May 1, 2009

Why not also give AP tests in September?

Here's a report from the Fordham Institute on the ever-growing trend toward Advanced Placement testing of high school students for college course credit.

Generally speaking, the AP phenomenon has been a success.

The big problem with AP now is the assumption that you need to take an AP course in high school to take the AP test. Nah, there are a bunch of AP tests where you can just walk in without taking the course and wing it having merely boned up for a month or two from study guides.

My older kid got 7 courses worth of college credit from AP testing, and if I knew then what I know now, I would have pushed him to take 2 or 3 more AP tests.

For example, he got a 5 on World History without ever taking a world history course (the night before the test we studied up on Chinese dynasties), and a 4 in Comparative Government without taking that class in high school. (He took American Government AP and got a 5 on that, so it was easy to just buy a $20 guidebook to the Comparative Government test and study up on the structure of six foreign governments.)

I think he could have passed Human Geography without too much work, so I wish he'd taken that. If your kid is interested in Art History, that sounds like something that could be passed by studying in his spare time.

The reform I would propose is that AP exams should be offered not just in May, an extremely busy time of the year, but also in September for students who study on their own over the summer. (It's not like they have summer jobs anymore.)

This won't happen, though, because the current system is a conspiracy between the College Board and the teachers to make it seem like the crucial elements in the system are not the AP tests, but the AP classes. If you let kids study on their own over summer, you'd be letting the cat out of the bag.

If you can AP out of a year's worth of introductory courses, why not enter as a sophomore and graduate in three years?

Well, there are some reasons why that might not be such a great idea. A relative aced a ton of AP exams, entered the tough U. of Illinois as a sophomore engineering major, and immediately flunked out.

The conundrum is that kids who can pick up ten or eleven courses worth of credit are likely to be attending hard schools and/or have hard majors. If you show up as an Electrical Engineering major at Cal Tech or Berkeley and enroll in all 200 level math and science courses, you'd better bring your A game.

On the other hand, if you show up as an English major at a liberal arts college, why not blow through in three years and save your parents a chunk of change? When I got to Rice having placed out of English 101 and 102, I immediately took a 300 level course on T.S. Eliot. I wasn't missing anything because, in contrast to, say, math, English is only a vaguely cumulative subject.

I spent four years in college and wound up triple majoring, which is more a sign of too much time on my hands than anything else. I can't say I really needed to stick around for that fourth year. Fortunately, the tuition at Rice in 1980 was only something like $2700 per year, and they gave me a sizable academic scholarship, so it was a low stress, idyllic year.

Still, one of the things America needs to get better at is hustling its brighter young people along to maturity faster, rather than let them dawdle endlessly in academia on daddy's dime.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

109 comments:

Black Sea said...

". . . one of the things America needs to get better at is hustling its brighter young people along to maturity faster rather than let them dawdle endlessly in academia . . ."

Agreed, but since it works against the interests of the educational establishment, and for that matter a good deal of public sentiment, I wouldn't hold my breath.

I've said this before, but ending high school in the 10th grade would be a good start. Students who are planning to study at university could spend the next year or two on prep and/or 1st year work, which they should be fully capable of. People who are going straight into the workforce, or into technical or vocational training, could get to it that much sooner. I suspect that for many of these students, the pointlessness of those final two years of school actually works against their enthusiasm for doing anything productive at all, and we all know what idle hands result in.

When I was in high school, without even planning it, I wound up with enough credits by my senior year to only attend half time anyway. I came home at noon, got some lunch, then vegetated until my night job as a hospital janitor, without which my last year of school would have been nearly intolerable, and I do remember thinking back then that if I had to spend one more year in high school, I'd be seriously tempted to drop out. Not that I would have had the guts to actually do it.

Butch Hendrickson said...

With the internet, essentially all non science and engineering college level education is worthless. There really is no actual need to attend college unless you plan on majoring in science, math, or engineering and need to be in a disciplined environment and work in labs with professors. For the humanities and liberal arts, all the material that you would cover in a college curriculum is available free online.

Of course, if you don't want to study science or engineering, but want to ascend to the ranks of the elite and have power/prestige/money you have to study liberal arts at an Ivy or other top school. Studying English or History at Podunk U isn't going to get you into the elite yuppie positions like it might at an Ivy, even though what you studied and learned is exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

What was your triple major in, Steve?

Steve Sailer said...

Nothing special:

Economics, History, and Management.

Mr Lomez said...

Wow. Thanks to Saletan's article In Slate (which I read this afternoon), I discovered this blog. I've spent all night going through the archives.

You are definitely head and shoulders atop the list for my new favorite human of 2009.

Aces, man. Aces.

Geronimo said...

Steve, in its 233 year history, how many of America's best minds tested poorly in school?

Sorry but I argue that your obsession with test scores causes you to downplay the great powerful engine that has driven America from the start and that engine is the quirky original thinker. The man or woman completely outside the box. An environment that allows these eccentrics to prosper is and has always been the secret to America.

But instead you cheer as our brighter young people dutifully file into what is developing into Japan style test score farm systems. Meanwhile outside of the strictest math programs America's Ivy League elite is more ignorant than ever but their test scores are immaculate.

And this high IQ dumbing down process is not happening just in America. How is the test score obsession working out for the UK? Right. There is so much cutting edge innovation driving the British economy these days. One single Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison is worth literally 1,000,000 "straight A student" drone graduates from the testing mills.

Funny how the Founders of America didn't require standardized testing in order to create a great society. And men like Abe Lincoln had a completely unorthodox education. You seem to give lip service to the essence of American genius while steadily favoring a Japanese style drone education system. But the key to national success is actually home schooling or any other micro local education program that rejects the central government's obscene brainwashing techniques and does not railroad out of the box thinkers into oblivion.

On this issue you really suck man. Perfect standardized test scores won't save America. They are part of the problem and not part of the solution. Our standardized testing regime is f***ing moronic elitist nonsense that is primarily designed to teach young people how to be obedient upper level Cogs In The Machine.

In fixed countries nobody from outside the system can advance or get anywhere in life. That is where standardized testing is taking us and it is a completely anti-American future. The Federal Government today is absolutely proof of this trend. All of the upper positions are filled with degreed, credentialed, and socially acceptable mediocrities. And now without a radical shift we will begin the long horrible national decline characterized by the original and out of the box thinkers leaving the country or being stomped under foot.

Anonymous said...

Have any of the big standardized tests been administered since the new administration? I remember there was a theory that Obama as a role model would raise black scores by reducing stereotype threat. Less crackpot ideas will appear if crackpots know their ideas will be subjected to withering refutations. If there's no change in the gap on this year's SAT or AP tests, someone needs to ask the snake oil sellers for explanations.

a blogger said...

i did this for a single class during senior year of high school -- took AP bio w/o taking the AP class. instead i just read a textbook -- got a 5 -- it was easy. took four other AP exams: calculus, english lit, american history, chemistry. got 5s on all of them, so each test was worth two intro courses. a suggestion like this would have convinced me to try several more tests. if you can test out of benighted breadth courses, i highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Society hasn't yet adjusted to the MASSIVE oversupply of certain kinds of information producers -- namely teachers, professors, and journalists.

Why is media going bankrupt? Simple. There are 700 newspapers all printing the exact same thing on Google News. You don't need that many! There needs to be a massive series of bankruptcies, with perhaps a few national bureaus left standing. If the system is allowed to operate, the result will be (a) better local news and more (b) non-liberal, non-neocon viewpoints.

Education by contrast is not under market pressure. We produce in a Soviet style without looking around to see that the same oversupply exists -- see MIT OCW for what I mean. If we didn't have Griggs vs. Duke Power, distance education and certificate based education would be taking off even more than it has. Score another one for PC.

Basically, the calls for ending education in 10th grade don't go far enough. End public education. Pull your kid out and homeschool him. Have him wake up to the sunlight and play video games and run around with his friends. He'll read books and learn math on his own time.

At least, that's what smart kids do. And if you're a Sailer reader, you probably *were* a smart kid, and probably *married* a smart kid, and probably *will have* smart kids.

The public schools have NEVER been about teaching. Bismarck introduced public schooling for *indoctrination*, not education -- look it up -- and that's why we brought it over here.

Think about it: what did you really learn over 12 years of public school besides our system of taboos? All I can remember is Harriet Tubman and the Holocaust (and I was valedictorian!). The math & science education in particular goes at the speed of molasses until Calculus BC -- and what's worse, much of the science you get taught by idiotic timeservers is *wrong* (e.g. electric current is propagated by waves rather than the drift velocity of electrons, but there are K-12 textbooks which say the wrong thing!).

Basically, you learn NOTHING in public school for 12 years that you couldn't have learned -- FAR faster, better, and more comfortably -- on your own. The socialization stuff is bogus too -- it is just a code word for learning to worship Harriet Tubman.

