Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Issue of Intelligence

In Outliers Gladwell addresses the question of IQ during the discussion of success and builds a case for it being secondary to other factors such as social skills and “social intelligence.” He gives several examples of people who did not becoming successful in spite of incredible IQ levels because of their socioeconomic class and how that affected the parenting they received. Remember the man who just couldn’t communicate well enough to jump the hurdles of academic rules and now, although he thinks and writes with his amazing level of ability, he is not a college graduate and therefore cannot get published? Juxtaposed to him was Robert Oppenheimer who was given the responsibility for the Manhattan Project even though earlier he committed acts that were illegal and hinted at mental illness. He, however had social intelligence and was able to function and achieve while many highly intelligent people cannot.

IQ has been a controversial subject for many years and is hotly debated; Gladwell seems to make a good case for why it does not guarantee success in life or that the individual will be able to use their ability that was the result of a test they took as a child. Maybe some people just have goals that don’t necessitate using the limits of their ability.

How do you stand on this issue?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Outliers Continued: Redefining Success

A few thoughts for discussion from the blog’s comments and my own curiosity about our society and success.

Someone else asked about success and happiness. It is obvious the subject is much larger than the aspects Gladwell covers but it is a great issue to discuss.

The question of success at the expense of others by people such as Bernard Madoff, or even Carnegie and Rockefeller whom Gladwell discusses in Outliers, is something to think about and a participant has mentioned it. Gladwell doesn’t discuss this in the book because he’s discussing particular kinds of success out of all people who have achieved what society has labeled successful. These type of people don’t seem to have any birth, place, or family advantages as the people discussed in Outliers did but they seem to have another trait in common - greed and a disregard for others.

I propose that in the 21st century our possessions define us and we have to achieve financial success to maintain a level of income, or rather credit, to support our habits. What if we weren’t constantly updating our personal technological devices and equipment? What if most people could only consider replacement when the old stuff completely died and then they had to save or spend savings which would often affect their retirement years? Planned obsolesce has turnover phases of months for some electronics.

Books and TV shows on organizing our “stuff” are extremely popular. There are at least three TV shows that have been running for several seasons and a previous one which ended after several seasons. Could we be happier if we were forced to live lives with fewer possessions and redefine success?

Debbie Pecora