Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Rating ourselves as thinkers

What are the traits of a good thinker? Have you met people who you think are excellent thinkers? Have you read books by people you believe to be excellent thinkers? What makes them great? Then, we might ask, what makes a poor thinker.
Think about drivers for a minute. How many people, do you think, would rate themselves in the bottom half of drivers? What about the guy that cut you off in traffic today, or almost hit you? Do you that person would put himself or herself in the bottom half of drivers? If you think people overrate themselves as drivers, do you think also that people also overrate themselves as thinkers? And if this is so, what questions does that raise when you sit down and try to rate yourself as a thinker? 

22 comments:

bmiller said...

Don't we have IQ tests for that?

Starhopper said...

IQ tests are junk science.

One Brow said...

One of the books I read on lecturing said that 96% of instructors rated themself as average or better lecturers.

bmiller said...

Just to stir the pot.

Why are IQ tests junk science?

Legion of Logic said...

bmiller: "Why are IQ tests junk science?"

Because I got a 142 on the IQ test my high school made me take (along with never getting a grade lower than an A in school or college, valedictorian, scholarships galore, etc) and yet I'm an idiot in many walks of life that the vast majority of people with lower IQ scores have no trouble navigating. There are simply too many variables with intelligence, even absent context, to give undue weight to any one metric.

Mensa puts great emphasis on IQ, but then they separate themselves by their IQs. So how smart are they really?

Starhopper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Starhopper said...

Why do I consider them to be junk science?

Several reasons, but here I'll just list a few:

1. What is the definition of intelligence? Is it what makes a great mathematician? Or perhaps an artist? Or a stand up comedian? Or a "wise elder"? We can't even agree on what we're supposed to be measuring.

2. Cultural bias will be inherent in any conceivable test. It will always be there and cannot be removed. So the higher scores will always favor people from the group that constructed the test.

3. Time. Is the ability to answer 50 questions before "Time's up!" a measure of intelligence? I don't think so. Some of the smartest people I've known have routinely had to sleep on a problem before coming up with a brilliant answer (that actually worked). Any test with a time limit is measuring other things besides "intelligence".

Was my Polish grandmother who could cook the most amazing meals without recipes or measuring cups and give astonishingly astute advice to life's problems, yet could scarcely read to save her life, less intelligent than someone who aces the IQ test? Not likely!

bmiller said...

I read that the richest people in the world don't necessarily have the highest IQ.

But IQ must be good for some things right? They are still used.

Starhopper said...

Name one thing an IQ test is good for.

"They are still used."

So are polygraphs, and they are junk science too.

One Brow said...

But IQ must be good for some things right? They are still used.

Sure, just like a shoe size chart is good for something. IQ test measure access to learning and ability to remember things quickly. Is that intelligence?

Starhopper said...

"ability to remember things quickly. Is that intelligence?"

No it is NOT. It is the ability to remember things quickly, an entirely different matter. As I said above, many of the most intelligent people I personally have known take their time to come to a conclusion.

It's like video games which reward the ability to respond in microseconds to on-screen stimuli. That is no doubt a useful talent, but it cannot be equated to "intelligence". Chess is perhaps the most cerebral of games, yet players often takes hours to decide on the next move. Some long distance games are played at one move per day. In the olden days, people used to play chess by mail! (I wonder if there are people who still do?)

bmiller said...

I don't know.

This Wikipedia article shows IQ is used a lot to predict performance and set public policy.

Here are a few quotes:

"In the United States, certain public policies and laws regarding military service,[148][149] education, public benefits,[150] capital punishment,[151] and employment incorporate an individual's IQ into their decisions."

"The American Psychological Association's report "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns" states that wherever it has been studied, children with high scores on tests of intelligence tend to learn more of what is taught in school than their lower-scoring peers."

"for hiring employees without previous experience in the job the most valid predictor of future performance is general mental ability."

"large-scale longitudinal studies indicate an increase in IQ translates into an increase in performance at all levels of IQ: i.e. ability and job performance are monotonically linked at all IQ levels."

Joe Hinman said...

I think most people think they are being great thinkers they repeat what they have been brainwashed to believe. But then I live in Texas. I think I was a good thinker at one time. About the time my book came out (2014) I was at the height of my powers. My two months in the coma (2015) did me in.


read my blog pieces for the week and decide:
"Brainlkess Mind vs Something fro nothing (in part 2 I adapt Victor's Dageroius idea to myown devices).

