Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Trouble ahead

A correspondent sent this depressing figure. I suppose this distribution of majors was OK when Americans could make their livings by selling houses to each other, but we're in a tougher world now.

See also this post from 2005: History repeats

More data.


Richard Seiter said...

Wow.  Do you have any idea if those stats are cherry picked?  No sciences, no engineering but ChemE, no "classic" liberal arts majors (literature, history, etc.), no economics, no political science.  It hardly seems like a representative sampling of majors.

steve hsu said...

I put up a link to more data.

Richard Seiter said...

Thanks.  It looks to me like the graphic is reasonably representative of the larger data set.   Total degrees granted increased 50% over that period so I think it is even more depressing than I first realized.  It does make one wonder what the US will be selling to the rest of the world long term.

RKU1 said...

Pretty horrifying.  And don't forget the gigantic growth in student-loan debt, turning most of those Psych, Comm, and Visual Arts majors into permanent debt-peons.

tractal said...

You seem to talking about two problems at once and I worry that they are not distinct. On the one hand, the job market is a lot tougher now than it was a generation ago, largely due to outsourcing. In many ways this is what people mean when they say we are in a "tougher" world: its simply harder to land that upper-middle class corporate job because of outsourcing and short term economic conditions. Majoring in a STEM field  tends to ameliorate this situation, why it does is less clear. As you have noted, STEM majors are much harder than fluff majors. This suggests that STEM majors will have an easier time finding work, simply because there are non-market factors influencing the STEM major supply. But if that's true, simply increasing the STEM major population might not do very much to improve the overall job market. In like way, a degree in STEM signals ability relative to the total population--the degree probably benefits from some zero-sum dynamics. Students are  graduating with degrees that don't pay, but if enough of them switched the degrees which pay would pay less. 

At least to an extent. On the other hand its possible that an America with more STEM majors would simply be more wealth producing. I'm sure that's true to a degree, if only because a sociology degree etc is often more a congratulations certificate for breathing 4.5 years straight than anything else. But how much will more computer programmers or chemical engineers really increase wealth? Its not clear to me, especially because the STEM majors are already heavily drawn from the cognitive elite. Will tier 3 American computer programmers really be able to compete against the hungry tier 1 coming out of the developing world? Natives have a certain advantage all things equal (at least for now), but they represent a far inferior human capital. The energy barriers which maintain them at comfortable salaries can be expected to continue to degrade with time. National GDP might increase if more students learned something productive, but it is worth remembering that many, maybe even most, middle-class jobs have little to do with the kind of direct wealth creation that STEM increasingly underlies. 

For today's undergraduates STEM isn't going up against communications so much as binge drinking. But at the same time the STEM shortage is not so severe that the salaries have really become lucrative. And anyway, there probably isn't too much STEM prowess to be wrung out of the decreasingly selective left half of the undergraduate bell curve. I'm obviously speaking without much particular knowledge, but will producing more STEM from the pool of less talented students really increase national productivity so much? And will these jobs really be able to survive an almost by definition more qualified foreign competition? Its a tough question and I'm probably the least qualified of any of the posters here to comment on it, but if the answer is no then STEM cannot adequately address the long-term employment problems facing our middle class. 

botti said...

Hmmm, it seems anecdotally that there is reasonable money to be made in HR (psychology degree) for what is a pretty cushy job.

This reminds me of a rather depressing Krugman article discussed on the Becker Posner blog, noting  technological progress and globalization will impact high skilled workers.

"Krugman challenges the conventional view that we need to invest more in education because “everyone knows that the jobs of the future will require ever higher levels of skill.” Krugman argues that since about 1990 “the U.S. job market has been characterized not by a general rise in the demand for skill, but by ‘hollowing out’: both high-wage and low-wage employment have grown rapidly, but medium-wage jobs—the kinds of jobs we count on to support a strong middle class—have lagged behind.”


Scott Yang said...

It looks like the chart that you posted is missing a big part of the story. 

According to the link, business majors grew by a much higher percentage (almost 250%) than any of the degrees in the chart above (the highest being around 150%), and the actual number of business majors today (about 348k) is also much higher than any of those non-paying degrees in the chart. 

Anonymous said...

I don't see much demand for STEM graduates in my field at least. In chemistry, we have actually seen our industry shrink by 2% over the past decade. Pharma has been laying off even PhD chemists constantly. If the world needs smart, technically trained people, they are more then welcome to come to a chemistry department and tell us all about it....

Robert Sykes said...

