Re: Suppose all races can be approximated by perfect spheres

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And not having attended an Ivy League school, I don't actually know how difficult the academic side of things are there.

Getting admitted is by far the hardest part of obtaining an Ivy League diploma.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:50 AM
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We have plenty of students at Heebie U who fail out because they can't handle the academic rigor. I'm pretty sure all these students would also fail out of any Ivy League school, were they somehow given the chance.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:54 AM
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As ever, Cosma is on the case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:56 AM
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My sense has been that at Ivy League schools 1 applies but that at engineering schools (or, anyhow, MIT and CalTech) something close to the opposite is true.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:03 AM
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(I have kind of a good ATM about this sort of thing, but I will not hijack the thread. [But neither, I think, should it be on the front page, since it can only be anonymized so much.])


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:05 AM
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IME, 4 is correct.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:10 AM
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... Or maybe it is worth asking "How powerful is environment capable of being?" ...

This isn't really an interesting question as in extreme cases the environment dominates (if you die of disease or malnutrition at 2 you won't do to well in college). A more interesting question is what fraction of the currently observed variation in IQ is due to environmental differences.

It is plausible that you basically have a certain genetic potential that a bad environment can subtract from. Then as the floor environment is raised environmental influences become less important.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:11 AM
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4

My sense has been that at Ivy League schools 1 applies but that at engineering schools (or, anyhow, MIT and CalTech) something close to the opposite is true.

Not really, most students admitted to these schools graduate but most applicants aren't admitted. I believe Caltech does have a higher drop out rate than say Harvard but I don't think lack of IQ is the usual reason.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:17 AM
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8 doesn't speak at all to how hard one has to work to get a degree at MIT and CalTech.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:40 AM
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Anecdotal like a mug, but I'll be taking three of Mara's siblings back home this afternoon after they've been here for a visit since Wednesday, probably the first time in their lives that they've spent so much time with her. "Home" is in what a social worker facebook friend of mine called "the worst housing project in our area" Friday, where they live with their oldest sister (sometimes; she's now spending a lot of time with her dad), four cousins ages 13 to 3, and the early-30s aunt who's raising all of them in a 3- or 4-bedroom unit.

The youngest of Mara's older siblings, Trinity, is 6, about 18 months older than Mara. I suspect their prenatal disadvantages were similar, though Trinity's may well have been more severe. I don't think they have the same dad, but I'm assuming DNA testing has been done to prove that. They certainly look stunningly similar, though Mara's height advantage leaves her about an inch at most shorter than her sister. Trinity and her older siblings were removed from their mom while she was pregnant with Mara, so Trinity spent her first 15 or 16 months in her mom's care and seems to have suffered the same sort of neglect and possibly preverbal abuse (both of them have expressed signals of this very similarly, I just learned) although she had older siblings who helped with her care. Mara was raised as a sole child by her mom and was removed shortly before her second birthday, non-verbal.

Like Mara, Trinity is very emotionally astute. Her speech deficits seem more severe than Mara's, meaning that at age 6 and in kindergarten she's talking like a low-average 4-year-old. Like Mara, she sings while she eats and sort of grunts while tooling around in her own world. She needs a lot of affection and attention, and it seems like after she's been hugged for a while she can talk and remember better. She's stubborn and doesn't like to do what she's told if she'd rather do something else (age appropriate, I assume) but she responds well to positive reinforcement. She's in counseling and I believe has an ADHD diagnosis, but that seems inadequate to me to describe what's going on with her.

None of this is a criticism of her aunt, who's doing the best she can with her limited resources and giving lots of love. She gets less financial support from the state than we as foster parents did. She is bright and I like her a lot and know that I, with all my privileges, would probably not be able to give eight kids all they need. But it's been very obvious what class differences Mara has already taken in during her 17 or whatever months with us. I really wonder if she'd stayed in a foster home like the one where she was before us, where the foster mom saw her drooling and blank looks as a sign of stupidity rather than terror and caginess, if she'd be worse off than Trinity, who at least has learned from the older kids and is with family who look like her and love her. And I don't think the answer is to remove kids like Trinity to families like ours, but more support for her aunt would have helped. I know she's had speech therapy and early intervention, but I don't think the latter did much for Mara either and I suspect they were held to fairly low expectations given their backgrounds.

The older two kids seem bright and interested in things, but they're just not being encouraged to think in the same ways Mara is. They don't understand class-linked social things like talking quietly while riding the bus or not play-fighting all the damn time, though they have a lot of interesting insights into other things. Probably none of these kids are headed for the Ivies, but Mara looks like she'd have the best chance of any of them. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it's very obvious and very much on my mind and heart right now. The oldest sister is 16 or 17 and we need to get more proactive at making sure she's ready for college, which I think she can be and probably already is to some extent. But it's hard, and so is talking about this when I suspect JBS will have theories about their inherent less-equal-than-others status and Derebyshire types will be glad Mara's being raised to perhaps be whatever that acronym is....


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:44 AM
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Maybe reframing the issue of genetics as "how small is the range?" is just as dumb as obsessing about "how big is the range?" however. This question still isolates "What portion of raw firepower is genetic?" which might have once been an interesting question before it got highjacked by racist fools like Derby. Or maybe it is worth asking "How powerful is environment capable of being?" because even though it's the same question, it leaves the opposite impression.

This paragraph bothers me, because "raw firepower" is almost certainly not a singular thing, and even if it were a singular thing (that is, a singular aspect of genetically-specified brain function) we don't have a useful way to measure it. And even if we did have a way to measure it we wouldn't have a very useful way (heritability is not terribly informative in the ways that we're talking about things here, see Cosma in 3) to separate the constituent contributions on an individual level. But again, just about everything part of this paragraph after the first clause is moot, because there almost certainly isn't a singular thing.

None of which to is to say that there aren't specific cognitive functions that are measurable and heritable and which contribute to mental ability, broadly construed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:44 AM
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1 and 4 are right. Nonetheless 1 doesn't actually mean it's easy. If you can't write a standard college 5-page essay on a moderately complex topic you'll have a very rough time. Maybe rough means low Cs instead of failing though. I don't really know.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:52 AM
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@12

You can't be a complete dunce (well, there is GWB as a counterexample). But as far as I can tell, making it through the curriculum and collecting your degree is not notably more difficult at an Ivy than at a respectable state school.

On the other hand I think that doing those things is more difficult at Caltech and MIT.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:03 AM
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This paragraph bothers me, because "raw firepower" is almost certainly not a singular thing, and even if it were a singular thing (that is, a singular aspect of genetically-specified brain function) we don't have a useful way to measure it.

I don't get why this bothers you so much that it sabotages the entire post, aside from the fact that it's your area of interest. I don't actually think that there's a single type of intelligence, either. I'm trying to say "Is it more interesting to examine the maximum impact of environment, than to ask questions that minimize the impact of the environment?"

Obviously there's something - the complement of the environment - which people are so obsessed with. I'm not attached to calling it "raw firepower", but calling it "the complement of the environment factors" is clunky.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:03 AM
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Or maybe it is worth asking "How powerful is environment capable of being?"

Environment is pretty powerful. The standard example (used by Cosma in Sifu T's link) is height. Everyone agrees that height is a thing. Everyone understands that height is highly heritable. Yet my parents' generation was a hell of a lot shorter than my generation. My generation is "smarter," too.

The rightwing bias of the Derbyshire types is the one Ann Richards described as "born on third base and thinks he hit a triple." Even in matters as obvious as race, a lot of people aren't equipped to recognize their own advantages.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:04 AM
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Getting admitted is by far the hardest part of obtaining an Ivy League diploma . . . for the people who are capable of being admitted (and this obviously doesn't just the people who actually are admitted).

That said, having TA'd at a not-quite Ivy, there were several students for whom my reaction to their work was, "they shouldn't be here." But if they turned in work that showed honest effort, they didn't fail. They got Cs. At the State Us and CCs I've been associated with, there would be plenty of profs who would fail them.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:05 AM
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I will say, having attended a respectable state school (admittedly a somewhat science-focused one), that I bet the bar for written English proficiency is higher at an Ivy than it is at either said respectable state school or at CalMITech.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:06 AM
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"just mean"


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:07 AM
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10: Mara did cross my mind while I was mulling this over, before posting it. Which sounds like I'm down-playing her intrinsic awesomeness, which I'm not. Just that she's a relevant case study.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:12 AM
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I don't get why this bothers you so much that it sabotages the entire post

It doesn't.

I'm trying to say "Is it more interesting to examine the maximum impact of environment, than to ask questions that minimize the impact of the environment?"

Right; I'm just saying that neither question is terribly interesting if you are unable to adequately specify what it is that is being maximally or minimally impacted.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:13 AM
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neither question is terribly interesting if you are unable to adequately specify what it is that is being maximally or minimally impacted.

