Pubblicato in: Istruzione e Ricerca, Persona Umana

Piantare le viti ed avvitare i chiodi sembrerebbe non funzionare. – Science.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-01-28.

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È comune esperienza aver notato persone tutte indaffarate a cerca di piantare le viti con il martello ed a cercare di avvitare i chiodi con un cacciavite. Sono tentativi votati al sicuro insuccesso, facilmente prevedibile, ma molto difficilmente intravisto prima ed accettato dopo.

Il problema sembrerebbe essere riducibile all’uso o meno del comune buon senso.

Se si volesse, e si potesse, metter l’ascia alla radice del problema, la prima condizione necessaria ancorché non sufficiente per poter utilizzare il buon senso è la rimozione di idee preconcette. Solo sotto questa condizione la persona può permettersi il lusso di percepire il reale per ciò che è e non per ciò che si vorrebbe esso fosse.

Dovrebbe essere il dato empirico a suggerire la teoria interpretativa, non l’opposto.

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Il Grande Gödel dimostrò negli anni trenta del secolo scorso un brillante teorema di logica. Non è possibile costruire un sistema logico senza assumere assiomi derivati da un sistema maggiore che lo comprenda. Questi assiomi sono usualmente denominati come i postulati impliciti.

Cercheremo di spiegarci con un semplice esempio.

Pensate di voler studiare le caratteristiche di figure in un dominio bidimensionale, per esempio, quali siano le caratteristiche di un triangolo. Ci si sbatte immediatamente in un problema: queste caratteristiche, per esempio il teorema di Pitagora, risultano essere indeterminate senza ricorrere ad una terza dimensione.

Quando Euclide dice di considerare un triangolo in un “piano” dignitosamente non lo definisce: lo lascia intuire. Ma per verificare se un dominio bidimensionale sia “piano” occorre avere una visione almeno tridimensionale.

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I postulati impliciti sono viscidi e sfuggenti, spesso sono dati semplicemente per “scontati“, quando poi scontati non lo sono proprio per nulla.

Uno scienziato degno di tal nome dovrebbe mettere una cura estrema nel ricercare quali siano i postulati impliciti che usa, più o meno consapevolmente, e dovrebbe esplicitarli con la massima cura. Ma è difficile, molto difficile. Dobbiamo anche ammettere che spesso, molto spesso, troppo spesso, non lo si vuole proprio fare.

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Lo studio che riportiamo, pubblicato su Science, uno dei più prestigiosi giornali scientifici al mondo, gode anche esso della caratteristica di avere postulati impliciti, come peraltro tutte le argomentazioni scientifiche.

Presenta il difetto logico tipico e caratteristico di tutte le concezioni filosofiche elaborate e derivate da quel processo che si autodefinì “illuminismo“.

«Gli esseri umani nascono buoni ed eguali, e la società ne plasma le caratteristiche»

Questo assioma contiene una parte di verità: sicuramente l’ambiente in cui si vive esercita un’azione formatrice sulla persona.

L’errore consiste nella sua assolutizzazione: ritenere che le caratteristiche della persona umana siano determinate esclusivamente dall’azione della società, a prescindere da tutte le peculiarità insite nella singola persona umana.

Ripetiamo solo per ulteriore chiarezza: l’assolutizzazione è il peccato mortale non suscettibile di perdono, sia in questo caso sia in tutti gli altri. È questo assioma che spiega la maniacale ossessione degli epigoni degli illuministi – idealisti dialettici e storici, comunisti, socialisti ed infine liberals americani – per il sociale. E che li porta alla fine a dare una dolorosa facciata nel fenomeno Trump.

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La lettura del lavoro citato, di cui riportiamo qualche brano, è maieutica ed istruttiva, se fatta in questa luce.

«Girls start to see themselves as less innately talented than boys do when they are only six years old»

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«They said the “disheartening” results suggested the problem could snowball to affect future careers»

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Se è vero che l’autostima è di grande importanza, non è certo essa che consente di emulare Gauss oppure Einstein. Anzi, se si arrivasse a quei punti, si sarebbe già transitati in perniciosi deliri di grandezza.

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Questi sono i sogni.


Ma sotto si annida un altro postulato implicito altrettanto perniciosamente deleterio. Che la femmina si realizzi esclusivamente nel lavoro, e che codesto lavoro debba essere direzionale oppure scientificamente di élite.

Di nuovo riscontriamo la deleteria generalizzazione impropria: un’altra assolutizzazione. È quello “esclusivamente” che distorce percezione e visione del problema.

Per una donna che sfonda e primeggia nella vita lavorativa, per esempio, una Margaret Thatcher, ce ne sono milioni che lavorano in una filanda oppure in una catena di montaggio.

È assurdo pensare che tutte le donne debbano diventare Margaret Thatcher.

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Questa è la realtà


«Emergent attitudes toward brilliance.

The distribution of women and men across academic disciplines seems to be affected by perceptions of intellectual brilliance. Bian et al. studied young children to assess when those differential perceptions emerge. At age 5, children seemed not to differentiate between boys and girls in expectations of “really, really smart”—childhood’s version of adult brilliance. But by age 6, girls were prepared to lump more boys into the “really, really smart” category and to steer themselves away from games intended for the “really, really smart.”» [Science]

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Lin Bian, Sarah-Jane Leslie, Andrei Cimpian. Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests. Science  27 Jan 2017: Vol. 355, Issue 6323, pp. 389-391. DOI: 10.1126/science.aah6524

«Abstract.

