Education vs Intelligence

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Education vs Intelligence

Off topic conversation moved from another thread.

 


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Excellent points,

Excellent points, bzeurunki.

Please add your thoughts about how you would feel if your child were an atheist; would you treat a daughter differently than a son if they were an atheist, etc.

 {edited to line out comment from when this discussion was in another thread}

 

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Cassiopeia wrote: I agree

Cassiopeia wrote:
I agree with everything you've said in your exchange on this matter except for the education part. Many theist are educated and fail to think logically. I think it more depends on the type of education in a specific sense. Many people go through school without ever being taught how to think critically.

You're right! I think logic/argumentation/analysis or something similar should be a compulsory subject in school (no way that'll ever come true though...) Sad

 

bzeurunkl wrote:

Personally, (and I have a lot of support on this even from the psychology field) I see quite a large disjoint between education and intelligence.

They are not really correlated at all, indeed. It rather depends on your mentality whether you want to really know about something or not. You can be highly intelligent and still talk complete nonsense about something, because you just don't know enough about it. But what is even more important someone can be highly educated in something even though he has "only" average intelligence. It's very hard to say what "intelligence" is anyway.

bzeurunk wrote:

The very fact that colleges turn out hundreds of thousands, even millions of graduates every year is alone enough to statistically disprove the worth of most college degrees (think "bell-curve" and you will see what I mean).

The law of probability is really a bad way to meassure the overall "worth" of a college degree. A degree tells you that someone has knowledge of a subject and that he/she knows about the principles and methods this subject requires (sometimes they don't, but this has nothing to do with lack of intelligence. You don't have to be intelligent to have knowledge. It just means that person failed to study what he was supposed to study.)

bzeurukl wrote:
And yet, some of history's most brilliant thinkers (on both sides of the theism fence) have been completely and utterly uneducated at all.

There may be VERY few exceptions, but most brilliant thinkers had education (Einstein, Gauss, Newton, Kant etc. even the Greek philosophers). Very often it is a requirement to built up on knowledge which is already known (that is if it is not a complete new field of study, but often you can apply past knowledge there as well, such as methodology).

bzeurukl wrote:
It's good that some of the writers here are "going to college" and "getting degrees", but when they come to chat me up, I count all that for about, uhm, ZERO worth.

Educated or uneducated; I've been impressed by both, and utterly appalled at the stupidity of both. Ya gotta take 'em on a one by one basis, giving each the credit they are due. It is my weakness that I'm also quick to give them the ridicule they are due instead of being nice to them.

That's good! Eye-wink It's important to evaluate the argument and not the credentials. Although there are exceptions. Some topics are impossible to discuss without certain qualifications or at least basic background knowledge (ie. cosmology).

bzeurunkl wrote:
That's why I use the internet. I'm less likely to get beat up... Eye-wink

Mwahahaaha, remember, Google knows where you live!

lol, there's no save place anymore. Eye-wink

 

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. - Immanuel Kant


bzeurunkl
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Cassiopeia wrote: Mattness

Cassiopeia wrote:
Mattness wrote:

bzeurunkl wrote:
I do not even really consider people to be capable of truly rational thought until nearly their 30's. Before that time, they are children - they think and act like children.

I have to disagree with you, rational thought is not at all dependant on age. Some people are incapable of rational thought their entire life (sadly). I think it depends on your education, you can learn how to make rational claims and how to think rational et cetera. And 30 may be setting the bar a little high (it also depends on individual maturity). Wink

I agree with everything you've said in your exchange on this matter except for the education part. Many theist are educated and fail to think logically. I think it more depends on the type of education in a specific sense. Many people go through school without ever being taught how to think critically.

Personally, (and I have a lot of support on this even from the psychology field) I see quite a large disjoint between education and intelligence. 

The very fact that colleges turn out hundreds of thousands, even millions of graduates every year is alone enough to statistically disprove the worth of most college degrees (think "bell-curve" and you will see what I mean).

And yet, some of history's most brilliant thinkers (on both sides of the theism fence) have been completely and utterly uneducated at all.

It's good that some of the writers here are "going to college" and "getting degrees", but when they come to chat me up, I count all that for about, uhm, ZERO worth.

 Educated or uneducated; I've been impressed by both, and utterly appalled at the stupidity of both. 

