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Last week when I was invited to shoot a friendly science quiz Awesome! in Télé-Québec, I joked about “call a friend or family member” to help me answer questions better. Because Awesome! is not Who want to be a millionaire?, they did not answer my request.

Posted at 12:30

To defeat the red team, led by my formidable colleague and friend Rose-Aimé Autumn T. Morin, I was willing to admit that I knew less about science than my twin brother, a university professor with a doctorate in major engineering schools. in Quebec and France.

My brother is good at math and other related subjects. And I left science after the fourth secondary. Which doesn’t mean I’m necessarily less intelligent than he is. Regardless, a 2019 study by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland found that twins tend to be taller, smarter. My brother is 6ft 2in…

If I remember correctly, I had the same good grades in science in fourth high school as my brother. I just decided to retire at the right time, expecting a quick fall into incompetence. My chemistry teacher Lisa tried in vain to convince me to go into science journalism, but I was determined to hang up my blouse.

I never regretted the history course of the XXas well as century, which I followed, and not in the fifth high school. In light of the rubbish you can now read on social media about Russia, this course should have been mandatory.

Rose-Aimé, for her part, managed to convince her high school to change her school curriculum so that she and the students of subsequent cohorts could study drama rather than science as they pleased. Which did not stop her, with the curiosity and intuition for which she is known, to play well in Awesome!.

I am sharing these high school memories in the context of our special issue on intelligence, because today, as yesterday, various surveys show that there is a favorable bias towards students who choose a science program. And that, on the contrary, negativity a priori puts pressure on those who study the school course of the humanities “without mathematics.”

As if the latter, being interested in art, history, philosophy or anthropology, were less brilliant than future engineers or biochemists. Some of the smartest people I know have literary backgrounds. I can’t say why.

Today, we still put a lot of pressure on young people to study science in high school and CEGEP. Devaluing those who have talent in the humanities under the pretext that they are closing doors. What if they just open the doors that interest them?

Another phenomenon, no less disturbing, is the tendency of the school system to exclude at a very early age students who have an interest in science but do not have exceptional academic results. As early as the third high school, it is decided for some that they will not have the necessary prerequisites for certain science programs because they do not have the best grades in mathematics.

Research has shown that young students who do not consider themselves the brightest in their class automatically forgo a scientific career, even if they are interested in one. Science journalist Kat Arnie told about this a few years ago in the article “ Not smart enough to be a scientist? Nonsense (“Not brilliant enough to be a scientist? Bullshit”), published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK.

This phenomenon is even more common among girls, who traditionally do better than boys in science and mathematics. Girls who do not have a lot of role models cannot build a definite scientific career. Hence the importance of renowned scholars such as Farah Alibai, who remains the exception that proves the rule.

These are men who hold the most prestigious positions in universities, especially in the faculties of chemistry, physics and engineering. The vicious circle is that male professors believe that male students are more likely to excel and succeed. A PhD scientist recently told me that she left her post at the university because she was fed up with this macho culture.

A 2015 study of 350,000 people in 66 countries by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Berkeley in the United States concluded that “even in countries with the most gender equality [les Pays-Bas, par exemple]there were strong gender stereotypes in male-dominated scientific disciplines.”

In addition, the word “genius” is more often associated with a man than with a woman. “Try to name 10 female characters from popular culture who, like Sherlock Holmes, D.R House or Will Hunting – characterized by innate intelligence and raw intellectual prowess. You will quickly run out of names. Whatever the reason, the message is clear: Women are not culturally associated with such innate gifts of genius,” concludes the study, conducted by a professor in the Department of Philosophy at Princeton University in New Jersey.

You don’t have to be human to be a genius, you don’t have to be a genius to be a scientist, and being a scientist doesn’t mean you’re smarter than your neighbor. Intelligence, like everything else, evolves. It’s not me who says this, but the French geneticist Albert Jacquard.

“Intelligence is the ability to understand,” he said in an interview. New Observer, in 1997. But really understanding something is always a long process. To be truly intelligent means… to understand what you don’t understand. “Terrific.

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