There is no evidence that the US economy wants or needs more STEM graduates. On the contrary, both salaries and job offers for new graduates indicate that the number of STEM people in the economy is at least adequate, and in some disciplines is in surplus. Contrary to what many STEM people think, economics does have well-established principles that affect the supply and demand of things like jobs in engineering and physics. And economics determines whether that nice degree from Cal Tech is worth anything.

It is not appreciated that employment in the STEM disciplines have been hit by automation every bit as badly as Detroit's assembly lines. Financial and management jobs have also been hit hard. Nowadays, engineers, scientists and financial managers are immensely more productive than they were a generation ago, and fewer such people are needed per GDP to keep the economy going. I personally witnessed this in my own engineering career dating from 1966 through 2007. Modern STEM companies have far fewer professionals of all types relative to billings, and many jobs that existed when I entered the profession have simply disappeared. E.g., survey crews that used to consist of 3 to 4 men (as in men) now often consist of a single person (male or female).

In addition to automation, there is the internet, which provides infinitely better communications than we had 30 years ago. The internet allows a sophisticated kind of outsourcing in which projects that are underway can be shared internationally. In many engineering and financial houses, a project is worked on during the day (ours) in say Indianapolis, and then the files are transferred to Japan or China or India during our night for further analysis and work and finally to Europe. In the morning, the European engineers and managers transfer the files back to the people in Indy.

David Coughlin said...

I work with people from a broad range of educational backgrounds.  People from STEM majors at least *get" when they are applying a formula and when they are doing something new-ish.  The people from non-STEM majors have no rubric, and frequently think that just repeating what has already been done amounts to an accomplishment.  The HR monkeys are the worst.  All they do is apply the corporate procedures.  Ask them a question that is not covered in the manual and they are completely out of it. The STEM kids can tell when there are blanks that need fillling in.

Richard Seiter said...

That was one of my initial thoughts looking at the data.  However, since it roughly matched the 50% increase in degrees granted I did not think much of it.  Not sure whether it is more illuminating to think in terms of ratios or absolute numbers here.

Richard Seiter said...

Interesting.  I wish there was a way to distinguish IQ and education here.  Do you think the effect you see is due to IQ or is it more to do with the style of education in STEM?  I think this country is faced with two problems to solve.  First, how (is it even possible?) to increase the raw intellectual horsepower (IQ for lack of a better measure) of its citizens?  Second, how to improve the thinking skills of its citizens? (as an engineer I am sympathetic to the value of STEM-like thinking but have also seen plenty of blind spots in engineers that I think some liberal arts training could have helped)

JustinLoe said...

For the current situation, see here: 

Per capita, the US is still ahead in the numbers of its scientists and engineers, though of course, the weaknesses of the US science education system suggest that will be difficult to maintain.

Scientific and engineering researchers per capita.
7. US
12. Russia
36. India
39. China

Richard Seiter said...

I read the History repeats link (more discussion of the first three British deficiencies would be interesting as well) and am curious which people see as the bigger problem:
1. Lack of STEM degrees and/or lack of Americans pursuing STEM at the highest levels.
2. Lack of basic math/science literacy.  For example, the scientific method, exponential growth equations, modeling in general (and its pitfalls), critical thinking.

Both concern me, but I think 2. is the bigger problem.  I'd be very interested in hearing other opinions.

Iamexpert said...

I think the only way to increase raw intellectual horsepower is through eugenics or better nutrition (see the Flynn effect paralleled by the 20th century rise in height and brain size). Intelligence appears to be a wholly biological trait controlled by only genes and the BIOLOGICAL environment, not amenable to cultural, educational or psycho-social improvements. Now certainly education can help with certain specific kinds of thinking, but it can't improve ones ability to adapt to truly novel problems.

Ken Condon said...

Here’s something that might be nit picking but the heading in Steve’s graph bothers me. It says “Students are not graduating with degrees that pay.” But they are indeed graduating-no?

So it sits in my head better if the headline were to read “Students are graduating with degrees that don’t pay.” I know that’s a small thing but it does bother me.

And Richard- I agree that #2 is a bigger problem. Although your #1 could be a problem I think the needed required numbers will be met by Asians or Indians if lazy Westerners don’t rise to the task.

The lack of critical thinking is the biggie to me. But can that be taught? Or is there mainly an innate ability in some to smell bullshit and foresee permutations and unintended consequences of a given action.

I hope that made sense ;)

tractal said...

