Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Spatial Ability a Predictor of Creativity In Science

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the also-for-skill-with-midair-rox dept.

Science 199

HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "The gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — is sometimes referred to as the 'orphan ability' for its tendency to go undetected. Now Douglas Quenqua reports that according to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, spatial ability may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields. 'Evidence has been mounting over several decades that spatial ability gives us something that we don't capture with traditional measures (PDF) used in educational selection,' says David Lubinski, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Vanderbilt. 'We could be losing some modern-day Edisons and Fords.' Spatial ability can be best defined as the ability to 'generate, retain, retrieve, and transform well-structured visual images.' Some examples of great inventors who have used their high levels of spatial ability to innovate include James Watt, who is known for improving the steam engine, and James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Nikola Tesla, who provided the basis for alternating current (AC) power systems, is said (or fabled) to have been able to visualize an entire working engine in his mind and be able to test each part over time to see what would break first. Testing spatial aptitude is not particularly difficult but is simply not part of standardized testing because it is considered a cognitive function — the realm of I.Q. and intelligence tests — and is not typically a skill taught in school. 'It's not like math or English, it's not part of an academic curriculum,' says Dr. David Geary. 'It's more of a basic competence. For that reason it just wasn't on people's minds when developing these tests.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a bit (1, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44339983)

Posit two things that are really not measurable (spatial ability and creativity) and then suggest they are correlated.

A whole lot of rainbows and moonbeams on this one.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (3, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44339997)

You can easily measure them. Getting people to agree on what the measurements mean in practical terms is where we fail.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (4, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44340027)

I'll expand on this.

What can you do with two sticks and a string?

Someone who is creative can take the sticks and string and make a variety of things or use them in a variety of ways.

Someone with spacial abilities doesn't need to actualize those things or uses, they can visualize them in memory and then describe them (assuming they have language to do so - which is typically where formal education enhances existing abilities).

Try it yourself. First get the supplies though. You may find that you are creative with them in your hands but may struggle to come up with ideas in memory. Children are especially better at handson creativity and struggle with spacial abilities.

Some ideas.
Tools, toys, art, machines, instruments. Don't forget that sticks bend and can be broken. Also you could make a component of something more complex.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (2, Interesting)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#44340107)

Ok, well clearly you are a genius. And let's explore that --- because it's important ...

Schools are targeted for the middle of the bell curve -- they have to be! -- and even the gifted classes are targeted for the bell curve of the gifted students --- which ... well ... it isn't easy to define gifted so lettuce not go there and ok thanks!

A. Creativity cannot be taught.

B. Talent is in the context of the time. It isn't fair, but it is true.

C. The educational system never knows how to detect --- let alone help --- talented young people. Welcome to the shark tank --- the game of top dog with no rules.

Short version: If you have talent ---> you have to develop further largely yourself, other people and the system don't even know HOW to help you.

Plus it ISN'T their fault --- talent is UNUSUAL and by definition this means nobody really knows how to feed your talent.

PROTIP: Take control yourself while listening, if you are special --- you are special in that others don't know best how to help because you are so awesome.

'Bell Curve' has been debunked (5, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#44340307)

Hold on there cowboy...I got this far into your response...

Schools are targeted for the middle of the bell curve

Yeah see, the Bell Curve is not accepted in modern science [wikipedia.org] , especially by people like Chomsky.

Even those who would disagree with Chomsky...drop whatever school or scientist you want, the idea is defunct.

It's important to also understand *why* because it's a good introduction to high level statistical analysis and how it can be weilded incorrectly.

A good analogy is to the work of Freud. Practically everyone knows Freud in some way as a famous Psychologist...anyone who has *studied* Psychology at virtually any level can tell you his basic theories, and they'll tell you, as I'm sure you know, that most of his theories have been debunked and now sit in the history's museum of archaic science.

Archaic but foundational to be sure.

The 'Bell Curve' is a concept not a scientific law or observed phenomenon. It was constructed using the language of statistics, but an idea or concept nonetheless. It became 'popular' because of its presentation and the general emergence of data analysis in daily life due to changes in technology.

Put your three claims to a similar level of rigor...you'll see easily that they are all logical fallacies:

A. Creativity cannot be taught.

B. Talent is in the context of the time. It isn't fair, but it is true.

C. The educational system never knows how to detect --- let alone help --- talented young people.

Data and yes even test scores can tell a trained educator a lot. However...and if anything, take away this **one** truth from this post.....even the **best** data (and 'Bell Curve' is based on severely flawed methodology) is only as good as the person who is interpreting and reporting it.

Re:'Bell Curve' has been debunked (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#44340641)

"Bell curve" means normal distribution. Unsurprisingly, human intelligence does follow a normal distribution. Are you disputing that intelligence follows a normal distribution or that there is such a thing as a normal distribution?

**'Bell Curve'** has been debunked (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#44340733)

emphasis on the 'Bell Curve'...apples and oranges...

it's a popular science book from the 70s, about an anthropology/sociology concept...my original post has the link, fyi. it was popular mostly because sociology/anthropology/comm studies/semiotics/etc were having wave of influential work in the 70s and data analysis was new to them in this context.

'normal distribution' is a major tenet of probability theory...it's more than a concept...it has proofs. It's a higher level idea that is like 'Bell Curve' the same way that Freud is like Mazlow.

so comparing 'Bell Curve' and 'normal distribution' in probability theory is like...comparing apples and oranges.

Re:'Bell Curve' has been debunked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340683)

> Chomsky
> modern science

lol

Incidentally, here's an image from the book The Bell Curve

http://i.imgur.com/Kca2f.jpg [imgur.com]

(this is where you write a 5000 word essay about how IQ doesn't measure anything, differences in intelligence don't exist, intelligence doesn't exist, races don't exist, etc.)

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340395)

A. Creativity cannot be taught.

While true, this implies that creativity cannot be learned, which is entirely false. We are all, to some extent, creative. The more we practice that creativity, the more we'll be better at it. Some people are naturally more creative than others, but everyone falls somewhere in the continuum.

Schools can and should be giving students outlets for their creativity so that they can practice being creative. The more they do, the more creative those students will turn out to be.

