1/19/2007

BOY, ARE YOU EVER DUMB

I preface this post by declaring that education researcher Charles Murray could put my IQ in his one quart fish tank and not disturb the fish one bit. It's taken me a while but I've learned that I'm not nearly as smart as I thought, HOWEVER I'm not nearly as stupid as every elected official in our government (ain't that what democracy is all about?). Murray has written a three part series on education of our children running in the Wall Street Journal that might interest many of you. To sum everything up: some people are just not smart enough and can't be taught beyond their limitations no matter what. At least 60% of the people in college and university aren't smart enough to understand the material so they emerge with partial knowledge of their "major," yet actually think they know all of it. I refer you to my post of yesterday describing the Duke elites and their behavior in the Rape Hoax; the Duke faculty 88 are probably part of the 60%, thinking they know their subjects but not really bright enough to thoroughly understand them. (so they make shit up like Women’s Studies) The proper education of the top 10% among us is critical and we are falling down lots in this area, although he says that people who are that smart will always find a way to the top.

Murray excerpts:

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.

The morons are failing in school because they are stupid, not because the teachers can’t, or won’t, teach.

The spread of wealth at the top of American society has created an explosive increase in the demand for craftsmen. 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, and it is a seller's market.


Journeymen craftsmen routinely make incomes in the top half of the income distribution while master craftsmen can make six figures. They have work even in a soft economy. Their jobs cannot be outsourced to India. And the craftman's job provides wonderful intrinsic rewards that come from mastery of a challenging skill that produces tangible results. How many white-collar jobs provide nearly as much satisfaction?

He also points out that the expense of a college education is too dumb to talk about because market forces have, and are, creating top educational opportunities with courses on the Web that are dirt cheap and very good, many with top professors grading work and engaging in written conversations with students. The parents demand these expensive campus educations that most students cannot use.

On the other hand, a vocational education results in very high paying jobs, and opportunities in those areas multiply daily and will continue to do so for a very long time. College education has become a “class” thing with the population believing the fallacy that a degree MUST be attained in order to be successful

He says that low IQ levels cannot be improved more than a few points in an individual person no matter how many experts are put to work on it. BUT he doesn't discuss the damage a fake high IQ score can wreak. So here's what can happen.

I take me as Exhibit A. When in the Navy they decided to kick out all of the morons because they were causing us to lose battles, planes, and sometimes even ships. So experts appeared all over the world to test us. So I'm sitting there in a boiling hot metal Quonset Hut trying to answer a bunch of stupid questions well enough so as not to suffer the embarrassing consequences of being kicked out of the Navy. BUT as the test wore on I am having serious trouble with a bunch of questions that kept popping up; these questions were called "The Counting Man." What appeared in these "Counting Man" questions was a stick figure with arms and legs stretched out to the sides with a number on three of the four appendages; my job was to figure out what number went on empty appendage number four; only a few were multiple choice, but at least I could guess on those.

Let me explain here that my Navy job was loading planes and helicopters; in fact I was in charge of loading aircraft in a combat zone that would fly everywhere. This skill is learned because you calculate the cubic feet of a piece of cargo, quickly figure out where and how you place it inside the aircraft, and direct the local boysans to load (the cube of a wounded guy is 12, I never measured any of them after the first two; wounded guys went crazy when I measured them, thinking I was measuring them for a coffin). There was also weight involved but rarely was this a factor because everything weighed almost the same, and I didn't give a fat fuck if a plane crashed or not (I mean what the fuck are pilots for, anyway?). All I really was interested in was finishing my day each day and getting into town where I could get drunk and fuck a whore like any 18 year old away from home for the first time whose main experience with girls involved them saying "keep your filthy hands to yourself," or even worse, “do you really really love me?” Boy did that love shit ever get me going.

So anyway, I am not answering about ten percent of the questions when suddenly one of the Counting Fucks shows up with numbers I could not only understand, but I could recognize their relationships instantly. This particular Counting Man had numbers that were consecutive cubes of base numbers.....shit, figuring cubes was what I was doing for almost ten hours a day. So I went back to every Counting Man and knew immediately that all the numbers were either squares, cubes, or some result of squaring or cubing a number. Result? IQ of 141 and having all the fucking officers expecting me to build an atomic bomb in my spare time.

Actually thinking I had an IQ of 141 caused me a lot of trouble like: why can’t a genius like me sleep through class and get straight As?, and trying to come up with a brand new philosophy day after day and ending up with drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Anyway, IQ tests should be given or taken two times in order to get an accurate reading. Other than that, Murray's three part essay is worth saving and reading over the weekend.

What to do with the information is the question.

NOW, before you draw any conclusions regarding existing dumbness in school kids, read this one from Dan Henninger about how merit teacher pay has kicked test scores and grades upwards for "disadvantaged" kids.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

howard - damn funny and also informative post - you go - cubeman.
That's why I check your blog everyday man.

Old Grouch said...

IMO, Murray missed the point (or set up a strawman) in his first article: The problem with K-12 education is not that the morons aren't leaning, it's that the non-morons don't seem to learn very much either. The biggest complaint in my neck of the woods: High school graduates (with good GPA and credits in AP Calculus) who can't do algebra. (Not to mention can't spell.)

100 years ago a high school diploma meant something (at minimum that the holder had succeeded in assimilating and demonstrating certain types of knowledge). But in the 50s the diploma morphed in to an attendance certificate (show up for 12 years and you get one), and businesses responded by requiring college degrees for jobs that *used* to be done by high school graduates. (It's not just the parents who are driving the demand for "expensive campus educations.") Fix the K-12 problem, restore value to the high school diploma (and convince business that you have done so), and you fix Murray's second complaint ("too many people in college who don't belong there"). Businesses will be comfortable hiring high school graduates to do high school level jobs, and students (and parents) won't be pressured into spending $(tens of thousands) to gain a credential they might not need.

And those who decide to attend college later on will be more mature, more motivated, and less likely to succumb to (or tolerate) PC propagandizing. Looks like a win for everybody except the likes of the Duke 88.

Anonymous said...

Murray's book "The Bell Curve" was very interesting. I read it 10 years ago.