Smiljan Grmek <Smi@4mate.hr> writes:
>Michael Sperber [Mr. Preprocessor] wrote:
>*Anyone* is a fairly large concept - please go find an average
>programmer without experience in Tcl and Scheme, present him/her with
>appropriate manuals and have h/h read/write code ...
Bogus constraint. Many people are quite comfortable picking up an
unfamiliar language from manuals. Many more are not. Most people
learn languages by being guided. It would certainly be interesting
to try the experiment, but I think you would find that the average
programmer would find TCL even weirder than Scheme. At least in
Scheme you have conventional arrays and assignment statements; you
can *transliterate* Pascal into Scheme a lot of the time and expect
it to work.
>Even a thought experiment gives correct results (if one bears in mind
>the Gaussian distribution of human attributes - necessary for the
>definition of *average* programmer)
You can't expect to get away with that in a newsgroup where some
people actually understand statistics. To start with, many human
distributions are closer to lognormal than normal, and to continue,
many aren't at all close to either. (For example, for many years
I have found the distribution of exam results in my classes to be
bi-modal.) And then the appeal to "the average programmar" is an
appeal to a meaningless concept. You can make this average as low
as you want by including people who flunked high-school BASIC as
"programmers", or as high as you want by excluding people who
don't understand higher-order predicate calculus. And then of
course the entire idea of ranking programmers on some sort of
unidimensional scale as if programming involved only one skill
is completely bogus.
>Talk to a pschologist friend about averages and you will find out where
well, talk to a statistician first about the notions of "population",
"sampling frame", "average" (everyone _except statisticians seems to
know what an "average" is; statisticians know of several infinite
families of measures that fit the concept), and "bias".
>I tested a friend's contention that you
>cannot talk to an IQ 100 - he was mostly right and it was a saddening
Hmm. To start with, "IQ 100" is not a well defined concept.
The measurement error of IQ is around the 5 to 10 point level,
and that's with the same tester administering variants of the
same test to the same subject. The effect of the tester on the
IQ is is pretty serious. And then of course _everyone's_ IQ
tends to 100, because the tests run out of things to test, but
smart people keep on learning new kinds of things. (Consider:
some 80-year-olds learn new human languages. But IQ tests do
not measure what other languages you know or how well you know them.)
So someone _called_ "IQ 100" could be IQ 90 to IQ 110, and for that
matter, could be considerably smarter than most of the people posting
in this thread, if they were old enough. (That's a significant
contributor to the famous correlation between IQs of separated twins,
by the way, IQ varies with calendar age, and twins are the same
To continue, if you really understand something, you can get
_something_ about it across to people. Heck, there's at least
one American publisher with a high school physics book that has
been entirely purged of mathematics. Either the publisher is
ripping people off (and the teachers using the book are incompetent)
or they are succeeding in conveying _something_ about physics to
people who would probably fail the maths part of an IQ test.
Will maintain COBOL for money.
Richard A. O'Keefe; http://www.cs.rmit.edu.au/%7Eok; RMIT Comp.Sci.