The British empire analogy is pretty unhelpful for many reasons. Those Milton reading elites led their tiny island to conquer the better part of the world, and they maintained it for 150 years or so. There is very little interesting in the fact that a small resource poorish nation saw its economic advantage decline over the relevant period. The advantage itself was largely due to the industrial revolution. Its deterioration was then due to the spread of the industrial revolution. Britain had a major comparative advantage and other countries copied it and caught up. That doesn't mean Germany's educational system wasn't important. It means that tying these micro forces to the titanic sweep of British ascendancy and decline is a huge reach and an unfair rhetorical technique to give technocratic elements a false historical weightiness. 
If we take a somewhat broader perspective we see that 19th century British ascendancy is a part of long term historical fluctuation in the European power balance. Technocratic-economists tend to overate the importance of their favorite forces in history. Everyone does that I guess (and it doesn't mean their insights are necessarily wrong), but in this particular case the thesis is so inflated it seems silly. 

The lack of of Americans pursuing the highest levels of STEM is disturbing, if only from a national pride POV. In the long run I don't think it matters much economically. Industrial innovations spread worldwide, so who actually comes up with them matters less and less. Most of our historical economic advantages derive from the isolated accumulation of innovation. When innovations are shared no nation can hold an advantage for very long. Life's still good for the patent holder, but his inventions no longer cause significant differences in national economic power. Of course we do disproportionately benefit from technological innovation, but on the whole the effect of American innovation on the general American economic welfare will be drowned out by larger forces, at least short of some kind of radically disruptive technology. 

#2 doesn't matter much imo. Most people aren't scientists, so I'm not sure which domains are going to suffer from general ignorance of scientific method. Of your list I only see critical thinking being broadly important. We do for instance want citizens to be able to evaluate arguments critically. But I don't think there is anything specific to math or science literacy there; its really just verbal IQ. 

Richard Seiter said...

I agree with what you wrote except for the last sentence (about which I'm not sure).  I think (without much objective support) it's possible to improve ones ability to adapt to novel problems simply by practicing doing so and perhaps by learning certain brainstorming techniques (e.g. learning to look at problems from multiple angles).  Are you aware of any metrics or studies relating to "ability to adapt to truly novel problems"?  Is this what many people call creativity?

Ju Hyung Ahn said...

I agree with most of your points to an extent.  However, I'm very skeptical about believing critical thinking as just verbal IQ (as SAT or other American standardized tests put it).  At the very least, people should be able to handle math problems that appear in SAT or general GRE test (calculus-level of mathematical knowledge isn't needed here).  This level of mathematical proficiency is vital in data interpretation skills needed in most non-STEM fields.  In addition, as far as logical thinking, which is a part of critical thinking, is concerned, I think it is more closely related to mathematical skill than verbal one.

Yan Shen said...

 " In addition, as far as logical thinking, which is a part of critical
thinking, is concerned, I think it is more closely related to
mathematical skill than verbal one."

I'm inclined to agree. Logic puzzles generally tend to favor high M types, rather than high V types. But your point about the importance of basic numeracy is also right on the mark.

Iamexpert said...

The ability to adapt to truly novel problems is how I would define intelligence in its purest form. If this can be improved by learning brainstorming techniques, then that means intelligence can be taught, but I don't think it can. The metric for improving intelligence is the degree to which training a specific skill can be generalized. For example it is said that most people can only repeat about 7 digits from memory after hearing them once, however with extended practice, some can learn to repeat 100 digits after hearing them only once. However when asked to repeat letters from memory instead of digits, they are back down to only 7. So not only does mental training not seem to improve overall intelligence, but doesn't even seem to improve the specific cognitive ability (in this case auditory memory). You might be able to teach someone to become a brilliant chess player, but that won't improve their ability to play checkers, let alone their ability to play totally different games like scrabble or scategories. Grandmasters who are spectacular at chess, often lose a lot of their superior chess skills when you change the problem ever so slightly (i.e. Changing the number of squares on the
board); so that's how I conceptualize the difference between education/training/knowledge/skill and intelligence/thinking/novel problem solving/ability to adapt. Some have gone so far as to define intelligence as what you use when you don't know what to do.

Richard Seiter said...

tractal thanks for the thoughtful reply.  I need to think more about your British empire analogy invalidity comments.

About my point #2 I think the main thing that suffers from ignorance of math/science is political discourse and decision making.  How can one think critically about what one does not even understand?  IMHO understanding how modeling works requires abstract thinking of a certain level.  I think this corresponds more to SAT-M than V and the level required is significantly into the bell curve.   My question would be: for those who possess the raw skills do these attributes automatically follow or does education help?  If education helps, what types?  Are some of the majors we are discussing as useless (or even value destroying) as many here (myself included to a large degree) think?

