bodge006: November 2011 Archives

Eugenics and IQ Testing

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During the early 1900's, the United States turned to eugenics, a term meaning "good genes", in an attempt to purge the population of "bad/inferior genes". Before 1935, when sterilization laws were repealed, over 66,000 North Americans were involuntarily sterilized. The Supreme Court upheld rulings for people who were considered "feeble minded", and in the case of Buck v. Bell, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough". How far was Sir Francis Galton willing to go to rid the US of people with lower IQ's?
What bothers me most is that they justified sterilizing people based on IQ tests and their corresponding intelligence scores. Not only were the first IQ tests unreliable, but even today, we can't accurately quantify people's intelligence. Many immigrants were forced to take these tests upon their arrival to the United States during this time period. Those immigrants who were not fluent in English had difficulties with the test and caused them to underestimate their intelligence and were sometimes subjected to the involuntary sterilization.
Two different IQ tests given to a person during the early 1900's more than likely would not produce the same results for the individual. Since this violates the scientific principle of replicability, sterilization based on IQ test scores could not last. You could make the case that most IQ tests are testing different areas of intelligence, so replication of the results would be very difficult. From that perspective, there should be an opportunity to recreate results within each area of intelligence being tested. I see no real reason to get rid of IQ testing altogether, but if consequences of low IQ were to be reinstated, it would not be ethical.

Eugenics and IQ Testing

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During the early 1900's, the United States turned to eugenics, a term meaning "good genes", in an attempt to purge the population of "bad/inferior genes". Before 1935, when sterilization laws were repealed, over 66,000 North Americans were involuntarily sterilized. The Supreme Court upheld rulings for people who were considered "feeble minded", and in the case of Buck v. Bell, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough". How far was Sir Francis Galton willing to go to rid the US of people with lower IQ's?
What bothers me most is that they justified sterilizing people based on IQ tests and their corresponding intelligence scores. Not only were the first IQ tests unreliable, but even today, we can't accurately quantify people's intelligence. Many immigrants were forced to take these tests upon their arrival to the United States during this time period. Those immigrants who were not fluent in English had difficulties with the test and caused them to underestimate their intelligence and were sometimes subjected to the involuntary sterilization.
Two different IQ tests given to a person during the early 1900's more than likely would not produce the same results for the individual. Since this violates the scientific principle of replicability, sterilization based on IQ test scores could not last. You could make the case that most IQ tests are testing different areas of intelligence, so replication of the results would be very difficult. From that perspective, there should be an opportunity to recreate results within each area of intelligence being tested. I see no real reason to get rid of IQ testing altogether, but if consequences of low IQ were to be reinstated, it would not be ethical.

Placebo Buttons

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This article addresses the effectiveness of buttons we use in our everyday lives. Many of the buttons we use every day are nothing more than placebos. The three main culprits are walk buttons at crosswalks, thermostats, and the "close door" buttons on elevators. Most of the time, these types of buttons only positively reinforce the behavior of pressing the button. The elevator will eventually close and the stoplight will eventually turn whether we press these buttons or not. In fact, most elevators installed since the early 1990's have non-functioning "close door" buttons.
According to this video, the main reason behind the non-functioning crosswalks is the expense to remove them. The former Traffic Commissioner, Sam Schwartz, said, "90 percent of them do nothing, except the psychological benefit of pressing the button". As for thermostats, larger companies with office buildings don't want their employees messing with the temperature constantly. To prevent complaints and to give the employees the impression that they are in control, the companies install fake thermostats, and sometimes even white noise generators to trick the employees.
I can understand why it makes sense for the crosswalk and thermostats to be placebos, but I can't think of a good reason that the "close door" button shouldn't work. It makes sense that pedestrians should not be able to alter traffic flow and that companies want to save money by controlling the temperature in their building, but what harm could the "close door" button have? Isn't the worst case scenario that the elevators become slightly more efficient? Either the person doesn't press a functioning "close door" button and there is no difference, or the person does press it and they save an average of 2 seconds (according to the video). The only explanation I can think of is that the companies want to save the money it takes to make the button functional because almost no one can tell the difference.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by bodge006 in November 2011.

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