So apparently our brains are flexible? They can adapt themselves in order to perform your daily activities best.

Read this article to find out more.

Guy Claxton


Last week Guy Claxton visited our school to give a lecture on the ‘Stupidity of Cleverness’. He began by explaining cognitive science as the study of the mind and how it works. He also spoke about how the idea of intelligence has transformed. The old view of intelligence was of people who thought quickly, who detracted emotion from their logical reasoning and were verbal. But do these qualities reflect real life now? He argued that the idea of intelligence has transformed using the example of Phineas Gage (metal pole through his head) and also suggested that the education system would need to slowly but surely adapt to this change. He made the point that why do we have these tests where we revise and cram, when in real life we do not take ‘tests’ before dealing with a situation. He also suggested that education needs to include more on the joy of the struggle rather than celebrating the endpoint.

He also spoke about how the intelligence quotient or IQ is no longer a sensible way in which to measure cleverness. IQ describes people as being intelligent in one sort of manner. However he said we should begin to turn to other tests such as the test for Emotional Intelligence which is outlined in Daniel Goleman’s book.

I particularly liked it when we talked about intuition. He showed 2 sets of pictures that were in pieces and one picture from each set was supposed to be an actual image while the other was random shapes. I guessed right both times and thought it was down to luck but Claxton insisted that our intuitiveness guided our guesses and that there were reasons in my subconscious as to why I picked those pictures.

Overall a great talk!

Are humans worthless?

Following on from our lesson on ethics last week I thought I would blog about animals and whether we have equal rights.

Peter Singer, a philosopher said that it is right for us to recognise that typical members of different species have lives with different values. I agree with this. A beetle’s life is worthless in comparison to that of a human. However it is very easy for us to adopt speciesism and say that saving humans lives is always better. But surely the insects could believe their lives were worth the most too? Whoever decides to establish rights for animals will always be subjective as it is natural for people to hold their worth higher than the worth of others. We could try and base an ethical hierarchy on what the animals are capable of doing and what effect their loss would have. However again this is difficult to judge because although we may be the most ‘developed’ what about elephants who have the largest brains or birds who can use landmarks to navigate their extensive journeys. So the question of capability doesn’t help either.

Trying to use some codes of ethics doesn’t help the argument for humans either. Utilitarianism says to provide the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number. But this includes animals as well as they also have emotions. Another problem. Kant suggested that hierarchy could be based on ‘the only one that deserves respect’. This argument is for humans as it suggests that animals are seemingly worthless as we can do anything to them.  That is quite a strong and slightly biased argument.

So how do we decide? And who decides?