Academic performance at the higher education level.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:14 AM
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Consider two tasks. One is to get accepted at Caltech (or similar elite school). The other is to graduate from Caltech given guaranteed acceptance. I think the first is clearly harder.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:16 AM
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Sure, and I'm posing the second task. Given acceptance, could they graduate? They're still competing against only people who cleared the first task.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:22 AM
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I think 12 sums it up, but that threshold is a decent one for Heebie's thought experiment. For instance, in my experience athletic admits at Ivies who are academically at the flagship State U level get by ok, but are in no danger of becoming academic stars.

Capable of doing Top 10 Grad-level work might be a better threshold for the "high" end.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:22 AM
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13

On the other hand I think that doing those things is more difficult at Caltech and MIT.

This is true. Some of my fellow students were used to getting good grades without working hard and preferred to transfer to a less selective school where they could continue doing this (and where the dating opportunities were better).

But the required workload was not that bad. I don't remember ever being stressed out and some of the other students graduated in 3 years (to save money) which was harder of course but didn't seem totally unreasonable.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:22 AM
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Yeah, this seems enormously more complex to me. Looking at ourselves, here, we're all pretty goddamn delightful smart, so why aren't more of us rich? From an academic/economic perspective, I've wasted my entire potential. The stock brokerage job could have been done by any schlub off the street who could add and multiply and do basic algebra. I've kinda screwed up at most of my other jobs, barring the journalism, which I was fairly good at. Now, maybe my degree of failure is at the extreme end of the bell curve here, but it sounds like there are a lot of the rest of you who certainly didn't live up to the potential implied by your SAT/ACT scores. Why is that? Is it because there are a lot of people with more "raw firepower" than us? Seems unlikely. All of this stuff that's supposed to flow from a higher IQ -- academic success, employability, financial security, etc. -- seems far more dependent on all the other factors (race, class, gender positions; family life; emotional intelligence, etc.), than it is on just IQ or whatever proxy we might find for IQ somewhere down the line to measure basic cognitive function.

Tl;dr: It's not nature.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:22 AM
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21: well, okay, but the question "what is the heritability of academic performance at the higher education level" is not obviously a very informative question, because clearly there are not going to be genes that select for academic performance at the higher education level the way there are genes that select for (to stick with Cosma's example) height. It's not obviously a worse question that "what's the heritability of IQ", because IQ is just about as likely to be the result of a multi-causal process (on a genetic and developmental level) as academic success in higher education is, but neither is terribly well-defined in terms of cognitive function, which makes parsing out the genetic contribution tenuous at best.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:23 AM
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Given that I couldn't have gotten into any Ivy League school, I choose not to put a lot of weight on admission as detecting some special essence deep inside our souls.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:23 AM
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I think the first is clearly harder.

Less likely to happen, certainly. But in talking about effort required, it's apples to oranges.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:25 AM
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19: She has significant intrinsic awesomeness (which may or may not equal firepower) and so do her mom's other kids, but environment (which is more complex than if all kids had been placed at birth, as their littlest brother -- who also has speech delays and asthma --was) is making a huge and noticeable difference.

I'm also not sure how much is age-linked. The oldest two here, at 9 and 8 and in hoodies, got far more frequent skeptical glances from fellow zoo-goers and none of the approving smiles that Mara and Trinity as little littles did. That said, the people who've told me that Mara is beautiful clearly seemed to be also trying to send approval or transracial adoption (though also, of course, that they have eyes and a working sense of beauty, duh) but the people who praised Val's beauty were always talking directly to her to expresss approval of being thin, pale, long-haired, delicate. Shit gets complex fast. Cosma's post was good.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:27 AM
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27: I'm not trying to submit a paper to an academic journal; I'm trying to get people to name a number out of 100 and generate an argument.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:27 AM
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I am, needless to say, somewhat obliged to be unconvinced by the efficiency of the standard meritocratic weeding-out process.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:28 AM
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@25

It could be something to do with the culture of math/science.

At Caltech it seemed that students were really hit hard by the transition from "smartest kid in school" to "just an average member of the pack". The ego blow contributed to burnout to some extent.

I don't recall seeing a similar phenomenon any where else.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:29 AM
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33: I heard that complaint/observation a lot in grad school, although I couldn't relate, not having much math-tricks ability.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:32 AM
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23

Sure, and I'm posing the second task. Given acceptance, could they graduate? They're still competing against only people who cleared the first task.

Sure in many cases, they would just have to work a little harder than average or select an easy major. It wasn't that hard to pass the courses.

When I attended Caltech was admitting black students who were clearly less qualified academically and many of them struggled. I don't know what fraction managed to graduate.

Btw at some point Caltech cut back on affirmative action for blacks. See here for example:

Once again, the lowest percentage of black freshmen occurs at the California Institute of Technology. There are three black freshmen at CalTech this year. In both 2004 and 2005 there was only one black freshman at CalTech. On three occasions over the past 13 years there have been no black students entering the freshman class at CalTech. Eight has been the highest number of black freshmen attained in any year in that period.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:39 AM
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Perhaps if they hadn't been subject to racial bias their whole lives, they'd have outperformed you handily!


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:46 AM
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Forgive me if this has been gone over ad nauseam, but considering how extensively genes turn on and off depending on environment, is it even feasible (given current technology) to distinguish environmental and intrinsic factors in the first place?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:53 AM
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36

Perhaps if they hadn't been subject to racial bias their whole lives, they'd have outperformed you handily!

Maybe but in the actually existing world they didn't do so well at Caltech. And as far I could tell they received no extra help at all from the school once admitted.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:54 AM
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37

Forgive me if this has been gone over ad nauseam, but considering how extensively genes turn on and off depending on environment, is it even feasible (given current technology) to distinguish environmental and intrinsic factors in the first place?

There are lots of problems and complications but I don't think this means you can't say anything. And the technology is improving rapidly.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:58 AM
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I'd agree, it seems worthless to consider intrinsic factors and pretend there's something that can be isolated and studied.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:58 AM
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26 it sounds like there are a lot of the rest of you who certainly didn't live up to the potential implied by your SAT/ACT scores. Why is that? Is it because there are a lot of people with more "raw firepower" than us? Seems unlikely.

I suspect a lot has to do with temperament, like the optimist/pessimist axis. Casual observation suggests that a lot of people who are extremely successful are also consummate salesmen and can spin whatever they do as a huge improvement over what anyone else is doing, while people who are more realistic downplay things and get overlooked.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:15 AM
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Salespersons.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:15 AM
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Salespersons bastards.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:24 AM
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1 My experience was a bit different, and from what I could tell not that unusual for people who came from a high school which regularly sent a fair number of students to the Ivies. I was able to get good grades, though far from straight A's in high school with very little work. That plus a knack for standardized tests got me in. Doing well in college required far more work, though not some crazy amount. People I knew who transferred from good but not absolute top public universities all said that the difference was quite noticeable.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:25 AM
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I don't recall seeing a similar phenomenon any where else.

My brother went to a Junior University where this was definitely a thing. In the humanities, even.

It's not nature.

Giving in to HG's plea for numbers, I'm willing to posit, ex recto, that this is exactly right for 85% of any population -- excluding 5% at the more functional end and 10% at the less functional end. Focus on the fringe cases, as if they tell us anything meaningful about how things ought to be arranged for the 85%, is unfortunately how these things always seem to end up going down.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:27 AM
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23

Sure, and I'm posing the second task. Given acceptance, could they graduate? They're still competing against only people who cleared the first task.

Legacy don't appear to have a lot of trouble once they get in. At one school they actually do a bit better than average.

In a sample of students matriculating as first-time college students at the University between 1991 and 1998, Lentz found the five-year graduation rate of legacy students to be 91 percent, while non-legacy students had a graduation rate of only 87 percent.

Legacy students graduating since 1999 also received higher grades than their peers, with an average cumulative GPA of 3.22. Non-legacy students had an average GPA of 3.19. In the nine years prior to 1999, the two groups had almost identical grades.

This may have something to do with the fact that many elite school's admission criteria consider factors other than the ability to do the course work.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:34 AM
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On the rest of the OP, an interesting real life experiment of sorts was done by the just deceased head of Sciences-Po, one of the top French Grande Ecoles (who everybody I've talked to agrees are difficult to get into and then require a very large amount of work once you're there). Worried by the complete lack of students from the 'suburbs', he pushed through a program that would identify very, very smart students early in high school from poor, mostly non-white families in terrible neighbourhoods. These were not necessarily the ones getting the best grades - some apparently were so bored they had stopped bothering doing any work at all. The students were taken out of their schools and given very intense small group and one-on-one tutoring by top teachers from the best schools. Those who made it through the program were then accepted into Sciences-Po automatically, i.e. without taking the competitive entry exam which is normally the sole requirement for getting in. The result was interesting - first year a moderately lower average performance than the rest of the student body with a much higher dropout rate. Those who made it through the first year proceeded to get far better than average grades than the normal students for the rest of their time.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:36 AM
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we're all pretty goddamn delightful smart, so[...]

how many of us can outsmart a bullet?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:37 AM
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45 -- My numbers are too high. 1% and the high end, 8% at the low end.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:37 AM
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47 is very interesting.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:39 AM
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I think Carp gets it right in essence, the number is a large enough percentage that it should be the assumption of standard policy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:42 AM
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I know Berkeley* is an exception, though maybe not so much when you compare it with other state flagships, but I'd put the top levels of the curriculum** there up against what I've seen/heard of the elite private schools. But that's a measure of what can be assigned, not how well people do or how much work it took.