Common stereotypes associate high-level intellectual ability (brilliance, genius, etc.) with men more than women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance (such as physics and philosophy). Here we show that these stereotypes are endorsed by, and influence the interests of, children as young as 6. Specifically, 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really, really smart.” Also at age 6, girls begin to avoid activities said to be for children who are “really, really smart.” These findings suggest that gendered notions of brilliance are acquired early and have an immediate effect on children’s interests.»

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«The career aspirations of young men and women are shaped by societal stereotypes about gender (1, 2). For example, the stereotype that men are better than women at mathematics (3) impairs women’s performance in this domain (4, 5) and undermines their interest in mathematics-intensive fields (6, 7). However, popular beliefs about ability associate not only specific cognitive processes (e.g., mathematical reasoning) with a particular gender but also the overall amount of cognitive ability. It is commonly assumed that high-level cognitive ability (brilliance, genius, giftedness, etc.) is present more often in men than in women (8–11). This “brilliance = males” stereotype has been invoked to explain the gender gaps in many prestigious occupations (12–15). However, little is known about the acquisition of this stereotype. The earlier children acquire the notion that brilliance is a male quality, the stronger its influence may be on their aspirations. The four studies reported here (N = 400 children) show that, by the age of 6, girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really, really smart”—a child-friendly way of referring to brilliance. Also at age 6, the girls in these studies begin to shy away from novel activities said to be for children who are “really, really smart.” These studies speak to the early acquisition of cultural ideas about brilliance and gender, as well as to the immediate effect that these stereotyped notions have on children’s interests.

The stereotypes associating men but not women with brilliance and genius (8–11) may take a toll on women’s careers; fields whose members place a great deal of value on sheer brilliance (e.g., mathematics, physics, philosophy) have lower proportions of women earning bachelor’s and doctoral degrees (12–17). However, investigations of the “brilliance = males” stereotype that focus exclusively on participants of college age or older overlook a critical fact: Cultural messages about the presumed cognitive abilities of males and females are likely to be influential throughout development (18, 19). If children absorb and act on these ideas (3, 20, 21), then many capable girls are likely to have already veered away from certain fields by the time they reach college. Thus, it is important to investigate the acquisition of the “brilliance = males” stereotype in early childhood, as children enter school and begin to make choices that shape their future career paths.»


Bbc. 2017-01-27. Girls feel ‘less talented’ by age six

Girls start to see themselves as less innately talented than boys do when they are only six years old, a group of US researchers has said.

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They said the “disheartening” results suggested the problem could snowball to affect future careers.

The study on 400 children, in the journal Science, initially found both five-year-old boys and girls thought their own gender was “brilliant”.

But then only one year later, gender differences had emerged.

The team from Princeton University, New York University and the University of Illinois said it appeared stereotypes were starting to show.

Suspected influences include exposure to media, teachers, parents and other children.

The study put sets of five, six and seven-year-olds through different experiments.

In one, the children were read a story about someone who is “really, really smart” but it is not clear who the story is about.

They then had to guess the protagonist from four pictures – two of men and two of women.

At age five, boys pick men and girls pick women around 75% of the time. But fast-forward a year to age six and boys are still picking men while girls are now slightly more likely to pick men too.

In another scenario, groups of children played a new board game.

But for some it was branded as “for children who are really, really smart” and for others it was described as “for children who try really, really hard”.

Six and seven-year old girls were as likely as boys to enjoy the game for those who try, but much less likely to say they enjoy the game for smart children.

Prof Andrei Cimpian, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: “The message that comes out of these data is that young kids are exposed to the cultural notion that genius is more likely a male than a female quality.

“It’s disheartening to see these effects emerge so early. When you see them, you realise how much of an uphill battle it’s going to be.”

His research has previously looked at academic careers associated with needing innate brilliance in order to succeed.

It argued that the higher people rated the need for genius – such as in physics or philosophy – the lower the number of women involved.

Prof Cimpian added: “Early on, society’s stereotypes can create differences in trajectory.

“At five, six or seven you’re not thinking about a career, but soon you’re making decisions about what courses to take and what extracurriculars to take part in.

“Even if the difference starts small it can snowball into something a lot bigger.”

Fellow researcher Dr Lin Bian advised parents and teachers to emphasise the importance of hard work.

She told the BBC: “[Studies suggest] that everyone does better when hard work is believed as the key to success.

“In our studies, girls might be particularly impacted by the messages focusing on ‘hard work’ – they became equally interested in playing the game as boys.

“Thus conveying the importance of hard work to success could protect and even promote young girls’ interests.”

The UK’s Fawcett Society campaigns on the gender pay gap and argues early differences – blue and superheroes versus pink and princesses – is part of the problem.

Sam Smethers, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “This is a massive issue and it is holding us all, but particularly girls, back.

Our research found that young women experienced gender stereotypes at school and from an early age.”

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