0863: "Major in the Universe"

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Maskirovka
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Maskirovka » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:49 pm UTC

I don't think it's necessarily the American system vs. any other system...it's that any system which does not force most students to exercise their moral and cognitive abilities at high levels in order to get degrees is inherently flawed. A system in which you learn only maths and a system in which you're forced to learn a bunch of stuff you're not necessarily interested in are going to create students who are either resentful of all that "gen ed" stuff they had to learn or completely ignorant of all sorts of other subjects.

In a world that's so complex and interconnected, specialists are going to miss important things because they're "experts" and they know best.

I don't think Malcom Gladwell is telling us anything that important in his books. I think if most Europeans read his books, they'd just say "yes...duh. This is boring." It's only in America where people need to read a book like Outliers to understand why people are successful and why maybe we shouldn't give so much praise to "successful" people (i.e. rich experts on mostly useless things like predicting the stock market or pop stars).

Read Nassim Nicholas Taleb. If anyone in the world has a major in everything, it's him. Not saying he does, but his writing deals with everything in the way Chomsky studying linguistics forces him to deal with philosophy.

Specifically, The Bed of Procrustes and The Black Swan.

http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/
Last edited by Maskirovka on Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:58 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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KShrike
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby KShrike » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:52 pm UTC

rcox1 wrote:A wonderful example of he difference between a freshman and a junior. As a freshman we believe we know everything and anything in he process of learning that is no fun to do is a waste of time, because, as said, we know everything.

As we approach senior year we begin to realize that the world is bigger than anything that will fit in our head, and it is not so what we know, but what we don't. And the process, though often tedious, is never boring to a person who wants to learn.


Trust me when I say that I do NOT know everything about (Field X) and that the world is a lot bigger than (Concept B), and I am still a Freshman.
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Brillig
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Brillig » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:58 pm UTC

Maskirovka wrote:I don't think it's necessarily the American system vs. any other system...it's that any system which does not force most students to exercise their moral and cognitive abilities at high levels in order to get degrees is inherently flawed. A system in which you learn only maths and a system in which you're forced to learn a bunch of stuff you're not necessarily interested in are going to create students who are either resentful of all that "gen ed" stuff they had to learn or completely ignorant of all sorts of other subjects./


This is the assumption of the US system. I know for a fact that it serves a lot of students well, but does a major disservice to more focussed students. Generally, though, I question the idea that you need to make people take subjects in university or they won't take them at all. The assumption is that people will not take an interest in the world around them unless they are bullied into it. The success of adult education night classes (jncluding languages, dance, martial arts, technical/professional skills), book clubs, popular science writing, specialist hobbies (car maintenance, reef-keeping, music) among people who took single subjects at the undergrad level puts the lie to that assumption. I have nothing against the opportunity to take Gen Ed credits as part of a college degree; however I have a major problem with the idea of a Gen Ed requirement.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby SpotWeld » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:59 pm UTC


Maskirovka
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Maskirovka » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:17 pm UTC

Brillig wrote:This is the assumption of the US system. I know for a fact that it serves a lot of students well, but does a major disservice to more focussed students. Generally, though, I question the idea that you need to make people take subjects in university or they won't take them at all. The assumption is that people will not take an interest in the world around them unless they are bullied into it. The success of adult education night classes (jncluding languages, dance, martial arts, technical/professional skills), book clubs, popular science writing, specialist hobbies (car maintenance, reef-keeping, music) among people who took single subjects at the undergrad level puts the lie to that assumption. I have nothing against the opportunity to take Gen Ed credits as part of a college degree; however I have a major problem with the idea of a Gen Ed requirement.


Ah...I agree with your general sentiment that forced learning can turn people off to further learning, except I think there's a little chicken-and-egg thing going on there. I'm not sure whether American attitudes about education cause us to think we need a system that forces people to learn everything or whether it's the system causing people to resent being forced to learn all sorts of subjects they have no interest in.