Ya gotta take 'em on a one by one basis, giving each the credit they are due.  It is my weakness that I'm also quick to give them the ridicule they are due instead of being nice to them. 

That's why I use the internet.  I'm less likely to get beat up...  Eye-wink


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Well I've been a college

Well I've been a college teacher for 15+ years, and I can tell you that college does teach something definite.

When it is working correctly, students come out of college with the ability to think in a particular critical style--to assess the authority that backs up a statement, to assess the value of an information source, to work out what an argument says and doesn't say, and to think for themselves.  This information is based on studies of what college teachers themselves in all subjects consistently say they want students to learn (check out Ken Bain's books).

Now it is possible to learn to do this stuff without college, and people do it all the time.  But for most people it is generally easier and quicker to get the boost-up that you get from exposure to teachers and colleagues who think this way rather than having to bootstrap yourself up.

And this is not to say that college works correctly all the time.  Often it fails, and this is just as often the fault of lazy or misguided teachers as of students.  Often people are just interested in the rubber stamp of a degree or in slogging through a lot of memorized content for no particular reason, and since thinking isn't taught directly most of the time, it can get lost in the shuffle.

But to people who say that college is just a money scam and there's no real difference between a college graduate and a high school graduate of the same age, I say my experience says otherwise. 

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Mattness wrote: Cassiopeia

Mattness wrote:

Cassiopeia wrote:
I agree with everything you've said in your exchange on this matter except for the education part. Many theist are educated and fail to think logically. I think it more depends on the type of education in a specific sense. Many people go through school without ever being taught how to think critically.

You're right! I think logic/argumentation/analysis or something similar should be a compulsory subject in school (no way that'll ever come true though...) Sad

 

It was once but it got shafted for the three R's (one of which is not technically an "R" LOL), my mother was ever so slightly appalled that I wasn't being taught logic and critical analysis at school in the 1980's (though she wasn't upset that latin had been dropped for modern languages) so she took the initiative and taught me herself. It's always put me a few steps ahead in everything, I agree it should be taught.

 

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A degree in and of itself

A degree in and of itself only shows that you managed to occupy a certain space for the required amount of time and managed to amass enough information to acquire a passing grade. Rather than judge someone on their possesion of a peice of parchment; they should be judged on their knowledge, logic, and ability to form coherent thoughts.

A medical student who barely passes, and graduates last in his class, can still be called Dr.

I do value the importance of a formal education. I truly wish I was afforded the opportunity to attend a 4 year college long enough to obtain a degree. But my lack of this doesn't make me less intelligent. I consider myself fairly intelligent, despite the fact that I have no college degree. I am self taught in many areas. This also requires a fair level of intelligence.

Just my two cents.


bzeurunkl
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Mattness wrote: bzeurunk

Mattness wrote:

bzeurunk wrote:

The very fact that colleges turn out hundreds of thousands, even millions of graduates every year is alone enough to statistically disprove the worth of most college degrees (think "bell-curve" and you will see what I mean).

The law of probability is really a bad way to meassure the overall "worth" of a college degree. A degree tells you that someone has knowledge of a subject and that he/she knows about the principles and methods this subject requires (sometimes they don't, but this has nothing to do with lack of intelligence. You don't have to be intelligent to have knowledge. It just means that person failed to study what he was supposed to study.)

Actually, the Law of Probability is an excellent measure of all things in several ways. 

The law of probability applies to ALL things and there is no system of distribution or organization that is not subject to it.  If there ARE things at all, then there ARE probabilities about those things.  No exceptions.  (At least not that I can think of).

bzeurukl wrote:
And yet, some of history's most brilliant thinkers (on both sides of the theism fence) have been completely and utterly uneducated at all.

Mattness wrote:

There may be VERY few exceptions, but most brilliant thinkers had education (Einstein, Gauss, Newton, Kant etc. even the Greek philosophers). 

I don't think there are ANY exceptions - at all... ever.

Suppose you could go back in time and surreptitiously observe Einstien, Kant, Augustine, Voltaire, Newton, et al...  I think you would find that they were all, without exception, brilliant BEFORE they entered school at all.

College degrees may only be one logical end of intelligent people; but they do not MAKE people intelligent.

