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Friday, July 6, 2018

The Nature of Human Intelligence: A Textbook

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/the-nature-of-human-intelligence-a-textbook/

The Nature of Human Intelligence: A Textbook
• July 3, 2018
sternberg intell

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Online publication date: January 2018
Print publication year: 2018
Online ISBN: 9781316817049

I do not wish to quote myself too often, but in my 2013 review of Sternberg’s Handbook of Intelligence I raised an eyebrow about how often he quoted himself, and by means of an internal citation count questioned whether his choice of authors constituted a fair representation of the field. In a reply, Sternberg said that since he was developing the field beyond general intelligence, it was natural that he should be quoting the new approaches he had initiated.
Sternberg begins his latest volume with an explanation: he has invited the 19 most cited psychometricians to contribute (the late lamented Buz Hunt was too ill to participate). This method is good, and will set a standard for other editors to follow. Respect.
  1. Intelligence as Potentiality and Actuality. Phillip L. Ackerman
  2. Hereditary Ability: g Is Driven by Experience- Producing Drives. Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr.
  3. Culture, Sex, and Intelligence: Descriptive and Proscriptive Issues. Stephen J. Ceci, Donna K. Ginther, Shulamit Kahn, & Wendy M. Williams
  4. The Nature of the General Factor of Intelligence. Andrew R. A. Conway & Kristof Kovacs
  5. Intelligence in Edinburgh, Scotland: Bringing Intelligence to Life. Ian J. Deary & Stuart J. Ritchie
  6. Intelligence as Domain-Specific Superior Reproducible Performance: The Role of Acquired Domain- Specific Mechanisms in Expert Performance. K. Anders Ericsson
  7. Intelligence, Society, and Human Autonomy. James R. Flynn
  8. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences: Psychological and Educational Perspectives. Howard Gardner, Mindy Kornhaber, & Jie-Qi Chen
  9. g Theory: How Recurring Variation in Human Intelligence and the Complexity of Everyday Tasks Create Social Structure and the Democratic Dilemma. Linda S. Gottfredson
  10. Puzzled Intelligence: Looking for Missing Pieces. Elena L. Grigorenko
  11. A View from the Brain. Richard J. Haier
  12. Is Critical Thinking a Better Model of Intelligence? Diane F. Halpern & Heather A. Butler
  13. Many Pathways, One Destination: IQ Tests, Intelligent Testing, and the Continual Push for More Equitable Assessments. Alan S. Kaufman
  14. My Quest to Understand Human Intelligence. Scott Barry Kaufman
  15. Mapping the Outer Envelope of Intelligence: A Multidimensional View from the Top. David Lubinski
  16. The Intelligence of Nations. Richard Lynn
  17. Intelligences about Things and Intelligences about People. John D. Mayer
  18. Mechanisms of Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence and Their Common Dependence on Executive Attention 287 Zach Shipstead & Randall W. Engle
  19. Successful Intelligence in Theory, Research, and Practice. Robert J. Sternberg

First up is Phillip Ackerman, distinguishing between intellectual potentiality and actuality. I don’t agree with many of his arguments, so let me explain them. Ackerman is good at distinguishing between sheer general problem-solving brain power and accumulated, skilled knowledge. Intelligence testing includes plenty of the former, and a selection of the common denominator of the latter. He notes that when you get into wide ranging content areas, men and women differ considerably, and argues that the only reason we don’t have separate normative data for the sexes is that Lewis Terman preferred that the sexes be declared equal on the Stanford Binet, and achieved this by counter-balancing items so they appeared the same. One learns something every day. Academic domains of general knowledge usually show a male advantage, but women are ahead in health matters. Ackerman proposes that effort is a big part of actual human achievement, and who would quibble with that, save some of the facts? Practice makes one third perfect.
His chapter has one data table, and one theoretical figure.


