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06 December 2016 @ 07:12 am
As a child, I took an IQ test. The authorities never told me my score but said I was in the top 1%. Over the years I have come to a frightening realization: It’s true. 99% of humanity is stupider than I am, and I don’t know shit. (Millions of Americans trust Donald Trump.) Unsurprisingly, there is a similar distribution of computer skills.

Thanx to andrewducker
Pink Halenpink_halen on December 6th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
One Percenter
Frighteningly, I think the lower categories are shrinking. Especially when literacy seems to be falling. I see protest signs with misspelled words. That points to more "marching morons" and less critical thinking.

The world is full of shades of gray while the religious view the world in black and white. People are using their brains less.

One of the dilemmas that I have contemplated is, "Would you like to be smarter than people think you are? or Would you like to have people think that you are smarter than you are?" The former means that no one would ask you. That could be a blessing.
Elenbarathi: Knowledgeelenbarathi on December 6th, 2016 06:40 pm (UTC)
"You'll often find that it suits your book
To be a bit smarter than you look.
You'll find the easiest method by far
Is to look a bit stupider than you are."

... of course, being born female gives one a huge advantage there.
et in Arcadia egoboo: Ada  Lovelaceapostle_of_eris on December 9th, 2016 04:24 am (UTC)
Piet Hein, I believe
Elenbarathi: Knowledgeelenbarathi on December 14th, 2016 05:41 pm (UTC)
Spot-on! ^^
Sharon Kahndreamshark on December 7th, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
Re: One Percenter
Did you mean "lower categories are expanding," implying that there are an increasing number of stupid people? If so, I don't think that is quite true. The average IQ keeps going up, for reasons that research psychologists can't quite pinpoint; they have to keep renorming the tests every year. Spelling is certainly going downhill however.
Elenbarathi: Abandon hopeelenbarathi on December 7th, 2016 11:19 am (UTC)
Spelling started going downhill when the Look-and-Say method replaced phonics in American public schools. But spelling was never an essential skill outside of the intellectual professions, and it's no longer that crucial even within them.

I bet the ability to use a slide rule has totally plummetted, and that used to be the very badge of serious eggheadedness. Now we've got a whole generation of engineers whose math skills require electricity to function.
Sharon Kahndreamshark on December 7th, 2016 06:27 pm (UTC)
The real blow to spelling was computer auto-correct. Even professional editors started relying on it, resulting in constant homophonic errors in the most reputable publications (compliment vs complement, etc). I believe that we are heading back to an Elizabethan-era approach to spelling. Which personally drives me crazy, as I can't seem to read past spelling errors without stopping dead in mid-sentence. But clearly, people my age are increasingly in the minority and probably will just have to learn to suck it up.

And, of course, many people consider Elizabethan English to be the time period when the language was in the fullest and most glorious flower, so maybe consistency is overrated. In any case, not an accurate way to measure intelligence.
Johnjohnpalmer on December 10th, 2016 02:48 am (UTC)
There's also a tiny bit of confusion with "compl(ei)ment" - something that complements an experience might be presented with the "compliments" of an establishment/organizer/etc..

I'm not sure how big that is, but there was a time I thought a "complimentary breakfast" was spelled incorrectly. So at least one person was confused for a time :-)
Elenbarathi: Abandon hopeelenbarathi on December 15th, 2016 02:35 am (UTC)
LOL, 'copy-editor brain'... I have that too, and must consciously remind myself that if I'm not getting paid to copy-edit, the author's errors are not my problem.

There is more to spelling than meets the eye. I had excellent spelling as an Aspie super-power from an early age - my younger brother, who went to the same schools, is a brilliant scientist, way smarter than me, but can't spell to save his life.

I always thought my child would inherit my spelling ability, but no. She was an early and avid reader; she grew up to be a writer; but she still can't tell then from than, to give just one example - and she didn't have access to a computer till middle school, so that wasn't the cause.

I surmise that for those who are of a particularly logical turn of mind, 'The Chaos' of English spelling may be just too weird to cope with.
Elenbarathi: Abandon hopeelenbarathi on December 6th, 2016 06:37 pm (UTC)
I had a whole slew of tests, and accessed my files as an adult. One-percenter here too, on IQ as it was measured in those days, but that begs the question of whether any of those tests measured anything either accurately or usefully - especially for Aspies with super-powers. I joined MENSA in college, and was not impressed by the other members.

A lot of the people I hang out with these days are more educated and more accomplished than I am. It's nice not to be the egghead geek of the crowd, or to have to worry that my normal vocabulary is making someone feel inferior. Certainly, education and accomplishment both require intelligence to obtain, but they also require other things, which are mostly class-based.

Critical thinking is a learned skill, and so is rational debate. The fact that most people don't have those skills doesn't mean they're stupid; it means their education was faulty.
El Coyote Gordo: thinkingsupergee on December 6th, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC)
Obviously there is more to it than IQ. I too joined Mensa, and the first group I heard from was followers of Elizabeth Clare Prophet, who were digging a big hole under Montana to hide from the imminent war with Russia. On the other hand, I find it hard to imagine that IQ is as irrelevant to real symbol-using ability as, say, color.
Elenbarathi: Abandon hopeelenbarathi on December 7th, 2016 10:52 am (UTC)
Haha, Summit Lighthouse! I remember those guys; what a flock of loons. Mensa at Ohio State in the late 70's was full of True Believers in psychic discoveries behind the Iron Curtain, and subliminal sex symbols air-brushed into magazine ads, and all kinds of fuzzy-headed woo. One down-side of having a high IQ is the ability to come up with convincingly reasonable-sounding rationalizations for utter bullshit.

