Author Topic: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?  (Read 875 times)

Gloucester

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2016, 01:10:35 AM »
Yes but we all know Abraham Lincoln couldn't do math. It was not "7 years ago" at the time of his speech.

No, it was "Four score and seven years ago..."  I.e. "87 years ago:"

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Gloucester

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2016, 01:35:35 AM »
Yes but we all know Abraham Lincoln couldn't do math. It was not "7 years ago" at the time of his speech. So, we know merit does not qualify you to be apart of the elite class of citizens. Again, just look at Donald Trump with his "small loan of a million dollars and now people want him to be President. And even if he doesn't make it, he still has a huge celebrity reputation to turn back to and more money then we could imagine. And does he deserve it? No!

Is there some basic confusion between "meritocratic", "elitist" and "priviledged"?

A kid from lowly origins who is a maths genius can have merit and become (with opportunity) a member of an elite class of mathematicians - Srinivasa Ramanujan is such. He had merit in his person but no priviledge in his background. A personal "hero" of mine, Michael Farady, was the son of a poor blacksmith (as was my father) but became a great scientist.

And, yes xSP,  "who you know",  the path of "old boyism"  and nepotism, are possibly how some unqualified people get to high positions. Used to be a problem in the officer class in the armed forcers in the UK  but I think merit is now more likely to gain a commission.

So, out of the possible selection systems I still think "merit",  where synonymous with "ability" and/or "suitability", should be a prime selection criteria. But, there are few systems to search for and nurture such in all levels of society that I know of, in the UK at least.
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2016, 02:23:30 AM »
I'm just saying someone with no merit can get into positions where those with merit should be. I.e. Donald Trump. The Abraham Lincoln thing was just a joke.
But, uh...well there it is.
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Gloucester

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2016, 02:28:04 AM »
I'm just saying someone with no merit can get into positions where those with merit should be. I.e. Donald Trump. The Abraham Lincoln thing was just a joke.

Oh, OK. 

Think we are on the same song sheet re merit.
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Asmodean

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2016, 03:36:25 AM »
I do see the issue of near-do-wells getting positions well above their capacity, thus "cheapening" the entire thing. And yes, it's usually due to being born into a family where the willingness and the ability to pour resources into an offspring is present. That, and/or some influential old blue blood.

But here is where my point of view diverges from the more socialist types; I don't think that the solution is to make it easier for the worse-off near-do-wells to get the same position. I think we should give (as in, for free, and I will and do happily pour my tax money into it to make sure it stays that way) everyone equal footing off the line, then let life sort it all out.

I know this is not the case in more class-divided societies, but when the best school a king could go to is the same school a heroin junkie's kid attends, there is no real problem with the more financially secure of the two buying some shortcuts to wherever he wants to be; if Mr. Junkieson is a more capable individual and if he is willing to work his ass off for it, he can get to the same place and quite possibly get the well-off idiot's job and salary in the process.

This is the meritocracy in education and work life I subscribe to.
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Gloucester

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2016, 03:52:17 AM »
I do see the issue of near-do-wells getting positions well above their capacity, thus "cheapening" the entire thing. And yes, it's usually due to being born into a family where the willingness and the ability to pour resources into an offspring is present. That, and/or some influential old blue blood.

But here is where my point of view diverges from the more socialist types; I don't think that the solution is to make it easier for the worse-off near-do-wells to get the same position. I think we should give (as in, for free, and I will and do happily pour my tax money into it to make sure it stays that way) everyone equal footing off the line, then let life sort it all out.

I know this is not the case in more class-divided societies, but when the best school a king could go to is the same school a heroin junkie's kid attends, there is no real problem with the more financially secure of the two buying some shortcuts to wherever he wants to be; if Mr. Junkieson is a more capable individual and if he is willing to work his ass off for it, he can get to the same place and quite possibly get the well-off idiot's job and salary in the process.

This is the meritocracy in education and work life I subscribe to.

With you on that, Asmo, but is it just a pipe-dream?

With regards to resources in the family - I contend that a financially poor family that is rich on nurture and pragmatic wisdom can produce better citizens than many more advantaged families. Intelligence is a matter of genes, you can develop it along productive lines if it is there in the first place. Some of lowly origin are lucky enough to find a place that recognises their potential, but I wonder how many good minds go to "waste"?

