There Are No Miracle People

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  • #76
MarneMath
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So half the population is not normal then? Seems a little extreme. I have no idea what being Feynman is like, I'm sure he has no idea what being a "normal" person is like. Many people claim to be ordinary, but some are simply above or below (with respect to any arbitrary metric).

I think that dozens, if not hundreds or more "ordinary" people have tried to do what Feynman did, by studying hard. They did not succeed.

When I see claims like that I immediately think the claimant is engaging in humility and self deprecation. Nobody likes an arrogant ***. Better to lay on the politically correct platitudes.

I think Feynman reported he scored 125 on an IQ test he took. That would put him about 2 standard deviations above 100, which in some regards is surprising. You would think that someone we consider to be a super genius would score much higher. 125 is what I would normally expect to see from a PhD, and assuming that the 125 is his score, then perhaps the lesson to take away from Feynman is that while yes it is important to have the aptitude, it's perhaps of greater importance to have the ability to properly use that aptitude.
 
  • #77
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So half the population is not normal then? Seems a little extreme. I have no idea what being Feynman is like, I'm sure he has no idea what being a "normal" person is like. Many people claim to be ordinary, but some are simply above or below (with respect to any arbitrary metric).

I think that dozens, if not hundreds or more "ordinary" people have tried to do what Feynman did, by studying hard. They did not succeed.

When I see claims like that I immediately think the claimant is engaging in humility and self deprecation. Nobody likes an arrogant ***. Better to lay on the politically correct platitudes.
I don't think any of these Feynman interview videos should be taken very seriously. What I suspect he's doing in this one is trying his best to come off as a "regular guy". That's something that always seemed important to him. He didn't like elitists, which is the point of the title story in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
 
  • #78
chiro
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This is an interesting topic (with good discussion) to say the least.

Personally I don't think anyone can get a BS in physics for a number of reasons.

A big reason psychologically basically has to do with "cutting your losses". What I mean by this is that if people are struggling (regardless of how hard they work), then they are likely to switch out to avoid the pain of further failure.

Some people here might regard that as a "weak" argument (maybe because they themselves despise that kind of behaviour), but it is a critical attribute of how people function generally. If someone is failing, it makes perfect sense to cut your losses and try something different.

Psychologically as well, people don't want to be constantly told that they are wrong or are failing all the time especially if its not that important for them to pursue the given endeavor (like physics). People naturally want to feel like they are powerful and in control and as soon as they start to feel like they are losing their sense of power, they are going to find some other avenue that makes them feel like they are in control.

Not everyone does this of course and you can get into all kinds of debates on the matter (including Darwinian arguments of survival of the fittest blah blah blah), but for this discussion it needs to be taken into account.

Having done some practicums as a high school math teacher and having done tutoring for a range of people with different skill-sets (including year 7 to masters students with varying capabilities), I can tell you from these experiences that some people find a lot of concepts that most people in this forum would find easy, extremely difficult.

This forum is an extremely biased sample and pointing this out is really vital to get an adequate answer or inference for the original question.
 
  • #79
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Having done some practicums as a high school math teacher and having done tutoring for a range of people with different skill-sets (including year 7 to masters students with varying capabilities), I can tell you from these experiences that some people find a lot of concepts that most people in this forum would find easy, extremely difficult.

Everybody struggles at some point at their current level though. As a tutor, you probably see a lot of that. What matters more is, when you track these people, that they achieve a level higher, succeed, and progress.

Did you not think that these students nevertheless learned these difficult concepts?
 
  • #80
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I've tutored people for weeks on subjects like the number line and fractions. They simply cannot get the concept. They get one on one help from not just me, but others at the facility as well. Some people are hopeless, as unfortunate as that is. At least, hopeless when it comes to learning the number line or some other particular concept.

I worked at a school that specialized in adult re-entry, low income and new immigrants. I'm sure many could have achieved more had they been educated and nurtured as a child. Many of my students never went to school as a youth, many were African refugees missing fingers and hands. It is simply harder to learn math when you dont have fingers and hands to do it with. Couple that with a lack of education as a youth and at some point, learning the concept is hopeless. Other students I had were seemingly normal people, from the states with a high school education and no obvious mental illness. But they just couldn't get a concept such as dimensional analysis from intro to chemistry. They would certainly try, they would spend more time on it than I did in undergrad.

Of course most of my students were able to get get basic ideas like the number line or dimensional analysis, but some could not and never did.
 
  • #81
WannabeNewton
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This forum is an extremely biased sample and pointing this out is really vital to get an adequate answer or inference for the original question.
Why do you say this (not disagreeing just curious)?
 
