July 15, 2013

Something intelligent and interesting in the news

From the NYT:
Study Finds Spatial Skill Is Early Sign of Creativity 
By DOUGLAS QUENQUA 
A gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields, according to a study published Monday in the journal Psychological Science. 

For example, I have okay two-dimensional reasoning abilities, but I am terrible at three-dimensions. When I was a teen, I was obsessed with golf course architecture and I sketched lots of clever golf holes in 2-D maps (like looking out an airplane window). But, skill at golf course architecture is largely 3-D imagination.
The study looked at the professional success of people who, as 13-year-olds, had taken both the SAT, because they had been flagged as particularly gifted, as well as the Differential Aptitude Test. That exam measures spatial relations skills, the ability to visualize and manipulate two-and three-dimensional objects. While math and verbal scores proved to be an accurate predictor of the students’ later accomplishments, adding spatial ability scores significantly increased the accuracy. 
The researchers, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said their findings make a strong case for rewriting standardized tests like the SAT and ACT to focus more on spatial ability, to help identify children who excel in this area and foster their talents. 
“Evidence has been mounting over several decades that spatial ability gives us something that we don’t capture with traditional measures used in educational selection,” said David Lubinski, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Vanderbilt. “We could be losing some modern-day Edisons and Fords.” 
Following up on a study from the 1970s, Dr. Lubinski and his colleagues tracked the professional progress of 563 students who had scored in the top 0.5 percent on the SAT 30 years ago, when they were 13. At the time, the students had also taken the Differential Aptitude Test. 
Years later, the children who had scored exceptionally high on the SAT also tended to be high achievers — not surprisingly — measured in terms of the scholarly papers they had published and patents that they held. But there was an even higher correlation with success among those who had also scored highest on the spatial relations test, which the researchers judged to be a critical diagnostic for achievement in technology, engineering, math and science. 
Cognitive psychologists have long suspected that spatial ability — sometimes referred to as the “orphan ability” for its tendency to go undetected — is key to success in technical fields.

3-d skills appear to be relative less related to the general factor of intelligence. It's perhaps like how with a personal computer the 3-d processor video card sometimes comes on a separate chip from the CPU.
Earlier studies have shown that students with a high spatial aptitude are not only overrepresented in those fields, but may receive little guidance in high school and underachieve as a result. ...

Because 3-d skills are a little less correlated with g, which correlates pretty well with school achievement, 3-d geniuses on average may be less socialized by school and more eccentric, relatively speaking.
The correlation has “been suspected, but not as well researched” as the predictive power of math skills, said David Geary, a psychologist at the University of Missouri, who was not involved in the study, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation. The new research is significant, he said, for showing that “high levels of performance in STEM fields” — science, technology, engineering and math — “are not simply related to math abilities.” 
Testing spatial aptitude is not particularly difficult, Dr. Geary added, but is simply not part of standardized testing because it is considered a cognitive function — the realm of I.Q. and intelligence tests — and is not typically a skill taught in school. ...
It is also a competence more associated with men than women. In the current study, boys greatly outnumbered girls, 393 to 170, reflecting the original scores of the students in the ’70s. But the study found no difference in the levels of adult achievement, said Dr. Lubinski, though the women were more likely than the men to work in medicine and the social sciences.

Presumably adding more 3-d questions to college admissions tests would disparately impact blacks and benefit Asians and whites. I don't know what the impact would be on Hispanics.

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve said: "Presumably adding more 3-d questions to college admissions tests would disparately impact blacks and benefit Asians and whites."

I don't think Asians (at least East Asians) would benefit from this since they don't appear to be very good at understanding the motions of bodies around them relative to their own. In my (obviously anecdotal) experience, East Asians seem less able to understand crowd flow, for example, stopping short with people behind them on the sidewalk or at the top of a staircase. And of course the "bad Asian driver" is a stereotype for a reason.

David said...

In high school they sat us down in the auditorium one day. They gave us booklets and pens. The booklets contained a kind of SAT but it wasn't the SAT. It had analogy questions, simple math problems, gap-fills, a curious mixture of stuff including many perspective drawings of complicated gears and pulleys. And questions like this: "If you turned this [perspective drawing of a] dodecahedron 180 degrees counterclockwise, would the nearest bottom of the reverse side look like drawing A, B, C, D, or E?"

I furrowed my brow and scribbled away.

When we were finished, tall men in Army fatigues suddenly appeared at the entrances and exits, including all the emergency exits. Poker-faced, two of the GIs collected our booklets, with great attention to our names and SSNs, which we had been reminded several times to be sure and write legibly and correctly on the cover.

We were quickly ushered out.

No one ever mentioned this again. (Not a lot of explanation is offered or requested in rural Southern high schools.)

Those 3-D problems were hard but I enjoyed them. I don't recall seeing many problems like them on subsequent tests.

Postscript: During the first Gulf War a few years later, there was talk of reinstituting the draft. But nothing came of it, for some reason. Maybe they saw my score.

pzed said...

"I don't think Asians (at least East Asians) would benefit from this since they don't appear to be very good at understanding the motions of bodies around them relative to their own"

That's laughable. Do a search on Youtube for "Morning of Owl". Take a look at the results of the last 10+ years of the premier bboy competition Battle of the Year and then come back and say East Asians don't understand the motion of bodies around them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Year

Anonymous said...

And of course the "bad Asian driver" is a stereotype for a reason.

How accurate is that stereotype? Japan appears to have among the lowest traffic fatality rates. Other Asian countries like China and South Korea appear to have higher traffic fatality rates than Western Europe, but lower traffic fatality rates than Eastern European countries and the rest of the world:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

pzed said...

By the way, the link in your article doesn't go to the NYT. This is the link.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/us/study-finds-early-signs-of-creativity-in-adults.html

Traveller said...

For sure the bad driver stereotype is applied to women too, not only Asians.

3D vision was needed to hunters in ancestry times (men). While women have usually broader field of vision and better color recognition.

Anonymous said...

Steve, do you only follow your prejudices on everything? Is it age? Genuinely curious.

Let's start at the beginning:

1. How do they measure creativity? Being good at making physical inventions? That's just one aspect.

2. How do you think having a good spatial ability impacts your ability to make a creative social theory?

3. Im thinking of Jews here especially, hate on 'em all you guys want, but it's a fact that (at least pre-1970) they made an enormous amount of creative contributions to the natural as well as the humanistic arts.

