Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"I Cited A Study"

I did something in yesterday’s post that I did not care for and before I can move forward I need to examine that in order to determine what it tells me.  About me.  And perhaps about others as well.  Though I am uncertain about that, because I am not “others.”

In the course of relating the story of a Toronto Hebrew Day School classmate who had beaten himself up his entire life (or so it appeared) because he was convinced by the “Wisdom of his Times” that he was demonstrably not “smart”, I cited a study mentioned in an article in the New York Times indicating that, “I.Q.” notwithstanding, a person’s “smartness” was not unalterably “Set in Stone”, but could actually – and relatively easily – be nudged upward.  (Note:  Not to mention the more global reality that there is more than one exclusive variety of “smartness.”)

First of all, we cannot rebuke a “Period in Time” for not knowing something that a later “Period in Time” subsequently figures out.  Every “Period in Time” doesn’t know something.  They used to believe that the sun revolved around the earth. 

I may possibly have reached too far back for that example, leapfrogging numerous other “Mistaken Beliefs” in the five-hundred-year interim.  But the point remains valid.  There has been no “Period in Time” during which everything was entirely understood.  (Although there were some periods where they believed everything was.  Possibly all of them.)  

I would argue that such a condition would not even be desirable.  If a “Period in Time” knew everything, then the next generation, it’s like,

“We have nothing to do.”

So it’s good – in a way – that there is a modicum of ignorance in every “Period in Time”, giving every “Period of Time” something to brag about in the history books.

Except the Dark Ages. 

Where the only braggers were the rats.

CACKLING MEDIEVAL RAT:  “They do not know it’s us!

That may possibly have been a tangent.  Though a not an entirely unpleasant one, don’t you agree?

Okay, back to business.

I read – present tense, please; you may go back if you have to – an article in the paper mentioning a study whose conclusion resonates with what I inherently already believe. 

One study – that “I.Q.-al Determinism” is a detrimental booba-meiseh (an apocryphal  “Old Wives Tale”), and I jump on it, eagerly passing it along to my followers.   

One study.

Can you imagine the uncountable number of “one studies” out there validating nonsensical inaccuracies?  You can probably find a “one study” validating anything. 

“A study has determined that an exclusive diet of yak’s liver correlates positively in picking upwardly trending equities on the Stock Exchange.”

(From the Woody Allen movie Sleeper)  “Scientific study concludes:  ‘Pastrami is good for you.’”

“A study has determined that all the other studies about “Climate Change” are poppycock.”

I am heartily ashamed of myself.  One study…

And I am off to the races.

Understandable in this context?  Perhaps. 

Sympathetic to the plight of a man hounded by lifelong feelings of intellectual inadequacy (and imaginably countless others of his ilk), I wanted “I.Q.” to be scientifically “Non-determinative.”  I find a single study backing up that position, and it’s “Katie!  Bar the door!”  

I am not certain what that means.  But I am certain of this.

It is not good enough. 

Not for the people I disagree with.

And not for me.

Human nature being what it is, I cannot promise this will never happen again.

But when it does…

I am definitely bringing it to my attention.

(And to others people’s attentions as well.) 

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

On the particular topic of IQ, you might be interested to read THE MISMEASURE OF MAN, by Stephen Jay Gould, which gives the history of IQ testing and studies it in depth.

And then, for good measure, THE MISMEASURE OF WOMAN, by Carol Tavris.