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Knowledge and Education

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Main Question or Discussion Point

When people speak about getting an education, I think of science, maths, logic as the key foundations to an education. However there are many who supposeddly have an education but may not have done any science beyond year 10 and are very ignorant about maths. Should these people be labeled as educated and or knowledgable? If they are than they are certainly missing on some very important and useful knowledge.
 

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  • #2
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I agree with you, and based on the history I have read of education systems before the 20th century 'everyone goes to college' american money scheme, so did past western societies.

In medieval universities, a study of liberal arts begins with:

The Trivium: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic

Then the next step is:

The quadravarium: arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy

And finally the student would be prepared for courses in philosophy and theology.
 
  • #3
radou
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However there are many who supposeddly have an education but may not have done any science beyond year 10 and are very ignorant about maths. Should these people be labeled as educated and or knowledgable?
Yes, they should.

My grandfather is overeducated, and is one of the most influential experts on German literature (among many other prizes, was awarded the Humboldt prize), and he doesn't know heck about math because he doesn't need it. :smile:

If they are than they are certainly missing on some very important and useful knowledge.
Oh, come on...
 
  • #4
HallsofIvy
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Do you think YOU are educated? How is your classical Greek and Latin? Let's not be provincial.
 
  • #5
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When people speak about getting an education, I think of science, maths, logic as the key foundations to an education. However there are many who supposeddly have an education but may not have done any science beyond year 10 and are very ignorant about maths. Should these people be labeled as educated and or knowledgable? If they are than they are certainly missing on some very important and useful knowledge.
do you, pivoxa15, have a reason (underlying question and/or worry) for thinking about this?

It's rather pointed toward a direction that you're thinking about (it seems), but not asking directly.
 
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  • #6
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When people speak about getting an education, I think of science, maths, logic as the key foundations to an education.
When I think of getting an education I think of learning things one needs to function and thrive with regards to what one wants to do with one's life.

Do you know how to put in drywall? Can you lay bricks straight?
If not, do you deserve to live in a house that is more than a hut?

Do you know how to give yourself a blood transfusion?

There is too much knowledge in the world currently for anyone to know it all. This is why people specialize and trade skills and write it down in books.

The other thing is, people have different temperaments and talents, which means not everyone is good at all the same things. This is an advantage to the species.

People feeling superior about the knowledge they have is exactly what lead Socrates to say: Wisdom is knowing that you know nothing [or close enough to nothing that its indistinguishable]
 
  • #7
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But the thing is with the knowledge of the sciences, maths and logic, one can literally learn anything else with confidence. If one is also willing offcourse. That is my mine point. What makes these subjects stand out is their unbias nature. Humanities subjets are biased. And people only trained in them have a narrower mindset which are all too human. As Nietsze wrote a book called 'Human, all too human'. This phrase is very good to describe humantities subjects. To conclude that people with only humantiites background are uneducated may be going too far as most of you say. But do you see my point? It's not about being arrogant.
 
  • #8
radou
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I see your point, but it's still far too rigorous.

Edit: and, are you saying that someone with a good knowledge in math and logic will do better in humanities subjects?
 
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  • #9
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But the thing is with the knowledge of the sciences, maths and logic, one can literally learn anything else with confidence. If one is also willing offcourse. That is my mine point. What makes these subjects stand out is their unbias nature. Humanities subjets are biased. And people only trained in them have a narrower mindset which are all too human. As Nietsze wrote a book called 'Human, all too human'. This phrase is very good to describe humantities subjects. To conclude that people with only humantiites background are uneducated may be going too far as most of you say. But do you see my point? It's not about being arrogant.
Sorry, I think you are completely wrong.

I have a humanities education, two degrees in fact, I studied Nietzsche as part of a humanities course, as well as other subjects. I also have an interest in the sciences(but am far from being an expert). And I can hold my own at basic carpentry. The most important thing I think I learned in school was critical thinking, sifting through all kinds of stuff to find the relevant material.

I know plenty of very smart 'science' types, some of them are quite well rounded and could learn quite a few things, while some others are morons outside their field of expertise.

You may be confident you could learn anything, and maybe you could, but in my experience people tend to gravitate towards things they are good at and very few people are 'good at everything'.

Although to be fair I don't really understand what you mean by 'bias'.
 
  • #10
I think math is horribly boring and have thus avoided it; I can't say this has held me back in studying Philosophy or Social Anthropology - even my formal logic class went very well - I quite enjoyed it, actually :smile:
 
  • #11
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Sorry, I think you are completely wrong.

