Tag Archives: intelligence

Raising Smart Children: Concentrate on Effort, not Ability

An old Scientific American article looks at the findings from three decades of research into how to raise intelligent children.

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 30 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

The result plays out in children […] who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.

The crux of the issue: don’t reward or praise children for being smart; save your rewards and praise effort.

2005 Global Intellectuals Poll (100 Most Important Living Intellectuals )

The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll is a list of the 100 most important living public intellectuals […] compiled in November 2005 by Prospect Magazine and Foreign Policy on the basis of a reader’s ballot.

Top five:

  1. Noam Chomsky
  2. Umberto Eco
  3. Richard Dawkins
  4. Václav Havel
  5. Christopher Hitchens

Foreign Policy requires (free) registration to access the list. It’s available hassle-free at Wikipedia.

The Correlation Between IQ and Atheism

Times Higher Education reports that there is a strong correlation between a high IQ and a lack of religious belief, according to Richard Lynn, the controversial psychologist.

In the past Lynn has performed research into what he believes is the existence of race and sex differences in intelligence, and has called for the “phasing out” of what he calls “incompetent cultures”. Controversial indeed!

Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but it’s interesting nonetheless and the article itself contains some interesting comments from noted academics.

via Mind Hacks

Books That Make You Dumb

BooksThatMakeYouDumb is a little ‘statistical’ graph on how average SAT scores correlate with what books people read. Accepting it’s unscientificness Virgil (the creator) lists the most notable things about the data:

  • Harry Potter is the most popular book. The Bible is the second most popular book. At least among college students, Harry Potter is, like the Beatles, indeed bigger than Jesus. Harry Potter still wins even if you add “The Bible” and “The Holy Bible” together.
  • The smartest religious book is “The Book of Mormon”. The dumbest religious book is “The Holy Bible”. I’m sure this pleases the Mormons immensely.
  • The dumbest philosophy book is “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” and the smartest philosophy book is “Atlas Shrugged”.
  • “Lolita” is the smartest book.
  • The top/bottom 20 books are remarkably stable. I tried 5 different weighting algorithms and their only variation was in the middle. The dumbest books were always at the bottom, and the smartest books were always on top. This is even further corroborated by the fact that the extremes change remarkably little with increasing m.
  • This is slightly specious, but if you wanted to you could consider “I Don’t Read” as a control variable. Thus, if “I Don’t Read” is smarter than 13 books, then you’d think these bottom thirteen books could in fact, make you dumber than not reading at all.

Also worth a browse is the not-so-impressive MusicThatMakesYouDumb and the beautifully addictive WikiScanner.