If I were to make a nomination for the most destructive belief in our culture, it would be the belief that some people are born smart and others are born dumb. This belief is not only badly off target as a shorthand description of reality, it is the source of many social pathologies and lost opportunities. For example:
- Those who get low test scores think they are just not as smart and avoid tough majors that lead to some of the best jobs.
- A strong belief within an academic field that talent is innate goes along with that field having fewer women and African-Americans.
- Many people utter the black magic spell “I’m bad at math” and it becomes so. A lucky few have that spell broken, and find they can become good at math after all.
People misunderstand the past and imagine a dystopian…
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