Thomas Bouchard next, on hereditary ability. He immediately counters (and refines) Ackerman’s effort argument with Darwin’s admission that Galton has convinced him that intelligence is hereditary and of major importance:
You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think there is an eminently important difference.
It is worth emphasizing Darwin’s astute comment that there is a difference between intelligence and motivation (zeal) and effort (hard work), and that the difference is important. Galton himself was well aware of the difference and argued that all three were influenced by heredity. “The triple event, of ability combined with zeal and with capacity for hard labour[,] is inherited”. Galton’s speculative proposal has been nicely confirmed. We now know that virtually all traits (human and nonhuman, psychological and otherwise) are influenced by heredity.
Bouchard goes through a scrub-clearing exercise on the hoary objections about what intelligence is (Gottfredson’s explanation is perfectly good); the reality of g: g is inevitable if the range of tests and range of intellects is wide enough and sample sizes big enough; the notion that at some threshold higher intelligence doesn’t matter: it is monotonically effective;
This chapter is more evidence based, in my view, but that may be because it is treading a path I am in favour of. This chapter gives one figure with data.


Chapter 3
Culture, Sex, and Intelligence: Descriptive and Proscriptive Issues
Stephen J. Ceci , Donna K. Ginther , Shulamit Kahn , & Wendy M. Williams
Lots of data and figures on sex differences, stereotypes and a growth mindset.


Chapter 4
The Nature of the General Factor of Intelligence
Andrew R. A. Conway & Kristof Kovacs
About the relationship between working memory, executive attention, and intelligence. This line of work has culminated in a new theory of the positive manifold of intelligence and a corresponding new model of the general factor, g. We refer to this new framework as process overlap theory (POT) (Kovacs & Conway, 2016b ).


Chapter 5
Intelligence in Edinburgh, Scotland: Bringing Intelligence to Life
Ian J. Deary & Stuart J. Ritchie
People who tend to be good at one mental ability tend to be good at others also; these include remembering things, manipulating information, working out general principles from a set of examples and then applying them more broadly, thinking quickly, organising mental work, working things out in two or three dimensions, knowing word meanings, and knowing facts about the world.
These are action packed pages, written with aplomb by leading researchers in the business.


Chapter 6
Intelligence as Domain- Specific Superior Reproducible Performance
The Role of Acquired Domain- Specific Mechanisms in Expert Performance
K. Anders Ericsson
The two of us started a long- term practice study with a CMU student, Steve Faloon (SF), whose initial span was around seven digits. After several hundred hours of practice with the digit- span task, SF attained a digit- span of 82 digits, which is an improvement of more than 1,000%. Th is research has been described in considerable detail elsewhere (Chase & Ericsson, 1981 , 1982 ; Ericsson, 2013 ; Ericsson, Chase, & Faloon, 1980 ), so I will focus on the implications for immutable mental capacities as well as for how very high levels of performance in domains of expertise can be acquired. In fact, when SF was presented rapidly with lists of consonants (digit span for consonants), his span was unchanged (around six consonants) even after SF’s digit span had been increased by well over 300%. Some of my colleagues argued that these demonstrations of improved memory for rapidly presented digits, but only for digits, were relatively uninteresting because nobody cares about acquiring such a useless memory skill with no obvious real- world benefits. A fundamentally different interpretation of our findings is that they demonstrate evidence that anybody interested in acquiring increased ability to rapidly store and retrieve information in a particular domain of activity should be able to do so by acquiring domain-specific memory skills.
He concludes:
First, the standard practice of selecting children and adolescents for future advanced- level education based on the traditional tests of intelligence needs to be reconsidered, given their lack of relation to performance among skilled performers. Second, our educational system should not simply train students to rapidly acquire introductory and relatively superfi cial knowledge in many domains. Students should be taught and trained to attain an advanced level of performance in at least one domain, so they will know how they can improve performance in their future profession and how expert performance can be attained with appropriate practice with feedback under the guidance of teachers.
I must say that I think he is demonstrably incorrect. General intelligence remains the best predictor across the whole range of ability. I think that Ericsson should at least note the problem of restriction of range. The top performers on intellectual tasks are far brighter than average. If you then go on to correlate intelligence test scores with elite performance, you should correct the correlations for restriction of range.
Also, in describing the heroic individuals who spent two years boosting their forwards digit span from 7 digits to 80 digits (without it boosting any other form of working memory) I think it would be good to mention Shannon on information theory and “chunking”


