Criticism, Mathematics, and the importance of questioning the status quo

Criticism can be uncomfortable. It can be frustrating. But ultimately, it’s crucial to progress - whether it be professional, personal, or societal. So instead of sticking to our own ideas and our own status quo, what would happen if we embraced a culture of criticism? We’re betting some pretty incredible things. Let’s dive in.


Welcome to the April 30 edition of The Digest.

How did you become the person you are today?

More than likely, it came from self introspection and criticisms that you took to heart.That’s because out of criticism comes improvement. Along the same line, with the suppression of criticisms comes the suppression of ideas. Instead of growth, a lack of criticism - or worse, suppression of different ideas - leads to virtue signaling and dogma. Why, then, are we as a society so shy to provide or accept criticism? According to the author, it's not the fear of offending or protecting one's status - or at least, it shouldn't be. He argues that instead of "sandwiching" our critiques between compliments, we need to embrace a culture of criticism, which in itself is inherently constructive. It's imperative to get over the societal regulations that bar us from questioning how things work in order to continue human progress. Link.

Is the typical education-straight-to-career lifestyle stifling our creativity and losing its usefulness in a more technology-based world?

Certainly, it is a difficult place to contemplate new ideas when key performance is measured by productivity, efficiency, and revenue.What would happen if we transitioned from the “up or out” culture to one based on relationships and connections to ideas? When it comes to creating distinct, memorable work in changing markets, perhaps a new strategy framework is just what we need, one that considers the stage of our work lives and the experiences we have gain throughout them. Link.

Dr. Richard Hamming was the chief mathmetician for the Manhattan project and then went to work for Bell Labs, contributing significantly to computer science and information theory.

In the late 1980's, he gave the beautiful talk, "You and Your Research." If you've never read this, it is seriously worth your time.  Over on the other side of the dining hall was a chemistry table. I had worked with one of the fellows, Dave McCall; furthermore he was courting our secretary at the time. I went over and said, ``Do you mind if I join you?'' They can't say no, so I started eating with them for a while. And I started asking, ``What are the important problems of your field?'' And after a week or so, ``What important problems are you working on?'' And after some more time I came in one day and said, ``If what you are doing is not important, and if you don't think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?'' I wasn't welcomed after that; I had to find somebody else to eat with! That was in the spring. Link