I do, however, worry about the "expert problem" Nassim Taleb discusses in The Black Swan when I hear people advocate systems that concentrate on one field only. Often, people reason that because they are an expert in a particular field, they are always correct and most qualified to reason regarding their field. People who are well versed in only one or two subjects (or who are immersed in only one culture) are also much more likely to try and get the world to fit into their Procrustean bed. This is akin to the government declaring you can't understand our reasoning for this war because we have classified documents which compel us, and no you can't see the documents. I realize that example is a slight stretch, but if you can't explain whatever you're studying to other people who don't study the same thing, you're doing it wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrustes

Turing Machine
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Turing Machine » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:25 pm UTC

super_aardvark wrote: I'm assuming (congratulations, you're an ass!) he meant eigenvalue, but I have no idea what that has to do with Gladwell (I haven't read Tipping Point or anything else by him).


http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1897

Gladwell's reputation among the math-literate is...well, based entirely on that. Hence, he's Igon Value Gladwell to me.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Brillig » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

Maskirovka wrote: if you can't explain whatever you're studying to other people who don't study the same thing, you're doing it wrong.



You'll also have a heck of a time getting funded to do it :wink:

I do agree with you about the 'expert problem', but the majority of educated people are never going to be the go-to experts in their chosen topic. I think the solution probably should have more to do with how we use and marshal our 'experts' than whether we only graduate chemists who can also fathom Derrida.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Turing Machine » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:38 pm UTC

Brillig wrote:
Maskirovka wrote: if you can't explain whatever you're studying to other people who don't study the same thing, you're doing it wrong.



You'll also have a heck of a time getting funded to do it :wink:

I do agree with you about the 'expert problem', but the majority of educated people are never going to be the go-to experts in their chosen topic. I think the solution probably should have more to do with how we use and marshal our 'experts' than whether we only graduate chemists who can also fathom Derrida.


Can anyone fathom Derrida?

If he can, that's a sure sign of insanity.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby nitePhyyre » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:43 pm UTC

skine wrote:I've heard that He-Man earned a Master's in the Universe.

I lol'd, sooo hard.

Thank you.
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby neoliminal » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:06 pm UTC

AvianMinded wrote:I'm 23 and have had more jobs than years in my life, so I guess I'm narrowing it down a bit by now... right?


As someone who has lived almost twice as long as you and also has had more jobs than years I can officially tell you that no, you are not narrowing. You are setting a trend that will endure your entire life. Get used to it and learn to enjoy it rather than worry about it because you are special, different, and society will never understand you.
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Ethan_Smith
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Ethan_Smith » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

I think it has to do with the state testing system. I mean, crap, I got a 98 on the US history regents, what more do I need to learn about US history?

That sounds weird, but I think that the mindset can come in eventually where you don't think that you're in the top 20th percentile, it's just that you actually know almost everything.

pensive bosom
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby pensive bosom » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:54 pm UTC

I spent my first three semesters vacillating between Physics and English, and wound up in Philosophy. Philosophy's a good "general knowledge" subject, seeing as you can integrate absolutely anything you want (and are able to establish the philosophical interest of) into it.

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AvianMinded
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby AvianMinded » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:46 pm UTC

neoliminal wrote:As someone who has lived almost twice as long as you and also has had more jobs than years I can officially tell you that no, you are not narrowing. You are setting a trend that will endure your entire life. Get used to it and learn to enjoy it rather than worry about it because you are special, different, and society will never understand you.


I have a vague feeling I'm being mocked. (You're not the first one to call me "special" or "different"...) :roll:

It doesn't matter, though. I'm happy this way even if someone occasionally has a laugh at my expense. I know that my future may be bleak in terms of retirement savings, but today I am young and sharp and want to try something new and fun (and get paid whilst doing it.)

One summer I decided I wanted to be a bicycle courier. I was good at that job and made enough money to go through the classes to get SCUBA certified, but by the time I had my certification I'd lost interest. However, it came in handy when I decided I wanted to be a waitress on a cruise ship in Hawai'i (oddly enough this was by far the worse job I have ever worked, but it was worth it for the experience.)

It's OK if society never understands me, because society seems largely dim witted and slow.

If, by chance, you're not poking fun at me then I hope you've found happiness with your occupational ADD as I have with mine. :D
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby bmonk » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:18 pm UTC

Hmmm--I agree with most of the posters, in part.