Yet the IQ profile is pretty clear: they have sub-standard spatial ability.

Asians overperform on spatial ability but please do point me to the great Asian inventiveness these past 500 years.

Even if you go back to the golden age of China, tiny Greece vastly outperformed China per capita and in some areas even in aggregate.

Jews were mainly held back by the same thing that North Koreans are today: a backwards system of governing their people. But in both cases the IQ of the people isn't the main obstacle.

Seriously, Steve, are you just too tired to even bother with critical thinking these days?
I used to think about donating but you're not even making an effort anymore.

Dave Pinsen said...

Mightn't a spatial reasoning test help black athletes? Presumably, sports such as basketball and skill positions in football require some spatial reasoning ability, no?

David said...

Nisbett and Miyamoto (2005) on differences in visual perception in Asians and Westerners (readable).

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the first poster mentioned the Asian crowd flow...

Asians are physically incapable of understanding "Standing in Line"...and it is not cultural it's definitely a logic thing. I've been in situations where the Asian behind me could not grasp the concept of 'waiting at the fork in the road until enough space in one lane opens up.' The concept of orderliness is just not there. I repeat...it's not cultural or learned despite what Asians will say.

The other day an Asian father with his son was standing literally on top of me in the grocery store line. He was looking into my wallet as I paid. I was very close to saying something but I couldn't figure out if it was an Asian Mental Thing or if he was purposefully being Passive Aggressive to the short white girl.

HBD chick had an interesting test on her blog about Asian versus European Brain. On the flower test I had asian brain (nationalists don't like spiky flower) BUT BUT....she put a video of the asians versus the whites...and I was with the whites on everything...Especially this blue cylinder wood versus plastic test. THAT was CREEPY! How the Asians could ever choose wood over shape is beyond me. Its so natural to put the shapes together...weird.

Anonymous said...

"
Even if you go back to the golden age of China, tiny Greece vastly outperformed China per capita and in some areas even in aggregate. "

The Chinese historically have been good at inventing things (paper, gunpowder, compass, non-choking horse collar, etc.). What they do seem to historically be rather lacking in is curiosity. They hardly seem to do anything if there is not an immediate practical purpose. Science in the sense we think of it hardly existed. Chinese astronomers, mainly focused on calendrical matters and predicting eclipses, continued to believe the Earth was flat up until the Jesuits disabused them in the 1600s.

MC said...

This will never happen because it would help men and hurt women.

Anonymous said...

Education Realist once made a similar point about verbal intelligence - that maybe it's less valued because we don't understand it and have no idea what to do with it, so we're wasting an awful lot of talent. Which might, y'know, call for more honest and rigorous research into it. Maybe even - stay with me here - not destroying careers and lives (and scaring people out of the field) for saying things that are scary and possibly wrong. Because we can't do much worse than we're already doing.

I suspect that this at least partly explains the obsession with STEM - it's the only part of intelligence that people can instinctively feel they can understand and do something with.

I've always been decent at verbal and better than average at spacial - my mother likes to tell the story about the time I put together a flat pack telephone table on my own at the age of 5. But because I'm bad at maths, no one seemed to know what to do with me.

David said...

>I used to think about donating but you're not even making an effort anymore.<

It's not Steve's job to come up with a Theory of Everything. He asks ad hoc questions about little stuff that interests him, from an angle that tries to be unique. Then people can run with it. It's you who are supposed to make that effort... which I guess you did, since those are interesting questions you asked.

You did, however, miss the part about spatial reasoning seeming to be separate from g or general intelligence, when you conflated spatial intelligence with IQ. Age, maybe?

DR said...

"I don't think Asians (at least East Asians) would benefit from this..."

"Regarding Asian Americans, studies had shown slightly lower to slightly higher scores compared to White Americans. Average IQ in East Asian nations had been reported as equal to substantially above the American average. Asians did particularly well on spatial tests. Their knowledge of mathematics were above that predicted from IQ scores which may reflect cultural differences and/or higher spatial ability. Their occupational achievement were also higher than predicted by IQ scores with their occupational achievements more appropriate for an average IQ of 110-120."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence:_Knowns_and_Unknowns

East Asian nations and population appear to be outcompeting European populations academically, technically and economically in the 21st century. Whereas Europeans out-competed them in the 19th century and earlier. This seems due to the fact that modern civilization is more heavily loaded on spatial reasoning tasks than it used to be.

For example old-timey finance used to be about qualitatively judging risks, maintaining personal relationships and assessing investment ventures. Now finance is about managing complex derivatives, calculating the covariance of credit portfolios and dynamically hedging portfolios. Mad Men era advertising used to be about creating compelling stories and images. Now modern marketing is about crunching big data and performing advanced statistical analysis. 19th century biologists were largely naturalists who had a gift for describing wild species and trying to think about how they're connected. Nowadays biologists must be intricately versed in bioinformatics and organic chemistry. Modern day telecom executives have to manage much more complex network topologies than 19th century railroad barons.

If the trend of the rising importance of spatial reasoning continues one can reasonably conclude that East Asian populations will continue to rise against European populations.

Brett_McS said...

I met Arthur Bishop - the inventor of variable rack ratio steering - many years ago, and saw a sample of the beast - the rack and the pinion - on display. It was hard to believe that the two components meshed together, but there it was. He had the most incredible 3D visualisation capability.

Difference Maker said...

3. Im thinking of Jews here especially, hate on 'em all you guys want, but it's a fact that (at least pre-1970) they made an enormous amount of creative contributions to the natural as well as the humanistic arts.

Then we can blame them for the destruction of the visual arts

Difference Maker said...

"" Traveller said...
3D vision was needed to hunters in ancestry times (men). While women have usually broader field of vision and better color recognition.
""


As well as better item location memory, and more emphasis on landmarks as opposed to long distance navigation



"" David Pinsen said...
Mightn't a spatial reasoning test help black athletes? Presumably, sports such as basketball and skill positions in football require some spatial reasoning ability, no?
""


No doubt. But it seems some of the best shooters are white.



"" East Asians seem less able to understand crowd flow, for example, stopping short with people behind them on the sidewalk or at the top of a staircase ""


I have often noticed this.



"" How accurate is that stereotype? Japan appears to have among the lowest traffic fatality rates. Other Asian countries like China and South Korea appear to have higher traffic fatality rates than Western Europe, but lower traffic fatality rates than Eastern European countries and the rest of the world:
""


I have experienced the old world driving myself. I'm sure there is some skill involved. Driving probably directly involves some of the 3d spatial reasoning, which East Asians seem to have more of on average than white Europeans.