You will find no example of a kid who was a lazy, illiterate, do-nothing moron his entire life and somehow got into college and then somehow turned into a self-motivated, ambitious, genius.  Genius is genius specifically because it is self-dependent, and self-evident - the genius does not require others to motivate him - he motivates himself.  That is one of the signature traits of that abnormality that we call genius.

 College may enhance that which is already there; but it will not provide it in it's complete absence.  But so will many other things.  You will find people who are experts in many things that they have absolutely no formal training in at all. 

Hard work and dilligence will make intelligence; but the willingness to work hard and persevere are usually traits already found in people considered to be "intelligent."

I really do not believe (personal opinion) in this nonsense about "undiscovered genius" or "diamonds in the rough" or "dormant genius waiting to be awakened" or any of a hundred other axioms we like to (usually self-) apply to people who are really nothing more than lazy slackers in a meager attempt to justify their moral or intellectual laziness. 

"Oh, our Johnny may look like a lazy bum, but underneath, he's really intelligent and decent.

No he is NOT.  He is a lazy bum.  You just don't want to admit that your son is a lazy so-n-so, sucking off the public teat.  Intelligent people don't do stupid, self-destructive things.

 You can take an hundred stupid, lazy people and put them through college, and out the other end will come a hundred stupid, lazy people.

If you don't get out 100, it's because you only think you put in 100.  One or more of them were actually intelligent BEFORE they went in - you just didn't notice.

I'm not directing any of this at you personally - I'm just ranting in general.  I really hate it when people want to take the hard work and determination of some people to succeed, and attribute it to someone else - usually themselves if they are part of the education establishment.

I'm done.

Feeling much better now.

Thanks for your patience.


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Oh, I'm sure many of us

Oh, I'm sure many of us wholeheartedly agree. Education has become so warped and misfocused that I couldn't imagine getting a decent job with just a degree. It's becoming just another over inflated commodity, with so many fluff classes thrown in as requirements.

I had to take some of the freshman core classes in my sophomore year, and I vividly remember thinking to myself "wow, this is a high school class!" Seriously, it was a near exact copy of an english class  I had in high school! It wasn't called english, if it had been I would've waived it since I was into the 300s by that time.

So, I ended up taking ethics and other classes that should have been required. Pretty bad pass rates on the REAL classes. Don't even get me started on calc or logic.


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bzeurukl wrote: Actually,

bzeurukl wrote:

Actually, the Law of Probability is an excellent measure of all things in several ways.

The law of probability applies to ALL things and there is no system of distribution or organization that is not subject to it. If there ARE things at all, then there ARE probabilities about those things. No exceptions. (At least not that I can think of).

Well, not when the whole assumption you base your predictions on is fallacious. You directly linked the intelligence of a person to his scholastic archievements. I tried to point out in my last post, why I consider this to be wrong and that determination and willingness and above all interest matters most.

bzeurukl wrote:
bzeurunk wrote:
And yet, some of history's most brilliant thinkers (on both sides of the theism fence) have been completely and utterly uneducated at all.

Mattness wrote:
There may be VERY few exceptions, but most brilliant thinkers had education (Einstein, Gauss, Newton, Kant etc. even the Greek philosophers).

I don't think there are ANY exceptions - at all... ever.

Suppose you could go back in time and surreptitiously observe Einstien, Kant, Augustine, Voltaire, Newton, et al... I think you would find that they were all, without exception, brilliant BEFORE they entered school at all.

You're just redefining what you've said, but as it is now I completely agree. Someone doesn't magically turn genius.

bzeurukl wrote:
College degrees may only be one logical end of intelligent people; but they do not MAKE people intelligent.

No one ever claimed that. Eye-wink

All in all, I agree to most of what you said in your post. And I don't know how this could, in any way, be offending.

 

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. - Immanuel Kant


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Well there's a

Well there's a sub-population of people who have very high intelligence and also talent, but do not function well in the formal school system.  There's fifty billion tons of research on these 'gifted' students (and it doesn't mean 'smart' like some parents want to think) and how they tend to be underachievers because of the specific characteristics of their intelligence and how that just doesn't work with a regimented, factory-model school system like ours.

Some of these students get lost and drop out and go nowhere, and some manage to take charge of their own education and become very successful.  Right now it's hit or miss because (1) nobody is aware of or using the research and (2) there's no money available to do anything different for what these students need. 

