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Old 07-09-2011, 11:35 AM   #41
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IMO life long ago was divided by people with good eye sight and people with bad eye sight. Think of all the tasks people would be poor at. i.e hunting, defending yourself, moving around, etc. Without glasses I would probably have not lived much past when my parents stopped looking out for me.
When you hear old descriptions of very successful aboriginals (closest we have of prehistorics) you tend to hear "he was a great hunter" or "he was a great warrior" Tend not to hear "he was a great thinker" I guess that tells us something?
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Old 07-09-2011, 11:51 AM   #42
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The greatest warriors show the other fighters ways to fool and intimidate the enemy.

The greatest hunters come up with new, improved ways to catch and kill the food animals.

The wise man or woman notices and remembers stuff that nobody else remembers as well (like the best places to find medicinal plants), and also thinks of new ways to keep the rain off, fix stuff, etc. Proto - doctors and proto - engineers.

What I do wonder about, is where the shamans first got the idea of convincing everybody that there are spirits, and only the shamans can talk to them. I still think that's the cleverest route of all - getting people to do stuff for you, in the hope that you can intercede with nonexistent beings!

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When you hear old descriptions of very successful aboriginals (closest we have of prehistorics) you tend to hear "he was a great hunter" or "he was a great warrior" Tend not to hear "he was a great thinker" I guess that tells us something?
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:05 PM   #43
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Agreed. It is generally worth examining each candidate specifically. But that takes time and effort. I don't get the impression that most people are doing that.

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Old 07-09-2011, 12:15 PM   #44
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I would bet that there is more Calculus being taught in high school today than 20 years ago.

It certainly wasn't widely taught in my high school in 1990 when I graduated. There was a Calculus class, but it was pretty small. It also didn't allow for getting AP credits, which is pretty standard now.

Certainly there has been an issue with college students not being prepared for college level work, but that has more to do with the expansion of college to groups of students that never used to go.

When you try to send the top half of high school students to college instead of the top 20%, you are going to have some challenges. You are either going to have massive dropout rates or be forced to lower your standards. Or some combination of the two.

Average test scores have not been going down, we've just been trying to reach further down the bell curve.

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When I talk to 20-21 year old college students today, I'm surprised to learn they're taking classes in "calculus" that covers things like integration by parts and integration by substitution. I'm surprised because this level of calculus was something I learned at age 16 in high school. I'm 35 now, so this is only 19 years ago. In addition, when I was in college back in the 1990s we would sometimes get question sets from the 1970s. These were materially more difficult than the contemporary ones.
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:34 PM   #45
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Here's what happened to the genius during prehistoric times according to Saturday Night Live back in 1980: SNL Transcripts: Steve Martin: 05/17/80: The Hominids (no YouTube of this, but Steve Martin played "the strange one"--genius, Bill Murray played Oakna the caveman):
Hilarious. Thanks for posting this. Its like reading the transcript of a cable news show...
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Old 07-09-2011, 01:01 PM   #46
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I think the notion that genius could become prehistoric shaman or healer is our interpretation through a huge distortion of romanticized time distance from those people. The essential skills needed to be a successful shaman were ability to manipulate the people, not ability to heal or be wise. In fact, the profession of healing is largely ineffective throughout history until the advent of penicillin. Even though there are some effective herbal cures, there were also many ineffective or harmful ones mixed in, so on balance doing nothing might have been preferable to treatment by most healers. Even what we think of as modern surgeons and physicians were largely ineffective or even harmful before the early 1900's.
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There are dumb people...
Old 07-09-2011, 01:46 PM   #47
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There are dumb people...

but, I don't think most people are necessarily dumb. There are obviously biological differences in brain function and capability across the human population; but, I think the primary problem these days is that far too many people do not fully utilize their given capabilities.

Being inexperienced is not being dumb. I think intelligence should be measured by the capacity to learn, analyze, and solve...