On a BTW here I actually give support to our local infant/primary school despite the fact that it is a faith school. But I only support them in terms of science, having donated things like a cheapish lab type microscope that has a digital camera for use with a projector. Never going to "de-faith" the school but it is not rigidly churchy and if a few kids are turned on to science . . .
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Asmodean

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2016, 07:01:44 AM »
Different cultures, I suppose. That pipe dream does work quite well here. Oh, the communists still do complain about rich people buying this and that and creating divides between the kids... Well, no. A smart and curious kid of modest means will not lag behind some lazy entitled fuck with twenty tutors in our school system. Not because of the way the school system works, in any case. Certainly, some people buying their kids some brains can put those kids ahead of their intellectual peers (And this is in no way limited to intelligence; self-discipline, to name one, is a huge part of it too) but by the time they get their undergrad degree, most of that unevenness will be sorted out naturally.

We do complain a lot here in Scandinavia, as is the case everywhere, I suppose, but I do think that all in all, very little of our brain power is wasted, which did not itself opt to be so. Of course, I'm not including kids and/or/from families in serious trouble in that assessment. We have laws which do their utmost to prevent homelessness or food-insecurity. We also limit how much kids can work even if they want to and the black market for child labour is a tiny little thing. However, there are still kids out there who experience abuse, addiction, crime... You name it. It does suck when such things happen through no fault of their own, but they are not necessarily a sign of a broken system... Just that some people are fucking assholes, and that's that.

I think Norwegian education system is reasonably meritocratic. Well, from my arrogant heights, I do wish it did not try to drag quite as much dead weight along for the ride through secondary education, but... Beats the alternative.
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Davin

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2016, 07:05:32 AM »
BTW: many years ago my late sister worked in a unit in London for repeat hooky players and disruptive kids. She was only a dinner lady but that meant she was seen as less of an authorative enemy.  She was depressed that most of the kids were really intelligent and wanted to be stretched academically and physically but were held down to the progress of the lowest and slowest learners. They were bored and frustrated rather than criminally inclined.
I don't understand this, when I was bored in college classes, I learned other things on my own. I mean that's mostly how it worked when I was growing up home schooled, but it just seems like such a simple solution to this problem. There is a library, and now there are many free online sources and courses, there is no reason a child's thirst for knowledge should be stifled. Instead of bemoaning the "slow learners," it could be used as an educational opportunity to teach the children how to learn new things on their own. That's a skill that will serve them much better than learning how to shift the burden of their edification onto other people.

We are talking 1960s London here were there were local libraries (that I haunted from age 10) but no libraries in council run primary or secondary schools. This was an area still coming out of a wartime economy,  so, perhaps my anecodote is no longer fully relevant.
That doesn't make sense to me. Like at all. I don't see how this is a response to what I said.

Quote from: Gloucester
However,  there are still problems, still poor parenting, still teachers disillusioned by poor funding and less than sensible assessment and targetting schemes. This can result in poor motivation in kids who are possibly tempted to use their intelligence for less than positive purposes. OK, perhaps most of us had some sort of positive internal motivation, not every kid with a high IQ, and maybe a poor patience, quotient has the right kind of motivation.
My parents weren't very good, it was more of a lack of effort problem than anything else. I also think people put too much weight on IQ, it's a highly flawed assessment of mental ability because it seems to test knowledge more than learning ability. When I talk to people, I find that an active refusal to learn is a bigger hindrance than whatever they've scored on an IQ test. People who refuse to consider if they are wrong, look far more stupid in real world situations than those who can take a more objective view of themselves. Humility is far more useful in the real world than IQ.

Quote from: Gloucester
Take a look/listen to some of the talks by Ken Robinson

https://youtu.be/fAb9PMs8bEg
I don't see why I should.

Education needs an overhaul, the longer we go down the path of putting testing over learning, the more it's going to hurt when it breaks. I think we can now see the results of that in how people consume and disseminate information. Kids are and have been taught from early ages that the tests are what is important, and the tests reduce complex problems down to multiple choice or t/f answers. A problem of both the government and society's desire to be able to quantify learning, as well as the lack of man power to do better forms of assessments. But that's beside the point I'm trying to form. So now we see headlines, tweets, and most astonishingly, arguments taking place with short sentence formats very reminiscent of what you'd find as the answers to multiple choice questions instead of treating complex issues like they are complex. I figure that the path education has taken in the last 60 years is at least partially to blame.

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Davin

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2016, 07:16:08 AM »
One of our revered early documents claims that "all men are created equal".  I am sad to say that that is not a realistic assessment. We are not all equal in intellectual capacity or in motivational capacity.  Early in our American history it was a given that the nation should be ruled by the ruling class who were thought to be the  more capable  of the genera l populence.
I take the "all men are created equal" statement to be less a statement of actual fact, and more a statement of utility. I take issue with "created" obviously, but moving past that I think it's both true and useless to accept that we are all not equal. But it does us no good because we have no means to be able to assess our values objectively. And we have tried many ways, many times. We still keep trying. And I don't even see the point even if we eventually figure it out. So I take the statement to mean that considering us all equal, is the most useful way to value each other, so that we can move on to solving real problems.

