The Intellectual Pinnacle

Or at least what the majority thinks…

More than a month ago, I wrote of my participation in a Foreign Policy survey regarding the world’s top intellectuals of this age. Upon checking FP last week again, the results were in and 2 of those I voted made it, (Chomsky and Gore.) Yup the pretty obvious ones in the list made it.

More of the results here.

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Intellectual Influences

I encountered this post at Inquirer Current this week. It links to Foreign Policy‘s survey of the Top 100 Public Intellectuals (subject to a simple criteria really) among its readers so out of interest, I participated.

One is allowed to choose 5 intellectuals so I opted for:

  • Lee Kuan Yew – The first PM of Singapore and still remains a very influential politician there after stepping down in 1990.
  • Jared Diamond – The UCLA professor won the pulitzer prize winner for his work “Guns Germs and Steel.” Also worth noting is his work “Collapse” which continues the analysis of societies from where the GGS left off.
  • Al Gore – The former U.S. VP under the Clinton administration hardly needs mention as the Nobel Peace Price winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has promoted wide awareness on climate change.
  • Noam Chomsky – I first encountered his name for his work as a linguist when I was studying context free languages (CFL) in Automata Theory. Apart from his works in linguistics, the MIT professor has also been known for expressing his political views.
  • Thomas Friedman – The journalist and columnist authored “The World is Flat,” something which qualifies as a refreshing read for IT professionals.

Their biographies can be read here and those interested have until May 15 to cast their votes.

On a side note, that’s a pretty effective voting facility they have there.

Liberals vs. Conservatives: The Neurologists’ Take

I have a pint of attention for neurological study results not only because I’m such an information junkie but also because the subjects placed under study here are oftentimes trivially interesting. A year or two ago for example, I encountered a curious finding on how the sarcastic’s brain functions.

So when early this week this PDI article reported on a certain political scientist of New York University, David Amodio and his colleagues’ endeavor of placing the liberal and the conservative under the microscope, this libertarian-leftie decided that it had to be worth the attention. To summarize they had 43 right-handed subjects tested. The computer tests were done to evaluate the subject’s response when the need to change routines arises and the article goes on with the results:

The match-up was unmistakable: respondents who had described themselves as liberals showed “significantly greater conflict-related neural activity” when the hypothetical situation called for an unscheduled break in routine.

Conservatives, however, were less flexible, refusing to deviate from old habits “despite signals that this … should be changed.”

Interpretations differ however. One suggestion is that it may mean that “liberals are nimble-minded and conservatives rigid and stubborn.” Another one suggests that “wishy-washy liberals don’t stick to their guns, while conservatives are steadfast and loyal.”

No wonder I seem to think about things too much. 😀

How Nerd Are You II

It might be a little OC on my part but I needed to know how much a new laptop and inkjet printer would affect my Nerd score a long time ago. Instinctively it should go up but by how much, I just found the time to find out yesterday.

It was 34 previously but after a few minutes and mouse clicks:

I am nerdier than 45% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

45 and nearer to the median and good enough for me. Guess I’ve been living a pretty normal (or balanced) life or I’m just good at subconsciously denying the fact that my line of work’s one for the geeks.

Sugar and Toys: An Educational Perspective

A month after the commencement of the 2007-08 school year in the Philippines, the same ol’ hindrances to child learning can be heard: lack of classrooms and facilities, low wages for public school teachers which compel a lot of them to seek greener pasteurs elsewhere, the great number of children starting elementary but not even reaching high school, the perennial rise in the cost of private school education and a whole slew of other problems in the education system of this country.

On Computers

Delving on the problem of facilities, I think that the education sector should take a look at computer literacy more closely however. Sure there are organizations and institutions which try to help schools provide decent machines to every children but the ratio’s still far-fetched from 1:1.

I’d like to see low-cost laptops, called the XO machines, make its way to our public schools here though. These machines, (shown in the picture here which was taken from the article as well,) are part of the One Laptop Per Child project for this year. The project itself was the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte having started it at the Media Lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2 years ago before turning it into a nonprofit endeavor.

The relatively affordable alternative featured early this year’s comparatively more affordable at $150, (less than Php 7,500,) and given its features, (small size, lack of high specifications compared to other laptops and different terminologies and practices arising from the usage of its OS, Sugar,) it should be interesting to see how its usage pans out among the students. Since Sugar is a “slim” version of the Linux OS, it should be also be interesting as well how computer schools and colleges which place so much emphasis on the Microsoft way would react if such thing happens here.

Negroponte in fact said that he deliberately wanted to avoid giving children computers they might someday use in an office because the laptop was intended to stimulate education more successfully than other endeavors have done before.

On Toys

Another instructional material lacking in public schools are educational toys. As emphasized by Professor Sally McGregor of University College London’s Institute of Child Health in this article mentioning the research of an international group of experts on educational underachievement in developing countries:

Research over decades in Jamaica and other countries has shown that women with only primary school-level education and a few home made toys can be trained to make a significant difference in the education, intelligence and mental health disadvantaged children.

Such projects, encouraging learning through play, had led to children’s attaining higher IQs and getting better reading skills…

Also according to Professor McGregor:

It was well known that the ability of children to do well at school depended, to some extent, on their IQ level when they arrived in reception class.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

Paying a visit to other blogs sure pays off in one way or another. At least in this case, it gets me a help at squeezing into this blog much-needed breaks from all those serious stuff I’m want to writing about, (well it still does have something to do with intelligence but what can I do? The temporary shift in tone here was quite a relief.)

Anyway a look at AR’s blog got me answering another one of those intelligence measuring pages. So after a few clicks, here’s what it came up with for me.


Your Dominant Intelligence is Logical-Mathematical Intelligence


You are great at finding patterns and relationships between things.
Always curious about how things work, you love to set up experiments.You need for the world to make sense – and are good at making sense of it.You have a head for numbers and math … and you can solve almost any logic puzzle.You would make a great scientist, engineer, computer programmer, researcher, accountant, or mathematician.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?