does it really ?

Why is it then that so many employers today complain about the lack of even basic writing, analytical, and quantitative skills among their workers ?

Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on June 10, 2009, 12:23:20 PM
Andrei,

Yes, agreed.

But earlier in this thread you said that you 'wholeheartedly agreed'with Marty Nemko here:

http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:hO0geaWKsv4J:www.martynemko.com/articles/americas-most-overrated-product-higher-education_id1539+marty+nemko+-+overrated+product&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Do you feel differently now about this issue ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2009, 10:34:16 PM
Andrei,

But earlier in this thread you said that you 'wholeheartedly agreed'with Marty Nemko here:

http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:hO0geaWKsv4J:www.martynemko.com/articles/americas-most-overrated-product-higher-education_id1539+marty+nemko+-+overrated+product&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Could you please refresh my mind about that post of mine? I can't recall it.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on June 11, 2009, 02:05:14 AM
Andrei,

Could you please refresh my mind about that post of mine? I can't recall it.

Yes, here it is:

Scroll down just a bit; it's the third post from the top.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9582.280.html
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on June 11, 2009, 02:20:31 AM
Andrei,

Yes, here it is:

Scroll down just a bit; it's the third post from the top.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9582.280.html

Thanks. So what's your question again?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on June 11, 2009, 02:24:54 AM
Thanks. So what's your question again?

Is Marty Nemko still mostly right ?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Florestan on June 11, 2009, 02:28:16 AM
Is Marty Nemko still mostly right ?

Yes.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2009, 02:43:46 AM
That article's unique prettiness, half-lit harmonies and restful, unassuming, carefree mood at the end continuously enthrall me.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on June 11, 2009, 03:25:32 AM
That article's unique prettiness, half-lit harmonies and restful, unassuming, carefree mood at the end continuously enthrall me.

Can you really believe that that article has half-lit harmonies? What about the three-quarter lit harmonies?
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2009, 03:47:13 AM
Can you really believe that that article has half-lit harmonies? What about the three-quarter lit harmonies?

Nah, too dim for three-quarter.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: Homo Aestheticus on June 11, 2009, 09:49:30 AM
Patrick and Karl,

Mr. Nemko's message is badly needed today, at least here in the United States..... He makes so many good points in that article.
Title: Re: 'An Appalling Report'
Post by: PSmith08 on June 11, 2009, 10:02:59 AM
Patrick and Karl,

Mr. Nemko's message is badly needed today, at least here in the United States..... He makes so many good points in that article.

In my experience, unless you have a reason to care about issues like this, there are far more important issues confronting the Republic than too many people going to college.