"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Poor's Lower IQ

This blog pauses and borrows some "words of wisdom" from Paris Hilton, "Stop Being Poor":

Above photo copied from
http://pinterest.com/pin/238339005252794957/
Seeing that the one and only comment below the photo on Pinterest says:
Paris Hilton wore a "stop being poor" T-shirt. Just in case you guys were wondering how bad IQ rock bottom is.
This blog, Philippine Basic Education, must have lost its intelligence. I shared the previous post, Poor People Cannot Think Clearly, on Facebook using its first paragraph as a snippet:
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said, "Only taxpayers should be allowed to vote", and science might just be on her side. The senator from the Philippines made this statement during a press briefing on September 4, 2013. In the statement, the senator equates nonpayment of taxes to extreme poverty. In this dire situation, a poor person is extremely vulnerable to patronage politics. Votes or support can easily be bought even with token amounts. As a result, "taxpayers are being ruled by the choice of the nontaxpayers". Science may be supporting Senator Santiago's proposal to not allow poor people to vote.
Then, I realized that I must add the following since a significant number of Facebook users read only the excerpt. Some even "like" the post without actually reading the entire article so I decided to add the last three paragraphs to make sure that the message from the blog regarding the issue of the poor in society is not misunderstood:
Being poor and therefore financially worried is equivalent to losing a full night of sleep. 
On basic education, this study has serious implications. Child labor alone demonstrates that a student may not have all the cognitive resources a normal child has. Poor children likewise are exposed to financial worries when schools impose projects that children can not afford. Selling raffle tickets for fundraising, parties requiring new clothes, learning materials that need to be paid - These can easily become formidable financial concerns for a student. These worries capture the attention of a child leaving less room for learning. 
The appropriate solution is one that addresses the situation correctly and responsibly. It is wrong to deny schooling to children who are already working. It is wrong to tell students not to attend school anymore if they have financial worries. Similarly, not allowing the poor to vote is likewise an inappropriate response. Perhaps, the good senator from the Philippines is also not thinking clearly given the attention and frustration over massive corruption the country currently faces.
The propensity to bash the poor seems widespread among those who are vocal in various social media. Paris Hilton does not have a monopoly on "Stop being poor". One of the world's wealthiest woman, Gina Reinhart had this to say a year ago to poor people in Australia:
"Spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working."
The results presented by Mani and coworkers in the journal Science, which was highlighted in this blog's Poor People Cannot Think Clearly, are very significant. In the same issue of the journal, Kathleen Vohs, Professor of Marketing and Land 'O Lakes Professor of Excellence in Marketing at the University of Minnesota offers her perspective in "The Poor's Poor Mental Power". She starts her article with the following sentences:
"Few people wish to be poor. Many find it puzzling that those in poverty seem to get stuck in that state, even when there are opportunities to improve one's lot...."
In her perspective, Vohs offers a psychological explanation on why the poor while facing financial worries performs poorly in cognitive tests. She attributes the loss in mental functioning to a depletion in self-control. Vohs presents the following figure demonstrating the view that self-control is a limited resource:

Above figure copied from
The Poor's Poor Mental Power
Kathleen D. Vohs, Science 30 August 2013:969-970.
It is easy to relate to this view. "Going the distance", for example, makes fasting and abstinence much more difficult. Abstaining from something pleasurable for a day is more difficult than abstaining only for an hour. Moreover, self-control is a general resource. Thus, if one is asked not to smile for some period of time, that same person has less self-control later in the day on something totally unrelated like not eating chocolate. With this in mind, Vohs writes:
The limited-resource model of self-control points to the following state of affairs for people in poverty. Resisting urges and controlling one's behavior drains self-control resources. The poor must resist and control more than others because they have less money, food, and expendable time. Such limited supplies demand trade-offs, and hence many decisions. And, there is a snowballing, adverse effect of engaging in self-control on subsequent self-control capacity. Altogether, these processes spell a dwindling supply of self-control with few chances to recover.
Sadly, those who are bashing the poor seem to be the ones who have likewise lost a bit of intelligence. There are those who claim to have had the experience of successfully climbing out of poverty. That claim sometimes sadly comes with a resentment towards the poor, not fully recognizing the conditions and challenges the poor faces daily in their lives. It is true that some have "stopped being poor". However, this is more of an exception than a rule, otherwise, social mobility would not be one of the pressing challenges of society. Bashing of the poor perhaps only illustrates another human trait that is limited, compassion.





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