Scientific American Presents
Cover; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Staff Editor; 1 Page(s)
Table of Contents; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Staff Editor; 2 Page(s)
Masthead; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Staff Editor; 1 Page(s)
Intelligence Considered; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Yam; 6 Page(s)
For the past several years, the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade has featured a column called "Ask Marilyn." People are invited to query Marilyn vos Savant, who at age 10 had tested at a mental level of someone about 23 years old; that gave her an intelligence quotient of 228-the highest score ever recorded. IQ tests ask you to complete verbal and visual analogies, to envision paper after it has been folded and cut, and to deduce numerical sequences, among other similar tasks. So it is a bit perplexing when vos Savant fields such queries from the average Joe (whose IQ is 100) as, What's the difference between love and infatuation? Or what is the nature of luck and coincidence? It's not obvious how the capacity to visualize objects and to figure out numerical patterns suits one to answer questions that have eluded some of the best poets and philosophers.
Clearly, intelligence encompasses more than a score on a test. Just what does it mean to be smart? How much of intelligence can be specified, and how much can we learn about it from neurobiology, genetics, ethology, computer science and other fields?
How Intelligent Is Intelligence Testing; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Sternberg; 6 Page(s)
A typical American adolescent spends more than 5,000 hours in high school and several thousand more hours studying in the library and at home. But for those students who wish to go on to college, much of their fate is determined in the three or so hours it takes to complete the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT). Four years later they may find themselves in a similar position when they apply to graduate, medical, law or business school.
The stakes are high. In their 1994 book The Bell Curve, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray pointed out a correlation between scores on such tests and a variety of measures of success, such as occupational attainment. They suggested that the U.S. is developing a "cognitive elite"-consisting of high-ability people in prestigious, lucrative jobs-and a larger population of lowability people in dead-end, low-wage positions. They suggested an invisible hand of nature at work.
A Multiplicity of Intelligences; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Gardner; 6 Page(s)
As a psychologist, I was surprised by the huge public interest in The Bell Curve, the 1994 book on human intelligence by the late Harvard University psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein and policy analyst Charles Murray. Most of the ideas in the book were familiar not only to social scientists but also to the general public. Indeed, educational psychologist Arthur R. Jensen of the University of California at Berkeley as well as Herrnstein had written popularly about the very same ideas in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Perhaps, I reasoned, every quarter-century a new generation of Americans desires to be acquainted with "the psychologist's orthodoxy" about intelligence-namely, that there is a single, general intelligence, often called g, which is reflected by an individual's intelligence quotient, or IQ.
This concept stands in contrast to my own view developed over the past decades: that human intelligence encompasses a far wider, more universal set of competences. Currently I count eight intelligences, and there may be more. They include what are traditionally regarded as intelligences, such as linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities, but also some that are not conventionally thought of in that way, such as musical and spatial capacities. These intelligences, which do not always reveal themselves in paper-and-pencil tests, can serve as a basis for more effective educational methods.
The General Intelligence Factor; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Gottfredson; 6 Page(s)
No subject in psychology has provoked more intense public controversy than the study of human intelligence. From its beginning, research on how and why people differ in overall mental ability has fallen prey to political and social agendas that obscure or distort even the most well-established scientific findings. Journalists, too, often present a view of intelligence research that is exactly the opposite of what most intelligence experts believe. For these and other reasons, public understanding of intelligence falls far short of public concern about it. The IQ experts discussing their work in the public arena can feel as though they have fallen down the rabbit hole into Alice's Wonderland.
The debate over intelligence and intelligence testing focuses on the question of whether it is useful or meaningful to evaluate people according to a single major dimension of cognitive competence. Is there indeed a general mental ability we commonly call "intelligence," and is it important in the practical affairs of life? The answer, based on decades of intelligence research, is an unequivocal yes. No matter their form or content, tests of mental skills invariably point to the existence of a global factor that permeates all aspects of cognition. And this factor seems to have considerable influence on a person's practical quality of life. Intelligence as measured by IQ tests is the single most effective predictor known of individual performance at school and on the job. It also predicts many other aspects of wellbeing, including a person's chances of divorcing, dropping out of high school, being unemployed or having illegitimate children.
For Whom Did the Bell Curve Toll?; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Beardsley; 2 Page(s)
That Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray's 1994 book The Bell Curve should become a commercial blockbuster was perhaps unsurprising, given its user-friendly presentation and its incendiary subject matter. The 800-page volume argued that American society is increasingly dividing into a wealthy "cognitive elite" and a dull, growing underclass. Because the authors believe that cognitive ability is largely inherited and that it strongly predicts important social outcomes such as avoidance of poverty and criminality, they foresaw the emergence of a "custodial state" in which the elite keep the underclass underfoot. African-Americans, in Herrnstein and Murray's vision, seemed doomed to remain disproportionately in the underclass, because that group is cognitively disadvantaged for reasons that are "very likely" to be in part genetic.