  • #82
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I've tutored people for weeks on subjects like the number line and fractions. They simply cannot get the concept. They get one on one help from not just me, but others at the facility as well. Some people are hopeless, as unfortunate as that is. At least, hopeless when it comes to learning the number line or some other particular concept.

I worked at a school that specialized in adult re-entry, low income and new immigrants. I'm sure many could have achieved more had they been educated and nurtured as a child. Many of my students never went to school as a youth, many were African refugees missing fingers and hands. It is simply harder to learn math when you dont have fingers and hands to do it with. Couple that with a lack of education as a youth and at some point, learning the concept is hopeless. Other students I had were seemingly normal people, from the states with a high school education and no obvious mental illness. But they just couldn't get a concept such as dimensional analysis from intro to chemistry. They would certainly try, they would spend more time on it than I did in undergrad.

Of course most of my students were able to get get basic ideas like the number line or dimensional analysis, but some could not and never did.

In such a situation, where you have nontraditional students such as the African refugees, how personal is the material made? I suspect that if it is taught in a traditional way (here is this concept, here is that concept), the ideas may seem completely unmotivated and foreign (of course, this is nothing new).

And if they didn't understand arithmetic, have you ever tried jumping to something like basic logic?

Also, how capable were they of expressing what they didn't understand?

I have never had this sort of experience.
 
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  • #83
chiro
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Everybody struggles at some point at their current level though. As a tutor, you probably see a lot of that. What matters more is, when you track these people, that they achieve a level higher, succeed, and progress.

Did you not think that these students nevertheless learned these difficult concepts?

I guess the thing that I should have emphasized is that for a lot of people, they just want to pass and move on with their life.

When some-one has had a lot of pain, sometimes all they want to do is to escape it in any way that they can. They do what they have to do and if they don't have to do it again, they will make decisions so that they don't have to.

Some people have the intention of learning things like math and physics: for these people the struggle is a means to an end and a necessary part of the journey.

Others don't have the same ambitions and if they can avoid it they will.

When I hear people argue about whether everyone can get a BS, I have to say again that I think the answer is no and another reason is the one mentioned above: namely that a lot of people just don't care enough to go through the struggle.

The path of least resistance is different for everyone and it depends on what peoples values and intents are. For a person that is set on learning the path of least resistance is going through the struggle and getting better.

For someone with a different goal, it might be passing the unit and never touching it again.

The fact that everyone has different interests, values, and ambitions will mean that they are geared to have different paths of least resistance and will choose their paths accordingly.

Its like learning to play an instrument: some people really won't be all that interested and may give up after a few weeks or a month where-as the other person will slave away for decades seven days a week.

You might ask the question: "Is everyone capable of becoming a professional musician?" and you will get the exact same responses as this thread has contributed.
 
  • #84
russ_watters
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Are you measuring ability with IQ?
IQ can be thought of as the ability to learn to solve new problems, yes.
Is so, then a correlation between a low IQ and low education attainment wouldn't actually support your conclusion.
Huh? Isn't that exactly what it says? People who are less able to learn tend to learn less, people who are more able to learn tend to learn more. Please explain what you mean.
There's also the question of whether IQ actually measures what you want to measure...
That's the "begging the question" fallacy. You're basically saying that the proposition you want to prove is not measurable so we must just assume it is true (or in this case, false). But no, you can no more say that inborn intelligence has nothing to do with attainment than I can that it does, without evidence. It just so happens that the evidence is not in your favor, so you try to attack the evidence rather than using/interpreting it to judge the hypothesis.
 
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  • #85
russ_watters
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I don't think so. There's been a few studies that have gathered results of different IQ scores, gathered an average and broke the results down into education level. Typically 125+ had a PhD, MD or JD. 115-120 have just an undergraduates, 100-110 have some college, and the rest were high school education broken down by various types with admin on top and unskilled at the bottom.
Ok....hypothesis supported, right?

he problem really comes when you use the word IQ. How does anyone really purpose to gather an IQ score?
What do you mean/why does this matter? There are lots of ways to do it, it is difficult and none are perfect, but regardless of the specifics, the bottom line is, as you said, that there is a very strong correlation between IQ and educational attainment.
There was a study that attempted to correlate a relationship between IQ and GPA for college student. When giving a verbal centered IQ test, the scores correlated well, when given a second and different type of IQ test, the scores correlated poorly.
What was that "different type of IQ test"? That's too vague to be useful.
Also, assuming that IQ scores give a reasonable baseline for intelligence of a certain kind, it ignores a great deal of other mental ability that may make up the difference with regards to academic success.
Agreed, it is not perfect. And yet the correlation is strong.

Again, lets flip this around: the basic point of the OP appears to be that there is no correlation between IQ and educational attainment, is it not? And we know that that's not true, right? Isn't this exactly the question the OP is asking?
 