Chapter 7
Intelligence, Society, and Human Autonomy
James R. Flynn
James Flynn’s chapter is very different in style from the others. It is written in philosophical terms, and often advances very general concepts, like “mental exercise”. It is engaging, easy to read, yet to my mind often speculative. (However, I know that some of his speculations have received strong support). Flynn argues that even if mental skill improvements “are not on g” they are still of real-life importance. That makes sense to me. He argues that minds adapt to the needs of the times, and brain change with mental exercise, such that the hippocampus enlarges when tasks require considerable memorization. Perhaps so.
Here I wish to introduce some all- important concepts: that the brain is like a muscle that profits from exercise; over time, society changes in terms of what cognitive exercise it asks us to do; and the very stuff of our brain alters to allow us to meet the challenges of our time and place. These concepts apply to our physique. If we all went from swimming to weightlifting in a generation, our physical muscles would alter dramatically. If no one drives a car in 1900 and everyone drives a car in 1950 and all cars have an automatic guidance system in 2000, the size of the hippocampus (the map- reading area of the brain) would increase and then decrease in a few generations (Maguire et al., 2000 ). What IQ gains over time deliver is a historical message about new demands on our cognitive abilities.
I know that I am somewhere between agnostic and just confused about secular rises in intelligence, and generally not on Flynn’s side of the argument about the changes in scores, and that will have influenced my reading of his chapter. I suppose the stumbling block in my mind is that there has been no Flynn Effect on maths and digit span. On the most basic tests: no change.


Chapter 8
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Psychological and Educational Perspectives
Howard Gardner , Mindy Kornhaber , & Jie- Qi Chen
Gardner describes his ideas, their origins and development.
Support from psychometric findings: Gardner acknowledges the “positive manifold” across standardized tests, but correlations will be much reduced if the intelligence can be assessed in context;
No figures or tables. Supportive evidence referenced in a link. It would have been better to have discussed it in the chapter.


Chapter 9
g Theory
How Recurring Variation in Human Intelligence and the Complexity of Everyday Tasks Create Social Structure and the Democratic Dilemma
Linda S. Gottfredson
Gottfredson explains how she began to get interested in the topic of intelligence, and asked the basic question: “does the inherent nature of some work tasks and jobs require workers to do more difficult mental processing to carry out the tasks?”. Gottfredson factor analyzed the attributes of occupations, not workers. She tested claims from sociology with data from other disciplines.
She provides a data-rich account of what intelligence means in everyday life. Gottfredson connected dots that traditional psychometricians left dangling in space, because they thought everyone understood percentile ranks, and that the cognitive demands of tasks did not need to be explained in any detail.
Spotting and Confronting the Use of Deceptive Science
There was tremendous political and legal pressure on employers in the 1980s and 1990s to use “nondiscriminatory” tests, meaning ones having no disparate impact (different pass rates by race or gender; Gottfredson & Sharf, 1988 ). Efforts to increase test reliability and validity had boomeranged because they tended to increase, not reduce, disparate impact by race by better measuring g. Adding personality tests to a selection battery hardlydented the disparate impact. The temptation to “psychomagic” grew.


Chapter 10
Puzzled Intelligence
Looking for Missing Pieces
Elena L. Grigorenko
Grigorenko describes the work which needs to be done to substantiate the epigenomic hypothesis for intelligence.
Currently, there is no published human work substantiating the hypothesis that both across development and within individuals, fluctuations in intelligence can be attributed to individual differences in the epigenome in general and in the methylome in particular.


Chapter 11
A View from the Brain
Richard J. Haier
Excellent review of the field. Since I recently reviewed Richard Haier’s book on the subject I will not add anything further.
Chapter 12
Is Critical Thinking a Better Model of Intelligence?
Diane F. Halpern and Heather A. Butler
We agree with Stanovich ( 2010 ), who wrote that critical thinking is “What intelligence tests miss.” He argues that a critical piece is missing from the traditional conceptualization of intelligence or IQ, namely a rationality quotient (RQ). Stanovich and his colleagues question why seemingly smart, accomplished people do blatantly foolish things. They argue, and we agree, that IQ and rational thinking are different constructs.
However, they correlate 0.7. I think Stanovich has failed to substantiate his extensive claims.
With diminished interest I read the rest of the chapter, but there were better things waiting. In a study whether an intelligence test and a test of critical thinking were used to predict self-reported real-life errors of judgment, both were predictive, but the critical thinking test somewhat more so. However, self-report has notorious shortcomings. If critical thinking can really be taught, successful students should have achievements which are evident to others. For example, proportional to their incomes, and with due allowance for charitable donations, they should have more savings than uncritical thinkers.
Predicting real-world outcomes: Critical thinking ability is a better predictor of life decisions than intelligence
Heather A. Butler, Christopher Pentoney, Mabelle P. Bong
Given that such skills can be trained, even after allowing for weak confirmation, this is a promising result.