The term bad driver can encompass both skillful and unskillful driving.

Difference Maker said...

David said...Nisbett and Miyamoto (2005) on differences in visual perception in Asians and Westerners (readable).

Yang Liu's East meets West series is of some interest here, and incidentally makes use of a bit of visual intelligence

Orthodox said...

East Asians seem less able to understand crowd flow, for example, stopping short with people behind them on the sidewalk or at the top of a staircase.

Overpopulation leads to disregard for physical space. On the flip side, there's a much higher tolerance for being bumped. You have to blatantly push or hit someone in China if you want to get a comment or start a fight.

guest007 said...

Steve,

At one time it was believed that about 25% of Americans not only cannot read a map but cannot be taught to effectively read a map.

The U.S. Army used to emphasize land navigation and tested officer for it to weed out those who had low spatial reasoning skills.

Chief Seattle said...

Organic chemistry comes to mind as a subject that many high G people, including myself, have a lot of trouble with. But a certain kind of person gets it, and can do miraculous things like figuring out how to add a chiral methyl group on a 20 carbon molecule. Mere mortals have computer models now, which help, but the guys with talent can figure things out effortlessly.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, a 3-d test would have helped my score a lot. My verbal and math abilities are good (top 2%) but aren't as high as my spatial abilities. I am female, and from my experience high spatial abilities seem even more among females. Any data on that?

Anonymous said...

Yet the IQ profile is pretty clear: they have sub-standard spatial ability.


Absurd. Assuming that Jews have spatial ability that is not higher than their verbal and math abilities, on average, their average spatial abilities are still higher than that of any other group.

Jews may have their greatest strength in verbal, then math, then spatial, and other whites seem to have it in spatial then math then verbal, making the spatial gap the smallest gap between the two groups and verbal the biggest on average.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...Nikola Tesla said that he could manipulate 3D objects in his mind with perfect clarity. I wonder if this explains why his hypergenius was channeled into invention, whereas most IQ 160 types find their way into a dusty office at a math department. Just wondering aloud, a lot of assumptions in this.

John Mansfield said...

Las Vegas, where I was born and grew up, is spatially like many cities in the American west. The streets are mostly cartesian with the major roads laid out on a one-mile or half-mile grid. Mountains surround the valley and the sky has few clouds, making it always easy to orient yourself by just looking up.

Lack of vegetation is also a factor. At Los Alamos I knew a geophysicist who was also a serious painter; I went to one of his gallery openings in Santa Fe. He said that being 1) a geophysicist and 2) a New Mexican where you can look at mountains without trees interfering with the view of the underlying structure both had a big influence on his landscape painting.

I now live in Maryland where there are no mountains in sight, and there is no grid to the roads. The roads run in whatever direction they happen to and curve, and there is no way to tell which direction you are heeded without a compass. It has been work for me to adapt to this, but my children don't even have a feeling that they should be spatially oriented. They never know where they are.

So I wonder how the place you grow up plays into a person's spatial reasoning.

George Doehner said...

In sports, spatial reasoning often is the determining factor. It is what separates the great players from the merely good. A great player like Jerry Rice had average physical talents. Where he excelled is his "field awareness" and IQ. He seemed to know where the open area of the field was before anyone else.

In all team sports, outside of things like rowing or baseball, spatial awareness is critical. Coaches call it vision or field awareness, but they mean spatial reasoning. Seeing in the mind's eye how all of the parts move and react to one another is a difference maker.

DCThrowback said...

@pinsen

Spatial reasoning ability would seem to benefit QBs and Centers most, as they would need to diagnose opposing defenses quickly to make reads. To the degree that other players have been trained to make those reads (TEs, WRs) and adjust their routes, I would say it's important as well.

You could argue that Safeties have to make decisions based on offensive formations would also be valuable.

Now, if you want to talk spatial relationships in basketball, I think you have a basis for discussion there, too. Point guards exploiting holes in defenses (think Tony Parker now, Steve Nash 6-8 years ago, John Stockton 15 years ago, Magic 25-30 years ago) by using a combination of spatial reasoning, physical talent and experience would be really valuable. Now, what balance of characteristics would be more valuable in an offensive set v. a fast break? As the competition and defense get tougher, there is less "transition", or easy baskets.

Gringo said...

Spatial ability definitely helps in most applications of engineering and science.

Michael said...

In reply to the comment contrasting Jewish and Chinese achievement:

You are absolutely correct that the Jewish people have been extraordinarily creative, but they haven't been particularly accomplished in the mechanical domain where 3-D visualization is especially valuable. And while the Chinese haven't been especially inventive in the past 500 years, in the 2000 years prior to that they showed extraordinary technological creativity (compass, gunpowder, printing press etc). See "The Lever of Riches" by Joel Mokyr for more details.

Anonymous said...

The problem about ''creativity concept'' that is it is very complex and large.
It is assumed that if a person is in creative thing it will inevitably another. I think that once again, there is much importance the amount of intelligence and very little to the quality of it.
I continue with my idea that the IQ is definitely very important but should be enjoyed in moderation. You can not deny their reliability but also can not worships him.
It's subjective state that'' success'' people in our societies ,less meritocratic than we imagine, are more creative and more intelligent. This does not happen, half of truly intelligent for some reason do not end in social class 1.
About Asians. Definitely they are not bad drivers, just to see the chaotic but organized in major cities in Southeast Asia. All evidence about personality in combination with high average intelligence seem to indicate that Asians are definitely better drivers than the other races. This idea that Asians are bad in bodily awareness also seems senseless. Where'd you get that?
I am a person who has no sense of bodily perception proper body but do not think it is necessarily related to my iq space, which should not be low.
You should also see some gymnastics exercises. Asian gymnastic women are usually very good and I seem to have an excellent command of their bodies.
Interestingly this sport because it usually tells us a lot about the kinds of intelligence among human races.
While Asian women tend to be homogeneously very good in their routines, the Caucasians are varied, including the right to different schools, are also creative (although I feel as creative as Asian ones). However, the best gymnasts tend to be Caucasian. The black gymnasts use their physical strength more than anything else.

Anonymous said...

my children don't even have a feeling that they should be spatially oriented. They never know where they are.

I note that many younger people are like this driving, they have never driven without a satnav and thus have no spatial awareness, or least its not being used. Without the device they would be utterly lost if away from their immediate home area.

heartiste said...

