Wisdom vs Smarts

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by KL7AJ, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. KL7AJ

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
    I've spent most of my life trying to earn that respect that only comes with grizzled sagacity. However, I'm finding there's a narrow window between grizzled sagacity and total senility. :)

    In the meantime, while there's still some gray matter left to play with, I have a few observations....whether these are a result of grizzled sagacity or doddering senility....I'll leave that up to you to judge.

    Wisdom is the ability to apply specific knowledge to a wide variety of situations. I've always been a bit of a nerd, and for the most part it's kept me well employed, and out of a lot of trouble. People have always come to me for answers to their electronics problems, whether it was fixing my friends' slot cars (remember those?!) or setting up home routers. I don't know if there's really an equivalent to the "generalized" electronics nerd today, though.

    What seems to be lacking in modern technological education is the seeking out of underlying principles. Everything is taught as a "special case." There are a lot of really smart, qualified, and up-to-date engineers out there. But I wonder how many of them can really handle a major shift in technology without having to start all over again.

    I think the answer is to become enamored with the right thing. I've never been enamored with technology, but I am always astounded at the physics that allows technology to work. There's tremendous security in this (both career-wise, and philosophically, as well). When I look at something like complex numbers and see how beautifully they work with mechanical, electrical, acoustic, and thermal systems, a lot of the seeming chaos of the universe seems to go away. People and politics ARE chaotic, but science is always well behaved. The laws of the universe are not subject to Wall Street or Congress (much as both entities would like us to think otherwise).

    We electronics nerds have a lot to offer the world outside of our specialties. I think people in all kinds of occupations are looking for something with some stability. We in the hard sciences work with such things every day. There's a certain wisdom that comes about from working with REAL things, accomplishing REAL functions, with REAL measurable results. Maybe a few more of us need to run for Congress.

    No....scratch that from the record. :eek: I never said that. :)

  2. StayatHomeElectronics

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 25, 2008
    Thanks for the topic. I've been sitting here for about the last 30 minutes just thinking about it.

    Thankfully, I am @home so I have the time to zone out every once in a while. Maybe I'll stop by and reply again when I come out of it.
  3. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    Definitely interesting comments! Fundamentals are critical in a person's education. Not only scientfic/mathematical fundamentals, but also ethical/moral ones. I can live with political and business leaders lacking the former, but our woes seem to stem from shortcomings in the latter.

    I laughed at your last statement (in a good way). I also often have the same thought, but always take it back in the end. I think about all the debates we have here about simple knowable and provable things. If technologists can't always agree about things that can be proven scientifcally, what chance would we have with real complex problems of the human condition? Then again ..... maybe a better chance than others??? :p
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  4. Mass


    Apr 9, 2009
    I like your definition of wisdom. I think the key word here is "apply". I've known a few who have a tremendous ability to retain information, scientific or otherwise, but don't seem to apply it to their own life situation.
  5. mbohuntr

    Senior Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    I have also noticed the newer generations seem to be "here and now" instant gratification seekers. I spent my first half of life learning all I could about working with and forming metal. Each week came new challanges that required me to return to the books and find solutions for. Now, in the middle of my working years I found that computer programs had replaced all my hard won knowledge with plug and play answers.. So I am switching careers and getting my degree in electronics....Back from the ramble... I am sitting in class with kids from 17-25, and I sense no quest for knowledge, no drive as it were. They want the grade at the end, but could care less about the skills they will need once they get out with us codgers. They were weaned on video gaming where if you fail, oh well, start over. They have few if any life skills...and who needs to prepare for anything??? I remember my trade school years as a competition to be the best , Most of the class went on to promising careers. You ask them simple voltage/current calculations today, and they give you a thousand yard stare. Is it just me???
  6. PRS

    Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    I, too, went back to school when I was in my thirties and got a degree in electrical engineering. Now I'm mowing lawns. Go figure. But I have a different take than you, mbohuntr. I'm always hearing how standards of learning have fallen, how learning in the past was superior to learning in the present due to the democratization of education.

    But I met many students at Washington State University who were well-informed, well-adjusted, and far smarter than me. I worked hard for my grades. As my calculus teacher said, "By now you've learned it's all hard work. You don't need to be a genius to do calculus." And yet some of those young men and women could party all night and still get good grades!
  7. Ron H

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 14, 2005
    Has there ever been a older generation that says, "Wow, look at how hard these young whippersnappers are working! We should have applied ourselves like that when we were young!"?
    I'm a 68 year old retired EE.;)
  8. greendean


    Dec 20, 2008

    Maybe senility is just the mind reaching the point of academic equalibrium.
    You've learn what you needed to learn so brain is "leveling out".
    The calmest waters run the deepest.

    Or maybe its like a racecar engine.
    They always run best just before the blow up.
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  9. inventorjack


    Apr 4, 2009
    Most awesome post of the day! :D
  10. leftyretro

    Active Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Well the young ones better start to buckle down and apply themselves, there quite the global debt that has accumulated and guess who gets to pay for it for their whole working life :cool:

  11. KL7AJ

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
    I have a different take on this matter. The national debt will NEVER be paid off....nor does it NEED to be. When you look at what people owe US compared to what we owe everyone else, it all comes out in the wash.

    Paper debt paid by fiat money. :)

  12. PRS

    Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Economics has taken on a supernatural aura. If I got into financial straites, I'd cut my costs and try to increase my income. But when Uncle Sam tries to fix a similar problem on a bigger scale he spends more and taxes less. Go figure. I understand Keynsian economics -- as I was taught in school -- but I have a feeling there are alot of economic wizards out there wondering if OBamaism is really going to work. I mean, I thing they're holding their breath. ;)