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Brain Scans May Help Guide Career Choice

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the can't-see-past-my-metal-plate dept.

Businesses 133

GisG writes "General aptitude tests and specific mental ability tests are important tools for vocational guidance. Researchers are now asking whether performance on such tests is based on differences in brain structure, and if so, can brain scans be helpful in choosing a career? In a first step, researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Research Notes have investigated how well eight tests used in vocational guidance correlate to gray matter in areas throughout the brain." The researcher's (provisional) paper is available as a PDF.

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Asimov's Profession (2, Interesting)

freefrag (728150) | about 4 years ago | (#32993418)

Sounds like the first step towards Asimov's future of being educated by tape, because some people's brain patterns are suited to different professions.

Re:Asimov's Profession (5, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 years ago | (#32993530)

I hope so, America's one size fits all education until college isn't that great imo, many European countries at least section you off by scholastic aptitude after middleschool (don't worry, there are plenty room for latebloomers to achieve).

Not everyone will become or even wants to be an astronaut and are perfectly happy as a mechanic or something.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about 4 years ago | (#32993856)

When I was in grade school there were 3 sections that the kids were split into. Regular kids, slower kids, advanced kids (I forget the exact names now is has been over 30 years). It was not a one size fits all then and it still is not. Maybe NY does things different.

Re:Asimov's Profession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993932)

Regular kids, slower kids, advanced kids

They're still all expected to graduate and go to college. He's talking about sectioning them into college-bound kids and shop class. Some of the schools over there even start apprenticeships in high school so the kids can graduate and be that much closer to being a plumber or electrician.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

easterberry (1826250) | about 4 years ago | (#32994122)

Don't even have to go as far as Europe. I did an apprenticeship in high school and I live in Candada.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

bberens (965711) | about 4 years ago | (#32994484)

When I was in high school I took tons of Advanced Placement courses for college credit and they even had some professors from the local community college come to our school and teach a hand full of gen ed type classes (economics, psych 101, etc.). There were also programs you could go into for more blue collar work experience during high school. And I live in Florida, bastion of quality education. Obviously these things may not be available everywhere, but for me at least if you showed the tiniest bit of drive you could get into either program.

Re:Asimov's Profession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32994550)

Way Back When I was in high school you could do the same thing.

Then no child got left behind and all the resources that used to be spent on "non-core" education got redirected to making sure that everyone bubbled in the right answer on The Tests. There are even schools now that are itching to dismantle their sports programs because it's not like college sports where football is cash positive from licensing deals and ticket sales.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

tuttleturtle42 (1234802) | about 4 years ago | (#32994744)

We do have vocational high schools available in the US. I don't know how common they are (in order to go from my town you had to go to school about a half hour away), but they're definitely available and definitely not uncommon.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | about 4 years ago | (#32993976)

I'm also in New York state, so this might still be skewed, but we did that too, with a bit more granularity. There were multiple groups for math, science, and reading, starting as early as first grade.

There also is a fair amount of differentiation in subject matter as you move up in grade level. We were required to meet certain minimums in the major subjects, but we got to choose how we filled our schedules beyond those. Myself, I added in advanced placement math and science courses, engineering courses, and played an instrument in the band. It's hardly as simple as some people like to imply.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 4 years ago | (#32994232)

Same thing in Pennsylvania - We have 4-5 levels of classes (below average, standard, high, advanced) as well as AP classes. Though it also differs by subject. For example, in Math, if you're advanced, you're just taking the same classes as the grade above you. And if you're one of about 10 kids (out of ~200) who are _really_ good, you may be two grade levels ahead. But in English classes, if you're really good you're still pretty much studying the same topic, you just maybe do more of it or go more in-depth. And then we had a pretty simple system to allow students to take classes at the local university - generally there were 10-20 each year. For most classes they pay all the tuition, for a small selection they'll pay for the textbooks and everything too. But for certain areas that doesn't work out so well - the 400-level comp sci classes at the local uni (IUP) were easier than the AP Comp classes I had already taken in highschool.

But earlier than 6th grade - if you're really good at math you maybe get moved up a level, but that's the only differentiation that there is.

And it's also pretty difficult to move between sections. The people who were taking the advanced math classes senior year were pretty much the same people who had been taking them since 5th grade. Once you're in middleschool they don't really look for students performing above or below their level. Sometimes if you get a really good teacher they will (I was asked if I wanted to move up to advanced English twice - 8th and 11th grade - but it was the same teacher both times), but generally kids just stay where they are. I mean, nearly anyone can schedule APs, but if you're in normal math in 5th grade, you'll probably still be in normal math in 12th.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 years ago | (#32994186)

When I was in grade school there were 3 sections that the kids were split into. Regular kids, slower kids, advanced kids (I forget the exact names now is has been over 30 years). It was not a one size fits all then and it still is not. Maybe NY does things different.

That's not the thing I'm talking about. In most American schools I gather, tou have your special need eduaction, votec, advanced section where you take some AP or college classes ahead of others, and the majority of students just kinda amble towards the middle route to college. There's not really a lot of choice in classes until 10th grade, and then it's kinda like a very limited multiple choice until college. The advance students usually just take classes 1-2 years ahead in math or english, but not a wholly different curriculum

Here's what I'm talking about: []

Most, however, first attend Grundschule from the age of six to ten or 12.