I have a humanities education, two degrees in fact, I studied Nietzsche as part of a humanities course, as well as other subjects. I also have an interest in the sciences(but am far from being an expert). And I can hold my own at basic carpentry. The most important thing I think I learned in school was critical thinking, sifting through all kinds of stuff to find the relevant material.

I know plenty of very smart 'science' types, some of them are quite well rounded and could learn quite a few things, while some others are morons outside their field of expertise.

You may be confident you could learn anything, and maybe you could, but in my experience people tend to gravitate towards things they are good at and very few people are 'good at everything'.

Although to be fair I don't really understand what you mean by 'bias'.
Biased being only capable of thinking from the human experience or a humanistic thought which naturally arises from using human languages like English. It's good when dealing with human affairs but there are lots of other things out there like other animals, inanimate matter. People with scientific training could relate to these far better than a humanities student. But that dosen't mean a scientist cannot relate to humans. A good training in biology and espcially evolution can allow you to relate to people and understand them much better although from a rational point of view. However, that dosen't mean they can intermingle any better with people and usually pretty bad at it no matter how much biology they know.:smile:

A critical thinking course is useful and reduces the bias somewhat but it still can't look into and analyse many inanimate things rigorously and invoke human subjectivity because it uses human language. I use to think philosophy was good but after completing some third year physics subjects, I have realised how inadequate it is and how much it is to human subjectivity even though it's meant to be a rational subject. Maybe a rational subject compared to other humanitities subjects but highly subjective compared to physics. Although that is not to say it was useless and waste of time. I do not regret taking them. Philosophy of science may be of use to science but I believe scientists themselves should be capable of it and practice it. So science training is still imperical. Note I am not saying all philosophers of science need university science education but defintely need a full high school science education. And so should the rest of the well 'educated' population.

I use to have a humanities education (with no science beyond year 10 and medium level maths) in high school but decided to change to science especially physics and maths. I also took philosophy in university. I can tell you how much more useful physics and maths has proved to be in thinking about things and have literally been a life changing experience. I feel I can relate to the inanimate objects, animals including humans much better. In the past I remember looking at a bird and not thinking anything about it apart from the fact that it's in my way. I use to scare it away and find it amusing (although I was young back then so I might have done that even with science knowledge). But now when I see one, I stare at it and appreciate its complexity and be amazed. I can remember back in the old days without any science, I would think so irrationally and make decisions I would laugh at today. I use to also think a lot about the concept of time but didn't go anywhere. Now with physics, I have some principles to guide me namely the second law of thermodyamics which suggests that time is an artificial concept defined by humans and that it may not exist but rather things change due to a more fundalmental reason which is the 2nd law. Its manifestion allows us to detect and feel the concept we call time. It is rough and not the full picture but at least its a start in the right direction which someone without knowledge of science would never realise.

I actually did fairly well in year 12 but even though I had a high score, deep down I felt I didn't know anything. I can recall how amazed I was at my friends who had taken science how knowledgable they were at things. And how I always asked them questions but they never seem to ask me any. Then I decided to join them. The change has been most worthwhile and life changing.
 
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  • #12
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But the thing is with the knowledge of the sciences, maths and logic, one can literally learn anything else with confidence. If one is also willing offcourse. That is my mine point. What makes these subjects stand out is their unbias nature. Humanities subjets are biased. And people only trained in them have a narrower mindset which are all too human. As Nietsze wrote a book called 'Human, all too human'. This phrase is very good to describe humantities subjects. To conclude that people with only humantiites background are uneducated may be going too far as most of you say. But do you see my point? It's not about being arrogant.
Its hard to have 'confidence' in something you DON'T know. If your goal is to have 'confidence' in something---then, have 'confidence' in the things you 'know' for SURE, and 'interest' in those things that you 'don't' until you do have 'confidence' in them. Very few things are in 'black and white' like it seems you 'want' them to be.

-----------------------------------------

ANYTHING can 'seem' logical--until its pointed out that its not.

-------------------------------------------

'What' you are 'taught' is supposed to be just the foundations of 'what' you learn.
 
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  • #13
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Then I decided to join them. The change has been most worthwhile and life changing.
Learning to speak a different language is something that expands understanding. I'm not very good with other languages, but the little exposure I have had to Spanish and French gave me insights into things I hadn't thought of before. Math is also another language... but its not the only one and if its the only one you study in depth, you will definitely have a bias, as you say.

I'm glad you found your way, but what you describe just goes back to what I was saying about people tending to gravitate to things.... Clearly you belong in science classes. They give you what you need.

