An autodidact is someone who teaches themselves, rather than going to school. Like if Luke Skywalker skipped studying on Degobah, to go learn the Force all by himself somewhere less swampy. Usually works out exactly like no education at all.
Hey, I take online classes where I don't actually see a teacher. Am I an autodidact?
No, you aren't, at least in whatever subject your class is about. You probably have to write papers, take tests, or prove in some other way that you understand the subject. Autodidacts don't have to do any of that shit, and even if they want to, how can someone test themselves in a subject they know nothing about?
That's true I guess buh, wait just a damn minute, how can I be sure an autodidact actually knows what he/she is talking about?
Generally, there's no way to know whether a person really has the knowledge and skills associated with their stated profession. For example, the only way to know if a guy who says he can build you a pool, really knows what he's doing, is if you or someone you know builds pools too. In that case, why would you let some random dude put in your pool?
Typical autodidact pool, don't swim in it.
Only way huh? What if the guy put in my neighbor's pool?
Well, as with all things there's...
Whatever, listen: I'm not looking for a pool, but if I was, I certainly wouldn't want some self taught asshole to build it for me.
Granted we've never heard of a well known autodidact pool builder who happens to be genius personified, but that doesn't mean autodidacts are good for nothing either. You might have heard about an artist by the name of Leonardo da Vinci, he was an autodidact. Not in art, he learned that from a guy, who had in turn learned from Donatello, but his machines were all DIY forays into aviation, architecture and...
That can't be right, Donatello was the group's inventor and brianiac. Leonardo was their leader, you know, like the real Da Vinci who led Rome and painted a picture of his girlfriend while fighting in gladiator matches.
Wow, unless your online class is history, you could be an autodidact after all.
No, no, it's a study of themes in Keanu Reeves movi... are you saying I'm stupid?
Michael Faraday, the lightning to Tesla's thunder and in general a smooth customer.
Of course not! We're saying you could be like Michael Faraday, an autodidact of chemistry and physics, only in history.
You know what? You guys come off as an arrogant bunch of jerks.
We really don't mean to, really. Perhaps you're just looking at the portrait of Faraday up there and assuming his expression conveys our attitude?
Maybe, he does look like a smug butthole. Who's this Fairygay guy?
Michael Faraday was one of the rare people who could look like a smug know-it-all, yet turn out to be actually intelligent and modest. Faraday is probably best known for generating electricity from mechanical energy, which means he figured out how to make a generator. He also discovered that magnets could affect light, in addition to popularizing terms like anode, ion, and bad motherfucker. Just kidding about the last one, but seriously, this guy was supposedly admired by Nikola Tesla and we'd be willing to wager that even Thomas Edison respected Faraday too.
Weren't Edison and Tesla also autodidacts?
Absolutely, Tesla didn't have any kind of formal education in the fields he worked and Edison taught himself, among other things, how to be an invention stealing asshole. Really Edison was more of an autodidick. Don't get the wrong idea, not all inventors are autodidacts and vice-versa. They tend to go hand in hand though, like Faraday's cage or Tesla's coil.
Nikola Tesla:Autodidact and Thomas Edison:Autodidick. AC/DC.
So, I'm confused, are you saying autodidacts are good or bad? You go out of the way to mention how there are so many stupid ones, yet single out a few humanity probably couldn't exist without.
We're saying that it's not impossible for someone to learn college level shit without going to college, just like it's possible you could win the lottery or get struck by lightning a few times. Otherwise, chances are the autodidact is just an asshole who thinks they're smart. Especially if they actually refer to themselves as such.
Then if I punch every autodidact I meet, chances are I won't be hitting the next Einstein right?
The chances are more like certain, since Einstein went to college and thus wasn't an autodidact. Though you may, if luck smirks at you both, punch the next Tesla. Why would you want to do that?
I wouldn't, stupid, it was a joke. Why are you such a pain in my ass?
Wha, we, you said you wanted to pun...
Nevermind, I was thinking about the whole idea of learning something without being taught, why do so many people fail?
Several reasons, primarily because being taught something is a pantload easier than figuring it out alone. We may hate a teacher riding our ass to do stuff the way they taught it, but this is actually a useful way of learning. Ideally, if we can finally make our English teacher shut up about using there, they're and their correctly, it means we've learned the difference. Without a teacher to constantly remind us what ignorant idiots we are, those taking the autodidact route won't know they're probably doing it wrong.
Less than ideal way of getting a teacher to stop bothering you with his/her weird grammar rules.
But if it's so hard, how can you explain people who do succeed?
Simple; The right combination of intelligence, means, and luck. Actually, mostly luck, since being born smart and wealthy pretty much depend on it. Doesn't necessarily mean good luck for the autodidact, Tesla died almost destitute. Sure was lucky for us though.
She blinded me with SCIENCE!! He bothered me with pseudoscience.
Type: Exceptional but average scientific* autodidact.