In contrast, secondary education includes four types of schools: the Gymnasium is designed to prepare pupils for university education and finishes with the final examination, Abitur, after grade 12 or 13. The Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediate pupils and finishes with the final examination, Mittlere Reife, after grade 10; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education and finishes with the final examination, Hauptschulabschluss, after grade 9 or 10 and the Realschulabschluss after grade 10. There are two types of grade 10: one is the higher level called type 10b and the lower level is called type 10a; only the higher level type 10b can lead to the Realschule and this finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife after grade 10b. This new path of achieving the Realschulabschluss at a vocationally-oriented secondary school was changed by the statutory school regulations in 1981 - with a one-year qualifying period. During the one-year qualifying period of the change to the new regulations, pupils could continue with class 10 to fulfil the statutory period of education. After 1982, the new path was compulsory, as explained above. Other than this, there is the Gesamtschule, which combines the three approaches. There are also Förderschulen/Sonderschulen. One in 21 pupils attends a Förderschule.[2][3] Nevertheless the Förderschulen/Sonderschulen can also lead, in special circumstances, to a Hauptschulabschluss of both type 10a or type 10b, the latter of which is the Realschulabschluss.

In order to enter university, students are, as a rule, required to hold the Abitur; however, those with a Meisterbrief (master craftman's diploma) have also been able to apply since 2009.[4][5] Those wishing to attend a "university of applied sciences" must, as a rule, hold the Abitur, the Fachhochschulreife or a Meisterbrief. Lacking those qualifications, pupils are eligible to enter a university or university of applied sciences if they can present additional proof that they will be able to keep up with their fellow students (see: Begabtenprüfung and Hochbegabtenstudium)

Basically, college here is the new minimum in a lot of circumstances even if the bachelor's degree has absolutely nothing to do with the job. Votech is kinda seen as for idiots here while there it's more accepted that some students excel in a academic setting and some work better with their hands, and you don't need to drag the latter kicking and screaming into classes until their 18.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

cacba (1831766) | about 4 years ago | (#32994236)

A less draconian solution is to just make education more personal via computerized lessons.

Re:Asimov's Profession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32994800)

The problem with that is the parents. If they believe "junior" should be in the smart group and the school puts him in the average group there is going to be trouble. Not all of them but there will be trust me. Parents don't ever want to hear that their kid is special ed or average. They all want to hear they are the brightest pupil the teacher has ever seen and won't accept anything less even if they are as dumb as a box of rocks. Too much BS in the US for this to work in all cases. That is why the public school education system is falling behind and more parents put their kids in private education.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

ebuck (585470) | about 4 years ago | (#32994964)

I'm glad to hear about this customized education. Now that I've received my results, it is clear that I should have been a telephone switchboard operator.

Seriously, brains may be more attuned to different tasks, either by genetics, environment, or some combination; but, careers don't really account for those in them. The ideal job might not be the best career due to a number of social issues, like abundance of qualified applicants, advances in technology, work-life balance, social contacts, and ability to obtain the entry prerequisites. There is a lot of possible social mobility in the USA, but if you don't make some pretty difficult choices that mobility may be out of reach.

One friend once mentioned that he realized he wouldn't be able to achieve in his hometown, so he sold all of his possessions and his car, bought a one way plane ticket to Houston, and with the remaining money rented a room for two weeks. Within a week he had a job, and years later when he visits his relatives he knows he made the right decision.

As admirable as his actions were, it wouldn't matter what his brain scan found if he didn't own a dilapidated car that was worth just enough to cover the cost of the airline ticket.

Re:Asimov's Profession (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 years ago | (#32996374)

America's one size fits all education until college isn't that great imo

What's even worse is the concept of "Mainstreaming". Take kids with major handicaps or behavior problems and mix them in with the rest of the students. It gives liberals a warm fuzzy. But for the one kid it helps, 20 others suffer.

We spend far too much on students who need remedial work and not near enough on the exceptional students.

Worked for harry potter too (2, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 4 years ago | (#32993790)

Of course he still had to beg to be in griffendor

Re:Worked for harry potter too (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#32993896)

what the hell does Harry Potter have to do with Isaac Asimov?

Re:Worked for harry potter too (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about 4 years ago | (#32995720)

what the hell does Harry Potter have to do with Isaac Asimov?

What, you never read Asimov's Daneel Olivaw and the Order of the Positron? Ties together the Robots series, the Foundation series, three previously independent works, the Harry Potter series, two chemistry textbooks, a shopping list Isaac once wrote when Janet was away visiting family, the service manual for a '72 Dodge Dart, and six incomprehensible Harlan Ellison rants yet to be written.

Can't teach seven foot (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | about 4 years ago | (#32995422)

It's also like the not so distant past where you take aptitude tests to see what you're good at and then select from those the field you like best (or hate least). Lots of countries used to do that, either as a recommendation or as a requirement. The requirements can be physical (e.g. you can't teach 7 foot [] or mental (ignorance is curable, stupid is forever) or both.

Re:Can't teach seven foot (1)

holmstar (1388267) | about 4 years ago | (#32996520)

I took a career aptitude test in middle school. The results came back and the list of possibilities was several pages long. I can't say that it was very helpful in making a decision.

ERROR (3, Funny)

DWMorse (1816016) | about 4 years ago | (#32993430)

Blonde Detected. Recommending Cosmetics Retail.