However, with so many courses to choose from, you had more places to hide if you were intent on looking for the easier courses/profs. Also, more ways to slip through the cracks, and more ways to fail.

*I'm thinking of back in the mid-90s when the UCs were still comparatively well-supported by the state and relatively affordable. I don't know how much has changed since then.

**By which I mean, the most rigorous courses in any subject, not just the subjects that are considered the toughest. Some of the history and language courses could be fairly intense, even if you don't think highly of language and history courses.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:46 AM
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I am curious about how I would have done at an Ivy. Even when I was in HS, taking classes at the University was hardly taxing on an intellectual level. Once I forced myself to actually do the reading and writing, I did quite well, while expending minimal effort. This site has the highest concentration of Ivy grads I've encountered, so I mostly have to take your collective word for it about how hard it was, but given what I've seen from my many acquaintances who attended near-Ivies, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had to work that much harder. Maybe 10% intellectually and 30% attitudinally.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:47 AM
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Oudemia, I'd love to hear your ATM, if we're far enough along now for that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:48 AM
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You know, other than the one graduate level film course I took, I think the hardest classes for me were the impossibly broad history survey courses. I took an "Africa from Pre-History to 1600" class and an "England from 1600 to 1945" class, and man, both of them were difficult to slog through. The Africa one was better, because the instructor did not insist on anything like a complete overview. But the English history one was literally like 50 years per class session, with every sovereign, major politician, war and political movement covered. It was essentially a class in speedy note-taking, which, thanks to my gigantic, paw-like hands, I found fairly taxing. I think I still got a B+ in it, without too much trouble besides the note-taking.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 9:52 AM
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re: 53

I can't speak for US institutions, but I attended Edinburgh [dropped out], Glasgow, and Oxford, and while there were differences I think it's hard to describe one or the other as more difficult.* Undergraduates in the humanities at Oxford write more, but they have far fewer exams. Different people thrive under different systems, and I'm sure there are people who would have thrived at Glasgow and not at Oxford, and vice versa.

Graduate study at Oxford was certainly harder, I think, than it would have been in a lot of other places, but graduate study is different anyway. It's much more nakedly competitive.

* admittedly all Russell Group institutions.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:00 AM
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Which is to say, I'm a bit sceptical about claims that particular institutions [assuming they are broadly comparable] are significantly harder or not harder than each other. Within-institution variation is going to be much higher, I think. I had friends who had to work MUCH harder than me as an undergraduate, and not because they were less bright. And other friends doing courses that were a bit of a doss.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:07 AM
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The only "objective" differences I've personally seen have been intro/early-year language courses where different schools used the exact same textbooks. A "one-year" course at one place could be the equivalent of two somewhere else.

Although the only comparisons like this I ran into were among public schools. Those elitists at the Ivies didn't even use a textbook!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:08 AM
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I think there may be a bit of talking past each other--I suspect the claim about the Ivies wasn't so much that the classes weren't hard (to do well at), or that there wasn't pressure, but that it was specifically hard to fail out--that if you appeared to be in way over your head, there were a lot of supportive resources for you, one way or the other; if you were just aiming to pass enough classes to graduate, it wasn't so difficult.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:13 AM
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re: 59

I can see that being different, yeah. There were quite big differences in some of the pastoral/remedial stuff between Glasgow and Oxford. At the latter it could be good, but it was pretty variable. You could easily have been left to sink in a way that would have been harder at Glasgow, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:16 AM
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My Ivy League school seemed to be fairly tough: partial differential equations, thermodynamics & statistical mechanics, quantum physics, Russian, calculus of variations, computational probability and statistics, organic chemistry, English literature, operating system design, ...

I did hear that it was possible to take somewhat easier courses, but at those prices, why would you?


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:19 AM
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And re: engineering schools, I suspect this is largely true of science/engineering majors elsewhere, too--those are classes where it is easy to fail if you don't understand the material. With social science / humanities classes, I think instructors feel very reluctant to fail anyone unless they're actually cheating, or absolutely refuse to (attempt to) do the assigned work.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:22 AM
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I did hear that it was possible to take somewhat easier courses, but at those prices, why would you?

More time for booting.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:24 AM
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59: This is what I was told about medical schools back a few decades. Very hard to get into, easy to stay after the first year weed-out by exhaustion of those with low energy levels.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:24 AM
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61

I did hear that it was possible to take somewhat easier courses, but at those prices, why would you?

Because the main thing the price is buying is a prestigious degree so you want to be sure you get it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:29 AM
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I'd say that the main reason "ivies" are easier is just that the consequences for being mediocre are so much less severe. Eg I doubt it's much "harder" to maintain a B+ average in history at Dartmouth vs Ohio State, but as long as you're vomiting on the right people at Dartmouth you pretty much know you're future is OK in a way you don't at OSU. Much easier psychologically.

Anyhow, the foregoing is for humanities/social sciences only. Good Christ did the engineers and architects seem to work hard while I was acting like a drunk idiot.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:39 AM
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59 That is true, I was speaking about doing reasonably well. If all you wanted to is to not get kicked out, you could do very, very little.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:47 AM
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As I said, Carp gets to the nut above. I'm shocked, shocked that people here prefer to continue talking about the relative hardness or not of Ivy League schools.

Bedmate: "Was it hard for you in the war at Princeton?"
Closeau: "Yes, yes, very hard."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 10:55 AM
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||
No one here is still masturbating to Thomas Kinkade, right?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:04 AM
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|>


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:04 AM
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But his art will live on to inflame the imaginations of generations to come.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:07 AM
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Is there porn in the style of Thomas Kinkade? I'd look myself but I'm at work.

Yeah, Carp gets it right above. Similar to discussions of affirmative action, which tends to focus exclusively on admission of blacks to ultra-elite universities when that's about 84 on the list of important things we could be doing with affirmative action and 10,084 on the list of things we should be doing for the poor or people of color generally.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:16 AM
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FWIW, I've banged the same drum -- stop worrying so much about the top -- repeatedly on education threads in the past.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:28 AM
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Banged seems like one of those words that should have a strong rather than weak verb form.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:32 AM
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Bung's already taken.

The thing about discussing the very top is that that's where the argument is. Practically, the most useful thing would be excellent preschool, so all the kids out there would be getting experiences like Mara's, and as more resources are available work on equalizing and improving education from the early years forward.

Argumentatively, though, if you concede Fields medals and say that we just need to talk about making decent levels of education and vocational access broadly available, then you end up with people like Derbyshire arguing that "those people" (poor, black, whatever group he wants to exclude) are fundamentally different and lesser because they're not capable of the highest levels of achievement.

If you're talking actual policy, it always makes sense to trade good broadbased preschool for almost anything else. But I do think there's good reason to talk about elite academic achievement when you're talking about equality.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:47 AM
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the main thing the price [of an Ivy] is buying is a prestigious degree

The main thing it bought me was having ALL of my classes taught by world-class full professors, two of them with Fields Medals, and a Nobel-prize-winner for my advisor. The latter happened because 18 months before Freshman Week, I'd mentioned in my on-campus interview that I was interested in superconductivity. (Another clue: Sheldon on BBT is named for him.)

There's no question that it's possible to get an Ivy degree without much strain: W. drifted through Yale on a legacy admit and a mediocre intellect. It's also possible to push yourself right to the ragged edge, working and competing with some of the best minds of your generation and being taught by some of the best minds of earlier generations.


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:04 PM
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For the record, this was not intended to be a discussion about the difficulty of the Ivies. You all have only yourselves to blame for that. What I asked was "Could an ideal environment turn most people into fairly academically high achievers?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:15 PM
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77: Is there much to say except that in the absence of solid evidence to the contrary, policy should proceed as if the answer is yes?

You end up with a discussion of the difficulty of various schools when you try to give a more precise answer to the question because there aren't really other ways of trying to determine what academically high achievement is post-high school.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:28 PM
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77: What I asked was "Could an ideal environment turn most people into fairly academically high achievers?"
Anecdotally, no. For all the wonderful physics education I've mentioned above, somewhere during sophomore year I began to realize that 2-3 of my 12 fellow physics majors were physicists and I, at least, was not. I couldn't fix that no matter how hard I worked, and by junior year, some of my professors began to see it too. It was suggested that I take some time off, which in those days would have been spent at Firebase Charlie.

(Fortunately, a newfangled subject called Computer Science came along right then, and it turned out I was one of those.)


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:38 PM
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76:

Heh. In my time at the Cal Poly SLO, all my classes were taught by full professors who knew way more about their subjects than I did, and I was taught and supervised by the grand old man of irrigation. So, you know.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:45 PM
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You end up with a discussion of the difficulty of various schools when you try to give a more precise answer to the question because there aren't really other ways of trying to determine what academically high achievement is post-high school.

