Ben’s World: On Negative Externalities.

Ben’s World: On Negative Externalities

by Ben J.

Externality- an effect of a decision by one set of parties on others who did not have a choice and whose interests were not taken into account. In short, an unwanted and unintended effect caused inadvertently by one’s actions.

This article is devoted to externalities of the negative kind. A classic example of a negative externality is The Club. The Club is a machine one places around one’s steering wheel that prevents the wheel from being turned more than a few inches unless The Club is unlocked. The Clubs intended use is to tell potential car thieves “This car is hard to steal.”

However, it has the negative externality of telling [potential car thief] that your neighbor’s car is a far better object of your kleptomania. This, my readers, is a negative externality.

Now, to the point, you see, back in October, I was wrong. I was horrified to find it. As I perused old comments, fondly remembering my discrepancies with Kit’s emoticonism, my agreements with Ivan and the Short Person (Miranda) about P.E., Ganging up on Mr. Molotov, and all that good stuff. When reading Cole’s article, What is “Smart,” I was horrified to see that I had said, blatantly and shortsightedly, that IQ had no bearing on intelligence, knowledge or wisdom. This would be true, but for the evils of externalities.

For those of you who don’t know, I barely made it into the gifted program. I scraped by with an IQ so close to the limit it boggles the mind of anyone who thinks that 1 is small. Actually, I scored a 128 on my IQ test, or just below the cut-off line for the gifted program. Fortunately, my interviewer noticed that I really, really hate tests, and didn’t actually pay any real attention to the IQ test. Consequently, she took the legal liberty of adding a modifier of three to my score, an act of understanding that has probably saved my social and intellectual life. So my new and improved IQ was 131. I had made it into the gifted program.

Now, imagine if that tester hadn’t done that. I would be just as intelligent, but so much less knowledgeable. If I hadn’t been put into the gifted program, I wouldn’t have learned algebra in second grade. I wouldn’t have been put through the ordeal of ThinkLab© (darned if I don’t remember it fondly.) And wouldn’t of looked into careers at age 8. In short, I would know far less. I would be, by my own standards, an idiot, who was forced to listen to books I already read three years ago in my fifth grade reading class. But instead I got my hands on The Riverside Shakespeare, and a college level trig book.

So you see, those crucial three points played a huge roll in my life. Now I am challenged…. I am given tasks I find ridiculously difficult…

(Editors note: there used to be some crazy looking math symbols here unfortunately they did not appear.)

Partitions Galore…

And enjoy it. I love the gifted program, and love being challenged. But if those three points hadn’t been added, I might easily have forsaken an intellectual life, even music. And so, I conclude, IQ isn’t an accurate form of measurement. But because people think it is, it does accurately predict knowledge. If we were to forsake IQ tests all together, and integrate children into the gifted program based off of their score on all tests and projects, versus a single test, that would become an equally effective and far more accurate method for measuring this thing called “intelligence”

Up next on Ben’s World: Mathematics for [all] equations!

To Francesca, Keanan, Elliot, Kate, Maddy and all of the others who experienced Ryan’s teaching at Monte Vista, do you agree? I think that IQ is only effective because people think it is… I think that it is a self-reliant, circular method of measurement that has no real bearing on life. Do you? Feedback is always appreciated.


10 thoughts on “Ben’s World: On Negative Externalities.

  1. Okay, I don’t get how this remotely relates to negative externalities; however, it is a good article.
    I disagree with your solution but agree with your idea. Your solution (basing “giftedness” off all test scores) is somewhat off, if someone simply doesn’t like tests or doesn’t apply themselves because the work is easy then test scores mean nothing. Furthermore, if someone does very well in a regular class because they work hard and it is challenging for them that doesn’t mean they should move to a gifted class. The reason the IQ test works is that when it works (which is often) it shows not only intelligence (capacity to learn) but creativity (ability to apply intellect). However, your idea (simply a full-proof IQ test) is a reasonable one, and one which is worth pursuing.

    • How does it not relate to externalities? And anyways, someone who doesn’t attempt to learn, or doesn’t like learning shouldn’t be in the gifted program. If that kid with an IQ of 150 is operating at the level of an average child, just because he doesn’t like being tested, why should he be allowed to waste the time of the people who do want to learn?

      Can I draw robots?

      And we could easily alter school curriculum to include the measuring of creativity.

      • Very interesting and important points brought up in both the original essay and the comments here. I’ll only touch on a point or two regarding school and higher IQs.

        1. Quantifying/measuring creativity isn’t that easy. I wish it were.
        2. There is not a direct correlation between IQ and desire to learn. Often I wish there were.

        At the same time, I heartily endorse the drawing of robots. Just so you know.

        –Co-head managing editor thingamabob person

      • I never said that the person in my example doesn’t like learning or that s/he operates at an average level. In fact this person is as eager to learn and operates on the same level as you or me, it’s just that this person doesn’t “test well” per se.

  2. I had Ryan back at Monte Vista. I had him for second through fifth grades and Andrea for first. I noticed that he tried to develop the investigative, creative parts of our minds more than Andrea- She seemed to focus on the intellectual more than anything else. And no, I don’t think the IQ system is worth anything in today’s reactions to giftedness. A relative of mine was a social worker for a long time, and she saw people who were legally genius- Yet they could hardly function on the level that those of average intelligence could. The connotations surrounding giftedness are induced by US and OUR FAMILY and THOSE THAT INTERACT WITH “GIFTEDS” ON A DAILY BASIS. It’s all a matter of opinion, and it’s more of a label than a mindset.

    Okay, I’m done now.

  3. Huh? I didn’t understand that, and I am a smart man. I was once a member of MENSA (an IQ club of sorts) until they asked me to quit coming to the meetings for double-dipping the avocado dip.

    It was at a MENSA meeting that I met a Houston Chronicle editorial columnist named Donald Morris. Donald Morris as an ex-CIA agent of some secret sort, and he told me that the U.S.S.R. (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was going to collapse in the near future. Russian experts were not able to predict the exact time, of course, but it was inevitable that it would happen, and with it the Cold War would change. I’ll never forget our fascinating conversation.

    Years later, Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, and he was probably briefed on this very important piece of intelligence. I am convinced that by that time the Soviet experts in the United States were able to inform him that the break-up of the Soviet Union would probably occur under the regime of Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet union.

    President Reagan then had the audacity to take full responsiblity for the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union by merely making a speech to the world in which he was famously quoted as saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall” This was a reference to the Berlin Wall which was built by the Soviet Union through the middle of Berlin, Germany, and which symbolized the Cold War and the great differences and animosities between the two Super Powers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

    Reagan is now being given credit by modern day Americans for leading the demise of a political enemy, an entire country. In actuality, the only thing President Reagan did was steal responsiblity for something in which he played no part, and thus he has also successfully usurped the very power of time to change the course of human history and given credit to himself.

    I believe I digressed.

  4. Interesting, though irrelevant.
    Also, I don’t think many intelligent people give Reagan credit for the demise of the USSR. In fact, all I give him credit for was having a thoroughly corrupt presidency.

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