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【每日晨读】经济学人GRE双语阅读 环境对智商实际影响分析

2017年11月17日13:08 来源:互联网
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【每日晨读】经济学人GRE双语阅读 环境对智商实际影响分析图1

Human intelligence——Cleverer still

人类智力:还是更聪明

Geniuses are getting brighter.

天才越来越聪明。

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And at genius levels of IQ, girls are not as far behind boys as they used to be

而在智商达到天才水平的人数上,女孩不再和从前一样远远落在男孩后面。

SCIENCE has few more controversial topics than human intelligence—in particular, whether variations in it are a result of nature or nurture, and especially whether such variations differ between the sexes.

在科学领域,没有什么话题比人类智力这一话题更有争议了,而智力的差异是天赋使然还是后天培养造成的?以及这种差异是否与性别相关?

The mines in this field can blow up an entire career, as Larry Summers found out in 2005 when he spoke of the hypothesis that the mathematical aptitude needed for physics and engineering, as well as for maths itself, is innately rarer in women than in men.

这两个问题尤为如此。拉里萨默斯在2005年发现,这块领域上的地雷足以毁掉整个一个人职业生涯,他当时谈到一个假设,物理学,工程学还有数学本身都需要一定的数学天分,而女性的数学天分天生就比不上男性。

He resigned as president of Harvard University shortly afterwards.

此后不久,他便辞去了哈佛大学校长的职务。

It is bold, therefore, of Jonathan Wai, Martha Putallaz and Matthew Makel, of Duke University in North Carolina, to enter the fray with a paper that addresses both questions.

因此,杜克大学的乔纳森维,马萨普塔拉兹和马修马可的作为可谓大胆,他们发表了一篇论文,对上面两个问题均有所论述,使他们加入了这场争论。

In this paper, just published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, they describe how they sifted through nearly three decades of standardised tests administered to American high-school students to see what had been happening to the country's brightest sparks.

该论文刚刚发表在《心理科学最新动向》上,描述了他们如何对近三十年来美国高中学生参加的标准化考试结果进行筛选,以获知在美国最聪明的天才们身上发生了什么。

They draw two conclusions. One is that a phenomenon called the Flynn effect applies in particular to the brightest of the bright.

他们得出两个结论。一个结论是被称为弗林效应的现象对天才当中最聪明的那些尤为适用。

The other is that part, but not all, of the historic difference between the brainiest men and women has vanished.

另一个结论是最聪明的男性和女性人数之间的历史差距只是缩小了一段,而非完全消失。

The three researchers drew their data from Duke University's Talent Identification Programme, TIP, which is designed to ferret out especially clever candidates early on: all the participants had scored in the top 5% of ability when confronted with exams designed for much older students.

这三名研究人员的数据来自杜克大学的人才识别工程,该工程旨在提前搜寻出特别聪明的应试者:所有的参与者的考试成绩均排前5%,而这些考试都是针对年龄比他们大得多的学生的。

TIP, in turn, draws on three national exams: SAT, EXPLORE and ACT.

转过来,TIP的数据又源于三个全国性考试:SAT,EXPLORE及ACT。

Altogether, Dr Wai, Dr Putallaz and Dr Makel looked at data from 1.7m children.

维博士,普塔拉兹博士和马可博士一起查看了170万儿童的数据。

Those data spanned the years between 1981 and 2010.

这些数据介于1981年到2010年之间。

In the general population boys are well known to do a bit better than girls in maths.

在普通人群中,普遍认为男孩的数学要比女孩好一点。

Girls, in turn, edge out boys on tests of verbal reasoning.

而反过来,女孩在文字推理的测试上比男孩略胜一筹。

The result is similar overall IQ scores.

在智商上的比较结果也大体类似。

Among the best young mathematical brains, however, that equality does not pertain.

然而,这些最聪明的年轻数学天才里并无平等可言。

Here, boys do a lot better at maths than girls—but less better than they used to, as the researchers discovered.

研究人员发现,在这里面,男孩在数学上要比女孩好得多,但差距要比以前小一些。

In the early 1980s, the ratio of males to females in the top 0.01% of maths scores in SAT, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, was around 13 to 1.

在上世纪80年代早期,学术能力评估测试的数学成绩前0.01%的人数中,男女比例约为13比1。

By the early 1990s it had fallen to four to one.

到了上世纪90年代早期,这一比例降到4比1。

After this, however, it remained obstinately unaltered.

然而此后该数字便停滞不前了。

The other two tests, both of which post-date the period in which the SAT shows those huge changes, indicate less lopsided sex ratios of between two and three to one.