You end up with a discussion of the difficulty of various schools because people love endlessly dissecting and reflecting on the Ivy League experience.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:46 PM
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Have we talked about this paper here yet? It made the rounds of the internet recently. The basic claim is that CS classes are bimodal, and that you can predict which hump students will be in prior to any classes. It's not a general IQ "smartness" claim, but something much more specific to CS.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:47 PM
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Is there much to say except that in the absence of solid evidence to the contrary, policy should proceed as if the answer is yes?

Would I be bored by my own post? Sure. Should you all run with it? You betcha!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:48 PM
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It depends on what you mean by "fairly high." If you take the Ivies as the standard, then we can already answer that. The reason there are mid-level private liberal arts colleges is that there are plenty of people with lots of money and academic advantages who aren't Ivy-league caliber and they don't want to go to state schools.

If you mean by "fairly high", "have a shot at pulling a B average at a third-tier state university", then...probably yes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 12:54 PM
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81: Yeah, that too. I'm not sure there's much to say about that that we haven't already said here before either.

Which is partly why, somehow, I think I'm going to be doing some work today.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 1:14 PM
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lots of money and academic advantages who aren't Ivy-league caliber

Some of them aren't as smart as the ones who made it into Harvard, maybe. But Ivy League doesn't take everyone who's good enough, they take less than 20K kids (less than 10K for literal Ivy League, but I'm thinking Stanford and such as well) overall. The line between Ivy-caliber and non-Ivy caliber is ~20K down from the top of whatever metric you're using to select, not at any intrinsic breakpoint in ability.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 1:26 PM
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77

... What I asked was "Could an ideal environment turn most people into fairly academically high achievers?"

No because academic high achievement is always relative to others. So if you give everyone an ideal environment the only thing that matters will be genes and some combinations are better suited to academic achievement than others.

If you improve one child's schooling they might earn say $100000 more over their lifetime. But this doesn't mean the benefit to society is $100000, most of the gain is coming from less earnings for the kids they moved ahead of. Improve everyone's schooling but keep relative performance the same and nothing much changes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 1:38 PM
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76

The main thing it bought me was having ALL of my classes taught by world-class full professors, two of them with Fields Medals, and a Nobel-prize-winner for my advisor. The latter happened because 18 months before Freshman Week, I'd mentioned in my on-campus interview that I was interested in superconductivity. (Another clue: Sheldon on BBT is named for him.)

Rumor has it some of these guys aren't necessarily great teachers. I took a class from Feynman which was certainly entertaining but it is possible I would have learned more from someone who didn't have a compulsion to continually prove he was the smartest one in the room.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 1:43 PM
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Does it really seem to other college instructors/professors here that raw intelligence correlates closely with academic performance and success? I have not found there to be a strong link overall. For the very top performers, yes, sure, there seems to be an element of elegance, wit, and depth that, whether inborn or taught, certainly seems like ammunition they're walking in with. But I'd say for most of the B-level students I teach, it's not so much intellect and talent that predict their success. It's usually more a question of what you do when you confront something too hard for you, how you react to criticism, etc. Do you buck the fuck up, or do you totally crumble? Some of the brightest students I've ever met, with what seems to be natural firepower, simply do not have the tools for college learning in terms of overcoming difficulty.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 2:15 PM
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I don't know what question 84 is answering -- clearly there are a lot of people at mid-level liberal arts colleges who would do fine at an ivy league school, but didn't get into one. Also, equally clearly, the reasons such things exist are basically for class sorting purposes (and being upper class isn't at all the same thing, necessarily, as having academic advantages). Which is why the whole setup of the question is so confusing to me; college means so many different things, has so many functions and subjects, etc, the idea that we could use college success as a proxy for heredity/environment, even as a thought experiment, just seems totes confusing. Which is why everyone is talking about how easy or hard undergrad classes at their colleges felt.

I 100% honestly feel that the world would be a better place if we shut down the ivy leagues or brought them under the aegis of a big state system like the UC (and, if you're looking at elite higher education that is actually substantively important, things like the Uc are what matters). Worrying about who does or doesn't get into Harvard is a joke; Harvard is way more egalitarian today than it was 50 years ago but the country is way less egalitarian, and that's what we should.be worried about.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 2:18 PM
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the smartest one in the room.
I was once in a room (a kitchen, as it happens) with Feynman, Dyson, and Cooper; I've thought about this, and came to the conclusion that all three of them were the smartest person in the room.

It may have been pure chance, but I only had one bad teacher, a physicist who wrote thermo equations on the board with his right hand and erased them with his left. The guy who taught me CS was the ACM Outstanding Educator back in the 90's.


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 2:28 PM
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TAing (actually, TF just because they're different) at Harvard it was really hard to fail someone in a class. Paperwork, documenting actions taken, etc.
Before a concert at MIT the trombone section was discussing backgrounds and we determined we were all valedictorians. So admissions is a significant amount of luck as well, many more people are qualified than are admitted.
I didn't do an all nighter until my final assignment but I wasnt in an engineering major- in a science one that was considered moderate degree of difficulty.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 2:53 PM
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NZ is an interesting counter, in that there's four public universities that are all equally good, and all floating round the hundredth to two hundredth best in the world mark, then there's two which are specialised in agriculture and very good at that, I guess, and then there's polytechs. The overall cost of a degree from an NZ public university is between NZ$24,000 and NZ$50,000, depending on how expensive board is, and there's pretty much entirely open admission, provided you attain UE or wait until you are 25 (?).

I may have already bored you all with this.

(There are still heaps of equity problems, etc.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 2:57 PM
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87: Improve everyone's schooling but keep relative performance the same and nothing much changes.

Rarely do you see this key tenet of conservatism spelled out so plainly.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 2:58 PM
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You know who was a great teacher? Jesus.


Posted by: OPINIONATED UNITARIAN UNVERSALIST | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 3:20 PM
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And he took the puppy!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 3:37 PM
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Wait, I thought you said previously that Heebie U was a "large, not-UT-Austin, public university in Texas."

Every time I think I've got it figured out...


Posted by: trumwill | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 3:59 PM
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Having seen my parents foster long term this is something we've thought and talked about a lot. It was very clear that the kids (one toddler who was with them for 20 months, a set of 3 sibs with them for several years until they left home, and one boy who was with them from age 8 and at now 22 still regards them as his parents) were doing better with my parents than they would have been doing at home, but less clear with the 4 with whom they are still in touch that that advantage has lasted into adult life. (And even less likely that any advantage persisted with the little girl who left them at 2 and ended up successfully back with her parents.)

My 9 year old told me the other day that she didn't want to go to Oxford because they had really high standards and it would be a lot of work to live up to them. I told her that once she was in, she'd have to be really quite awful for it to be a problem. I was a mediocre student, but I never got any hassle for it.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:06 PM
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I was once in a room (a kitchen, as it happens) with Feynman, Dyson, and Cooper

Hey, I know! Let's all name the smartest three people we've ever been in a room with! Right after we finish disclosing our salaries and SAT scores.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:08 PM
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Heh. In grad school all the people in my group The first two years were national merit scholars or what I wad told was a Canadian equivalent.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:15 PM
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99

... Let's all name the smartest three people we've ever been in a room with! ...

At the same time or individually?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:16 PM
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AWB gets it right in 89, I think: But I'd say for most of the B-level students I teach, it's not so much intellect and talent that predict their success. It's usually more a question of what you do when you confront something too hard for you, how you react to criticism, etc. Do you buck the fuck up, or do you totally crumble? Some of the brightest students I've ever met, with what seems to be natural firepower, simply do not have the tools for college learning in terms of overcoming difficulty.

Though I wouldn't restrict this to B-level students (which is a relative thing in any number of ways anyway).

