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New Newsweek poll data on belief in America
Posted: 02 April 2007 02:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Posted: 02 April 2007 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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yes memetic mutations

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Posted: 02 April 2007 02:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Posted: 02 April 2007 03:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Posted: 02 April 2007 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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[quote author=“George Benedik”]Try to teach a chimp an algebra.

rolleyes  rolleyes Well are you trying to equate social class to a differentiation of species?

But anyway:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060830075548.htm

For the first time, researchers have shown chimpanzees exhibit generational learning behavior similar to that in humans.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070323104642.htm

Fresh evidence that suggests monkeys can learn skills from each other, in the same manner as humans, has been uncovered by a University of Cambridge researcher.

http://www.mathematicalbrain.com/int06.html

Chimps, for example, can learn to do sophisticated numerical tasks

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/monkeywire/2003-June/000393.html

Chimps aren’t chumps—not by a long shot—and are surprisingly good at math

http://www.pbs.org/safarchive/4_class/45_pguides/pguide_504/4554_chimp2.html

Chimpanzees doing fractions? Language and math skills have long been thought to be solely human abilities, but an Ohio State University researcher has taught some chimpanzees to solve simple arithmetic problems. Primatologist Sally Boysen, who has been working with chimpanzees for many years, shows that the chimps are truly processing the information and not just learning by rote.

http://www.ams.org/mathmedia/archive/02-2000-media.html#aichimp

More Chimp Math? The latest is reported in the January 6, 2000 Nature: Cognition: Numerical memory span in a chimpanzee, by Nobuyuki Kawai and Tetsuro Matsuzawa of the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute. Their chimpanzee’s name is Ai. She can recognize arabic numbers (from 0 to 9) as corresponding to to the correct cardinalities, and in particular can order any set of them by size. If five numbers are displayed (in random positions) on a screen she can therefore point to them in increasing order, but she can also do this if, after she has pointed to the lowest number, the others are all masked by opaque squares. There is clearly some high-order processing going on.

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Posted: 02 April 2007 03:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Posted: 02 April 2007 04:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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FWIW George, I think you’re way off here. Though the subject is by no means settled and there’s lots of debate, there are probably some differences in certain kinds of mental ability, and some of these differences are related in complex ways to genetics. That is a far cry from demonstrating that the overall intelligence (whatever the hell that is) necessary for a mentally demanding career is inherited. I’m a doctor who comes from a long line of smart but poor people whose careers were limited by educational opportunity and social prejudice, not by innate ability. The relationship between genetics and mental ability is very poorly understood, but I will be stunned if it turns out to be anywhere near as simple and straightforward as “smart people have smart kids and dumb people have dumb kids).

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Posted: 02 April 2007 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Bravo Doctor.

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Posted: 02 April 2007 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Posted: 02 April 2007 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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[quote author=“George Benedik”]

Tall people have tall kids and short people have short kids.

No. And that is before we even discuss how subjective terms like tall and short are. Or how much childhood nutrition and health effects things like adult weight, height, and health.

I think a refresher on basic evolution may be in order here. Anybody an expert and an educator?

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Posted: 02 April 2007 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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George,

Tall people have tall kids and short people have short kids.

Height is a discrete, measurable quality that varies on a continuum. The offspring of tall people on average tend to be taller than the average of the offspring of short people. But there are many environmental factors that influence this. Nutrition is key, and even identical twins will differ greatly in height based on differences in nutrition during growth. And each generation tends to be taller on average than the last, possibly due to changes in nutrition and health care, though opther factors may be involved. So while you are right in a very general sense, the analogy doesn’t work.

Intelligence is a vaguely-defined quality. IQ measures something, though there is much debate about exactly what. Most people associate intelligence with verbal ability, information processing speed, ability to integrate data. We know VERY little about how this works in the brain, and less about the genetic vs developmental vs environmental factors that determine it. I always got credit for more intelligence that I probably deserved in school, due to my verbal skills, but not from my math teachers, who couldn’t understand how I could be “so smart” and still fail their classes repeatedly. You, I’ll bet, get less credit for intelligence than deserved when talking to some people in America because English is not your first language. So before we can make broad statements about smart and dumb people (or educated and uneducated, though I think since you’re talking about native ability you really mean smart/dumb or something like that), and their resultant socioeconomic, witgh all the tremendous and mostly negative social/political implications of such generalizations, we should have a better understanding of what we’re talking about. Yes, all mental ability rests in the brain, but that by no means implies a simple or straightforward relationship between genes and mental ability.

For some reading in this area, you can try Stephan J. Gould’s Mismeasure of Man, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inheritance_of_intelligence , and other general articles on intelligence and IQ. Interestingly IQ (which, I stress, is not synonympous w/ intelligence nor necessarily an accurate measure of it)IQ seems less inheritable the younger the person in which it is measured is when tested. In other words, IQ measurements of intellegince in infants suggest only 20% heritability, but in adults sometimes near 80%. Clearly there are dvelopmental and learning factors which may predispose to developing IQ during ones life, but only if environmental conditions are favorable for doing so. In any case, the question of the inheritance of intelligence is complicated by
1. not knowing exactly what “intelligence” is (excpet in the way, famously, we know what “obscenity is, i.e. we can’t define it but know it when we see it)
2. not knowing how to measure it
3. not knowing how the activity/structure of the brain constitutes the quality of intelligence
4. not knowing how genes influence the development of this activity/structure.

I’m not saying genes don’t play a role. They may very well play a strong one. I’m just saying that the simplified understanding I suggested above (smart parents=smart kids and vice versa) is misleading and more trouble than it’s worth.

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Posted: 02 April 2007 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Posted: 02 April 2007 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Posted: 02 April 2007 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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How do you measure IQ of an infant?

Wish I knew! But I’d likley be even more skeptical of the results than of those on adults. Either way, I’m not sure we really know what we’re measuring.

Well, I am sure Brennen could tell us why people are willing to pay big sums of money for unborn colts of sucessful racing horses.

Because they think they’ll get a winner. And you’re right that their odds are probably a bit higher than picking a horse at random. Still, lots of people lose big time making this bet, since raising and training a racehorse and getting them to win without a major injury involves a lot more than genetics. This analogy is a bit closer than that of height, and I think it illustrates how weak the link between complex characteristics of parents and offspring are, even with so speciallized an ability artifically selectd for for generations as running fast around a track.

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Posted: 02 April 2007 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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