Chapter 13
Many Pathways, One Destination
IQ Tests, Intelligent Testing, and the Continual Push for More Equitable Assessments
Alan S. Kaufman
A good potted history of intelligence testing, particularly the Wechsler tests. Kaufman says they did not innovate from 1915 until 2008. This is exactly the date at which many British clinicians think that they deteriorated, becoming faddish, over-factored, less reliable, and impossible to compare with almost a century of clinical history. Some notable clinician stick to the old versions, and regard the new ones as publisher’s hype. However, Kaufman rightly makes fun of the habit of over-interpreting subtest score patterns.
I investigated data for the 2,200 children and adolescents in the WISC- R standardization sample and discovered that it is normal to have scatter. The average child had a V- P discrepancy (in either direction) of 10 points (Kaufman, 1976b ). One in four children had IQ discrepancies of more than 15 points, supposedly conclusive proof of brain damage. And subtest scatter? Th e WISC- R was comprised of 10 subtests whose scaled scores (standard scores with mean = 10 and SD = 3) could range from 1 to 19. Thus, one’s scaled- score range (highest scaled score minus lowest scaled score) could potentially be as high as 18. The average person had a scaled- score range of 7 + 2 points; a range of nine was entirely within normal range (Kaufman, 1976a).
Kaufman is someone I could talk to for a long time. The number of people who have administered more than 400 Wechsler tests is probably falling fast, and the number having done that as well as being active in intelligence research is pretty small.
He signs off his chapter by talking about the intelligence research his children are doing. Good news. Psychometrics is hereditable.


Chapter 14
My Quest to Understand Human Intelligence
Scott Barry Kaufman
Begins with a strong and touching personal story about being kept in special education for years because of a long-resolved hearing infection. No wonder this child wanted to learn about intelligence. He kept quiet about this early experience for years. Wise.
Kaufman describes his theory of personal intelligence.
Of course, the Theory of Personal Intelligence was influenced by many different perspectives, and I really view it as a synthesis rather than a completely new theory. According to Sternberg (1997, 2011), successful intelligence is defined as the ability to achieve one’s goals in life (in terms of one’s own personal standards), within one’s sociocultural context, by capitalizing on strengths and correcting or compensating for weaknesses, in order to adapt to, shape, and select environments, through a combination of analytical, creative, and practical abilities. Many elements of this theory have inspired the Theory of Personal Intelligence, including the personal definition of success, the importance of context and building on strengths, and the inclusion of abilities that go beyond IQ. The Theory of Personal Intelligence goes beyond ability, however, including engagement, character strengths, and other “noncognitive” traits in the model (Heckman, 2000 ; Peterson & Seligman, 1994 ).
As you may surmise, I don’t agree with this formulation. Eratostenes surpassed his sociocultural context, and whether he achieved his own goals in life might have been of interest to him, his mother and his friends, but did not influence his estimate of the circumference of the world. I see the above list as a way of asking another question “Did person X do well in life?”. That is, “did they use their talents well?” An important question. I would consider it the Mark Twain version of life success, in that if a kid gets to St Louis, they do well. As to actual success, then boring old IQ is the best predictor available, out of a weak bunch. I am all in favour of casting the net widely to catch abilities not yet detected, but when those focus on imagination (a great time waster) and creativity (a great morass of imponderables) barely a mouse crawls out from those mountains.