All the money these days is being given to the companies that create standardized tests.

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bzeurunkl
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Mattness wrote: bzeurukl

Mattness wrote:
bzeurukl wrote:

Actually, the Law of Probability is an excellent measure of all things in several ways.

The law of probability applies to ALL things and there is no system of distribution or organization that is not subject to it. If there ARE things at all, then there ARE probabilities about those things. No exceptions. (At least not that I can think of).

Well, not when the whole assumption you base your predictions on is fallacious. You directly linked the intelligence of a person to his scholastic archievements. I tried to point out in my last post, why I consider this to be wrong and that determination and willingness and above all interest matters most.

Well, I'm not sure how we got turned head over tail like this, but...   I didn't link intelligence to scholastic achievement.  My whole point here is that scholastic acheivement amounts to about,... zero, when it comes to intelligence.

And I don't think I made any assumptions regarding it.  I pretty much emphatically stated that college degrees are becoming worthless as an indicator of intelligence and success, and I referred you to the "bell curve" (ie, statistics and probability) to prove my point.

I think we are actually in agreement here - if we could just adequately define our terms to each other's satisfaction...  Eye-wink


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SOME college degrees are

SOME college degrees are worthless as indicators of intellect.

I won't name names.

Point is, such does NOT apply across the board. Certain degrees are in fact indicative of how bright a person is.

Again, I won't name names.

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If someone gets a degree

If someone gets a degree then it indicates they have met the standards required for the awarding of that qualification.  That's all.

Of course, to get a reasonable degree you need to have a bit of intelligence and application.  For example, it has been mentioned that the doctor who graduates bottom in his class still gets the title but so what?  The fact remains he has demonstrated sufficient competency to achieve the required results.

Getting a degree is more about application.  People can be very, very intelligent and still fail because they just didn't apply themselves to the curriculum - either by pissing about in class or just not turning up and not copying the notes afterwards.  However, to be in the position to get a shot at obtaining a degree one must have exhibited a certain amount of intelligence in the first place.

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The Patrician wrote: If

The Patrician wrote:

If someone gets a degree then it indicates they have met the standards required for the awarding of that qualification.  That's all.

Of course, to get a reasonable degree you need to have a bit of intelligence and application.  For example, it has been mentioned that the doctor who graduates bottom in his class still gets the title but so what?  The fact remains he has demonstrated sufficient competency to achieve the required results.

Getting a degree is more about application.  People can be very, very intelligent and still fail because they just didn't apply themselves to the curriculum - either by pissing about in class or just not turning up and not copying the notes afterwards.  However, to be in the position to get a shot at obtaining a degree one must have exhibited a certain amount of intelligence in the first place.

 All very true.

 

Still, I'll bet my LIFE that on average people with degrees in technicle subjects have a bit more upstairs than communications majors.

I'm NOT trying to insult communications majors here or people with similar degrees. I know increadibly intelligent and successful people in business and communications who make MUCH more money than I do.

What I AM saying is that traditionally, only intelligent people even consider entering fields like chemistry, physics and engineering. These were usually your geeks in high school (I was certainly one). They were the ones who took advanced courses, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

Considering that it was THOSE people who went into my engineering freshman seminar back in 1995, and there were 256 of us and only 40 stuck the program out to graduation, I'd wager the people in my graduating class were pretty damn bright.

Oh, and before you bring it up, I DO have transfer rates. 127 went to other majors or simply disappeared. The rest were dropped, because they simply couldn't hack it. I'd wager a good portion of the transfers simply got out while the getting was good, rather than waste another semester.

I guess I am naming names now. Oh well.

 

All I'm saying is which group would you think was more intelligent: 100 biomechanical engineers or 100 accountants? I think the answer should be pretty obvious, but hey, that's just me.

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bzeurunkl
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College Education

Reply et al.  FYI.

---quote---

 

Feynman, Richard.  Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman! WW Norton & Company, NY, USA, 1997

       In regard to education in Brazil, I had a very interesting experience. I was teaching a group of students who would ultimately become teachers, since at that time there were not many opportunities in Brazil for a highly trained person in science. These students had already had many courses, and this was to be their most advanced course in electricity and magnetism - Maxwell's equations, and so on.