Get enough of your friends to homeschool their kids and they can all hang out together. Endless summer vacation. I wish I had that growing up rather than the awful combination of waking up in the dark to sit in a class taught by idiots and populated by bullies.

Anonymous said...

AP exams need to be given in May or June so the incoming college freshmen have the results and know which courses can be skipped based on getting 4 or 5s on the exam.

Butch Hendrickson said...

Geronimo,

Sounds like someone bombed his SATs.

Anonymous said...

"Our standardized testing regime is f***ing moronic elitist nonsense that is primarily designed to teach young people how to be obedient upper level Cogs In The Machine."

Yes, but even the best machine needs cogs. I don't see the alternative. You cannot teach someone to be an Einstein, they are born that way. For the rest of us, we learn to fill a role to the best of our ability. Even if it were possible, a society of all Einsteins wouldn't work. And these technological innovators were not so "original" and "out of the box" as you seem to think. Maybe they tested poorly, but they still had to learn the accepted science of their time in order to improve upon it. Their discoveries did not magically appear during an "out of the box" thinking session, and as time goes on there is more and more to learn before you can discover something new.

"End public education."

I don't think this is the answer, despite how poorly our education system is run. What we need is a public education system that focuses on vocational training, so that everyone who graduates is ready to work productively or move on to a specialized degree program for an advanced field.

Our "general education" system has become a complete failure, and even "higher" education is seen by most as a luxury, a chance to "enrich" yourself (and party) before moving on to the "real world". We can let people indulge in these programs at their own expense, but we absolutely must remove all public funding from non-productive education and spend it on valuable career training.

"AP exams need to be given in May or June"

Note that Steve's question was "Why not ALSO give AP tests in September?"

By the way, I got about half of my required college credits from AP exams, including a few tests that I didn't take classes for. Of course I graduated with way more credits than I needed because I bought the hype that being "well-rounded" is better than going gung-ho into a career.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they tested poorly, Emphasis on maybe. Something tells me James Clerk Maxwell, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, or Nikolai Tesla wouldn't have had much problem dispatching the SAT. Nor would many Nobelists in any category.

If you actually think standardized tests hold back achievement, think again. Smart kids don't need to study for them -- they just destroy them with little training. Moreover, the results are reproducible and not easily gamed. That's why the left hates IQ tests so much -- because they are stable & have predictive power.


As for the rest -- look, Steve Sailer's blog is probably the one place on the web where people actually understand how powerful standardized testing is. A two hour test at age 7 can reveal kids who get PhDs at 50X base expectation (
www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/Top1in10000.pdf). It has more predictive validity than a GPA earned over 12 years x 200 days x 6 hours = 14400 hours of K-12!

That is a fantastic scientific fact. And it leads to more. IQ testing is at the core of modern studies on the molecular genetics of intelligence. Where is g actually localized in the brain? What is the molecular biology of g? Those are the interesting questions today, not "whether g exists" or "whether standardized tests are biased". You frankly have absolutely no idea how sophisticated psychometric research has become.

While you come up with the N+1st reason why g is an "illusion", we'll be flying right by you just like we flew by the race deniers.

PS: Jefferson was all about the natural aristocracy.

Anonymous said...

Considering how poorly most history, political science, economics, etc. courses are taught, it's probably no great loss to just AP-test yourself out of them. But if you're lucky enough to have a great professor, you can get things from those courses you wouldn't get from just cramming for a standardized exam. Of course, great professors are few and far between.

Jerry said...

In any case, AP courses were useless to me... I entered the U of M with 39 AP credits, including bio, chem, physics, calc... in my last semester there I had to take jock astronomy and geology to graduate. Went and complained to my dean or whoever, and said that if they make me take these useless science classes, I will never donate a penny to the school. She replied, "That's a very interesting viewpoint." All that the AP credits did for me was bump me into the upper-tier tuition bracket at the end of my freshman year.

As I understand it, AP scores are used to boost your college admissions chances (I started taking mine as a high school sophomore, and did five by the end of the junior year), i.e., as just another universal benchmark evaluation point, and not to go through college faster.

Soul Searcher said...

Anon is right. AP tests are too easy, compared to the rigorous science education of most colleges.
Most kids shouldn't be placing out of them, particularly in foundational subjects like calculus, in college.

Anonymous said...

Do you think public schools offer discipline and structure for students who many not come from families that can provide it.

PeterW said...

Of course the rub is, a lot of schools, especially the better ones, will only let these tests count for placement (which is pretty much up to the student anyway, AP or no AP) or won't recognize the scores at all.

Anonymous said...

"Still, one of the things America needs to get better at is hustling its brighter young people along to maturity faster, rather than let them dawdle endlessly in academia on daddy's dime."

Yes, yes, yes. Yes.

One thing to watch for though is putting kids a grade or two ahead. I haven't seen the data but I'd infer that it may lead to some problems later in life. Hate to cherry pick one example, but Ted Kaczinski alluded to this as one reason why he was so f*cked up, not that there was any shortage of reasons in his case.

I was put in an "enriched" program in 1980, which meant I didn't have to do homework for a year and just got a big head from being "special". When I win the lottery I will open an academy for boys, or maybe a summer camp, Man Up Camp.

My fear is that the next Mozart or Davinci or Ben Franklin is growing up in a broken home, raised by an overwhelmed over-Oprahed single mom and a series of asshole stepfathers, smoking a lot of weed, listening to rap, watching awful teevee, and playing XBox, and nobody gives a shit. I exaggerate a bit, but not much. We have to identify these kids and save them if we can, not for their benefit so much as for ours and the next generation.

Oh, and Sailer is God, almost forgot to mention that.

Anonymous said...

In other contries where there are fewer opportunies after high school the penalty for "dwadling" is much greater than in the US. This is true for education, work, and the maritial sweepstakes.

Having been economically self sufficient since I was 18 and having put myself through college I blanch when I see my upper middle class friend's and neighbor's children hang around mom and dad's house well past their mid-20s. For some, graduate school is simply an alternative to working.

In most other cultures the children are expected to look after mom and dad as they get older. Here, many of the adult children suck as much money out of their 40, 50, and 60 something parents as they can.

Also, in many other cultures, women getting married in their late 30s is not an option for them. Here, you have an ambivilance towards children that sometimes never goes away. We are raising narcistic, self centered people.

JCS said...

"Well, there are some reasons why that might not be such a great idea. A relative aced a ton of AP exams, entered the tough U. of Illinois as a sophomore engineering major, and immediately flunked out."

"The conundrum is that kids who can pick up ten or eleven courses worth of credit are likely to be attending hard schools and/or have hard majors. If you show up as an Electrical Engineering major at Cal Tech or Berkeley and enroll in all 200 level math and science courses, you'd better bring your A game."

A dirty little secret of highly respected departments of engineering (say UIUC, Berkeley, MIT, etc...) is the post-admissions weed-out phase. At the beginning of an undergraduate program, these departments typically accept more students than the can educate. These freshmen and sophomore students are required to attend technical and mathematical courses with a near vertical learning curve. Many of these courses are not AP testable. These classes serve two purposes: to educate the students with basic information and to tech certain intellectual tools prior to being sent to classes within their actual department; and to determine which students lack either the intellectual ability or commitment to the program and then toss them. Every graduate has passed through this filter, and depending on the department, this filter may be wider or narrower.

Practically, this system prevents any university mandated, affirmative action programs from seriously corrupting the academic rigor of the engineering departments. These departments tend to admit significantly more women and NAMs than graduate, and these people tend to disappear during the first two years.

Interestingly, the actual engineering departments have little contact with the student during these years. This action might limit their liability to any discrimination lawsuits. Perhaps the system is just too subtle for the thought-police to understand.

Anonymous said...

Steve, would you mind revealing your SAT score and IQ?

I was raised in Houston, and a triple major in 4 years from Rice is impressive. What years were you there?

ERM said...

I'm not sure I understand the suggestion that AP classes are some sort of scam. The tests are indeed a great deal if you do well on them and by all means take ones in passable subjects even without a class, but assuming you have to take so much history or math or whatever, of course the best students are going to take the AP versions. "Heh heh, I'll fool them...I'll take the prole sub-honors U.S. history and STILL get a 5 on the AP test!" This is just how tracking works.

By the way, my own experience, a decade back, with AP was that I got enough to test out of all the Freshman requirements and straight into my major. I could have graduated in 3 years but I spent 4 anyway learning more in my field, not to mention getting plowed and, uh, not working.

Cal said...

I've said this before, but you all are completely missing the reason for the massive growth of AP--which has nothing to do with test scores. Only a third of AP students take the test--and of that third, many of them are forced to take the test even though they don't want to.

The reason for the growth in test taking is, in part, Jay Mathews' moronic "Challenge Index", which allows schools to be rated "the best" based on how many students take (not pass) AP tests. The ratio is the basis for the rating.

