Monday, November 01, 2010

Wasting Resources

These days I work at a National Laboratory. I is purdy smart!

At least some people think so. In reality I am not much more intelligent, if any, than most of the good skilled tradesmen I have worked with over the years. Many people who gravitated towards skilled trades are very intelligent people who, for one reason or another, did poorly in academics. I did badly in school because I read a lot.

My father used to beat me when I read his and my mother’s college text books so I had to hide reading “adult literature”. As I became older I began to understand that my father didn’t really understand any of his text books, although he really liked to believe he did. When I was 13 I made him really angry when I tried to discuss the differences between Adam Smith’s classic economic theory and John Keynesian’s economic theory. He did not understand. That is not unusual, most people don’t understand. My father had a degree in economics.

So here I am in school listening to teachers with average education and average intelligence say really stupid things. “Republican’s started slavery!” is something I remember. Most people believe this tripe even today because some moronic elementary school teacher told them that.

During a discussion in English class I mentioned that I thought Russia and the United States would become allies again, just as they had been in WW2. The class laughed, the teacher said “that can never happen”. Of course it has happened.

Back in the late 1980’s I was working on the shop floor talking to a group of people about terrorism. I mentioned I knew a Weatherman, one of the people asked me “what channel”. During that discussion I mentioned the probability of an Islamic religious war based on terrorism. The people in the group agreed that China was far more dangerous than the "Arabs". I just shook my head.

My biggest problem is always understanding radical new ideas and having people disbelieve them. It has also been my saving grace. God puts me in a situation where my ability to look at things in a radically different way are a benefit and I do something “amazing”. Not because it is really amazing, but, because other people didn’t think of it "that way" and if they did they dismissed it as to "weird".

Education in the United States, and most other places, is a socialization process and not really an education process. If you can’t or won’t learn the same way as the group you are “banished”. It used to be banished into manufacturing. These days those jobs don’t exist.

So the education system is designed to churn out “average” people, average intelligence, average ability to socialize, average ability to succeed. Even those “above average” people in high school, middle school and elementary school end up in the “average” range. avergae results in stagnation. Always.

When teachers grade on a curve they typically use plus or minus 2 standard deviations or a range which encompasses about 90%. Teachers know some students have problems on tests and as a result they typically oppose standardized testing. Most high school graduates cannot pass a GED and yet the GED is looked down on as being a “poor substitute”. If it were up to me I would make it a law that anyone who can’t pass a GED can’t have a diploma. Why, because teachers use subjective criteria to make graduation easier for students who function well in academia. These same teachers use the same subjective criteria make graduation harder for people who do not, those “trouble makers” that teachers want drugged or expelled or shoved into substandard education to make their lives and the lives of the 90% more "stagnant".

So what happens when we don’t utilize that 5% of people who make the real changes that help the world, the small improvements in design and utilization that accumulate making the world better?


Me, I have an above average income, an average life style. If you include my education level I am probably in the top two percent of people in the US with my education level.

Like most people who couldn’t deal with academia I went in manufacturing. That won’t happen in the future because the United States is pulling away from manufacturing. Our best potential for future development is not in academia. Academia churns out people within 2 std dev of “average”. Sure, 5% of those are going to be poor performers in any situation. The other 5% are people like me. Very intelligent and function like crap in typical academic environments.
Above average people who cannot function in academia require special opportunities. Some of us find them in construction, manufacturing, computers and we help the world become a better place. Some of us never find them.

What if Thomas Edison had been born in India in the 1700’s. He would have become successful, but, not the innovative, world changing, inventor that he became. Tesla, Einstein, Ford, Jobs, Gates, all these people “dropped out” and achieved great things in manufacturing because they committed to the right ideas at the right time. The rest of us “geniuses” have typically just enjoyed above average success in our chosen careers. Sometimes we influence things in very small ways that accumulate and change the world for the better.

So what happens when our society reduces the utilization of this 5% by reducing manufacturing and other semi-skilled trades that attract this 5%? The small and important developments in skilled and semi-skilled trades end up being made 2nd and 3rd world nations and the people outside of the 90% (or more) in the US end up being born in the wrong time and place.

Right now, the place for someone, with a high IQ who can’t function in academia, to be is China or India where their skills translate into social development. The United States has chosen to waste that 5% of the population that makes a huge accumulative impact. They might never become rich in those 2nd and 3rd world nations, but, like most of us in the 5% they will help make the world a better place and achieve a higher than average standard of living than the 90% average student.

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