Regular readers of this blog know I hate biased science. I complained about National Geographic after one of their articles described how two male seahorses "inadvertently" had sex. (Somehow they just knew the critters had failed to notice that their partners also had dicks.) I complained after March of the Penguins called the critters monogamous, despite the fact that when they return to their breeding grounds each year they always take new partners, whether or not they see last year's spouse in the crowd. I complained when scientists decided that rather than being bisexual, squid simply don't have a sexual orientation at all.
And now, according to the latest Science journal, social psychologists in Canada have designed a math test that's not going to hurt anyone's self-esteem. Because the answers aren't right or wrong: they're "analytic" or "intuitive."
Here's an example:
[S]tudents were asked this question: "A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?" The intuitive answer — 10 cents — would be wrong.
Yes, obviously this answer is wrong. If the ball is $0.10, the bat is $1.10, and their total cost is $1.20. Instead of just saying this answer is wrong, though, these guys are creating a new, less stupid type of wrong. I mean, if somebody said a ball cost $4.78, clearly they'd be an idiot. This ten cent-ball answer, though, is apparently sort of understandable, so these guys are categorizing it as better than idiotic but just slightly different from correct.
Why? Gosh, no reason, really. Oh, okay: maybe because the people who give wrong answers are more apt to believe in God than the people who give correct answers. Without this new "intuitive" category, they'd have to say religious people are dumb.
And even if it's a fact, you just can't say that, right?
I think this pandering to idiots has always pissed me off because I took refuge in intelligence. I came up with theories about the world, and I assumed smart people would back me up. Instead, smart Christians decided what the the world needed to hear, and they wrote their results backward from that.
In short, the people who were supposed to help us ended up betraying us. It was the worst kind of betrayal, because the world is already designed for idiots. They're everywhere -- talking to friends in the middle of the sidewalks, counting out their change at the cash register, reading text messages at the top of the escalator. Now we have to rewrite truth to comfort them? Prayer works! Abortion causes leprosy! Dogs understand what you're saying! A dude with a degree is out there confirming everything you want to know.
It's unbearable. It's ridiculous. The smart person forces himself to tolerate stupidity -- even in smart people! -- but also searches and eventually finds one small bright light of consolation.
At least there'll be somebody around to defend me the next time I inadvertently have sex.