The increase in the low scores is in part because kids are required to take the test and then write "I had to take this test" all over the exam book--and nothing else.

The states pay the fees, thus resulting in a massive income transfer from taxpayers to the College Board.

As for the other two thirds of the kids, who don't take the test, it's all about the extra half point.

The issue isn't "You can take the test without taking the class", but that "you can take the class--and get the weighted GPA--without taking the test." This inflates GPAs and in inner city schools or schools with large URM populations, the courses bear next to no relationship to reality.

Most private colleges are refusing to give credit for AP tests, by the way. They claim it's because the tests aren't rigorous enough, but that's nonsense. They refuse the tests because it would decimate certain departments (History, English, and Math). It's the public universities who eagerly accept the tests to save money and allow them to focus more time on remediating the incompetent kids who shouldn't have been accepted in the first place.

AP's a game on many levels. The game you describe is so completely irrelevant to the larger issues of AP (grade inflation, simple education fraud, use of GPAs in urban schools to commit admissions fraud, and then there's the whole income transfer aspect) that I'm really boggled as to why you've wasted two posts on the subject.

Bob said...

Not trying to sway the topic too much, but when Anonymous talks about the amazingly predictive power of IQ, he leaves out a key social reality - what happens when those PhDs are AGAINST us? Who's more beneficial to my group interests, the 95 IQ plumber, quietly ignoring the zeitgeist while going about his business and raising two kids, or the 130 IQ prof blathering about "privilege" to a bunch of easily indoctrinated sophomores? Character trumps IQ for me everytime - and by character, I mean acting for the betterment of our shared kin.

Ronduck said...

Steve, you forgot the College Level Examination Program - CLEP.

Also, I agree with the poster above. We should abolish public education or at least the federal Department of Education. The state departments of education should go too.

Anthony said...

If you want to sell September administrations of the AP exam, sell it as a "second-chance" exam for people who took it in May, did poorly, and studied over the summer (or took summer school) to re-take it.

The kids that read the actual rules (or whose parents do) will sign up anyway, but the myth of the classes being necessary will be preserved.

dorkus malorkus said...

"Still, one of the things America needs to get better at is hustling its brighter young people along to maturity faster, rather than let them dawdle endlessly in academia on daddy's dime."

Ah, the perennial American drive for greater efficiency and productivity (is that redundant?), yet you are forever tagged as one of the worst countries educationwise inter alia.
Whereas in reality Canada is a scholastic hellhole and Quebec is the ninth circle where a bright person is perpetually frozen in academic pointlessness. High school begins in the seventh grade and drags on for a de facto seven years, or more! Then three years of University. Abandon hope all ye who enter!

Chief Seattle said...

"But instead you cheer as our brighter young people dutifully file into what is developing into Japan style test score farm systems."

When I was growing up, I wished hard for a system that would let me learn whatever crap they were teaching, take a test to prove I knew it, and then go and do my own thing with the rest of my time. I believe that's how Steve views the APs - a test out of mediocrity. The APs are far, far from some strenuous Generals or IB test that other countries have for their students. On those tests, only a few students in the country will get a perfect score - but anyone with ambition will spend years trying. On the AP, a "5" probably means about B+ knowledge in a subject.

Ronduck said...

Steve, there is a trend that I haven't seen reported in the MSM. Here in AZ the state supreme court ruled a few years ago that public school funding inequalities were a denial of "equal protection under law" or some such BS. I later found out that an identical ruling had been issued by the Ohio supreme court thirty years ago. I think a similar ruling was issued by the NY supreme court too.

I wouldn't be surprised if every state with an appointed supreme court (this excludes Texas) has issued a similar ruling. Since the rulings have accumulated over the course of thirty years or more the media has never connected the dots.

In AZ one of the consequences of this ruling was that the state legislature levied (extended?) a statewide property tax devoted to financing schools. I remember the case being covered in the local media and the local talking heads stating that the state SC was giving the legislature so many weeks to find a "solution", which involves taxing me indirectly in my rent.

Everyone else here probably has known about this for a long time, but for me knowing that this scam is probably nationwide in scope is still a surprise.

I'll google for some links to see if my memory is correct.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: Have him... play video games

Dude - you were batting 1.000 right up until that point. [And you did pretty darned well after that point.]

But parents who let their kids play video games should be shot.

Video games are worse than Twitter - and that's saying a lot.

If you really cared about your kids, then you wouldn't have ANY computers in the house.

Well, maybe FreeBSD with just a command prompt, and no GUI - for purposes of teaching them assembly language - but I wouldn't even let a kid get on the internet with Lynx.

Although I do have to admit that Wikipedia is like heroin to people with an interest in the history of Western Civilization.

I don't know how an outfit like Encyclopedia Britannica could hope to compete with the wealth of information at Wikipedia.

It's a shame that the guy who "owns" Wikipedia is such a left-wing kook.

Ronduck said...

It seems I was partially wrong. Here are three links about the situation in AZ:

one two three

I also found this amazing resource on school funding litigation that is maintained by an arm of Teacher's College at Columbia University. According to this site school funding lawsuits have been filed in 45 of the 50 states.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, but even the best machine needs cogs."

And whitey increasingly fills the role.

Carolyn said...

As you pointed out, AP is a useful to take care of liberal arts requirements but for hard science or math, I'd be wary. You can probably get away with getting credit for calculus but you better have a rock solid understanding of calculus when leaving high school if you want to be an engineering (or hard science) major. Many engineering colleges structure their freshman year courses in chemistry, physics, programming, calculus, etc. as weeder courses to get rid of the kids who really don't belong in engineering or hard science. Thus, they are often more difficult than a high school AP course no matter that you got a 5 on the exam.

From my own in experience in 1982 where I got 5s on the AP Bio and American History exams was that the high school AP coursework and content was much easier than what I encountered in college. The exception was calculus where my high school class was better than my college's but that was a class structured for gifted kids. My sister had the same math teacher as me in high school, but her college calc class was much tougher (at RPI, a tough engineering college) where the average exam score was often in the 30s. As I said, weeder course.

Additionally, when you have a hard major, easy liberal arts courses often help boost a GPA. They are also a nice change of pace from taking 5 engineering courses.

Dog of Justice said...

Geronimo,Sounds like someone bombed his SATs.Funny.

But I think Geronimo has a very, very important point. And I say this as someone who benefited a lot from standardized testing.

I once read that East Asian-Americans have an average IQ around 103 -- all but indistinguishable from the white average -- but academically perform like a group with average IQ 121. (I cannot for the life of me find the reference for this, however, and I strongly suspect that there's an important detail or two I've forgotten in the factoid. If anyone can point me to what I'm trying to recall, I'll be very grateful.) Somehow, our school system has evolved to be better suited for East Asian immigrants than the bulk of our populace. (Though, as a second-generation East Asian immigrant myself, maybe I shouldn't be complaining...)

If we can inadvertently create a system that gives a (still somewhat internally diverse) group a 1.2 standard deviation boost, imagine what's possible if we consciously designed social systems tuned to the strengths of other sorts of personalities. I don't want to think about how much genius we're throwing away. What I want to do is stop the madness.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: ...What we need is a public education system that focuses on vocational training, so that everyone who graduates is ready to work productively or move on to a specialized degree program for an advanced field...

Look, I hate to be the resident cynic here at iSteve [a place that's pretty dadgum cynical to begin with], but when you start talking about "What we need", you seem to already have settled [tacitly, subconsciously] in your mind on an assumption about just who "We" are.

But I gotta tell you: As I understand the situation, below an IQ of about 90, there's just not that much you can do with a person. Folks with IQs in the 80s can do - what? Push a mop? Change a bedpan? Hmmm... let me think - well, they could pump gas at a full-service gas station, but they couldn't make change for the large bills, and they probably couldn't reliably swipe a credit card, and I doubt that they could be counted on to perform oil & oil filter changes [without the risk of frying maybe one out of every ten engines that they touched].

Think, think, think...

Bag groceries? But they couldn't work the cash register, and they couldn't stock items in the aisles because they wouldn't be able to read...

Honestly - I'm having a lot of difficulty seeing just what it is that you do with IQ-80s-ish people. Carpenter's/Plumber's/Electrician's "helper"? Maybe they could be the "helper", with extremely strict supervision from the tradesman, but they could never graduate to being the tradesman themselves.

Would you trust a nanny/au pair/babysitter, with an IQ in the 80s, to watch your children for an afternoon?

Seriously - a person needs an IQ of about 90 to have any hope of the most basic, rudimentary mastery of the 3Rs ['readin, 'riting, 'rithmetic], and even then, it's not clear whether a person with an IQ of 90 even understands what it is that they're mastering - maybe they can memorize the multiplication tables, but do they have any inherent sense of what multiplication is, and can they successfully apply the concept of multiplication to any real world problems that they might encounter during their lives? My guess is that, down around IQ 90, the answer would be an emphatic, "No!"