The idea of a "Liberal Arts" education is to get a well-rounded base of knowledge, with some focus on one topic. If you want a more narrowly focused education, there are schools that offer it, such as Vocational Schools, or even some Institutes of Technology.

Also: College is not the end of education. You want to major in "the universe"? Fine. Pick out one or two areas to start with. Learn about them. Get a job with that education--and then you can afford to spend the rest of your life reading other areas, maybe picking up courses at a local school, or via internet.

Worked for me: in College, I majored in Chemistry and minored in Math. (I also had minors in Philosophy--think Logic--and German, because it helped with the Chem and was only one more year.) Since then I've read plenty of History, Theology, tried to pick up French, Latin, and Greek, with some success, and have interest in several other areas of physical and social sciences. Maybe some day I'll have a major in "Universe".
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby settlersofdetroit » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:45 pm UTC

Maskirovka wrote:I don't think Malcom Gladwell is telling us anything that important in his books. I think if most Europeans read his books, they'd just say "yes...duh. This is boring." It's only in America where people need to read a book like Outliers to understand why people are successful and why maybe we shouldn't give so much praise to "successful" people (i.e. rich experts on mostly useless things like predicting the stock market or pop stars).

Of course! Because Americans are stupid and Europe is a wonderland of culture and education.

(if you think being an expert in "predicting the stock market" is useless then I don't know what to tell you)

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby JackFirestone » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:45 pm UTC

When I was in grade 2 we had to do a project on something. I did mine on "The Universe" and it was to be all encompassing. I think I ended up showing how to make a cloud in a milk bottle. That about sums up the universe.

Jack

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:30 pm UTC

pbnjstowell wrote:If I could have afforded to be a perpetual student, I would have majored in the universe.

Or library science.
With a minor in everything.


Head to Germany, where, if accepted, the government pays for your education plus a stipend for living expenses, so long as you don't flunk out. There are people who have been in the Uni's for decades.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby lolol » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:11 pm UTC

settlersofdetroit wrote:
Maskirovka wrote:I don't think Malcom Gladwell is telling us anything that important in his books. I think if most Europeans read his books, they'd just say "yes...duh. This is boring." It's only in America where people need to read a book like Outliers to understand why people are successful and why maybe we shouldn't give so much praise to "successful" people (i.e. rich experts on mostly useless things like predicting the stock market or pop stars).

Of course! Because Americans are stupid and Europe is a wonderland of culture and education.

(if you think being an expert in "predicting the stock market" is useless then I don't know what to tell you)


Having read Outliers, yes it is obvious how some people are successful. I knew the reason before I read it. It was still an interesting read because it gave a brief overview of how different people became successful (Bill Gates, the Beatles, the story of Christopher Langan's life.)

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby arbivark » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:58 pm UTC

http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html

he wrote for the new yorker, clever literate stuff about ketchup and dogs. now does books. they are readable.

steven levitt is the coauthor of freakonomics and superfreakonomics, and blogs for the new york times. i was reading that blog before i came here, with QC in between. i don't know who jacobs is. oh he's the year of living biblically guy,
http://www.ajjacobs.com/content/home.asp, i probably read about him at http://www.marginalrevolution.com.

greetings superaardvark

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Scorpio3002 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:36 pm UTC

I was in a philosophy course called "Technology and the human condition." At one point in it, everyone in class was told to stand up. The professor then gave us the hypothetical scenario where a technology had been invented that would allow people to live as long as they wanted with no signs of aging, and would allow them to choose when to die. He then started rattling off increasing amounts of time, asking people to sit down when they felt that they will have lived enough. Most people sat down after about a hundred years or so. I was the only one who remained standing at the end, when the professor had gotten up to a thousand. Why? Because there's SO MUCH SHIT TO LEARN and not enough time to do it!

I'm a music major, focusing on opera. Staring at my future, and looking at how much time I will need to devote to my craft (learning to speak Italian, German, French, possibly Russian, not to mention the rigorous vocal training), it makes me sad how little time I will have to learn all the other things I'm interested in. After all, as Mr. Gladwell writes, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. How many hours have you got in your life?

