Re-imagine This

I interviewed a graduate student from India for an assistantship job. She’s in computer science.

“Are you sure you will have time for this job?” I asked. “You must be very busy with your studies.”

The student smiled shyly. “Oh,” she said, “actually, I have so much time. The way coding is taught here. . . I already know all of it. It’s at such a different level than we do it. It’s very much. . . for beginners.”

She’s here for the visa, not the knowledge. We have no knowledge to give because we are hopelessly, pathetically behind. Instead of gearing our programs towards students who are capable of succeeding in their subjects, we embrace an insane, unscientific myth that nobody is naturally gifted and that every brain is an exact copy of everybody else’s. We “deemphasize calculus” and everything else that requires a stronger brain capacity to pretend that people are interchangeable widgets.

Gosh, even in the USSR we had schools for the mathematically gifted, the linguistically gifted, the athletically gifted, etc. The Soviets were ideological but not to the point of destroying the mathematical sciences in service of the ideology.

Mind you, though, this is not an accidental insanity that can be corrected. This is the foundation of the left’s worldview. Either people are identical dolls painted different color or they aren’t. Differences between individuals and groups that are in-born, not socially manufactured, either exist or they don’t. Either the gap can be closed or it can’t because some people just don’t have the brains for it.

Once you accept that some people are mathematically gifted while others aren’t, you can no longer argue that everything can be changed, engineered away, “re-imagined.”

19 thoughts on “Re-imagine This

  1. // Differences between individuals and groups that are in-born, not socially manufactured, either exist or they don’t.

    There is an abyss between acknowledging “there are inborn differences between individuals” and claiming “there are inborn differences between groups.” The first is an obvious fact, the second – an excuse to justify oppression.

    It is a pity modern US Democrats tend to conflate between those very different things.

    I partly understand how it got to that since the old conservative / against welfare state position had been f.e. ‘African-Americans are good at sports, but not math or classical music” w/o examining the history and current social forces supporting unjust reality.

    Of course, when one works f.e. to promote more black students into STEM, one needs to differentiate between students who lack the natural ability vs. students who are OK intellectually and simply lack the background of a good school, so need more introductory courses to reach the level of others.

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    1. ““there are inborn differences between groups.” The first is an obvious fact, the second – an excuse to justify oppression”

      Group differences exist, but they’re more distributional than discrete. In order words… looking at women and men, a graph like this is stupid and wrong.

      https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-6b2eba0896929c6634dc27b7a81959b3

      For most group differences the graphs will look a lot more like this:

      As I’ve said more than once…. if the tragedy of the 20th century was over-estimating group differences then the tragedy of the 21st century will be under-estimating group differences.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If we could accept that group differences exist and concentrated on making a good living possible for people who aren’t extremely brilliant – instead of chasing the idiotic fantasy that everybody is equally brilliant – that would make a lot more sense.

        To me, these differences obviously exist but they don’t mean anybody deserves less respect because of them. I’m clearly physically weaker than most healthy men who aren’t elderly. But so what? Why is it such a tragedy to admit it? How does it necessarily lead to something horrible to admit it?

        “Thinks faster” and “jumps higher” aren’t moral judgments. They are facts of physiology.

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    2. How are obvious and clearly observable differences between groups justify oppression? Oppression is a decision. Just don’t make it.

      That Asians have a 10-point higher median IQ than whites is an observable, undisputed fact. And it never justified any oppression. That Ashkenazi Jews have an observable, undisputed 15 point IQ advantage over Ukrainians hasn’t led to any oppression of Ukrainians by Jews, has it?

      Men are on average significantly physically stronger than women. Pretending this isn’t so won’t erase the difference. Nothing will erase it. But it will create a lot of unnecessary ugliness.

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  2. As an expert in high school math teaching, I think the Israeli system is much better than Russian one and probably better than the one in American schools.

    High school students should have the ability to choose between at least 3 levels of math studies:

    3 points level which is the lowest possible and a minimum requirement for graduation. Private colleges accept those students for some disciplines but not others. Ditto universities. If one wants to go into STEM, one needs to pass at least 4 points math exam before applying to university / college.
    4 points level lets one apply to STEM in universities and colleges, as long as a student has passed a 5 point exam in English (for applying to universities) or a 4 point English exam (for applying to STEM in colleges).
    5 point math level is for smartest, most motivated students planning to go to university for a prestigious discipline (STEM, a doctor, probably a lawyer too).

    In 2019, 15.5% of Israeli students graduated high school with 5 point math.

    In 2014, 41.8% of students tried to pass a 4-point or a 5-point math exam, while 58.2% of students went for a 3 point exam. The current numbers are better imo since Israeli education minister made a huge effort to help poorer students from backwater places (outside of central Israel) w/o money for private teachers to realize their potential.

    It is wrong to let students only take either something equivalent to “3 points” or the highest “5 points” level. Most normal good students are at 4 points naturally, imo, and can succeed there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The reason why we can’t have “the smartest, most motivated” category here is that in that category there will be 85% Asians, 15% whites, and zero % everybody else. And there’s no narrative that Americans can tolerate to explain this. They can only live with the idea that this is “racism.” There is no money in the world that can erase these differences. No social engineering,. There’s nothing. But Americans can’t accept that. So a lot of ugliness is created to will something into existence that just can’t.