He knows nothing of the processes which separate science from pseudoscience. Exceptional by having actually been on National Geographic and History channel shows dealing with topics real scientists usually regard as bullshit, like the Bermuda Triangle.
Mostly self taught, he probably went to high school which would include some science, engaged in a quest to understand something he calls the Hutchison Effect. What exactly is that? We suppose it would depend on who you asked, Hutchison says it includes:
If you watch the video we included below, you'll notice the effect demonstrated does none of these. Unless you count that clumsy stop motion, illustrated in point 6 up there. Don't get us wrong, he certainly tries covering some of the other points. We saw an empty two liter bottle of soda levitate with either string, or maybe a powerful magnet attracting metal taped under the cap. Is an empty soda bottle really that heavy? Perhaps he meant the surprisingly nasty looking ice cream, simultaneously leaking and plopping "up" towards the camera. That seemed a tad heavier, and required different
Actual scientists describe the Hutchison Effect and its namesake in two points:
Point 1 is that Hutchison can neither reliably demonstrate the Hutchison Effect himself nor provide instructions so that we can do it. A real autodidact scientist like Tesla did both, regularly, after discovering alternating current. Hell, if your computer is plugged into an outlet, he's still doing it from beyond the grave right now.
Point 2 is pretty self explanatory, he's made wild proclamations then backed them up with questionable and fake evidence before. To be fair, were it not for his autodidact education, he would've known how scientists are supposed to make realistic claims and not fake their evidence.
We'd describe the Hutchison Effect as being incredibly lame and just a little bit disappointing. The words "heavy objects" made us expect something more along the lines of that gray thing behind him, than they did air encased in plastic or demon semen, falling up. Also it's not very well named: If it actually did the stuff he says, a more appropriate name would be Hutchison Effects. But hey folks, let's cut him some slack. He thinks he's a scientist, not an English teacher.
Dr.s Greg and Lora Little
Seekers of Atlantis and professional shrinks.
Type: Exceptional, educated in a totally unrelated subject, autodidacts.
These two are real, genuine, honest to God, license holding** psychologists and are exceptional for the same reasons as Hutchison. We would not question their knowledge of that subject, after all we're not shrinks. They've spent years and years learning that the human mind is something which takes that much time and study to speak intelligently about. We'd bet people like L. Ron Hubbard and other autodidact psychologists, really piss them off. Especially when they don't bother picking up a real book about the subject, then proclaim psychology to be a load of bullshit.
Though the Littles may not mind those L. Ron types after all, since they're essentially doing the same thing to philosophers, historians, and archeologists. Yep, they've decided Atlantis is out there waiting to be found, no matter what the so-called professionals say. That might mean something, if they'd gone back to school and gotten degrees in those fields.
RoboCop went back to school, you can see him around 2:10, why couldn't they?
Instead they read a book about Atlantis written by psychic Edgar Cayce. If they'd instead read Critias, Plato's dialogue, they may not have tasked themselves with finding a hypothetical city-state described in a conversation between four philosophers. The intrepid pair would have known Plato didn't finish that particular work. They'd also know, if one took the dialogue literally, that Plato didn't actually say shit about Atlantis! Timaeus and Critias were the ones talking about it, with Socrates, and Plato was just transcribing the discussion. It was like a philosophical, four way, circle-jerk Plato partially recorded for us. Of course there's also a good chance this conversation never actually happened and he just used names of people he knew.
We can't help but be reminded of Lisa Simpson, recounting what happened when Homer tried reading to her; "...he got confused and thought the book was real. He's still searching for that chocolate factory. It consumes him." The Little's know exactly how Homer Simpson feels, or would feel if he was real.
They illustrate one of the primary problems encountered by any autodidact, how to tell the difference between a valuable source of information and worthless drivel. If you asked the Little's about which one Dianetics is, they'd call it drivel. If you asked an archeologist, historian, or philosopher about Cayce's book they'd call it drivel too.
Dr. Steven Earl Jones
I've dedicated decades of my life to the physics of atomic fusion at low temperature, and I'm telling you, based on that knowledge: The airplanes and their occupants were just something they could attribute the collapse to. Only a flammable mixture of two metals could have done this.
Type: Messianic, educated in an almost totally unrelated branch of a similar subject, autodidact.
A physicist who was once not entirely unknown as a pioneer in cold fusion at BYU. After watching the World Trade Center collapse, he became an autodidact in metallurgy and structural engineering known as Mr. Thermite. Okay, he didn't actually take that name, it's what we like to call him because he's sure thermite was used as part of a controlled implosion. He too knows how much work and study go into becoming a recognized expert in a scientific field, so we'd imagine he's probably not interested in a farmer's ideas on making cold fusion work. Yet he's okay with doing the jobs of people who've spent just as much time in fields like structural engineering, as he has in nuclear physics. Instead of learning a few key concepts by taking more classes and being a devout Mormon, he said something along the lines of: "Fuck that noise man, I'm not starting over again, I already know everything I need to anyway."