One of the reasons I worry about things like this is I think far too many Americans are free-riding on the accomplishments of a few in the global economy.  IMHO those few are going to have trouble competing with whatever portion of the >1 billion Chinese who are motivated and intelligent.  It is imperative we use our resources well--both material and people.

Ju Hyung Ahn said...

Well, who says logical reasoning is verbal or even crystallized intelligence?
I mean arbitrarily adding attributes they find desirable as verbal to make high verbal people look better is exactly the type of practice stereotypical lawyers would engage in.
Psychometrics, however, disagrees with that assessment.

"Fluid intelligence has been defined as the ability to think logically
and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired


Iamexpert said...

If you have a high verbal IQ you can think critically about verbal concepts, a high math IQ can think critically about statistical arguments, a high spatial IQ can think critically about the design of a building, a high social IQ (theory of mind) can think critically about the motives of others etc.

tractal said...

I hope I'm not being a sneaky lawyer, that's really not my intent. 

It might be helpful to think about my claim with reference to two different IQ tests. One is heavily verbal", like the old Stanford-Binet, which had no non-verbal elements. If you like, the SAT also falls into this category. There is no block completion or object rotation. Spatial skills are being left out entirely: some spatial IQ is being selected for, but only of the spatial-G correlation. 

The LSAT is obviously one of this kind, and heavily so to boot. And it seems like a very good test of argument analysis. So, all I am really saying is that argument analysis seems to take the kind of skills which a verbal IQ test can sample. I don't know about the relationship between spatial IQ and logical reasoning, but there is no prima facie reason to think it would help in argument analysis per se. 

Richard Seiter said...

I basically agree that intelligence can't be taught.  I'm less sure about creativity.

I wonder about teaching someone checkers improving their ability to play chess (yes, I know in one sense this is stupid).  What I mean is the body tends to grow/change in response to stimulus.  I think the same is true for the brain.  If playing checkers encourages brain growth then I would venture this might help chess playing once the rules were learned.  I don't think this necessarily means IQ has increased.  IQ is not everything.

To use a different analogy, I am a fairly mediocre athlete.  However, I can perform quite well relative to the world at large including many who I think are more physically gifted than I am.  I attribute this to most people coming nowhere near their potential (i.e. the variability of realized talent is higher than the variability of innate ability).  This becomes very clear whenever I "compete" with top level people (e.g. national level competitors).  Those who are gifted and fully trained routinely crush me.  To get back to the original point, I work from the hypothesis that IQ is innate ability and the combination of IQ/education/experience is realized talent and that the sports analogy holds.  This gives me the (misguided?) hope that most people can achieve great improvements in realized talent without changing IQ.

Yan Shen said...

I think that's a much better way of defining the term "critical thinking". Tractal seems to have a very narrow definition of the concept of "critical thinking". Steve Hsu mentioned before the vital importance of being able to understand basic statistics when it comes to grappling with the complexities of the modern world. In that respect, many high V low M individuals would be unable to reason critically in such matters.

Yan Shen said...

 I thought lawyers were better known for their talent for obfuscation, rather than their ability to make clear arguments...

tractal said...

LSAT is 50% this. 

The supernova event of 1987 is interesting in that there is still no
evidence of the neutron star that current theory says should have
remained after a supernova of that size. This is in spite of the fact
that many of the most sensitive instruments ever developed
have searched for the tell-tale pulse of radiation that neutron
stars emit. Thus, current theory is wrong in claiming that
supernovas of a certain size always produce neutron stars.
Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the
(A) Most supernova remnants that astronomers have
detected have a neutron star nearby.
(B) Sensitive astronomical instruments have detected
neutron stars much farther away than the location
of the 1987 supernova.
(C) The supernova of 1987 was the first that scientists
were able to observe in progress.
(D) Several important features of the 1987 supernova
are correctly predicted by the current theory.
(E) Some neutron stars are known to have come into
existence by a cause other than a supernova

Yan Shen said...

I've noticed that East Asian Americans tend to do better on the LSAT relative to white Americans than they do on the GRE-V or the MCAT-V. I wonder if this is because the logic puzzles section of the LSAT favors M over V.

tractal said...

You could probably find out if you really want to. LSAC does an ungodly amount of research on the LSAT and most of its publicly available. 

