"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Quantifying Intelligence 

I'm not a big fan of standardized measures of intelligence. I find they don't get at what's important, namely a person's ability to function, but instead substitute a nice-sounding statistic. And the tests are so totally biased towards 'Western' culture and value systems. /rant. Now on to the science!

Remember all those music lessons you hated as a kid? Well, it turn out they may have made you smarter. A new study of Canadian children showed that the ones who took music (voice or keyboard) lessons for a year had a small but significant, across-the-board IQ boost over control kids, who took no lessons and who took drama lessons. The drama kids, interestingly, got a unique boost in measures of adaptive social behavior (Fascinating, given the social standing of most 'drama kids' in high school!).

There's an old linguistic theory that says what language you speak affects your cognitive abilities. Annoyingly, there is now evidence to support this idea: researchers have found that people of the Pirahã tribe in Brazil, whose language has only the enumerations "one," "two," and "many," can't distinguish between larger groups of objects. It's really kindof creepy, and I almost hope the research turns out to be invalid. Because that's fucking scary.

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