Intelligence in Everyday Life
Due November 11 (Rewrite due November 25)
4+ pages, typed double-spaced, stapled, pages numbered
Please attach a completed Writer
Response form to the copy for your fellow.
If you had the power to change one important fact about intelligence, what
would it be and why? How would changing that one fact affect American
society--for instance, its economy, politics, educational system, the ways its
citizens lead their lives or interact with one another, etc? Think broadly, but
be specific when you write.
- Paper has a clear and
- Writing is clear and well
- Has well-informed, thoughtful
ideas about how differences in intelligence affect the lives of
individuals and societies
- All depictions of the
evidence on g are accurate (e.g., does not make statements that
reflect failure to read and understand the course assignments)
- Goes beyond the obvious
- Backs up speculations with
specific evidence and strong logic
Examples of changed facts
- All races have the same IQ
bell curve (there are no racial differences in g)
- Everyone has an IQ of at
- Instead of IQ becoming more
heritable with age, it becomes less heritable
- We discover something
(e.g., a teaching method) that equalizes people's trainability
- IQ differences are entirely
- Early family effects on IQ
are permanent, not temporary
- You may also entertain
changes that presumably no one would want but might have really
interesting social effects, such as everyone suddenly goes senile at age
Warning: Go beyond the obvious!
- Certain outcomes will be
obvious. For example, if there are no low-IQ people anymore, there will be
no more special education classes as we know them today. You must go
beyond such obvious outcomes.
- You must also examine the
likely cascade of effects that would reverberate through social
life and institutions if your fact suddenly changes (or never existed).
Would the occupational ladder really stay the same? Would we think about
each other in the same way? Would changing your fact have unwelcome
consequences, not just the ones you want? (This is the "Be careful
what you wish for" issue.)
Goal of assignment
- You as a scientist:
To have you think about the broader consequences for a society of its
members differing in intelligence. Imagining changing the system is one
way to understand better what actually occurs now.
- You as a thoughtful
citizen: To have you think through your values by having to imagine
what would be a better state of affairs and whether the change you propose
might have unwelcome effects to contend with as well as the good outcomes
- Like the first paper
assignment, this one also asks you to think creatively (deeply) as a
scientist. It differs, however, in necessarily requiring you to engage in
more speculation. Specifically, it requires you to make predictions about
processes for which you do not have evidence, either because there is none
(e.g., we don't know for sure how society would react to the invention of
a smart pill) or because we haven't reviewed it (voting patterns, economic
trends, etc.). Your argument in this paper will therefore rest more
heavily on logic and informed imagination.
- You may (but are not
required to) bring in outside evidence or discussion on your chosen topic.
- The assignment asks you to
be a magician and change one--but only one--of the basic scientific
facts about g. That changed fact may be an invention which neutralizes
some current fact (a pill that makes people smarter, a training method
that succeeds equally well with people of all g levels, etc.). Except for
that one change, your paper must remain firmly grounded in the reality of
the evidence about g.
- Please supply both a title
and bibliography for your paper. Also number the pages.
- And please feel free to
contact me if you have any questions!