Re:ERROR (3, Insightful)

MalHavoc (590724) | about 4 years ago | (#32993490)

I'd mod you insightful if I had points. Shades of Gattaca here, I think. I wonder if these tests will be treated like regular medical tests and somehow protected under a doctor/patient confidentiality agreement. Envision a future where employers ask you to get a brain scan to see if you're going to be good at the job you've just applied for? Might happen. Compare that to taking a test during an interview, possibly with a brain that may not score well on a scan, but may have re-wired itself to use other areas more efficiently?

Re:ERROR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993738)

I really like the fact that we, understanding the brain as little as we honestly do, even think we can use the correlations we've noticed to do such a thing. I think the people proposing this should be the first ones to take them. Count me out.

Re:ERROR (1)

easterberry (1826250) | about 4 years ago | (#32994176)

That doesn't work. The test would just show how predisposed to a certain skilset you are. If I spend 4 years getting a comp sci degree, have coop terms all with glowing reviews and a portfolio of projects I've done why would they care what my brain looks like? I have clear evidence that I can do the job.

It's like saying that because we have aptitude tests employers might start making all employees take them to see whether they can be hired. It doesn't happen.

Re:ERROR (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 years ago | (#32994498)

Maybe there is an applicant with an equivalent resume, but a better brain scan?

And as for aptitude tests, that's more common than you think.

Re:ERROR (1)

easterberry (1826250) | about 4 years ago | (#32994598)

If there's a tie then there has to be an unfair tiebreaker. These days it's usually whoever the HR guys likes more. Making it based on a brain scan is as valid (if not moreso) a method as based on who the HR guy personally relates to more readily.

My point is that calling "Gattaca" on this is a bit like calling "hitler" on Obama for advocating universal healthcare or on Bush for being generally more republican than one might like.

Re:ERROR (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#32994488)

How can you tell if a blonde's been using your computer?

There's whiteout on the screen.

(Yes, this is an old joke the kids won't understand)

Re:ERROR (1)

wagadog (545179) | about 4 years ago | (#32995352)

Actually, if I were "Blonde [sic]" I'd prefer a brain scan than people just assuming I was stupid and making stupid career recommendations based on their stupid assumptions.

ignorance is curable ... (1, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | about 4 years ago | (#32993440)

Ignorance is curable ... stupid is forever.

Choices based on what? (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 4 years ago | (#32993482)

Aptitude tests and mental ability tests are helpful in choosing vocation? Really?

Maybe I'm just weird, but I did not take any aptitude nor ability tests to pick my vocation. I studied what interested me. Typically, things that interested me were things that I could actually do - I didn't have much of an interest in things I couldn't do...

Do people actually choose their vocation (and included in that, I assume, would be education choices) based on what tests appear to show they are "good" at rather than what actually interests them - and what they have found out they can do by actually TRYING it?

Re:Choices based on what? (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 4 years ago | (#32993772)

When I was in university, it seemed the top 2 reason for choosing a course of study were:

1) High paying job upon graduation.
2) Parents pushed me into it.

Now, often reason 2 is because of reason 1, but at the end of the day, many people choose paths in school/life that will end up with a high paying job, rather than choose something they love. My roommate actually specifically stated that he went into mechanical engineering, specifically because he didn't want what he really liked (computers) to turn into a job. So he ended up doing something he didn't like at all (didn't graduate, because he hated the work), over something he liked, even though both courses of study would have resulted in the same amount of pay. I choose my course based on what I like to do (software engineering), and it paid off pretty well, especially when I compare myself to all the other people I know who choose their future based on money, or what their parents told them to do.

Re:Choices based on what? (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | about 4 years ago | (#32993894)

His response seems perfectly reasonable to me. It just sounds like he just made a poor choice for his field of study. Like you said, probably because of pressure from elsewhere. It doesn't mean his original logic was bad.

I love working with computers and technology, but if computers became my job, it would ruin my hobby. I would hate having to do support and programming for me would stop being interesting if I could only work on things other people wanted me to work on. Strangely enough, I'm also mechanical engineer (of course I did graduate and I have a good job). The only things I don't like are the issues of office politics, ignorant people, etc. I'd be dealing with those same things if I were in a computer job.

Re:Choices based on what? (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 4 years ago | (#32994282)

People don't make career choices based on their passions because people have to eat. Sure it would be great if we could all follow our passions, but in practice the only people who can do that either have a passion for something that happens to pay really well or have giant trust funds from their rich parents. The rest of us have to go into whatever seems the least soul-crushing that will still pay the bills.

Your passion was software engineering which lucky for you happens to pay a lot. If your passion was playing the guitar or surfing, or even social work or teaching, your chances of making enough money to feed yourself, much less raise a family, following your dreams would be far lower.

It's also worth noting that passions change over time. Growing up my passion was computers, and it just so happened that I entered the work force right when the Internet was starting to take off so my passion was something I could get paid a lot of money to do. Now, though, while I still enjoy working with computers I wouldn't say I'm particularly passionate about it. I have other things I like to do, but none of them are going to pay the mortgage, so I keep working with computers.

I hear people say everyone should follow their dreams and I just want to smack them. Yes, spend some time in your early 20s following your dreams and seeing if you can make them work, but always have a backup plan. If you want to study music or underwater basket-weaving or whatever you love to do, fine, knock yourself out...but make sure you double major in something with more stable job prospects even if it doesn't get your heart racing thinking about doing it for the rest of your life. Then, if your passions don't end up being enough to live on you can go to your job that you're not passionate about all day and then go do whatever you're passionate about on the weekends like most people do.