Chapter 15
Mapping the Outer Envelope of Intelligence
A Multidimensional View from the Top
David Lubinski
This is a very good summary of the work on high ability. It points out that there is no replication crisis in psychometrics. Many writers try to attach new labels to old constructs, but the underlying factors remain pretty constant, whatever they are called. I rate this work highly, and have covered it often, so I will commend it once again and pass on to other chapters, beyond asking you to remember the number 5.
Some years ago I was at a Royal Society conference, and over coffee heard two Fellows discussing that although the difference between elite athletes and average fitness could be measure accurately no such metric was available for mental ability. Boldly, I said that the brightest thinkers were 5 times as fast as the slowest, basing this on some observations by Jensen. They seemed will to accept this approximation.
Ninety- five years ago, Carl Emil Seashore (1922) pointed out that among a random sample of college freshmen, the top 5% can learn five times more academic material than the bottom 5% (per unit time), and that there are successive gradations in between these levels.
That is the forgotten aspect of intelligence: you can cover more ground faster, and so can travel further.
On page 251 there is a most interesting note on the Graduate Record examination, revealing that a score of 500 on the verbal scale puts you at the 59th percentile rank, but a score of 500 on the maths scale merely at the 18th percentile. Never accept a score without seeing the score distributions. Also, make a mental note that tests of maths ability are probably the most informative.


Chapter 16
The Intelligence of Nations
Richard Lynn
This is a very good summary of the work Richard Lynn has done for years on the ability levels of nations. He once said that, if only Physics is of any value, and all other disciplines are mere stamp collecting, then he has been a mere collector of country IQs. This chapter gives the correlations between national level and lots of other economic and social indicators. I have covered the national data many times before, so will not add further comment other than to say that the chapter is a very good starting point for new readers.


Chapter 17
Intelligences about Things and Intelligences about People
John D. Mayer
John Mayer is interested in social intelligence, and whether this exists as a separate ability. He also considers emotional intelligence and personal intelligence.
Here is an example from Mayer’s Test of Personal Intelligence which includes items such as:
If a person is outgoing and talkative, most likely, she is also inclined to be:
a. self- controlled
b. more assertive than average
c. anxious and impulsive
d. altruistic
The correct answer here is “b. more assertive than average,” because research on the big five personality traits indicate that talkativeness and sociability are more highly correlated with assertiveness than with the other listed alternatives.
So, if a person has personal intelligence, they will have noticed those features of human behaviour which are detected and confirmed by personality questionnaires.
Personal intelligence may also divide into two subsidiary factors that correlate about r = 0.80 with one another (Mayer, Panter, & Caruso, 2014 ). The first factor involves perceiving consistencies in people’s behaviors. The second factor represents reasoning about personality dynamics, such has how goals interrelate, and how multiple observers each may perceive the same person differently.
For example, personal intelligence correlates just r = 0.17 and r = 0.20 with SAT- Math and spatial intelligence measures, but rises to r = 0.39 with verbal intelligence (which presumably is midway between thing- and person- focused), and rises again to r = 0.53 with the Reading the Mind in the Eyes scale, a measure of understanding people, and exhibits an r = 0.69 with the MSCEIT understanding emotions and managing emotions areas (the latter, managing emotion area, arguably blends somewhat into personal intelligence at a conceptual level).
Chapter 18
Mechanisms of Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence and Their Common Dependence on Executive Attention
Zach Shipstead and Randall W. Engle
We did not set out to study intelligence. The question at the origin of this line of work was why complex memory span tasks correlate so highly and so consistently (Turner & Engle, 1989 ) with a huge array of real- world tasks when simple span tasks do so less well and very inconsistently (Dempster,1981 ). We attempted to answer this question by a combination of methods taken from both experimental psychology and differential psychology – a response to Cronbach’s ( 1957 ) complaint that the two approaches to psychology historically have disregarded each other.
Chapter 19
Successful Intelligence in Theory, Research, and Practice
Robert J. Sternberg
My reaction is that Successful Intelligence is a tautology: unsuccessful thinking is hardly intelligent.
Sternberg says:
Intelligence really is nothing in particular, as it is a construct humans have invented, largely to explain why some people are better at performing some classes of tasks than others (Sternberg, 1984a ). Many different metaphors can characterize intelligence (Sternberg, 1990 ), but these too are creations to help us understand our own invention
Well, all constructs are invented by humans, including “nothing” “particular” “people” “performing” and “tasks”. Are there more trenchant points to follow?
Sternberg continues:
Successful intelligence is one’s ability to choose, reevaluate, and, to the extent possible, attain one’s goals in life, within one’s sociocultural context. A successfully intelligent person recognizes his or her strengths and weaknesses and then capitalizes on strengths while compensating for or correcting weaknesses. He or she does so through a combination of analytical, creative, practical, and wisdom- based/ ethical skills (Sternberg, 2003 ).
I have an immediate problem with this definition, namely criterion heterodoxy, or the “rubber ruler” mistake. People’s goals in life differ, and their concepts of success. It would put me, as someone who became an academic to read, write and discuss psychology in relative tranquillity, on a par with others who also wanted and did those things, but who actually published more widely and consequently had a greater impact. I rank Sternberg more highly than myself. My next problem is that the actual ingredients in this successful intelligence turn out to be analytical, creative, practical and wisdom based. Agreed. Intelligent people are good at those things, some far more so than others, and all of these intellectual abilities correlate with each other, and with real life achievements.
Sternberg says:
what constitutes intelligent behavior may differ radically from one culture to another in terms of the adaptive requirements of the culture. For example, in a rural Kenyan village, knowledge of natural herbal medicine used to combat parasitic illnesses may be key to adaptation and hence intelligence (Sternberg et al., 2001); in the United States, such knowledge may be useless.
Well, no, actually. The rural Kenyan village in this story had many children with parasitic illnesses, so there was zero evidence that herbal concoctions were effective. When you read the small print in this study, the authors in fact gave the infested children US developed modern drugs, and showed that after proper treatment they functioned better. It also turned out that the measure of knowledge of herbal medicine they used was one in which agreeing that herbal medicines were effective counted as a point towards knowing things about herb medicines. I don’t think that this study proves anything about radical differences in what constitutes intellgent behaviour. Don’t let anyone sell you this argument in an Ebola epidemic. Equally, Sternberg notes that precocity in children is welcomed in the US but frowned upon in Kenya. This would be interesting if Kenya exceeded the US in intellectual achievements. This not being the case might suggest, if early child interventions have any influence at all, that Kenyans should try applauding their youngsters when they venture their premature observations.
Later in the chapter there is much work on the contributions of Successful Intelligence tests to the selection of university students, and this is the strongest aspect of the chapter.


