How to develop intellectual success in future generations

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Photo by Mathias Elle on Unsplash

Intellect is a complicated problem, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts. There is really no good heuristic or measure out there for what makes a person truly “intelligent” (if you say IQ is a valid example, I’m going to be mad; more on that in approximately 10 weeks). However, I do believe there is a method behind allowing for the intellectual success of a person, especially at a young age.

Let me give a bit of an example so what I’m saying here actually makes sense: let’s say you have a person who was born “very smart” (we’ll say high logical-mathematical intelligence) but was born into a situation where perhaps resources are thin; say a poorer neighborhood with parents who have not really succeeded too much historically in education or otherwise. Because of this, it is going to be really hard for the said person to now “unlock” their intelligence and go on to utilize it cause they’ve never really had a chance to. Because of this, the edge of their ability gets duller as time goes on, and the competitive advantage is lost.

Extrapolating this slightly, I think now that this same problem is very much correlated with the mindset problem I discussed a few months back. You can’t get into a healthy mindset as easily if you aren’t surrounded by people who have this mindset. It doesn’t just have to be parents; it also includes friends, teachers, and a general outside support group. Since it is so hard to have the mindset to “unlock” potential or intelligence, I feel as though this is an overwhelming problem; people don’t just ignore following a healthy mindset, some outwardly reject its existence and mock people who try following it. This all comes back to how intellectual success is so hard to come by in general; if generation after generation is actively pushing against it, other people are going to fall off and fail.

I wish I had a better solution to this problem rather than “just stop doing this”, but I don’t. I do think the internet has helped a lot in this capacity – it certainly helped me – in the way that educational resources are easy to come by and that people can more readily make “mentors” out of people they might not necessarily know but be able to read the blog or watch the podcast of. Still, most people don’t use the internet for this; they use it instead for cat pictures and video game streams. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, it can provide a more “medicated” view of the world and distract us from these alternate entryways into intellectual success.

Despite the fact that I do not have a clear answer, I do think things will get better. I do believe as more people learn – as more people get out of the vicious cycle – that this problem will begin to mitigate. I just don’t know when it will happen.

 

What is the Purpose of Dreams?

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Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

To be honest, when I had put this down in my notes of things to talk about, it was a long time ago. So now I’m a bit confused whether “dreams” is meant to be in a literal or abstract sense. Are we talking Freud, a la the dreams you get from sleeping, or dreams as in wide, aspirational goals?

Well, why not talk about both? After all, I believe that both are truly important; and I believe both relate to one another greater than it might seem.

First, we’ll start with aspirations. The purpose of dreams, in this case, can be made apparent in setting ourselves to somewhere higher than we currently are. We may, in the end, not reach our lofty goals; it’s fine. It happens. But it can almost be completely assured that where you end up after all the pieces fall into place will be immensely greater than you were at the beginning. I’m a realist, but I’m also a believer in doggedly following one’s dreams, solely because of the places it will take you. I believe that following the bigger things in life causes us to learn bigger things about ourselves.

And I also think we learn bigger things about ourselves every night when we sleep. The concept of dreams has always fascinated me, though their purpose has always evaded me. After studying my dreaming habits for a few years, it seems that the only things that really come out of most dreams are just whatever was top of mind the night before. And yet… it’s not always like this. Occasionally a dream will come up from the depths and rocket punch you in the stomach. Sometimes it will leave you with a sour taste in your mouth, or an entirely blissful day. Sometimes it will cause you to despise a person, or long to talk to them. I believe these moments are when the power of purpose of dreams truly come out. I believe that this is an inner voice within us, deep below our consciousness, trying to point us to what we need to see. And I believe that this inner voice is the same thing that tells us what we must aspire to.

 

The Dangers of Obedience

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Photo by Hardini Lestari on Unsplash

One of the topics that interest me the most in psychology has to do with obedience, or otherwise the act of doing what we’re told. As humans, we’re designed to recognize figures of experts or leaders and follow their advice accordingly. It’s a natural instinct; the leader of the pack usually knows where to go for survival, and so we follow. However, like many of our natural instincts, it has now become mostly deprecated due to advancement in society.

One of the startling things about obedience is how easy it is construct a false figure of an authority and have people still believe it. Things like the Milgram experiment and the McDonalds strip call case intersect with micro-cases like lecture halls and national governments in the sake of people pretending to be someone they might not be. What I mean here is that much of what we’ve established in our society is based on this fundamental aspect of obedience; obedience to laws, or culture, or politics. And while there are obedience principles put in place that help all of us, there also exists many faults with principles. Some of the greatest tragedies, wars, cults, and scandals have occurred out of obedience, out of blindly following the pack without considering where the pack is going.

Always think before you act. It’s something you’ve probably been told since you were a kid, but let me throw an important spin on it; always think before you act on what someone says. Perhaps I’m a bit too individualist for some people’s tastes, but I believe you should always consider your own personal morals and principles before considering to act upon the will of others. I believe that with more active forethought we can avoid the dangers that come with obedience.