      The university was located in various office buildings throughout the city, and the course I taught met in a building which overlooked the bay.

I discovered a very strange phenomenon: I could ask a question, which the students would answer immediately. But the next time I would ask the question - the same subject, and the same question, as far as I could tell - they couldn't answer it at all! For instance, one time I was talking about polarized light, and I gave them all some strips of polaroid.

      Polaroid passes only light whose electric vector is in a certain direction, so I explained how you could tell which way the light is polarized from whether the polaroid is dark or light.

      We first took two strips of polaroid and rotated them until they let the most light through. From doing that we could tell that the two strips were now admitting light polarized in the same direction - what passed through one piece of polaroid could also pass through the other. But then I asked them how one could tell the absolute direction of polarization, from a single piece of polaroid.

      They hadn't any idea.

      I knew this took a certain amount of ingenuity, so I gave them a hint: "Look at the light reflected from the bay outside." Nobody said anything.

      Then I said, "Have you ever heard of Brewster's Angle?" "Yes, sir! Brewster's Angle is the angle at which light reflected from a medium with an index of refraction is completely polarized."

      "And which way is the light polarized when it's reflected?" "The light is polarized perpendicular to the plane of reflection, sir." Even now, I have to think about it; they knew it cold! They even knew the tangent of the angle equals the index!

I said, "Well?"

      Still nothing. They had just told me that light reflected from a medium with an index, such as the bay outside, was polarized; they had even told me which way it was polarized.

      I said, "Look at the bay outside, through the polaroid. Now turn the polaroid."

"Ooh, it's polarized!" they said.

      After a lot investigation I finall figured out that the students had memorized everything but they didn't know what anything meant. When they heard "light that is reflected from a medium with an index," they didn't know that it meant a material such as water. They didn't know that the "direction of the light" is the direction in which you see something when you're looking at it, and so on. Everything was entirely memorized, yet nothing had been translated into meaningful words. So if I asked, "What is Brewster's Angle?" I'm going into the computer with the right keywords. But if I say, "Look at the water," nothing happens - they don't have anything under "Look at the water!"

      Later I attended a lecture at the engineering school. The lecture went like this, translated into English: "Two bodies . . . are considered equivalent . . . if equal torques . . . will produce . . . equal acceleration. Two bodies, are considered equivalent, if equal torques, will produce equal acceleration." The students were all sitting there taking dictation, and when the professor repeated the sentence, they checked it to make sure they wrote it down all right. Then they wrote down the next sentence, and on and on. I was the only one who knew the professor was talking about objects with the same moment of inertia, and it was hard to figure out.

      I didn't see how they were going to learn anything from that. Here he was talking about moments of inertia, but there was no discussion about how hard it is to push a door open when you put heavy weights on the outside, compared to when you put them near the hinge - nothing!

After the lecture, I talked to a student: "You take all those notes - what do you do with them?"

      "Oh, we study them," he says. "We'll have an exam." "What will the exam be like?"

      "Very easy. I can tell you now one of the questions." He looks at his notebook and says, " `When are two bodies equivalent?' And the answer is, `Two bodies are considered equivalent if equal torques will produce equal acceleration.' " So, you see, they could pass the examinations, and "learn" all this stuff, and not know anything at all, except what they had memorized.

      Then I went to an entrance exam for students coming into the engineering school. It was an oral exam, and I was allowed to listen to it. One of the students was absolutely super: He answered everything nifty! The examiners asked him what diamagnetism was, and he answered it perfectly. Then they asked, "When light comes at an angle through a sheet of material with a certain thickness, and a certain index N, what happens to the light?"

      "It comes out parallel to itself, sir - displaced." "And how much is it displaced?"

"I don't know, sir, but I can figure it out." So he figured it out. He was very good. But I had, by this time, my suspicions. After the exam I went up to this bright young man, and explained to him that I was from the United States, and that I wanted to ask him some questions that would not affect the result of his examination in any way. The first question I ask is, "Can you give me some example of a diamagnetic substance?" "No."

      Then I asked, "If this book was made of glass, and I was looking at something on the table through it, what would happen to the image if I tilted the glass?"

      "It would be deflected, sir, by twice the angle that you've turned the book."

      I said, "You haven't got it mixed up with a mirror, have you?" "No, sir!"