Perhaps the author's use of the word ignorant somehow meshes with my assessment, that people are generally lazy. Our lives, particularly, in the US, are pretty darn easy and many people, acting instinctually, are simply content to get fat and happy and aren't driven or self-motivated enough to challenge themselves.
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Old 07-10-2011, 12:48 AM   #48
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Agreed. Quantity is not quality.
Education is not getting better, it is merely getting longer.
When I talk to 20-21 year old college students today, I'm surprised to learn they're taking classes in "calculus" that covers things like integration by parts and integration by substitution. I'm surprised because this level of calculus was something I learned at age 16 in high school. I'm 35 now, so this is only 19 years ago. In addition, when I was in college back in the 1990s we would sometimes get question sets from the 1970s. These were materially more difficult than the contemporary ones.
As more people are let into college, the material is dumped down to maintain the passing percentages. Just putting a person in a classroom unfortunately does not make that person more intelligent. Our longer educations are simply a function of a richer society that can afford to keep more people from doing productive work. College is a good place to put unproductive workers, so there ...
I don't know whether the education is required to be longer than it used to be, as much as it's more common to see more people deciding to spend more time on it. Before just the cream of the crop was attending college, and now the denominator is a lot more common. People are still bailing without high school degrees and eventually finding good jobs and even making their fortunes. Yet most of us have been persuaded by various studies that we improve our odds by spending more time getting educated.

Elizabeth Warren's "Two-Income Trap" says that real estate values were driven up over the last generation by two-income couples who wanted good schools in good neighborhoods. Same with the cost of college-- they're just charging what they can get away with.

If it's any consolation, Hawaii is consistently graded as one of the nation's worst public-school systems. Yet our daughter was studying calculus in eighth grade (through Kumon tutoring), skipped an entire year of high-school math due to Kumon, too AP Calculus in 11th grade, took AP Probability & Statistics in 12th grade, and managed to cover Kumon topics like differential equations, vectors, and matrices before college.

Of course we had to explain practical applications of logarithms and matrices to her. That was a little more difficult to accomplish than the mechanics of solving the problems. However she immediately grasped the concept of investment returns having a skewed kurtosis...
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Old 07-17-2011, 10:53 AM   #49
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:49 PM   #50
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Obviously people fall somewhere along a bell curve in terms of intelligence, and some people always will be incapable of learning and applying knowledge. No big mystery there. What is a mystery to me is why so many people who otherwise appear to have sufficient mental capacity seem to be not only willfully ignorant of even the most basic information but also actively opposed to engaging their brains in any meaningful manner to analyze and interpret the information they do know. There seems to be a very strong, and growing, anti-intellectual streak in modern American culture. I don't know why that is so, but it makes me fear for the future of the country.
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Old 07-17-2011, 02:47 PM   #51
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Obviously people fall somewhere along a bell curve in terms of intelligence, and some people always will be incapable of learning and applying knowledge. No big mystery there. What is a mystery to me is why so many people who otherwise appear to have sufficient mental capacity seem to be not only willfully ignorant of even the most basic information but also actively opposed to engaging their brains in any meaningful manner to analyze and interpret the information they do know. There seems to be a very strong, and growing, anti-intellectual streak in modern American culture. I don't know why that is so, but it makes me fear for the future of the country.
Three is such a vast gulf between the mid-century, when I was a high school student, and today. Just compare what was on TV for example. I read recently, "Do not grieve that your society is failing, for it is inevitable that all societies fail. Grieve instead your bad fortune to be born at this time of descent."

So far we are ahead of whatever may be coming, so I am not grieving yet. But like you, I can see that we have fallen.

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Old 07-17-2011, 02:48 PM   #52
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. What is a mystery to me is why so many people who otherwise appear to have sufficient mental capacity seem to be not only willfully ignorant of even the most basic information but also actively opposed to engaging their brains in any meaningful manner to analyze and interpret the information they do know. There seems to be a very strong, and growing, anti-intellectual streak in modern American culture. I don't know why that is so, but it makes me fear for the future of the country.
The answer there may be: education. You need that teacher who shows you how to interpret, analyze, and engage. In my case, Mr. Wilcox, 5th grade, Ms. Dietrich, 10th grade, etc.
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Old 07-17-2011, 04:45 PM   #53
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There seems to be a very strong, and growing, anti-intellectual streak in modern American culture.
And here, no less than elsewhere. I recall a recent thread on the worth of a college education, where a common opinion appeared to be that learning plumbing or carpentry would be better, giving a faster and more dependable return on investment.
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