Anecdotal impression here, but for all their renowned smarts and achievements, Jews seem to be really bad at the spatial orientation stuff. I'm talking about things like getting one's compass bearings in a strange environment, reading maps, and inserting Object A correctly into Object B (no innuendo intended).

It's a reminder that no matter how sky high the IQ, there's often some little thing about a really smart guy that's not quite up to snuff, whether that's spatial reasoning or social savviness or simple common sense.

Anonymous said...

I have a very high IQ (around 145, based on my GRE scores), primarily because of my mathematical ability, but my spatial skills are terrible. And for precisely this reason, it's been clear to me for a long time that I would never do well in a technical field like engineering.

Now I'm a professional philosopher, and I think my skills are quite suited to the field.

Just Another Guy With a 1911 said...

"I met Arthur Bishop - the inventor of variable rack ratio steering - many years ago, and saw a sample of the beast - the rack and the pinion - on display. It was hard to believe that the two components meshed together, but there it was. He had the most incredible 3D visualisation capability."

I used to work as an auto appraiser. Before I left the industry I reached a point where I could look at where and how a car had been hit and follow the damage into the car in my head and pretty much know what my estimate would like. However, whenever steering/suspension took an impact - I had a harder time because it was much more organic: upper and lower control arms, tie rods, knuckles, hubs, and ball joints - all working in a complicated dance of perfect mechanical alignment. It was also a lot harder to actually see the damage. Of course the body shop guys I was engaged in a battle of inches with every day who, while not the I got a perfect score on the SAT crowd, (more like pay me another 1.5 blend the fender or I'll stuff you in the trunk crowd) were able to understand how it all fit together in a far more intuitive manner than I could. Then again, I spent the better part of 2 hours yesterday trying to get the damn mainspring back into my p-64, so it probably was not much of hurdle for them to exceed my craptastic skills in the how things fit and work together measure of intelligence.

On the other hand, I'm getting pretty good at "proving I'm not a robot" - which may represent a heretofore unknown form of intelligence that will hasten the singularity.

"No doubt. But it seems some of the best shooters are white."

When you look at shooting ability in overall populations I think you have to factor in a strong cultural component, because when Asians try their hand at it they do pretty good at it, i.e., Tori Tonaka.

http://youtu.be/C8t1tp73Qa8

I mean, sure, she's no Jerry Mickulek or Hickock45, but then who is?

sunbeam said...

Anonymous wrote:

"I suspect that this at least partly explains the obsession with STEM - it's the only part of intelligence that people can instinctively feel they can understand and do something with."

If I have an obsession with this, it is because it has always seemed to me that STEM is what affects the bottom line, almost exclusively.

Look Ruhr Valleys, Silicon Valleys, the British industry around Manchester, the US Midwest manufacturing areas, these are what produce national wealth, and by extension power.

We (well some of us) do pretty good with soft power like Wall Street. But one day in the future I believe countries like China are going to decide that the current system that funnels so much to places like Wall Street and the City in London are no longer in their interests. Then things will change pretty dramatically over the course of a few years.

Yeah, yeah the fiat currency and goldbug guys have been all over this for years, but one day the trigger is going to be pulled.

For Wall Street to be Wall Street, you have to have a lot of people that are willing to play the game.

It's not a matter of some mysterious expertise due to genius and accumulated experience. All the expat guys that work on Wall Street could decamp and go to Singapore if that was the place to crunch numbers.

On the other hand making new products, and being able to make devices of war more advanced than others is always good.

Marketing campaigns aren't much good if the marketee says "F*$k you, I don't want any!" from the word go.

So Charlie Kettering, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and the like mean more to a country than JK Rowling, who admittedly could greatly improve the balance of trade of a number of countries if she decided to reside in them.

pat said...

When I left Catholic military high school for public school I took a lot of standardized tests. The Brothers never seemed to feel the need to give us tests but the Arlington County school board certainly did.

Those tests changed my life. I kept getting in the 99th percentile. I had always been a mediocre student and short and fat. But I grew five inches in a single year and then I got all those high scores on aptitude tests.

Except one. I distinctly remember taking some test battery that showed my rank in a number of mental dimensions. I scored at the top of all of them except one. It was like I had had a bullet wound in my brain. Something was missing. There was a hole in my thinking. I was distinctly sub par in one area but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

I have often thought that if I could have learned, remembered, and acted on that knowledge I could have led a better life - or at least a more successful one.

Albertosaurus

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

the children who had scored exceptionally high on the SAT also tended to be high achievers .. But there was an even higher correlation with success among those who had also scored highest on the spatial relations test,

No way! That's crazy.

Sheila said...

Anecdotal evidence here, but a good example nonetheless: my older (highly-gifted) son excelled equally in verbal, math, and spatial skills. He started building complex Lego models at age 3-4 after glancing at the picture on the box while I was still trying to figure out the instructions. He found manipulating geometric shapes (i.e. Tanagrams) great fun. He loved designing roller coasters on the computer. He taught himself rudimentary gunsmithing, beginning with Airsoft and moving on to the real thing. I must also note (re earlier comments about the Army's tests on spatial ability and teaching of navigation) that he scored in the 99th percentile on the ASVAB, and was among the youngest to pass the Pathfinder course on his first try - loads of math and spatial requirements.

In contrast, my younger son, who has had some difficulty in various areas of school, has extremely poor spatial skills. He never enjoyed puzzles (in marked contrast to his brother who'd knock out a 500 piece puzzle for fun at age 6) and his Lego skills consisted of building a wall of bricks, and at a much more advanced age than his brother. His spatial weakness has negatively impacted his handwriting and learning geometry, as well.

As I said, anecdotal, but I believe illustrative as well.

pat said...

I don't believe there is any creativity test that has any reliability and validity. I'm sure there is something to the notion that some people are more creative than others but at least when I was a psychology undergrad there were no good tests.

As the comments here demonstrate there is not even a consensus as to what being creative means.

BTW the Chinese did not invent gunpowder by any conventional definition of the term invent. There happens to be more salt peter in China and India than in Europe. And some early Chinese alchemists played around with it. They mixed it with honey not charcoal and sulfur.

Gunpowder changed the world. In military history there is a period called the "Gunpowder Revolution'. It started in Europe at the end of the fifteenth century and travelled East. China got real gunpowder very late.

