Why the Humanities Are Just as Important as STEM

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Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

As a global society, we tend to give the impression that STEM is something you should go after whereas the Humanities are something you should avoid. I think this is unfair for two reasons: firstly, there’s the obvious case that people tend to either swing one way or the other, and that pushing people all on one end isn’t productive for those who would rather spend time in the Humanities block. Secondly, I don’t think we give Humanities the credit it deserves.

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What the Definition of Luck Really Is

 

 

Luck is a hard, complex thing. No successful person has ever (truthfully) said their success was all based around skill; there is always a wide amount of chance in every major victory. And yet, it’s hard to genuinely define this aspect – calling luck simply a factor of chance raises all sorts of complicated problems. What’s the “probability” of success? Is it the same as a flip of a coin? Can we statistically define luck? Is the probability of being “lucky” in starting a business really equivalent to the number of companies that last more than 5 years? More than 10 years? What about a heavily cited research paper? Or having a successful album release?

 

Of course, barely anyone truly believes that luck is purely a derivation of chance. And yet, I believe the fact that this is embroiled into the mindset of many people is precisely because of an improper definition of what luck truly is. The best definition of luck I’ve ever heard is that it is “created” with the help of two broad categories: consistency and opportunity. Opportunity itself is of many moving parts, and is responsible for most of the complexity of luck – things like current status, geography, education, network, etc. These pieces are mostly outside the scope of this article (though may be covered in detail in a later segment), so instead what I want to focus on is this first piece, consistency. Consistency, when executed properly, brings opportunity. The thing is that consistency isn’t quite an easy task in itself;  it takes more than a bit of operation. High-quality consistency requires exorbitant amounts of patience, proper long-term goal planning, and many, many extensions from the comfort zone. It also requires you to be able to tell if what you’re being consistent in is really worth you being consistent in it. Do you have the skill required for competitive advantage? Are you genuinely passionate about what you are doing? I feel as though all these questions, all these aspects, make up what luck really is. When people say luck, in reality, they’re giving a simple, generalized term for a variety of complex factors that are often hard to pinpoint. That being said, you’ll always find luck in opportunity, and you’ll always find opportunity inconsistency. Luck might feel like a hard thing to get, but remember; you only have to hit the home run once. And besides, if everyone was lucky, would any of it really matter?

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.

 

How to develop intellectual success in future generations

 

 

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.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.

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

 

 

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.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.