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Asmodean

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2016, 07:36:37 AM »
I do not consider people to be equal. Young children, yes. People, no.

I can not ski as fast as an Olympic skier. I can do differential equations with more ease than the janitor. My current girlfriend is better in bed than my ex was. Most men have penises. Most women do not.

There is a difference between the umbrella term "equality" and equal rights and opportunities on conceptual level. There are also subtleties within those concepts.

All in all, your objective value to me is the measure of your contribution to my overall well-being. Your objective value to the society, humanity or the like is your contribution to its well-being. Your objective value to the Universe..? Just shy of zero. I don't think it's at all useless to accept that we are not, in fact, all equal. Perhaps if we embrace and celebrate that fact, we can diversify our respective societies in a more efficient and productive manner.
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Davin

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #25 on: November 04, 2016, 07:52:48 AM »
I do not consider people to be equal. Young children, yes. People, no.

I can not ski as fast as an Olympic skier.
Can you do other things better than an Olympic skier can? I can program better than most people, but that doesn't make me a better person in total.

Quote from: Asmodean
I can do differential equations with more ease than the janitor.
Can you do everything better than a janitor?

Quote from: Asmodean
My current girlfriend is better in bed than my ex was. Most men have penises. Most women do not.
The point I am trying to make, is that while we may be able to assess and compare some abilities fairly well, when we try to assess an entire person against another entire person (which is not only a time consuming process, but also very likely to be highly skewed by biases), we cannot accurately score them up and see what the total value is as to whether they are equal or not.

Quote from: Asmodean
There is a difference between the umbrella term "equality" and equal rights and opportunities on conceptual level. There are also subtleties within those concepts.

All in all, your objective value to me is the measure of your contribution to my overall well-being. Your objective value to the society, humanity or the like is your contribution to its well-being. Your objective value to the Universe..? Just shy of zero. I don't think it's at all useless to accept that we are not, in fact, all equal. Perhaps if we embrace and celebrate that fact, we can diversify our respective societies in a more efficient and productive manner.
Being equal does not equal being the same.

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Recusant

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2016, 08:18:07 AM »
Just a minor historical point here: The equality asserted in the Declaration of Independence and echoed in the Gettysburg Address was nothing more or less than equality before the law. It doesn't have anything to do with intellectual or any other sort of ability, or worthiness.

Quote
The written law does not look at one's race but at the crime committed; the sentencing should not be dependent on the race of the convict. Even though Thomas Jefferson owned slaves to his death, I believe this is what Jefferson meant when he said "all men are created equal" — that Americans are entitled to equal justice under the law.

[source]

Quote
“All men are created equal.” This phrase has stirred hearts around the world for more than 200 years. It is one of the values most associated with the United States, but nowhere is the language of equality among individuals found in the Constitution. It comes instead from the Declaration of Independence, the document that signaled the intentions of the founding generation. Not until after the Civil War did the nation’s governing charter include equality before the law as a constitutional guarantee, when the Fourteenth Amendment promised, “Nor shall any State. . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, few people believed in social or economic equality. The document’s language did not mean the founders intended to level society. Like others of their day, they accepted upper and lower classes, or social hierarchy, as natural. What they desired was an equal opportunity for people to make the most of their abilities and to stand equal before the law.

[source (PDF)]
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
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Asmodean

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #27 on: November 04, 2016, 08:23:13 AM »
Can you do other things better than an Olympic skier can? I can program better than most people, but that doesn't make me a better person in total.
Probably pretty much everything not related to sports, if their media personae is anything to go by, but that is quite beside the point. Equality I'm talking about does not deal with "better" or "worse," it deals with "similar" or "dissimilar." I'm pretty sure that is true for what I think the equality you are talking about is, too. On the largest, most general umbrella level, it is a useless construct when examining comparatively tiny objects, as I have tried to demonstrate with my Universe example.

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Can you do everything better than a janitor?
I am reasonably certain that I can perform most functions better than that one, yes. Your point?