      He had just told me in the examination that the light would be displaced, parallel to itself, and therefore the image would move over to one side, but would not be turned by any angle. He had even figured out how much it would be displaced, but he didn't realize that a piece of glass is a material with an index, and that his calculation had applied to my question.

      I taught a course at the engineering school on mathematical methods in physics, in which I tried to show how to solve problems by trial and error. It's something that people don't usually learn, so I began with some simple examples of arithmetic to illustrate the method. I was surprised that only about eight out of the eighty or so students turned in the first assignment. So I gave a strong lecture about having to actually try it, not just sit back and watch me do it.

      After the lecture some students came up to me in a little delegation, and told me that I didn't understand the backgrounds that they have, that they can study without doing the problems, that they have already learned arithmetic, and that this stuff was beneath them.

So I kept going with the class, and no matter how complicated or obviously advanced the work was becoming, they were never handing a damn thing in. Of course I realized what it was: They couldn't do it!

One other thing I could never get them to do was to ask questions. Finally, a student explained it to me: "If I ask you a question during the lecture, afterwards everybody will be telling me, `What are you wasting our time for in the class? We're trying to learn something. And you're stopping him by asking a question.' "

      It was a kind of one-upmanship, where nobody knows what's going on, and they'd put the other one down as if they did know. They all fake that they know, and if one student admits for a moment that something is confusing by asking a question, the others take a high-handed attitude, acting as if it's not confusing at all, telling him that he's wasting their time.

I explained how useful it was to work together, to discuss the questions to talk it over, but they wouldn't do that either, because they would be losing face if they had to ask someone else. It was pitiful! All the work they did, intelligent people, but they got themselves into this funny state of mind, this strange kind of self propagating "education" which is meaningless, utterly meaningless!

      At the end of the academic year, the students asked me to give a talk about my experiences of teaching in Brazil. At the talk there would be not only students, but professors and government officials, so I made them promise that I could say whatever I wanted. They said, "Sure. Of course. It's a free country."

      So I came in, carrying the elementary physics textbook that they used in the first year of college. They thought this book was especially good because it had different kinds of typeface - bold black for the most important things to remember, lighter for less important things, and so on.

      Right away somebody said, "You're not going to say anything bad about the textbook, are you? The man who wrote it is here, and everybody thinks it's a good textbook."

"You promised I could say whatever I wanted."

      The lecture hall was full. I started out by defining science as an understanding of the behavior of nature. Then I asked, "What is a good reason for teaching science? Of course, no country can consider itself civilized unless . . . yak, yak, yak." They were all sitting there nodding, because I know that's the way they think.

      Then I say, "That, of course, is absurd, because why should we feel we have to keep up with another country? We have to do it for a good reason, a sensible reason; not just because other countries do." Then I talked about the utility of science, and its contribution to the improvement of the human condition, and all that - I really teased them a little bit.

      Then I say, "The main purpose of my talk is to demonstrate to you that noscience is being taught in Brazil!"

      I can see them stir, thinking, "What? No science? This is absolutely crazy! We have all these classes."

      So I tell them that one of the first things to strike me when I came to Brazil was to see elementary school kids in bookstores, buying physics books. There are so many kids learning physics in Brazil, beginning much earlier than kids do in the United States, that it's amazing you don't find many physicists in Brazil - why is that? So many kids are working so hard, and nothing comes of it.

      Then I gave the analogy of a Greek scholar who loves the Greek language, who knows that in his own country there aren't many children studying Greek. But he comes to another country, where he is delighted to find everybody studying Greek - even the smaller kids in the elementary schools. He goes to the examination of a student who is coming to get his degree in Greek, and asks him, "What were Socrates' ideas on the relationship between Truth and Beauty?" - and the student can't answer. Then he asks the student, "What did Socrates say to Plato in the Third Symposium?" the student lights up and goes, "Brrrrrrr-up "- he tells you everything, word for word, that Socrates said, in beautiful Greek.

      But what Socrates was talking about in the Third Symposium was the relationship between Truth and Beauty!

      What this Greek scholar discovers is, the students in another country learn Greek by first learning to pronounce the letters, then the words, and then sentences and paragraphs. They can recite, word for word, what Socrates said, without realizing that those Greek words actually mean something. To the student they are all artificial sounds. Nobody has ever translated them into words the students can understand.

