It strikes me as insultingly ironic that I ended up as a mathematician. Not in an entirely bad way, but think about it, for someone who spent over 8 years studying History, and 20th Century scientific development(in one form or another), I should have insisted to my University tutor that irrespective of what I was studying, I was forthwith going to major in some social science like History and Classics (or anything sounding vaguely prestigious, like Spanish literature; Latin; Linguistics, Renaissance Art , Bohemian studies, or “Philosophie”).
A study in the subject that I’m well familiar with, that i had breathed and lived, and cajoled, day in, day out, that run in my veins – my father having been a historian of some sort; had had numerous debates in, for the better part of a decade would have made more sense.
After all, I know pretty much all that needs to be known about a “meaningful” part of the Past (and in somewhat intimate detail):- The Empires and the wars, The Revolutions, The Renaissance (artists etc); The Industrialists and the Physicists; The [Al]chemists; History’s traitors, leftists; the rightists; the centrists (the fence sitters); the Dictators… the list is endless.
Yet, having acquired such copious amounts of knowledge, numbers and direct current racing through wires usurped my lot.
However, the one thing that I’m most grateful for my technical training is that it has taught me to think logically and operationally when facing problems; To be in the real world, because as a scholar of past social consequence, whether while analyzing the exploits of either Alexander the Great or John Fitzgerald Kennedy respectively, or the more superior ones of Jesus Christ, one usually proceeds on assumptions based on a chain of interpretation and imperfect recollection of an innumerable list of subjects.There are many holes that must be filed, and there may be material that may have been lost, necessitating intellectual theories, or “faith” to supplement what could have been the unadulterated truth.
Yet with Maths, I can tell you the exact speed of a neutrino, and can estimate to pretty good accuracy SERS response of nanomaterial covering a tangible base substrate of steel. 🙂 . It may cost a couple of quid, but I can assemble a team to give you your answers. Frees you in totality, from the rocky, minefield of the social sciences. Which is why, as long as the choice is there, I will remain a Mathematician.
But generally, maths and computer science doesn’t always teach you everything else about life. It doesn’t teach you how to be a human, to balance facts, to reason, to calculate, to consider others in the same way as you consider yourself, to take good risks? To be responsible.
Such has to be foraged elsewhere, and in my view it is when such a bedrock of values and social principles is lacking(or insufficient), that a society, even a well educated society, begins to disintegrate.
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