Topic: Genes and Behavior
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Subject: Bell Curve
Date: Thu Jan 11 18:32:29 EST 1996
I appreciated Grobstein's piece enough to have a copy for my own students if the issue arises. I hate to be non-contrarian, but given the SAT-college success comments raised earlier, could there be a middle ground? I.e. standardized tests serve as societal heuristics for testing competency in a limited number of tasks. The unfortunate issue is that society infuses value of people based on its limited number of heuristics. I find intriguing the blatant avoidance of the importance of having a foundational belief in the intrinsic value of man is one of the few defenses to falling into the trap of valuing people by a particular societal test which is the flavor of the month. I suppose this issue is avoided because a leap of faith is required to believe humans are valuable; and the word God becomes increasingly uncomfortable for most people interested in grounding their opinions... (See, I did get contrarian in the end..)
Subject: bell curve
Date: Mon Feb 26 15:52:27 EST 1996
I feel that Dr. Grobstein's comments regarding the role of "intelligence"
make sense, although I am not at all sure that they are correct. It would
seem that the suggestion that predictive value of these tests is due to
the negative self image evoked by poor performance on the tests is an
empirical question that could be answered (or perphaps has already been
answered). It is not clear that an answer to this suggestion would
contribute to an end of the debate.
You may notice that I have not signed my name to this message, because I
honestly feel that I might be harrassed if I did.
I feel that the great majority of published comments I have seen about the
bell curve, misrepreset what is actually in the book. Typical of the
comments is the assertion that the Bell Curve states that racial
differences are due to genetic factors; that if it is genetic it is
not modifiable; that all attempts to raise IQ have failed, etc.
The book does not maintain any of these statements. Rather it seems
to take great pains to avoid these statements. Thus I conclude that the
commentators that make these assertions are political zealots, that are
beyond reason. In fact, by making these false assertions, these
commentators, promulgate the very erroneous ideas that they are trying to
attack. If pretigeous authors such as Murray and Herrnstein are make these
statements, the naive reader may think perhaps there is something to the
statements, even though the commentators say the statements are false.
I am not sure how much of the Bell Curve is correct. Many of the
arguments made seem persuasive, and are not made any less persuasive
by reviews that distort the position. If even a part of the argument
in the book is correct, it raises ethical and political issues that I
find disturbing, and for which I have not easy answers and for which
the answers offerred in the Bell Curve seem simplistic and not practical.
Date: Wed Apr 3 11:25:49 EST 1996
Last time I checked, the average IQ of Congress wasn't especially high. Nor
is the average IQ of millionaires in the USA especially high. The wealthiest
man in my neighborhood owns 27 7-11 Convenience stores and says that his
IQ score is 102. Outside of academia, who gives a shit about IQ scores?
Besides parents trying to get their kids into a decent college, that is?
Nobody, and you know it, too. I believe firmly that this whole damn debate
has to due with college entrance and the availability of training. NOT
the availability of EDUCATION, which is something else altogether, but the availability
of training. Job training. There are actually a few schools with a sink or swim entrance policy.
Purdue University is the only one I know of for sure. The rest of the schools
in the USA are being nearsighted asses who need a good kick in the, uh, ass.
If you want to do something useful today, write to your favorite school and insist that
they change their entrance policy. Suggest a sink or swim policy, a personal
interview policy, a balance the alphabet policy, a first come-first served
policy, or even a frigging lottery with Vana White drawing the names policy.
Name: David Abrams
Subject: Bell Curve letter by Paul Grobstein
Date: Mon Apr 22 00:06:23 EDT 1996
Dr. Grobstein makes a very well written argument citing first-hand
experience as to why standardized testing has no predictive value in any
socially useful skills (standardized test-taking not withstanding). His
point about his experience with the school children seems contradictory
because he acknowledges that there is a correlation between test scores
and success (even in school). Though he acknowledges the correlation, he
attributes it simply to lack of confidence brought on by bad test
performance. The idea that people perform poorly in jobs, school, etc. for
their entire lives because of lack of confidence from poor test performance
is far-fetched. I propose a simpler solution- that there is a correlation
between lower test scores and lower success because these tests do in
fact have some predictive ability as to a person's future success.
Dr. Grobstein may disagree that verbal, writing, and math skills, and
a basic knowledge of the world is useful in school, and beyond, but I would
venture to guess that this view is not shared by most college admissions
officers and job interviewers. I do not wish to say that standardized tests
fully measure a person's "intelligence" or ability to succeed, but there
is a correlation that is not due to the shattering of a person's self-
confidence due to a bad test score.