And here's where the going gets rough: About 41% [and growing] of all children in this country are now Black or Hispanic, and, by my calculations, the average IQ of Black & Hispanic children in this country is now about 80 [NOT 85!!! - owing to dysgenic fertility], which means that, right off the bat, about 75% or 80% of 41% of the children in this country fall beneath the magic IQ threshold of 90 [and the overwhelming majority of the ones who have IQs above 90 aren't going to get anywhere Wonderlic's recommendation of IQ 100-108 for truck drivers], and hence are doomed to lives as dead weight in an advanced, technology-driven society.

And that means that either they will be left behind by society, or else - because of their mere presence within it - the society will cease to be advanced & technology-driven.

So what's the point of this rant? I guess the point of it is that I just don't know how much "vocational training" you can do for a person who has an IQ less than 90 - how many years of mop-pushing exercises can you subject them to? And what would be the purpose of it?

You people just don't have any earthly idea how bad things are about to become [and you're the enlightened ones]...

Mr. Anon said...

"Geronimo said...

Sorry but I argue that your obsession with test scores causes you to downplay the great powerful engine that has driven America from the start and that engine is the quirky original thinker. The man or woman completely outside the box. An environment that allows these eccentrics to prosper is and has always been the secret to America."

Nobody is ouside the box. Nobody learns everything they need to know from themselves. Everyone builds on what has gone before them.

That sort of can-do, self-help, Dale Carnegie, power-of-postitive-thinking horseshit helped ruin this country. It does not explain Thomas Edison. It explains Amway.

Argent Paladin said...

There are some perils of this approach. I tested out of the first year physics curriculum at Stanford but not Calculus. The result was that my love for physics wasn't able to overcome my indifference to calculus and so I changed majors.
Also, while graduating in three years saves money, the goal is not to learn the most per dollar. If one is getting 3-5 5's on the AP, one is probably going to an elite school. The purpose of an elite school is to network and get to know people. I didn't really do that, even though I overlapped with Tiger Woods, Chelsea Clinton, Fred Savage and, more importantly, the founders of Yahoo and Google and many other lesser known start-ups. Had I been less focused on my schoolwork and more on future sucess, perhaps I could have worked for a few years at a cushy start-up, gotten bought out by Oracle and finished my degree later. I'd recommend skipping classes by AP and using the extra time to participate in clubs, sports and other groups. Chances are that someone in one of those groups will hit it big.

Half Sigma said...

Unfortunately, the trend in higher ed is in the opposite direction. Kids are taking 5 and 6 years to graduate from college where it used to be just 4, and most state schools are complacently accepting the 5 to 6 year new norm.

Anonymous said...

This is OT, but it's a question I have pondered nearly all my life and I am hoping some of the knowledgeable commenters here can shed some light on it.

I have extremely high verbal intelligence. I scored in the 99th percentile on the verbal sections of the SSAT at 13, the PSAT at 15, the SAT at 17 and the GRE at 22. I enjoy learning languages, I'm a good speller, my hobby is arguing on the internet using syntactically complex sentences and literary and historical allusions, I read poetry for pleasure, I write an average of 3000 words a day.

But I am hopeless at math. I scored below the fiftieth percentile on the math sections of all those tests. I have a hard time with basic arithmetic. I didn't understand a lot of basic mathematical concepts until my 20s. I try to study math on my own but I am stalled at beginning algebra. I am 35 and I have been stalled at beginning algebra for a long time. I worked very hard to increase my GRE score and totally failed- this was before I had some kind of cognitive leap in my midtwenties however, which interestingly happened at the same time I learned to knit. At least now I understand multiplication, which I did not before about 25.

What gives? How is this even possible? Explain me. And if I'm like this, could other people be like this? Could I have been taught differently? Could the midtwenties the appropriate time for certain academic subjects for certain people?

Anonymous No. 3 said...

The answer is ridiculously simple. It takes FOREVER to create and (especially) grade the exams.

Here's a quick rundown of the process, using AP European and AP US History as examples.

Every five years, College Board creates a bank of multiple choice questions. Each year, 80 of those questions are pulled to form the MC section of those tests. After five years, the bank is retired, and the College Board will release one of the full exams from those years. That's why the last released test for Euro, for example, was 2004's, and 1999 before that. College Board is really strict about cheating on these tests--schools that have been caught have had the hammer dropped on them, because it spoils a ton of balanced questions.

Each year, there are also 14 new essay questions written. One document based question, using primary sources, and then two banks of 3 essays, from which students pick one question each. The question banks are balanced so as to provide breadth--bank 1 may be economic/social history, while bank 2 may be political and cultural. There appear only 7 of these on each test, but each College Board writes two versions, Form A and Form B. Form B is the make-up test, while the vast majority of people take Form A. You usually have to have a good reason to take Form B, and they usually charge a hefty fee for it.

The tests are given in May. The multiple choice is graded electronically. The essays, however, require a huge amount of manpower to grade.
College professors and AP teachers who have taught the relevant AP course for 3 years are hired to grade for a week. They make about $1500 and get travel, room and board, although it's often a dorm style arrangement. Euro is graded in Colorado Springs; US is graded in Louisville now after years in San Antonio.

US History has over 200,000 students take it each year; Euro about 70,000, so it's a lot of paper to grade. Experienced graders are called table leaders. They lead teams of six graders. Each table only grades on of the questions, and the table leader double grades every sixth essay as quality control. The DBQ's are graded in a relatively standard manner using a rubric, but the rubrics for the essays are complex. There exists a generic form, but before the graders show up a team takes samples of the essays, and essentially reverse engineers the rubric. So if the samples they got were rotten, the grading for the rest will be easier, and vice versa.

So College Board doesn't test but once a year because it's expensive to create the test and grade them, and the labor force available to grade them is only really available in the summer. This is probably more detail than needed, but I figured some might be interested in how these tests are put together.

Anonymous said...

I've heard a lot of people insist that all sorts of supergeniuses suck at standardized tests, yet I've never heard a good example. Curious how, when we actually study things in reality, it always seems to turnout that the tests are very useful predictors, as in that Vanderbilt study. Perhaps there are exceptions, but they are, in fact, exceptions. Big ones.

Also, I noticed that that study claims that the 320 kids with 180 IQ or better were 78% White, 20% Asian and 2% "Other," and that males substantially outnumbered females. What a shocking revelation!

This is where blank slate theory really falls apart, not that it ever had any real evidence. The idea that the difference between 85 and 100 is primarily socialization sounds slightly plausible, since the intellectual abilities of both are pretty unremarkable to anyone of intelligence. (They're both easy for me, so anyone should be able to do it!) But I find it impossible to imagine that the smartest people I've ever known were anything other than freaks of nature. And who would've guessed it, NAMs have a helluva lot fewer freaks than do whites/Asians, just as the earlier gaps predict. And hell, I may never even have met anyone with a 180 IQ, so they probably seem even more obviously gifted than the best minds I've encountered.

Anonymous said...

The education system is broken, not just non-functional, but dysfunctional, and it will go down soon.

The educational industry will be the last bubble to pop, but pop it will.

Anonymous said...

"Our standardized testing regime is f***ing moronic elitist nonsense that is primarily designed to teach young people how to be obedient upper level Cogs In The Machine."

I'm willing to go all anarchist on things sometimes, but I can't wrap my head around the chain of premises from "fill in bubbles with #2 pencil" to "I love Big Brother".

You gotta think there are better opiates than the SAT for the masses, right? Or am I wrong?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

As a superlative standardised tester who fumbled along in school, I have considerable assent to this. I now know how my education should have been structured, and am quite certain that other children - especially, but not only, male children - would have flourished under such a system as well.

That many accomplished persons did not do well in the traditional classroom setting is hardly an indication that the tests are at fault. If the tests failed to identify a significant percentage of those who went on to do well in an academic sense, that would be more reason to blame the tests. That there are false positives may be more the fault of institutional education than the students.

School teaches other things besides information - not all of them good. We generally agree that learning to complete unpleasant tasks, work cooperatively, produce under deadline, and absorb rules of group comity have value. While some who do not learn these lessons thrive, most do not.

Our current structure is hardly the only way to learn these things, however.

Colleges developed as small institutions, a concentration of scholars in an era when there were few of such. Students entered a stimulating intellectual environment that was hardly available elsewhere. From that launching point, they could enter professions or begin the long life of correspondence with others in the field. That model has decreased in value over time. It isn't worthless by any means, but it is diminished.

Carl said...

Dude -- you can already do this.

CLEP tests. They're run by the AP people (I believe) and if you get a certain score they count as college credit. And you can take them anytime you want. You just can't take the same test within a six month period (ie, bio 1 a month in between).

I did this for a couple tests and would have done it for MUCH more had I known about it before I got to college. I did it during college after reading about it in the Student Bulletin. I went back to my HS to tell teachers to get their students to do it: got blank faces.

