Print Story girl, you have no faith in medicine.
By gzt (Mon May 11, 2009 at 02:36:32 PM EST) gzt, shape note, sacred harp, accounting, intelligence (all tags)
To comment on chuckles' story, "intelligence" is like "health", but both are quite different to "height", except by very loose analogy. Specifically: "height" is well-defined, it's scientific, it's measurable. It's a real parameter. "Health" and "intelligence" are not measurable in the same way: they're value-laden.

This is basic philosophy, folks. "Health" and "intelligence" are based on ideals of healthfulness and intelligence. Ideals are not science.

Specific measurable parameters ("IQ") shouldn't be confused with the concepts ("intelligence").


I think I did something to wrench up my back slightly. I think it's a lack of picking up heavy things and putting them down. I'm just too busy right now. The only free time I really have this week is when I'm at work. Ha!

Okay, so, today, when I get home, I need to quickly do the following:

  1. throw in a couple loads of laundry
  2. eat something
  3. review accounting crap
  4. re-do accounting homework
  5. review more accounting crap
  6. do some basic housekeeping
  7. maybe shave?
  8. call up some woman
  9. if time is available, do economics
I have my accounting final tomorrow. I'm not worried at all, I just have to put in some review. I got a 99% on the midterm, have done the homework, and participated in class. The final won't be hard, but I do have to make sure I've got it down. Econ on Thursday will be more annoying since I have some homework left to finish off that isn't going to be covered on the final, so doing it does not help me prepare. Bah!

Hey, little apple blossom! It's either that or Hotel Yorba. Or both. They're dead serious.

I ordered some sacred harp singing CD. I kind of regret never joining that sacred harp group on campus when I was still in school, but they're still around the neighborhood and aren't really tied to the university, so I could. I'm just generally busy. Still, that would conflict with my resolution to never join a choir, but it's not really a choir, now, is it? Or maybe it is. It's every Thursday. The annual midwest convention is the last weekend of May just a few blocks from where I live, so maybe I'll stop by there and see how it is. How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now!

Yes, we can.

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girl, you have no faith in medicine. | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden)
I also hurt my lower back recently by garlic (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon May 11, 2009 at 05:54:59 PM EST
I think it's a lack of excercise in general. I was doing great up to 3 weeks ago. I have to start running again. Every day I say today will be the day, and then it's not. Weather is nice again though, so I can start running outside at night again. It's good to be a man.

I'm not convinced by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon May 11, 2009 at 06:29:52 PM EST
It seems to me that height and intelligence differ more in extent than in kind relative to scientific measurement.

Consider two men of the same `height' but on has bad posture and always slouches while the other always stands up straight. Consider another with steel rods surgically implanted in his back and a fourth with artificial legs. Is my real height my height when I'm standing a normal posture, when I'm standing up straight, how tall I would be relative to my skeletal system if I didn't have this physical problem or that physical problem? And what about shoes? Platform shoes? Heels?

I don't think this is all that different in principle from intelligence. What is different is that the issues involved are much easier to disambiguate.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
You're completely and exactly wrong. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon May 11, 2009 at 07:39:02 PM EST
They're different in principle. Any discussion of intelligence will necessarily have to divert beyond mere definitions to "values" or "ideals" or other such things which are anathema to positivists. Height, however, can only ever end up in the reality of nitpicking definition. I suppose "intelligence" is less transparently so than "health", because one's ideal of healthfulness is transparently value-ridden in a way that intelligence is not. So I really will have to make an argument. Fine.

You have to assume there is some "real" property denoted by the word "intelligence", which I deny. It's a term in a cultural classificatory scheme. It's culturally variable and historically contingent in a way that height is not. Are black people, women, or children capable of intelligence? By definition, at some points in history, no. Now? Yes, yes, depends on who is asking and in what context. Height does not have problems of this species. It's a different sort of game altogether.

[ Parent ]
and one should note the article is not so wrong by gzt (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon May 11, 2009 at 08:16:17 PM EST
It's chuckles' comment at the end. I disagree that "health" and "intelligence" are latent variables because they're culturally and historically contingent and they do not denote some real property.