There was an episode of James Burke's "Connections" where he traces all the steps before the Jacquard Loom. That's typical. The loom builders and the pre-loom builders are not credited with inventing the computer anymore than we credit Venetian glass blowers with the invention of television. The conventional definition of the inventor is the last in a long line of contributors - not the first.

I suspect the enduring myth of the Chinese and gunpowder is the work of Joseph Needham the great villain of Chinese technological history.

Albertosaurus

MKP said...

"Seriously, Steve, are you just too tired to even bother with critical thinking these days?
I used to think about donating but you're not even making an effort anymore."


That's OK, I just donated again. Thanks for the reminder.

Whitehall said...

I once was a member of a group of engineers whose task was to evaluate and check on the design of pipes and their routing in a new nuclear power plant we were building. It involved large two-dimensional drawings on paper of a 3-D projection as the pipes ran up, down, and around the plant.

My team mates were senior engineers, all males, all experienced and middle-aged or above.

One day they started a group gripe about how difficult it was to figure out the drawings and what was really going on in 3-D.

I loudly noted the scientific fact that the ability to reason in three dimension was directly related to one's testosterone levels.

From that moment on, I heard not a single complaint and every team member took pains to display his competence at the task at hand.

Anonymous said...

Asians are physically incapable of understanding "Standing in Line"...and it is not cultural it's definitely a logic thing.

It's absolutely cultural. In Japan, they have incredible line discipline. Not so much in South Korea and even worse in China, but obviously they are all very close genetically. If anything, severe food shortages in the past, probably developed into a cultural indifference to lines.

I don't think Asians (at least East Asians) would benefit from this since they don't appear to be very good at understanding the motions of bodies around them relative to their own.

Try getting average Americans/Europeans to the following without killing eachother. Obviously it's not safe or better, but just an example of group spatial awareness:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4phFYiMGCIY

John Derbyshire said...

3-D visualization? Feugh!

The great Canadian geometer H.S.M. Coxeter, in his 1963 book Regular Polytopes, gave a thumbnail biography of fellow geometer John Flinders Petrie, from which (p. 32):

"In periods of intense concentration he could answer questions about complicated four-dimensional figures by 'visualizing' them."

J.Flinders Petrie was the son of Sir W.M. Flinders Petrie, the great Egyptologist. I imagine good 3-D visualization skills would have helped a lot in finding one's way around the interiors of pyramids; so perhaps the trait was inherited; though taking it up a dimension is pretty impressive none the less.

Just Another Guy With a 1911 said...

"Yet the IQ profile is pretty clear: they have sub-standard spatial ability.

Absurd. Assuming that Jews have spatial ability that is not higher than their verbal and math abilities, on average, their average spatial abilities are still higher than that of any other group."

I don't know. It is not dispositive, but take a look at who is drawing the modern comic book, which is the last commercial bastion of pure artistic application of visual/spacial talent in that the majority of it is drawn and inked by hand - sometimes by just one person. No Adobe. No Mac. Just a piece of Bristol paper and a pencil.

For instance - take this splash page by Jim Lee, who is South Korean:

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/08/jim-lee-unveils-double-page-spread-from-justice-league-2/

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, while the modern comic book is a predominately, but not solely, Jewish created American cultural artifact whose distinct visual form derives from the artistic big-bang of one Jack "The King" Kirby (born Kurtzberg) there are very few active big name Jewish comic book artists (as opposed to writers) now working. Currently, the only two that spring to mind are Andy and Adam Kubert. Howard Chaykin, I suppose, but his best years are behind him.

Now, it is not to say there may be some more, but check out the roster for this years NY Comicon and years past, many, but not all, of the surnames are European, Hispanic (Spanish really), and Asian. However, if you identify the artists and parse the surnames it reads far different than the "Dentists" section of the Manhattan yellow pages.

http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/Whos-Coming/Guests/Comic-Guests/

Another thing is that comics are a field that you can break into early, late teens or early 20's, if you have the talent. As an aside, many artists keep on getting better and developing- compare, say, George Perez in the 1980's (although his Teen Titans was great) and now. But if you look at when many artists break in it is fairly young. For instance, English artist Brian Hitch - Ultimate Avengers - got his start when he was 17 and the aforementioned Perez when he was 19 or 20. So if you predict there is lot of raw, above average, young Jewish visual talent you would expect to find it represented on some level. I could be wrong, but it just does not seem to be the case.

That being said - based on my Jewish friends I knew growing up it arguably could be a cultural thing, i.e., "you're going to be a Dentist and stop hanging around with that Irish kid he's no good and will end up going to a T3 law school!"

As for Asian visio-spatial ability what more proof do you need other than friken giant transforming robots? If I every get my adolescent wish of seeing a Veritech fly and transform, it probably will be designed in Japan. And The Chinese will probably grow Zentradi in a lab to protect itself from Japanese super robots.

Speaking of giant robots - Steve get out of the house and review Pacific Rim!

Modern Abraham said...

Spacial intelligence IS math intelligence. The fact that they found an improved correlation when throwing in spatial test scores over the SAT math score alone is due to the rudimentary nature of the math SAT test, which doesn't go beyond intermediate algebra and maybe very basic geometry (not even trig) if I remember correctly. Pretty much all great mathematicians and physicists have very high spatial intelligence scores. Even when working on problems not directly related to "space" (topology, whatever) being able to visualize parts of the problem "laid out", so to speak, and then intuitively understand where the solution is probably going to lie before working out the formal proof is HUGELY important.

I'll give an example from a problem I read in a old text book recently. You need to know the resilience of a ball made of a certain material when dropped from a large height. To test, you will drop it from any story off a 100 story building and are only given 2 balls, so if you break both too early you have botched the experiment. Otherwise assume you can retrieve and re-use a ball as many times as needed if it doesn't break during a fall. Now, what is the minimum number of drops you need? Once you get the answer, consider if you had 3 balls? Doesn't the solution for X number of balls translate into what is the smallest N-dimensional shape that can contain a certain quantity?

I guess the only thing really interesting here is if it is not uncommon to have very high spatial AND a mediocre-to-low math intelligence.

panjoomby said...

thanks for that! Benbow & Lubinski have been doing excellent research for decades. I work with many Spatial/3D gifted who eventually excel in STEM fields, but struggle with writing, English Comp, etc. They tend to get the trade-off - higher Spatial, at the expense of (s)lower automatic language retrieval. It's a good trade-off, except that K-12 over-relies on automatic verbal rote fact retrieval (& over-relies on teachers who are Verbal > Spatial -- many of whom have only 2-digit IQs, but we won't go there for now!) thanks:)

Anonymous said...

