What to do with stupid people?

Seriously, what role do you enivision folks in the lower 50, 33, or 25% of “capability” playing in today’s and tomorrow’s society? What should our educational, economic, and social systems do to assist the least-able members of our society do what?

I’m just finishing the book Real Education by Charles Murray. He accepts the view of different “intelligences,” and feels a 4-year college education only really suits those who excel in “academic” intelligence. He concludes that too many people go to college. And he criticizes NCLB, because he contends society will never be able to bring the least able kids up to the same level that best suits the more academically capable.

But what he hasn’t said yet (and I have only 30 pages to go!) is what is the most appropriate way to deal with the sizeable portion of any society that scores below average on ALL measures of intelligence. It is fine and dandy to say that a kid who has excellent spatial perception, but poor verbal skills, would be better suited for the trades than - say - middle management. But what about the kids who are below average in spatial perception AND verbal skills AND every other measure of intelligence. Heck, I can imagine things being pretty bleak for people who are only slightly above average in some of the areas of ability.

In the past, we always had unskilled physical labor, either on farms, in support of the trades, or in factories, where such people could support themselves and feel they were contributing in some meaningful manner. But what opportunities exist for such people today? How many WalMart greeters do we need?

And what resources should what institutions provide these folk to prepare them for what standard of living?

Alduous Huxley had a good idea in A Brave New World. We may encounter some ethical problems but nothing the federal governemtn isn’t already accustomed to. I say designate at birth Alphas from betas and even deltas, place them in their corresponding career paths and be done with it.

Ok seriously, people in the lower tiers of cognitive functioning do have a place amongst the general population as it were. Organizations like Easter Seals and United Way help hundreds even thousands of lower functioning adults to have a vocation where they can be a productive member of society. Huxley aside, perhaps better more open programs for these people would be a start.

Do such progams assist folk in - say - the 3d quartile?

I agree with the author that not everyone needs college or is suited for college (except purely from an intellectual development standpoint). I believe that our society will be moving toward a more blue-collar society over the next couple decades, but those “unskilled worker” positions are still there today. Cashiers, entry level construction, mailroom clerks, waitresses, warehouse workers, dog walkers, Tru-Green lawn maintenance guys, tree-trimmers, maids, butchers, truck drivers, window washers, sign-painters, bus boys, etc. are alive and well in the US. I don’t think it’s a matter of “dealing” with them.

People have always filled the positions that will never make them rich and comfortable. Most of them work more than one job. I don’t think I’d refer to them as “stupid”, though. It sounds elitist and extremely unkind. They aren’t retarded and they provide vital services to our society.

I worry about this all the time. One of my daughters is epileptic and, before we got it relatively under control, a creepily-large part of her left temporal lobe got turned to mush. Really–remember the areas labeled “fluid” in Terry Schiavo’s CAT scans? There’s one that I swear is 2" x 3/4" where her internal dictionary should be. But boy does it piss off her sisters when she keeps working on sudoku puzzles while she’s having a mild seizure.

We kept her in high school an extra semester because the past couple years she’s been doing great rebuilding her brain, but she’s still not 100% and I’m concerned what her life will be like. Thank God and the centrists and liberals who make of most of Illinois’ electorate that she can continue to get help as long as she needs it.

About 8 years ago, some friends of mine needed to hire a temp worker (initially a 6-months contract) for one of their service stations. The “people with no qualifications” they kept getting would take one look at the register, say “I don’t do computers!” and walk out.

I think the OP is worried about those folks.

Did you mean to say white-collar? Otherwise, I don’t understand this sentence.

What’s the 3d quartile? $23 an hour? No they do not fit into that category. We are talking about menial positions, assembling nuts and bolts, packaging plants, things with one or two skill sets, getitng paid minimum wage.

No, I mean “blue collar”. I think more manufacturing opportunities are going to open up here in the US. The trend over the last 30 years or so has been toward white-collar services, with manufacturing happening off-shore, but I think we are realizing that we need to start making stuff again. I don’t see it happening overnight, but I think we need to make it more attractive to keep some of these jobs here in the US.

Well, there’s “lower-end intelligence” and there’s “lazy.”

What jobs? Robotic/Automated manufacturing is a fairly likely future for manufacturing industries regardless of where they are situated.

Everybody knows
that the world is full of stupid people
so meet me at the mission at midnight,
we’ll divvy up there…

Sorry - just picked one single word for a brief title. Gues I could/should have used “less intelligent” or somesuch.

But one thing this book has had me thinking is how little contact I really have with folk with below average IQs (acknowledging all of the limitations of IQ measurement.) Just about anyone who has gone to college and is working in a quasi-professional field, may well have close relations only with folk in the top quarter. I’ll bet there are few folks with below average IQs posting on these boards.

If you are in the top quarter academically, it can be hard to even envision who folk in the 3d and 4th quartile think and perceive the world. They don’t simply lack a fund of information, they are less able to perform various aspects of rational thinking and decision-making.

Of my closest friends, I can name 1 guy - a golfing/cards buddy - who I’m pretty confident would score well below average on just about any test of intelligence other than working with his hands. Can you say much different? If so, would you say a bit about your relationship/interaction with these folk?

This is an excellent question which I’d like to revisit in the morning; I don’t want to inadvertently post something incredibly controversial and end up getting piled-on over it at 12:30 in the morning…

My husband works in a bucket factory. They have machines that make them, but plenty of people are there doing clerical work, packaging, inspecting, shipping/receiving, warehousing, etc., in addition to machine maintenance of various levels of expertise. There are workers amongst the automation. They may not employ as many people as they did back in the day, but people are still required for this work.

I am less sanguine about this prospect than you.

I think one opportunity is for the gov’t to REALLY push towards alternative energy/conservation, for the industries it would stimulate. But I see these as being pretty technology heavy industries. Not sure there will a ton of opportunities for unskilled workers - and certainly not earning anything like union wages that will support a family.

I also see government investment into infrastructure as a potential job creator, along the lines of FDR’s CCC and such.

So creating jobs unskilled workers can do is one part of the problem. But another is adjusting what standard of living such people ought to reasonably aspire to. What percentage of our society should be able to afford detached, single-family housing? Of what square footage? Number and type of cars? Cable TV? Internet? Air travel? Etc.

Well, they can hire Karl Rove and get elected.

Seriously though, there should be plenty of low-requirement jobs for them. And there will be more as long as we don’t have smarter, cheaper robots.

Aw, come on!
You’re no fun anymore!
($5 says you’ll be lying in bed thinking about this, and will be back at the keyboard before dropping off!) :stuck_out_tongue:

They didn’t realize that the “computer” in question had very limited functions and couldn’t be used to, for example, play games or write documents. That’s “lower-end intelligence/ignorance,” not laziness.

What amuses me is bright people who bang on and on about how “stupid” and “insulting to their intelligence” television is. Um, if they’re so intelligent, how come they can’t figure out that 99% of TV programing and ads are targeted toward the stupid?