Contests vs. Real World Problems

bybadger 10y25th Mar 200934 comments


John Cook draws on the movie Redbelt to highlight the difference between staged contests and real-world fights. The main character of the movie is a Jiu Jitsu instructor who is willing to fight if necessary, but will not compete under arbitrary rules. Cook analogies this to the distinction between academic and real-world problem solving. Academics and students are often bound by restrictions that are useful in their own contexts, but are detrimental to someone who is more concerned with having a solution than where the solution came from.

Robin pointed arbitrary restrictions in academia out to us before, but his question then was regarding topics neglected for being silly. Following Cook's line of reasoning, are there any arbitrary restrictions we have picked up in school or other contexts that are holding us back? Are there rationalist "cheats" that are being underused?