Saturday, December 27, 2008

Argh! Another Failure!

Vanity Alert! This post is completely about me, me, me. You may read on, but be prepared to vomit... I've failed yet another quiz on Vox's Voxiversity read of America's Great Depression. 5/10 this week. Actually, I think I've got a failing average so far. Quite a few of the complete novices to Austrian economics are beating the pants off of me. Not that this is earth-shattering news. Most people probably don't care. I'm just saying... I would attribute this to several things:
  • I'm obviously an obsessive economist. I probably could get higher scores, but I decided back when we were reading History of the Pelloponesian War that it wasn't worth the extra increment of time to get the higher score. I'll probably forget the details in a few months anyway. To that extent, I've decided not to care, and my low scores don't really bother me.
  • I've only been an actual Austrian economist for about 8-9 months(!) I know, you're shocked, aren't you? I spent too much time in the other branches, especially the Chicago school and find myself having to unlearn a lot of what I knew. My advantage isn't as much as one might think.
  • Because the project is of particular importance to me, I tend to schedule reading time early in the week so I will have it done by the weekend. That way, relatively low priority projects get the shaft instead of this one as I run out of time at the end of the week. And since I'm economizing on time, I only read it once through and never really look back. So I'm usually done with reading by Monday night and have forgotten a lot by Saturday. In that regard, my test scores are probably a good reflection of what I'll remember in the long run, since I've already had plenty of time to forget.
  • I positively suck at retaining details. My forte, in fact, pretty much the only way I can function, is abstraction. I'm exclusively a big idea kind of guy, so I tend to get obliterated by the kind of quizzes Vox writes. I expect not to function well in such an environment. That doesn't make the pursuit less worthwhile.
And it does go to show a few things:
  • Considering I've been complimented more than once on my writings here, you don't have to be a genius to do worthwhile things. You don't have to be an expert to change minds or make a difference.
  • Even a relatively minimal understanding can be profoundly lifechanging for the better, if one pursues the right knowledge. I can't tell you how much even my present limited understanding has changed my life.
  • It doesn't take a supergenius to cut even a guy like me down to size. I'm no fool. Most people would consider me relatively gifted. But there's some folks at Vox Popoli putting me to shame on a topic I consider myself to have at least a little bit of expertise in. It's been a humbling experience.
So there you have it. Failure is not always a bad thing! Free markets are the right way to go even when you're the guy cut down to size! Pursue great things, be humbled by them, and whether you win or lose, you'll grow as a result. But you've gotta be willing to do a little work, put it on the line, and face a little discomfort first.

No comments:

Post a Comment