Biology G — General Botany Prerequisites: Biology G This course is designed to satisfy the major requirements for an Associate or Baccalaureate degree in the Biological Sciences. Biology G complements Biology G and G as the third of three in a sequence of survey courses. Biology G and Mathematics G or G or G or G or G, or Mathematics Placement Assessment A survey of extant living organisms including physiological and anatomical adaptations of organisms in response to their environment.
Not good for growth mindset. I sometimes blog about research into Assessment introductory awareness of eq and human intelligence. A lot of people find this pretty depressing. This is important and I want to discuss it eventually, but not now. What I want to discuss now is people who feel personally depressed.
For example, a comment from last week: Right now I basically feel like pond scum. I hear these kinds of responses every so often, so I should probably learn to expect them. They seem to me precisely backwards. But first, a comparison: These people get into some pretty acrimonious debates.
Overweight people, and especially people who feel unfairly stigmatized for being overweight, tend to cluster on the biologically determined side. And although not all believers in complete voluntary control of weight are mean to fat people, the people who are mean to fat people pretty much all insist that weight is voluntary and easily changeable.
And the same is true of mental illness. She needs to just pick herself up and get on with her life. One more example of this pattern. There are frequent political debates in which conservatives or straw conservatives argue that financial success is the result of hard work, so poor people are just too lazy to get out of poverty.
Then a liberal or straw liberal protests that hard work has nothing to do with it, success is determined by accidents of birth like who your parents are and what your skin color is et cetera, so the poor are blameless in their own predicament. The obvious pattern is that attributing outcomes to things like genes, biology, and accidents of birth is kind and sympathetic.
I can come up with a few explanations for the sudden switch, but none of them are very principled and none of them, to me, seem to break the fundamental symmetry of the situation.
Consider for a moment Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He grew up in poverty in a one-room house in small-town India. He taught himself mathematics by borrowing books from local college students and working through the problems on his own until he reached the end of the solveable ones and had nowhere else to go but inventing ways to solve the unsolveable ones.
There are a lot of poor people in the United States today whose life circumstances prevented their parents from reading books to them as a child, prevented them from getting into the best schools, prevented them from attending college, et cetera.
And pretty much all of those people still got more educational opportunities than Ramanujan did. And from there we can go in one of two directions.
First, we can say that a lot of intelligence is innate, that Ramanujan was a genius, and that we mortals cannot be expected to replicate his accomplishments. Or second, we can say those poor people are just not trying hard enough.
I hear that pays pretty well. But the very phrase tells us where we should classify that belief. I got a perfect score in Verbal, and a good-but-not-great score in Math. In Math, I just barely by the skin of my teeth scraped together a pass in Calculus with a C.
Every time I won some kind of prize in English my parents would praise me and say I was good and should feel good. My teachers would hold me up as an example and say other kids should try to be more like me.
Every time I was held up as an example in English class, I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. To praise me for any of it seemed and still seems utterly unjust. I know there were people who worked harder than I did in English, who poured their heart and soul into that course — and who still got Cs and Ds.
Meanwhile, there were some students who did better than I did in Math with seemingly zero effort.
Especially if I knew they were lazing around on the beach while I was poring over a textbook. I tend to think of social norms as contracts bargained between different groups. In the case of attitudes towards intelligence, those two groups are smart people and dumb people.
Since I was both at once, I got to make the bargain with myself, which simplified the bargaining process immensely. It was all genetic luck of the draw either way. In the meantime, I would try to press as hard as I could to exploit my strengths and cover up my deficiencies.
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