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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Multiple Intelligence

Every day in life we experience education. You learn something new every day. There are several concepts here that I think need to be explored in order to understand yourself and those around you.

If you were an A student, the chances are you have what Howard Gardner calls law professor intelligence. You have linguistic and logical intelligence. Think Naom Chomsky. If you are heavy on logic and weak on personal intelligence you are more like Ted Kazinski. Both obtained PhDs and found employment in highly regarded universities. Both went on to international fame. Both might be considered misanthropic with regards to some segment of our society. What was the intelligence that prevented Naom from falling into the same hole as Kazinski? As Naom pointed out on the video I posted last week, he put up with stupidity in order to reach the next level. Naom Chomsky believed the end justified the means. Kazinsky believed the means ruined the end. He saw the means as a filter that separated the good from the bad and the bad was what was left at the end.

Education is a filter. We have "weeding out" courses in science. Freshman chemistry can be a tough course for some and many will drop out. The first day of class there are 400 students. By the final exam you are at less than 100. Simply by looking at the percentage of drop-outs in a weed out class, we can get an idea who excels in logical intelligence. Where do the drop-outs go and do they then excel at their new class? Maybe they switch to English and get an A. They are word smart. How would Oscar Wilde have succeeded as a chemist?

We have many examples of extraordinary genius in logical intelligence. Autistic humans have an uncanny ability to do math, to see numbers as colors and shapes that comes together quickly for a logical conclusion. They may also be able to play Beethovens Moonlight Sonata after hearing it only one time. These are forms of intelligence we try to teach students. I think of it as intelligence chromatography. We have a resin that captures certain kinds of intelligence. We pass through the entire student body. Those that pass through we give Bs, Cs, Ds, and Fs. Those who get As stick to the resin. We can then pass them on to other resins. The linguistic and personal intelligence resin shows that our logical intelligent autistic A student is not fit for society. They move on to all Fs.

Who succeeds as A students in all forms of intelligence? The law professor! Lucky for the law professor we don't require that they get an A in gym. It is our society that puts together the list of intelligence to which one must demonstrate a stickiness. As we pass through the education system we must go through numerous intelligence chromatography columns. After education comes employment. Now is where biotechnology comes in.

Most biotechnology workers are of average intelligence. The average laboratory worker is content to remain in the lab cloning, purifying and running the assays. They would have been successful farmers or mill workers in an alternate era. They passed through the intelligence filters with a smattering of As Bs and Cs. The leadership excel in linguistic but not business logic. Their intelligence filters come from PhD programs in science. They lack the ability to translate good science into scientifically developed products. They would have been snake oil salesmen in an alternate era. The support industries, companies like GE Healthcare or Stratos Product Development, provide equipment that automate things like DNA sequencing, cell culture, and protein purification. They would have worked for GE in an alternate era.

I often wonder what would happen if you could get a small child from a modern day cult. How would they succeed in our society. Could they become biotech professionals? As they say, it's not how smart you are, it's how are you smart? I think they would do well. Show them the ritual to purifying DNA. Let them know when the ritual is to begin. They wouldn't aspire for more. They would look too the leaders and hope they get to share in some of the cargo. When it never comes they just keep performing their part of the ceremony meant to bring the cargo. When sent from the tribe they go and find another. They hope the ritual performance is equal to that of their would-be new tribe. The tribe, suspicious of other tribes probes them on their understanding of the cargo rituals. If they possess the proper intelligence they will be allowed in to perform their understanding of the ceremony.

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