Re:Choices based on what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32996028)

When I was in university, it seemed the top 2 reason for choosing a course of study were:

1) High paying job upon graduation.
2) Parents pushed me into it.

The above was posted by the engineering/comp sci grad.

Some people chose their major and courses by the number of cute girls.

Signed, Faculty of arts and social sciences grad.

(and yes, I'm a A&SS grad)

Re:Choices based on what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993864)

You sir are a free-thinker. Most people, sadly, are not. In that methodology you would have the guy who would be best suited to sniffing paint fumes for the rest of his life going into /insert high paying field here/ for the money, as currently happens on a massive scale. This kind of thing is much of the reason I barely even look at an education section on a C.V. anymore, its almost worthless, and I tend to prefer seeing less education. My favorite candidates(I work in IT) are actually those that dropped out of college/university while trying to do their programming/CS program/courses and realized how much a waste of time it was but stuck with their field of interest anyways. With educated folks with high grades, I had a 50/50 chance of getting a good employee, with those guys my hit rate is at over 70% to date.

Re:Choices based on what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32994160)

Oh, I almost forgot to add, the 30% that don't make it get weeded out a lot faster too, because they don't even know enough about what they're doing to fake the rest. With the educated buffoons 50% would work out, 40% would linger for a year or more, wasting company dollars, faking like they knew what they were doing and leaving a large mess in their wake, and 10% would actually get weeded out relatively quickly.

For thoroughness however I tend to interview a couple from the highly educated group as well, but only hire them nowadays if I'm really impressed by them. They actually have a harder time getting hired by me than someone straight out of high school that has volunteer IT experience or hell, working at a computer store in the repair shop for 6 months or so.

Re:Choices based on what? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | about 4 years ago | (#32993974)

Although I got my first PC at age 9, and had my first BASIC class in 7th grade, I never saw computers as a career choice. Programmers were still perceived as 1980s movie nerds in '90 when I graduated.

So I studied Architecture and Design, when I found out how miserable the job prospects were, I drifted for a while.

While drifting I worked a lot of crappy jobs, and bought a crappy Compudyne computer from CompUSA, which I returned 3 times for repairs and finally a refund. With the refund money a friend of mine that worked in a Mom and Pop computer shop helped me build my first of many homebuilt PCs. After that I got a crappy tech support job, then an integration gig, then various support and admin jobs until finally I ended up in IT Security.

This is not a career I would have chosen for myself out of high school, and I specifically remember dropping my one college computer class because Lotus 123 and Wordperfect for DOS were crap.

I was however mechanically and technically inclined, so a test that measured aptitudes and not preferences might have picked this for me.

Re:Choices based on what? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#32994024)

Isn't there generally assumed to be difference between "vocation" and what one studies in university? Maybe that's less true for something such as engineering, where you're not exactly going to be very far from the shop floor for most of your career (so to speak) than it is for, say, someone who majors in accounting or history, but still. I consider automechanics to be a "vocation" where as automotive engineering, not so much. One is a vocation, the other a profession.

In my case, I was a computer nerd in high school, worked at a physics lab as a programmer upon graduation in an internship position, was bored with freshman computer science, and switched to the English and Classics departments. I studied what I wanted to study, now I'm back in computers for the money. I'm in system administration and network "engineering", among other things. I'm not a 'real' engineer, scientist or anything like that. I think I've got the best of both worlds, but I could be wrong. If I had let money rule my studies, I'd have been un-happy, and if I had let "doing what i love" to rule my career choice, I'd be broke on the side of the street living out a less-than-fun version of 'On The Road'.

Re:Choices based on what? (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | about 4 years ago | (#32994318)

I'm a mechanical engineer, myself. True, vocation and university education are not the same. It's also true that, with engineering, you need to know how to do the basics so you can apply abstract ideas and theory to the real world. Anyway, while we were required to learn how to do all the vocational-ish stuff, we weren't required to gain true proficiency in welding, machining, etc, just competency. Many of us learned above and beyond that, but it wasn't required. (I was actually a fairly good machinist back when I was more hands-on, but it didn't do much for me in school other than the enjoyment I got from working with my hands.)

I'm sure it depends somewhat on the school and subject matter, of course.

Re:Choices based on what? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#32994390)

I studied what interested me. Typically, things that interested me were things that I could actually do - I didn't have much of an interest in things I couldn't do

Well now, that's where you're weird. You could do any number of things. You could study history, you could program computers, you could become a carpenter. All 3 of these require completely different skillsets and there is no real reason why anyone with the sufficient resources couldn't do any of these.

So knowing "What you can do" does not help vocation. Which you could extend to say Aptitude tests and mental ability tests are not helpful in choosing a career someone might enjoy.

However - enjoyment and what you're good at might not always line up. You're basing this off the premise that you have to enjoy the career for the brainscan assigns you to, regardless how good you are at it.

Re:Choices based on what? (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | about 4 years ago | (#32994630)

For some people they can be helpful.

A friend of mine is pretty good at pretty much everything she tried her hand at, but was having trouble finding something that really grabbed her. She went to a kind of career counselor for adults, ran through a battery of aptitude tests etc., and got a list of career suggestions. 90% of them were things she had thought of or tried before, but the remaining items were all new to her - she just hadn't ever thought of them as possible career choices. Fast-forward 8 years and she's working in atmospheric science and loving it, despite it being something she *never* would have thought of doing.