在SAT出现上述巨大变化的时期之后,另外两个考试的男女比例均在3比1到2比1之间,性别倾向性更低。

But neither shows girls making much recent progress towards equality.

但两个都未显示出女孩最近向平等迈出多大步伐。

【每日晨读】经济学人GRE双语阅读 环境对智商实际影响分析图2

Nurturing talent

培养天资

This study is not perfect. Its most interesting result rests on data from just one of the three sets of exams it looked at and its sample sizes are, necessarily, small.

以上研究并不完美。他们查看了三个考试的数据,但其最引人关注的结果所依赖的数据仅来自中一个考试,样本规模肯定不够大。

But it chimes with the findings of a much older investigation, carried out in 1983 by a group of researchers at Johns Hopkins University, which also discovered a male-to-female sex ratio of 13:1 among the most able young mathematicians.

但其结论与很早之前的一份调查结果一致,该调查是由约翰霍普金斯的一组研究人员在1983年进行的,发现在最有天赋的年轻数学家里,男女比例也是13比1。

Why a dramatic rise in the aptitude of America's brightest young female mathematicians should then be followed by two decades of stagnation is not obvious, and, not being experts in mine-clearance, the researchers offer no hypothesis.

美国最聪明的年轻女数学家的天资为何在飞速提升后,又经历了20年的停滞期,答案并未交代清楚,研究人员也并非扫雷专家,没有提出任何假说。

It is clear that the rise itself must be nurture of some sort—possibly a change in teachers' attitudes towards girls who are interested in maths—but the subsequent stasis could have either explanation.

很明显,这种提升本身肯定是某种后天培养造成的— 可能是教师对待对数学感兴趣的女孩态度上的转变—但是随后的停滞用天赋与后天培养都能解释。

A line of reasoning in favour of nature is that put forward by Simon Baron-Cohen, a psychologist at Cambridge University.

剑桥大学的心理学家西蒙?拜伦-科恩提出了一条的推论,支持天赋论。

This connects the extreme systematising patterns of thought which make a good mathematician with the preponderance of men among those with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism that does not harm a person's general intelligence.

这条推论将极高系统化思维模式与艾斯伯格综合症患者中男性占多数两者联系起来。

But the disparity could equally well be the result of some as-yet-unelucidated difference between the ways girls and boys are brought up.

而在抚养女孩和男孩的过程中一些至今仍无法言表的差别同样可能造成这种数量上的不同。

The nature of the beast

野兽的本性

That such unelucidated environmental influences can have real effects on IQ is eloquently illustrated by the Flynn effect.

弗林效应有力的阐明了这种无法言表的环境影响对智商是有实际影响的。

This phenomenon, brought to the world's attention in the 1980s by James Flynn of the University of Otago, in New Zealand, is that average IQs around the world have been rising at the rate of 0.3 points a year for the past eight decades.

上世纪八十年代,新西兰奥塔哥大学的詹姆斯福林让这一现象受到了全世界的关注,这一现象是:在过去的八十年里,世界的平均智商每年增加0.3。

Using the TIP data, Dr Wai and his colleagues showed that this is as true of the brightest youngsters in American society as it is of lesser mortals, suggesting that even they can have their abilities boosted by whatever is causing the Flynn effect.

通过TIP数据,维博士及其同事指出,弗林效应适用于差一点的普通人,也同样适用于美国社会中最聪明的年轻人,他们实际上也会受到造成弗林效应的因素的影响,水平得到提升。

Once again, the changes seem to be mainly in mathematics.

又一次,这些变化似乎主要体现在数学上。

Scores in the brightest children's verbal-reasoning and reading abilities demonstrate no clear trend, but all three national tests show sustained improvements in their mathematical ability over the past three decades.

最聪明的孩子的文字推理和阅读能力的成绩并未出现一个明显的趋势,但是在过去的三十年里,他们的数学能力在三个全国性考试中都显示出持续的进步。

No one knows what causes the Flynn effect.

没人知道是什么造成了弗林效应。

Theories range from better nutrition, via a more stimulating general environment, to the phasing out of lead in petrol and paint.

关于弗林效应诱因的理论有许多,从更好的营养,到更具刺激性的总体环境,再到汽油和涂料中逐步停止铅的使用。

What is clear is that it cannot be a change in gene-given ability, which is what most people mean by nature in this debate, because too few generations have passed for natural selection to have had any meaningful impact.

但可以明确的是,这不会是一种基因赋予的能力上的变化,这种能力也就是这场争论中大多数人所指的天赋,因为没有哪代人在经过自然选择后,天赋受到什么具有实际意义的影响。

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