21 September 2011

Talpiot: Seizing the Day

The applicant pool consists of nearly ten thousand top scorers of a test taken by all graduating high school seniors. 150-200 potential applicants are then subjected to a two-day series of tests.[1] These include further IQ exams as well as group-tasks designed to test one's social dynamics, all conducted under the supervision of trained psychologists and military personnel. For example, teams of applicants are given a specific task then the instructions are changed while the test is in progress, such as shortening the alloted time or changing the assigned tasks.[1] Final applicants appear before a panel of professors, military leaders, and other examiners where they are asked questions such as to explain the theory of relativity or mechanisms of solar heating.[1] Final acceptance into the program entails a high security clearance rating, given by the Air Force. _Talpiot (wikipedia)
Talpiot is a program for bringing the best of the best of Israeli youth together into an intensive mental, physical, and military training regimen. 5,000 youth apply every year, and 50 are accepted. Out of those 50, only 40 will complete the training, and be commissioned as lieutenants in the IDF. They spend 9 years total, including education, training, and military commitment.
Those who survive go on to careers as officers in some of the military's most prestigious operations, mostly in research and development projects, Schlachet said. From there, the 500-odd Talpiot grads have tended to find their way to the upper echelons of business and academia, he said.

"You learn self-confidence, not to be afraid of anything. No subject is too complex to go after, and no answer should be taken for granted," said Talpiot grad Gilad Almogy, 38, Applied Materials' top executive in Israel.

The Nasdaq-traded biotech company Compugen was formed by three of Almogy's Talpiot comrades. A fourth, Mor Amitai, now runs the company.

Amitai says some of the most complicated work he ever did was during his time in Talpiot. "The experience of sometimes succeeding, almost always as part of a team, involving something that really seemed impossible, I think this is something we took with us," he said. _USAToday_via_SteveHsu
Talpiot is run by the Israeli Defense Force with the aim of creating an elite officer corps which is capable of responding to any threat by the innovative use of the most advanced technologies -- or any tool within reach. If these elite soldiers later become leaders in business, technology, finance, and other vital areas of society, it should come as no surprise to anyone who is paying attention.

During the training, the youngsters are taught to flirt with insubordination (PDF). Rather than listen to their superiors, they are taught to find answers on their own. The aim is to create self-confident, self-sufficient self starters capable of innovative thinking on the fly, in the middle of a crisis that doesn't yield to SOPs and conventional operations.

Israel is a tiny country thriving in a hostile environment. The country is famous for scientific and technological innovation and achievement far beyond what its small population would lead one to expect. Part of the reason for this overachievement is the survival imperative. Part of the reason is the significant proportion of famously high IQ European Jews who provide much of the leadership for all segments of Israeli society. When you combine high IQ with the will to survive, you come up with programs such as Talpiot.

Israel can not afford to waste its most talented youth -- as western nations such as the US seem intent on doing. At least, Israel's military cannot afford to lose these tough and talented innovators. Not if the country is to survive.

While western nations are busy drowning in debt, demographic decline, political correctness, green dieoff.org-motivated energy starvation, cultural decay, and other methods of slow suicide, at least a few segments of some national governments still recognise the need to promote the best of human potential and ability.

Militaries are often the last bastion of competence in countries whose cultures are in decay. At least, militaries that have to work and maintain an acceptable level of competence. But militaries tend to settle into conventional thinking and lowest common denominator policies, like all bureaucracies and institutions. That is why it is important to feed a constant flow of brutally tested innovative thinking into the mix, and give it freedom to work.

The difference between the Talpiot approach and conventional academia could not be more stark. Academia is about status, tenure, and publishing as much crap as possible. Talpiot is about sound, rapid innovation to get good results. The Talpiot must start with the best of the best, and winnow the field from there. No affirmative action. No social promotion. No special preferences for "disadvantaged groups." Just unrelenting tests for competence, ability, and ingenious thinking.

In other words, these cadets are not only smart, but they also have to be good. And they especially must have grit -- character.

Obviously this system will not work for the average youth. Even most above-average students would fall by the wayside in a rigorous program such as Talpiot. But the concepts involved in the program are key to revitalising western education. No nonsense. No grade inflation. No social promotion. No affirmative action. Focus on results, competence, and character.

Getting from here to there, however, will require a bit of demolition and reconstruction. Such an overhaul is not possible on a national level, but could be done locally, under careful leadership.

More on Talpiot via Steve Hsu

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Blogger TheBigHenry said...

Fix "Talbiot" typo in several places.

Wednesday, 21 September, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Done. Thanks.

Wednesday, 21 September, 2011  
Blogger Will Brown said...

My argument against the necessity for a local implimentation requirement here.

Sunday, 25 September, 2011  

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