Posts Tagged ‘James Flynn’

How to Improve Your Mind: Twenty Keys to Unlock the Modern World

August 14, 2016

The title of this post is the title of a book by Prof. James R. Flynn.  There have been three posts that have been motivated by this book, “A Major Reason for the Ridiculously Increasing Costs of a College Education,”How Healthy Memory Differs from the Post Modernists or Radical Constructivists,” and “Intelligent Design.”  Perhaps you have already been able to infer from these posts that this is not you typical mind improvement book.   The title is a tad overstated.  Reading and understanding this book should definitely improve your mind and provide insights on the complexities of the modern world.  However, it is left to you should you read the book to decide how much your understanding of the modern world has been unlocked.

The essence of this work is critical thinking, a skill that is woefully absent from our present world.  Critical thinking needs to be considered in terms of Stanovich’s Three Process View of cognition (See the healthy memory blog post, “The Tri-Pricess Model of Cognition and Critical Thinking).  System 1 is called the autonomous mind by Stanovich and intuition by Kahneman.  This our default mode of cognitive processing and is very fast and efficient.  System 2 is called the algorithmic mind by Stanovtich and Reasoning by Kahneman . System 2 is what is commonly thought of as thinking.  One of the roles of System 2 is to monitor System 2.  Stanovich has also added the reflective mind, System3, as his work on the development of a Rational Quotient has led him to believe that the reflective mind needed to be added. The reflective mind, when invoked, ponders the output of System 2.  If you are to benefit from this outstanding work, you need to put your beliefs and principles where the sun does not shine and read with an open mind.  Then you can decide what to accept, what to reject, and what requires a great deal more pondering and reflection.

“How to Improve Your Mind”  is divided into five Parts.
Part 1 is titled Arguing About Right and Wrong divided into the following sections
Logic and Moral Debate
Getting Rid of Tautologies
The Naturalistic Fallacy and Its Consequences —be Judgmental
But that is Unnatural—Words Best Never Said

Part 2 is titled The Truth About People divided into the following sections
Random Sample—Quality Not Size
Intelligence Quotient—Hanging the Intellectually Disabled
Intelligence Quotient
Control Group—How Studying People Changes Them
The Sociologist’s Fallacy—Ignoring the Real World

Part 3 is titled The Market and its Church divided into the following sections
Creating a Market—Not a Frankenstein
Market Forces—How they Take Their Revenge
Market Worship—No Ritual Sacrifices
The Economic Collapse of 2008
What is to be Done?

Part 4 is titled Enemies of Science
Reality—What Scientists Really Say About Science
History, Science, and Evolution—Only One Kind of Each

Part 5 is titled Nations and their Goals divided into the following sections
Understanding Nations—Understanding Anyone
Four Cases—Making Sense Out of Nonsense
Conclusion

It should be obvious from the preceding text that this is written at college level, and not an the dumbed down college level that HM has found some current texts to be.
In case you do not read the book, here are two take aways from Dr. Flynn worth considering:
The world is still vulnerable to another possible financial crisis.
How long before American finds that economic interdependence with China will force her to coordinate her policies with China as an equal?

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Intelligent Design

August 12, 2016

Intelligent Design provides an excellent example of what defines science and the importance of different domains of knowledge staying within their domain of knowledge (see the healthymemory blog posts “Domains of Knowledge,” and “A Longstanding heated Debate That Can Easily Be Resolved”).  Advocates of intelligent design point to all the wonders of nature and conclude, how could such things emerge without an intelligent designer, who is God.  What they fail to acknowledge are all the extinct species that didn’t survive.  When they are considered, some sort of random selection process is needed. Or, as the humorist Tony Kornheiser noted when he was simultaneously suffering from nausea and diarrhea, “what a perverse sense of humor God had when he designed the human body.”  For intelligent design to be a science, there must be a means of disproving intelligent design.  Absent that, it is no science.

Actually religious people would be better off arguing the anthropic principle.  The conditions under which the universe was created were quite specific and absent these specific values of critical factors, it could not be created.  Apparently few religious people have the knowledge of physics or cosmology to make this argument.

Intelligent Design provides a good example of why different domains of knowledge need to stay in their appropriate domains.   People are entitled to whatever  beliefs they may hold, except when their beliefs have adverse effects on other domains of knowledge and on their fellow human beings.  Actually HM is in favor of teaching both intelligent design and evolution in the public schools, as that shows, unless improperly taught, the essence of science.  Evolution should not be taught as a dogma, but as a finding from science and an example of how science is done.  Students should be taught how to think rather than what to believe. Absent evolution, biology and medicine, at the very least, would be severely constrained.

James Flynn, the author of “How to Improve Your Mind:  Twenty Keys to Unlock the Modern World,”makes the following interesting observation, “Obscurantist churches talk about “intelligent design” as an alternative science, and some university lecturers say, “reality is a text.”  The latter have less excuse for talking nonsense.  The universities are fields on which a great battle rages.  It is a contest pitting those who attempt to help students understand science, and how to use reason to debate  moral and social issues, against those of whom it might be said that every student who comes within range of their voices is a bit worse off for the experience.  It is up to the rest of us to point out the error of their ways, so that students can think clearly enough to filter their words and distal something of value.”