P.S. It's not that hard to define gifted. Where the difficulty lies is in defining gifted in a universal context, which is as stupid an exercise as it is impossible. Instead, try to recognize gifted people in a single context and the problem gets much easier...a gifted musician, athlete or scientist is much easier to identify.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44340481)

A. Creativity cannot be taught.

While true, ...

Says who? Creativity can and is taught. I teach it all the time. I work with kids in after school programs. We do science and robotics stuff. I have taught the kids to better visualize moving 3D parts by practice and exercises. I have also taught them how to come up with creative ideas. There plenty of ways to do this. If you pair a dull kid up with a brighter kid, he will learn by example. I teach the kids that, instead of starting with a conventional solution and working forward to something innovative, do it the other way around: think of the craziest thing you can, and then work backwards toward something that is actually workable.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

Ultracrepidarian (576183) | about a year ago | (#44340635)

And, the younger the better.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about a year ago | (#44340619)

Ok, well clearly you are a genius. And let's explore that --- because it's important ... Schools are targeted for the middle of the bell curve -- ....snip.....

Gack I hate bell shaped curves. They almost never ring true.

My personal expectation is that the curve is more of a bactrian camel than a dromedary. Statistics are further complicated by maturation, nutrition and more.

The interesting bit about thinking about two types of camels is that it gets easy to see that decisions based on simple statistics like averages will underspend on the population under one hump and overspend on the population under another hump.

This is the reason that state and national education mandates are so often far from the mark. And if you look deeper is why one room schools are so effective at teaching a wide range of students.... iff the instructor is clever enough and policy+syllabus permit.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44340111)

I found multi-threading easy as I just "visualize" the CPU loading registers and writing to memory, which makes it easy to "see" race conditions. Same thing with trying to design the data-flow of systems and identifying potential choke-points.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340175)

Like every other competent programmer ever?

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (2)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about a year ago | (#44340217)

Yep, all five of them.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340285)

Competent programmers are a rarity. Most people are mediocre.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340735)

Does this include you? Most people overestimate their abilities.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340763)

I'm nothing special. Do you overestimate your abilities?

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340743)

*Sigh* - who cares? For all we know, you're rubbish at programming, and screw up constantly. I sense a self-diagnosis on its way...

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (4, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year ago | (#44340315)

>What can you do with two sticks and a string?
The only answer is Nunchucks.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (3, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#44340007)

I have seen a correlation as well. I have always had a knack for spatial relations, and some of the best IT folks I know do as well. I know it is anecdotal, but a large collection of anecdotal evidence is called data. :)

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340043)

I know it is anecdotal, but a large collection of anecdotal evidence is called data. :)

No, anecdotal evidence is heavily subjective to selective memory and the fallacies that come with it -- confirmation bias and motivated reasoning being the two primary ones.

Anecdotal evidence, no matter how much of it there is, cannot be used to imply correlation or causation, in any sense that an observational study or trial can.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340045)

I have seen a positive correlation between happy black men and the zip code in which your mother lives. She always did have a knack for racial relationships, she never once got hit in the face with a black 9-inch dick because of her spatial reasoning, bobbing and weaving. This is no mere anecdote, my friend -- Your mother is a large collection of African semen.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340035)

Put this together for me, what does it mean?

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44340037)

how is creativity not measurable?
people go to school to learn creative skills, art, design and others. all art is based on prior art and to be a successful artist or designer you have to know why things are the way they are.

i work close to a lot of art galleries in NYC. i work in a building with lots of creative businesses in it. people come in to work every day. in a lot of cases you can see inside and people are in meetings, working, etc.

art isn't made sitting in starbucks all day thinking you are creative. its coming in to work every day

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#44340135)

how is creativity not measurable?

For example, do you measure quantity? (Reality television) or Quality? (Blade Runner) Finding a widely a accepted benchmark might prove to be a challenge...

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (2)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44340167)

Art has nothing to do with creativity. Design has nothing to do with it either.

Writers are creative. Musicians are creative. Engineers are creative. Even politicians are creative. Creativity is the act and process of making something new. It is composed of existing parts and pieces whether those are paint, words, ideas or bits but the arrangement is new and unique (until it is copied - which is not a creative act, unless the process of copying is itself new).

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year ago | (#44340469)

Except not all engineers create something "new". Many, if not most, play a support role. And many engineering disciplines involve following some very precise sets of rules and standards, even in the "design" of new products, so opportunity for "coming up" with something unique, or patentable, is actually quite uncommon. Many new and practical concepts in product design often comes from industrial designers with more of a background in art than in science and technology.

Most musicians are not creative either, though many like to claim they are. Most musicians are technicians who reproduce sounds on instruments according to very detailed instructions (ie sheet music). Even when improvisation is a element in a performance, the technic employed is often copied and not their own original idea. Only composers have a real chance to be creative. But even most artist, composers, and writers, while "creating" "new" content, are just following trends set by the creative leaders of their respective fields. Take my response to your post for instance - though original and my "creation", it is not uncommon in our modern era to instantly question presumptive, generalized statements that are not supported by clear and convincing evidence. So the product of my effort here is really not "creative", nor does it need to be. I have not in this post created any new style of prose, any new method of logical reasoning, any new literary elements. If there is anything truly unique about my post it is simply that I have questioned some well entrenched views on the nature of creativity, but I'm sure there are errors in grammar and style that are even more profound, after all I specialized in engineering, not rhetoric.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44340097)

More, I don't even see what the point is, with regard to "but these are not tested for in standard testing" part. Why would it be? What is the point of testing kids in school to find out they are exceptional in any way when you aren't going to aid their education to make the most of that exceptional potential?

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44340133)

Spatial ability is testable. I took such a test to get into high school.It is explicitly listed on tests such as the ASVAB.

Creativity is another thing. There are many types of creativity, and the good news that increasingly school do see the need to encourage creative learning. Of course, given that school are increasingly only concerned with test, it is difficult to find time to engage in unstructured play, which is where we learn creativity. Creativity might be a the ability to put a bunch of stuff together into an interesting or useful form, or it might be the ability to create an image on a blank sheet of paper. To be honest, now that I think about it, the issue is not that we don't try to teach creativity, but we are too product oriented. We are focused on the idea that there is a right and wrong answer, a right and wrong, way, and not that we need to develop a creative process.