Part 1

part 2




Victor Reppert said...

On chess by mail, I believe it still exists, and in America we have an honor system that requires players not to use computers as engines to decide their next move. In international play computers are allowed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Knights_(chess)

Starhopper said...

There is a terrific scene in one of my favorite movies, Around the World, Under the Sea (I've watched it maybe ten times by now), where Hank Stahl (Keenan Wynn) discovers that Dr. Volker (David McCallum), with whom he has been playing a single chess game for weeks, has been using a computer to help him decide what move to make. Volker defends himself, saying that since he personally designed and built that computer, it serves as an extension of his own brain, and therefore it is fair game to use it.

One Brow said...

This Wikipedia article shows IQ is used a lot to predict performance and set public policy.

No one has said IQ doesn't measure anything. However, there are many possible ways to measure intelligence, and IQ tests not more valid than many others.

brownmamba said...

In my view, the essential trait of a good thinker is the capacity to understand the implications of a proposition being either true or false. Though I would have to add to that having reasonable priors. You can be amazing at logic, but if you take it as a given that you are Napoleon reincarnated, it's hard to call you a good thinker.

Avoiding cognitive biases such as group think or motivated reasoning are also traits of a good thinker. Many people's views can be predicted by only looking at one or two of their views, which is at least a sign of a lack of introspective behavior.

I think Sam Harris is a good thinker. I have listened to many of his podcasts and have been impressed by his capacity to respond in interesting ways to whatever his guests are throwing at him, whether he agrees or disagrees. Moreover, he has struck me as being pretty non-ideological. This was on display when I saw him in Phoenix where he said some harsh things about the NRA, yet he said he agreed with a point which Harris himself identified as a piece of NRA propaganda. In other words, even though he didn't like the source, he was able to avoid the trappings of his bias, and engaged with the point on its own merits.




Legion of Logic said...

brownmamba: "Moreover, he has struck me as being pretty non-ideological."

I might agree if the near entirety of his thoughts on Christianity weren't absolute nonsense. It's hard to respect someone who has so many books and articles on a subject of which he is utterly clueless and hyper-biased.

Joe Hinman said...


Blogger One Brow said...
This Wikipedia article shows IQ is used a lot to predict performance and set public policy.

No one has said IQ doesn't measure anything. However, there are many possible ways to measure intelligence, and IQ tests not more valid than many others.

IQ as predictor of intelligence really disproved by it's ridiculous biases and cultural relativity. The Flynn effect pretty much disproves it, If by that effect you go back a few generations the world was being ran by retardants.



btwStudies that supposedly show that believers in God have lower IQ than atheists are really studio biased studies.

Joe Hinman said...

from Wiki arotlce om Flynn effect:

"Ulric Neisser estimated that using the IQ values of 1997 the average IQ of the United States in 1932, according to the first Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales standardization sample, was 80. Neisser states that "Hardly any of them would have scored 'very superior', but nearly one-quarter would have appeared to be 'deficient.'" He also wrote that "Test scores are certainly going up all over the world, but whether intelligence itself has risen remains controversial."[7]" [cited:Neisser U (1997). "Rising Scores on Intelligence Tests". American Scientist. 85: 440–7. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016.]

bmiller said...

It's an interesting topic as to why scores have gone up over time.

It appears they are no longer going up in developed countries and have stabilized or are actually going down. So it seems there is something environmental that is associated with the scores.

Joe Hinman said...

It appears they are no longer going up in developed countries and have stabilized or are actually going down. So it seems there is something environmental that is associated with the scores.

I think it's because they have gotten more understanding about cultural biases of the tests and have started grading them in different ways.


Metacrock's blog this today:

Mind is Not Reducible to Brain. (part 1)



This topic is of great importance for believers in God because it encompasses almost every facet of the territory upon which the battle over belief is fought. It impinges upon what one believes about the ability to be good or to refuse sin, the freedom of belief vs. the view that belief is just a side effect of bad psychology, the nature of religious experience and its veracity, even the after life. This topic should be of great importance to non believers as well as it impinges upon our ability to understand ourselves as free agents capable of governing ourselves, and as individuals who would seek the meaning of our lives and the expression of self in art. I suspect also that the determinist/reductionist view point encourages atheists in their materialism and rejection of the soul.