Quote
The point I am trying to make, is that while we may be able to assess and compare some abilities fairly well, when we try to assess an entire person against another entire person (which is not only a time consuming process, but also very likely to be highly skewed by biases), we cannot accurately score them up and see what the total value is as to whether they are equal or not.
Of course, we can. We just don't. Again, I think we are talking past each other. There is a meaning to the term "equality" which pertains to having equal rights, social standing... That kind of things. I think that is the equality you are talking about. What I am talking about, spurred on by your initial proposition, is the more mathematical meaning of the word, pertaining to the comparability of the operands. To put it slightly "out there," A and B are equal systems if their output for the same input is similar within a narrow margin of error. Output of what, you may ask. Well, whatever it is you are trying to compare.

If you want to narrow the term, then I accept your playing field to be a good and valid one. If not, then I maintain that if you want to play with umbrellas, mine is the shiniest.

Quote
Being equal does not equal being the same.
No. Sameness is not what I am talking about either. In the physical world in which we live, if A is the same as B, then A is B. If A is, in fact, not B, then it has to be different. Occupy different coordinates within a common coordinate system for instance. Similar and dissimilar is not strongly synonymous with same and different. The latter is a special case of the former.

At the end of the day, as Recusant has ever-so-indirectly pointed out, equality is a construct that depends on certain variables for its viability. Basically, you have to define its boundaries when talking about it. Without those, it's just an empty word.
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Davin

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #28 on: November 04, 2016, 08:56:20 AM »
Can you do other things better than an Olympic skier can? I can program better than most people, but that doesn't make me a better person in total.
Probably pretty much everything not related to sports, if their media personae is anything to go by, but that is quite beside the point. Equality I'm talking about does not deal with "better" or "worse," it deals with "similar" or "dissimilar." I'm pretty sure that is true for what I think the equality you are talking about is, too. On the largest, most general umbrella level, it is a useless construct when examining comparatively tiny objects, as I have tried to demonstrate with my Universe example.

Quote
Can you do everything better than a janitor?
I am reasonably certain that I can perform most functions better than that one, yes. Your point?

Quote
The point I am trying to make, is that while we may be able to assess and compare some abilities fairly well, when we try to assess an entire person against another entire person (which is not only a time consuming process, but also very likely to be highly skewed by biases), we cannot accurately score them up and see what the total value is as to whether they are equal or not.
Of course, we can. We just don't. Again, I think we are talking past each other. There is a meaning to the term "equality" which pertains to having equal rights, social standing... That kind of things. I think that is the equality you are talking about. What I am talking about, spurred on by your initial proposition, is the more mathematical meaning of the word, pertaining to the comparability of the operands. To put it slightly "out there," A and B are equal systems if their output for the same input is similar within a narrow margin of error. Output of what, you may ask. Well, whatever it is you are trying to compare.

If you want to narrow the term, then I accept your playing field to be a good and valid one. If not, then I maintain that if you want to play with umbrellas, mine is the shiniest.
We are talking about people, yes? We are not talking about individual skills some people possess compared to individual skills other people possess, but a person as a whole compared to another person as a whole. That is not an umbrella term. When a person says that one person is equal or unequal to another, they are comparing the people as a whole. I understand that individual skills vary, but that is not the subject of the conversation in a statement like, "all people are created equal." Otherwise if the statement were something like, "all people's skills are equal," then I'd agree with your points. But we're not, we're talking about people as whole individuals, unless you want to change the subject.

Quote from: Asmodean
Quote
Being equal does not equal being the same.
No. Sameness is not what I am talking about either. In the physical world in which we live, if A is the same as B, then A is B. If A is, in fact, not B, then it has to be different. Occupy different coordinates within a common coordinate system for instance. Similar and dissimilar is not strongly synonymous with same and different. The latter is a special case of the former.
The purpose of this response doesn't make sense to me.

Quote from: Asmodean
At the end of the day, as Recusant has ever-so-indirectly pointed out, equality is a construct that depends on certain variables for its viability. Basically, you have to define its boundaries when talking about it. Without those, it's just an empty word.
Like all terms.

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #29 on: November 04, 2016, 09:39:41 AM »
I do not consider people to be equal. Young children, yes. People, no.

True, people have different skill sets, experiences and potential, and whether that potential is realised is up to the individual and the situation they find themselves in. People are not equal in this regard, and I don't think that wanting people to be equal in their attributes would be the way to go either. A complex society can thrive when there is difference.

Some people say that putting in the work is an equalizer for those who are not as intellectually gifted or have the right credentials and quaifications, which IMO only works if you have access to opportunity. In a country or time when there is little of that then meritocracy is just part of an utopia. Such a place is another idea that's nice on paper but just doesn't exist.

Unless it's Norway, apparently. :P 

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