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  1. #1
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Specialization is for insects.

    My last "quote thread" worked out alright, so here's another.

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

    Specialization is for insects.

    - Robert A. Heinlein
    I like this quote, but can see some potential problems with it.

    - What is the value of specialization?
    - Aren't each one of these tasks "specialized"?

    Or anything else you'd like to comment on. Cheers.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  2. #2
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    1) Being really good at one thing can make you a valuable commodity, at the expense of being bad at everything else.
    2) Yes they are, but the point Heinlein makes is that people should be good at all of them.

  3. #3
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    Heinlein's wrong on this one.

    Besides, there's not enough time in the world to become an expert on everything, so we have a necessary between specialization and generalization.

    Specialization is worthwhile, because need people who are experts in certain areas. If everyone had just a breadth of knowledge, who would we consult when we get into the intricate details of a particular problem?

    That said, I'm more of a generalist myself, with two degrees in different areas, working on a third in another area, and planning on a fourth in yet another area. But I definitely value those who specialize, such as one of my fellow researchers, who's one of the leading experts on cryogenics.

  4. #4
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    I don't wanna!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Rangler's Avatar
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    Adam Smith proved this wrong with the concept of the division of labor. But, It's good to be well rounded for fun.
    R[a]ngl[e]r

  6. #6
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    A lot of this is really semantic.

    My first thought is to say that specialization is sort of unavoidable if you want success. It seems to be pervasive in all the natural world, and anthropologically appears no different.

    But one thing occured to me. The most successful species have been opportunists by nature. The question is, do you consider an opportunist a generalist by necessesity?
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  7. #7
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    As the depth of human understanding of the world increases, technology increases, etc, specialization will be required simply because our capacity to be a general species would be limited. It is significantly harder to be a polymath now than 100 years ago, because there is more to know and do. If anything we're only going to become more specialized, to the point where in thousands of years the species will diverge.



  8. #8
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    I call BS on this one for reasons that are probably obvious and have already been mentioned.

  9. #9
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    I don't really agree. I think specialization is both reasonable and potentially useful for human beings. Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily think everyone should specialize, but I do think there's a place for specialists.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by greed View Post
    Heinlein's wrong on this one.

    ... there's not enough time in the world to become an expert on everything..
    That sounds like a challenge.

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