He blinded me……..WITH SCIENCE!!!!

There is a reoccurring theme which I talk about on my site, and that is the difference between science and the humanities/social sciences. I’m currently taking courses in science (and in fact have not taken a single course outside of IT since I’ve been at the U) and have gotten previous degrees in two social science disciplines.

Tech Central Station has an article from a guy who is a self professed engineering dropout.

If you read his description of himself, it might remind you a lot of people you know, or even yourself. Rather bright people who, for whatever reason, just never grasped, or did well in courses in math and science.

I actually understand part of what this guy is saying. The intro physics and chem courses which I took had hundreds of students and had average grades for tests around 50%. There was certainly lots of busy work you had to do for class (and honestly, I still have lots of busy work. I’m writing up a lab for a class right now). However, the tests honestly weren’t hard if you understood what concept they were asking you about. I think that’s the difference between math/science classes and your social science/humanities classes. I could ask you a question about how the the Ribbentop/Molotov pact influenced the decision of Germany to go to war. You might not know what the Ribbentop/Molotov is, but you know what Germany is and you know of at least two wars they fought in. You can probably cobble together some sort of BS answer, which while it might not get a good score, its something. If you happened to be in class the day Ribbentop and Molotov were mentioned, you will be even better off in providing filler for your BS answer.

There is no problem solving in answering such a question. Its primarily opinion and testing the ability to put together a coherent argument (which I grant is a skill in and of itself). There is really no problem solving you ever encounter in the humanities/social sciences. That is the primary reason why its easier. (and it is easier)

The author also does make a valid point about bad teachers, but I think its a stretch to say they are all bad, or that most are bad or that they are unique to the hard sciences. Most of the professors I’ve had to date have been very good, and the reason I found them to be good was because they had a mastery of the subject being taught. I have yet to have a lecture course taught by a TA or a post-doc.

I do think this guy made a mistake in assuming that his high school grades meant anything in determining how well he would do in college level classes. I know lots of people who got A’s in high school who probably would be lost if they had to explain anything they had learned a week after the course was over. You can’t be spoofed and you can’t just regurgitate material.

In the end, I think this guy vastly over estimated his own intelligence and the freshman classes did thwa they were supposed to do…..weed people like him out.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

One reply on “He blinded me……..WITH SCIENCE!!!!”

I withdrew from Introduction to Physics 3 times in college. There’s no way in hell I would have ever been interested in, taken, or passed a class called “Tuple Relational Calculus”.

I now use, abuse, and am an expert with generic SQL which apparently is based on …. “tuple relational calculus”. It’s amazing what you can teach yourself given a real world problem to solve.

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