Some people need science in order to understand and interact with the world, it gives them a framework and rules to follow. Others benefit more from a few well chosen social science courses, still others read books, or spend time hiking in the wilderness.

As to 3rd year physics, I don't doubt it has benefits, but 3rd year is when you get to the good stuff in most areas of study.

My experience has been different from yours. I find math boring and uninspiring, but when I am curious about something I ask.

You keep saying how science has changed your life, and even supplied some anecdotes... which is entirely subjective.... and oh so human.
 
  • #14
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Its hard to have 'confidence' in something you DON'T know. If your goal is to have 'confidence' in something---then, have 'confidence' in the things you 'know' for SURE, and 'interest' in those things that you 'don't' until you do have 'confidence' in them. Very few things are in 'black and white' like it seems you 'want' them to be.
Thats the power of science and esecially physics for you. After having done physics, I have more confidence in learning anything even before learning them. But maybe more importantly, not to be afraid or discouraged when I make a mistake or not understand something. That is probably the biggest reason why I feel so confident about learning things now.

Science has also taught me not to think things are black and white. How have I made things look black and white?
 
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  • #15
radou
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In the past I remember looking at a bird and not thinking anything about it apart from the fact that it's in my way. I use to scare it away and find it amusing (although I was young back then so I might have done that even with science knowledge). But now when I see one, I stare at it and appreciate its complexity and be amazed.
Indeed, science education has an interesting influence on you.
 
  • #16
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Science has also taught me not to think things are black and white. How have I made things look black and white?

MY interpretation of WHAT you are writing, how you are writing (your presentation), what you are asking, ---shows what you're interested in.


Your 'Polls' are the biggest indicator---they divide (are trying to) opinions into sectors (black and white)--looking for 'right or wrong'.
 
  • #17
I tend to agree with the overall theme of the thread, but not to the extent that I would label people who don't study the sciences or anything quantitative in nature as uneducated. I just don't think you can get by in life without the analytical thinking that an education in the sciences develops.

People want you to be able to work with numbers, to use models to analyze problems, and to be able think about the relationships between variables. Everyone runs into numbers in some way, shape, or form (think of all the sayings about "death and taxes"). You need to be able to handle working with numbers at a basic level at the very least.

And yes, the humanities are important as well. Learning how to use language, argue your points effectively (probably the most important skill gained from philosophy), and think about subjects which aren't packaged up into neat little squares is a very useful skill set. In fact, these skills are fundamental to you being able to gain any education in a quantitative subject in the first place.

I bet most reasonable people would agree that taking courses from both quantitative and non-quantitative disciplines is very important and that those who avoid one or the other are missing out.

But the thing is with the knowledge of the sciences, maths and logic, one can literally learn anything else with confidence.
That's not a product of the subjects so much as it is a product of your habits and attitudes about studying.

What would really be useful is if studying the sciences gained you quick and easy insights into the humanities, which they don't. If you study physics and suddenly want to learn something like linguistics or anthropology you'll be a novice. It's not like you would suddenly become exempt from having to put in significant study time to understand the subject.
 
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  • #18
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That's not a product of the subjects so much as it is a product of your habits and attitudes about studying.

What would really be useful is if studying the sciences gained you quick and easy insights into the humanities, which they don't. If you study physics and suddenly want to learn something like linguistics or anthropology you'll be a novice. It's not like you would suddenly become exempt from having to put in significant study time to understand the subject.
Being confident at studying a subject dosen't mean you are guaranteed to spend less time on it or even succeed intially. It just means you go in there with a good attitude which most of the time is half of the battle done already as the mind is extremely complex.

However physics gives you more than just a positive attitude and never say die mentality. You get an understanding of the general principles of the universe. And can answer simple questions like 'why the sky is blue' that the best humanities student without any science training cannot answer without the slightest clue.

For a physics student to learn the pure humanities, they may not be able to apply the physical principles directly so it would take hard work. But they are logical thinkers and good detector of patterns which would help in learning any humanity subject as well. At least there would be less irrational thoughts by someone without any science training but also learning the same humanities subject.
 
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  • #19
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MY interpretation of WHAT you are writing, how you are writing (your presentation), what you are asking, ---shows what you're interested in.


Your 'Polls' are the biggest indicator---they divide (are trying to) opinions into sectors (black and white)--looking for 'right or wrong'.
Science teaches people that nothing is black and white. But its objectiveness forces the scientist to use tools that are black and white. Maths is an example. It is up to the scientist to not take the results too literally. And give intepretations of the maths.