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Lucia » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:54 am UTC

In New Zealand graduating from a masters degree gives you the title "Master of X" for whatever field--Master of Arts, Commerce, Business. Master of Science. I wish I could get a masters degree in The Universe, but it's not possible. :mrgreen:
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Gobo
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Gobo » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:25 am UTC

Chiming in in support of the American system requiring out-of-major coursework.

I am working on a PhD in a field I discovered because of an elective class I took to satisfy a core curriculum requirement. I never would have found this, somewhat obscure, field otherwise.

jwwells
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby jwwells » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:46 am UTC

My college was so science-oriented that if we hadn't been forced to take out-of-major classes, we never would have, because it would have counted against us in applying to graduate programs! That is to say, in a breakneck race to get into a good PhD program, any class that doesn't further that goal might very well be ignored unless you have to take it.

The result of not requiring these classes would probably be to make the intellectual narrowness even worse.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Brillig » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:12 am UTC

jwwells wrote:My college was so science-oriented that if we hadn't been forced to take out-of-major classes, we never would have, because it would have counted against us in applying to graduate programs! That is to say, in a breakneck race to get into a good PhD program, any class that doesn't further that goal might very well be ignored unless you have to take it.

The result of not requiring these classes would probably be to make the intellectual narrowness even worse.


Intellectually narrow people don't get in to good PhD programs (note I don't say PhD programs full stop). The point is, any highly capable person (which is the sort of person we want taking our PhDs) should be able to deal with the rigours of a specific and targeted degree courseload without concomitant loss of their curiosity about and interest and engagement with the rest of the intellectual world.

Since most non-majors classes are actually deflated such that they're below the level of High School, they are in any case universally not indicative of any particular aptitude, and don't help the intellectual narrowness problem any more than ownership of a TV or, better, internet connection.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Maskirovka » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:25 am UTC

settlersofdetroit wrote:
Maskirovka wrote:I don't think Malcom Gladwell is telling us anything that important in his books. I think if most Europeans read his books, they'd just say "yes...duh. This is boring." It's only in America where people need to read a book like Outliers to understand why people are successful and why maybe we shouldn't give so much praise to "successful" people (i.e. rich experts on mostly useless things like predicting the stock market or pop stars).

Of course! Because Americans are stupid and Europe is a wonderland of culture and education.

(if you think being an expert in "predicting the stock market" is useless then I don't know what to tell you)


Sure, use the heavy hyperbole version of what I said about America/Europe to make some sort of sarcastic point. I'm not sure why you seem to think I hate America or something. There is a fairly stark set of value differences between America and the rest of the world. I'm not trying to claim Europe is inherently superior, but it doesn't take a genius to see it if you really think about the things pop-culture America values and how destructive they are.

If any of you learned something truly profound from Outliers, well, I guess that's good, but you probably would've learned it somewhere else if Western culture weren't so obsessed with "success" (read: money). If you feel the need to study how rich people become rich, then you haven't spent much time thinking about that subject IMO.

As for the stock market thing, you saw only the obvious and missed the subtlety. Of course "predicting the stock market" would make you a bazillion dollars, except it's impossible to predict more than a little bit into the future unless you're gaming the system. Financial dudes who "predict the stock market" are either selling you "tips" in order to creating self-fulfilling prophecies so they can make money or are really just making educated guesses based on models of complex systems they don't understand in exchange for your money. Either way they are fraudulent. So, yeah...useless jobs in the overall scheme of things.

You can be highly skilled at something that's mostly useless to society, future generations, your own happiness, and the happiness of your loved ones. Unfortunately, professions that fit this description are among the most highly rewarded in the world.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Kazan » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:37 am UTC

I'm curious if anyone has complaints about Blink?

Ethan_Smith
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Ethan_Smith » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:12 am UTC

Mask, predicting the stock market can also be called 'predicting trends'. On a macro level it's really hard, on a micro level it's slightly easier. It's still a *skill*. And hell yeah you don't know what's going to happen in the long run, but barring huge events, you can predict slightly down the road (say, tops, a year)

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby philip1201 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:39 am UTC

Scorpio3002 wrote:I was in a philosophy course called "Technology and the human condition." At one point in it, everyone in class was told to stand up. The professor then gave us the hypothetical scenario where a technology had been invented that would allow people to live as long as they wanted with no signs of aging, and would allow them to choose when to die. He then started rattling off increasing amounts of time, asking people to sit down when they felt that they will have lived enough. Most people sat down after about a hundred years or so. I was the only one who remained standing at the end, when the professor had gotten up to a thousand. Why? Because there's SO MUCH SHIT TO LEARN and not enough time to do it!

