Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Politics of MEME - 2

ALDaily again leads to this interesting little snippet. Now I am not going to go through the whole thing - to so do would not match up with my confirmation bias.

But take a look at this little piece -
Stanovich ... believes that the concept of intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, fails to capture key aspects of mental ability. But that doesn't mean he discounts the tests' credibility: "Readers might well expect me to say that IQ tests do not measure anything important, or that there are many kinds of intelligence, or that all people are intelligent in their own way," he writes. After all, theories about emotional and social intelligence — which weigh interpersonal skills, the ability to empathize, and other "supracognitive" characteristics — have gained popularity in recent years, in part by de-emphasizing the importance of IQ.

Instead, Stanovich suggests that IQ tests focus on valuable qualities and capacities that are highly relevant to our daily lives. But he believes the tests would be far more effective if they took into account not only mental "brightness" but also rationality — including such abilities as "judicious decision making, efficient behavioral regulation, sensible goal prioritization ... [and] the proper calibration of evidence."

Our understanding of intelligence, he writes, has been muddled by the discrepancy between the vague, comprehensive vernacular term, which encompasses all the functions and manifestations of "smarts," and the narrower theories that "confine the concept of intelligence to the set of mental abilities actually tested on extant IQ tests." The latter conceptualization allows intelligence to coexist with foolishness because IQ tests do not measure the rationality required to abstain from dumb decisions, according to the author. Casual observers, however, usually define intelligence broadly and are confused by inconsistencies: "Blatantly irrational acts committed by people of obvious intelligence ... shock and surprise us and call out for explanation."

The author notes that because most people — even educators and psychologists — accept test-defined intelligence as a fair assessment of mental faculties, we tend to dismiss inconsistencies between a person's IQ scores and rationality as indicators of a disorder or learning disability. So persistent is that faulty logic that "we are almost obligated to create a new disability category when an important skill domain is found to be somewhat dissociated from intelligence." As long as we continue to worship IQ tests that do not assess rational thought processes, we will continue to misjudge our own and others' cognitive abilities, warns the scholar.

In an earlier work, Stanovich coined his own term — dysrationalia — for "the inability to think and behave rationally despite adequate intelligence." That "disorder," he suggests, might afflict some of the smartest people you know.

[All of the emphasis is mine :) ]

So, what does this mean in the light of my earlier thoughts? The rationality of the "common man" is quite distinct from "intelligence".

Good to know that, because I went past the idea (with nothing more than a pair of pants to fly my seat on) and rejected it as irrelevance.

So, the idea of a "politic rationale" seems to be even further off.

TF and Dave should like that.

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