Yan Shen said...

 I may be wrong here, but I suspect that spatial strategies may be highly amenable when it comes to approaching certain kinds of logical reasoning puzzles, whereas spatial strategies are far less amenable in grappling with reading comprehension.

tractal said...

I know you weren't imply anything about my character. Its all in good fun. 

The question, however, is not whether the LSAT is a purely "verbal" test or not. It is clearly not a purely "verbal" test in the sense that the SAT-V is purely "verbal" (just vocabulary and critical reading.) Logical reasoning also has a math tied component, which is why both SAT-M and V are predictive of LSAT scores. 

All I have been trying to say is that the LSAT is not spatial. It is entirely verbal in just the same way that the SAT and old Stanford Binet are entirely verbal. That is, there is no block design or object rotation etc. What we are calling "spatial" intelligence is just not on the LSAT. 

I think you are reading in some kind of claim about verbal vs math intelligence and their relation to logical ability. I'm not saying anything about that. I am simply observing that argument analysis is not a spatial task. 

tractal said...

VERY Anecdotally: yes. 

Yan Shen said...

You know, since we're on the topic of M, S, and V and all that, I wanted to point out a related fact of interest.

"East Asia is much stronger in physics, chemistry and engineering than
life sciences and medicine. China published 7.5 per cent of world
science papers in 2006-08, and 3.6 per of the top 1 per cent -- those
with at least 20 citations -- by 2010. However, in engineering, China
published 12.5 per cent of all papers and 12.3 per cent of top papers."


East Asians seem to be highly skewed towards math, computer science, engineering, physics, chemistry, and other areas that might be labelled as the physical sciences and away from the life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. The reason for this seems fairly obvious. East Asians are highly skewed towards M and S and away from V.

I wonder if this makes my male:female::East Asian:European analogy more apt. IIRC, women are actually fairly well represented in the life sciences relative to men.

Ju Hyung Ahn said...

I would like to see the statistics on LSAT.
However, if STEM majors do about as well as humanities major as you say, it could very well mean that STEM majors are better in logical part of the exam.
(Humanities majors are better in verbal, so STEM majors are making up verbal ability deficit in logic component)

Humanities major score higher in GRE Verbal and Analytical Writing:  http://www.ncsu.edu/chass/philo/GRE%20Scores%20by%20Intended%20Graduate%20Major.htm

tractal said...

For some reason philosophy is grouped with theology. Held separate phil is #1. Sorry but I couldn't let it go unsaid :p

It is possible that humanities majors do better on the critical reading element and STEM majors do better on the logical reasoning elements. But 75% of the LSAT is logical reasoning (50% argument analysis 25% formal logic), so it is unlikely that this is accounting for the similarity of scores unless the humanities majors are absolutely killing the reading comprehension section relative to STEM. 

Yan Shen said...

 See, now that's the kind of basic statistical/mathematical argument that illustrates perfectly why its utterly preposterous to associate "critical thinking" purely with V. ;)

Iamexpert said...

Well what you seem to be arguing is that intelligence is like a muscle.  It can be increased through mental exercise just like biceps can be increased through weight lifting.  I think intelligence is probably much more like height.  You can do certain things to seem smarter (get an education, become more test savvy) just like you can do certain things to look taller (wear lifts, stand straighter) but there's little mental exercise or physical exercise can do to increase your intelligence or height respectively.

Richard Seiter said...

I would argue that intelligence is more like potential to build muscle.  Though having written that I suppose one of the most interesting things about IQ/g is how hard it is to find evidence for a difference between innate and realized talent.  A small counterpoint to your height analogy is that poor/good posture can make a measurable difference in height.  Another observation is that growth hormone administration during childhood can result in increased height.  I wonder if there is an analog for IQ.
To be clear, overall I think we are close to agreement.  I'm just trying to tease out some of the subtleties.  Thanks for the discussion.

Ju Hyung Ahn said...

I actually have a theory that besides good genes, early child care is very vital in development of g.
Even between two intelligent parents, it is difficult to conceive gifted children due to regression to the mean.  However, gifted children often have gifted siblings, which is statistically very unlikely.  Thus, there could be environmental factors, such as being exposed to intellectually enriching activities early on such as puzzles and simple arithmetic, at work here.  One alternative reasoning is that the genes of the parents are so compatible that they can't help producing anyone but smart babies.

"Tao has two brothers living in Australia, both of whom represented Australia at the International Mathematical Olympiad.
Nigel Tao is part of the team at Google Australia that created Google Wave.[10]Trevor Tao has a double degree in maths and music and will soon be featured in a book on autistic savants."


