February 1st, 2015


Yik Yak

University gives students access to an anonymous-comments app while requiring them to devote nearly three hours every Friday morning to an experimental honors course entitled “Interdisciplinary Exploration of Global Issues: The Environment: Space/Place, Purity/Danger, Hope/Activism.” Students say offensive things about the nearest target, the teachers. University is surprised.

Thanx to andrewducker

Innate ability

If you tell kids that they have intellectual ability, it makes them insecure and unwilling to try things they might fail at, so you should tell them that effort is what matters. If you say that certain fields of endeavor require innate ability, people who don't know that women and POC are liable to have innate ability will not hire them, and even worse, the women and POC themselves may believe it and not try, so you should tell them that effort is what matters.

Scott Alexander looks at the other side:
The obvious pattern is that attributing outcomes [fatness, sexual orientation] to things like genes, biology, and accidents of birth is kind and sympathetic. Attributing them to who works harder and who’s “really trying” can stigmatize people who end up with bad outcomes and is generally viewed as Not A Nice Thing To Do.

And the weird thing, the thing I’ve never understood, is that intellectual achievement is the one domain that breaks this pattern.


A few days ago, The Australian, a Murdoch rag, published an obituary for Colleen McCullough, suggesting that her mega-selling The Thorn Birds, the hugely successful miniseries based on it, and the widely beloved Roman history series she followed it with were less important than her appearance. That inspired a hashtag frenzy, with people suggesting their own obits. File 770 offers a selection of the best. (I suggest clicking the link near the end.)

Severely Gifted

I used to think the schools should treat excessive IQ as a disability, but now I figure they'd just mainstream us. (I still think some children should be diagnosed with "Intellectual Curiosity Disorder" so they can get an IEP with lots of reading.) Here's an article about the severely gifted.

No, I just walk like that

The deflated-balls scandal, besides embarrassing Bill Belichick and letting headline writers unleash their inner 12-year-old, has helped us deal with the annual problem of two weeks with a lot less than two weeks' worth of interesting stuff to say before the Super Bowl. Let the game begin already.