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How Healthy Memory Differs from the Post Modernists or Radical Constructivists

August 11, 2016

HM did not think this would be necessary, but if James Flynn  the author of “How to Improve Your Mind:  Twenty Keys to Unlock the Modern World,” thought this topic worthy  of the attention he gave it, then HM also needs to clarify his position so he will not be confused as a post modernist.  According to Flynn these folks believe that everyone constructs their own version of reality.  HM is still not sure whether these folks think that there is no external reality, or that this external reality is unknowable.  So please comment should you be informed on these topics.

HM has stressed that we do not have direct knowledge of the external world.  We build models of the real world on the basis of our experience.  This is essentially what science does, although science uses and develops defined methods for both developing and evaluating these models of the external world.   But HM and scientists certainly believe that a there is a real external world for which we are developing models.  HM further conjectures that due to limitations in  the nervous systems of homo sapiens we might be incapable of ever truly understanding this external world, although our approximations might get fairly close.

However, Prof. Flynn is not entirely dismissive of these Post Modernists or Radical Constructivists.  He writes the following in a section titled, “Even Muddled Minds can Teach us Something:”
“”If you are stuck with a post-modernist as a Ph.D supervisor, do not despair.  Once you reject his or her confusions, you may salvage something from what he or she says.  Sadly, when you write your dissertation you may have to preface the important stuff with some gibberish about texts, narratives, and so forth.  But remember, after you get your degree you can stop that and get on with what makes sense:  using science to understand the real world without any apology.”

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

A Major Reason for the Ridiculously Increasing Costs of a College Education

August 5, 2016

There have been previous healthy memory blog posts about the inexcusable increases in the costs of a college education.  Instead technology should be seriously reducing these costs.  With respect to public institutions, significant decreases in support from states provides a partial reason, but no justification.  University presidents once were supplied with a house on the campus and a reasonable stipend.  But today at the prestigious universities presidents expect mega millions. Even at non-prestigious universities, not just six figures, but well up into six figures seems to be the norm.

A book by James R. Flynn, the James Flynn who identified IQ inflation and a continuing need to recalibrate the IQ quotient, has written a book, “How to Improve Your Mind:  Twenty Keys to Unlock the Modern World,” that offers some profound insights into this problem. He has identified a flow of power from the academics, who do the actual teaching and research, toward he administrative center.  Flynn laments that gone are the days when Deans were elected by academics from their number who, if they wanted a second term, had to stand for re-election.  So the salaries of both presidents and deans are grossly inflated.  The fundamental problem is that the administration controls basically all the power, which, of course, includes funding.

C. Northcotte Parkinson, the author of the famous Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands as to fill time available for its completion” made a highly insightful study of bureaucracies.   Bureaucracies grow and feed upon themselves without providing benefit to the organizations they are supposed to be supporting.  Indeed, they can be decreasing the effectiveness of the organizations they are supporting.  At the last place I worked, I estimated that the efficiency of the organization would be increased if the correct percentage of the staff were eliminated.

The same is true of colleges and universities.  Administrations have been growing at the expense of working academics and students.  Moreover, as it is the administrations who have the power and control the pursestrings, if budget cuts are required, they are made at the expense of the academics and the students.  They will reduce research support fire faculty and make higher reliances on graduate students and adjunct faculty.

The problem with providing student financial aid is that colleges and universities simply adjust tuition and their various special fees, and likely expand the bureaucracy.  The only agency here that can effect the situation is the government.  The government can tie increased funding to cuts specifically in the administration.  If this is done, then it is likely that not only costs will go down, but the administrations will become more effective as they will have reduced themselves from unnecessary burdensome bureaucracy.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

There have been previous healthy memory blog posts about the inexcusable increases in the costs of a college education.  Instead technology should be seriously reducing these costs.  With respect to public institutions, significant decreases in support from states provides a partial reason, but no justification.  University presidents once were supplied with a house on the campus and a reasonable stipend.  But today at the prestigious universities presidents expect mega millions. Even at non-prestigious universities, not just six figures, but well up into six figures seems to be the norm.

A book by James R. Flynn, the James Flynn who identified IQ inflation and a continuing need to recalibrate the IQ quotient, has written a book, “How to Improve Your Mind:  Twenty Keys to Unlock the Modern World,” that offers some profound insights into this problem. He has identified a flow of power from the academics, who do the actual teaching and research, toward he administrative center.  Flynn laments that gone are the days when Deans were elected by academics from their number who, if they wanted a second term, had to stand for re-election.  So the salaries of both presidents and deans are grossly inflated.  The fundamental problem is that the administration controls basically all the power, which, of course, includes funding.

C. Northcotte Parkinson, the author of the famous Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands as to fill time available for its completion” made a highly insightful study of bureaucracies.   Bureaucracies grow and feed upon themselves without providing benefit to the organizations they are supposed to be supporting.  Indeed, they can be decreasing the effectiveness of the organizations they are supporting.  At the last place I worked, I estimated that the efficiency of the organization would be increased if the correct percentage of the staff were eliminated.

The same is true of colleges and universities.  Administrations have been growing at the expense of working academics and students.  Moreover, as it is the administrations who have the power and control the pursestrings, if budget cuts are required, they are made at the expense of the academics and the students.  They will reduce research support fire faculty and make higher reliances on graduate students and adjunct faculty.

The problem with providing student financial aid is that colleges and universities simply adjust tuition and their various special fees, and likely expand the bureaucracy.  The only agency here that can effect the situation is the government.  The government can tie increased funding to cuts specifically in the administration.  If this is done, then it is likely that not only costs will go down, but the administrations will become more effective as they will have reduced themselves from unnecessary burdensome bureaucracy.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.