Thursday, April 23, 2009

BSTQ - Bull Shit Tolerability Quotient

There are many traits that determine someone's performance in various social settings such as school, work, military, etc. A popular metric for correlation to "success" in such social system is the "Intelligence Quotient" which purports to measure elements of abstract intelligence. Another metric that has gained popularity is the "Emotional Intelligence Quotient" which purports to measure the ability to perceive and mange emotions in oneself and others. Both of these metrics claim a high correlation to success in aforementioned social institutions.

I submit that success in roles within said social systems -- student, factory worker, warrior, etc. -- requires a high tolerance of activities such as: implementing poorly articulated tasks, engaging in inane conversations, attending pointless engagements, and other time-wasting activities known informally as "Bull Shit" (BS). The ability to tolerate such BS is a very important trait that is not normally rigorously evaluated.

I propose a simple test to measure an individual's tolerance for BS: a list of increasingly inane questions and pointless tasks is given to the test taker. For example, the test might begin with questions like: "Fill in the blank: Apples are __ed" and end with stupendously pointless tasks such as "Sort these numbers from least to greatest" followed by several hundred ~20 digit numbers and then having the next task say: "Now randomize those same numbers". The Bull Shit Tolerability Quotient (BSTQ) would just ignore the given answers and simply count the number of questions that test taker was willing to consider before handing the test back in frustration and declaring: "This Bull Shit!"

If a formal BSTQ test is not available, most standardized academic tests can be used as a reasonable substitute. However, the dynamic range of such generic academic tests to measure BSTQ is low. In other words, only extreme low-scorers of a proper BSTQ test will be measurable via the number of unanswered questions on a standard academic test used as a BSTQ surrogate. Extreme caution must be used when interpreting an academic test as a BSTQ analog -- the test giver may misinterpret the number of unanswered questions as the result of the test taker's low knowledge of the test's subject matter instead of as a spectacularly low BSTQ score.

BSTQ tests can easily be made age independent. For pre-verbal children the test would involve increasingly inane tasks such as matching sets of colored blocks to colored holes and so forth. The test would simply measure how many of these tasks the pre-verbal child could engage in before he or she became irritated or upset with the examiner.

Like the IQ and EIQ I suspect that the BSTQ will be correlated to the degree of success within many social endeavors, in particular: school; however, I also suspect that there is a substantial fraction of the population that has an inverse correlation between their IQ and their BSTQ scores. Of these, of particular interest are those with high IQ with low BSTQ. I would not be surprised if the population of people rated by their co-workers as "indispensable" is significantly enriched for individuals with a high IQ / low BSTQ score. Finally, I submit that these individuals are severely under-served by the educational system which demands -- indeed glorifies -- extremely high BSTQ, especially among those with high IQ.

Adding a BSTQ evaluation to pre-academic children might suggest that the student would excel in a non-traditional educational environment where the student is allowed to select their own agendas and tasks. A very low BSTQ coupled with a very high IQ would seem to almost guarantee rebellion if a traditional educational approach is applied. Identifying individuals with exceptionally high IQ scores and exceptionally low BSTQ scores may be a valuable tool to prevent the mis-classification of such students as "trouble makers" and instead correctly classify them as "potential indispensable iconoclasts".

(This idea evolved from lunch discussion with Marvin today, so thanks Marvin!)


flash and zak said...

you are totally right. that is awesome.

flash and zak said...

Also, this is the basic premise of the movie "Office Space". Once the main guy's BSTQ went down, he got promoted and got to date Jennifer Aniston. Before that, he was just a pawn.