Because of the way the brain is designed, it is actually very, very beneficial to have that good, old-fashioned, well-rounded education.The brain is, to make it very simple, is designed like a tree, with a trunk and many branches. Each new thing someone learns creates or strengthens a branch of the tree.This is not to say that specialization is a bad thing. The world definitely needs nerds! We need engineers, mathematicians, musicians, doctors, writers, etc.But an engineer who learns to read and love literature might discover Jules Verne or Arthur C. Clarke who popularized or even invented certain technologies. Jules Verne: diving gear, video phones and plenty of other cool stuff. Arthur C. Clarke: the gravity slingshot, artificial intelligence, nanofibers, etc.Without any actual proof I would speculate that those ideas sparked the imagination of people who later made them into realities.On the flip side, so much of today's cool science fiction literature is guided and informed by what is happening in the world of science.Mathematics can be a "pure" discipline, with no practical application, but isn't mathematics really designed to be useful in the real world? Don't anthropologists and socioligists use statistics? Isn't finance based on accounting and statistics and other mathematical models?The great philosphers guided the decisions of our great political leaders, who then built countries and societies and promoted ideas as fantastic as space travel.
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