Flynn and Chomsky on history and creativity

You might have heard of the “Flynn” effect, or the fact that our average IQ is rising steadily. James Flynn says that if we all travelled back in time 1oo years ago, we would have an average IQ of 130, whereas if you transported past generations to today, they would average 70. Why is this?

Well, mostly because of education, but also because of nutrition, environment, and conquering of diseases. The schooling argument has one ace up its sleeve – only 3% of the population 100 years ago were white collar professional types like teachers and doctors, whereas today, around 30% are.

So why are we still stumped by things like bad decisions in politics? Flynn, who is a moral philosopher, not a psychologist, says that we need to not only be smart, but also study history in order to make good decisions. Case in point – what happened to the previous 5 powers that invaded Afghanistan?

 

Chomsky also provides an interesting look at how “experimental” Dewey type schools shaped his education, and how constructivism should be tempered with boundaries and limits. In reference to creativity, Chomsky sides with the classical view of artistic merit, that mastery of a traditional form is required for truly creative expression. Language, he says, shows how rules and limits actually provide the basis for the creative use of words.

 

 

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