If only as a way of giving you other options when you aren't entirely sure what you want to do, it can be helpful. Lots of people stumble into careers they love by accident.

Re:Choices based on what? (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about 4 years ago | (#32995512)

Yeah, I would have actually appreciated a little more guidance when I was younger. I was moderately good at most subjects, and simply didn't know how to figure out what sort of jobs I might enjoy--which is definitely sometimes a bit removed from the subjects you can choose to study. Even at a college that encouraged diversity in education, I couldn't sample all the subjects, and again those aren't necessarily like the jobs you'll do later. I picked physics because it sounded challenging (and it was, but I didn't really like the work), and have mostly been in computers (both web programming and tech support) ever since, though I've done some freelance work in copy editing, marketing, and graphic design, among other things.

I've considered a lot of other careers over the years: accounting, journalism, running a brewpub, all kinds of things. Part of the problem is I've never known if I'd like or hate the jobs. Of course an aptitude test might not tell me that, but it might at least tell me if something was going to be a real struggle.

So far what I've found I like best in the world is creating computer games, like the one in my sig, though right now it's basically just a hobby for evenings and weekends. Part of the appeal is I'm programmer, artist, writer, strategist, community leader, mathematician, playtester, marketer, and accountant, all rolled into one. Other than the marketing position, I kind of enjoy doing a little bit of each every month, though I think I also enjoy that I don't have to do any of them all month long.

Conclusions (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993522)

From the linked article, not the pdf, "Our current results form a basis to investigate this further."

Sounds like they know the fundamental purpose of all research.

Re:Conclusions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32994322)

I think they've found a vocation...

Obligatory reference to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993548)

"Unaccompanied Sonata"

Some areas of research may have academic value, but may be socially repressive. This is one of those. Let's kill it before it breeds.

WARNING (3, Funny)

Reilaos (1544173) | about 4 years ago | (#32993564)

"Oh god! This one's too smart! He'll see through our liberal conspiracy!"

"Quick, recommend his name to the Government Death Panel/Healthcare Board! And remove his access to tin foil!"


Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#32994080)

There was a twilight zone (or some other series) episode where children had to pass an IQ test and were injected with truth serum before the test. The ones that tested with an IQ above the national limit were simply killed.


Reilaos (1544173) | about 4 years ago | (#32994386)

I remember reading a story which went exactly like that. They were all "I'm sorry, he scored too high."

It was the inspiration for the comment. :3


OlRickDawson (648236) | about 4 years ago | (#32994862)

I read that short story as well. I think it was called "Sanity Claus"

Obligatory (5, Funny)

networkzombie (921324) | about 4 years ago | (#32993574)

Yay! I'm a delivery boy!

Insert Gattaca joke here... (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | about 4 years ago | (#32993746)

Seems "valid" to me :)

Re:Obligatory (1)

Speare (84249) | about 4 years ago | (#32997948)

I'm surprised nobody's tagged this story of a head-scanning aptitude test as 'sortinghat'... the first thing that I thought of when seeing the summary is "SLYTHERIN!"

I'm so glad I'm a Beta... (4, Interesting)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 4 years ago | (#32993606)

"Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly color. I'm so glad I'm a Beta."

- Aldous Huxley [] , Brave New World [] , Ch. 2 (quotes [] )

Re:I'm so glad I'm a Beta... (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 4 years ago | (#32994078)

Eggs in an egg carton was the mental image I had after reading the summary....

The results are in... (1)

boneclinkz (1284458) | about 4 years ago | (#32993610)

According to the latest in physiognomical science, you are perfectly suited for the occupation of:

Maintenance Technician

"Dad? It's Jimmy. Can you help me pay back those med school loans?"

Re:The results are in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993780)

Dharma Initiative, is that you?

Posting AC because I already modded.

What tests? (1)

rnaiguy (1304181) | about 4 years ago | (#32993632)

What exactly are they talking about? I've never heard of anyone taking such a test to choose their career in the US, with the exception of the SAT to determine college suitability.

Thus I must disagree with the premise of their importance.

Re:What tests? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 years ago | (#32994576)

Then you have never been inside a high school or university career center.

Welcome to the world of tomorrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993698)

Are they working on the Career Chip too? (Shup up and get on the probulator.)

Hmm... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#32993714)

Correlating brain scans with questionnaires is cute and all, and has the advantage of being relatively quick; but suffers from the major disadvantage of being(at best) able to duplicate the accuracy of an existing(cheap, paper-based) test.

Obviously, progress is frequently made up of steps that don't make much sense on their own, since they don't yet improve on the status quo; but something as pricey as brain imaging is completely pointless unless it can exceed the performance of paper, not just correlate with it.

Re:Hmm... (1)

venril (905197) | about 4 years ago | (#32994194)

but something as pricey as brain imaging is completely pointless unless it can exceed the performance of paper, not just correlate with it.

Of course, it's not pointless if it garners him a research grant.

The world is full of 'scientists', eager find interesting things that make no economic sense, on someone elses buck/pound.

showing aptitude for being a bot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993794)

little/no independent thought/feeling. almost perfect for todays' world of peddling deceptive scriptdead hypenosys as the main 'product'.

meanwhile (& it may be a while); the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also:

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

Scary future-tech (2, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 4 years ago | (#32993878)

I don't really have an issue with MRIs helping guide career descisions. Well, other then the fact that this sounds like it can be done with the bullshit career planning pamphlets from highschool. I mean, did I really need to answer twenty questions to know that I'm better at math then average joe?

