Thursday, September 19, 2013

Haroon Zaidi: The Harm of Techies vs. Fuzzies

In the past the divide was called techies vs. poets, which was not as offensive.  And maybe it’s no big deal, I just I don’t like being put in boxes.   At least the poet part sounds respectable right.  There are many poets who have probably had an effect on changing the world, and I at least know that they have inspired me.   So although setting up that divide kind of bugs me, so be it, I still think it is preferable to what we have today.
However, what does the word fuzzy mean, when I think of fuzzy I think of the kitten I’ve chosen to sort of adopt, Camus the philosipicat, kudos if anyone gets the reference.  I think of something that is soft, cute, and utterly incapable of protecting itself.  It seems almost a bit derogative to me, yet there are people who actually refer to themselves as fuzzies, and it seems to me that there is a disparity between the two designations.  Despite what people say, that it’s a term of endearment,  the term sounds at least slightly disparaging.
When you create categories such as this and put people in boxes, what you do is create an environment which chooses to ignore all other facets of a person at the risk of stifling it, and that seems very dangerous to me.  One of the things that supposed to make a liberal education so great is all the ideas that one is exposed to in their academic career.  This forces students to learn new things and discover new passion.  At the very least, it makes a student think and gives all students a common background to discuss ideas.  The hope would be that a scientist could have a basic conversation on art with an artist, and an artist one on science with the scientist.   But, by putting people in such constrictive groupings, it’s almost as if you’re telling them that it’s okay and even expected for them to focus only on a very narrow range of information.
When we went to Cantor, I had a similar conversation with the conservationist, we talked about how many scientists are actually working with her to help preserve the art, that the art is important to them.  This to me was quiet heartening, I believe those in the sciences should have to be exposed to the humanities, which seems is something many individuals would agree with me on.  However my question is, shouldn't the humanities also have to take rigorous sciences?  I guess this gets back to the culture I previously mentioned and also has something to do with the dearth of humanity majors at Stanford and in the country overall.  however, I think that is not a valid excuse.
The reason that this is troubling me so much is that I would consider myself, partially both.  I’m a chemical engineer which requires a lot of technology, but, I also like to write and compose poetry, which in the old system would have placed me also as a poet.  I just don’t like the fact that we’re dividing our student body into two populations, instead of trying to bring it closer together.


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