[ Parent ]
I don't have to assume anything by lm (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon May 11, 2009 at 08:33:19 PM EST
But I can, however, make a decent argument that the meaning of all words is culturally variable and historically contingent. You seem to be confusing vague ideas with ideas that cannot be reduced to measurement. The meaning of what intelligence is certainly much more vague than the idea of height. But other than making assertions, you've not really offered an argument why the meaning of the words is intrinsically tied to something that can't be measured.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
? by gzt (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon May 11, 2009 at 08:50:01 PM EST
No, I'm confusing no such thing. I'm not arguing they're tied to something that can't be measured, I'm arguing there is no "thing" there to be measured. "Intelligence" is really about moral agency more than anything else when you get right down to it, which explains a lot of its storied history in science. It's not about vagueness at all, no. I'm not really making arguments, sure, I'm making assertions.

[ Parent ]
Equivocally, yes by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue May 12, 2009 at 06:15:02 AM EST
Sure, there is a tradition of associating one sense of intelligence with moral agency. But the ideas behind that tradition aren't usually what people mean when they say `so and so is intelligent.' It's a vague term and overloaded with multiple meanings.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I think lm was arguing the other way - by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue May 12, 2009 at 03:15:53 PM EST
that the idea of height can be equally confused as any measure of "intelligence" since all ways of measuring a person's height are good for only select purposes. Most of them are even subject to change by the minute. If you don't specify exactly what kind of measure of height you want, perhaps including relative velocity, you may well end up with data unfit for your purpose.

I don't fully agree with this in spirit because physical measurements can be and (almost always) are made with methods that satisfy the purpose while IQ tests and the like don't have any clear application. On the other hand, it may be possible to devise purpose-relevant measures of intelligent capacity.

See you, space cowboy.

[ Parent ]
well, but that's not my point by gzt (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue May 12, 2009 at 03:41:30 PM EST
That's not my point about intelligence. I don't care if he's able to define it or not, my point is that all definitions of "intelligence" depend on "values" or "ideals" because of its place in a cultural classificatory scheme. This becomes abundantly clear when you see a couple wankers argue about whether machines will be intelligent - it's transparently obvious that they're missing the point. It's not about vagueness! It's about what they, by nature, ARE! My contention is that there is not a "real" property denoted by "intelligence". I would certainly agree that there is a "real" property denoted by "height" even if somebody wants to play Zeno of Elea about it (I prefer Zeno of Citium, myself).

I mean, whatever, there are a lot of tests that deal with cognitive abilities, and if you want to use any one of them as a sort of benchmark for something, whatever, that's fine, but don't confuse it with "intelligence" or a "measure" of intelligence. It's the same problem with health, really. People pretend like there's some property called "health", but there isn't. Science isn't going to tell you what's healthy or not, your societal ideal of healthfulness does. A medieval ascetic will have a quite different idea of what "health" is than you or I, and not because he's an ignorant rube from before the dawn of medicine.

[ Parent ]
All this seems to amount to by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue May 12, 2009 at 07:27:19 PM EST
nothing more than "intelligence is ill-defined." The way you are arguing (which I find mostly agreeable) is that there is no meaningful measure of "intelligence" because the term itself is more or less inscrutable. To me, the whole idea of measuring intelligence in terms of a scalar is like measuring the totality of a body's contours and representing that with a scalar. I'm sure it can be made meaningful in some context, but who the hell cares?

But deep down I was hinting that taking a measurement does not involve any special privilege. The act of measuring is a physical act subject to all the regular distortion (no need to even mention Zeno) and only as meaningful as the method used. (Isn't everything in science defined by its measure, and not the other way around?)

This is where the (possible) validity of the IQ test comes in. I'm assured that individuals tend to score consistently on IQ tests, which suggests that they may measure some property perhaps as real as height--even if it is purely phenomenal (as opposed to what?), lm was almost pointing out that the height of anything is a phenomenal product.

See you, space cowboy.

[ Parent ]
Intelligence by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue May 12, 2009 at 11:54:14 AM EST
Please provide a definition of "intelligence".
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
or at least... by gzt (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:40:12 PM EST
...necessary and sufficient conditions for intelligence. Defining stuff is hard. But there are some pretty good necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be 6' tall.

[ Parent ]
Define intelligence by Phage (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue May 12, 2009 at 03:40:34 AM EST
Meet the aliens.

girl, you have no faith in medicine. | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden)