I chose engineering over medicine as my college major, mainly because the engineers understand their systems much better than the biologists.
(Ever since as a kid I can sense that the doctors do not know what is really going on inside my body, so I try to fix myself as much as possible before my parents can drag me to a hospital. The most complex software system pales in comparison to the human bodies.)
But that is before I touched economics, which turned out to be even hackier. As Soros said, social systems are reflexive.
The Jedi recruit those who are good enough.
They learn how to collaborate early on.
They graduate after passing tests, and let go otherwise.
They keep the universe in order most of the time.
The Sith recruits one (and only) who is the best.
He learns how to survive alone.
He graduates by defeating the master, or getting killed otherwise.
He remains low most of the time but eventually eliminates the entire Jedi order and conquers the whole universe.
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If you are a university professor and you boast on social networks about sending your students to other schools for higher degrees, you are essentially acknowledging that you (and your school) are not as good.
Criticisms can help us improve, but only if they contain constructive information.
Useless criticism: this result is unacceptable.
Constructive criticism: this result is unacceptable because it contains this specific form of artifacts.
Useless criticism: this presentation is uninteresting.
Constructive criticism: this presentation is uninteresting because I do not care topic X and would rather hear more about topic Y.
As a recipient, I feel excited about constructive criticisms, even if they are harsh or contain personal attacks. In contrast, I usually ignore non-constructive comments because they provide nothing I can act upon.
Non-constructive criticisms are a waste of time at best, and look like whining at worst.
I thought about James Simons every time Stony Brook was mentioned, so I always assume it is a perennially decent institution. Thus, I was surprised to find out its math department was “lousy” when Simons started there (and he wanted the job and it sounded like fun).
What we can do counts more than whom we are affiliated with.
Those who can succeed only with top people probably are not all that top.
[I would like to know how Simons built the department, aside from the fact that he is brilliant all by himself. Thanks in advance for potential sources.]
I found Bobby Fischer against the World a fascinating documentary about a particular kind of talent (chess) of a unique individual (Bobby Fischer, widely considered as the greatest chess player of all time who later self-destructed into an outcast) at a particular era (cold war, with chess being one of the competitions to showcase US/Soviet supremacy).
One interesting point pursued in the movie is about the specific type of brain that enables superior chess play may also cause certain psychological issues.
One can make a more general point in that unusual brains, as double-edged swords, can produce special talents as well as abnormal behaviors, as have been seen in geniuses across different disciplines such as musicians, artists, scientists, and mathematicians.