Remo H. Largo, the pediatrician who explains why there are so many idiots in politics

The Swiss pedagogue points out in his latest work how the system favors the perpetuation of the elites despite their mediocre offspring.

Remo H. Largo presenting 'Human Individuality' at Fundación Telefónica.

Rowing Hans Largo (Winterthur, Switzerland, 1943) interrupts the interview with a courteous but emphatic gesture when the PISA report that every year brings out the colors in education in Spain. The pediatrician trained in Zurich yy California Put a notebook on the table and draw a graph. Is a Gaussian bell: a line that starts out flat, grows into a hill, and descends again until it flattens out. Largo leans forward and fixes his gaze with round glasses on the interlocutor, who notices the uneasy feeling in his stomach that is typical of surprise exams.

The vertical vertex of your drawing measures the reading abilitywhile the horizontal corresponds to the distribution of the school population. The pediatrician points out the three sections: the two plainsthe one at the beginning and the one at the end, are the minorities with the worst and best gradesrespectively; the hill is average. “Those down there barely know how to read, these have average ability and these are great. If we take the curve Switzerland, the average would be more advanced than that of Spain. The situation is somewhat better. That’s what the PISA report says. But that – and draw a circle on the most disadvantaged part of the graph – we also have it in Switzerland“.

“In Switzerland we have about half a million adults with average-normal intelligence who they do not know how to read” – explains the pedagogue. “On Spain will be about three million of people. AND it’s not the school’s fault. It happens everywhere, China to Finland. In other words, the existence of these differences in reading ability depends to a small extent on the educational system, which can shift this curve a little forward or backward. But that there is so much difference between people It’s a genetic disposition. We can say the same about any other intellectual capacity that we want to talk about. For example, math“.

Results of Spain of the PISA 2012 report in mathematics: both the worst and the best results are a minority.

Spain’s results of the PISA 2012 report in mathematics: both the worst and the best results are a minority.

Largo is in Spain to present his eleventh work, human individuality (Editorial Debate). It is an inquiry based on biological, socioeconomic and cultural bases on the old philosophical principle: why is the human being the only one who questions who is he to the worldAnd why does that cause us unhappiness? In the developed world, explains the pediatrician, the search for educational and cognitive excellence has reached its ceiling. He compares it to continuing to fertilize an overgrown apple tree. “If we have a bad school, we will have a worse curve. But in advanced societies, we have reached the full potential of our intellect“.

Why then hasn’t utopia already sprung up around us? Because the legacy of the curve is the inequality. He points to much more than the klutzes and nerds in the class. “In many countries what happens is that people in the upper third are privileged. It is an important political problem” – warns Largo. “They tend to go to private schools and universities, while the bottom third group has fewer chances to study.”

“But we observe an interesting phenomenon” – resumes, and the look behind the round lenses flashes. Suppose both parents are academics, doctors or engineers. They will naturally expect their children to be too. But it is not like that. Not even with the best school that we want to give them. The 40% of the children of these people have a lower IQ to that of their parents. and it happens exactly the opposite Come in the least favored. It is a fundamental law in biology.

The principle to which he refers is regression to the meanformulated by the British Francis Galton 130 years ago. He became interested in the inheritance of a trait, height, first in pea plants and later in humans. The study on 900 parents and children found that those who were exceptionally tall tended to have shorter children, and vice-versa, those of smaller stature had children who would surpass them. The Galton’s Law, Largo explains in his work, has an intellectual correlation. Children of people with the lowest quotient will tend to be smarterbut IQ of the privileged does not tend to be inheritedbut decays towards the mean.

Parents in the lower third want their bright children to rise. Those in the upper third want their mediocre people to remain among the elite. And there is no cake for everyone. “You can disadvantage the favored, but that is not what happens in Europe and the United States. think of the president George W Bush. He wasn’t smart” – he assesses with the proverbial Swiss kindness: until recently, ‘dubya‘ was considered by the Americans themselves to be one of their stupidest Commanders-in-Chief in History. “It was his family that paid for him to go to college. He by himself would never have been able to enroll in yale. And that’s how you become president.”

When it is pointed out to him that, in terms of White House tenants, we have gotten worse, Largo rearms: “The power that this group has over the other is a power that must be broken. Imagine that Trump is being tested on television. His intelligence, his ethics, his linguistic abilities, what he knows about numbers, his knowledge of economics and administration are evaluated… In Trump’s case, he barely knows how to read. Such a person cannot be president. Isn’t that amazing? He made it by being a showman. But if we put these questions to any candidate and he was not able to answer them, he would certainly not be elected.

Political satisfaction is personal satisfaction

Largo’s work is exhaustive: the conditions to achieve the adjustment of our individuality in the world also require economic and political security. And times have been deplorable in this regard. “I think that young people have overcome the crisis relatively well in Spain. Family union and coexistence in society is quite good. Is a family experience much more intense what in Germany or Switzerland. I would even dare to say that it is stronger than in Italy. When you go through difficulties, these young people have a refuge. And that is something that in Germany happens very rarely. fall into the loneliness“.

The pediatrician is aware, however, of the fragility of families in which three generations subsist on the pensions of their grandparents, which are increasingly threatened. “The problem of aging is huge, and we also have it in Switzerland and Germany. In these countries, the elderly are confined in residences that can no longer be paid for. I only see one possibility. And from a political point of view, strengthen the family. In Switzerland we miss every year 30% childyes The population is aging and at the base of the inverted pyramid there are fewer and fewer young people, who for their part cannot maintain the pension system”.

There enters the other edge of a poisoned knife, the precariousness of Youth. “It is extremely difficult for them to have a family of their own and they have stopped having children. In addition, with contraceptives, women have for the first time in history the ability to choose if they want to be mothers or not. The economy must have the concept of family and community in mind so that we can re-incorporate the elderly and children. And that is something that can be promoted politically, for example, by keeping the interest rate on mortgages low”.

It is, finally, about democratic conquests. “It is not my intention to praise Switzerland” – qualifies Remo. “But in the government we have seven ministers who have to make all their decisions together. And one of those seven is the president, but only for one year. He has no power of decision on his own. The Swiss people are very suspicious of their rulers. This is how you fight from the disadvantaged side of the scale, acquiring practice in direct democracy. And involving women. A women’s whole party“.

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