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  • No, you're not smart in your own special way

    http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i39/39ferguson.htm

    I've always thought the Gardner "multiple intelligences" theory based educational philosophy in the states was totally ridiculous. This is the idea that everyone's equal in terms of intelligence in their own way, and they just need to be taught under different modalities to maximize their potential; but in the end everyone is equal in terms of intelligence potential. There's never been any good evidence that there are multiple intelligences, and there is lots of good scientific evidence that there is a single, if vague, metric of intelligence. Education policy makers have always leaned towards being PC than made policy decisions based on empirical evidence. But with articles like this in the Chronicle of Higher Education, hopefully things will change soon.

  • #2
    Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

    I'm way smarter than you are, Sordavie.

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    • #3
      Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

      I think the whole idea of intelligence is a bit silly and overrated to begin with. The article says intelligence is correlated to "success" but it is a weak correlation. There are other traights that are a much better correlation.

      I read a couple of the Gardner books and some of the debate around it. I never felt the ideas were that well formed and it was more of a intellectual discussion and less a scientific one. There is something intuitive about it. We have all known individuals that seemed to be completely stupid but could dance, charm or throw a ball extraordinarily well.

      The article also says there isn't much empirical evidence for his ideas. But we do know that the brain does have parts that are more responsible for certain actions such as language, motor skills and reasoning. It isn't that much of a logical jump to assume some individuals are going to have some natural abilities based on brain development.

      The fact schools used those ideas don't bother me and the fact some took them to ridiculous lengths doesn't surprise me. There are those that believe the arts are critical. I find the idea that advanced algebra needs to be taught to be a bit out there. Are writing skills important for everybody?

      (Edit part of my post didn't go)

      I think the trends we have seen in education over the past 40 years have been a reaction to what happened before that. A I understand it prior to WWII only the privileged had realistic hopes of getting into university. Even in primary education only children that showed certain traits where given any chance thus given any attention.

      I think with the G.I. bill and women and minorities getting some power during WWII you had a wider range of people entering higher education and questioning traditional approaches to intelligence and success.

      It all went a bit to far. But that is the way of the human hive. It will now go a bit to far back the other way and at some time in the future it will oscillate with a very short period around where it should be.
      Last edited by El_Gringo_Grande; 06-25-2009, 10:20 PM.
      Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
      - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
      - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
      - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
      - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
      - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
      - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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      • #4
        Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

        Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
        The article says intelligence is correlated to "success" but it is a weak correlation. There are other traights that are a much better correlation.
        Why do you think this? There are many studies that show the correlation between g and academic success, g and income, and g and job performance are substantial even when controlled for other factors such as social-economic ones. Do you have evidence that it's not substantial or that there are much better correlations? If so, where?

        The whole problem is that we find it very intuitive to think intelligence itself it not very well correlated with these things or that everyone is equal in some way intelligence wise, but the empirical evidence does not bear this out. We find it intuitive that intelligence has a lot to do with how you're brought up and what educational opportunities you've had, but the empirical evidence does not bear this out. Maybe we find these things intuitive because they're PC. In a way, it's nicer to think that everyone starts out innately on equal footing or if not in one area of cognitive ability then people can make it up in other areas of cognitive ability. But again, the empirical evidence we've got just doesn't bear it out.

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        • #5
          Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

          Originally posted by sordavie View Post
          Why do you think this? There are many studies that show the correlation between g and academic success, g and income, and g and job performance are substantial even when controlled for other factors such as social-economic ones. Do you have evidence that it's not substantial or that there are much better correlations? If so, where?

          The whole problem is that we find it very intuitive to think intelligence itself it not very well correlated with these things or that everyone is equal in some way intelligence wise, but the empirical evidence does not bear this out. We find it intuitive that intelligence has a lot to do with how you're brought up and what educational opportunities you've had, but the empirical evidence does not bear this out. Maybe we find these things intuitive because they're PC. In a way, it's nicer to think that everyone starts out innately on equal footing or if not in one area of cognitive ability then people can make it up in other areas of cognitive ability. But again, the empirical evidence we've got just doesn't bear it out.
          Being able to delay gratification is, from what I remember, one of the best indicators of any traditional idea of success.