In any event, sure, it's not a matter of I.Q. whether you find yourself challenged and stimulated by stuff that is, at this moment, too hard. More a matter of temperament (and self-confidence, or arrogance?) and personal history, along with some very basic but crucial issues like whether you're well-matched with the subject matter at hand in the first place. For example: I find learning how to repair cars too hard. I'm just not going to do it, and I'm going to keep forgetting what I 'learned' a month ago. Am I capable of doing it? I guess .. except that insofar as I haven't done it, despite having been given ample opportunity to do so, I have not. So I guess not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:16 PM
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97: I believe that described the workplace of a friend of h-g's.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:18 PM
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98: Yeah, part of wanting to reform how fostering works here in the states involves wanting foster parents to put in the kind of effort we/I have while recognizing that it may not amount to anything clear long-term. It's very hard for people to talk about the result of reunification mean the kids will be in a "worse" setting, but I honestly believe that while Trinity isn't getting the academic advantages Mara is, living with her family has given her personal and cultural strength that Mara will never fully have access to as she grows. I definitely believe the idea that kids should go to the "best" home is pernicious. (And I posted a Mara/Trinity photo to the pool. Haven't found any yet where they both look good at once, of course.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:38 PM
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Thorn, I admire you.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:53 PM
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84, 90: Let me rephrase. There are a lot of schools that exist to serve wealthy, bright-but-not-Ivy- caliber students. I took heebie to be wondering about what happens to a population where you have lots of academically focused training and money. Where would everyone end up if everyone had a lot of training and money? I suggest that we have a sort of natural experiment in the form of tuition-dependent good-but-not-top-tier colleges, where people have had all kinds of advantages and yet are not all Ivy caliber (median SAT 1200, mostly bright, not superstars, but well-polished that kind of thing. Hogwarts is a fine example.) My point is just that there's a lot of room for individual variation, and that we really shouldn't think of the goal as everyone Harvard-bound (or take that goal to be the reasonable outcome of education.) I don't think this is controversial here.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:58 PM
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Umberto Eco asked me for directions once.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 4:58 PM
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I once heard an echo but I didn't think to yell "Umberto!"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:02 PM
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107: I hope your reply was sufficiently cryptic and enigmatic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:08 PM
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Oberto Eco is a new, "green" line of beef jerkey products.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:12 PM
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106: I fail to understand the phrase, repeated twice now, "Ivy-caliber".

That said, of course we shouldn't think of the goal as everyone Harvard-bound. The fact that some people do make that their aspiration for their kids is unfortunate (since we do pretty much know that making your kid not just suitable but likely for acceptance to Harvard is (a) controlling, and (b) a crap-shoot, and (c) rather grasping.)

I did not like comment 1, to be completely honest. Getting admitted is a crap-shoot. You don't work harder to get admitted than you do once you're there, unless you're some sort of freak.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:15 PM
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"jerkey"? Oh well.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:16 PM
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I was in a room once with Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrel and Luke Wilson. I dunno if they were smart, but they were certainly more famous that the vacuum cleaner guy.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:16 PM
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Mmm, green beef.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:20 PM
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111: I fail to understand the phrase, repeated twice now, "Ivy-caliber"

It's an obscure hand-load that descended from the .45 Long Colt by necking down a .401 Winchester Self-Loading. It should only be used in +P rated firearms.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:21 PM
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114: THEY SAY RED MEAT'LL KILL YA'. THAT'S BULLSHIT -- GREEN MEAT'LL KILL YA'!


Posted by: OPINIONATED NATILO'S UNCLE | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:22 PM
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I had milk & cookies with Harry Truman, dinner with Eleanor Roosevelt, and cocktails with Katharine Graham. IMX greatness, fame, wealth, etc. wasn't contagious.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:23 PM
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I was in a room once with some guy whose name I can't remember who shot (or produced? maybe same thing) an MTV video of/for Madonna. He didn't do that until later, though, after I was in the room with him.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:23 PM
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(and being upper class isn't at all the same thing, necessarily, as having academic advantages

The two parental backgrounds most overrepresented in the top French Grande Ecoles are children of Grande Ecole educated top one percenters and children from families where both parents are high school teachers. In other words, either parents can buy top of the line exam prep and understand the product well enough to do so effectively, or they are capable of providing it themselves.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:24 PM
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Biohazard! I am stunned. You do get around.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:28 PM
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120: My father got around, I tagged along.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:32 PM
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Some types of ground green beef are made with a finely textured food-like product. When asked what to call it, a USDA scientist wrote, in an e-mail to colleagues, "I don't know."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:38 PM
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115 is of course incomprehensible. It may be like collecting books on Santa or Coca-Cola memorabilia.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 5:51 PM
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Is there porn in the style of Thomas Kinkade? I'd look myself but I'm at work.

Are you familiar with the work of John Currin?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:08 PM
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I found it every bit as easy to fail classes at the UofC as it had been in high school.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:10 PM
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124: I was not, but stumbled upon him trying to see if there was Thomas Kinkade porn.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:16 PM
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Also, from a review of a book of critical essays on Kinkade:

One of the choicest sections in Vallance's essay is devoted to Kinkade's much discussed guerilla act at Disneyland, where he urinated on a statue of Winnie the Pooh. Vallance believes that the Los Angeles Times was unfair to Kinkade in a 2006 expose, where if I understand Vallance correctly he feels Kinkade was treated as a garden variety psycho. For Vallance--writing in a section called "The Urination Ritual"--"Pooh-pissing [is] the next step in the grand legacy of piss art"--a kind of "performance art." Vallance links Kinkade's "work" with Marcel Duchamp's decision to exhibit a urinal as a sculpture, with Jackson Pollock urinating in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace, as well as with work by Warhol and contemporary artists Paul McCarthy, Mike Bidlo, and David Hammons. It is left to another contributor, Micki McElya, to bring Andres Serrano's Piss Christ into the discussion, explaining that "aesthetically, Kinkade shares with Serrano a reliance on the manipulation of light effects and the use of light as symbolic of God's presence and the individual's potential for salvation."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:17 PM
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So wait, is the discussion about the OP's "getting a degree from Harvard" just about managing not to flunk out? Right, okay. Methinks it would depend a lot on the subject area, the concentration or major. But I never tried to flunk out -- I was shocked enough by receiving a C on a paper once or twice.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:24 PM
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Hey, I know! Let's all name the smartest three people we've ever been in a room slept with!


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:30 PM
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ooh, ooh! Um. I slept with a guy who totally knew how to fix cars. I'm not kidding, he really did, like amazing. We were stuck on top of a mountain in the morning, after camping, in (Idaho? Montana? North Dakota?) and he rebalanced the cylinders on the engine so they would fire properly given the altitude -- some kind of oxygen intake issue -- and wow. So there you go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 6:48 PM
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Looking through the archives, I am detecting a possibly unhealthy interest in Mr. Kinkade. We've covered much of his work, LB's Christmas gift from her in-laws, speculated on him copulating with a Bald Eagle, as well as covering his DUI, heckling of Siegfried and Roy ("Codpiece!" he apparently repeatedly yelled at them), pissing on Winnie-the-Pooh (although we did not put it in its proper Art History context) and various other drunken antics. From the latter few I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the private Mr. Kinkade was something to behold. His family was apparently traveling in Australia when he died.

I liked this line form one obit: He read classic books but also enjoyed shooting and blowing up things on his ranch.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:04 PM
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Speaking of Kinkade and sex, did everyone find their way to this?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:13 PM
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129: Without a doubt the DE. No question. Scary smart and quick.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:18 PM
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129: I've been very lucky in that regard, but I am most likely peaking at present.

131.2: Why not "and"?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:51 PM
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I have no idea who the smartest person I've ever been in a room with is. How would I know that? Maybe I should put a little mini progressive matrix test on a business card, so I can start keeping track.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:53 PM
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135: ... or wait, this means it was me, doesn't it? Wow. What a mindfuck that is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 7:56 PM
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If you can't tell who the sucker smartest person is, it's you.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:00 PM
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135

I have no idea who the smartest person I've ever been in a room with is. How would I know that? ...

Quibble, quibble. How about the person who came across to you as the smartest?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:00 PM
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I choose to believe I have a "since Jefferson dined alone" thing going on.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:01 PM
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That's just because I dine alone a lot.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:04 PM
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How about the person who came across to you as the smartest?

Eh, even still. I'm not saying I can't tell the difference, or everybody's smart in their own way, or whatever. I've met some really fucking brilliant people. But to say "oh, that person was the smartest"? Eh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 8:06 PM
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When I worked in City Hall, I had the privilege of shaking hands with both Gorbachev and Muhammed Ali. Both were shockingly grand moments to me, though neither would have previously been on my list.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:41 PM
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At Seder tonight the thirtysomethings were having a half-abashed discussion about our various alma maters (private university, private liberal arts, weirdo public) when Mrs. K-sky's mother's friend (60-something) interrupted to tell us all what it was like to have no support from her parents, go to Cal State LA, and teach blind children in the public school system. It was an awesome train wreck of privilege, awkwardness, resentment, and a good story.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-12 11:52 PM
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135 is right.

I've been in the room with people whose published work is really excellent, and who are clearly [from their work] really smart, but you'd never know in the flesh -- at least until you know them really well -- as they don't give of that vibe. Similarly, the opposite. I remember a peer who everyone told me was 'so smart', when all evidence from his actual work [seminar papers, publications, talks he gave etc] was that he was (at best) a bullshitter who was good at affecting the appearance of 'smart'.

So, what Sifu said.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:28 AM
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The smartest person I've ever known is an academic lawyer who specialises in an extremely recondite area of research. Outside his friends and family his name may be known to about a dozen people. Neither rich nor famous. I'm not sure if this demonstrates anything at all.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 4:00 AM
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On the other hand I notice that DeLong says, "I would be smarter if I read more Unfogged comment threads..."

