[ExI] my view of education

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Sat Dec 15 00:17:00 UTC 2018

On Dec 14, 2018, at 2:30 PM, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
> dan wrote
> “I’d like to see evidence showing there because there’s much evidence to show people don’t generalize well. Maybe I’ve misread the work on this, but it seems like most people don’t go from example to example well — unless primed and prompted.”
> It varies a lot, mostly with IQ.  I have seen studies where mentally retarded Ss and normals work the same tasks and then are switched to a generalization task.  Most of the normals used the skills they learned on the previous task, but the MRs did not until prompted.  But I really am not aware of most research on this subject.

The work I’ve seen shows average students not generalizing if not promoted or directed* in many cases — enough to undermine the argument that average people, say, being taught history will then go on and generalize to current policies or events.

Now if students with IQ positively correlated with generalization, then it’s likely it’s not that the student is learning to generalize so much as they already are good generalizers... In other words, it’s at least possible that had they not been schooled that they might be as good or as bad at generalization.

>   I will generalize:  I think that if people did not generalize fairly readily the species would not have lasted nearly this.  Few things in the world present themselves as identical to what was experienced before.

Given the data, I think it’s wrong to think every last human is great at generalization. Instead, a better theory here might be there’s a bell curve but since humans do seem really good at imitation that all that’s necessary for a social species to survive is a few outliers perform successful generalizations that imitators can then follow. Or failing that that those worse at generalizing (who might still not be terrrible overall) can specialize in areas that don’t require heavy generalization.

And in fact most work doesn’t require much generalization. One can stick in a very narrow domain — hunting large game, fishing, growing wheat, fixing truck engines, coding apps on mobile phones — and not have to worry about other domains or about generalized knowledge overall. Your argument would work if humans were asocial or operated only in tiny groups yet still needed to generalize. (In fact, the smaller the human group, generally, the fewer skill sets overall can be maintained to any degree. A really tiny society tends to lose the skill sets because it can no longer retain the knowledge base, including tacit knowledge. I’m thinking here especially of preliterate societies.)


   Sample my Kindle books at:

* If they’re promoted or directed then it’s not really raw generalization happening, but following instructions. And most of the evidence with education seems to show students learning to get the grade or diploma, then promptly forgetting what they learned — that is, not generalizing. There are exceptions, but the exceptions are usually people who go into academia, which is a tiny minority of students. 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20181214/428dcdbd/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list