But what's scary is if this is ever applied to children who haven't yet developed. I dunno much about child development, but if you're not a math genius by age 11, you're too old to really make it into the big league. The problem is how a kid develops if you tell them that they're stupid and they might as well break rocks with their noggin. I think the trick to encouraging engineering degrees is to trick children into thinking they're smart. Given a decade in the school system, it'll turn out to be true.
It's also scary if it's used as a screening method for prospective employees.

Re:Scary future-tech (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#32994406)

I don't really have an issue with MRIs helping guide career descisions.

If anything, it will help dead salmon [] decide what they do when they get out of school.

Re:Scary future-tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32996972)

Well they could become Trout. Then Fried Trout, then Poached Trout In A White Wine Sauce and finally, Herring. Splitting up for nearly a month, they re-formed as Red Herring, which became Dead Herring for a while and then Dead Loss, which reflected the current state of the group.

Re:Scary future-tech (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 4 years ago | (#32994822)

I still think after a certain point persistence and hardwork matter more then raw potential. A genius that doesn't apply himself will won't get very far. []

He likes to toot his own horn about his own IQ but if you look at how he lived his life, he hasn't really applied himself. Also the excuse he comes up with for what he didn't do seems like a cop out.

If you look at most great and accomplished people, they were truly absorbed in what they did and many were work-a-holics.

Re:Scary future-tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32995340)

Hm. You're right; you dunno much about child development. I submit, as a bare case study, Lagrange [] .

Re:Scary future-tech (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#32995444)

Like what? You are too smart or you are too stupid for this position? Is there going be some search engine like this: Find me employee with biology aptitude score between 123 and 143? (now you should really be very scared)

wrong wrong wrong. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#32993958)

There is a saying the scientist are usually very bad with the natural languages and literacy (so called human oriented areas..). And they are right, i was such a boy, but some decades later, i am also pretty proficient in these alien for my mind areas, and in some cases i am even better than the others. In fact, there is ever better example of how wrong is this whole idea: boys and girls. It is proven that as a teenager, the girls are better than boys in every area, but later, the trend is in favor for the boys (or men?).

What about creative innovation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993966)

I think some of the best ideas and some of the worst ideas come from people who specifically do not have the "aptitude" for the field in which they are working.
There are plenty of fields where what is needed is the same kinds of people thinking the same kinds of ways, as they refine the process further and further, but I think grouping people by aptitude as policy is inherently dangerous as it could cause stagnation.

For instance, early on computers had no user interface to speak of, now we have an entire industry of artsy people who couldn't write shit for source code, but write user interfaces all day. if they had gone through aptitude testing 25 years ago, their test would have read: Would not thrive in computer related fields, whereas now it would say "graphic designer". Librarians now take data structures classes.

Imagine what life would be like if the math and chemistry nerds had stayed away from metallurgy and the mechanics had stayed away from textiles. You would be heading to the blacksmith so he could make change for you to go buy a hand-made jacket from a seamstress so you would look nice riding away on your horse.

Re:What about creative innovation? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#32995596)

Remember Einstein? He was very stupid in math and physics, regarding his teachers of course...

America's university approach is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32993994)

Sorry, but I really must disagree. I'm 28 years old and graduated with a dual major in Computer Science and International Affairs. One's very math-centric (obviously), and the other's very liberal-artsy (political science, economics, languages, and history). Being able to "cross-pollinate" like this is a huge advantage that the American system has over the European system, and its one that I really learned to appreciate after backpacking across Europe. Time and time again, I met Europeans who were shocked that I was allowed to study multiple subjects and not forced to pick a single emphasis. They were also very jealous that in university I had easy access to different areas of schooling -- they almost universally agreed that it was a major failing of European education.

Being able to study in multiple areas and "flit about" gives you a much better perspective on live and on how what're doing affects the company you work for and the world you live in. I can understand how to better do my job by understanding what the company's trying to accomplish and what factors play a role in that. If I had stuck to a strict computer science only curriculum, the best I could hope for is the lucky circumstances where requirements collection actually works well.

Furthermore, let's not forget that our founding fathers were all "jacks of all trades." We can trace our routes to renaissance men like Ben Franklin who was a historian, diplomat, inventor, carpenter, farmer, writer and mechanic. Being well versed in multiple areas of knowledge is an almost uniquely american tradition and something that sets us apart from the rest of the western world. Its undervalued by my people, even academics, in my opinion.

The bigger question might be, why are trade-disciplines so disrespected in today's education system? Why have vocations like plumbing, auto mechanics, hvac repair, and the like been removed from HS curricula or used as holding pens for trouble makers. Should we take a harder look at progressive education that rallies against teaching trades, learning facts, and memorization in favor of soft learning (which is important, but only one aspect of education) that doesn't have "wrong answers" in order to boost children's self esteem. Perhaps there's a little too much "how do you feel", "what do you think this means", and "what would you do" in today's classrooms and not enough "if you put the sparkplug wires in the wrong order, the car won't start" and "the answer to the equation is 12. 10 is very, very wrong."