So there's that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 4:12 AM
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Thinking back, the smart people who I remember most are either the ones who were really generous with it -- dleifrettuB ymereJ, for example, who is a lovely man -- or the ones who were proper CAI, not naming names.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 4:43 AM
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146: see, this is why Graeber went fucking nuts at Farrell, and why I kinda sympathise with him. Farrell quibbles, DeLong states it's common knowledge, and before long it will be accepted, without any dissent, that chap 12 of Debt is Just Wrong. And even Farrell wouldn't agree with that.

And then there's the super tendentious reading of the twitter exchange given, which is super pushy.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 5:15 AM
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82

I thought the paper linked in 82 was a little high on assertions and a little low on supporting evidence. For example in the abstract:

... Programming ability is not known to be correlated with age, with sex, or with educational attainment; nor has it been found to be correlated with any of the aptitudes measured in conventional 'intelligence' or 'problem-solving-ability' tests.

which is artfully worded as we learn at the end of section 2

We haven't, unfortunately, been able to find references to support the strongly-attested computer-science-folk wisdom that all attempts to correlate programming ability with any other kind of aptitude, and in particular with the results of 'intelligence' tests, have resoundingly failed. ...

I would expect a correlation with IQ in general and find the next number in this sequence type IQ questions in particular.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 5:33 AM
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Also there's so many versions of smart. Professor X is definitely the smartest person I've ever met at doing math fast - like at any conference, he's the one in the room that everyone turns to when someone asks a puzzling question that no one has thought about.

But that's totally different from lots of other smarts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 5:59 AM
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Bernard Williams interviewed me for a job once. I didn't get it.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:01 AM
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Yeah, I mean, one of the best programmers I know is just astoundingly quick in how he talks about and thinks about systematic and algorithmic sorts of things; the first time I hung out with him he was programming video effects for a webcam, and we got into a rhythm where I would do something in photoshop, and show it to him, and he would recreate it in C as a real-time video filter in about two minutes. This was in the mid-90s, too, so computers were a hell of a lot slower. He got a job at 18 as a programmer for one of the first heavily quantitative hedge funds. Dude is really smart, obviously so. But it's not like he's made foundational contributions to any areas of knowledge, if that's a criterion, and there have been plenty of times where I've talked to him about something where his particular nutty and overspecified cognitive style led him to a confusing and (to my lights) pretty far mistaken take.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:11 AM
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Also, and the guy in 152 never went to college (I don't think he finished high school).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:39 AM
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re: 151

Heh. Funnily enough, a mate of mine used to house sit for him. They became quite close. I think it helped when he (my mate) was applying for academic jobs that he had B.W. writing the 'X is a total bad-ass, and if you don't hire him you're a moron' letters.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:44 AM
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"Also, and": clearly, I lack some key piece of typing intelligence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:45 AM
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The domain-specific intelligence thing is really common. I've a mate who's a former academic in a STEM subject. He's clearly good at that, and very smart in some ways, but he's strikingly dumb* [but believes himself smart and well-informed] in many other areas.

* in the sort of libertarian econ 101 half-remembered/understood regurgitated crap delivered as if pearls of insight, way. He's an 'engineer' [not his academic field], in the sense of the folk-personality-type/internet-troll we all recognise.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:56 AM
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26: That rings true and is very painful to think about right now.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:58 AM
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I wish i could have had seder food AND Easter food this weekend. Not enough to pretend I believe there's a cranky old Jewish guy sitting on a cloud keeping track of how many times I wank off, so he can send me to a volcano where little red men poke me with pitchforks though.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:16 AM
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Eh, even still. I'm not saying I can't tell the difference, or everybody's smart in their own way, or whatever. I've met some really fucking brilliant people. But to say "oh, that person was the smartest"? Eh.

Well, the easiest bright line is, were any of them Fed or Treasury officials?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:22 AM
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K3nn3th D0v3r sent me a hand-typed-on-onion-paper letter about the colo(u)rs of dildos in the ancient and modern world.
J3an-P13rr3 V3rnant once asked me "Vous ĂȘtes française?" but lots of French people do that. Unfortunately, it is an illusion I can sustain for one or two minutes only. I'm just a really good mimic.

When do we get scolded for name dropping?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:24 AM
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158: I will likely make matzoh-ball soup just because I love it so (let the dumplings of the world unite us all!).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:25 AM
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I thought I was ribbing Mr Munck about the name-dropping in 99, but apparently I was starting a subthread inviting name-dropping.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:27 AM
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162: people are generally pretty excited to discuss their salaries and SAT scores around here, too. Goddamned weirdos.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:34 AM
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We become what we mock.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:35 AM
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My story about how Bernard Williams didn't give me a summer au pair job looking after his son (in a very nice house in north Oxford, lucky ttaM's friend) is a self-deprecating name-drop, so perfect mineshaft comment material, I thought.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:36 AM
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I said "Osama" instead of "Obama" when talking to one of the nation's leading constitutional law scholars, once. That was pretty fucking embarrassing. Dude seemed pretty smart, too. I bet he noticed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:43 AM
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26

... Now, maybe my degree of failure is at the extreme end of the bell curve here, but it sounds like there are a lot of the rest of you who certainly didn't live up to the potential implied by your SAT/ACT scores. Why is that? ...

First a lot of the failure is only relative, it seems to me that most people here are fairly successful by ordinary standards. Second potential is often given as the top of a range of plausible outcomes, so most people will fail to live up to their potential.

Still IQ is just one factor in success. The trait (or traits) called conscientious is also very important. And of course social skills and good judgement about career choices matter. Finally luck also matters a lot. So people above average in IQ but lacking in these other qualities won't do as well (on average) as you might expect from their IQ alone (and may be overrepresented in Unfogged comments and similar forums).

One negative trait which I suspect some unfoggers have is a certain inflexibility or stubborness which impels them to persist on a path which clearly isn't working out. This is a bit tricky as persistence can be good but sometimes it isn't.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:11 AM
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When do we get scolded for name dropping?

When one used to work at Blackwells in Oxford, the number of fairly well known people one has encountered gets silly.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:22 AM
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168: The city in general does manage to punch way above its weight in terms of celebrity presence, and not just the political/academic ones you might expect. It's pretty much the only leg-up it has on Cambridge, I think.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:29 AM
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It's pretty much the only leg-up it has on Cambridge, I think.

What?!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:32 AM
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Oh goody, let's relive the passions of the boat race in an unfogged thread.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:33 AM
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I think you started it, dude.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:34 AM
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The only interesting thing about the boat race was the bloke trying to commit suicide by competitive oarsman. I suppose we'll find out what that was all about when he comes to trial.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:36 AM
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This is where something from Dan Kahneman's book kicks in - the notion of intelligence and rationality as independent vectors. (That's actually another researcher's work Kahneman is summarising, btw.) Intelligence is that IQ-y, abstract processing stuff; rationality summarises executive function, social competence, physical/kinaesthetic skill.

So you could sketch this as a (Bain Consulting-style) 2x2 matrix, High and Low on one axis, Intelligence and Rationality on the other.

Lo-Lo: thick, but unlikely to do much damage.

Hi-Hi: genius.

High rationality, low intelligence: basically, normal human being. Not Einstein, but probably much more fun to be with, and entirely competent at whatever it is they do, although they aren't going to invent gunpowder.

Low rationality, high intelligence: this is the Larry Summers, "he's the smartest guy I've ever met but his ideas are usually incredibly stupid in practice and he's a total cunt to boot", neoliberal wanker phenotype. DEADLY DANGER.

Take home message: it's very easy to confuse group 3 with group 1 (snobbery, essentially), and group 4 with group 2 (mistaking Larry Summers for Richard Feynman).


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:36 AM
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My experience at Caltech (mid '80's) was that once someone was accepted, they would do anything to get you graduated somehow. People would take a leave of absence and come back, re-do classes, take 6 years to graduate, switch from real sciences to engineering and applied science, and even an occasional degree in history from someone who had flunked out of everything else.

I think that anyone who attended classes and completed all assignments passed, and the few who flunked weren't bothering to make that effort. I do admit that during those 4 years I never read a newspaper or watched TV because I didn't have time.

It's true that a lot of folks "flamed out" rather than graduating. Also, despite official claims that there was no affirmative action, it was clear that more female, black, and legacy students were struggling than white and Asian males.


Posted by: Shamhat | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:36 AM
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re: 172

Indeed.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:36 AM
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Yes, I know. And since everyone's being wankers in this thread, I'll say that I have degrees from both unis, and don't give a shit which is better.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:36 AM
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I didn't really think you meant which Uni was better, tbh. And don't have a strong view either way --presumably it's very subject specific. But in terms of the cities, I'd choose Oxford as a place to live in, any day.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:38 AM
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Pretty sure Feynman was kind of an asshole. Certainly he was an asshole to women.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:38 AM
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And choose lots of other cities over either, of course.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:39 AM
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What Sifu says. I think that model requires a third axis for Socialisation.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:40 AM
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Also, Feynman was still sketching undergraduates when I was there. I was under 18 but there's no way he would have guessed. I shudder to think what would have happened in today's crazed witch hunt environment.


Posted by: Shamhat | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:42 AM
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179

Feynman was hot. I was 17 and he was 70, and he was still hot. Those kind of men can get away with behaving like that.