Seriously, you can schedule them for anytime (or at least I did).

Shawn said...

Steve, knowing what you know now, that you were going to be a quantitative journalist, would you have still have pursued the UCLA MBA?

It seems like the BA/BS is needed regardless of what someone wants to do, just if they (we) want to prove that we are not dumb.

Shawn said...

Steve,

perhaps you could have just applied to UCLA's MBA program and then just kept the acceptance letter. Perhaps that would be enough.

Bobby Jindal likes to tell people that he was accepted to both Harvard Medical and School & Yale Law in order to prove that he is part of the high IQ ruling class.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Kabala said...

There's no doubt that home schooling is the logical next step in Steve's philosophy. If you don't need the courses, why would you need the teachers or the buildings? And certainly home schoolers have been very succesful on the whole. (Although contrary to what you might think, four of the last five national spelling bee winners have been from public schools.)

As far as the Sailer style of taking AP tests goes, however, I suspect that many of the most successful home schoolers are those whose courses are heavily guided by intelligent parents who function in the teacher role and structure their children's course of study in a way that bears some resemblance to a school course, not those who simply cram like mad. Will your son remember all he crammed in a few years, and even if he does (for he is clearly highly intelligent and had you to guide him), would most crammers? And as far as cramming in the summer by students still enrolled in regular school goes, I'm old-fashioned enough to still believe that there should be some months of the year in which the student has respite from schoolwork (although my own summers as a child mainly consisted of reading, so who am I to talk)?

Butch Hendrickson: You do realize that free* public libraries have been around for a while, don't you? The Internet is a wonderful tool and it is certainly convenient to look up anything you want without leaving your house, but the idea that it has caused any actual substantial increase in the amount of freely available information strikes me as false (except for the ability to read newspapers from anywhere, but that hardly applies to history or literature of the past).

* Yes, not technically free since tax-supported, but the Internet is certainly not free either, since you have to pay your service provider even if you do not have to pay for individual sites - unless you go to the library!

John Seiler said...

"Still, one of the things America needs to get better at is hustling its brighter young people along to maturity faster, rather than let them dawdle endlessly in academia on daddy's dime."

In that, the L.A. government schools are a great success, because half their inmates escape before graduation.

John Seiler said...

A big part of the problem is the vast expansion of universities and colleges following WWII as part of the G.I. Bill of Rights, which provided free schooling to any veteran. Those vets used it wisely, but afterward the schools remained at their expanded, gargantuan size, what Russell Kirk called "Behemoth U."

Although now 30 years old, Kirk's book "Decadence and Renewal in the Higher Learning" is still worthwhile. He presciently saw that about the only place renewal would take place was in small, independent religious colleges, such as Thomas Aquinas College.

James Kabala said...

One more thing - if the three-year B.A. became standard, annual tuition would probably go up. If it is a good idea (and it may be), I don't think it would be so for money reasons.

Anonymous said...

As a lurker, I was amused to see reference to http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/Top1in10000.pdf because I am one of the individuals tracked in that study. However, although I did get 5s in all 8 AP exams I took in high school, and got a degree from an Ivy League university, I never got a Ph.D. Fundamental reason: political incorrectness, more or less. It's not enough to be smart in the world. You also have to learn how to suppress your true thoughts and not tell off all your professors when you think they're wrong.

Chu said...

Many people stay in for five years because college is fun. Some of my friends with many AP credits added a major so they could at least stay for four years.

Carl said...

Here is more information on the CLEP tests.

I found out about them a YEAR into undergrad. After I had wasted a year of taking required, WORTHLESS classes that my high school didn't have AP credits for (2nd semester intro english, Western Civ x 2 come to mind). Fortunately I did have a number of science/math APs done.

I was able to sign up for some more equally worthless required intro classes that I couldn't get AP credit for (intro to POSC, calc 1) which saved me significant time in college. And you don't need to be a HS student. I was already a sophomore in college.

(Not all schools take them -- probably not a top 25 school -- but my school's about 75 on the USN&WR ranking and it does).

Here is the list of exams. It's not a huge list, but if you can knock off a couple extra worthless $3000 courses at Waste of Time Private U, it's worth the effort. You get your test score on a computer immediately and most schools let you know what score it takes to get credit.

Anonymous said...

Stereotype threat....If there's no change in the gap on this year's SAT or AP tests, someone needs to ask the snake oil sellers for explanations.

But what will happen is the excuse will change. Something else will move to the forefront, there will be no requirement to explain why the old theory no longer holds.

Mr. Anon said...

"Lucius Vorenus said...

I don't know how an outfit like Encyclopedia Britannica could hope to compete with the wealth of information at Wikipedia."

Perhaps they gambled that they could beat Wikipedia by providing correct information, something that Wikipedia is very sloppy in doing. If so, they bet wrong.

"It's a shame that the guy who "owns" Wikipedia is such a left-wing kook."

Gives one pause in believing what one reads there.

Reg Cæsar said...

Never mind AP. Never mind CLEP. Do what Alan Watts did:

Skip college altogether and go straight to graduate school.It would save a lot of time and money.

Black Sea said...

Anopnymous said: "I never got a Ph.D. Fundamental reason: political incorrectness, more or less."

I don't know what this anonymous studied in school, but one reason why so much of the instruction in the liberal arts is so bad is that people of a more skeptical, analytical, and imaginative bent simply can't stomach the degree of conformist political cant, economic generalization in the absence of empirical fact, and the absurd theorizing that passes for critical thought. It's a shame, in part because it become a self-perpetuating system. Talented people are discouraged from pursuing teaching, which leaves the teaching to the middling and in many cases, the mentally-afflicted (I'm not kidding), which disenchants the next generation of students, who view the liberal arts as a sort of political cult for otherwise struggling undergraduates.

James Kabala said...

ERM: Exactly. That is why I said home schooling is, rightly or wrongly, the natural next step in Steve's philosophy. Taking the test without taking the course works for something like Russian or Japanese or "Human Geography" that the average high school does not offer, but if a bright kid is in school and going to take a U.S. history course anyway (back in the day in Massachusetts this was one of only two statewide requirements for graduation - the other being four years of phys. ed.!), he's going to take the AP course.

Anonymous who was bad at math: Sometimes people just don't have across the board "g" - and this gets truer the more you advanced the subject gets. I got the eighth-grade math award, but it was downhill from there (although fortunately I was still able to get fairly high scores on the math SATs and GREs).

Anonymous 3: Thanks for your explanation, which is almost surely correct.

On Wikipedia: Actually, Mr. Wales is the one of the few things worse than a left-wing kook: an Objectivist kook! Also formerly involved in de facto pornography. I read Wikipedia all the time nonetheless.

AZ said...

In China - the society with the longest history of consistent use standardized testing - the examinations served as an excellent predictor of whether or not an individual would excel in areas unrelated to his bureaucratic career.

The vast majority of dynastic China's leading poets, men of letters, philosophers, inventors or artists after the Tang Dynasty, when use of the civil service examination first became widespread, achieved the highest possible score when tested (obtaining the "jinshi", or advanced scholar rank).

There are exceptions - for example, the two Tang dynasty poets Du Fu and Li Bai, who are esteemed as the greater writers in Chinese letters, didn't perform so well, and former was consigned to a life of lowly civil service positions as a consequence (Li Bai was a scheming charmer and managed to obtain the position of chancellor through the use of connections). But in general, if you can read about an eminent figure in Chinese intellectual life from prior to the Republic today, he was a "jinshi".

I'm sure that if standardized tests were around in the 18th century, men such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson would have aced them without effort.

Maximilian said...

There's a nearly ideal solution to the dilemma described by several posters between saving time and money by testing out of entry-level college courses versus the reality that you won't attain the required knowledge level that you would by taking real college courses (when the teaching is any good).

Many states now have programs called "Post-Secondary Education" that allows high-school students to take courses at local colleges. They get double credit, one at the college and one at the high school. It's all totally free, even the books are paid for. The student can enroll up to 100% of their course load at the college rather than the high school.

So this is like the AP tests in that you get credit at both the high school and the college level, except that you are taking the actual physical course at the college. So there is no problem later with colleges refusing to give you credit -- you have actually taken and completed a college course in the subject, but the credit transferred backwards and down to the high school rather than up to the college.

Maximilian said...

Those who are responding to Geronimo by defending the tests are missing the point. The problem is not the tests per se. Yes they work reasonably well at identifying smart people, and yes Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison would have had little difficulty with the SAT test.

The problem is with the system created around the tests, a system that allows only one channel of advancement, and therefore cuts off everyone unwilling to conform to it. A conservative white male is not going to reach the top of this ladder. Like the later commentor who had perfect test scores but didn't stick around to get a PhD because he couldn't stomach the PC environment. My own daughter dropped out of nursing school because she couldn't tolerate the constant, ubiquitous, incessant drumbeat of propaganda for evolution.