Among the authors' recommendations for adapting to these inevitable trends were dismantling affirmative action and the welfare safety net and shifting funds from educational programs for disadvantaged children to programs for the gifted-changes that some might argue would speed stratification. The book has so far sold more than 500,000 copies.
Uncommon Talents: Gifted Children, Prodigies and Savants; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Winner; 6 Page(s)
One evening a few years ago, while I was attending a concert, a young boy in the audience caught my attention. As the orchestra played a Mozart concerto, this nine-year-old child sat with a thick, well-thumbed orchestral score opened on his lap. As he read, he hummed the music out loud, in perfect tune. During intermission, I cornered the boy's father. Yes, he told me, Stephen was really reading the music, not just looking at it. And reading musical scores was one of his preferred activities, vying only with reading college-level computer programming manuals. At an age when most children concentrate on fourth-grade arithmetic and the nuances of playground etiquette, Stephen had already earned a prize in music theory that is coveted by adults.
Gifted children like Stephen are fascinating but also intimidating. They have been feared as "possessed," they have been derided as oddballs, they have been ridiculed as nerds. The parents of such young people are often criticized for pushing their children rather than allowing them a normal, well-balanced childhood. These children are so different from others that schools usually do not know how to educate them. Meanwhile society expects gifted children to become creative intellectuals and artists as adults and views them as failures if they do not.
Seeking "Smart" Drugs; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Holloway; 6 Page(s)
The ancient bards didn't need them. Their well-toned memories bespoke tomes: the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Rg Veda and the Mahabharata, among thousands of hours of other recited epics. But in our era, filled with more information in more forms than we could ever productively use, we seem to want them. Just as we want beauty sculpted not by our genetic heritage or by our exertion but rather by the scalpel or by silicone, we desire brains that are artificially boosted: we want drugs that make us think more quickly, that enable us to remember more readily, that give us a competitive edge.
The pursuit of these "smart" drugs has been celebrated since the early 1990s, when books and bars (many of them in California) offered recommendations for diets or formulas or herbs such as ginkgo biloba that could better one's brain. In the intervening years, a huge market for these items has sprung up, facilitated by the ease of sales over the Internet. In Japan alone, for instance, there are now 20 or so such compounds available and at least $2 billion in sales every year.
The Emergence of Intelligence; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Calvin; 7 Page(s)
To most observers, the essence of intelligence is cleverness, a versatility in solving novel problems. Foresight is also said to be an essential aspect of intelligence-particularly after an encounter with one of those terminally clever people who are all tactics and no strategy. Other observers will add creativity to the list. Personally, I like the way neurobiologist Horace Barlow of the University of Cambridge frames the issue. He says intelligence is all about making a guess that discovers some new underlying order. This idea neatly covers a lot of ground: finding the solution to a problem or the logic of an argument, happening on an appropriate analogy, creating a pleasing harmony or guessing what's likely to happen next. Indeed, we all routinely predict what comes next, even when passively listening to a narrative or a melody. That's why a joke's punch line or a P.D.Q. Bach musical parody brings you up short-you were subconsciously predicting something else and were surprised by the mismatch.
We will never agree on a universal definition of intelligence because it is an open-ended word, like consciousness. Both intelligence and consciousness concern the high end of our mental life, but they are frequently confused with more elementary mental processes, such as ones we use to recognize a friend or to tie a shoelace. Of course, such simple neural mechanisms are probably the foundations from which our abilities to handle logic and metaphor evolved. But how did that occur? That is both an evolutionary question and a neurophysiological one. Both kinds of answers are needed to understand our own intelligence. They might even help explain how an artificial or an exotic intelligence could evolve.
Reasoning in Animals; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Gould, Gould; 8 Page(s)
The ability to think and plan is taken by many of us to be the hallmark of the human mind. Reason, which makes thinking possible, is often said to be uniquely human and thus sets us apart from the beasts. In the past two decades, however, this comfortable assumption of intellectual superiority has come under increasingly skeptical scrutiny. Most researchers now at least entertain the once heretical possibility that some animals can indeed think. At the same time, several of the apparent mental triumphs of our species-language, for instance-have turned out to owe as much to innate programming as to raw cognitive power.
This reversal of fortune for the status of human intellectual uniqueness follows nearly a century of academic neglect. The most devastating and long-lasting blow to the idea of animal intelligence stemmed from the 1904 incident of Clever Hans the horse. Oskar Pfungst, the researcher who unraveled the mystery of an animal that seemed as intelligent as many humans, described the situation vividly: "At last the thing so long sought for was apparently found: a horse that could solve arithmetical problems-an animal, which thanks to long training, mastered not merely rudiments, but seemingly arrived at a power of abstract thought which surpassed, by far, the highest expectation of the greatest enthusiast." Hans could also read and understand spoken German.
Talking with Alex: Logic and Speech in Parrots; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Pepperberg; 6 Page(s)
"Bye. I'm gonna go eat dinner. I'll see you tomorrow," I hear Alex say as I leave the laboratory each night. What makes these comments remarkable is that Alex is not a graduate student but a 22-year-old Grey parrot.
