Elite[s] and elitists, Cooper and Others

Otter Perry ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com
Wed Nov 5 12:50:50 EST 2003

Sally Odgers wrote:

> I hadn't heard of Stephen J Gould. Who he?

He was a biologist and a historian of science who wrote
a number of popular science books, mostly on evolution.
He was an expert
witness in at least one trial concerning teaching
Creationism in the public schools as an alternate
scientific theory [he were agin it].  His most famous
book is probably 'The Mismeasure of Man', about theories
of intelligence and race, and how those theories were
powerfully influenced by unconscious assumptions on the
part of the pale males who formulated them.  The main
lesson _I_ took away from that book is that you must
never, ever allow social measures to be based on
'science'.  Anyway, he was a majorly cool guy and he
died of cancer in his 50s [I think] not long ago.

I should mention that his personal take on the mechanism
of evolution -- punctuated equilibrium -- is not generally
accepted any more.

> Ditto, kids who do well in exams are not especially clever or virtuous.

My siblings and I were endowed with the ability to do
really, really well on tests formulated by ETS.  [For
those of you who live outside the range of ETS, they
do important standardized tests for getting into
university.]  People were always very impressed by our
scores, but unfortunately we didn't have all those other
qualities that make for success in university, like good
work habits, or, in my case, any work habits at all.

It did take me a while to figure out that being good at
these tests did not signify personal wonderfulness, and
I still can be occasionally caught privately gloating
over these scores, all of which I can still recite.

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