This system is destroying America. The problem with the system is not the tests. The problem with the system is that it allows certain people with power to exert a complete stranglehold on development and advancement. It's very similar to what existed in the Soviet Union. It's so similar, in fact, that one might think it was the same system.

BTW, perhaps the most dramatic example of the lone genius working outside the box was Philo T. Farnsworth.

Anonymous said...

"I can't wrap my head around the chain of premises from "fill in bubbles with #2 pencil" to "I love Big Brother"."

Keep trying.

Anonymous said...

"So what's the point of this rant? I guess the point of it is that I just don't know how much "vocational training" you can do for a person who has an IQ less than 90 - how many years of mop-pushing exercises can you subject them to? And what would be the purpose of it?"

It's really pretty hideous the way you bash the below-average crowd. Did a NAM with a 90 IQ steal your high school sweetheart?

People with an 80-90 IQ are far from useless, and more importantly they exist and I don't see a big movement brewing to exterminate them. So instead of telling every kid they could be the president someday, and wasting their time with general education, let's focus on the functions they can perform and teach them life skills.

Child care is a good example. You say you wouldn't want an 80 IQ babysitter. But do you think someone with 130 IQ wants to sit around watching your kids? Is that a productive use of their time? I'd rather have a trained, experienced, and caring but slow adult as a nanny than a bright, bored high school kid.

We can't have every job staffed by an above-average person. That's obvious. So we need to focus on helping the below-average people become as productive as they can be. As for your inquiry into who I mean by "we", I'm referring to American citizens in general and our power to change the broken system. Because just complaining about the problem isn't going to make it go away.

On a personal note, I'd like to know what life-altering scientific advance you discovered that entitles you to pass judgment on these hopelessly useless people. The way I see it, your average 80 IQ garbage collector creates more value for society than most desk-jockey corporate peons.

Truth said...

"But I gotta tell you: As I understand the situation, below an IQ of about 90, there's just not that much you can do with a person. Folks with IQs in the 80s can do - what? Push a mop? Change a bedpan?..."

And what exactly have you done, Einsten, other than bloviate repetitively 2-3 hours a day on a series of blogs about how smart you are, as opposed to how dumb other people (including the President of the United States) are?

Truth said...

"And hell, I may never even have met anyone with a 180 IQ, so they probably seem even more obviously gifted than the best minds I've encountered."

A high IQ does not make one a great mind, accomplishment makes one a great mind. The man with the highest IQ in America is a bouncer in a honky-tonk bar in Wyoming, the woman with the highest IQ in America writes a column in the Sunday paper that can be found between the ads for feminine body wash and Souper Salads; are they great minds?

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: I have extremely high verbal intelligence... But I am hopeless at math... At least now I understand multiplication, which I did not before about 25...

I can't tell whether you're being facetious or sarcastic, but I'm going to proceed on the assumption that you're serious.

Anonymous: ...I had some kind of cognitive leap in my midtwenties however, which interestingly happened at the same time I learned to knit...

So you're female?

Anonymous: What gives? How is this even possible? Explain me. And if I'm like this, could other people be like this? Could I have been taught differently?

Listen, if you're serious about pursuing math and math-ish things [such as logic], then you might want to start by learning to program in a computer language.

I have read accounts from many, many different hiring managers at software firms & at IT shops ["Information Technology" departments within larger firms] who say that their best coders are typically not the math or engineering or even CompSci majors, but rather are the English [and other humanities - Classics, History, etc] majors who took up programming as a means of paying the bills.

Apparently the math/engineering/compsci geeks tend to write horribly messy, impenetrable, "obfuscated" code, but the humanities folks tend to deliver a much more elegant work product which makes both them & their teams more productive [and maybe even quicker to market?].

It's fairly easy to get started in most of the standard programming languages - something low-level, like "C", or something mid-level, like "Java", or something very high-level, like "Javascript" - the low level stuff, like "C", is much closer to the hardware, while the high-level stuff, like "Javascript" [and the associated "Document Object Model", or "DOM"] can get you all sorts of pretty pictures within just a simple web browser - but it shouldn't take much more than an afternoon to download a compiler and get a simple "Hello World!" program up and running in any of these languages [and, on Windows XP and earlier, you can program in Javascript with nothing more than a word processor and a web browser - although, sadly, Microsoft decided to turn off that functionality in Vista & IE7].

Now all of those standard programming languages are what are called "procedural" languages, and they form the foundation for the vast majority of all commercial software products on the market, but there is a competing class of languages, called "functional" languages, which work at a much higher level of abstraction than the "procedural" languages - examples being Lisp [& Scheme], Haskell, OCaml [& F#], and Erlang - and if you find that you enjoy programming in a "procedural" language as much as you enjoy, say, knitting, then you might try gritting your teeth and sucking it up and jumping in full-bore to try to master a "functional" language.

From there, you can then head in two directions: From a low level procedural language, like "C", you can move down to "Assembly Language" and then get down into the actual registers [and even gates] of the hardware - that would tend to take you towards mathematics - or, from a very high level "functional" language, like "Haskell", you could move towards a study of symbolic logic [such as the theory of the Lambda Calculus].



PS: If you're 35 & female, then I hope you've made [and/or are making] lots of babies, because, if not, then the clock is running out, and I'd turn my attention to making babies before I wasted any time pursuing math or symbolic logic.

Hobbies like that can wait until your twilight years.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous with the insanely high verbal scores and the math retardation, and coincidentally, I spent most of my working life in childcare, and no, you don't want someone with an IQ of 80 watching your child. As a society we recognize this and we take enormous steps to convince those parents to allow childcare to be collectivized under the general direction of people who are more intelligent than they are, while we take those parents and shuttle them around in various makework programs.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Truth: ...bloviate repetitively 2-3 hours a day...I don't think even people like Steve Sailer & Charles Murray & Spengler realize quite the toll that dysgenic fertility is about to extract from the civilized world.

You just don't have any idea how bad things are about to become.

Spend an afternoon with The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit if you want to get a taste of what's in store for you.

dave said...

" For the humanities and liberal arts, all the material that you would cover in a college curriculum is available free online."

A COMPUTER is better at the STUDY OF THAT WHICH MAKES US HUMAN? ooookay HAL.
Spoken like a true non-believer in the humanities. Gives Computer Studies a whole new meaning, as it takes its place beside Womens Studies, Black Studies, Outer Mongolian studies, etc.
The "material" has always been there. Ever heard of books? Libraries? Sartre's famous library based "Autodidact" (self-taught) character who I thought was supposed to be admirable, was actualy meant to illustrate the arrogance and navel-gazing self-referenced teaching & learning could lead to. At least that's what my professor from France told me, and he had met Sartre.
The purpose of humanities courses was not to hand out reading lists. The purpose was to focus on what made great writing great, what made history history, etc. A good professor would stick in your crawl for decades. I have to say the best professors I had were in a community college. They taught because they loved the subject and spent time thinking about it from different angles. University professors thought about it from a pov of getting their own work published and by and large had less to offer their students. Strange.
Of course you can get the material on line. But in some ways the plethora of material is so humongous that there is more need than ever for some perspective and organization.
All that being said, a humanities education is never complete in itself. All it does is instroduce to literature, history, etc., and advise on how to look at it critically and from different perspectives.
Oh, and by the way. Learning how to discuss and debate -- learning how to use the human voice effectively, is something we all need or else it will be left to the psyops people who do know the value and train their manchurian candidates accordingly. They've got one in the White House now, that POTUS of the hypnotic, dead teleprompted voice and empty eyes.
Meanwhile the rest of us, glued to our computer screens, don't realize what has happened.

Geronimo said...

Apparently I didn't use enough all caps in my previous post to communicate that the problem is a standardized testing regime.

Standardized testing REGIME.

Get it? It's not just one test. Raise your hand if you understand that there is a gigantic and expansive education industry octopus in America that above all demands fealty to its central controllers. They call that fealty "standards".

And who is in control of the standards? The answer is that it doesn't really matter. Because once a civilization adopts macro educational "control" and "standards" then that civilization will decline in the Soviet style because group think kills inquiry. And once the control mechanism over education is in place the control itself will be abused to the fullest extent possible (power corrupts) until a state of Maximum Faux Inquiry is achieved i.e. total intellectual bankruptcy.

Steve just recently waded into the bizarro world of Faux Inquiry with the William Saletan and the Talking Points Memo website comment threads.

Yes that future is possible (see Soviet Union): high test scores and a stupid broken down society. This is what is happening to us.

The secret of classical era America (roughly 1750-1950) was the radical decentralization of power. No hegemonic king banker priest emperor had yet gained control and imposed a tyrannical System of Thought.

ps Maximilian responded above with the jist here but I already typed this rant out.

d.c. watcher said...

