From: Michael Vassar (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Aug 23 2006 - 01:58:21 MDT
>It's not too long before "Gifted" becomes
>repurposed to mean "Normal" and another new word needs to be invented for
>what used to be called "smart" ;-p
Agreed, but for two reasons. One is language inflation, but the other is
"halo effect". Any strongly positive or negative affect word should tend
to degenerate over time into simply an indicator of affect. Trust me in my
assertion that in the financial world this has definitely happened. People
often call someone smart when they mean that the person is rich.
>Now, this Program for Highly Gifted is focused on teaching kids in a
>way that encourages them to think and create rather than on learning
>by rote. But does it really benefit us to offer this kind of
>opportunity only to the kids who score almost-perfectly on some test?
Strangely, it probably does. You should probably read what Linda
Gottfredson and Thomas Sowell have to say about this, but I will point out
that according to the NAES data
the average person in the "Highly Gifted" program has probably already
learned, by your daughter's age, essentially the same amount of rote
information that a graduate of average IQ will have learned. Studies of
expertise and creativity usually stress the need to master the rote skills
of a domain before creativity becomes possible. Still, introspection will
probably tell you what you need to know here if you are careful, or rather,
will tell you that your intuitions are useless. Look at the sort of
questions that were on the test your daughter took, or on any well normed
standard IQ test for 9 year olds, or even for adults. Try to imagine what
sort of instructino would be best for you if you were only able to answer
half of the questions correctly. You will find that you are utterly unable
to imagine being unable to answer most of the questions correctly, and thus
that you have no real intuitions of any validity as to what would be best
for someone who was not able to answer most of the questions correctly.
I will also point out that there is a limited supply of high IQ teachers.
The average teacher has an IQ under 110. They can probably teach kids rote
knowledge, but can they effectively teach amorphous creativity and thinking
abilities that they probably don't posess themselves? I don't think that
any standard teacher's answer cheat guides will help them in this.
>Rather than focusing on refining these tests (and this is certainly
>not sour grapes: my family always does extremely well on such tests), I'd
>rather see energy put into figuring out how to make the school
>system as a whole focus more on thinking and creating and less on
There are some possible answers to this, which come either from extremely
"alternative" schools like Sudbury which really aren't schools at all in the
generally accepted class or from extremely rare and talented radical
teachers who try to remake school entirely, but most of the populace is
generally satisfied with school more-or-less as it exists today (I am
certainly not, but effort towards FAI seems more directly relevant to my
goals) and is strongly resistant to any attempts to radically reconcieve the
endeavor from the ground up.
>Yeah, better education costs money. But obviously, properly-educated
>people do a better job of pushing toward a positive Singularity...
No-one is trying to organize society along the lines which will minimize the
path distance towards the singularity. If anything, anthropic selection may
be extending the path beyond its probable length.
>We're just not going to be able to make a test that
>will pick the N "smartest" people so we can fund them to create the
>Singularity for us.
I agree, and we shouldn't even try to do so. "Smartest" in a generic sense
is irrelevant, except in a correlational sense, to our needs.
However, it is concievable that we could create a test that will identify
the group of 100 people which probably contains half of the N people who are
most capable in respects relevant to creating a Singularity. Any attempt to
do so would be the implementation of an art, not of a science, as we
couldn't norm such a test, and administering it to a large enough population
to find the people who we wanted would be very costly, (maybe one could
administer it to CTY graduates or people above some Math Olympiad cut-off
instead?) but we don't really know how difficult this would be, as no-one
>Intelligence and humanity are too multidimensional for that.
But the binary ability to contribute or lack of such an ability to a
particular project is surely not multidimensional at all.
>If we want to maximize the odds of
>positive Singularity we should create an environment in which the
>diversity of natural intelligence is generally fostered.
>(Of course, none of that really matters if I'm right about Novamente,
>and the project is properly funded and flourishes and we create a
>superhuman AGI on a time-scale much faster than any education reform
>can plausibly happen.
Aah. There's the rub. I'm sure many others here feel the same way about
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