Harvard is the training ground for a great deal of expertise. It also aspires, I would hope, to train good laymen: citizens who are thoughtful in how they engage with expertise they can’t replicate. By adopting a more principled approach, we as students can do our part to build back Americans’ trust in experts. We can contribute, in some small way, to the cause of giving our divided country a shared set of facts.
Some firehosing is useful to build the skills necessary to eventually do real work or research. It will occasionally be necessary to use a result we can’t prove or quote a passage we don’t fully understand. But we can plan our commitments at Harvard so we only have to do so rarely. And at the very least, we should feel a little guilty whenever we do.
In the wake of a breathtaking, border-line unbelievable 12-month vaccine effort, I’m just writing to record my amazement at humanity’s vast reserves. Welled up in people, welled up in peoples, springing forth in every crisis and, sometimes, just for the hell of it.
SNL and the Daily Show and all the rest have a decision to make: are there any sacred cows left worth targeting? If not, then satire must reinvent itself.
Ultimately, creative misinterpretation is useful because of how much harder it is to create than to discover. Anytime we read or listen to someone, we have to do some work to find justification for the ideas they have juxtaposed.
Each of us questioning just a little bit more, and acting on our doubts just a little more frequently, vastly increases the probability that we’ll be proud of the traditions we’ve preserved and proud of the ones we have not.
It is great that we have a mechanism for providing feedback to professors and TFs, but too often the effort students put into their responses is wasted.
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