      I said, "That's how it looks to me, when I see you teaching the kids ‘science' here in Brazil." (Big blast, right?)

      Then I held up the elementary physics textbook they were using. "There are no experimental results mentioned anywhere in this book, except in one place where there is a ball, rolling down an inclined plane, in which it says how far the ball got after one second, two seconds, three seconds, and so on. The numbers have ‘errors' in them - that is, if you look at them, you think you're looking at experimental results, because the numbers are a little above, or a little below, the theoretical values. The book even talks about having to correct the experimental errors - very fine. The trouble is, when you calculate the value of the acceleration constant from these values, you get the right answer. But a ball rolling down an inclined plane, if it is actually done, has an inertia to get it to turn, and will, if you do the experiment, produce five-sevenths of the right answer, because of the extra energy needed to go into the rotation of the ball. Therefore this single example of experimental ‘results' is obtained from a fake experiment. Nobody had rolled such a ball, or they would never have gotten those results!

      "I have discovered something else," I continued. "By flipping the pages at random, and putting my finger in and reading the sentences on that page, I can show you what's the matter - how it's not science, but memorizing, in every circumstance. Therefore I am brave enough to flip through the pages now, in front of this audience, to put my finger in, to read, and to show you."

      So I did it. Brrrrrr-up - -I stuck my finger in, and I started to read: "Triboluminescence. Triboluminescence is the light emitted when crystals are crushed . . ."

      I said, "And there, have you got science? No! You have only told what a word means in terms of other words. You haven't told anything about nature - what crystals produce light when you crush them, why they produce light. Did you see any student go home and try it? He can't.

      "But if, instead, you were to write, `When you take a lump of sugar and crush it with a pair of pliers in the dark, you can see a bluish flash. Some other crystals do that too. Nobody knows why. The phenomenon is called "triboluminescence." ' Then someone will go home and try it. Then there's an experience of nature." I used that example to show them, but it didn't make any diff'erence where I would have put my finger in the book; it was like that everywhere.

Finally, I said that I couldn't see how anyone could be educated by this self propagating system in which people pass exams, and teach others to pass exams, but nobody knows an thing. "However, I said, I must be wrong. There were two students in my class who did very well, and one of the physicists I know was educated entirely in Brazil. Thus, it must be possible for some people to work their way through the system, bad as it is."

      Well, after I gave the talk, the head of the science education department got up and said, "Mr. Feynman has told us some things that are very hard for us to hear, but it appears to be that he really loves science, and is sincere in his criticism. Therefore, I think we should listen to him. I came here knowing we have some sickness in our system of education; what I have learned is that we have a cancer!' - and he sat down.

      That gave other people the freedom to speak out, and there was a big excitement. Everybody was getting up and making suggestions. The students got some committee together to mimeograph the lectures in advance, and they got other committees organized to do this and that.

      Then something happened which was totally unexpected for me. One of the students got up and said, "I'm one of the two students whom Mr. Feynman referred to at the end of his talk. I was not educated in Brazil; I was educated in Germany, and I've just come to Brazil this year."

      The other student who had done well in class had a similar thing to say. And the professor I had mentioned got up and said, "I was educated here in Brazil during the war, when, fortunately all of the professors had left the university, so I learned everything by reading alone. Therefore I was not really educated under the Brazilian system."

      I didn't expect that, I knew the system was bad, but 100 percent - it was terrible!

Since I had gone to Brazil under a program sponsored by the United States Government, I was asked by the State Department to write a report about my experiences in Brazil, so I wrote out the essentials of the speech I had just given. I found out later through the grapevine that the reaction of somebody in the State Department was, "That shows you how dangerous it is to send somebody to Brazil who is so naive. Foolish fellow; he can only cause trouble. He didn't understand the problems." Quite the contrary! 

I think this person in the State Department was naive to think that because he saw a university with a list of courses and descriptions, that's what it was.

---end quote---


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Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

All very true.

Still, I'll bet my LIFE that on average people with degrees in technicle subjects have a bit more upstairs than communications majors.

I'm NOT trying to insult communications majors here or people with similar degrees. I know increadibly intelligent and successful people in business and communications who make MUCH more money than I do.