Two examples of the highest known IQers who didn't do much of intellectual value.
We already know about AVERAGES. You'd be saying something useful if you could find some examples of IQ 80 people who accomplished something of great intellectual value.
Observational truth: a base of at least 100 AVERAGE IQ is needed to MAINTAIN AND IMPROVE on what the really high IQ geniuses invent. The lower the AVERAGE IQ, the more the society deteriorates, technically and culturally. Take a look at who goes to museums in D.C.
An AVERAGE IQ of 80 destroys a "first world" society. We already know that. Any blather about the uselessness of a couple high IQ people means nothing. If you don't understand that by now, why are you here? You are like a flat earther trying to convince an astronomer that earth is shaped like a nickel.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Truth, ya got me, two counterexamples! IQ has been dismantled!

Few, and certainly not I, ever said that IQ was a perfect measure of intelligence or that the success of individuals was perfectly stacked in order of IQ. No, it doesn't measure everything and there are possible errors and so forth. Nevertheless, when you divide up the population by IQ, those with the particularly high scores are, on average, far more successful and accomplished than everyone else, at least on intellectual levels. (As the aforementioned Vanderbilt study illustrates.)

So no, Marilyn Vos Savant and whatever dude you're referring to haven't accomplished squat. Doesn't change the fact that high-IQ sorts accomplish disproportionately more than others in intellectual areas.

And when I say "great minds", I don't mean historical geniuses, I just mean very smart, insightful people. Great historical geniuses are sufficiently rare that I don't hazard to guess what allowed them to do what they did. (Though yeah, I've little doubt that they overwhelmingly would've done well on IQ tests had they taken them, though there's surely more than that going on.)

albertosaurus said...

Funny how the Founders of America didn't require standardized testing in order to create a great society.Nor did they issue machine guns and tanks to the army, or cook their food in microwave ovens.

Anyone who has read the life of Hamilton or Burr or Madison comes away wondering where are such minds today. Jefferson wasn't too slow either.

The Enlightenment was very aware of differences intellectual ability. If standardized tests had been invented they would have been used.

Truth said...

"You just don't have any idea how bad things are about to become."

Grasshopper, people have been predicting the demise of the world for quite some time now; as a matter of fact, I think Noah's wife was the first, but they got over 40 day's of rain, and you'll get over a black president.

"Oh, Truth, ya got me, two counterexamples! IQ has been dismantled!"

No, my friend, not two counterexamples: THE two counterexamples, chronicling THE smartest man and woman in America.

"Great historical geniuses are sufficiently rare that I don't hazard to guess what allowed them to do what they did."

Well then I have a great idea for you, instead of reminding us ad nauseum about the score you got on a test in the 7th grade, why don't you do some research, figure it out and write a book; then you will have made a contribution to the high IQ society to which you "already belong."

Until then, you've chosen a sobriquet that perfectly describes your standing in life...as have I.

Anonymous said...

guess the lesson here is that the modern american education system (set up by the pentagon and the cia plus the dept of education and the gigantic left wing foundations) produces independent thinkers.

uh huh there is less groupthink in american education than ever before.

okey dokey.

Reg Cæsar said...

So no, Marilyn Vos Savant and whatever dude you're referring to haven't accomplished squat. --anon.


Oh? She married Robert Jarvik and gave him two kids. That's not squat.

Especially when those kids carry the genes responsible for the artificial heart, the nicotine patch, and the Mach number.

Truth said...

"Oh? She married Robert Jarvik and gave him two kids. That's not squat."

Great, she had sex, now there's a high-IQ activity that demands her 220 IQ!

And what do the two little geniuses do for a living? They work for Daddy's company, what else?

Anonymous said...

Ahh the joys of debating Truth. I've seen him pull out the irrelevant chestnut "What have you done huh?" on so many others, but it's really moving to hear it from him personally. In this debate, by the way, I'm not talking about myself. I do not consider myself intelligent enough to ever accomplish anything worth mentioning. Simply don't have the raw ability. Also, it was quite kind of you to generate a imaginary personality for me while reading the posts. It's not particularly accurate, but the effort means a lot to me.

And you haven't added anything new to the debate. Yes, Savant and whatshisname are nothing special. Nevertheless, people of extraordinarily high IQs are much more likely to be highly accomplished, even if most of them never amount to anything either. As I said before, it is not a perfect individual measure that stacks everyone up nicely, but when you divide them up and look at the averages, the advantage is clear.

Anonymous said...

Lucius --

I'm all about the command line. My kid is now just starting to get to the age where it's time to get him into the GNU tools.

But regarding video games, I have to disagree with you there. Video games, especially good RPGs, are among the most enjoyable things for an intelligent young boy, up there with great novels, D&D, and anime movies.

Personally I learned much more from Civilization IV than I ever did in History or Econ. And more from Aerobiz than Econ. And so on and so forth. I learned a ton of math when fooling around with some customizations of the Quake rendering engine...very awesome and rewarding to learn about (say) Gouraud shading, implement it, and then see it in the game.

Almost all of the best engineers I know cut their teeth on video games. It's a really important part of our childhood.

Anyway, don't hate the player *or* the game, so to speak :)

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha! Steve Sailer's site attracts some intelligent people.

I'm pretty sure I overlapped with Argent Paladin at Stanford (I'm class of '01), and I took 10 APs like someone else in this thread, and I'm *also* in the Benbow study. I don't know what the general cutoff was, but my stats were 700V/680M and then 800/800 in 11th grade.

Argent, you should have joined Google right after graduation!

Anonymous said...

It's really pretty hideous the way you bash the below-average crowd. It's not bashing. It is hard reality. Below 80 IQ you can't even read a bus schedule.

The way I see it, your average 80 IQ garbage collector creates more value for society than most desk-jockey corporate peons. No. This is wishful thinking. The "desk jockey corporate peons" are the ones responsible for the design and engineering of the garbage truck, the recycling plant, the routes the truck takes, the provision of fuel and power supplies, etcetera.

It takes a great deal of intelligence to set up an idiot proof system. Unfortunately, the ratio of idiots to people with great intelligence is rapidly increasing.

Einstein You don't have to be Einstein to understand the capabilities of people with below 80 IQs. Here's the distribution:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_4ify7vDXrDs/SEF8f8BiHMI/AAAAAAAACwg/W46AY2Zzbh8/s1600-h/_0_0_a_IQ+Ranges+for+Various+Occupations.gif

You need to recognize that 80 IQ isn't just "dumb". 80 IQ is dumb for a janitor. It is in the bottom quartile of the lowest IQ profession. Ok?

So quit trying to kill the messenger.



their best coders are typically not the math or engineering or even CompSci majors, but rather are the English majors who took up programming as a means of paying the bills.
Almost completely unbelievable as a general rule. Perhaps the exceptions are those who are capable of self-teaching. But exactly how is an English major going to recognize a problem as (say) a matrix multiplication and call an optimized BLAS/LAPACK/ATLAS routine when necessary?

Anonymous said...

chronicling THE smartest man and woman in America. Dude -- Langan and Vos Savant are NOT the smartest people in the US! Not even close! Reid Barton, Gabriel Carroll, Noam Elkies or Ravi Vakil would absolutely dust them any day of the week in any intellectual task you may name.

Let me give you an analogy that even Truth will understand. Ever been to a bodybuilding competition? I'm sure there are awards for the lowest body fat, the most striated look. But that muscle isn't necessarily *functional*, in that it isn't married to extraordinary hand/eye coordination.

By contrast, the NFL and NBA players are striated without even trying that hard. That muscle is applied. They may not even measure themselves all that frequently outside of the combine. While their vertical leap and bicep size *does* predict their ability on the field or court, they don't make a fetish out of measuring their body fat all the time for the sake of measurement.

In other words: IQ is a necessary but not sufficient condition for high intellectual achievement. People who have high IQ but low levels of drive or focus often end up in MENSA. People who have high IQ and high drive end up creating billion dollar companies like Google, Microsoft and Oracle or joining the Harvard Math Department.

Anonymous said...

According to Wikipedia, Marilyn vos Savant's IQ has been measured variously as 167+, 180, 195, 215, and 230.

She's had at least one book published, so that's something.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_vos_Savant

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_vos_Savant#Fermat.27s_last_theorem

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Truth.

Facta non verba.

Truth said...

"I do not consider myself intelligent enough to ever accomplish anything worth mentioning. Simply don't have the raw ability."

Al Sharpton has accomplished a few things worth mentioning; do you consider him a genus?

I think that you and the 319 other "anonymous" posters here miss the entire point: You would do anything to be part of this wonderful, fawned-over club; namely, the high-achievers, white people's club. You would do anything, except, that is THE FUCKING WORK!

Yes, it's is a nice club to belong to, but you don't get there by taking a test in the seventh grade. You get there by working at, and establishing something.