I'm a music major, focusing on opera. Staring at my future, and looking at how much time I will need to devote to my craft (learning to speak Italian, German, French, possibly Russian, not to mention the rigorous vocal training), it makes me sad how little time I will have to learn all the other things I'm interested in. After all, as Mr. Gladwell writes, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. How many hours have you got in your life?


Thought experiments should not be mixed with practical tests. I strongly doubt there would be many who would accept 100 years when 10^40 years are available (though it would be annoying to stand in a classroom for the first 10^30 years waiting for the professor to finish), they just wanted to sit down. If it was a matter of raising hand when you're finished, I'm sure the average would be much higher.
And yes, I would stay to watch the proton decay and heat death of the universe if the laws of physics/limits of biology would allow it.
Oh, and you have 700,000 hours in your life. 70 disciplines! (If you can learn while sleeping and eating).

The comic is very terrestrially holocenic human western-limited in it's definition of the universe. They're very specific for a universal study. It should start teaching universal constants.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby dudyk » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:44 am UTC

The only instruction sets I know are, x86, m68k and s/390...
It could explain why I have yet to get a degree...

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Softfoot » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:17 am UTC

I still remember (with a sense of shame at my own arrogance) the silence that fell when I went to a statewide 'leadership' conference in high school, and asked a question about what to do when you're good at lots of 'stuff' and it all looks really interesting and you don't know what to choose... This was even apart from my confusion about my school recommending me to go to a 'leadership' conference when I'd decided that nobody actually liked me anyway.
So I did a one-way degree that taught me a bit about language, anatomy, physiology, psychology, neuroscience, neurolinguistics, neuropsychology, chemistry, biology and (very basic) physics, with insufficient research in the field to justify why we do what we do. I get out of academia, and have to learn about organisational structures, politics, education and child development.
Today I wondered if it was worth it, when some woman thought I should do her photocopying.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Ley » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:42 am UTC

aaaaah, see, this is what happens when you're not the first to do something. you say something you think is brilliant- e.g.- "I found a awesome website! http://www.malcolmgladwellbookgenerator.com/" - and then discover that not only has it been discussed, it was the first post in the thread. sigh.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby DVC » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:47 am UTC

Major in the Universe: it's called Physics.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby flyingdics » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:32 pm UTC

This is exactly what I did in college. I designed my own Cognitive Science major to combine my general interests in several related topics and then hit a wall when I had to do a lot of hard work on disparate topics. I just wanted to read and eventually write fascinating popular science books. Was it so much to ask?

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Ezbez » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:23 pm UTC

Is that a crystal ball on her desk?

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Skorpion » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:34 pm UTC

Why on Earth would a program that requires breadth courses breed resentment in students? Your breadth courses can be whatever you want! There has to be something else that your college offers that you're interested in!
The details are trivial and pointless. The reasons, as always, purely human ones.

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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Brillig » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:59 pm UTC

Skorpion wrote:Why on Earth would a program that requires breadth courses breed resentment in students? Your breadth courses can be whatever you want! There has to be something else that your college offers that you're interested in!


I would certainly have resented it if I'd been an undergrad in the US. As it is, I have students who have come to university to learn biology at my R1, and pay tuition and work hard to be trained in that subject. However, along the way they have to waste time and money (from the point of view of being trained as biologists) taking a certain number of arts classes, a certain number of language classes and a certain number of humanities classes. If they don't take those subjects, they cannot graduate with a degree in Biology. To me, that is nonsensical. If they get a C in a class in underwater basket weaving, that tanks their GPA for their Biology degree, even though it has nothing to do with their proficiency in Biology.