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  3. // That Asians have a 10-point higher median IQ than whites is an observable, undisputed fact.

    Depends how one defines the term ‘Asian.’ I read the following and a few other links and received the impression it’s similar to receiving only PhDs from FSU and then claiming all Russians are naturally that talented:

    https://items.ssrc.org/from-our-programs/it-takes-more-than-grit-reframing-asian-american-academic-achievement/

    // … 85% Asians, 15% whites, and zero % everybody else. And there’s no narrative that Americans can tolerate to explain this.

    One partial yet true narrative is that immigrants are ‘hungrier’, more worried about succeeding in a new society, while remembering the bad situation they ran away from in their own countries.

    I remember you had once mentioned Ukrainians succeeding in some other country in ways they don’t in their own.

    A research I read long ago said children of immigrants succeed more, but after a few generations the effect dissipates. You saw one extremely courageous and driven Indian woman, who moved mountains to reach the promised land of America. Wiki claims “With 1,210,193,422 residents reported in the 2011 provisional census report, India is the world’s second-most populous country.” Millions stayed there, unable to immigrate anywhere.

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    1. If this were the result of immigration, we’d see great academic success among Hispanics. But the reality is that they are the lowest-achieving group.

      This has been studied for decades, and the results are always the same.

      Ukraine produces large crops of kick-ass programmers. And Mexico does not. It’s just a fact. But Mexico produces a gigantic artistic output that Ukraine just doesn’t. It’s also a fact. We could argue about which is more important but I don’t think there’s an argument that the moral value of one is higher than the other. Once we abandon the idea that IQ is a moral category and accept it as a physiological one, it all gets easier.

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      1. I wonder if it’s part of the attempt to get African Americans into technical fields when they tend to do better in the arts, particularly music. At least in my experience.

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  4. // That Ashkenazi Jews have an observable, undisputed 15 point IQ advantage over Ukrainians hasn’t led to any oppression of Ukrainians by Jews, has it?

    Jews were in no situation to oppress anybody in Ukraine. They were too busy being a disliked, oppressed minority themselves.

    // Men are on average significantly physically stronger than women.

    Biological physical differences between the sexes are a bad example.

    Yet, what about a claim I heard on a modern YouTube program re biology that women as a sex tend toward an average, while nature uses males to experiment? F.e. they said that when something goes wrong physically, women tend to exhibit atavisms like human tales, while men tend to show new not normal traits.

    According to this program, that’s why there are both more male imbeciles AND male geniuses (creating what some in modern US call ‘white male culture’).

    Do you not see a difference between physical vs mental traits? The first are not important, while the latter are what defines our humanity and lets (or not) succeed in a modern world.

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    1. I believe that intelligence is a physical trait like height. IQ is heritable, like tendency towards diabetes. Yes, it’s harder to succeed with diabetes. At some things, it’s absolutely impossible to succeed with short stature. I didn’t pass calculus because I simply don’t have the brain for it. But so what? I made a great life for myself without it. It hurts a lot more that I have no artistic talent.

      Let’s take people with Downs syndrome. Nobody disputes they have very low IQs. But only a total fascist will say they are less human because of it. There aren’t going to be any Downs syndrome neurosurgeons. But does this mean they shouldn’t have a decent life? Of course, not. The distance from me to a brilliant mathematician in terms of IQ is close to the difference between me and a Downs syndrome person. But we are all equally human and deserving of respect.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure it must have been a major national security issue right? Right?

      It was about… (drumroll)… Ashley Biden’s lost diary.

      Because the FBI now pursues the lost and stolen personal belongings of the president’s family. After those belongings have already been turned in to police.

      Next big case: Jill Biden’s dropped scrunchie! I’m sure the FBI’s crack team can find it!

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      1. Until now, they could have kept on claiming that the diary in question didn’t belong to Ashley (PV tried to return it, but nobody would admit to owning it! That is why they gave it to police) and all their supporters would have kept on believing it. Rumor says it shines a pretty nasty light on our current prez. But now that they’ve confirmed it’s the real thing… (after all, the only thing more silly than the FBI tracking down a diary, would be the FBI tracking down a fake diary). No takebacks.

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          1. “attract attention to the rumor that the president perverted his own daughter”

            I was actually unfamiliar with that rumored part of the diary until today…. so, maybe the decision has been made that it’s time for president Harris to take center stage? She was the tech/party machine candidate all along… (why else would he ever chose her?)

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            1. There’s been so much failure on the part of this administration that they need a scapegoat. Problem is, Harris is deeply unpopular. They have painted themselves into a corner.

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          2. They’ve decided that doesn’t matter anymore? I mean– how long does the guy have left to live, anyway? Average life expectancy after dementia dx is about 8 years, but that’s for people who aren’t being dragged around to public appearances and pumped full of amphetamines. I can’t imagine that’s helpful, lifespan-wise. Clock’s ticking.

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