Conclusions

I am sorry that I did not cover all the chapters in equal detail, and also sorry that this review is too long. I have not had time to make it shorter.
Textbooks are far more likely than original papers to be read by students. Textbooks also carry an air of authority not achieved by other publications, so may well determine how a topic is seen by a generation that will read little else on the subject. This textbook will convince them that there is real content in psychometric research. Those with more knowledge of the field may feel that some researchers are highly quoted on the slender basis that their conjectures seem uplifting, and that their schemes of self-improvement give heart to many hopeful readers. Other researchers provide results which may be less welcome, but their papers come out with a frequency and a wealth of content which demands attention.
Robert Graves was chastised by the tutors examining his thesis on the White Goddess of inspiration “for having favoured some poets over others”. All reviewers must do so. Must editors?
At one stage when reading this volume I thought that the noble plan of asking the most cited psychologists to contribute had gone horribly wrong. There are citations and citations. I wanted to admit that the editor should decide which sort of psychology they value and must invite contributions from those they regard as having the best ideas and supportive evidence, and must stand or fall on that. As I continued to read I returned to my view that gathering the most-cited authors has paid off.
I think that this is a better representation of the field than was achieved in previous volumes. It also shows many authors at their best, in that they have compressed their work into considered and readable summaries. The format of scientific papers, nobly striving for dispassionate rectitude, is too often stale and humourless, and proves hard going for most readers. These chapters are often better, with a moiety of conversational asides and personal disclosure.
We have had a good, well-balanced look at the most cited scholars on intelligence. Some are better than others. Are some of them cited purely because they have an uplifting message, and are on the side of the angels? Could be. Authors certainly differ in how much they are research based. Some rely on a few confirmatory studies, others are supported by a very wide range of research results. What unifies them is a deep interest in the subject, and the willingness to pursue their speculations by putting them to the test.
If students still read textbooks in university libraries, looking out at the campus lawns as their more feckless colleagues make their way to sunlit assignations, I think this volume will merit their quiet, scholarly approbation.
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