Disclaimer: The ideas and perspectives implied in this article are derived from personal and academic experiences, as well as things I have studied in the past. I do not claim to be objectively right, since my knowledge can never be absolutely adequate.
We have all either held or heard certain notions, or seen them commonly put into action; whether it be on social media, in your friend group, or through self-help books (I will write another article on this very soon), we are, more often than not, engaging with a society dominated by axioms and presuppositions. However, not everything you hear can be considered correct, even if it might seemingly be posed as correct. Listed below are three common notions I’ve constantly heard or seen throughout my A-Level experience, and some connotations, or invocation of actions, attached to them. I hope this piece of writing helps you as much as it has helped me.
- “Science is finality”
As a die-hard science enthusiast (plug: I too am making my own theory), I really believed in this notion with all my heart. I thought that everything that science speaks of is an unquestionable fact. To be honest, science was like my bible of references; I used to bring it up in anything and everything I could. I used it as the premise for my deductions about all the things I ever talked about: God, art, social issues, and some other political things I am too shy to mention here.
Growing up watching Lawrence Krauss and Hamza Tzortzis shout at each other, I soon began to realize some things, especially after I understood the difference between Newtonian mechanics, the relativistic ideas that Einstein put forth, and hence, Quantum Mechanics. We can see that modern physics, the fundamental science, took a very ‘theoretical’ turn in the 21st century. It is now a common belief that distance, as we perceive it, is just an illusion, and something can exist in many places and states at once. That’s right: quantum superposition says you can attend three classes at the same time; weird. Ultimately, much of the modern explanations of reality are hypothetical, and there is very little explanation that carries any actual weight. So, this begs the question: what do these odd discoveries tell us?
- Much of our physics isn’t exactly how things work.
- We may never know how exactly things work 😦
What does that say? Now I don’t want to draw far stretched conclusions but, this clearly says that science is not, and never will be, absolute. So to put it into perspective, science can tell us what is likely, and what is not likely, but it can never tell us what IS and what IS NOT. This doesn’t mean science is wrong; science works wonderfully when you’re making a car, but right now, we are talking about absolutes. Science works as long as we do not take absolutes into account, as long as there is some degree of estimation and presupposition. However to entirely remove estimation and figure out of objective truths is not in human power, and hence, science will never be absolutely- nor objectively- complete. To conclude, the next time you use science to prove/disprove God, explain why you can’t find love, or why some political things which I won’t mention are false/correct, think about this for a moment, about science as your fundamental reasoning.
- “Knowledge is absolute, and to be chased forever”
I’m one too familiar with this one. As far as I can remember, I’ve dedicated all my life to the pursuit of knowledge. I can’t remember a day where I didn’t read anything new about physics. But as I grew up, I became acquainted with many realities. It was my goal to become a physicist, make theories, and advance humanity. In fact, I was willing to dedicate my entire life to it.
As I was filling my university apps, and happily opting for a degree in physics in literally every single one of them, I came across pieces of information that I wish someone told me earlier. Physics, no matter how poetic it seemed, had no place in today’s capitalistic, practical society. No one pays for thought, and certainly, a theory would never buy me food. I could dedicate my entire life to it, but who’s to say I would succeed, or that I would be any different than millions of underpaid and overworked physicists in the world. But in the end, one question continuously bothered me: how long can I chase the unknown? Even if I did, forever, would the endless search for answers make me content with life? Knowledge, just like material, could never be enough. People who romanticize and chase knowledge forever are no different from those who chase money and material: both are discontent, both choose to fill a cup with no end.
The path to knowledge, no matter how quaint, ruins many. While it is true that knowledge is important and essential, just like money, too much of it makes you make decisions that you would undoubtedly regret, as I have. How can you define a goal with no finishing line? So to lead a good, fulfilling life, one must keep a balance of necessities, seek knowledge but not too much, seek money but not too much, seek, but do not seek too much. True wisdom does not lie in the undaunted pursuit of the endless, but to cherish what you have, and to seek what you love but within proportion.
P.S: applying for architecture in local unis.
- “Grades don’t matter”
“A single piece of paper does not decide my future”
~ Thomas Edison
The same guy who quoted this stole and patented the light bulb, and electrocuted elephants and other animals to deem Nikola Tesla’s alternating current as dangerous. And yet students all over the world hide behind this quote to justify their performance, simply because they’re privileged enough to do so. Coming from a family where both my parents work day and night, struggling to provide us the best education, grades were the world for me. I didn’t love grades, I didn’t love any part of this education system, but grades were necessary for me. If I didn’t have grades, I wouldn’t have scholarships, and if I didn’t have a scholarship, I wouldn’t be in this school since I couldn’t afford it. The same can be said for my universities, both local and foreign. My choice entirely depended on my ability to afford them, funny how even the applications were too much of a financial burden, so I only ended up applying to seven in total, even though I would’ve loved to apply in more. Coming back to the topic, I still understand that even at the bottom of an elite school, the majority of the students in the world have much worse financial conditions than me; I can only imagine the pressure on them to keep getting exceptional grades, not because they want to, but because they have to keep going to a school or a college. Grades do matter, they are often everything a student has to work for, even if they don’t want to.
The hypocrisy is mind-blowing. The same teachers that talk against classist behavior, and preach wise spending, give deliberate bad grades, tell students to Uber if they don’t have transportation, and many other things I would hate to mention. So the next time you see the ‘class nerd’ crying about a B grade amidst their A*’s, know that there are some things beyond your comprehension at play, some things that hurt more than mere failure.
I think the quote should be “Grades aren’t the only things that matter”, even when you’re applying to universities, especially Asian ones, do understand that they regard your grades with as much importance as your co-curricular activities. Without either of them, do not hope to get into a good university. Take your studies seriously, and do not fall prey to the “billionaire mindset” that school is absolutely useless, just because they made it using means you and I both know, does not mean you will. With the support of a good education, a good, stable life is almost guaranteed.