So-called IQ tests don't actually measure real symbol-using ability. What they measure is the ability to take IQ tests, which comprises only a very small, heavily culturally biased sub-set of symbol-using skills. Granted, that sub-set is the one that's most required in Academia - nevertheless, intelligence and intellectualism are not synonyms.

I've known a number of people who barely scraped through high school and have seldom or never read a real book since, who can look at practically anything that's broken, see what's wrong, and... fix it, just-like-that. That's symbol-manipulation of an extremely high order, but it's of no use in a literacy test.
El Coyote Gordo: thinkingsupergee on December 7th, 2016 01:06 pm (UTC)
Good point. All manipulation is intelligence, and we should be finding ways to recognize all sorts.
Johnjohnpalmer on December 10th, 2016 07:49 am (UTC)
IQ tests *do* have a lot of validity, but they're obviously not destiny, and they are limited. I like to think of them as being like the speed in a 40 yard dash for a football player. It *matters* - but it's just one measurement among others that matter.
Autopopeautopope on December 6th, 2016 08:14 pm (UTC)
No idea what my IQ is, but ... Feorag and I were once at a superbowl party in Cambridge, and when we went back to our hotel room she confessed that she'd felt really dumb compared to everyone else there. I had to remind her: "we were the only folks at the party who aren't MIT Postdoc researchers!" ... And then she reminded me that she was the only one who understood American Football rules, and she'd spent a chunk of the party explaining the game to everyone else watching the TV.

I think there's a moral in that story, but I'm too tired (or dumb) to work it out.
et in Arcadia egoboo: Sacred Chaoapostle_of_eris on December 9th, 2016 04:25 am (UTC)
"If you're usually the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room."
Elenbarathi: Abandon hopeelenbarathi on December 14th, 2016 05:47 pm (UTC)
Unless you're a teacher, in which case it's your job to usually be the smartest person in the room.

If you're the smartest person in the teachers' lounge, you may be at the wrong school.
El Coyote Gordo: coy3supergee on December 14th, 2016 06:00 pm (UTC)
Not quite. The teacher is supposed to be the best-informed person in the room. My father, who was a great teacher, was always happy when he was not the smartest person in the room and his students went on to outdo him.
Elenbarathielenbarathi on December 15th, 2016 01:45 am (UTC)
I'm sure that many of my pupils went on to out-do me, but if a kindergarten teacher isn't smarter than a kindergartner, she has no business trying to teach at all, and if she's not smarter than a whole room-full of them on a rainy day, she's not going to succeed at it.

It's apples-and-oranges to measure the hypothetical potential of a child against an adult's current levels of whatever is being measured. If you gave both the same IQ test, the adult would score 'smarter', regardless of whether that test was the one designed for adults or the one designed for that particular child's age.

"If your children do not surpass you, your lineage is declining." The whole purpose of teaching is to make smarter people. If they were smarter than their teachers from the start, they wouldn't need teachers at all.

'Course,that leads to the question of what exactly 'smartness' is, if it's neither acquired information nor hypothetical potential for achievement. Public schools are in the business of sorting 'smart' from 'dumb' and 'average', but one might seriously question the validity of their criteria - especially after noticing how smart the 'dumb kids' are, and how dumb the 'smart kids' are, and how not-average-at-all the 'average' kids are.
Avram Grumer: Post-It Portraitagrumer on December 6th, 2016 10:57 pm (UTC)
It looks to me, from the chart near the bottom of the article, that the countries with the largest proportions of Level 2 & 3 users, and smallest of Can’t-use-at-all, were Scandinavia and the Netherlands, countries with generous social safety nets.
Sharon Kahndreamshark on December 7th, 2016 06:50 am (UTC)
And overwhelmingly middle-class populations.
Elenbarathi: Abandon hopeelenbarathi on December 7th, 2016 10:55 am (UTC)
And schools that actually work.
et in Arcadia egoboo: boobapostle_of_eris on December 9th, 2016 04:28 am (UTC)
One of the most difficult things to communicate to certain sorts of computer freaks is that not everyone wants to devote their lives to computers. They have jobs and hobbies already. What they need/want are tools to get on with the jobs or hobbies they already have.
Elenbarathi: Abandon hopeelenbarathi on December 14th, 2016 06:22 pm (UTC)
This! And we don't want to have to learn a new set of tools every couple of years, as 'upgrades' we didn't need or want change our entire system.

I'm still typing in HTML of the last millenium. There was a time when I was making a lot of websites, and I'd just type them straight into WordPad. If I wanted to make one now, I'd have to fight my way up another learning curve. Same with graphics: the program I learned on is no more, so the skills I learned on it are no more use.

A lot of us would be happy to buy a new computer once, and then have it last for twenty years, keep doing all the things it does, and not change anything about how it looks or works. But there'd be no profit in marketing such a product.
El Coyote Gordo: thumbsupergee on December 14th, 2016 07:47 pm (UTC)
My sentiments precisely. Someday parents will tell kids, "Be good or the Upgrade will get you."
Elenbarathi: Knowledgeelenbarathi on December 15th, 2016 02:04 am (UTC)
Except by then, there'll probably be an upgrade every 24 hours, and the kids will automatically adapt to that, so that eventually the elite computer-users will all be under 14.

That will certainly change the face of online porn.