in some sense, people teach chess, math, Spanish, grammar, history, programming, formal and symbolic logic, chemistry, physics, biology, how our government works, how to cook.
they have school classes on these things. they have books explaining it. i can remember being taught about these things in the past.
by contrast, i cannot remember anyone ever teaching me:
- how to understand what a sentence means
- how to figure out if an argument is true or false
- what an argument IS (and how to decide if X is an argument for Y)
- how to decide if something is a non sequitur
- how to decide if X implies Y
- how to read sentences that don't not have double, triple or quadruple negatives.
people do teach relevant things. reading what the words are is relevant to understanding a written sentence. understanding !!X is relevant to double negatives. but using it is kinda up to you. people also do teach you to avoid using double negatives, and warn they are confusing.
people teach syllogisms. but that's a bad way to think about most arguments. it can make things worse!
people get examples. lots. kids hear many sentences. and they get information about what the sentence was about. like the parent says something including "pancakes" and then 20 minutes later breakfast is served. repeatedly.
i think a lot of how people understand sentences is actually like that. they map the sentence to: "blah blah something about pancakes" and think " cool i understand him". and when you're 3, hey, that's pretty good! success! but when you're 13 or 33, that's bad. but the 33 yo actually interprets tons of stuff that way and muddles through life.
and one of the things that makes it hard is the people talking are as dumb as you. so they say some actual specific words. but they don't know what words mean all that well either. so all they even MEANT is "blah blah something about pancakes". or maybe they had something more complicated in their head, but it didn't match the words they used anyway. that's not universal (even with dumb people) but it's common. a lot of times, "blah blah something about pancakes" is about as good as you can do because the speaker actually didn't use the right words to communicate more. if you try to listen to the details of what he said, and interpret them, you'll just misunderstand him!
people are really bad at explaining or teaching anything they find "self-evident" or super super obvious. that's part of the issue.
Rand, Popper and DD are great at this stuff, but their books don't teach it. they explain more advanced stuff.
anyway, i was thinking there are these subjects people know how to teach (often quite badly). and subjects they basically don't teach at all. and i don't think the other ones are impossible to teach btw, people just don't know how much or don't do it or really really suck at it.
some of the stuff they don't teach is basically the kinda stuff that IQ is about. people don't know how to teach IQ. (btw there's also other stuff they don't like teaching like swear words or sex stuff).
in more Popperian terms people need to do steps like:
1) understand, conceptually, what the problem they are trying to solve is.
and ppl get that wrong all the time. and no one really teaches it as a general skill. or knows how to. it is taught in specific ways, like they'll teach you about a particular category of chemistry problem and how to think about it and what to do with it.
2) brainstorm solutions
how do you brainstorm? there's infinite things you could come up with. which ones should you? how do you know? this isn't really taught. isn't not very important though, just don't get stuck here. the initial brainstorming can be shitty ideas, and that gets fixed in step 4.
3) criticize the brainstormed stuff
here is where you have to actually figure out what kinda stuff to target. you both think of attributes the ideas/examples/solutions/whatever should not have for some reason ("let's not use an animal example b/c ppl are confused about how animals differ from humans. an inanimate object will be clearer") and also attributes it should have ("i want a solution that leaves me with at least as much money as i had before, so i'm not gonna do X or Y").
4) judgement, like which criticisms apply to which ideas.
this is partly hard just in a basic way. if trait Z is bad, ok, well, which ideas have trait Z and which don't? how do you figure that out if you don't already know it?
and it's partly hard in a more complicated way b/c you don't wanna just throw out a bunch of ideas b/c of a dumb criticism. you also need to be judging the criticisms too and making counter-criticisms. that's so complicated it actually kinda ruins my attempt to make this a linear step-by-step process. i just threw it in here.
5) brainstorm variants
so the initial brainstorming can just be rather random crap. that's fine. i don't think any healthy adult actually has much trouble with that, even if they can't really say how they do it.
but this part is harder. where you're coming up with ideas that meet criteria you had from (3). it's like, how do i change the solution to leave me with more money? what are some inanimate objects? (ok that one is easy, but some are harder).
one reason people get stuck on (2) is they already know some criteria of criticism. so they skip (2) and do (3) first, and then move on. that's fine. no problem at all. it just doesn't count as being stuck on (2) if they are really stuck on (5).
6) judge when to stop
when is the idea good enough? how much more should you think of criticism and brainstorm better solutions? this isn't taught. people guess wildly and sometimes make corrections to their policies (like they realize to spend more time than normal for important stuff).
btw, i have not taught it to you here. this is summarizing and describing it. it doesn't actually teach you how to actually do it. it gives you some hints from which you might figure it out yourself. and in some sense that's all we ever give students. but there are lots of topics where the hints are way better and include actual explanations of how to do something. my 6 point list is not what i'd consider teaching it in the usual sense. it's talking about it and it may be helpful, but it really leaves a lot up to you to figure out how actually do the things i mention.
and there's other stuff besides the 6 things on my list and the points earlier like about non sequiturs and figuring out what's an argument for what and how that works and what would and wouldn't be a counter argument. but like, these are basic things people are bad at, and it's the kinda thing that matters to IQ, and people don't teach it.
it's also hard to get ppl to try to learn it. people on FI want to do things like learn Objectivism when they can barely read sentences, you know? they don't sit there and go over the basics.
part of the issue is people can read sentences. 90% of the time! but it's like, even a little idea involves using some basic skills a bunch of times. 50 tiny little basic things might go into 1 idea. so even if you're 99% reliable and doing the basic stuff right, tons of your ideas will be wrong! you need to be able to do the basic stuff with a VERY good success rate or you get totally overwhelmed with errors when you try to build complex mental structures out of millions of basic components. but people generally don't like practicing stuff they get right over 80% of the time. they don't like trying to go from 99% to 99.999%. and besides being HIGHLY reliable at the basics, people also need to be FAST at them. if you're going to build complex mental structures out of a million little pieces, you better be able to do most of the little pieces in well under a second. but people also don't like practicing to get faster at stuff they are already fast at. they don't like trying to go from 2 seconds to .2 seconds to .02 seconds.
morality is another thing people are bad at teaching. there are people who are good at explaining it like Ayn Rand. but like, i watched Pinocchio (the old disney movie) and the cricket (his conscience for some reason) gives Pinocchio a lecture on morality. it's something about avoiding temptation and doing the right thing. it's completely incoherent and Pinocchio doesn't understand. part of the actual plot is this incoherent moralizing that is not understood. and then Pinocchio is immediately thrust out into the world to face temptations to do other stuff besides go to school. and the movie illustrates, in a magical, exaggerated way with 2 unrealistic examples, how nice sounding things can be dangerous and he should have resisted temptation and gone to school.
i think this fits children's actual experiences pretty well: incoherent verbal moral advice they don't understand at home, followed by being thrust into the world totally unprepared.
a lot of how the Bible teaches morality is with stories, too. and there are other old stories with moral content, like fairytales.