Re:Wow this is the best handwaving I've seen in a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340137)

Me: Hello Kokgobbler!

You: Gobble! Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!

Me: Alrighty then! Goodbye!

You: Gobble! Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!

I predict (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#44339995)

Dozens of posts will be made in this discussion where people will manage to mention that they have well above average spatial reasoning skills.

I know this will happen because of my highly developed spatial reasoning skills - it gives me great insight into human behavior.

Re:I predict (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#44340019)

That and the fact that the slashdot audience is heavily skewed towards geeks, (or at least it was) And the best geeks are not only intelligent, but able to put things together in new and interesting combinations... So it would be more than average here. And less than average on a Jersey Shore forum.

Re:I predict (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340053)

It's like (motor vehicle) driving skills. Everybody thinks they're above average.

Re:I predict (3, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#44340143)

It's like (motor vehicle) driving skills. Everybody thinks they're above average.

And if you take a survey are an F1 drivers meeting, they may be correct.

Re:I predict (2)

quenda (644621) | about a year ago | (#44340519)

It's like (motor vehicle) driving skills. Everybody thinks they're above average.

that's true, and not at all a contradiction.

The reason is that everyone has different criteria for what makes a good driver.
they are not all using the same absolute scale. Some are safe. Some are fast. Some efficient.

Re:I predict (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340059)

Well I predict that there is something bogus about this.

I know for a fact that I have below average spatial reasoning skills. I am a (bad) chess player and I just lack the ability to see that many people have. Spatial reasoning is the most important non-learned skill in chess, and I just cannot visualize long continuations at all.

Yet on the test linked in the article summary, I got a perfect score. Have years of chess play improved my ability to do these kinds of puzzles, much like dual n-back can do with IQ tests? Maybe.

Is it selection bias (my chess playing peers most likely would also get a perfect score on the test)? I don't think so, I'm an IT architect by day, and I'm completely useless without a whiteboard.

I expected to score below the mean on this test. I wish they would tell how many data points they have and what the stdev is.

Re:I predict (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#44340229)

I faced the exact same problem with playing bridge - I realized there was a particular threshold I couldn't cross. I tried to figure out why & found out that I have very average spatial visualization skills.

Re:I predict (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#44340239)

I know for a fact that I have below average spatial reasoning skills. I am a (bad) chess player and I just lack the ability to see that many people have. Spatial reasoning is the most important non-learned skill in chess, and I just cannot visualize long continuations at all. Yet on the test linked in the article summary, I got a perfect score.

Or maybe the test is just too easy. I was able to find shortcuts to several of the answers without having to fold the shapes into a cube in my head.

Re:I predict (1)

paavo512 (2866903) | about a year ago | (#44340625)

The test looked quite easy for me as well, scored 9/9 without really needing to do spatial folding in my head. Spatial folding would have been hard, but this test could be done without it, only using relative positioning of a couple of characteristic markers. I guess their scores now got skewed by being slashdotted.

Re:I predict (1)

buswolley (591500) | about a year ago | (#44340355)

Yeah. I got 8 of 9, but subjectively my visual manipulations seem to last like .5 to 1 seconds before resetting. The trick on it is to form a 2-3 item relation, then test whether it holds in the others.

A couple of the problems had shortcuts, or were easy. The average is 3.6 or so.

Still I wouldn't say it was an easy task. I definitely had to concentrate...It felt like exercise.

Re:I predict (1)

RobertinXinyang (1001181) | about a year ago | (#44340533)

I only got 6/9 then I went back and looked at the mean score. I have to say that I was shocked that it was so low.

Re:I predict (1)

buswolley (591500) | about a year ago | (#44340577)

I don't know. Its also about how much effort is put in. The task interested me professionally as a cognitive scientist, so I was really motivated.

Re:I predict (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about a year ago | (#44340663)

All the problems have an easy shortcut. Make choice, click submit. Score go up? Hit back, next question. Stay the same? Next choice.

Re:I predict (1)

paavo512 (2866903) | about a year ago | (#44340755)

All the problems have an easy shortcut. Make choice, click submit. Score go up? Hit back, next question. Stay the same? Next choice.

Oh, so now we have discovered why the average score is so low!

Re:I predict (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44340099)

Spatial ability is the new aspergers.

Re:I predict (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340291)

Spatial ability is the new aspergers.

My dyslexia kicked in and I had to read this 4 times... I could have sworn it said "spatial ability is the new asparagus."

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340251)

yes but do they help you fix broken sega cds?

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340293)

Dozens of posts will be made in this discussion where people will manage to mention that they have well above average spatial reasoning skills.

I know this will happen because of my highly developed spatial reasoning skills - it gives me great insight into human behavior.

I wonder if spatial skills are a use it or lose it proposition. I think it has to do with short term memory formation.

In 2nd grade I took a bunch of tests, and my spatial reasoning was something like a 99 or 100, which along with my other skills landed me in a gifted program with 2 or other 3 people out of the whole school. I enjoyed puzzles and tangrams.

Fast forward to computer science at Virginia Tech - I would cogitate on a project or homework solution for a few hours, and write the 500 or 1000 lines it in one sitting and typically get close to a perfect score (test driven development often used.)

And finally, the last 5 stressful years in IT. Having cranked through hundreds and hundreds of servers and projects, I feel dumb and numb. I look at some of the problems I solved and can't fathom how I did so. I think the constant multitasking might be to blame - now even simple development tasks have me repeatedly checking my notes and going back and forth between diagrams and the work in front of me. My short term memory is basically shot, and I think my spatial reasoning has suffered because of it.

Re:I predict (2)

buswolley (591500) | about a year ago | (#44340363)

age. faulty memory of past brilliance. Tired. Multi-tasking is bad. Must concentrate on one thing.

Re:I predict (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44340333)

Dozens of posts will be made in this discussion where people will manage to mention that they have well above average spatial reasoning skills.

I know this will happen because of my highly developed spatial reasoning skills - it gives me great insight into human behavior.