          I also remember a professor putting up a slide of a really good correlation of success to a particular factor. It was amazing. The factor was where you where born. Born in certain points of Africa not going to be successful. Born in America really good chance. He made the point that you have to be cautious when you look at "intelligent people judging intelligence or successful people judging success".

          The term "g" is more of an idea than an actual measurement. I think there are ways to measure "g" but they are not direct measurements like width or weight. It is more like measuring happiness levels or social acceptance.

          Here is the problem I have with any intelligence measurement including "g". Humans design the tests and the tests always reflect the humans that design them. Most of them are designed by successful people so I think they reflect what the designers believe to be knowledge and skills necessary to be successful for the society they exist in.

          And that is fine and important to a point.

          But what is success? I know some pretty stupid people that have spread their genes far and wide. I have not spread my genes that far or wide but usually score very high on most measurements of intelligence.

          Who is better? The stupid gene spreader or the smart guy with some money but one or two gene receptacles?

          Plus there is no one to one ratio of "g" points to "success" points. So if you have a "g" of x there is no guaranteed success level of y. It's kinda like weather. If it is cloudy there is a higher chance of rain. But it can be sunny and you still get rain. If an IQ is 105 how much more likely are you to achieve something if you have an IQ of 100?

          There is also the possibility that highly intelligent people just know how to find their place in the society. It isn't that they are more capable it is that they can determine what they are capable of. They have the ability of meta-cognition. Their skills may still suck but they can target what few skills they have to scavenging the scraps of humanity.

          Basically it has been proven over and over again that high intelligence is neither required nor sufficient for even traditional success.
          Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
          - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
          - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
          - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
          - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
          - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
          - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

            Originally posted by sordavie View Post
            I've always thought the Gardner "multiple intelligences" theory based educational philosophy in the states was totally ridiculous. This is the idea that everyone's equal in terms of intelligence in their own way...
            That is ridiculous. I don't think everyone has the same potential.

            That said, I believe that effective measuring of intelligence is not something that we've mastered. I've met dudes that impressed me as being as dumb as a box of rocks, until they grab their guitars and are able to beautifully play any song that I can hum... There are aspects of intelligence that are difficult to quantify with the types of tests that we use so often.

            Different types of intelligence? Definitely.

            Everyone has the same potential? I doubt it.
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            • #7
              Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

              I don't recall anyone saying that high intelligence is either required or sufficient for traditional success. Intelligence is, however, substantially correlated with success even when controlled for other factors.

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              • #8
                Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

                This is why I hate political correctness! People just need to accept the fact that not everyone is as smart as others. That's why I hate it when they dumb down standards for all, so that stupid kids can pass. You see, society NEEDS people of all different intelligence levels. There HAS to be people to do the low end jobs. And there also has to be people at the top too; to fill the roles of executives and such (which I KNOW I couldn't do). If everyone had the same levels of education and the same potential, then there isn't enough of a variety of people to fill in all the different roles of society.

                Take a look at domestic animals. There are dogs that appear to be brilliant, and then there are some VERY stupid dogs. Not all dogs are equal in their own special way. Some dogs are sweet, some are jerks. Some are naturally that way. some are a product of their environment and training. The same logic can be applied toward humans. We may be created equally in God's eyes, but we are NOT equal in intelligence or capability. Plain and simple.
                "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

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                • #9
                  Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

                  Originally posted by War.mongeR1 View Post
                  society NEEDS people of all different intelligence levels. There HAS to be people to do the low end jobs.
                  Smart people are perfectly capable of doing low end jobs. The value in automation is that it frees up those people to do jobs more appropriate to their skill level.

                  I definitely see a difference between social skill (which I lack, and which is important in sales) and technical skill (which I have in abundance). Just check out this funny video for an example:

                  [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8_Kfjo3VjU[/media]
                  Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                  snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                  Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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                  • #10
                    Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

                    The author describes success as being able to do collage algebra and reading. Or earning a comfortable living. I define success as being truly happy doing what you do. At this mark most people fail miserably. I can't see anyone being happy where ones creativity and original thought is stifled. I agree with this speaker that there are many forms of intelligence and that our traditional benchmarks of intelligence are flawed and lacking.

                    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinso...reativity.html

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                    • #11
                      Re: No, you're not smart in your own special way

                      Just because you think something is true or that it seems intuitive to you or that you want it to be true doesn't make it the case that it is true.

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