Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
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09-03-2013, 09:23 PM (This post was last modified: 09-03-2013 09:38 PM by Zat.)
Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
The thread title says it all.

I have noticed it in my long life: we are getting dumber and dumber.

You can see it everywhere: attention span, ability to follow logic, imagination, vocabulary, creativity, simple arithmetic, ... the list is a long one.

One example: simple arithmetic.

Twenty years ago, when I was teaching first year algebra students at college, 3 students out of twenty could figure out, in their heads, what 99 times 99 was.

Last week one shop clerk could not figure out, in her head, what 13 times 25cents added up to -- she was reaching for her calculator.

Today, another clerk needed to find seven times two: she did not have a calculator with her, so she wrote down the number 2, seven times, in a column and added them up -- on her fingers! Not even writing up the
number seven, twice!!!

So, what do you think: is the Bell curve being pushed, relentlessly, to the left?

And, if you think it is: why? how? and how far?
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09-03-2013, 09:57 PM
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
(09-03-2013 09:23 PM)Zat Wrote:  The thread title says it all.

I have noticed it in my long life: we are getting dumber and dumber.

You can see it everywhere: attention span, ability to follow logic, imagination, vocabulary, creativity, simple arithmetic, ... the list is a long one.

One example: simple arithmetic.

Twenty years ago, when I was teaching first year algebra students at college, 3 students out of twenty could figure out, in their heads, what 99 times 99 was.

Last week one shop clerk could not figure out, in her head, what 13 times 25cents added up to -- she was reaching for her calculator.

Today, another clerk needed to find seven times two: she did not have a calculator with her, so she wrote down the number 2, seven times, in a column and added them up -- on her fingers! Not even writing up the
number seven, twice!!!

So, what do you think: is the Bell curve being pushed, relentlessly, to the left?

And, if you think it is: why? how? and how far?
Even I can do 7 x 2 and I'm no maths whiz. Rolleyes
I see the way we (community) utilizes technology as dumbing us down by sheer laziness.
Why else would Daniel Dennett be advocating rec leave for computers?
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09-03-2013, 10:23 PM
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
Math is not a natural born gift to me. But even I, who could not be taught basic algebra, know that the answer in 12.. er I mean 14. Tongue

I do agree with you though. I've seen many that can not give simple change in there heads.

I can only say one thing in their defense. I worked retail for the first time in my life last winter.
And I can honestly say that trying to add two plus two was difficult with an impatient customer
breathing down your neck. When a customer would start to stress me out it's like my brain would
shut off. They asked me if I was coming back the next winter I said I don't think so.

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09-03-2013, 11:06 PM
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
(09-03-2013 10:23 PM)smidgen Wrote:  Math is not a natural born gift to me. But even I, who could not be taught basic algebra, know that the answer in 12.. er I mean 14. Tongue

I do agree with you though. I've seen many that can not give simple change in there heads.

I can only say one thing in their defense. I worked retail for the first time in my life last winter.
And I can honestly say that trying to add two plus two was difficult with an impatient customer
breathing down your neck. When a customer would start to stress me out it's like my brain would
shut off. They asked me if I was coming back the next winter I said I don't think so.
This does not sound like a math problem. Seriously, give yourself a break. I think you are just fine. Smile
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09-03-2013, 11:19 PM
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
(09-03-2013 09:23 PM)Zat Wrote:  So, what do you think: is the Bell curve being pushed, relentlessly, to the left?

I think the normal distribution has been stretched to the point it has split into a bimodal distribution.

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09-03-2013, 11:40 PM (This post was last modified: 09-03-2013 11:56 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
Not to nit-pick, but actually the Bell curve doesn't "shift". Two standard deviations are still just that. The value of the mean might be lower, but the curve and it's shape are the same. The values which comprise two standard deviation *might* be different, but a few anecdotal instances prove nothing. The question is, what difference does it make that most people now use devices for computation. How do you know that all the additional memory available at our finger tips hasn't actually shifted the mean in the other direction ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution

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09-03-2013, 11:52 PM (This post was last modified: 09-03-2013 11:56 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
(09-03-2013 11:40 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Not to nit-pick, but actually the Bell curve doesn't "shift".

Not to nit-pick, well actually just to nit pick, Bell curve don't mean dick if the distribution ain't Gaussian. ... It can't even fucking be applied, like definitionally.

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10-03-2013, 06:49 AM
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
(09-03-2013 11:40 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Not to nit-pick, but actually the Bell curve doesn't "shift". Two standard deviations are still just that. The value of the mean might be lower, but the curve and it's shape are the same. The values which comprise two standard deviation *might* be different, but a few anecdotal instances prove nothing. The question is, what difference does it make that most people now use devices for computation. How do you know that all the additional memory available at our finger tips hasn't actually shifted the mean in the other direction ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution


Of course it shifts. It's centered on the mean and the mean can change.

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10-03-2013, 07:00 AM
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
The shift to using devices for simple tasks goes a lot further than using a calculator when making change.
Humans in general have become more and more dependent on electronics - for everything.
From calculators to the web and cell phones to body parts and electricity - we cannot do anymore without electronics.
One might wonder if that will be our undoing at some point in time.
I don't think it's dumbing us down, just using different parts of our brain, the focus has shifted.
But, should electronics fail us at some point for whatever reason, we'd be up shit creek without a paddle.

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10-03-2013, 07:05 AM
RE: Is the Bell-Curve shifting to the left?
(09-03-2013 09:23 PM)Zat Wrote:  I have noticed it in my long life: we are getting dumber and dumber.
This supports your observation, SAT scores over the last fifteen years , wait, what is 2013 minus 1986 equal? Hold on ...

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=171

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