Too bad spatial and temporal reasoning skill are not necessarily the same, so I'll take your prediction about the future with a grain of salt. Both of them deal with contextual/integrative reasoning:
* the spatial reasoning is focusing on where in the given context - what instantaneous relation need to be there for something to happen. In the artistic creation area: think painting/sculpture
* the temporal reasoning second one deals with when within the context - what should happen before for something else to happen. In the artistic creation domain: think music and poetry (in some amount even literature, bound as it is to using a "sequence of words"; but still it does rely on the capabilities of the reader to reconstitute the spatial dimension where/when this dimension is important).

This is why studies relying on statistics - this one included - mostly fail to give a full picture. They discover correlations - spatial in their essence, as statistics mostly assume the ergodic hypothesis [wikipedia.org] (a large statistical set obtained by a simultaneous measure of multiple equivalent systems is indistinguishable from a statistical set obtained by repeated measures over time of the same system). By doing so, they mostly fail to offer a causal explanation (which would require an analysis mostly focused on the temporal / sequential dimension)

My guess: one does need at least one kind of contextual reasoning to be creative, having something of both makes someone better able to reach/touch/affect a larger amount of people.
In art: think the director of a movie: sequential by nature but also having a "spatial dimension" of the projection and the capability to direct the attention on the important details of the whole or, on the contrary, to depict the ensemble. Artistic dance also need both.

.

Re:I predict (1)

quenda (644621) | about a year ago | (#44340495)

But I'm a typical Slashdot user with exceptional spatial ability and no social insight. you insensitive clod.

Re:I predict (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44340555)

And another dozen posts trying to explain that Spatial Ability isn't all that important anyway.

OK, we get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340001)

Intelligence is not just one or two traits. It's many traits, probably well over a dozen. But the master trait that helps unlock the rest, may be the ability to motivate oneself to work harder than one's peers.

Re:OK, we get it (4, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44340041)

Wrong. The master skill is laziness. The desire to automate everything so you can sit back and read a good book or use spacial abilities to hack on your home automation Arduino kit, so you can sit back and read a good book.

Re:OK, we get it (1)

jma05 (897351) | about a year ago | (#44340119)

Laziness may be a great skill for IT, especially for mundane automation.
But this is about science and creativity. Laziness does not cut it there.
Writing a little script for yourself is not considered greatly creative or scientific. Its just a little clever.

Re:OK, we get it (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44340205)

Uh, no. Laziness accounts for the wheel, fire, steel, assembly line, powered flight and every form of transportation ever, computers in general, all of robotics, electricity, gps and satellite communications, the internet - pretty much all inventions which increase efficiency of any kind.

People want to sit around doing nothing all day but stuff keeps getting in the way - we need food, shelter, protection from people more lazy than our selves (who want to steal our food and shelter) and we need to not die from illness or natural disaster. Add in the procreative urge and everything else falls out as a result of an fitness algorithm that has been running for hundreds of thousands of years now (at least with a modern human brain running it).

Re: OK, we get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340749)

Don't confuse laziness and efficiency (even if the former was the motivation for the latter). Many of those things meant more got done (and not more lazing around).

Re:OK, we get it (1)

jma05 (897351) | about a year ago | (#44340765)

> Uh, no. Laziness accounts for the wheel, fire, steel, assembly line, powered flight and every form of transportation ever, computers in general, all of robotics, electricity, gps and satellite communications, the internet - pretty much all inventions which increase efficiency of any kind.

Now you are just making stuff up. We don't even know how the wheel and fire got started. None of the other stuff was invented out of laziness (did Henry Ford or Wright Brothers actually say they did it out of laziness?) and most of the stuff did not save any time for the pioneers (and they were not doing it to save time). You just made a teleological argument... that if it improved efficiency, it must by definition be laziness.

Wanting to make more money by inventing better methods is called having a business plan, not laziness. Wanting to improve things for humanity and move to the next level (all of that stuff created more work, not make time for fun - our goal is to do higher things, not fewer things), and perhaps make a name or money in the process, is not called laziness in any conventional sense of the word.

Re:OK, we get it (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44340215)

Sure it does. Suppose you have some sort of gene splicing process that takes hours. An intelligent, creative person will think about better, faster, easier ways to do the same thing. I remember seeing a presentation on behaviour driven development where the presenter said he also called it "beer driven development" as it let him get to the pub faster, since he got his work done more quickly.

Predicting? What good is that? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44340033)

First off, it takes multiple types of people to make any real breakthrough. Most of the scientific names we remember were either extrordinarily lucky or were only the part of the team that was most adept at PR. Edison had a stable of scientists working for him, some would say all he did was steal their creativity. Watson was half of the duo credited with discovering DNA, the other half did LSD, and there were multiple other people who may have deserved more credit than Watson anyway. We find the idea of one lone idiot savant appealing, but really the people who advance science the most are more often than not part of a team. And spatial ability doesn't seem to correlate with team player skills.

Second... okay, we might be able to identify the few lone wolf scientists better. What then? We tell them they're the next Tesla and encourage them to enter STEM, while someone who is not good at the Rubix cube, we tell them to go into finance? Perhaps colleges would have an incentive to include spatial ability on the SAT or ACT, but we're not exactly telling people they can't go to college if they can't picture a combustion engine in their heads.

Re:Predicting? What good is that? (1)

Phroggy (441) | about a year ago | (#44340257)

If spacial ability in children is a predictor of their scientific creativity later in life, then if we could improve children's spacial abilities, this might produce more creative adults. The next step is to look for ways to do that, and then see if it worked.

Quantum is not visual (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44340049)

As a visual thinker myself, the quantum world is very anti-visual, at least in terms of the everyday physics we know and love. While it may have served science well in the past, it may not in the future as the big mysteries are increasingly in the quantum realm.

Re:Quantum is not visual (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340231)

Quantum mechanics is visual in at least two regards:

1. Like all physics, you're talking about math. Being able to visualize equations, changes to equations, graphs of data, etc., in your head is important. (Bonus points for being able to visualize graphs of data in at least 4 dimensions - x, y, z, and colour.)

2. You can easily visualize actual quantum processes (like quantum tunneling or electron "movement") if you can visualize in five dimensions - x, y, z, object, time.

Re:Quantum is not visual (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44340343)

5 dimensions?! I'm out.

Re:Quantum is not visual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340597)

Position, time and something like "brightness" is already 5 dimensions. For simple cases that's not really hard to visualize.

I'm supposedly gifted in this (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44340051)

They're right - it's not caught on any of the standardized tests in schools, especially now that all the stupid standardized testing has drilled down to basic math, English, and some limited science and history. I didn't find out until I went through a battery of psychological testing in 8th grade (20 years ago) because I was borderline for the EIP program and my teacher sponsor requested it.

I guess I'm lucky I just started a new job where I'll get to happily make flow charts and diagrams all day long.

Re:I'm supposedly gifted in this (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | about a year ago | (#44340223)

I was caught in about the 5th grade for the same thing - teachers recommended it and I still have the test results. I did a secondary test as well and I still remember being asked why it would be advantageous for a mouse to have more than one hole to run to - seemed like a crazy question! Nowadays the tests aren't so broad and teachers are pretty well beaten up, it's truly sad...

Re:I'm supposedly gifted in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340761)

Sorry, you "still have the test results" from 5th grade? That is fucking pathetic.

The big question (4, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | about a year ago | (#44340057)

Is good spatial ability because of / or an indicator of creativity?
Or, is creativity because of good spatial ability?

If spatial ability has some sort of causal effect on creativity then LEGOs (and no, I don't work for them! :) should be required part of every childhood. (How many science Nobel prize winners used LEGOs/tinker toys/wooden blocks when they were little?).

Also it would be an interesting to see what effect watching movies or even playing video games have had (looking at images on a 2D surface) have had. Maybe that explains the term "couch potatoes" (looking at 2D images exclusively might make the brain very UN-creative). Perhaps 3D video games like FPS would more than make up for this and games like minecraft even more so. Still this is another reason why fully immersive virtual reality can't come soon enough (that is if we don't all get sick from vertigo)!

I wonder if the stock price if LEGO has changed due to the findings from this study?

Re:The big question (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | about a year ago | (#44340219)

Legos I never had but tinker toys, erector sets, and holy smokes those 150n1 electronic kits from Radio Shack! the Erectors i didn't like so much due to sharp edges but I was all over Tinker Toys - which are now plastic crap. I agree that such toys should be required and I would also agree that FPS help creativity and spatial reasoning. Kids who can visualize and find their way around a map like we had with Quake or Wolfenstein should be paid attention to!

Re:The big question (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#44340621)

Neither. Both are indicative of general intelligence, and we don't have a thorough grasp on the mechanism for any of them yet.

the Knack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340087)

Isn't this "spatial reasoning" the same as the knack, as described in the classic Dilbert cartoon?
Doctor: "Your son has 'the knack'"
Mrs. Dilbert: "can he live a normal life?"
Doctor: "No. He'll be an engineer."

Spatial Skiill and Technical Creativity Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340093)

I think in the Design of Design Fred Brooks says something to the effect that good designers even in software almost always have high spatial reasoning ability.

the Knack? (2)

Morgan Rodwell (2991075) | about a year ago | (#44340095)

Isn't this "spatial reasoning" the same as the knack, as described in the classic Dilbert cartoon? Doctor: "Your son has 'the knack'" Mrs. Dilbert: "can he live a normal life?" Doctor: "No. He'll be an engineer."

Re:the Knack? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year ago | (#44340109)

Yeah [youtube.com]

Oddly enough... (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#44340113)

Oddly, I *did* dismantle the family refrigerator when I was 12.

The parents were away, and the thing stopped working. This was an older units with a separate compressor and motor - a big belted wheel that turned a pulley on the side of the compressor.

I took off the front panel. pulled out the frame containing the motor and compressor, and discovered the relay wasn't working. I unplugged it, cleaned/sandpapered the contacts, and put it all back before the parents got home (and told them what happened).

I also did the clock thing. I modified a mantel clock to a) not ring the hour, and b) start ringing at 2:00 AM and not stop. I hid it under my sister's bed on her wedding night.

I strongly believe special traits can be developed, including spacial ability. If you believe Geoff Calvin [amazon.com] , there's no such thing as talent or innate ability. Everyone who is identified as an expert in their field (Mozart, Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice &c) had put in enormous amounts of practice before becoming expert. For instance, Mozart was composing at age 4, but didn't write anything particularly good until his twenties (IIRC - may have gotten the ages wrong).

Feynman, for example, believed that geniuses are common, but due to lack of education, lack of encouragement, poor education, or lack of leisure time they have no chance to blossom. (Meaning: genius-level people are too busy with a job and family to really sit down and create things.)

The literature and current studies indicate that, barring physical deformity, anyone can become an expert in just about anything. They only have to practice long enough and hard enough.

Re:Oddly enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340153)

If you believe Geoff Calvin [amazon.com], there's no such thing as talent or innate ability.

From experience, I don't believe him. Geniuses are not common, but extremely rare. Most people are obviously illogical and naive.

Re:Oddly enough... (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | about a year ago | (#44340207)

My fave was taking apart the carb on the family car. It was our second car so no biggie - except the primary was in the shop. I put the silly thing back together wrong and the car would only run for a few seconds before dying. I stayed up quite late tinkering with it until I finally tore it down far enough to visualize how it worked and figure out I'd been putting a part in wrong. My parents were pretty relieved and quite surprised when I found this and the car fired right up just fine. I find that doing mechanical things is a great deal of fun and tuning cars - their computers - is even more fun. Optimizing a system to make the most power is a blast! I didn't choose that as a career though as I quickly learned early on that leaning over a car all day was hell on my back and I ended up in the computer field for a job. My mother used to tell me that as a child they had to be careful because if I got hold of a screwdriver anything below knee height would be disassembled. I can even recall doing some of that just to see how things worked although it wasn't until later I could reassemble them :-) Numbers were my bane, reading always my friend and now computers too.

I don't think traits are innate but I do think that some learn in some areas more quickly than others. My ability to visualize isn't something that can be taught in my opinion and I have an ability to figure out faults more quickly than many others. I think the latter can be taught as a skill but not everyone gets it nearly as well so there's talent there too. Certainly i think there are geniuses that aren't found due to lack of education or spotting them - I did very poorly in school simply because I was bored, in other situations I might have simply been failed and passed over. I got lucky I think but could still have done better

Re:Oddly enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340233)

As someone who testing well into the top 1% in math in second grade, and heading into special ED for my spelling+reading, I think some of the talent is innate. At the very least, some of the interest which in turn drives people to develop the talent is innate. I can't blame my situation on my upbringing: my brother was very different, and was raised similarly. My focuses and interests (and struggles) correlate strongly with some particular others in my family. Its clearly not just practice.

Sure, I don't have the drive to put in the effort to be a leader in my field. I don't care about that, and thats needed to get famous over it, but that drive itself seems like a ability that varies somewhat genetically (at the very least we have people who are genetically defective and fail completely in this regard, so it must be somewhat genetic).

There are also plenty of experts in physical areas as well that clearly are at least partly genetic: look as the proportions of swimmers.

That said, I'll agree with (you claims about) Feynman that there may be a lot of "geniuses" that lack the environment or motivation. I've been called a genius, and I clearly lack the motivation to dedicate my life to some particular focus. I didn't feel like dealing with graduate level math, I'd rather code stuff and watch anime. Speaking on anime, in Dantalian No Shoka (First half of ep 3, "Book of Wisdom"), I loved what happened with the children who gained all knowledge: they just sat around chilling. They weren't motivated to do anything globally significant to begin with: its the drive to accomplish that is the rarest, not the ability to do so. Given the context of the rest of the series, its really quite interestingly done.

Re:Oddly enough... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44340237)

Lack of leisure time is a serious issue. I end up trying to create late at night which is harder the older you get. Even worse is that without enough time to change gears its easy to opt for passive activities like reading or watching video of something rather than actually creating. Passive knowledge gathering is good and you can mentally model quite a lot of an idea but ultimately there is a limit to how far a mental model can go and you need to get direct feedback from an actualized model to move it forward.

Number 6 was a bitch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340155)

But all the others were simple. I guess that must mean I'm creative or something.
I wouldn't know, I can't get past community college.

High on spatial here (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340157)

Now for the story. As a bad kid I was locked up. During that year I went though many psychological tests and IQ tests but it wasn't my first encounter with them. Having been labeled a smart kid (reading college level in grade school), I was somewhat of an outcast because A grades were so simple for me. I think it was simple really, I had read beyond the classes so the material was sometimes below me. I wasn't afraid to ask questions but I have had one lingering demon - math.

Something about the rote memorization bothered me, the lack of proof of how things worked. I dropped out of caring about it once they introduced imaginary numbers. Without understanding the formulas or using them, I have to come up with my own ways to make math work for myself. I could fake it well enough in trigonometry by memorizing the formulas and applying them but I swear to you I just can't put those into real world problems for the life of me but I can get an A on your final. Each time I've tried to read into algorithms I always get lost by the math symbols that aren't explained so I expect that in some ways this works for and against me. For me because I have to solve a problem with my own brain, against me because others won't see me doing it the way they were taught or how it's "supposed" to be done. I imagine that it takes me longer too since I'm reinventing the wheel. Where I get back time though is on visualizing a complex system before it exists and keep all the parts in my head. I'm good at figuring out where bottlenecks or potential problems will be. I think this helps me with making accurate time proposals and debugging the work of others. I've become the local 'goto' person in this company even for things I don't do daily. Eighty percent of the messages I get for work now are looking at something broken somewhere else. I could offer them that high spatial makes for a good debugger perhaps.

Back to the kiddie topic.
I was constantly watched and tested even in advanced classes. These classes gave me a social stigma I couldn't handle once I became a teen so I refused to go to school and rebelled intensely, after all, everyone around me was constantly saying I was smart. It was time to put down smart and work on my impossible social life because smart was under control. This led to a commitment to girl's school indefinitely for refusing completely to attend high school. In one door and out the other each and every day. Inside lockup their tests also quantified where my skills were and I can't forget how high my spatial ability came out. I kept the paperwork for it but the odd part was that the careers they suggested to me where nowhere near what I derive enjoyment from. They suggested judge, lawyer, and something medical. Only the lawyer sounded appealing because you could argue nonstop. None of them sounded to me like what I wanted, to turn the pictures in my head into reality. I can do that with programming. What I get out of programming is a desire to improve. When I want to feel creative lately I turn on 'Daft Punk - Technologic' to spin my juices. The song is fast and tech oriented, it goes through all the phases of usage and reminds me why speed matters to users and how products are lines away from being trash or replaced.

Those careers suggested seem very bound to rules to me. Had I listened to their assessments of my strengths I wouldn't be posting here or continued my reading in this direction. Especially if I had listened to the people who told me you NEED math skills to be involved with programming. Since I've had so many tests and been through intense counseling I don't think they know at all what makes people tick or at least they don't take enough factors into their decisions. What it all has really done though is make me aware of what I'm good at and what I'm not, that let me choose a path that suited myself.

I tests like this were required I would be screwed (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#44340165)

I looked at these tests and tried to figure it out for a bit but unless I actually cut those things out and folded them up there is just no way I could figure those things out. For some reason I just can't visualize at all. I don't think in pictures or dream in pictures. I am definitely creative though based on what I have done and others evaluations of what I have done. I often come up with unique ways to solve problems that others just can't figure out how they work even after they see them work.

Overall there are many ways to solve problems and confining creative problem solving to an ability to visualize problems would do us all a great disservice. What matters is developing the talents you have and figuring out how to really use them effectively.

Re:I tests like this were required I would be scre (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44340361)

I looked at these tests and tried to figure it out for a bit but unless I actually cut those things out and folded them up there is just no way I could figure those things out.

Visualizing unfolded parts is a skill that improves with practice. Anybody who does sheet metal work sees such problems routinely. There are programs for this, such as eMachineShop or Autodesk Inventor. Rectangular sheet metal design is not that hard. Origami, though...