What I AM saying is that traditionally, only intelligent people even consider entering fields like chemistry, physics and engineering. These were usually your geeks in high school (I was certainly one). They were the ones who took advanced courses, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

Considering that it was THOSE people who went into my engineering freshman seminar back in 1995, and there were 256 of us and only 40 stuck the program out to graduation, I'd wager the people in my graduating class were pretty damn bright.

Oh, and before you bring it up, I DO have transfer rates. 127 went to other majors or simply disappeared. The rest were dropped, because they simply couldn't hack it. I'd wager a good portion of the transfers simply got out while the getting was good, rather than waste another semester.

I guess I am naming names now. Oh well.

 

All I'm saying is which group would you think was more intelligent: 100 biomechanical engineers or 100 accountants? I think the answer should be pretty obvious, but hey, that's just me.

I think it takes a special kind of evil intelligence to become an accountant, particularly if they then go on to become auditors. 

I graduated in science (maths and physics) and management and followed the latter course which has worked out OK for me.  As for intelligence, well I'm no genius but I am teh smartz0rz!1!

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Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

All I'm saying is which group would you think was more intelligent: 100 biomechanical engineers or 100 accountants? I think the answer should be pretty obvious, but hey, that's just me.

Hey!  I'm in accounting!  What are you implying?!  Just kidding - I think it depends on the topic, really.  I mean, you wouldn't want a bunch of biomechanical engineers working on your taxes, would you?  Of course, they might be able to produce something that walks your return into the IRS on genetically engineered legs, but the IRS has no sense of humor.  Remember that. 


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We have a member on the

We have a member on the forums that works for the IRS.  I can't remember who it is at the moment, but if I remember correctly, he does have a sense of humor.

 However, the IRS as an institution does not have a sense of humor.

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Cassiopeia wrote: bzeurukl

Cassiopeia wrote:

bzeurukl wrote:
And yet, some of history's most brilliant thinkers (on both sides of the theism fence) have been completely and utterly uneducated at all.

There may be VERY few exceptions, but most brilliant thinkers had education (Einstein, Gauss, Newton, Kant etc. even the Greek philosophers).

I would be concerned about defining the manifestation of brilliance in only specific fields such as science & philosophy. Does your measuring stick also include the likes of Pablo Picasso and William Shakespeare? After spending the first 20 years of my life studying art and then seeing a Picasso painting in person , I was struck in awe at the sheer brilliance.

It wasn't Picasso's artisitic talent or Einstein's mathematical skills that made them brilliant,  those were simply the mediums they chose to work in.

Just my perspective on brilliance...

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To quote James Randi,

To quote James Randi, "Getting an education doesn't make you smart, it only makes you educated."

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."--Stephen F. Roberts


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Quote: Still, I'll bet my

Quote:
Still, I'll bet my LIFE that on average people with degrees in technicle subjects have a bit more upstairs than communications majors.

I think this is an apples and oranges comparison.

I had the grades to go into hard science, but I decided to go humanities instead because it was more fun for me.  I worked for many years as a technical writer around scientists and engineers who were, by academic standards, some of the smartest people from the best schools in the country.  The vast majority of them, including native English speakers, couldn't put together a coherent sentence--which is why they hired me and my colleagues to translate what they were saying into prose that anyone could understand.  The tech writers at every company I've ever worked at usually had very broad and detailed knowledge bases that strongly contrasted with the relatively narrow (but exhaustive) learning of most of the science people.  It's a truism of the tech writing field that it's easier to teach a writer what s/he needs to know about technical subjects than it is to teach a scientist/engineer how to write.

Then later I spent a couple of years developing curriculum for a private education company, and one thing pretty quickly became clear: there is a big division between the math/science people and the verbal people, and it isn't socially constructed.  People have a definite preference for which style they are more comfortable with, and although it's possible to cross over, it's not the same as being a person who already *thinks* that way.

  It's not a difference in intelligence, because smart people can adapt an learn whatever they need to.  It's a difference in thinking style.  I wouldn't expect a serious mathematician to be able to survive a grad seminar on structuralist interpretation of folklore, but I don't think that makes a mathematician any less intelligent.

 But you don't have to take my word for it.  You can check out Howard Gardner and his followers work on multiple intelligences.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert