Thursday, January 18, 2007

Harbeh dvarim

WWPD remains, but do its readers? Who can say. But before I launch back into coursework (Proust for one class, Dreyfus for another, add some Camembert and I'm in heaven!), a post:

1) Just spotted a man who may well have been my Philosophical Perspectives prof. from UChicago, one Eric Schliesser. In front of Joe, the coffee shop on Waverly Place. When in doubt, I make a policy of not saying anything, but if it was in fact Professor Schliesser, hi!

2) Speaking of things scholarly, another academic friend of WWPD just emailed me the best article ever to appear in The Onion, which is saying something.

3) Speaking of amusing articles, a close second to the one from The Onion is Charles Murray's three-part series on why the idiots of this country should remain uneducated and should not waste everyone's time with a six-year drinking and gonorrhea-spreading event known as college. Agreed--let the idiots repair our air-conditioners and mop our libraries while we closely study La Recherche. But how are we to determine just who these idiots may be? Murray likes to go by IQ--but isn't the main problem re: education that plenty of intelligent people, due to the circumstances of their birth, end up at the bottom of the educational heap, while plenty of less-than-brilliant types, also due to chance, end up with CVs that imply great intellect? Keep "them" out of the schools, but who are they? By some measures (Stuyvesant test) Murray would consider me worthy of being educated, but by other measures (high school GPA) not so much. Why does that matter, you ask? Because it's my blog, so it's all about me. But also, because it just goes to show that there's no definitive way of separating the bright from the dumb, except in extreme cases of the latter category. Or something, I don't know, those articles were long, and reading's tough business.

And here, what Murray surely intends as a shout-out to Jo:

If "intellectually gifted" is defined to mean people who can become theoretical physicists, then we're talking about no more than a few people per thousand and perhaps many fewer. They are cognitive curiosities, too rare to have that much impact on the functioning of society from day to day. But if "intellectually gifted" is defined to mean people who can stand out in almost any profession short of theoretical physics, then research about IQ and job performance indicates that an IQ of at least 120 is usually needed.

Why Murray feels the need to so insult experimental physicists is anyone's guess. And with that, I return to my work towards one day standing out in a profession short of theoretical physics.


Eric Schliesser said...

Yes, it was me. (My old colleague, Jacob Levy, reads your blog and alerted me to this posting.) Maybe you can answer the question I had while I was checking out Joe: does Joe have (free?) wifi, or not?--Eric Schliesser (
PS I hope you are thriving!

Petey said...

"WWPD remains, but do its readers?"

RSS readers mean never having to say you're sorry for irregular updates...

Chana said...

This is a hilarious post. Thanks so much for the links, and I can't wait to read the 3-part series. :)

Anonymous said...

Actually, even the experimental physicists I work with (at the U of C) say that the theorists are much smarter than they are. Most of the grad students who end up in experimental physics were wannabe theorists who just couldn't cut it. But that is neither here nor there.