Saturday, February 04, 2012

Classicists Rule!!!

A couple of items of interest which coincidentaly passed under my caerulean gaze this week … first, one of the Discover Magazine blogs confirmed (based on GRE matters) what we all know (but which appears to be a surprise to some): Classicists are Smart! … inter alia:

I looked at the average verbal and mathematical score for each discipline. Then I converted them to standard deviation units away from the mean. This is useful because there's an unfortunate compression and inflation on the mathematical scores. Disciplines which are stronger in math are going to have a greater average because the math averages are higher all around. You can see that I divided the chart into quadrants. There are no great surprises. People who want to pursue a doctorate in physical education are in the bottom left quadrant. Sorry. As in my previous post physicists, economists, and philosophers do rather well. But there were some surprises at the more detailed scale. Historians of science, and those graduate students who wish to pursue classics or classical languages are very bright. Budding historians of science have a relatively balanced intellectual profile, and the strongest writing scores of any group except for philosophers. I think I know why: many of these individuals have a science background, but later became interested in history. They are by nature relatively broad generalists. I have no idea why people drawn to traditionally classical fields are bright, but I wonder if it is because these are not "sexy" domains, to the point where you have to have a proactive interest in the intellectual enterprise.

… one really has to read the whole thing to get the full effect. One of the comments (by ClassicsPhD) pretty much says what most of us are probably thinking:

As a Classics PhD (Berkeley; BAs in Philosophy and Classics) and professor of Classics, the only thing I find surprising—or rather, we're chuckling at it here at the dept.—in the article above is the author's apparent surprise at the overarching intelligence of Classicists.

A few observations:

Classical Languages should be in the plural; no one studies but one in grad school. Although we generally specialize, as researchers, in one or the other (i.e., Latin or Greek), both languages are studied and examined equally in grad school (as are, of course, the modern scholarly languages required).

I am unclear on the differentiation between "Classics" and "Classical Language (sic)" here; there are no PhD programs that allow one to earn an advanced degree in "Classics" without the Classical languages (there are "Classical Studies" BAs that may require only two years in one of the languages, but such degrees do not lead to graduate study). I suspect that this may have something to do with the ways in which reporting depts. identify themselves, but I am not at all sure.

Emil: "I am surprised to see classicists up there… [though] I have never spoken with one." Indeed.

More at Classicists Rule!!!