 

The 3 Things You Need To Know To Succeed In A Class

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Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

School is an unfortunate thing we all have to go through. For some reason, a bunch of bureaucrats at some point decided that the best way to get people to learn was to put them all in a room for a few hours every week, regurgitate facts to them, and then test them on these facts based on an arbitrary points system. While we all know now that this isn’t the way learning works, the system has stuck. Fortunately for us, thanks to the system in place, there are some easy ways to game things to make sure you are well optimized to receiving the highest number of “points” for whatever class you take.

Generally, there are three categories of classes: vocabulary, practical, and essay/project. Vocabulary is definitely the easiest and most straight-forward, practical is more time consuming but isn’t too difficult, and e/p can tend to be a more complex/vague variant. Typically, people will always find vocabulary to be the easiest, but when it comes to practical vs e/p it tends to depend on the person. Of course, the first challenge of this is determining which category your class fits into. Some classes are pretty straightforward — math classes will almost always be practical, and writing classes will almost always be e/p – but a lot of it will depend on the subject of your class and what school system you are based under. Since this is a topic all on its own, I’ll mostly skip over this step and go into the best practices for each category.

Like I had mentioned previously, vocabulary classes are the most straightforward; simply memorize the vocabulary. Some classes are simple and give you a list of terms at the beginning, whereas others attempt to increase artificial difficulty by making the terms a bit harder to find. Still, you should be able to find decent hints to what the vocabulary words are via the textbook, lectures, and any assignments in the class. Worst comes to worst, you’ll have to use the first test as a practice play in order to figure out where to best look for these words. Once you have them, put them through a system like Quizlet or Anki to study them optimally; regular studying time with these apps will allow you to retain knowledge of the terms for an exceptional amount of time.

For practicals, the process is much longer but tends to be more rewarding, as constant practice is actually a pretty valid way of learning something. This category consists of concepts that need to be practiced via exercises to be optimally remembered. There are two challenges that come up with this process. The first is that, depending on the class, you may run out of exercises before you actually feel you have a solid grasp on the material. For some classes, you can simply go outside your textbook or homework and find more on the internet; for other more obscure classes, this can be a decent challenge. The second is that depending on the intensity of the course, your professor may end up just utilizing the concepts and chaining multiple ones together to create a much more complex problem than you’ve seen in previous exercises. This obstacle can be mitigated by having a strong understanding of what each question is asking; if you know the concepts well, you can understand what the exercise is no matter what is being asked.

The final category, and in my opinion the hardest to master, is essay/project. These classes tend to be a lot more fluid and non-direct compared the others; however, since the “points” need to be established somehow, there are still some ways to get past this. The first is through the rubric, which should (hopefully) be given to you at the beginning of your assignment. Other, more helpful professors may even add a list of requirements for the essay or project in the description of the assignment itself. The problem is that, unlike these previous categories, simply doing what is in the rubric or description won’t be enough. Many of these pieces are left purposely vague, which will further complicate things. The number one thing you need to do in classes like these is read between the lines. Most essays/projects will have a set structure whether or not they’re explicitly mentioned in the guidelines themselves; what you’ll have to do is look at examples, descriptions, and lectures to understand what the structure is.

 

The Curious Problem of Solving Transphobia

Welcome to another website exclusive! I figured that the last thing Medium and LinkedIn need a more pseudo-philosophical political conversations, so I’ve decided to keep this one (mostly) to myself.

I find the problem surrounding transphobia to be fascinating. In the way of stereotypes, I see three different categories: that of racism/sexism, that of homophobia, and that of transphobia. Racism/sexism is mostly built into specific societies based on significant historical events, i.e. America and the Atlantic Slave Trade. While there is noticeable periods of genders or races recognizing that other sides are “different”, mostly hatred between groups is only built up after significant events. However, once we get into homophobia, things get a little more complex. While there’s no biologically rational reason for rampant racism/sexism, homophobia is likely a biologically driven fear caused by the need for a species to continue to reproduce over time. Of course, this is no issue in modern day humanity, but one would reasonably assume that it would be built up over a very long time. It’s also worthwhile to note that the trend of homophobia waxes and wanes; while bisexuality was much more welcomed in something like Ancient Greece than it was in 1950s America.

But now comes a particularly strange issue. Transphobia is different because transsexuality itself hasn’t really even existed before. While gender dysphoria and simple substitutes such as drag have been a reality for a while, biological sex switching is a completely different ballpark.  This, in turn, can create a significant cognitive dissonance in a person; which is a lot harder of a problem to solve than the previous two.

In my opinion, if we want to mitigate transphobia over time, we need to do so by reducing the amount of cognitive dissonance associated with transsexuality. In all honesty, I don’t have a clear answer of how to do this; but we’ll need to use some way of normalizing the idea of gender not being a simple two way street, but rather a wider scope where people can be dotted around, much like race is considered by most now. I see transsexuality as a major breakthrough in changing the gender discussion, and I believe in the next 20 years or so we’re going to see a long of conflict – and resolution – in the way that it’s headed.