There's a higher level of visualization than this. I used to develop high-end animation software, so I met pro 3D animators. I've seen one draw a head by drawing a series of 2D cross sections freehand, then skinning it. I can use the 3D animation program, but I can't do that.

Sculptors have that skill, too. There's a classic line: "The story is told that the Pope visited Michelangelo in his studio one day, and on seeing him sculpting his statue of David, the Pope asked, "How do you know what to cut away?" The great artist's response was, "I simply chip away anything that doesn't look like David."'

That is not a joke. There are people whose 3D visualization is that good.

This may be inherited. I know a good artist whose drawings have hung in the Smithsonian. She has that kind of visualization ability. So do her son and daughter, although neither works as an artist.

Re:I tests like this were required I would be scre (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#44340411)

The problem is that I don't visualize at all. When I close my eyes I don't see any pictures. No dreams in pictures, thinking in pictures etc. Doing this kind of stuff is just not something I can do.

I can think of very complex problems in ways that others think of as very strange though but lead to very elegant solutions. I tend to be extremely good at taking something apart in my mind and turning it into a computer simulation or solve it in a very unorthodox and simple way.

I tried to learn to visualize things, so far I have not made any progress on that.

just visual images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340169)

why can't "the ability to 'generate [take in], retain, retrieve, and transform well-structured visual _______.' " apply to music, numbers, language, logic, or physical abilities?

Interesting.... (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | about a year ago | (#44340177)

When I was in school we got tested for mechanical and spatial reasoning skills as well as math, reading, blah blah. I scored over 90th percentile in mechanical and spatial reasoning and also pegged reading comprehension. Math? I was below middle of the pack, like 45% percentile. Math just never made sense to me but given the chance to work on something mechanical I'm all over it and can often figure out how something works or how ro assemble it just by looking at the pieces. Computers, likewise, are something I can envision. I can be given a set of requirements for a program and be able to tell where there will be issues that need to be worked out before the program is built. I tend to think outside the box is all. i could see myself inventing something but I sure as heck don't see myself doing anything math related, it just doesn't click :(

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340189)

That fits.

Could this explain why degrees suck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340203)

I've generally been pretty negative about post-secondary education, and job requirements for the same. Degree inflation is a pretty well-known phenomenon. I work in tech, and I work closely with development teams. Almost everybody (95%+) has had at least an undergraduate degree, and a few people have had master's degrees. I've worked with hundreds of people with degrees (mostly comp-sci, business, and engineering), at all levels of experience ranging from 3rd-year co-ops to 20-year veterans.

My own position basically boils to these two points and a response to a common argument:

1. In my experience, people who have degrees (or those who only hire those with degrees) tend to assume that being awarded a degree denotes some basic level of competence. In my experience, there is simply no correlation between even basic competence and having a degree. By basic competence I mean: "able to think their way out of paper box (more colloquially, able to empty urine out of a boot if the instructions are written on the heel), or "able to follow simple directions." I want to stress that I'm referring to both intellectual (logic and reason) and practical (basically repeating processes that have been learned by rote) skills. Most university graduates I've worked with (some who performed exceptionally well in nationally-hero-worshipped university programs) are both intellectually and practically useless. Many of them will never be otherwise, at least not over the span of a decade or two.

2. Degrees are required for jobs that formerly would have been filled by people who took a 3-year college program (and where a good chunk of that three years was good work-experience mentoring, to boot). It isn't that the jobs really require a university degree, and it's not that people with university degrees tend to outperform those without (though that's probably true in most fields, I would argue that for the moment that's not true in tech where people can gain truly mind-blowing amounts and ranges of experience without ever setting foot in an institution). It's usually either a combination of social norm/inertia, and people with degrees refusing to believe or accept that somebody can be competent without one. (Those people are rare, but they exist, and they're usually the least competent of the lot.)

3. To those who say "but university teaches you how to (learn or think)!" Well, I have news for you: this can and should be taught in elementary school. It was taught to me in elementary school (and repeatedly thereafter of course). If somebody can make it through to university without knowing how to learn or think (if they're *accepted* into a university program without knowing how to learn or think), then you have almost certainly not made it as far as you have on merit. You've probably made it that far because your teachers and all the school administrators you've been exposed to have known that denying you a diploma or a degree is a one-way ticket to wage slavery. And if you've made it to 18 or 20 without knowing how to learn or think, a 4-year undergraduate program isn't going to help you much. At best your going to be a decade or more behind those who were properly-educated as children.

I'm getting to a point I promise :)

So you can probably tell I don't have a degree, but I also don't have a chip on my shoulder: I'm successful and incredibly well-respected by my colleagues. I've been asked maybe once in the past five years if I had a degree. Those few times when somebody decided to have an attitude about it, I quite enjoyed putting them in their place. (Opportunities I would not have had if I had a degree :) Now that most of my friends have finished their undergraduate studies, they now openly covet my (much) higher salary, and the four years I spent making money while most of them were spending it. Some of them have unpleasant amounts of debt. So really, the above position is a result of personal experience and informal research - it's a reasoned position based on the data I have available, not an emotional overreaction.

So! To my point!

I wonder if university systems (and those parts of our economy which are heavily degree-focused) are so broken because of what this article is trying to say? That we're not testing or encouraging those things which make for good, competent people (in whatever endeavour)? It would explain a lot: I'd say 50% of the undergraduate degree holders I've worked with have been a net productivity loss for the company they worked for (and really the companies could only stay afloat because of the odd person here or there who was 10-50 times more productive). It would also explain why I've met a fair number of people just high school diplomas (or not even that) who were smarter than anybody I'd worked with.

Sampling bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340211)

That link to the simple-to-test spatial cube pattern thingy... I imagine the sampling bias is off the hook with the people choosing to do it because that looks 'fun' when it was posted on a board for people who self-identify as nerds.

I wonder if they will update the mean result in time or if that survey is long since completed.

Malformed URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340221)

Conclusive proof that Soulskill doesn't RTFA. Or, a subtle IQ test. Solution left to the reader.

