From a thread on whether BASIC is relevant:
Really, what I think is happening is that BASIC is so easy to learn that even people who shouldn’t be programming can use it. There are people who can’t program very well at all, but they DID learn to program in BASIC, so they think they can program, learn a little PHP maybe, and them come work at your workplace and start fucking shit up. Similar people who are forced into more structured languages right off the bat never get the idea they can program at all, so they never even apply, much less get hired, and you never have to work with them. The complaint is really that BASIC doesn’t act as an effective gatekeeper in weeding out bad candidates.
Full disclosure: I learned to program using BASIC on a TRS-80.
Also, this is related to an argument Steven Pinker makes when ripping apart Malcolm Gladwell’s new book:
Another example of an inherent trade-off in decision-making is the one that pits the accuracy of predictive information against the cost and complexity of acquiring it. Gladwell notes that I.Q. scores, teaching certificates and performance in college athletics are imperfect predictors of professional success. This sets up a “we” who is “used to dealing with prediction problems by going back and looking for better predictors.” Instead, Gladwell argues, “teaching should be open to anyone with a pulse and a college degree — and teachers should be judged after they have started their jobs, not before.”
But this “solution” misses the whole point of assessment, which is not clairvoyance but cost-effectiveness. To hire teachers indiscriminately and judge them on the job is an example of “going back and looking for better predictors”: the first year of a career is being used to predict the remainder. It’s simply the predictor that’s most expensive (in dollars and poorly taught students) along the accuracy-cost trade-off. Nor does the absurdity of this solution for professional athletics (should every college quarterback play in the N.F.L.?) give Gladwell doubts about his misleading analogy between hiring teachers (where the goal is to weed out the bottom 15 percent) and drafting quarterbacks (where the goal is to discover the sliver of a percentage point at the top).