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  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Is Japan an intellectual country ?

    I've often thought that Japan was very good at inventing new products and applications. However, after almsot 2 years of living in Japan, I come to realise that most Japanese aren't very scientific or just intellectual (especially when it comes to philosophy, history or the understanding of the world in general, be it in politics, economics or merely geographic).

    IMHO, Japanese people are much more polite and respectful in average than most Westerners, which make them very nice people. But as they have little interest in direct confrontation of ideas and prefer keeking the harmony to arguing, it also affects their philosophical or scientific thinking (spontaneous questioning, confronting ideas, distrust what they've learnt, etc.). Let's say that they are great engineers, work hard and know how to do business, but lack theoritical and abstract thinking compared to Westerners.

    Japan has "borrowed" most of its scientific knowledge to the West from the Meiji era. They haven't invented the car, the train, the telephone or even the television. Nobody would contest that Japanese cars, TV's and mobile phones are among the world best, if not the best. However, they had to import all these inventions and then only work on how to improve them. They e better in practice than in theory.

    I have counted the number of Nobel prizes obtained by each country and made a little summary (in maths, I have taken the Field Medal, as there are no Nobel prize).

    In science (in order : physics/chemistry/medecine/maths)

    Japan : 3/3/1/1 = 8

    France : 11/5/7/10 = 33
    UK : 18/22/25/8 = 73
    Germany : 18/27/18/0 = 63
    Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland) : 7/6/7/1 = 21

    TOTAL EUROPE (all countries, except ex-USSR, Romania, Bulgaria, ex-Yougoslavia) : 70/71/78/20 = 239

    USA : 69/50/86/20 = 225


    Literature et Economics

    Japan : 2/0

    France : 13/1
    UK : 7/6
    Germany : 7/1
    Scandinavia : 13/2

    TOTAL EUROPE : 61/13

    USA : 11/36

    All Nobel prizes ( except "peace") + Field Medal

    Japan = 10

    France = 47
    UK = 86
    Germany = 71
    Scandinavia = 36
    TOTAL EUROPE = 313

    USA = 272

    The European countries taken here into account have an approximate population of 400 millions, the US 285m and Japan 125m. That means that the US have the more Nobel prize per inhabitant. Consequently, the US have proportionally 16x more Nobel prize than Japan, while Europe has 10x more than Japan, Scandinavia 25x, and the UK has 19x.

    Very interesting statistically.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Apr 30, 2003 at 22:02.

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  2. #2
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    Think the average person in any country is hardly a good measure of intellectual thinking, but Tokyoites are fairly meek under any condition......find the folks out in the rural countryside are more open to speak their mind, and the folks in the Kansai area tend to be more vocal of their opinions (not that that makes them intellectual).....
    But when you have the philosophy that "The nail that sticks out gets pounded...." it is most likely that you aren't going to get an accurate picture on what people are really thinking, especially in a group setting....although that seems to be changing among the young people that I've talked with.....
    I know nothing...except the answer is 42. You know more than I do.

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    True. I have only found one Japanese person that was able to speak their true feelings to me and tell me what they were actually thinking about any given topic. One, out of the many that I know, and that isn't my husband.

    Although I don't have a bunch of links to refer to or any article or statistics to refer to, I have made personal observations similar to what Maciamo is talking about. I think academically speaking, the Japanese are good at memorization techniques. They are good at storing memory, from what I've noticed.

    For example, my husband knows about all about all kinds of mechanisms. He knows how to take them apart and put them back together blindfolded, but if you were to ask him what his opinion is on whether buying those mechanisms new or keep on repairing the old ones/buying refurbished ones would save more money for his company, he would not be able to give a good answer(I've asked him before).

    When it comes to politics or history or literature, I can't get any response at all, hardly. It can be very frustrating at times when I want to talk about the way I feel about Bush and why he's so bad for the country or discuss the benefits of socialized medicine or talk about Shakespeare and how he really captured the dark side of humans. If I want to have garbage disposal fixed free of charge, though, I'm good to go.

    I remember asking my friend, Yumi(this was after knowing her for 4 years), about what she thought of the Timothy Woodland rape case in Okinawa and what she thought of the Marines being in Okinawa, and all she could do was giggle and say something that I shouldn't say here. I was looking for did she think they should be there and for what reason or if she didn't think they should be there for whatever reason, but I didn't get it. She could not give me an answer. Well, just an appalling response with a sexual reference and a giggle, but that was it.

    I'm not faulting anyone. As you say, I think they are the most polite people on the globe, and that is very important. They are (mostly) very loyal, respectful, giving, and pleasant people to be around. Of course, I could get on another tangent about how genuine that can be, but, I won't.

    Just know that I'm thankful for my Sony P7 and my Nintendo and of course, my husband and kids... ;)
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  4. #4
    Junior Member VelvetCyberpunk's Avatar
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    I think that Japan has long embraced art, poetry, and music, which in my opinion is high culture, and are intellectual pursuits. Just because the Japanese also embrace the future and technology does not mean they aren't cultural, or intellectual. They have a different way of expressing culture but that doen't make it any less valid.
    Last edited by VelvetCyberpunk; May 5, 2003 at 16:33.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    What I meant is probably more "Is Japan a theory-oriented scientific country or not". I am well aware that they are doing quite well in art, music or other cultural domains. I should reformualte my original question...