My polls are exactly tools to objectify open questions. And then intepret the precise results from the polls. I rather do that then read each person's subjective opinions and guess what they are trying to say. But a combination is the best with these open questions. Although in particle physics say, I think full objectivity with maths without any essays to describe the structure of matter would be best.
 
  • #20
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Learning to speak a different language is something that expands understanding. I'm not very good with other languages, but the little exposure I have had to Spanish and French gave me insights into things I hadn't thought of before. Math is also another language... but its not the only one and if its the only one you study in depth, you will definitely have a bias, as you say.

I'm glad you found your way, but what you describe just goes back to what I was saying about people tending to gravitate to things.... Clearly you belong in science classes. They give you what you need.

Some people need science in order to understand and interact with the world, it gives them a framework and rules to follow. Others benefit more from a few well chosen social science courses, still others read books, or spend time hiking in the wilderness.

As to 3rd year physics, I don't doubt it has benefits, but 3rd year is when you get to the good stuff in most areas of study.

My experience has been different from yours. I find math boring and uninspiring, but when I am curious about something I ask.

You keep saying how science has changed your life, and even supplied some anecdotes... which is entirely subjective.... and oh so human.
Maths is very different to say English or Spanish. To draw an analogy I'd label them as differnt species. I naturally will have a bias when forming my opinion. The point is if you properly use maths as a tool to analyse something starting with undisputed postulates than it will give you unbiased conclusions. However do the same with say English and you may not. Your own intepretations and opinions will get into it.

The thing is science has changed my life so much that it is undisputable, contary to the level of disputableness of humanitites subjects. In this way it is not 'so human'. Maybe 'so godly'. Although this phrase is 'so human'.:smile: The fact that I am posting in the philosophy forum suggests I am giving science a break and be more human.

I use to find maths boring and uninspiring hence why I didn't do advanced high school maths. But looking back it was also because I didn't understand it nor had good results. I remember that I started to enjoy it in year 12 after putting in some serious work before enjoying it. I admit it was lame and torteous at the time but after this period of unejoyable work, I started to succeed and understood things more. It created a positive snowball effect which by the end of year 12, my dream job was to become a mathematician.

I can remember another anecdote. In first year uni while doing uni maths but still without any science, there was a spider crawling on the mirror. In the past my reaction would first be freightened than to kill it as quickly as possible full of disgust. But that day, my reaction was different. The first thing I noticed was its symmetrical shape and actually thought that it was quite beautiful. There was no thought of killing it and just appreciated its shape. The fact that it was crawling on the mirror magnified that property. At the time I was shocked at my reaction and realised that it was my maths training that enable me to see this. Today, with science training also I am able to better appreciate spiders and some insights to why there is this symmetry and where it came from (in terms of its ancestory) although very roughly as I don't have good training in biology. I am able to look past the black and white world I use to see with only maths training.
 
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  • #21
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Maths is very different to say English or Spanish. To draw an analogy I'd label them as differnt species. I naturally will have a bias when forming my opinion. The point is if you properly use maths as a tool to analyse something starting with undisputed postulates than it will give you unbiased conclusions. However do the same with say English and you may not. Your own intepretations and opinions will get into it.
Your interpretations and opinions are all you have. You can do double blind studies and such, but that only showcases how being human impacts all we do, including science and math, the theories we accept or reject. Learn a different language, study semiotics or linguistics and you will start to realize that the language you use, even mathematics is not just a framework for your thinking, but it also informs, expands, and limits it.

You also use a lot of 'ifs' here. But lets go deeper, math isn't really the system you are using, logic is. And although you may need science to see the beauty in nature, others like myself, do not. A knowledge of science for me, simply extends my understanding, but so does a knowledge of literature and history and philosophy, because they are all about me, just like science is.

When its raining and there is thunder and lightning, the fact I know to one degree or another the science behind it, increases my awe of it, but so does reading about how the ancient greeks experienced the very same things, because like me, they were human too, and seeing through their eyes allows me to see more.

It is also important to remember that logic demands premises and it only succeeds if one applies it rigorously. Science is a method, a system that can be used or abused. Information is just data without understanding, and the humanities give us our context, what we need to see how we fit in with all the data. The spider is not the only thing with symmetry, you have it, your whole life does, and that is what you will find when you study the humanities.

I'm not sure what you are looking for in English, French, or Spanish, but they are not so different from math, they simply are used with a different goal in mind. I think you're missing out. But your prejudice is not an uncommon one for those in the sciences.

From the other side of things I have known people with just as much prejudice against science, and they are missing out too.
 
