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28 May 2012 @ 09:44 am
andrewducker, without whom I would post much less frequently, has another couple of interesting links. One is to Heinlein scores. Robert A. Heinlein famously said that a REAL human being can see, hear, walk--sorry, wrong list--perform 21 different useful tasks, and anyone who cannot is much lower on the scale because "specialization is for insects."

On the other hand, celandine13 has a better idea. Rather than judge people globally as "stupid" or "lazy" or somesuch for failing at a task we consider particularly important, we should use a computer analogy: We all have individual programs for doing things, and some programs have flaws in them. It's not that we are bugs; we merely have bugs.

She suggests that we not treat people as hopeless, but it would seem that we cannot debug everyone for everything in the finite time the lifespan of the Solar System allows us. Specialization is for a species intelligent enough to realize what a great technique it is for adapting to human diversity.
Marissa Lingenmrissa on May 28th, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
Another thing about the Heinlein score as reported is that it's asking people, "Can YOU do x, y, z, q, etc.?" This is so inaccurate as to be completely foolish. I know several people who would be willing to swear that they could cooperate, for example, who cannot; fewer, but still several, particularly in SF fandom, who would be confident in their ability to plan an invasion, but not to my standards. Look at the people who plot movies and television, for heaven's sake! They are absolutely sure that they can do all sorts of things. Wrong, but sure.

And then there are the people who are saying, "Not me, I can't write a sonnet, my terminal couplets are always so banal," but can write them to higher standards than the people who are saying, "Yup yup, I r gud pote!"
browngirl on May 28th, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC)
*makes a note*
Kalimackalimac on May 28th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
One skill, which I happen to have because my father was farsighted enough to teach me, whose rarity in the general population today occasionally trips people up because they're not expecting to need it when they do, is: Drive a stick shift.
Avram Grumeragrumer on May 28th, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
It was one of Heinlein's characters who said that, recall. Lazarus Long, a con artist.

I don't know that RAH could do everything on that list. Did he ever program a computer? Change a diaper? Plan an invasion? Set a bone? Fight efficiently? Die gallantly?
Baron Dave Rommbarondave on May 28th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
Heinlein's archetype (envisioned by some but not all of his characters) is certainly admirable, a Competent Man. (He never made a list for women, but he respected them. When they agreed with men.) The basic problem is that everyone thinks that they are the prince of Denmark, and are willing to kill rather than follow orders (which people forget is on Heinlein's list).

I prefer Sturgeon's Synergistic Group.
Siletta, the Serpent Roseserpentrose on May 28th, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
So using that computer program metaphor, which I really like, my daughter has a very effective program for dealing with language (reading and writing), and a very ineffective one for maths.
nancylebov: green leavesnancylebov on May 29th, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
Further discussion.

I don't know whether it was intentional, but there's an interesting attack on "specialization is for insects" in Brin's Glory Season. The world is dominated by clone groups of women. One of the ways men are kept down is by an expectation that they need to know a wide range of skills, so they don't get the advantages of specialization. There's no hint that this is a deliberate conspiracy against men.
Bill the bold bosthoonwcg on May 29th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
Looking at the graph associated with Heinlein scores, I have to smile at the number of people who say they can die gallantly. I have no doubt they aspire to do so, but reality is something else. Having far more familiarity with conditions where people are dying than I'd have preferred, I'll allow as most people who go into situations where they think they'll die gallantly really just die. The lucky ones die quickly. The unlucky ones die slowly and painfully. The gallantry gets tacked on later, in the letters that get sent to next of kin.