  6. #6
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    think with the newer generations adopting more of a western attitude towards change, things will slowly adapting faster, as if the changes in fashion and trends aren't fast enough as is....perhaps in a few years the theories will start becoming reality....but hard to tell.....nothing is what it seems in Japan with its layers of layered circular logic....

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    Regular Member Squareboy's Avatar
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    I can not agree more with den4, it is so hard for westerners to get, however this is what makes Japan interesting and mysterous!

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    Regular Member Enfour's Avatar
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    I think your question is too broad..

    why are you trying to decide if Japanese are scientific or not?

    I guess there are as many different types of people here as everywhere else.
    "Have you had your daily Tango today?"

  9. #9
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Enfour
    I think your question is too broad..
    why are you trying to decide if Japanese are scientific or not?
    I guess there are as many different types of people here as everywhere else.
    Yes and no. I believe that every cultural group has its own characteristics. Actually, that may just be a side-effect of playing "Sid Meier's Civilization" where each civilization has a set of characteristics such as scientific, militaristic, religious, commercial, expansonist, etc.

    However, I think that we should go a bit deeper than that and see what really differentiate Japanese mentality from (some) others and I thought that the practical (i.e non theoritical) aspect was one of them.

  10. #10
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    Japan has long been known for taking other people's ideas and making them better.

    Once, Japanese cars were laughed at. Now they are the most reliable in the world. While Japan may not have invented the television, the VCR, the CD player etc... you might ask yourself this. If these products were invented elsewhere, why do the majority of people own a Japanese designed version now?

    Tiger

  11. #11
    Junior Member Toru Ranryu's Avatar
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    Arrow Japanese Inventiveness

    Already in the original post Maciamo admits that Japanese are good at engineering. This is further supported by the study he points to in his more recent post #23, which indicates that a higher percentage of young people study engineering in Japan than in any other country included in the study. So, what exactly is the difference between "inventive science" and "engineering"?

    Maciamo claims that since inventions such as cars, trains, telephones and television where not made in Japan, Japanese people are not good at making inventions. That is ridiculous! All those inventions were made at least 80 years ago! At that time Japan was far behind the West in scientific knowledge, but that is hardly relevant when discussing Japanese inventiveness today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger View Post
    Japan has long been known for taking other people's ideas and making them better.
    Once, Japanese cars were laughed at. Now they are the most reliable in the world. While Japan may not have invented the television, the VCR, the CD player etc... you might ask yourself this. If these products were invented elsewhere, why do the majority of people own a Japanese designed version now?
    Actually, Japan did invent the CD player, and they made the first commercial videocassette recorder.

  12. #12
    Regular Member cathy's Avatar
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    Question

    Ever Country has their intellectuals and no intellectuals.

    As far as i know, all the eastern and midle east country are very philosophyc people, and philosophy require intellect, there is to say, "thinking".

    I know for a fact that the USA is not intellectual country. The majority of US citesens, don`t like to talk about: politics, social living, integration, religion...And so forth and so on.

    In other words, USA people, they avoid any thing that has to do with brain.

    (No pon intended).

    Even in schools, students are annoyed and bored if you try to teach some thing that make`s sense.

    Make no mestake, i love this country, but as long i keep my mouth shot, i will go along ok with US people.


    Peace and love be with all.


    Cathy



  13. #13
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    I guess a good grasp of spelling isn't a strong point in the US either?

    (Sorry couldn't resist)

    Tiger

  14. #14
    Regular Member cathy's Avatar
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    Sorry Tiger for my spelling, but english is not my native language. Although some college USA student are worse than me on spelling. I should know, i thought to some of them, (nor english mind you.) fortunate for me, i had an assistent in english.


    However, i happen to know 6 language, and at 61 Y old, i am doing fairly well in english, fair anough to run mi own bussiness on computer games for collectors all over the world.

    Never been on walfeare, never will intend to get on social security, on the expense of tax payer.

    You are walkeme to correct any mis spelling. I will be greatfull to you.

    Thank you for remind to me. I will try to iproove the best i can.

    Peace e serenity be with you and yours.

    Cathy



  15. #15
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    That's true, Cathy. I know many Americans who can't spell nearly as good as you can. Don't worry about your English. We can understand what you're saying and I happen to like what you have to say. Keep on posting. I think you have many good things you could share with us younguns! ;)

    I was going to make a comment on how some people definitely had a good grasp on arrogance, though, which can be a lot less attractive than not being able to spell every word correctly.

  16. #16
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Always the good words, Kirei ;)

  17. #17
    Regular Member cathy's Avatar
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    Thank you Kirei and Maciamo, for taking in my favor.

    My intention was only to clear up few thing about my english. Nothing else.