In high school they sat us down in the auditorium one day.

It was one of the subtests of the ASVAB, the "assembling objects" test. Sorry, it wasn't Men in Black testing.

I wonder what the Army research on the test showed. Obviously if they included it they thought it had some value.

Anonymous said...

When I was a teen, I was obsessed with golf course architecture
Just when you were a teen? :)

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

"In periods of intense concentration he could answer questions about complicated four-dimensional figures by 'visualizing' them."

What is a "four dimensional figure"? Does the reference include specific examples? Was he talking about 1, 2, or 3D objects (manifolds) embedded in 4D space? Or 4D objects embedded in 4D(or higher)?

I've spent a lot time trying to imagine attaching the edge of a Mobius strip to itself without needing the cutting that three dimensions required. Or, from another point of view, looking at the 3D version of a Klein bottle and imagining what it should look like in 4D. Not much luck.

And what about imagining the local structure of a manifold and mentally traversing around its surface throughout. That seems mechanically doable. And there must be CGI sims of something like that.

anonyias said...

According to IQ tests, my spatial abilities are barely above average. Yet I am pretty good at drawing, and very good at navigating. I have an intuitive sense of N, S, E, W- I never get lost, even on back-roads trips of 100+ miles. I've also never had trouble with math, though I would not say I am necessarily good at it either.

I think a good memory can help with the more practical aspects of spatial awareness.

Anonymous said...

Spacial intelligence IS math intelligence.

Not necessarily. You can prove theorems in math with pure logical and verbal ability.

Anonymous said...

@panjoomby

Do you have any references for "(s)lower automatic language retrieval" preferably written for the layman? I think that might describe me. (I did well on the "turning gears and flipping shapes in one's head" part of the ASVAB but have always struggled to put a paragraph together. I also have a STEM degree, work in a STEM field, and spend much of my free time doing STEM activities.)

Anonymous said...

Spacial [sic] intelligence IS math intelligence.

Anonymous 8:22 AM from above. I don't know what the correlations are in general, but this is not true in my case. I got a perfect score on the math portion of the GRE, and most of my work in philosophy is on the more mathematical/formal side. But my spatial skills are terrible.

Admittedly, I am weaker at more spatial kinds of math (geometry). But this is consistent with a high mathematical intelligence overall.

candid_observer said...

This discussion brings up some thoughts I've had over recent years.

The thing about Jews and their cognitive strengths are that those strengths seem to be in a relatively narrow, but now highly important area, which I'd describe generally as symbolic manipulation.

Such manipulation is critical in pure math, law, logic, theoretical physics, or the mathematical theory of most disciplines.

It does not seem to be important in many areas having to do with ordinary invention, or, I think, in the formulation of vague intuitive concepts into mathematical axioms and formulas. By the latter I mean such things as the invention and elaboration of concepts of statistics, the invention of mathematical evolutionary theory, the original formulation of physical and chemical theories. Their contributions always seem to be at the next step, when some of the theoretical scaffolding has already been put in place. (Perhaps Chomsky's linguistics theories are an exception, but perhaps not, since they seem to rely in part on previous work on formal languages.)

Likewise, Jews, despite their strengths elsewhere, don't boast the truly great geniuses in areas such as music, the visual arts, or literature, though their success at lower levels of those endeavors is high.

Now perhaps Jews didn't do these things so impressively well because in general so much of basic science in all disciplines came about before they contributed much of anything, and the greats in the various arts came somewhat before the entry of the Jews as well.

But it does seem plausible to think that their strengths might be limited and defined by the context in which they evolved those strengths. If they did so in roles such as so-called money-makers, and as rabbis and Talmudic scholars, then there's no reason to believe that their strengths extend beyond those characters either directly selected for, or genetically correlated with, success in such professions.

In short, it is as if they might have evolved as only playing a specified role in society, rather than, as with other independent groups, as a group that must fulfill all roles, with the broad set of abilities that demands.

Anonymous said...

Consider Michael Faraday, one of the greatest scientists, who had very little mathematical training and ability. His math skill was only at the level of simple algebra. But he was exceptional at diagramming things like electromagnetism, designing contraptions for experimentation, etc.

panjoomby said...

@ anonymous - "(s)lower automatic language retrieval" is dyslexia with the rapid retrieval (rapid naming) deficit. Difficulty retrieving basic rote language files from the filing cabinets - even once phonics are wired in, it still takes longer to access them (more of the brain got devoted to other things:) in an adult, it would be someone who reads slowly outside their field, or doesn't read much (but reads stuff in their field quickly). most dyslexics have an auditory/phonological weakness and (sometimes OR) a rapid retrieval weakness. & many of them have high spatial (which is 3D spatial -- the commenters above talking about spatial being math, well, really for most people over age 6 or 7, the 2D nonverbal/quant. & the 3D/spatial separate out more as distinct (but correlated) factors (tho higher level math uses some 3D spatial!)

Anonymous said...

the children who had scored exceptionally high on the SAT also tended to be high achievers .. But there was an even higher correlation with success among those who had also scored highest on the spatial relations test,

No way! That's crazy.


What has been found here is -
Of those who score at X high threshold on the SAT, those who also score at another threshold Y on a spatial ability test (a smaller number of people) outperform those who don't.

But the question here is whether it wouldn't just be a better idea to just set the SAT threshold higher.

Are people who have (quantitative+verbal+spatial) at a certain level actually better than people who have (quantitative+verbal) at that level?

Presumably adding more 3-d questions to college admissions tests would disparately impact blacks and benefit Asians and whites. I don't know what the impact would be on Hispanics.

On non-verbal Asians and Hispanics tend to be relatively stronger than Whites and Blacks (Blacks tend to most often be verbally and quantitatively talented relative to non-verbal deficit, perhaps like Ashkenazis).

However, only some portion of non-verbal ability is actually spatial - girls often outperform boys on non-verbal tests, but consistently show weaker spatial ability (by, like an SD or something).
(and for instance Jews may be awesome at spatial (math seems correlated strongly with spatial ability) but have non-spatial ability deficits).

Generally, the higher non-verbal ability is relative to g, the worse students to be in academia, while the stronger quantitative and verbal is relative to g, the stronger in academia. So actually setting a non-verbal test would just make academia worse, prima facie.

I don't know why the US doesn't just try and set up technical schools to be honest.