  • #86
russ_watters
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Feynman's claim is not that all people are equally able. He merely claims that an "ordinary" person could do what he did:

"You ask me if an ordinary person, by studying hard, would get to imagine these things like I imagine them: of course! I was an ordinary person, who studied hard."

Translated to I.Q., he'd be saying anyone with an I.Q. of about a hundred should be fit to be a physicist. [emphasis added]
Right, and we know that that's not true, right? He didn't have a 100 IQ, he had more like a 125 IQ. So that statement that he was ordinary is bafflingly false.

Inadvertently - via his false statement, if we insert the correct fact - he's essentially telling us that no one under a 125 IQ can be a physicist!
I don't think any of these Feynman interview videos should be taken very seriously. What I suspect he's doing in this one is trying his best to come off as a "regular guy". That's something that always seemed important to him. He didn't like elitists, which is the point of the title story in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
Agreed. I'll say it another way:

When your mom tells you "you can do anything you want with your life", she knows its a lie, but it is a motivational lie. I think he knew he was lying, but he said it to be motivational.
 
  • #87
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IQ can be thought of as the ability to solve new problems, yes.
Huh? Isn't that exactly what it says? People who are less able to learn tend to learn less, people who are more able to learn tend to learn more. Please explain what you mean.

That's the "begging the question" fallacy. You're basically saying that the proposition you want to prove is not measurable so we must just assume it is true (or in this case, false). But no, you can no more say that inborn intelligence has nothing to do with attainment than I can that it does, without evidence. It just so happens that the evidence is not in your favor, so you try to attack the evidence rather than using/interpreting it to judge the hypothesis.

You want to conclude that not everyone is equally able. If somebody can improve, and hence score higher later, at what point can you be sure, based on a previous score, that the person will not have the capacity to achieve a higher education?

I never said anything was not measurable. I also didn't say inborn intelligence has nothing to do with attainment. I'm posing a simple question: how do you know intelligence, whatever that is, is being measured by an IQ test?
 
  • #88
russ_watters
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You want to conclude that not everyone is equally able. If somebody can improve, and hence score higher later, at what point can you be sure that the person will not have the capacity to achieve a higher education?
IQ cannot typically be substantially improved:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_quotient#IQ_and_age

It is, by definition (and shown to be valid), a measure if inborn intelligence.
I never said anything was not measurable. I also didn't say inborn intelligence has nothing to do with attainment.
Then I guess I don't see what your point is. Could you please clearly state your thesis.
 
  • #89
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I asked you if you thought IQ was a static measurement. I guess I assumed you would have specified that it would be decreasing.
 
  • #90
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It is, by definition (and shown to be valid), a measure if inborn intelligence.

I can't tell if you're trolling or not.
 
  • #91
russ_watters
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I can't tell if you're trolling or not.
And I'm trying to figure out if you are! Your argument style is to ask questions and imply a position without actually stating it. It makes it very difficult to tell what the point is that you are trying to make!
I asked you if you thought IQ was a static measurement. I guess I assumed you would have specified that it would be decreasing.
You didn't ask a specific question, only a vague one. Not knowing what your point and level of knowledge of the facts was, it was impossible for me to guess how specific of an answer you wanted. So since the question was framed as a yes or no, I answered a yes or no.

So now that I know what you are getting at: It really doesn't matter if it increases or decreases, only that it doesn't tend to increase by 25 points, enabling an average person to become Richard Feynman.

Moreover, there is a clear logical flaw in that reasoning of yours: Are all people able to increase their IQ only by enough to bring everyone up to exactly 125? If not, then the differences in ability and thus resulting attainment would be intact. And even if they did, the lost time would still cause differences due to starting IQ. It wouldn't make sense for that to be true/possible, even if we didn't already know that it isn't true, and even if it was, it still wouldn't produce the equality Feynman claims!

Again, the data and logic on this seems clear and simple to me. That there is argument about it is truly baffling to me.
 
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  • #92
russ_watters
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Again, the data and logic on this seems clear and simple to me. That there is argument about it is truly baffling to me.
Adding to the surreal-ness of this thread/argument, I'm one of the staunchest conservatives on this site, a firm believer in personal responsibility. So for me to be the one arguing that those who attain less aren't lazy is a surreal twist. Typically, I'm getting accused by others of believing the poor tend to be lazy!
 
  • #93
Evo
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Is IQ a static measurement throughout a person's life?
No, it's not. If you had bothered to read about IQ tests, first you would know that that they are created to test for learning impairment. Then you would know that children under 14 tend to score higher then drop off.
If people can't bother to learn even the basics about a subject before they post, it is a waste of our time.
 
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