Psychology = junk science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340367)

Psychology is the perfect definition of junk science. However, because so many powerful bad people want to manipulate Humans, this field continues to get attention it most certainly does not deserve.

Yes, we have 'minds' and yes are minds must obviously work in certain ways, but 'free will' CANNOT be explained by the principles of a clockwork universe. The scientific method involves exploring concepts that could be simulated on a Turing Complete computer. Free will and true randomness CANNOT be simulated on a Turing Complete computer, and so by definition, fall outside the scope of the scientific method.

Psychology falls back to the old trick of misapplying certain statistical techniques, and passing off the results as scientific conclusions. One sees exactly the same rubbish in almost every published sociology paper- sociology and psychology being effectively the same thing. Correlation is constantly passed off as causation, and the logical fallacy that the 'property' of the group is also the 'property' of members of the group is also assumed to be correct.

This last fallacy is the one almost every person mistakenly believes to be true. Take certain classes of murder. Maybe 80%+ of the time they are carried out by a certain relative of the victim. Most people (almost certainly including you, the reader) think this statistic actually coerces reality, so when a new murder of this type occurs, the 'innocence' of the usual suspect is effected by the statistic. However, you CANNOT speak about a sample of ONE.

Science flourishes when science is allowed to flourish- quelle surprise. When ANYTHING gets respect in society, that thing flourishes, be it the 'church', gang behaviour, science, pop songs - it really doesn't matter what the thing is. As for the Humans with the talent for religion, thuggishness, critical thinking, music or whatever- well all that matters is no matter what society current respects, a number of us will prove to have higher levels of ability in that field.

I promise you one thing. The 'greats' in any given area of Human endeavour will have very little in common with each other. Alphas are peculiar in this way. The better betas are, perhaps, somewhat more similar to one another, but who cares about that. We are addressing the fallacy that 'genius' can be identified BEFORE genius self-identifies.

This fallacy, by the way, arises from the psychological desire by certain betas to think they can 'control' alphas by 'understanding' them at some fundamental level. This would then somehow 'elevate' said beta above the alpha. All total nonsense driven by the usual inferiority complexes found in the 'chip on the shoulder' types desperate to invent tests to categorise us Humans.

I should also point out that ALL the world's worst atrocities have been planned by betas with exactly the same forms of inferiority complexes. Designing 'IQ' tests, and sticking certain groups of Humans in death camps come from exactly the same way of thinking.

Geeks poor at sports/dynamic spatial intelligence? (1)

AndyD568 (2796177) | about a year ago | (#44340383)

Why are geeks often below average when it comes to ball-related sports if they supposedly have higher spatial intelligence. Besides lacking hand eye coordination they also seem to be poor or average at spatial intelligence when it comes to dynamic situations i.e. anticipation over where the ball is going to be or how it is going to behave in terms of trajectory, bounce etc. (This is gross generalization based on anecdotal observations. I'm a geek who is reasonably good at racket sports)

Bad first link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340391)

To see the New York Times article, remove the 3 at the end of the URL

Too bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340477)

Too bad high creativity is does not predict the stamina to finish a Doctorate thesis. The strain on the sitting muscles during PhD plus post-doc plus five publications is a killer for a less patient person, no matter how creative. There should be a new way to harness the said creativity for science and related fields which would not require years of commitment and would better enable off-field contributions from unlikely sources, without the loony-factor included.

Basis and inference. (1)

wickerprints (1094741) | about a year ago | (#44340655)

What exactly does one mean by "scientific creativity?" Is it a simple knack for problem solving, or is it something more nuanced and complex, like the sort of ability to postulate entire new theories based on scientific evidence (e.g., Newton and Einstein?) And what exactly does one mean by "spatial ability?" Is such a thing measurable, and if so, what is the scope of such a notion?

Suppose we are speaking of some notion of creativity in the sense of the latter above, and furthermore, that by spatial ability we are referring to a specific ability to comprehend the structure of geometric abstractions without them needing to actually exist. Then of course it stands to reason that such ability would be a benefit in scientific (and mathematical) thinking. Would it be a *predictor* of scientific creativity? I think one could only say such a thing to the extent that, say, being good at math is a predictor of scientific aptitude; that is, ability is beneficial and perhaps influential, but not deterministic. There's a certain kind of convergence of imagination and logical deduction involved in many tests for "spatial ability"--for example, the task involves not just imagining what an object looks like, but also the relationships between features *if* that object were to exist.

So, on a very basic level, I'd be quite surprised if there were no correlation between the two. But do I think that the association is proportional? Hardly. Being especially good at mentally folding patterned nets of cubes isn't going to mean you are expected to be commensurately talented in particle physics (or vice versa). And I don't think that such a strong assertion is what these studies are attempting to demonstrate.

Re:Basis and inference. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340703)

I just read the article so I could answer your questions:

What exactly does one mean by "scientific creativity?"

This is opperationalized multiple ways, but significance is found in Patents

what exactly does one mean by "spatial ability?"

From the journal article:

"spatial-ability composite score was calculated by equally weighting and summing scores on two DAT subtests: Mechanical Reasoning and Space Relations. Composites such as these “tap a basic ability in spatial visualization” (Carroll, 1993, p. 324)."

s such a thing measurable,

From the summary, yes: http://psych.io/spatial/

  and if so, what is the scope of such a notion?

Have a look at any of the 500ish articles that have used this scale, decide for yourself:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=15452328205932837958&as_sdt=5,32&sciodt=0,32&hl=en

As a well-published social-scientist all I can say is: Looks legit to me.

"beneficial and perhaps influential, but not deterministic."

From the paper's abstract:
"the SAT subtests jointly accounted for 10.8% of the variance...when spatial ability was added, an additional 7.6% was accounted for"

So there you go, SAT covers about 10% of variance and Spacial adds another 7%

Visualizing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44340715)

My said she was in her Geometry class taking a test. She said she visualized a shape and just reached out with her hands and manipulated it so that she could see the answer to the question. When asked about what she was doing, she described her process. They really did not understand, but they let her be. This made me quite proud of her, that her spatial intelligence was that good.
This from a girl who taught herself AutoCad. I figure she's either going to be an Engineer or a Mad Scientist.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?