    I don`t take personal many things, maybe couse i do understand humans and love everyone of them out there. I also respect the freedom of speach.

    I really don`t thing that Tiger ment anything offensive, i do think that was a spontaneous reply.

    However i do appreciate your in put, and i thank you again.


    love to you both,

    Cathy







  18. #18
    Regular Member Enfour's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    Yes and no. I believe that every cultural group has its own characteristics. Actually, that may just be a side-effect of playing "Sid Meier's Civilization" where each civilization has a set of characteristics such as scientific, militaristic, religious, commercial, expansonist, etc.

    However, I think that we should go a bit deeper than that and see what really differentiate Japanese mentality from (some) others and I thought that the practical (i.e non theoritical) aspect was one of them.
    I think you are trying to oversimplify something which is very complicated across a broad group. That is doing you and the group a disservice and can be dangerous. This type of behaviour leads to prejudice and racism.

    I am not for a second suggesting this of you, rather that smaller minds will use statisitics and/or annecdotes like these to justify their own prejudices.

    Why are you trying to box in a nation? Why not just try to see the beauty in the indivuals that you are fortunate enough to meet?

    Inate intellect, scientific ability and/or creativity is in the realm of the indivual not of a racial or cultural group.

    Discounting somebody's ability based on racial or cultural group before you have met them is prejudice.

    I noticed that you started this thread on another board and somebody commented that scientific method is forming a hypothesis and then testing it for validity. You are trying to find evidence to support your hypothesis which is non-scientific.

    Food for thought.

  19. #19
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    > Sorry Tiger for my spelling, but english is not my native language.

    in which case I humbly apologise Cathy. I incorrectly assumed from your flag that you were American. My comment was intended as a mild joke, not to be offensive. Unfortunately it seems some people can't take a joke. I'm glad you can though.

    Tiger

  20. #20
    Regular Member cathy's Avatar
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    No problem Tiger.
    I always see the bad and the good things of people. I also make and take jokes. They are good for the mind and the heart.

    If you want to live good in this angry world, you have to accept humor.

    Kirei and Maciamo, just acted as you did: try to defend me by pure instint of love, And i like that, a lot.

    Love is my way of living.

    I think that this board is very umanitarian and civil place. I am very happy that i find.
    And i also like to thank all the administrators the way they keep this place.

    Thank you for clearing this up.

    Peace and serenity be with you.

    Cathy


  21. #21
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Yes, I can take a joke. I am usually one to avoid confrontation at all costs--even when I can hide behind a monitor--but I don't consider what was said a funny joke. I thought it out of place and simply not nice. I just think more care and consideration needs to be taken when posting responses. That's all. Over and done with.

    And thanks, Maciamo... ;)

  22. #22
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    Forgive me, but I don't think it was your place to object. The "joke" which was entirely intended as such, was entirely at Cathy's expense who didn't object at all, but simply and clearly explained her position. I could equally argue that by "leaping to her defense", when she didn't need it, you were being unbelieveably patronising to her, by treating her as if she couldn't defend herself and needed someone else to do her talking for her.

    But then I'm sure that it wasn't your intention to be "out of place" either, so I wouldn't judge you in the same way that you have judged me.

    Tiger

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    Japanese are good at receiving and copying the
    new inventions and creating them again.

    They look as if they want to be out of Asia, eventually
    to be a western.

  24. #24
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    I found this comparative study on education by chance : Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and other G8 countries (PDF). It appears that Japanese people are much less interested in sciences and maths than the Westerners of the surveyed countries.

    Indicator 15.a : Percentage of eighth-grade students with “high” scores on the index of positive attitudes towards
    mathematics, by country in 1999


    Japan ranks last, with only 9% of students with highly positive attitudes towards mathematics, as opposed to 41% in England (top), and 35% in Italy, the USA and Canada.


    Indicator 15.a : same for sciences

    Japanese students are again the least interested, with only 10%, against 39% in England (top), and 29 to 32% elsewhere.


    If we look at the percentage of people who choose maths and sciences at university, Japan also ranks last.

    Indicator 26.a : Percentage of first university degrees awarded in science, by country in 1999

    Only 4% of first university graduates in Japan chose a scientific subject, as opposed to 16% in the UK (top), 15% in France and 9 to 11% elsewhere.


    Here is another more recent survey from the same website : Comparative Indicators
    of Education in the United States and Other G8 Countries: 2004
    (PDF)

    Indicator 22 : Percentage distribution of first university degrees awarded, by field of study and country: 2001

    Japan has again by far the lowest percentage of students choosing a scientific subject at university : only 3% (!), as opposed to 21% in the UK, 18% in France, and 8 to 12% elsewhere.



    These statistics seem to correlate well with Japan's very low per capita number of Nobel Prizes in sciences and Field Medals (maths).

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    This is all so infantile, everytime you guys start a threat and the discussion begins to offer something, somone's ego gets in the way. It then starts to get into whose english is better or not better, who has six languages and blabla..., having completely nothing to do with the original proposition or question. moderator do something please.

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