"Sho's younger sister Sayuri (born 1996) also exhibits prodigious talents
in both academic studies and music; she is, as of 2010, a graduate at Roosevelt University
with a Bachelor's of Science in biology degree. She is currently a B.M
student majoring in violin performance at the Peabody Institute of The
Johns Hopkins University."


However, due to the runs of autism and Asperger syndrome in some families, I think the alternative explanation is also very likely.  It just seems that the simple regression model does poor job in estimating the expected value of children's IQ.  In addition, since I don't have extensive research of IQs of siblings of gifted children in hand, so these 2 cases may be exceptions rather than the norm.

David Coughlin said...

I think, for sure, it is a product [indirect though, maybe] of their education.  I'm not saying the STEM-types are amazing, but they will wade in deeper than the communications majors.  I end up sneering at the non-STEM types [the Communications majors, eg].  I'm not talking about rocket science, I'm talking about basic business problems. 

If you'll pardon me being figurative here, I work in a business where we reinvent the wheel a lot.  At the very least we should build a wheel suitable to the terrain we are navigating.  Drawing a circle on a piece of paper then handing it to me and saying, "Here's the plans for your wheel," is going to be met with derision. [And then, doing it again...] 

The people that are trained at least say, "OK, what are we going to try and drive over?" before they draw the same circle again.

The other thing, a side effect maybe, is that STEM types have a higher probability of coming over to you and saying, "Hey, this is what I am up to," and being more clear and forthcoming in response to "Hey, what are you up to?"  Collaborating is a proactive process that educations that emphasize a singular understanding confound. [That sounds pompous but I can't think of a better way to say it right now]  Most of our problems are caused by poor communication.

At this point, I think I am overgeneralizing.  These are really the traits of the S and the E types that I work with.

LondonYoung said...

Well thought out, but let me offer some anecdotal information.
In my job I encounter people in I.T.'ish roles all the time (help desk being the best example) who were non-STEM majors but picked up just enough tech, here and there, to "get the job".
I have to think they would perform better if they had a STEM degree instead of a fluff degree.

This might fit into your thinking like this - there is a demand for lower paying STEMmy kinds of jobs, and GDP would be higher if we educated people to do them rather than let them binge drink and still graduate with a sociology degree.

Richard Seiter said...

I actually have a theory that besides good genes, early child care is very vital in development of g. (Many vital functions are devloped in this stage including sight, immune system, etc.)"

I strongly agree with this and would add prenatal care to your statement (not sure if you intended that to be included or not).

Iamexpert said...

It looks like the LSAT is measuring rapid verbal comprehension and verbal knowledge (knowing what a supernova is) rather than logicical ritical thinking per se. A lot of people have the critical thinking skills to answer that question, but lack the working memory, verbal comprehension and working memory needed to do so as rapidly as the LSAT requires.

Iamexpert said...

I agree about prenatal care, but I don't know where people get the idea that early childhood care is so important. There was a study where kids from deprived homes got intense intellectual stimulation 8 hours a day for the first 5 years of life and it only raised their IQ's 5 points above the control group. There was a little girl who spent the first 6 years of life in a dimity lit attic with no one but her mother, a woman who was unable to speak, and while the little girl initially appeared severed retarded when rescued, her IQ score rapidly leaped to the population average of 100 after being exposed to normal life.

Edwin said...

"In fact, physics undergrads come in second to philosophy undergrads."
Actually,Math and Physics grads  come in first,ahead of philosophy majors.

tractal said...

In that list philosophy scores are paired with theology scores. Religion majors bring down the average, but even with them included its close. 

tractal said...

Speed is definitely an important part of the test. There problem is a working memory component that counts on the LSAT, but may not be important in every day 'critical thinking.' The importance of speed is a good caveat to notice, but the skills necessary to think critically fast probably do track reasonably well to the skills necessary to think critically generally. In any case, speed is a factor in most aptitude testing, granted more so in the LSAT than others. 

boogieman87 said...

I suppose it comes from the fact that physical development (which includes the brain) still occurs during early childhood? Malnutrition or toxins are often stated to have negative effects on mental development and iq. Have all these findings or hypothesis been overturned across several fields, do you have a comprehensive link rebutting all these claims and that a person's brain development is set at birth (I could have sworn many parts of the brain mature later on, one reason popularly bandied about for why kids and teenagers have bad judgment) ? 

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