Anonymous said...

candid observer: Likewise, Jews, despite their strengths elsewhere, don't boast the truly great geniuses in areas such as music, the visual arts, or literature, though their success at lower levels of those endeavors is high.

Now perhaps Jews didn't do these things so impressively well because in general so much of basic science in all disciplines came about before they contributed much of anything, and the greats in the various arts came somewhat before the entry of the Jews as well.


I would add an addenda to this that the reason why this tends to be most plausible is because the Gentiles stopped producing the greats as well, despite not getting any dumber (or that much dumber).

If Gentiles were still popping out Shakespeares and Mozarts and Caravaggios and Jews were not, we could make a case for an environmental cause, but it is harder to make it when we are not.

then there's no reason to believe that their strengths extend beyond those characters either directly selected for, or genetically correlated with, success in such professions.

I can understand that argument, but the counterargument is that the generality of intelligence doesn't allow for that kind of selection.

genetic g exists, and this means that people are generally better of worse along a single axis of ability.

So this being the case, it is probably the case that the Jews couldn't have evolved only to be good at a narrow range of tasks, even if these were the only tasks being selected on. They could only boost their g, which dragged a lot of their other ability with it.

I suspect this is the case for their spatial skills to some degree as well - the Jews were selected for quantitative, not really for spatial at all, but quantitative and spatial have a similar neurological basis, so spatial came with quantitative to some degree, although the relationship may be looser than in most other populations.

Non-verbal, non-spatial (visual pattern matching and the like, where Asians have their most notable strengths) is probably what Jews lack the most of, relatively speaking, and even then they still have quite a bit because of g.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...


[me]No way! That's crazy.

What has been found here is -
Of those who score at X high threshold on the SAT, those who also score at another threshold Y on a spatial ability test (a smaller number of people) outperform those who don't.


I was being sarcastic. Here, I'll try again...

Good Googgely Mooggely! There is a higher correlation between success and scoring high on 3 out of 3 IQ(ish) tests then there is between success and only scoring high on 2 out of 3 IQ(ish) tests? Who would have thought that???

candid_observer said...

I can understand that argument, but the counterargument is that the generality of intelligence doesn't allow for that kind of selection.

genetic g exists, and this means that people are generally better of worse along a single axis of ability.


As I said, what's relevant is the character being selected for in, say, selecting for success at money-lending, as well as characters genetically correlated with that character.

Now g is no doubt a big thing in human cognitive abilities. But I don't see it as anything like the whole picture. Certainly it's quite imperfectly correlated with ability in music, the visual arts, and literature. And I'm sure we all of know of people quite remarkably high in g who are not particularly creative in any area, even in the areas in which they seem to exhibit the greatest competence. Moreover, those who are creative in one area are often not so, or not particularly so, in others. The wittiest comedian is rarely the most creative mathematician. So the genetics of all these talents must be appreciably independent of those of g.

Point is, the aggregate of human talents and dispositions can be differently selected for in different populations. Jews have likely been, in the relevant portion of their selection for their abilities, occupying just a niche in a society, not the whole of society itself.

The likely consequence of this, again, is that the populations with the greatest set of geniuses across the board will be those which have evolved to serve all those roles.

Truth said...

"Now I'm a professional philosopher, and I think my skills are quite suited to the field."

What a coincidence, me too!

Truth said...

"Something intelligent and interesting in the news"

Dude, why are you calling the kettle black? You've done 78 stories on Zimmerman this week.

David said...

>It was one of the subtests of the ASVAB, the "assembling objects" test. Sorry, it wasn't Men in Black testing.<

Thanks. I was worried about becoming a Man in Green, though.

>those who are creative in one area are often not so, or not particularly so, in others.[...] So the genetics of all these talents must be appreciably independent of those of g.<

Probably not. Theory: Since g can't be expressed in an infinite number of forms in one individual (because nothing is really infinite), it takes some specific, finite form that tends to occlude its expression in other forms. The reason someone can't be a great composer and a deep-sea diver and a pioneering astronaut and a world-historical philosopher and a great painter and a master architect isn't because these talents are specifically heritable, but instead because of factors such as the fact that one lives only so long, each career or ability is consuming in its own way, dilettantism doesn't lead to greatness; etc. G is like Michelangelo's stone. It could be many things, even anything. But once it starts becoming something - once the parts of it that "don't look like an elephant" are chipped off and swept away - most other possibilities are foreclosed. And any active interest one had in those lost possibilities consequently shrinks. But note that in some rare cases there are Renaissance men (though even they can't truthfully do equally well everything there is to do). So another occluding factor is simple environmental opportunity. If someone with as high a level of general intelligence as Da Vinci has or is permitted to create opportunities to express himself in varied areas, he'll do well in all.

Another "visualization." Imagine you're running water through a hose. You put your thumb over the business end to get the water to do work. The water pressure, thus concentrated, squirts the water in the intended direction for the intended purpose. But some of the water - maybe an equal amount, if you've got a small thumb or something - squirts in the opposite direction, strikes you in the face maybe, or maybe sputters near the roses 90 degrees to your right. You could shift your thumb and target the roses. Or you could keep your thumb right where it is and keep pushing dirt off your driveway or whatever. The water could be used for either purpose but not both. Increase the number of the little jets of focused water around your thumb however you like, it still remains true that you have to make your choice among contrarieties, as Johnson's Princess Nekayah has it.

Now put your thumb over the nozzle of a firehose, and turn the water on at full blast. You will probably be able to get a lot of varied jobs done simultaneously, if you don't lose your thumb and if these jobs are all within convenient proximity.

The water supply and water pressure are g. Your thumb is the finite nature of the world (requiring forsaking one road for another) and the convenient proximity of jobs is environmental opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I would believe this, to a degree. I'm a bona-fide Mensan, but lean strongly verbal in my abilities. I also have some of the worst spatial relations I've ever seen. I can't visualize what is behind me, and I have a very hard time understanding where things are relative to other objects, which, as you imagine, makes driving very hard. Interestingly, my mother (top 10% IQ) and my grandmother (Mensan) also have this problem.

But when I took the SAT in middle school for JHU-CTY, they gave us the option to take a spatial test battery. If we scored highly enough on it, that would also qualify us for their special programs. I took one look at the practice samples and opted to take the normal SATs instead. The sample questions nearly broke my brain.

amateur vetr said...