Re:America's university approach is better (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 4 years ago | (#32994624)

Sorry, but I really must disagree. I'm 28 years old and graduated with a dual major in Computer Science and International Affairs. One's very math-centric (obviously), and the other's very liberal-artsy (political science, economics, languages, and history). Being able to "cross-pollinate" like this is a huge advantage that the American system has over the European system, and its one that I really learned to appreciate after backpacking across Europe. Time and time again, I met Europeans who were shocked that I was allowed to study multiple subjects and not forced to pick a single emphasis. They were also very jealous that in university I had easy access to different areas of schooling -- they almost universally agreed that it was a major failing of European education.

What part of Europe was this exactly? Because here in Sweden you can generally pick and choose as you see fit (not to mention that university-level education is free). If you choose a "program" you get the advantage of them putting together the required courses for your degree but you also have a fairly large part of your credits electable, and of course you can switch to another program. If a program isn't your thing you can just pick random courses as you see fit but if you want a degree then it's up to you to pick enough courses in that subject/field to meet the requirements.

Re:America's university approach is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32995248)

I was in England, France, Italy, Slovenia, Ukraine, Poland, and Belgium. I did meet some swedes -- we were too busy talking about punk music to discuss university though.

Re:America's university approach is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32995682)

Sorry, but I really must disagree. I'm 28 years old and graduated with a dual major in Computer Science and International Affairs. One's very math-centric (obviously), and the other's very liberal-artsy (political science, economics, languages, and history). Being able to "cross-pollinate" like this is a huge advantage that the American system has over the European system, and its one that I really learned to appreciate after backpacking across Europe. Time and time again, I met Europeans who were shocked that I was allowed to study multiple subjects and not forced to pick a single emphasis. They were also very jealous that in university I had easy access to different areas of schooling -- they almost universally agreed that it was a major failing of European education.

What part of Europe was this exactly?

There you go, interrupting his conservative rant with things like "facts". He probably heard it on the same bus as George Emmer [] heard all about the waiters making $100k/yr on tips. You dirty Swedish socialist! :)

I'm disappointed in the rant, though - it manages to hit most of the favorites ("librals are ruining our kids!", "America #1!!!!one!!!") but leaves out "they won't let us smack the little fuckers" and "things would be better if everyone had to praaaaayse Jeebus before class".

It is amusing, though, to see someone claim being a "renaissance man" as being a "uniquely American" thing; "the librals" must have erased the part where the Renaissance happened in the US from my schoolbooks...

Re:America's university approach is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32996362)

I'm the OP. Progressive education has nothing to do with a liberal/conversative slant. Its an educational approach that discourages less wrote memorization and skill development in favor of a "educational exploration." It became very popular in the US in early 70s, it favors an "exploratory" approach to education where there are no wrong answers if you tried -- it assumes that children will be able to explore an deduce the correct answers over time. To put it in computer terms, it would be like training a neural network without planning how the neurons are triggered.

It was very popular until very recently, when a number of psychologists started focusing more on the field of education (as opposed to the more common approach of the 60s-90s where educators with no social science background did most of the theorizing and guideline/recommendation writing). Its still a popular approach with unions, but everyday teachers, administrators, and social scientists are beginning to recognize the failings of expecting children to deduce correct answers without having a solid grounding in basic knowledge first.

Good try at a troll though, not everything labeled progressive is liberal; and not everything has a conservative/liberal component to it.

(PS: England has some of the best schools I've ever seen. My son was happier and learned more in one year of living in England that he ever did in the states. They actually seem to care about children learning there -- not just making them feel good or passing them along to make parents feel good)

Re:America's university approach is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32994924)

The bigger question might be, why are trade-disciplines so disrespected in today's education system?

Because the teachers and the politicos who set the curriculum are all from "The Professions", not "the Trades", and see their own path as superior to those lowly "toilet fixers".

Re:America's university approach is better (1)

kaiidth (104315) | about 4 years ago | (#32995094)

As the Swedish example shows, it's not unknown for Europeans to study multiple subjects. In the UK, not all universities (or university course structures) allow a great deal of 'pick and mix' flexibility in learning, but see for example the Open University in the UK for an example of a system that lets you study just about anything you feel like in virtually any order you can cope with. Many people in the UK solve the problem by taking a conversion postgraduate degree, and gaining multiple undergraduate degrees is another solution that until fairly recently was widely considered to be a perfectly valid thing to aim for. Second undergrad degrees have recently become more difficult to achieve because of Labour's fairly recent decision to deny any level of government contribution for anybody wanting to complete a second (or further) qualification at any given level. Gordon Brown apparently figured that one of any given qualification was quite enough, so it's probably fair to assume that Labour subscribed to the theory you mention - that one should limit oneself to one topic of study.

I disagree, but do concede that there is no need for in-depth study of a very large number of specific topics in university (a wide range of topics would be good, though). What is important is that during a student's university studies, he or she gains all the necessary skills to be able to continue to study and learn after his or her formal studies end. The idea that one needs a named degree in order to prove knowledge or understanding of a given field is problematic, and as far as I can tell is pushed by universities for about the same reason as tech companies market the idea of tech certifications - it's a reasonably good earner for the various organisations involved, as well as simplifying life for Human Resources. But really, the point of a (worthwhile) degree is in large part that it teaches the student how to learn. There aren't that many jobs that directly use knowledge of classical languages, but there are a whole lot of happily employed classics graduates. And if the graduate classicist is working in economics or software development, does it really matter if their degree didn't mention software development by name?

