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Insights Am I Cut Out for Mathematics or Sciences? - Comments

  1. Apr 11, 2016 #1

    micromass

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  3. Apr 11, 2016 #2

    QuantumQuest

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    A really good insight. Times are tough, competition is very high, through all fields and levels in science, so this justifies up to a point an easy discouragement; on the other hand the only viable way to succeed, is covered very well in the insight. And yes, it is very hard - if at all, to find a reliable IQ test on the net. The real IQ test, is done through high efforts and time spent to overcome the obstacles.
     
  4. Apr 11, 2016 #3

    Stephen Tashi

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    The insights focus on giving answers of the form: "Don't worry about X, you can do well in (advanced) mathematics or science without having it". What about some insights of the form "Worry about Y, you'll have trouble in advanced mathematics or science if you don't have it." (?)
     
  5. Apr 12, 2016 #4
    Good Insight. Majoring in math or science is more of a test of one's perseverance and work ethic than anything else.

    Are you a quitter when the going gets tough? Don't bother. No matter how smart you are, the going will get tough.
     
  6. Apr 12, 2016 #5
    Excellent insight! As a high school student aspiring to be a physicist - there are often moments where I feel like giving up - it's too hard for me , maybe I'm not smart enough! This post underlines most of what goes through our minds. Thanks :smile:
     
  7. Apr 12, 2016 #6

    micromass

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    I do believe I covered that implicitely. I didn't want to put the focus on it though. But I've been very clear what you need to make it in the sciences: hard work, smart work, a little bit of talent, seeking the possible opportunities and taking advantage of them instead of letting them pass, good mental health, etc.
     
  8. Apr 12, 2016 #7

    Stephen Tashi

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    Doesn't that describe what you need to succeed in anything ?

    Your insight encourages people who have studied science or math to some extent to persevere. That's probably good advice for most people who frequent physicsforums. But if you imagine yourself in the role of a guidance counselor to a more general population, surely there are cases where you'd advise a person differently - or warn them that they need to change some mental traits if they want to continue.

    Of course, "negative" advice is not always correct. One can cite cases like "X's teachers told him he would never suceed in science, but he became a great ....". However, there are also cases like "Y's teachers told him he would never succeed in science career and he didn't". Perhaps the latter case is statistically more frequent - so frequent that it examples of it don't become prominent.
     
  9. Apr 12, 2016 #8
    Not really. Most cashiers jobs you don't need to work very hard or very smart. You can get by with a mediocre work ethic as long as you are honest and don't steal any of the cash passing through your hands.

    I worked a bit of retail in high school and college. I got mad when I figured out they kept putting me as a cashier because I wasn't stealing from them. I liked the other jobs better. The most important lesson was to aim for a career where one had to offer a bit more than simply not stealing.
     
  10. Apr 12, 2016 #9

    Stephen Tashi

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    As a consumer, I see good cashiers who are honest (with me) and not-so-good cashiers that are honest. If we are discussing the standard as "getting by" then what would that mean when referring to science and math ?

    All I'm suggesting is that there could be some explicit insights of the form "You need Y" to balance out those of the form "You don't need X". - Or perhaps the conclusion is that you don't absolutely need any particular thing to succeed specifically in science or math ?
     
  11. Apr 12, 2016 #10

    micromass

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    So what would be some of the things you need according to you?
     
  12. Apr 12, 2016 #11

    Stephen Tashi

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    With the caveat that I'm not a guidance counselor, I think that to understand pure mathematics, one must have a tolerance for "legalism" - i.e. interpreting things exactly as they are written, splitting hairs, tolerating less ambiguity in statements that is normal in common speech etc.

    I've encountered people who expect devices like cars, dishwashers and voltmeters to "just work" by themselves and become impatient and indignant when it's necessary to fiddle with them. Can such a personality succeed in experimental science?
     
  13. Apr 12, 2016 #12

    micromass

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    Good suggestion. But is it something you have to have, or is it something you gain during your education?
     
  14. Apr 12, 2016 #13
    You probably need at least an average intelligence to go along with a work ethic.

    You'd be surprised how a good work ethic can make you smarter and smarter if you keep working hard in the educational process.

    If you are interesting in "just getting by" pick another major.
     
  15. Apr 12, 2016 #14

    symbolipoint

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    Some or at least a few people in scientific careers who are not handling money are also dishonest. Usually a matter of social and personal deception for the purposes of gaining power and position.
     
  16. Apr 13, 2016 #15

    Stephen Tashi

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    I think there are people who innately lack the ability to use precise language. For example, there are people who seem to be infested with pronouns. They say things like "I'll get it done when they find it and he brings me the one that fits onto its other thing."

    As another example, I know a small number of people who are very capable at practical matters, but simply cannot write. I don't mean that they write badly. I mean that when they need to write something, they face a "mental block". They can't start the process of writing.

    There are people who reject formal presentations. For example, one encounters forum posters who take the view that they know what a certain mathematical object "really is" and reject formal mathematical definitions. I think such a person can be educated in mathematical formality if they can retain their enthusiasm for mathematics after they realize their limitations. However, I think the statistically most frequent result of a collision between education and a person who thinks they know how mathematical things "really" are is that the person either rejects the education or he understands the education and loses his enthusiasm for the subject because the subject is disappointingly different that what he expected.
     
  17. Apr 14, 2016 #16

    Titan97

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    That was motivating.
     
  18. Apr 14, 2016 #17

    symbolipoint

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    If this is about post #15, he is just trying to be realistic based on the people he has met. Some people or students resist trying to learn, for whatever reason - they actively resist to learn. You find reactions like, "that was not the way I was taught", or "this is too complicated", or someone will refuse to draw a diagram or picture. Others...
     
  19. Apr 14, 2016 #18

    Mark44

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    This is a pet peeve of mine, as well, especially when two occurrences of "it" in one sentence have different antecedents. For example, if a student says, "It converges because its limit is zero," with the first it being "the series" and "its" referring to the general term of the series.

    I've often advised students that they should use the word "it" in a math class only when what it refers to is crystal clear.
     
  20. Apr 14, 2016 #19

    Titan97

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    I was talking about the original post :smile:.
     
  21. Apr 14, 2016 #20

    symbolipoint

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    Yes. This is the right kind of thinking. I came to the same understanding many years ago.
     
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