I've taken one IQ test in my life and my score was high (and yes, I mean by white people's standards.) The point is, I don't bring it up here because it really is not significant and unlike most of you, I realize that. A lot of you pooh-pooh, famous low IQ rappers and the like, but let me tell you why they are smarter than you are:

Puff Daddy was smart enough to take inventory of his life, find out where he wanted it to be, and find a way to get there, can you say the same? So what does this mean, who has the higher "IQ?"

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: Ahh the joys of debating Truth... people of extraordinarily high IQs are much more likely to be highly accomplished, even if most of them never amount to anything either...

The most important thing is that in a one-man/one-vote welfare-state democracy, people with high IQs are much less likely to end up as leeches, sucking the lifeblood out of society.

Well, aside from university professors, that is.

nit said...

"Ahh the joys of debating Truth"

I don't understand why you even bother. I've proven the guy is not sincere.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think public schools offer discipline and structure for students who many not come from families that can provide it."

Is this a serious question?

Anonymous said...

"Until then, you've chosen a sobriquet that perfectly describes your standing in life...as have I."

Hysterical. When's the book coming out?

Anonymous said...

"Gives one pause in believing what one reads there."

Yea, verily. At one point, a Freud quote about those who are afraid of firearms was removed.

I can't imagine why...

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."
-- Sigmund Freud, "A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis"

Don't know if it was ever put back.

Anonymous said...

---"I think that you and the 319 other "anonymous" posters here miss the entire point: You would do anything to be part of this wonderful, fawned-over club; namely, the high-achievers, white people's club. You would do anything, except, that is THE FUCKING WORK!....Puff Daddy was smart enough to take inventory of his life, find out where he wanted it to be, and find a way to get there, can you say the same? So what does this mean, who has the higher "IQ?"---

Troof, how do you know what anyone of us has or hasn't done or that we are/are not part of this "club?" We're all "Anonymous," remember? But maybe you're clairvoyant...

Anonymous said...

Goodness, exactly, one of the Anonymous. Whenever the IQ scale goes above 160 or so, it just isn't very useful in discriminating serious talent any more. People who believed that vos Savant and that janitor guy were the highest IQ - which is really supposed to mean the smartest - in the United States really have never had contact with truly intelligent, many of whom cloister in intensely insular science and math programs, like MOP & RSI. I've known some of those types of people, and that's when I first understood the ceiling to my abilities - when they really take an interest in a specific topic, they sink their teeth into them like rabid dogs to the neglect of much else. Thus the only exposure many people have to the upper echelon of the right tail is the occasional 130 IQ doctor or lab scientist, who's plausibly "not so far" from their present accomplishments.

Which is another sign the stated reasons for affirmative action are a joke to those in the know. Reid Barton and Gabe Caroll are in no sense "well-rounded".

Truth said...

"The most important thing is that in a one-man/one-vote welfare-state democracy, people with high IQs are much less likely to end up as leeches, sucking the lifeblood out of society."

You've been asleep during this whole corporate bailout thing, haven't you sport?

"Langan and Vos Savant are NOT the smartest people in the US! Not even close!"

Langhan is credited with an IQ of 195, Vos Savant 220, that would make them the smartest man and woman in America. If you have something to back up your point give it to me. That is unless IQ tests really don't matter?

"
In other words: IQ is a necessary but not sufficient condition for high intellectual achievement. People who have high IQ but low levels of drive or focus often end up in MENSA."

Yes, and people with "low" IQ and good work ethic such as your buddies, Sharpton and Jackson and Sean Hannity and Will Farrell end up with more money, power and influence. Great then we have nothing to argue about.

"Troof, how do you know what anyone of us has or hasn't done or that we are/are not part of this "club?"

You're absolutely right Anon #73; It's just that since you spend so much time masturbating on the keyboard vis-a-vis the subject of your IQ's, I can only imagine that if you had actually done something with your lives it would be impossible to shut you up about it.

My bad.

Luicus Vorenus said...

Anonymous: Almost completely unbelievable as a general rule. Perhaps the exceptions are those who are capable of self-teaching. But exactly how is an English major going to recognize a problem as (say) a matrix multiplication and call an optimized BLAS/LAPACK/ATLAS routine when necessary?

So few people do that kind of programming that, for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist.

The overwhelming majority of real-world programming involves making something like an Excel spreadsheet on a workstation interact with something like a networked Oracle RDBMS.

And for those kinds of tasks, you don't need any specialized mathematical skills - what you need is the ability to see the broad outline of a problem, realize what needs to be done to solve the problem, make a plan for accomplishing what needs to be done, execute the plan, and then test the result to make sure that it does indeed solve the problem which needed to be solved.

All with clean, elegant code, and clean, elegant, helpful & insightful documentation.

And apparently the humanities majors run rings around the math/engineering/compsci geeks when it comes to performing these very mundane sorts of housekeeping tasks in the IT world.

Φ said...

The conundrum is that kids who can pick up ten or eleven courses worth of credit are likely to be attending hard schools and/or have hard majors. If you show up as an Electrical Engineering major at Cal Tech or Berkeley and enroll in all 200 level math and science courses, you'd better bring your A game.Quite true. During my stint as an academic advisor for engineering students, I saw a significant number of them test out of the first two semesters of calculus and then fail Calc III. I had to start advising students that their AP scores overestimated their likely performance college-sophmore-level math.

Anonymous said...

Truth said...
I've taken one IQ test in my life and my score was high (and yes, I mean by white people's standards.) The point is, I don't bring it up here
....

Uh, you just did.

How sly of you, Mr. T!

Anonymous said...

Whenever the IQ scale goes above 160 or so, it just isn't very useful in discriminating serious talent any more. Last Anon -- that actually isn't true either. Read the Benbow study on the top 1 in 10000. There is no threshold effect for IQ. The top .01% do a lot better than the top 1%.

I think what we have here instead is a situation where a disproportionate number of people who have *high* IQ but *low* drive are known solely for their high IQs.

By contrast, people with *high* IQs and *high* drive are known for their achievements, such as Erik Demaine and all the others I named.

By drive I mean the other factors known to pyschometricians to affect outcomes, such as conscientiousness and low levels of sociability (the latter is necessary to push new ideas without caring what other people think).

Basically, extremely successful scientists are similar to Shockley -- a rare combination of high IQ, high conscientiousness, and low agreeableness = ability + work ethic + aggressiveness.

Some of these factors tend to anticorrelate, with common morphs being low IQ + low conscientiousness + low aggreeableness = profile of the common criminals that Troof idolizes.

But when you roll the dice on all the personality variables at the same time, there are particular configurations which have multiplicative effects.

Truth said...

"How sly of you, Mr. T!"

Why thank you. I was hoping no one would notice my cunning.

Dog of Justice said...

"People who believed that vos Savant and that janitor guy were the highest IQ - which is really supposed to mean the smartest - in the United States really have never had contact with truly intelligent, many of whom cloister in intensely insular science and math programs, like MOP & RSI.

...

Reid Barton and Gabe Caroll (sic) are in no sense 'well-rounded'."

Do you know other MOP/RSI alumni who follow iSteve? I haven't made a real effort to talk to them about the issues, or socialize with them much at all since... you could say that I went off the beaten track for a while. Anyway, it may be time to change this.

(I am a four-time MOPper, who was admitted to RSI but didn't go because it conflicted with the IMO and it wasn't yet common to make arrangements around that. My last year at MOP (well, by then it had been formally renamed to MOSP) was Reid Barton's first; he was nominally a seventh-grader at the time.)

Anonymous said...

"You're absolutely right Anon #73; It's just that since you spend so much time masturbating on the keyboard vis-a-vis the subject of your IQ's, I can only imagine that if you had actually done something with your lives it would be impossible to shut you up about it."

Hysterical. I took an IQ test once too. I'd tell everyone how I did, but modesty prevents me...

Anonymous said...

Truth said...
Why thank you. I was hoping no one would notice my cunning
.

If you were hoping no one would notice your cunning, then why did you just thank me for pointing it out to everyone?

Truth said...

"If you were hoping no one would notice your cunning, then why did you just thank me for pointing it out to everyone?"

Because I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you meddling kids!

Lucius Vorenus said...

Oh, one last thought for the knitting chick - have you tried your hand at playing the piano?

"Oom-Pah-Pah" piano - where the left hand clunks away at a chord, and the right hand hacks away at a melody - is pretty easy to master, but contrapuntal music - as you move out towards three, four, or even five voices [the fifth voice typically needing the addition of some foot pedals on an organ] - seems to stimulate many of the same parts of the brain as are stimulated by mathematics.

David Davenport said...

And apparently the humanities majors run rings around the math/engineering/compsci geeks when it comes to performing these very mundane sorts of housekeeping tasks in the IT world.No they don't.

Much of IT has been dumbed down so that humanities majors can do work for which engineers and mathematicians are now over-qualified.

Much of contemporary IT is basically clerical work.

Africa = Africans said...

Puff Daddy.

I think that man's name says a lot about the innate differences between the races.