Subject: NEED ADVICE?
Date: Wed Jun 12 23:45:57 EDT 1996
If you need advice e-mail me at email@example.com
Date: Thu Aug 8 09:34:15 EDT 1996
Date: Thu Aug 29 12:24:35 EDT 1996
Name: Concerned Citizen
Subject: IQ ?
Date: Thu Sep 5 14:59:19 EDT 1996
That was a most interesting commentary on intelligence. My observations
also make me wonder what exactly the educational community is trying to
accomplish. Creativity and individuality are most often frowned upon and
even regarded as nonconformity in the area where I live. It takes a
standardized test to even begin school. A child that is bright, inquisitive,
and generally eager to learn is often changed forever by the emphasis placed
on being like other students. I guess if we want to churn out carbon copies
then success is around the corner!
Name: doreen caputo
Subject: genetic code
Date: Fri Jan 19 15:49:24 EST 1996
though the article was indeed about much more, the one thing that i thought of writing was how i find that determining every variation as a genetic function tends to give rise to the idea of genetic disease. homosexuality risks becoming labelled as a disease, as does left handedness or the way one speaks. defining everything by the genetic code does not in my mind make anything easier, but rather tends to elaborate other circumstances.
Date: Sun Jan 21 17:35:17 EST 1996
Name: Ron Gardner
Subject: Genes, Inviornment etc.
Date: Mon Mar 18 19:29:58 EST 1996
That sounds good, but I think future research will
prove you wrong. There is more to predisposion
because of genes than You explain. Nurture can
modify nature but there is predisposition.
Name: Robert Phelps
Date: Tue Mar 26 11:30:22 EST 1996
I have a few questions to ask of the author. I am doing a paper on the nature and nurture debate. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wed Mar 27 12:49:57 EST 1996
I can't getone. How?
Name: Alex Grunfeld
Subject: Post me E-Mail
Date: Wed Mar 27 12:51:32 EST 1996
Please post my E-MAil address. and make a link to my homepage.
Capital N in Nicky
Name: Robert Phelps, Jr.
Date: Mon Apr 29 16:11:50 EDT 1996
I do believe that given the right amount of time that nurture can and will affect a people's nature. Maybe I believe this because I also believe in evolution!? I do like the information that is provided in this letter, but I do disagree, to some extent, what is said about nature being an influence and not a determinant. A person's nature has influence but it does determine assist the influences of they one is nurtured.
Date: Thu Jun 6 00:34:49 EDT 1996
Date: Tue Jun 25 16:40:44 EDT 1996
Date: Tue Jun 25 16:42:06 EDT 1996
Date: Wed Jun 26 08:50:05 EDT 1996
Date: Sun Aug 4 16:06:52 EDT 1996
I need info on the nature vs nurture controversy. Where can I find it?
Name: Daniel Muijs
Subject: nature, nurture, self
Date: Thu Sep 5 08:38:01 EDT 1996
Coming from a different field (social & behavioural sciences) I agree with Paul Grobstein's comments on nature and nurture, and also believ that the argument is basically futile, both elemnts being important. I do however see certain problemds in the self asz a source of free will, the question being what the origins and structuring nfactors of the self are if not genes and the environment?
Name: BRIIAN HUNT
Date: Sun Sep 8 08:52:44 EDT 1996
I am currently writing a paper on the nature/ nurture
pseudoquestiion. Where can I find info?
Name: Paul Grobstein
Subject: nature/nurture info
Date: Mon Sep 9 08:23:29 EDT 1996
We're planning a new Serendip section on Genetics and Behavior, with a list
of readings. In the meanwhile, the article by Berkowitz, Our Genes, Ourselves? ,
has a pretty good reference list (available on Serendip, it was originally
published in BioScience, January 1996). The Ontogeny of Information, by
Susan Oyaama (Cambridge University Press, 1985) is a very interesting
exploration of the complexity of genome/enviornment interactions. The
complexity of the interactions is also the them of "Learning by Instinct",
a Scientific American article by Gould and Marler ((January, 1987). Science
had a special section on "Genes and Behavior" in their 17 June 1994 issue.
Needless to say, we'd be pleased to hear what others have found useful to
help us create a more comprehensive list.
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