The older I get the more I think no one is good at anything. Tonight watching the allstar game I heard interminable rhetoric about how Mariano Rivera (post season 5 blown saves, compared to 34 saves - i.e., fairly lousy) had "never been criticized" (I repeat, this is the guy with the second most blown saves in the history of the post season world, who singlehandedly ended a couple of hundred million dollar salaried Yankees seasons - ( footnote for people who watch baseball, saving seven games and blowing every eighth is not exactly super-elite). Einstein completely blew the fairly obvious cosmological constant question, Shakespeare wrote several thousand jokes, only one or two of which are still funny (random English royal to Welsh blowhard bragging that he could call spirits up from the depths - you can call spirits up, but will they come - newly homeless Lear to fellow schlub in a storm - ah, my poor man, you must have daughters, too). Most of Bach's stuff is repetitive and his best melodies are often someone else's. On the other hand, someone has got to be the best just to give the rest of us something to talk about.
BTW, we don't need any more golf course designers so much as golf course conservators - the would-be designers should be off saving wildlife habitats and constructing wedding pavilions. That is what civilization is about. Also btw, we are all currently good, in historical context, at spatial reasoning because we are constantly surrounded, for multiple tens of thousands of hours of our lives, by exquisitely symmetrically manufactured objects, from Twinkies to cars to foam pillows. Finally, cultures with bad line etiquette are the same cultures where parent/child contact is considered a luxury, resulting in later-life minimum-distance-issues. Has nothing to do with spatial intelligence.

Steve Sailer said...

Those are pretty funny Shakespeare jokes.

Anonymous said...

presents patient and control characteristics. There were no significant group differences in age, height, weight, Tanner pubertal stage, handedness, or WISC-R vocabulary subscale score. Girls with ADHD had significantly lower block design subscale and estimated full-scale30 scores than control subjects.
.


Roughly one third of the sample (n = 15) had never been exposed to psychotropic medications, including stimulants, before MR imaging. At the time of imaging, the remaining subjects were taking an average of 17.4 ± 16.7 mg of methylphenidate equivalents (range, 10-60 mg/d). We estimated that their average cumulative lifetime exposure was 9.9 ± 11.0 g of methylphenidate equivalents (range, 0.05-37.0 g). The medications previously used were methylphenidate hydrochloride (n = 33) and dextroamphetamine sulfate (n = 2).
As a kid I had a score where the block score was lower at age 12 than the verbal score and was on the medication for hyperactivity. The condition has been debated by apparently girls do have different scores on verbal and block that have ADD more so than your regular girl does.

amateur vetr said...

funny Shakespeare quotes -
I read the Welsh one on Bruce Charlton's blog last night.
Olivier's early 80s PBS Lear performed the daughter joke, I still remember laughing 30 years later.

Anonymous said...

I was being sarcastic. Here, I'll try again...

ah yeah, I realised that and thought it would be a good jump off point. didn't really show it though.

Anonymous said...

Certainly it's quite imperfectly correlated with ability in music, the visual arts, and literature. And I'm sure we all of know of people quite remarkably high in g who are not particularly creative in any area, even in the areas in which they seem to exhibit the greatest competence.

...

The likely consequence of this, again, is that the populations with the greatest set of geniuses across the board will be those which have evolved to serve all those roles.


Ah, OK. Yes, there are likely to be other factors, other than g and even specific IQ test subfactors, although the heritability of them is not so well established.

I would say I am not sure whether Gentiles over our history really evolved to serve a wide range of roles, as such, rather than mostly be evolved to mostly be peasants, small farmers and herdsmen with a smattering of evolving to be nobles, merchants, sailors, artisans and a still smaller smattering of evolving to be entertainers and artists.

So it seems tricky to say who had the narrower range of occupational roles. Gentiles certainly covered most of the non-finance jobs in Europe. But per capita did they actually do more (or that many more) non-finance, non-peasant jobs, where fitness was linked to job success which is what is relevant to their evolution?

candid_observer said...

Ah, OK. Yes, there are likely to be other factors, other than g and even specific IQ test subfactors, although the heritability of them is not so well established.

It's quite likely that for many of the most important other factors -- e.g., the various forms of creativity -- the reason heritability hasn't been established is simply that there's no good way of measuring the traits. Yet I think that it's obvious to us that some people are, for example, much funnier than others, in a way not measured particularly well by g (otherwise everyone at Harvard and MIT could easily have been the best class clowns, rather than the pompous bores so many of them turn out to be.) The fact that a trait can't readily be measured is no indication that it is not highly heritable.


So it seems tricky to say who had the narrower range of occupational roles.

The issue here, of course, is interbreeding among the various segments of Gentile society as opposed to between Jews and Gentiles. Even with some associative mating among Gentiles, the amount of interbreeding across segments is going to be far greater than between Jews and Gentiles. It therefore makes sense to think of Gentiles and Jews as separate populations, but doesn't make sense to think of various segments of Gentiles as separate populations.

Anonymous said...

I can't fathom the reasoning abilities or lack thereof by the majority of posters in here. It is possible that Asians on the whole could score lower at spacial relations than whites. But it certainly will not be proven by stereotypes regarding driving or as one poster puts it, that Asians "are physically incapable of understanding 'standing in line'." I assume he meant mentally incapable, not physically incapable since legs cannot understand anything. Maybe I'm blind, but I have not noticed an Asian predilection to mill around movie lines randomly like sheep. Anyway, that is only one example from the mathematically clueless persons here inclined to make the broadest generalizations based purely on anecdotes and stereotypes--with the equally dumbfounding, supporting reply that "all" stereotypes are based in truth. I am willing to bet the number of people in this thread with hard science degrees from top universities is less than five, although I know for certain there is at least one: me. How does one address the kind of random, wholly uninformed suppositions made by people who think rigor refers to rigor mortis? Is it unreasonable to ask that people approach a topic with some objectivity and basic understanding of how science works as opposed to a random thesis followed by anecdotes and stereotypes as proof. In regard to a more relevant starting point, SAT scores, math SAT scores in particular and math in general are highly correlated with spacial reasoning ability, for which there exists abundant evidence. Or how about reputable scientific studies that have attempted to tackle the issue directly? These are some suggested starting points as opposed to "some Oriental cut me off on Interstate 15, therefore no way dem Orientals got spacial skills"?

David said...

>Is it unreasonable to ask that people approach a topic with some objectivity and basic understanding of how science works as opposed to a random thesis followed by anecdotes [such as] "some Oriental cut me off on Interstate 15, therefore no way dem Orientals got spacial skills"<

Data are not more than a large number of verified anecdotes.