  • #22
radou
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For a physics student to learn the pure humanities, they may not be able to apply the physical principles directly so it would take hard work. But they are logical thinkers and good detector of patterns which would help in learning any humanity subject as well. At least there would be less irrational thoughts by someone without any science training but also learning the same humanities subject.
This is completely false. You are indirectly implying that humanists are not logical thinkers. Also, why do you thing that exactly the same logic applies for both types of subjects?

The first thing I noticed was its symmetrical shape and actually thought that it was quite beautiful. There was no thought of killing it and just appreciated its shape. The fact that it was crawling on the mirror magnified that property. At the time I was shocked at my reaction and realised that it was my maths training that enable me to see this.
It seems to me you're persistently mixing up math and zoology.
 
  • #23
For a physics student to learn the pure humanities, they may not be able to apply the physical principles directly so it would take hard work. But they are logical thinkers and good detector of patterns which would help in learning any humanity subject as well. At least there would be less irrational thoughts by someone without any science training but also learning the same humanities subject.
Do you happen to have any relevant examples?
 
  • #24
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Your interpretations and opinions are all you have. You can do double blind studies and such, but that only showcases how being human impacts all we do, including science and math, the theories we accept or reject. Learn a different language, study semiotics or linguistics and you will start to realize that the language you use, even mathematics is not just a framework for your thinking, but it also informs, expands, and limits it.

You also use a lot of 'ifs' here. But lets go deeper, math isn't really the system you are using, logic is. And although you may need science to see the beauty in nature, others like myself, do not. A knowledge of science for me, simply extends my understanding, but so does a knowledge of literature and history and philosophy, because they are all about me, just like science is.

When its raining and there is thunder and lightning, the fact I know to one degree or another the science behind it, increases my awe of it, but so does reading about how the ancient greeks experienced the very same things, because like me, they were human too, and seeing through their eyes allows me to see more.

It is also important to remember that logic demands premises and it only succeeds if one applies it rigorously. Science is a method, a system that can be used or abused. Information is just data without understanding, and the humanities give us our context, what we need to see how we fit in with all the data. The spider is not the only thing with symmetry, you have it, your whole life does, and that is what you will find when you study the humanities.

I'm not sure what you are looking for in English, French, or Spanish, but they are not so different from math, they simply are used with a different goal in mind. I think you're missing out. But your prejudice is not an uncommon one for those in the sciences.

From the other side of things I have known people with just as much prejudice against science, and they are missing out too.
I probably do not want to talk about maths so much because there is just no useful and precise definition of it. It is extremely diverse and continually expanding. It can't be reduced to a formalistic logic model as Godel showed. So it may be more than logic. However I haven't studied this deeply enough to comment further.

Well if you use maths to analyse something than your own emotions won't affect the conclusion as much (assuming you have done the analyse correctly offcourse) as if you use English to analyse something. With the latter your own emotions on the day may alter the results but you can't say it is wrong if someone else got a different conclusion. So using English is more subjective.

Some people do become inspired by the humanities and I was one of them to be honest in the days when I was scientifically illiterate. One of my faviourate texts of 'The Outsider'. But I am naturally a man of science and maths. I hold the same opinion as Dirac when Oppenhiemer told him that he wanted to be a poet had he not been a physcist to which Dirac responded 'physics makes complicated things appear simple but poetry makes simple things appear complicated'. That statement may be too black and white but I can see what Dirac was getting at. It is a good exapmle to show that different people's brains work differently.
 
  • #25
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This is completely false. You are indirectly implying that humanists are not logical thinkers. Also, why do you thing that exactly the same logic applies for both types of subjects?
Well I think everyone can make logical mistakes. We are more natural at doing other things like surviving than being logical creatures. However the point is it is easier for someone without science training to make logical mistakes. When I use logic, most of the time I mean informal logic which is what arises in subjects other than a formal logic or pure maths course. That is one reason why one should take science, maths and logic subjects if one is to have a good education.

I have the extreme view that getting a good education means taking both maths, science and humanities subjects but then finding out for themselves the 'inferior' nature of the humanities compared to the sciences. However not regreting ever taking these humanities subjects as they can be enjoyable and useful to function in society and even doing science like writing reports. I use the word inferior for many reasons but one tangible reason is if you look at the geniune contributions to society and why people's livings standards have increased, the backbone of it all is science. Economics is also important but some may call it a science as I have heard from one Harvard Economics professor. At least it is a social science.

But my brain functions differently to the humanists here so is extremely biased opinion.
 
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