Posted by: Shamhat | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:44 AM
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178: The adage of "Oxford for the humanities, Cambridge for the sciences" seemed more or less right to me, but yes, total comity on which is a more interesting place to live. Cambridge is a university town, Oxford is a city.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:46 AM
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Hey ttaM, since you are here, I will present to you a highly abbreviated version of my ATM. Should a student who is totally brilliant but suffering from real and scary mental health issues (not cute MPDG stuff) and who has needed a lot of fairly intrusive and imposing hand holding to get through at a US small lib arts college, oh and who also has some surmountable but serious learning disabilities, go get her phil PhD at Oxford? Or remain in the possibly more hand-holdy USA? That she is going somewhere is a done deal. But for someone who has suicide attempts attributed to feelings of failure and/or not-measuring-up, how healthy do you think the phil culture there would be? Do you see that I have an opinion already? I may be very wrong!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:46 AM
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174: I should get around to reading this -- I had a similar theory somewhere in the archives that intelligence and stupidity could be measured on two separate axes. I'm well up there in terms of intelligence, but also fairly stupid. Very low levels of stupidity, combined with moderate intelligence, are probably your best in terms of accomplishing most goals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:55 AM
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Citation to TFA.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:57 AM
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The "two axes" thing (even the "two systems" thing) is kind of a vast oversimplification, as you might imagine. There's a good chance that Kahneman's "system 2" (which maps sort of well to IQ, or at least to symbolic processing, in some ways) is a singular thing, or something like a singular thing, but for everything else all bets are off. And the way everything interacts in real-world tasks isn't at all straightforward (for instance, if you're able to accomplish a given cognitive function incredibly fast, you're almost certainly not using your relative slow general-purpose symbolic manipulation-type faculties).

But you should read Kahneman. He's neat.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:04 AM
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re: 185

Does she have a masters? Or will she be planning to do the lihP.B [which is a 2 year masters, bit like a US 'ABD']?

The lihP.B is tough and competitive. Failure rates have, historically, been high. One in four, or even higher in some years, although it can be a lot less, too. In terms of interpersonal competitiveness/harshness, some friends who also studied on similar US programs say that it's no tougher than the tougher programs there. I can't speak for that myself as I've never studied in the US. It's certainly not cuddly.

If you suffer from imposter syndrome at all, I think it's a hard place to study/work. Everyone will seem super-bright, and super-competitive [or faking it]. If you present papers at seminars, or venture an opinion, people _will_ nail you. Quite how harsh that is will depend a bit on how arrogant/arseholey you are about it yourself. But I think that's common on lots of programs. It's the somewhat assholey nature of the subject in many institutions.* That said, there's also a lot of fun elements to it. There's a lot of people studying the subject, they are all really into it, and you can have lots of fun/interesting/useful discussion time, and if you aren't particularly into being a competitive asshole, you can still get a lot out of it. There's a lot of chances to present papers, meet visiting scholars, and so on.

On the other hand, as a D.Phil student [not doing the lihP. B] you can if you want to, just concentrate on your work, meeting with your supervisor, college social things, etc. Although I'm not sure why you'd choose the institution if you were going to stay entirely apart from the other students.

How nurturing or supportive your supervisor or college will be is a bit of a crap-shoot. Some are lovely, and some colleges will bend over backwards for you. Some don't give a fuck. You could have bad luck and be saddled with a bastard, and in an institution unable or unwilling to provide much support. I don't think, and I may be wrong, UK institutions are necessarily as understanding as some US ones can be. Even a good/caring supervisor isn't going to be doing that much hand-holding, and colleges may expect graduate students to be fairly self-sufficient, too.

Not sure if that's helpful? Bit vague, probably.

* I'm not trying to revive Emersonian discussions-past.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:07 AM
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I'm not aware of having met anyone smarter than my dad's uncle, who was an actuary (and then an executive). Certainly smart enough to get, rather quickly, my complete lack of aptitude for math as a pre-teen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:08 AM
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188: DK steers clear of equating Systems 1 and 2 with rationality-vs-intelligence.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:16 AM
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191: yeah, that doesn't surprise me; do you know who he was quoting on that account? (I guess I could go try and look it up.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:18 AM
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174

High rationality, low intelligence: basically, normal human being. Not Einstein, but probably much more fun to be with, and entirely competent at whatever it is they do, although they aren't going to invent gunpowder.

I think this is wrong. First a normal person would be medium on both scales. Second I think this group is sometimes also dangerous as their social skills can get them jobs that their low IQ prevents them from performing well.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:18 AM
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185, 189: I had several acquaintances in the lihP.B. program at Oxford, and they were uniformly uber-confident and combatative. Also: kind of assholes, sometimes.

In general, my anecdotal impression is that people crack up in Oxbridge a bit more than usual. It's not the first place I'd recommend for someone in a delicate mental state, but YMMV.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:19 AM
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Although I do like LB's notion of something like the rationality vector being a scalar quantity of *stupidity*, independent of intelligence.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:19 AM
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Must be this dude.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:20 AM
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191: I've got the book here, and the index tells me it's Keith Stanovic and Richard West's Rationality and the Reflective Mind.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:21 AM
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re: 194.1

Yes. re: kind of assholes. I'd guess of the 16 or 17 people in the year I did it, most were combative/competitive, mildly assholey, but basically nice/OK [hopefully I was one of those], and there were two or three total bastards [rather than one of these].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:22 AM
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174

Take home message: it's very easy to confuse group 3 with group 1 (snobbery, essentially), and group 4 with group 2 (mistaking Larry Summers for Richard Feynman).

As others have pointed out Feynman had some Summer's like aspects. I am not convinced he would have done a lot better as President of Harvard (although perhaps he would have avoided Summer's idiotic derivatives bet). Warren Buffett might be a better example for group 2.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:24 AM
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198: Yeah, these guys (and they were guys) were basically nice people. Good fun to drink with in the college bar. But if a subject of contention came up, they'd get all beady-eyed...


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:25 AM
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re: 200

Yes, exactly. You need to be a bit tough, but if you don't take things to heart and treat it as just a 'thing' rather than a personal attack, it can even be fun, if you like arguing. If you do take those things to heart, people aren't trying to be mean, but it can really come across that way. Leaving aside the one or two who are also actually actively trying to be mean.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:27 AM
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189, 194: A lihP.B. is precisely what she'll be doing. Schools in the US are competing to throw money at her, but not a dime from Oxford (her parents have offered to foot the bill). That alone should make the decision, but we'll see. I mean, I don't think any phil dept will be free of competitive assholery, but I think she might be wise to avoid its epicenters.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:42 AM
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Yeah, her impostor syndrome seems to be fairly high-pitched. And where she is right now she's used to being the smartest person in the room. Also, I think it is unclear to her just how very much amateur talk therapy was given to her and just how onerous it was (for various reasons she will not see shrinks and will not take drugs). Pretty much no one in any grad program is going to do what has been done, and I guess we'll find out how well she can compensate! (She really is smart, but man.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:46 AM
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Not Einstein, but probably much more fun to be with....

The only person I've met who had met A.E. said he was an absolute joy and absolutely impressive, the very opposite of one's fears when meeting one's heroes.

OT: Happy Easter, Internet reprobates. Shakespeare Salvation and chocolate bunnies for everybody!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:50 AM
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The lihP.B is hard; combative as already mentioned. Good, though, I think, for the most part. You learn a lot, partly through the seminars and talks, and partly through the one-to-one tutorial teaching. The workload is quite high, although I don't know how it compares to US institutions over a similar time period. You'll write something like 125-175,000 words over 18 months; depending on whether you choose to present at seminars much, and how often your tutor expects papers. I don't know what learning difficulties your student has, but if they cause difficulty with churning out words, they might find it hard, although tutors may be a bit more considerate with the workload if they are aware of it.

In general, you can forget getting money. It doesn't really work like that here. If you are lucky you'll get a grant from one of the UK/EU funding bodies [if of eligible citizenship], but even that isn't 100% certain. They have a lot of applicants for every place, so they don't really worry about helping them financially. The department isn't, or wasn't when I was there, set up to award scholarships or funding.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:52 AM
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re: 203

Yeah, everyone there is used to being the smartest person in the room. It can be a bit of a shock to be in a room with 15 other people, just the same. Just being really smart isn't going to cut it -- there were almost certainly be a bunch of people in any given group at least as smart. On the other hand, that's part of what's good about it. I'd guess there's going to be a lot of that at any internationally desirable program that's attracting students. I don't have enough experience of graduate study elsewhere to make a comparison, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 9:55 AM
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Honestly, it doesn't sound to me as though the student described in 185 would fare well at Oxford.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 10:11 AM
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I've never been to Cambridge, but I have heard that the gardens are beautiful.

I don't have any graduate school experience, but I think that the biggest question you need to ask of that young woman is whether there is significant family money for intensive psychiatric treatment.

