Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Getting smarter or dumber

I would like to address the question of whether older programmers are better or worse than younger. Yes, I believe it is just a popular myth that intelligence declines and, as already stated, the research shows otherwise. Declines in IQ are generally related to health, not age. Since chronic illness is so common in our society, older usuallymeans less healthy, and therefore less intelligent.
If you avoid excessive alcohol and tobacco, eat sensibly and exercise every single day (with no exceptions), then you will get smarter not dumber as years go by. You will learn and remember new things more easily than before, because you have perspective and context and can see the patterns.
If, on the other hand, you get sick and tired of programming because no one ever appreciates your work and you spen so many hours at it the rest of your life is a disaster, then of course you burn out and can no longer concentrate or get motivated.
I do not expect my work to be appreciated and I make sure to do other things besides work, and therefore I did not burn out and am smarter than I was, not dumber. Programming keeps getting easier and, amazingly enough, it's still fun.

The Real PC
Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Well, I don't enjoy programming as much as I used to. But on the other hand, I get paid more now, and I don't work 12 hour days any more.

I'd say I'm getting smarter.

anon
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I used to be dumber when I was younger. I could never find my way out of a maze, so I never found the cheese at the end. Then again, maybe I would've gotten fat if I had found the cheese all those times.

But recently I was fed some strange-tasting liquid and now I can always find my way out of the maze. Now I just have to pace myself with respect to how much cheese I eat at one time.

Algernon
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

You might get smarter in some ways as you get older, but you also get dumber in some ways. You tend to lose your creativity and ability to think outside the box. Kids are much more creative, in general, than adults, because they haven't yet learnt that "it can't possibly work".

On the other hand, as you get older you gain experience and analytical tools to evaluate the creative ideas of young minds.

So it's a tradeoff I think. Be happy in the stage you're at.

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Every time I get a little smarter, I realize that I'm dumber than I thought I was before.

It's a matter of the cost of good enough. As dumb as I am, my quiality and prductivity are a little pricey for some companies. Fortunately not the one I'm working for.

fool for python
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

..I use a spell checker at work ;-)

fool for python
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I absolutely agree with The Real PC. I am orders of magnitude more capable than I was when I was 20. Largely because I am far more disciplined and persistent. As a result of which I eat better, exercise more, and generally cultivate good habits which increase my ability to learn.

There is no way I could have held down a full-time programming job and done a part-time Master's when I was 20. Heck, I was TRYING to do those things (well a Bachelor's degree, much less demanding, and temporary employment for 28 weeks of the year) when I was 20, and I guess I was surviving, but I sure wasn't thriving.

I was such a weak little scrap of a thing then. It took me so long to build up enough strength to live like I do now.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, February 26, 2004

I'm an order of magnitude more competent than I once was, but I refuse to use myself as an example.

I've known incompetent, wouldn't-change-their-ways older programmers, but I've known tons more young developers who were like that.  Most older, experienced programmers that I've met had superb insight, high productivity, and great skills.  I would much rather retrain an older programmer to use, say, Java or .NET than hire some young kid right out of CS who did Java for four years...

Jim Causey
Thursday, February 26, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home