As for the assertion that 'being well versed in multiple areas of knowledge is an almost uniquely american tradition', well, it's laughably wrong, but then you knew that. In any case, polymaths are no longer in fashion in corporate culture, in the UK, in many European countries, or in the USA. Academic funding agencies do not on the whole approve of polymaths, and interdisciplinary work can be difficult to fund unless there is a clearly defined expert from each discipline involved in the funding proposal. But this is, as far as I can tell, true across the western world. It is linked to a general love for statistics, evaluation, and ranking, whether it's six-sigma or citation metrics. If we can't classify people as grade something whatchamacallits, then they break our neat models, and that doesn't make us happy at all.

Oh, great! (1)

zmollusc (763634) | about 4 years ago | (#32994076)

What happens when the sensors break? The lack of readings will send every test subject straight to PHB school.

Re:Oh, great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32995266)

Not necessarily - the ones that are good at lying will go into politics. :)

Re:Oh, great! (1)

Traze (1167415) | about 4 years ago | (#32996788)

Isn't this where we make sure the good liars don't get into politics? :D

Re:Oh, great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32996410)

with your money? ;o)

Improving on Zero (4, Interesting)

dorpus (636554) | about 4 years ago | (#32994130)

I took a career aptitude test in the early 90s, and it told me my aptitudes were pretty much exactly in the center between various career fields. In a word, it was worthless.

Many people in the 90s were also eager to recommend "What Color Is Your Parachute?" They ask a lot of simplistic questions like "Are you a people person? yes or no." It was worthless also. I've met multiple college career counselors also, and none of them had the slightest clue what they were talking about.

Do any of these aptitude models take into account that interests shift over time? We are not insects that are hard-wired to do particular tasks. My career has taken me through various nooks and crannies ranging from radio station support staff, law enforcement, jet engine factories, to hospital transplant centers, and presently I am getting a PhD in a statistics.

Re:Improving on Zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32995280)

Q: Are you a people person?
Patrick Bateman: You're a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood.

Re:Improving on Zero (1)

holmstar (1388267) | about 4 years ago | (#32996886)


...We'll just put down a "no" for that one.

On a similar note (1)

ceraphis (1611217) | about 4 years ago | (#32994166)

I've wondered for a while how exactly people generally measure their "IQ". Whenever I see this statistic pointed out, I do some google searches about the matter but never really get any further than sites that let you take some test then hold the results hostage. I read an article (maybe wikipedia) saying how when Stephen Hawking first noticed his illness, he immediately was worried it would affect his IQ and took a test to confirm if there were any effects. Is anyone aware of a legitimate place for testing your IQ?

Also, is there any real benefit to knowing your IQ besides as a conversational piece or for self satisfaction? Is there anybody out there who actually sees a benefit to putting it on your resume for example?

Re:On a similar note (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 years ago | (#32994640)

You must be new to the internet: []

Any test you find online is bogus, and anyone who brings up their IQ in conversation or on a resume is a pretentious twit.

Re:On a similar note (1)

ceraphis (1611217) | about 4 years ago | (#32997628)

anyone who brings up their IQ in conversation or on a resume is a pretentious twit.

Oh believe me, I feel the same way.

Ask Franz Joseph Gall (2, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 years ago | (#32994274)

He invented phrenology [] , the science of deducing aptitude from skull shape. Phrenology has been modernized by technology, but not verified. Franz could only use the primitive version of skull shape.

Re:Ask Franz Joseph Gall (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 years ago | (#32994672)

Phrenology was not a science. Giving something a greek name does not make it a science.

Re:Ask Franz Joseph Gall (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 4 years ago | (#32995090)

Phrenology was not a science. Giving something a greek name does not make it a science.

Hopefully that's what peter303 was ironically alluding to...

Obligatory Sorting Hat (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#32994280)

Are you sure of your choice? They could help you achieve greatness.... in that case, better make it GRIFFINDOR!

Aptitude (4, Insightful)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 4 years ago | (#32994292)

But what if you really enjoy certain activities even though they are things that you are not necessarily best suited to according to the scan?

It takes more than aptitude to be good at something. How do you measure ambition, drive, passion, dedication, work ethic, etc.?

Re:Aptitude (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 years ago | (#32994704)

Yes, we all watched GATTACA too.

What would you do if you had a million dollars? (1)

nitsew (991812) | about 4 years ago | (#32994350)

Two chicks at the same time. I wonder if my brain scan would point me in that direction.

I like people who do it the old fashioned way. Take entertainers. We don't need a test to tell them whether or not they should be doing that. That takes the fun out of it.

"It should be the traditional route. Years of rejection and failure until she's spit out the bottom of the porn industry." -Seinfeld

Is that also available (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32994422)

as an anal probe? I will pay in full and in advance, just please remember to use extra much snake oil!

What the hell man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32994778)

Why can't people just STFU and do the jobs designated by their career chips?

Isaac Asimov's short story "Profession" (1)

MrMage (1240674) | about 4 years ago | (#32995764)

"Profession" by Isaac Asimov []

It's a story about a society in which you're assigned jobs based on the structure of your brain, and how it can be 'educated'. It's a good story, with the moral being on free thought and being able to learn and innovate.

It's also quite relevant to the article.

People Skills (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#32996170)

"Hmm let's see, poorly-formed social lobe, no athletic ability, sensitive to sunlight.......programmer. Next?"

Reading instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32996980)

I think this sort of thing could be better used to help people understand how to read better for a better understanding of how they aren't connecting with the writers better instead of a big picture issue like careers. Career choice is better chosen based on personality testing from my experience.

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