Elton Saks made it through a masters of some sort with schizophrenia -- although she had a hospitalization at the Warneford, but she did it by paying for psychoanalysis. It was cheap there then compared to the U. S. My personal experience is that schools and school health centers are pretty much shit when it comes to mental illness. They mostly want to deal with short-term adjustment disorders.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 10:22 AM
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Is this person intending to study keerG yhposlihP, oud?


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 12:32 PM
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(Or namoR, for that matter.)


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 12:34 PM
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||

I have now had the wonderful privilege that comes to UMC parents of paying admission to stand in line to get into a gift shop.

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 12:41 PM
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Great, now we'll see a flood of those weirdo classicists who use elgoog instead of google.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 12:43 PM
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209: Nope! Let's see how long this takes me to do backwards, erm, scihteateM!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 12:43 PM
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211: Is there a chance to ask questions? If so, please ask if magic obstetricians use side-along apparition to deliver babies. I've always wondered because it seems easier. They'd just need to grab a finger.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 12:50 PM
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re: 213 [and earlier]

I don't mean to sound super-negative. It's a pretty good place to study, and it's not all back-stabbing competitiveness [although that is real]. People are genuinely keen on the subject, and if you are previously used to feeling like you are sticking out like a sore thumb [because enthusiastic and good at it] it can be a nice change to be around lots of people who are keen. There's always people to talk to about whatever you are interested in. But I do worry that this student wouldn't get much of the support they need -- especially if they aren't officially diagnosed and with a clear plan. Based on:

I think it is unclear to her just how very much amateur talk therapy was given to her and just how onerous it was

There's a very real chance of the amateur talk therapy not materialising if she doesn't ask for it. IYSWIM.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 12:51 PM
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213: In that case, I probably have less thgisni to offer.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 1:02 PM
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215: Right. I'm worried that if she goes there she's going to find someone she likes, start to lay out all of her (pretty heavy) shit for them, and they're going to shut her down immediately. Not that that absolutely couldn't happen here, but I think it likely that more profs here see this kind of nurturing as part of their job. She'll love being around other very bright, very interested students, but she has scary anxiety about failure and, likely due to her cognitive quirks, she's not great at quick, incisive, impromptu argument -- although I bet she could improve quite a bit in that department.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 1:08 PM
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Probably the best place for her to go is Gonerill's old place -- where she has been admitted. But she is pretty much adamant about refusing to live there. (Why did she apply then? Dunno!)

Merganser -- is that what you do? CA, too.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 1:10 PM
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Agree that Gonerill's old place has an unusually high number of people who are both great and nurturing. Perhaps she could run off to nawehctaksaS in the summers.

And yes, that is what I do! Now I'm wondering if I know CA...


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 1:16 PM
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but she has scary anxiety about failure and, likely due to her cognitive quirks, she's not great at quick, incisive, impromptu argument

ttaM has way more direct insight to this than I do, but this sounds like a really bad combination for Oxford. There is literally nothing more prized at Oxford (in the humanities) than an ability for quick, incisive, impromptu argument.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 1:47 PM
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(Or namoR, for that matter.)

The submarineR?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 2:06 PM
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221: Ahaha, I thought the same thing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 2:08 PM
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174: If you believe the Deliberate Practice people, High Rationality / Low g people can be quite formidable in their area of expertise, even things we might think of as "intellectual" domains. And generally if you have high Rationality, you can tell if you have low g and steer clear of things that are especially demanding along that axis.

Low Rationality / High g can be a difficult trap to get out of, because if you hear an argument that could improve your Rationality, you are usually clever enough to argue it away.

There is probably some correlation between the two, though, if only because there isn't much explicit training in general rationality out there (though this is improving), so those who are good at it are often the ones who were clever, impatient, and arrogant enough to work it out for themselves.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 2:23 PM
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One negative trait which I suspect some unfoggers have is a certain inflexibility or stubborness which impels them to persist on a path which clearly isn't working out. This is a bit tricky as persistence can be good but sometimes it isn't.

Hmmm, I would have guess the opposite -- that unfoggers prefer being excellent dilettantes to being specialists -- for myself I grew up in a family of auto-didacts which taught me a number of skills that have served me well, but left me lacking in a variety of skills at navigating institutions and hierarchies.

Beyond that, I'm intensely introverted, generally cautious (and resistant to change) and just not all that ambitious. So I'm not somebody with aspirations to do anything grand.

I began to realize that 2-3 of my 12 fellow physics majors were physicists and I, at least, was not.

It's funny, I'm generally not prone to feelings of imposter syndrome -- I take pride in my work and know that I contribute in important ways, but I do occasionally feel troubled by the knowledge that I am not a programmer. I'm good at programming computers, I'm good at problem solving, I can be creative but, ultimately I'm not fluid or innovative.

But you know what, like the conversation above about how excessive attention to the Ivies can be a distraction, I feel like in many cases the mythology around what it means to be a programmer can be a detriment. There's nothing wrong with me being happy to hang my hat on being competent, and extremely responsible -- those are productive skills.

I suspect, that the same is true in other professions, that people measure themselves against the idea of doing creative, original, cutting-edge work, when that doesn't describe the majority of what happens in the field.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 2:38 PM
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224

... and resistant to change ...

This can look a lot like inflexibility or stubbornness.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:10 PM
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The unfoggedetariat have a hundred words for stubborn.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:15 PM
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she's not great at quick, incisive, impromptu argument

Ginger Yellow is right in 220 on this one, I think. She'd struggle. The whole process is basically about that. You can write good creative papers for your tutor, and pass the final essay exams, but your peers will judge you on how good you are at face-to-face argument. If you are really strong and don't care about that, and don't mind that you don't shine face-to-face, that's fine, but if you also lack self-esteem and value the opinions of your peers, you'd struggle.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:17 PM
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Be the stubbornness you want to see in the world.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:23 PM
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Can't make me!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:24 PM
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Did you hear the one about the lawyer who got debarred for making sure his client told the same lies over and over again? It was for stubborning perjury.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:24 PM
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That's the spirit, JP! Um....I mean, cut that out!


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:25 PM
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When the waiter brings the soup course, I *insist* on having my stew borne on gossamer wings.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:27 PM
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Don't think I'll stop just because nobody replies. I'm quite...pertinacious.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:30 PM
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re: 224

Heh. I get that a bit when programming. I do some at work -- quite a bit at the moment -- but I don't do enough of it to actually be as good at it as my colleagues. That's not false modesty. I am not as good at it. So it's not really impostor syndrome; I am an impostor. Luckily, I don't think most of them are aware of that, and I compensate for it in other ways.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 3:34 PM
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What's with people talking about courses being "all taught by full professors" at MIT/Caltech/Harvard/etc? There's lots of assistant and associate profs teaching courses there, too...or do those commenters just mean "full professors" in the colloquial "non-adjunct non grad-student" usage?


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:04 PM
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They mean any old instructor, but well fed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 6:59 PM
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217: Maybe I've just seen an unusually high number of my peers attempt suicide, but the entire plan seems like a bad idea. Granted, I was somewhat able to manage my own mental health concerns during grad school thanks to our decent health insurance and the ability to take time off when needed, but still. Had I been in a less nurturing program, I think I would have been in serious trouble.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 7:09 PM
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I'm with Ms. Robot. This sounds like a plan designed to push someone already fragile to their breaking point.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 8:17 PM
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it sounds like there are a lot of the rest of you who certainly didn't live up to the potential implied by your SAT/ACT scores. Why is that?

If only we could identify some common factor here, something that would lead to smart people dissipating their potential. Maybe some cognitively stimulating activity that would lead to their wasting lots of time, distracting them from anything that might lead to personal worldly success. But what could this common factor be? Why would smart people behave this way? Why? Why? I'm coming up blank here...


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 10:46 PM
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You're the only one who masturbates while solving differential equations in your head, One of Many. The rest of us are just lazy.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 8-12 11:41 PM
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235

Everyone teaches undergraduates. At the time, I knew who the Nobel prize winners were. What I didn't realize, or appreciate until I attended Columbia later in life, was that several of my professors would go on to win the Nobel prize for work they were doing while I was there, while also teaching sophomore organic chemistry etc. I was definitely getting the education Dad was paying for.


Posted by: Shamhat | Link to this comment | 04- 9-12 3:01 AM
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240: You mean you... um, all... haven't been... [looks at shoes] OK, forget I ever mentioned it, will you?


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 04- 9-12 7:29 AM
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I'm just sort of bringing this back up in case anyone who wasn't active during the weekend wants to talk about the actual post. My head is full of babbling about Mara's family and Mara and what the fuck to do about kids living in poverty in substandard housing complexes with substandard schools and blah blah blah. Also I want a nap.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 9-12 12:05 PM
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243: I want to hear about this! I went into the Big Bro/Sis Program back in the day with expectations that were waaaaaaaaaaaay out of line with the possible (and maybe the appropriate) wrt: what I could do for my Little. Trying to figure out whatever else is left--absent revolution--hasn't taken me too far.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 04- 9-12 3:12 PM
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