Parrots are famous for their uncanny ability to mimic human speech. Every schoolchild knows "Polly wanna cracker," but the general belief is that such vocalizations lack meaning. Alex's evening good-byes are probably simple mimicry. Still, I wondered whether parrots were capable of more than mindless repetition. By working with Alex over the past two decades, I have discovered that parrots can be taught to use and understand human speech. And if communication skills provide a glimpse into an animal's intelligence, Alex has proved that parrots are about as smart as apes and dolphins.
Can Animals Empathize? Yes; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Gallup, Jr., Povinelli; 5 Page(s)
Iused to tell students that no one ever heard, saw, tasted or touched a mind. There is no way for me to experience your experience, let alone that of a species other than my own. So although minds may exist, they fall outside the realm of science.
I have since changed my mind. A number of years ago I began to study whether primates could recognize themselves in a mirror. Most animals react to their images as if confronted by another animal. But chimpanzees, orangutans and, of course, humans learn that the reflections are representations of themselves-these creatures are objects of their own attention and are aware of their own existence. In the past three decades, I and other researchers have used the mirror test in various ways to explore self-awareness in animals. I conclude that not only are some animals aware of themselves but that such self-awareness enables these animals to infer the mental states of others. In other words, species that pass the mirror test are also able to sympathize, empathize and attribute intent and emotions in others-abilities that some might consider the exclusive domain of humans.
On Computational Wings: Rethinking the Goals of Artificial Intelligence; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Ford, Hayes; 6 Page(s)
Many philosophers and humanist thinkers are convinced that the quest for artificial intelligence (AI) has turned out to be a failure. Eminent critics have argued that a truly intelligent machine cannot be constructed and have even offered mathematical proofs of its impossibility. And yet the field of artificial intelligence is flourishing. "Smart" machinery is part of the information-processing fabric of society, and thinking of the brain as a "biological computer" has become the standard view in much of psychology and neuroscience.
While contemplating this mismatch between the critical opinions of some observers and the significant accomplishments in the field, we have noticed a parallel with an earlier endeavor that also sought an ambitious goal and for centuries was attacked as a symbol of humankind's excessive hubris: artificial flight. The analogy between artificial intelligence and artificial flight is illuminating. For one thing, it suggests that the traditional view of the goal of AI-to create a machine that can successfully imitate human behavior-is wrong.
Computers, Games and the Real World; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Ginsberg; 6 Page(s)
The world watched with considerable amazement in May 1997 as IBM's chess computer, Deep Blue, beat Garry Kasparov, the world champion, in a six-game match. With a machine's victory in this most cerebral of games, it seemed that a line had been crossed, that our measurements of ourselves might need tailoring.
The truth of who ultimately won and who lost, of course, is not so black-and-white. Kasparov played poorly, resigning a game that would have led to a draw early in the match and making a completely uncharacteristic error in the last game. And while chess-playing computers have been gaining an edge on their human competitors for some time, in many other games, such as Go and bridge, computer players remain relatively weak. Still, in checkers and Othello, machines have been the world's strongest players for years. Backgammon, like chess, is currently too close to call, whereas machines have a slight but definite edge in Scrabble.
Wearable Intelligence; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Pentland; 6 Page(s)
Research on intelligence is mostly about investigating how brains work or building intelligent machines or creating "smart" environments such as a house that can identify and track its occupants. But what about making people smarter? To accomplish this goal, one can consider biochemistry or bioimplants, but the easiest way to improve intelligence is by augmenting the items we wear all the time-glasses, wristwatches, clothes and shoes-with miniature computers, video displays, cameras and microphones. These high-tech "wearables," which are being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory, can extend one's senses, improve memory, aid the wearer's social life and even help him or her stay calm and collected.
The idea of increasing intelligence with wearable devices is very old. English physicist Robert Hooke wrote in 1665 (in the preface to Micrographia): "The next care to be taken, in respect of the Senses, is a supplying of their infirmities with Instruments, and as it were, the adding of artificial Organs to the natural.... And as Glasses have highly promoted our seeing... there may be found many mechanical inventions to improve our other senses of hearing, smelling, tasting and touching."
Is There Intelligent Life Out There?; Exploring Intelligence; Scientific American Presents; by Lemarchand; 9 Page(s)
The land lies sleeping under the enveloping mantle of night. Bright stars gleam like jewels from the velvet darkness. Beyond, in depths frightening in their sheer immensity, the Milky Way trails its tenuous gown of stardust across the heavens, and well beyond that billions of stars, galaxies and planets dance in a cosmic symphony.
From our earliest days, humans have strongly sensed that this endless majesty is too huge to be contemplated by a single intelligent species, and one thread that links the ancient Greek philosophers to modern space scientists is the desire to know whether other inhabited worlds exist. Vast and old beyond understanding, the universe forces us to ponder the ultimate significance of our tiny but exquisite life-bearing planet and to long for the knowledge that somewhere out there, someone like us is gazing toward the heavens and having similar thoughts.