I'm not saying that breadth of knowledge is a bad thing; far from it. However, I don't think it should be/needs to be forced on adults (which nearly all students are) in the course of getting a university degree. Biologists from outside the US read books, learn languages, play instruments, follow politics, do sports etc etc despite not having been forced to do so during their degrees.

Note that I said above I have no issue with the availability of Gen Ed classes, just the requirement that even focussed students have to water down the training they're paying for with other subjects they would probably rather learn on a non-credit basis, aside from their degree.

Turing Machine
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Turing Machine » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:47 pm UTC

Maskirovka wrote:
settlersofdetroit wrote:
Maskirovka wrote:I don't think Malcom Gladwell is telling us anything that important in his books. I think if most Europeans read his books, they'd just say "yes...duh. This is boring." It's only in America where people need to read a book like Outliers to understand why people are successful and why maybe we shouldn't give so much praise to "successful" people (i.e. rich experts on mostly useless things like predicting the stock market or pop stars).

Of course! Because Americans are stupid and Europe is a wonderland of culture and education.

(if you think being an expert in "predicting the stock market" is useless then I don't know what to tell you)


Sure, use the heavy hyperbole version of what I said about America/Europe to make some sort of sarcastic point. I'm not sure why you seem to think I hate America or something. There is a fairly stark set of value differences between America and the rest of the world. I'm not trying to claim Europe is inherently superior, but it doesn't take a genius to see it if you really think about the things pop-culture America values and how destructive they are.

If any of you learned something truly profound from Outliers, well, I guess that's good, but you probably would've learned it somewhere else if Western culture weren't so obsessed with "success" (read: money). If you feel the need to study how rich people become rich, then you haven't spent much time thinking about that subject IMO.

As for the stock market thing, you saw only the obvious and missed the subtlety. Of course "predicting the stock market" would make you a bazillion dollars, except it's impossible to predict more than a little bit into the future unless you're gaming the system. Financial dudes who "predict the stock market" are either selling you "tips" in order to creating self-fulfilling prophecies so they can make money or are really just making educated guesses based on models of complex systems they don't understand in exchange for your money. Either way they are fraudulent. So, yeah...useless jobs in the overall scheme of things.

You can be highly skilled at something that's mostly useless to society, future generations, your own happiness, and the happiness of your loved ones. Unfortunately, professions that fit this description are among the most highly rewarded in the world.


I don't know why anyone would ever think you hate America - all you do is denounce it as some sort of hypercapitalist, philistine straw man. I'm sure you do that out of love and respect.

mzellman
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby mzellman » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:03 pm UTC

Did anyone else find the initial requirements for that major acceptable?

Or is it just me?

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Jambe
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Jambe » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:51 pm UTC

I read Outliers and wasn't impressed. Lots of bold claims and misunderstood and/or misapplied evidence. Gladwell truly seems to be a fellow who refuses (or can't be bothered) to gain more than rudimentary outline knowledge of any subject he broaches. After reading Outliers I read some pretty damning criticisms of him by actual academics and scientists who are far more knowledgeable than Gladwell about the issues underpinning his work (statistical analysis and psychology, mostly) and since then I've been quite wary of him.

I'm all for popularizers of science and people who spread the seed of cultural and societal awareness, mind. I just think Gladwell is pretty sloppy about it (even dangerously so at times). Some of that sloppiness surely goes with the territory of drawing implications from wide data sets - I don't think he's maliciously or deviously lax in his work, for example. He seems well-intentioned. I just think he's so genuinely fascinated and concerned that he can't or doesn't want to narrow his focus.

I resent my schools for forcing me into classes I didn't want to take and I've forgotten most of the fluff since. I don't need to coddled.

Much American narrow-mindedness could be done away with by a sensible high school curricula requiring some broad religious studies. Much of America is so insular and uncultured that public school teachers themselves are ignorant enough to reward and even encourage nonsense opinions.

Heavenslaughing
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Re: 0863: "Major in the Universe"

Postby Heavenslaughing » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:33 pm UTC

You really can't do anything with a Bachelor's in the Universe. You need to get your Master's of the Universe from the Grayskull campus of Eternia State University. The job possibilities then are endless, but still involve mostly lasers and bad writing.


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