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Reading about this tree climber, I noticed how when he used the word angiosperm, I was surprised by his intelligence, as if being a tree climber is something less intelligent people do. I'm ashamed of that. And, to see how dedicated he is to protecting forests and coming from such humble beginnings, it made me further ashamed of my privilege and what I'm using it for. This community on HN talks a lot about "changing the world": this guy is doing it, truly, in such an important and unrecognized way.

It states in the article that guy is "an arborist and research assistant with the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership." Angiosperm is a word most of non-arborists and research assistants have come across, even if we don't know precisely what it means. Were you really surprised that a professional in a particular field knew the basic jargon of said field?

Here is a definition of arborist if you are interested.

"An arborist, tree surgeon, or (less commonly) arboriculturist, is a professional in the practice of arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants in dendrology and horticulture. "


Also, what privilege are you ashamed of exactly? That type of self-flagellating virtue signaling is very toxic for your well-being and the people around you. I hope you are aware of that.

I didn't read the article carefully at first and missed that part. Sorry, I'll add that my list of character flaws. Thanks for all the expertise you offered here.

People from poor backgrounds generally are less educated and have smaller vocabularies. You just shouldn't confuse that for a lack of intelligence.

Smaller vocabularies in some areas. Probably much richer in some others. As an example, I'll cite one of my favorite passages from Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel:

One day, when my companions of the Fore tribe and I were starving in the jungle because another tribe was blocking our return to our supply base, a Fore man returned to camp with a large rucksack full of mushrooms he had found, and started to roast them. Dinner at last! But then I had an unsettling thought: what if the mushrooms were poisonous? I patiently explained to my Fore companions that I had read about some mushrooms' being poisonous, that I had heard of even expert American mushroom collectors' dying because of the difficulty of distinguishing safe from dangerous mushrooms, and that although we were all hungry, it just wasn't worth the risk. At that point my companions got angry and told me to shut up and listen while they explained some things to me. After I had been quizzing them for years about names of hundreds of trees and birds, how could I insult them by assuming they didn't have names for different mushrooms? Only Americans could be so stupid as to confuse poisonous mushrooms with safe ones. They went on to lecture me about 29 types of edible mushroom species, each species' name in the Fore language, and where in the forest one should look for it. This one, the tanti, grew on trees, and it was delicious and perfectly edible.


Neat, huh?

The modern arborist has a large knowledge base, an antiquidated term is "tree surgeon" - I find it to be quite apt. "Angiosperm" isn't an exotic word at all to the vast majority of tree folk.

In the US, the typical path to become a certified arborist will require a degree (typically associates) in arboriculture, horticulture, or forestry, and several years of direct experience.

The word 'angiosperm' here is a key to understand the idea. This is not the tallest tree alive, but is the tallest flower bearing tree registered alive. At least for some time. They should have discussed it extensively before to make the announcement.

I bet that a drone could do the measuring job also.

> I bet that a drone could do the measuring job also.

Yes, if you cut down all the trees around it ...

Yes, people sometimes give into stereotypes. Blame culture and society. Just be smart enough and realize that not everything is as it seems.

Playing devil's advocate for a second: If you really think about it, if everyone blindly accepted everything all the time , think how boring life would be. Sometimes not putting two and two together makes the discovery much more interesting. I like a fun surprise every now and then.

What does using the word angiosperme have to do with intelligence? I used to work in finance and those guys used all the same words I used: algorithm, runtime, microservice, you name it, but none of them had the foggiest idea what any of it meant.

There's no correlation at all between vocabulary used and intelligence. More intelligent people will actually use a smaller vocabulary if anything.

There is a strong correlation between vocabulary and intelligence though. It's why there is a vocabulary element to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale. I really doubt that most intelligent people use a smaller vocabulary because it's inefficient when compared to using more specialized words. You can convey more meaning to people with similar levels of understanding in fewer words.


Yes declarative knowledge is totally overrated. Procedural knowledge is the hard part.

I think the "elites", who are of lower intelligence[1] and only fit for parroting half understood declarative knowledge, have successfully managed to manipulate public opinion that declarative knowledge is superior to actually knowing how something works.

[1] They have high psychological/manipulative intelligence though, which is needed to convince others to do the actual work.

I'm always cautious about making assumptions of "intelligence" from the outside, for people who have expertise or experience that I don't have.

Back in the Reagan days, it came out that his presidential decision-making process for most things was to get it on a one-page memo with a yes/no checkbox. Boy howdy, did we have a lot of fun mocking that idiot who didn't know what he was signing! A lifetime later, I've come to realize that was a brilliant strategy on his part. He didn't waste time on deep study of every little thing that needed his decisions all the time. He surrounded himself with trusted advisors who could neatly sum up the pros and cons for him, so he could focus on the decision, not the analysis.

I thought Reagan was an idiot, because I was an idiot.

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