Unfortunately, because he'd only heard of thermite and controlled implosion before deciding he was qualified to render his opinion: Dr. Jones doesn't seem to understand either how a controlled implosion actually works, or what thermite is and is not used for. Building demolition falls under the latter. Why? What the hell is thermite? Essentially a powdered metal mixed with another powdered metal/oxygen compound. In it's most common form thermite is just a mixture of rust, AKA iron oxide, and aluminum.
Thermite is really great if you, oh say, are trying to destroy classified equipment you'd rather not give to a foreign power. You know, like maybe North Korea just sort of suddenly goes all pirate on your spy ship, while it's in international waters. Or perhaps when a Chinese fighter collides with your spy plane during a Chinese Top Gun*** moment, forcing it to land in China. In those situations, a bunch of thermite can be placed on top of whatever you're trying to ruin, then ignited with a sparkler. Heat and gravity do the rest. The thermite becomes molten and, we quote: Approximately two minutes are required for the bomb to "spend itself", but the machine will be left burning furiously.
Thermite: Good for burnin', bad for explodin'
The gravity part is what makes thermite a stupid, stupid choice as a cutting charge. Well that and it's also not an explosive either, so even if you could arrange for gravity to somehow go sideways, it'd still take a few moments to burn though. Then there's the tiny matter of what a controlled implosion is, the instant and simultaneous severance of several key support columns. As mentioned before, thermite isn't instant.
The collapse pictured behind Dr. Jones is what happens when support columns on one floor suddenly can't support the eleven to thirty three floors above any longer. Those floors smashed their way down, tipping just a smidge as they did and spilling debr...
Hold it right there jerks, y'all are goin autodidact yourself on this one! I know you don't have a fraction of Doc Jones education on subjects like this!! Listen he...
NO, YOU LISTEN! First, welcome back, we thought you'd left. Second we're not the ones who put forth what we were saying when you interrupted. We're not that hypocritical. After all, here you are, reading about how experts in one field really ought to stick to it and leave other fields for other experts.
Behold the bane of Dr. Steven Earl Jones, a huge report on what happened, by experts in relevant fields known as the Federal Building and Fire Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster.
The secret of NIST: Light reading, in the sense that anything heavier would trap outgoing light.
Look, jerks, I'm not gonna read all that crap. Nobody can!
Don't be intimidated, most of those are appendi on topics as specific as types of steel used and the behavior/egress routes taken by survivors. Oh yeah, there are lots and lots of photos and illustrations too.
Appendi? Is that supposed to be the plural for appendix?
That's right, it both sounds and reads better than appendixes. Though maybe we can save you the trouble, and just summarize both sides.
You do see it in cases where upper floors are smashing through lower floors as in example B up there.
Dr. Jones essentially makes the same mistakes as the Littles, insofar as recognizing relevant information and sources. However there is also something else about him which makes his theories kind of dangerous: He's a PhD who talks about an actual event, in a totally ignorant way, thereby spreading false information people are willing to believe because
He's a damn doctor! A doctor of physics, the building was brought down with physics, it's his field!! For the love of Lucas, he's Dr. Jones, like Indiana Dr. Jones. You're a bunch of liars, and are in on this whole conspiracy. Nice try losers, you're not silencing me or Dr. Jones. Dangerous? You're the dangerous ones!! <Kicks a hole in the fourth wall and storms through, angry tears welling in red eyes, sobs issuing forth from a broken soul.>
That was a tad dramatic, but illustrates the danger we were mentioning: People are more likely to believe him, because he's a real scientist. The general public doesn't realize his area of physics is in a whole different area than those who actually deal with what causes buildings to collapse. So folks who really, REALLY want to believe the conspiracy will latch on to him like a Christian to Jesus. Ever tried questioning aspects of JC's life story by pointing out how ludicrous they are, when a Christian tries talking about WWJD? We don't recommend it, the conversation never ends well, and this is usually what happens when you question anyone's messiah. Even if he used to teach nuclear physics at BYU.
***We actually don't even use thermite for this purpose anymore, as of April 2001 at least. When a Chinese J-8 collided with an American EP-3, the crew was directed to pour hot coffee over sensitive equipment, and we don't mean this not so safe for work variety either. The EP-3 crew, poured all their coffee into the secret computers, made some new friends and got to eat REAL Chinese food while the real Chinese looked over our coffee stained spyplane. We tend to think activating a thermite bomb inside the plane and then getting off before it really gets going would've been better than hot coffee.
Grace Olive Wiley
Listen sweetie, just smile big, let the snake do it's thing, and you'll get your kid back.
Wind!? I'm on a mission from God, who gives a shit about the wind?
Type: Educated autodidact in cluster ballooning.
So if you've read this far, you're probably wondering how a man educated in the field he's endeavoring could be an autodidact. We'll tell you how, by ignoring the education offered in the class he took on it. Okay, so that maybe didn't make much sense either, here's what he did according to Air and Space magazine: De Carli registered at a flight school but refused to attend theory courses, including those on weather, and dismissed his instructors' warnings about prevailing winds.