John Detlefs Programmer

A Note from the Author

In the last blog post I wrote the most common critique I received was that I alienated myself from most of my potential audience. In an email I expressed to my Summer of Code mentor Max Linke my problem:

My number one worry in all of these matters is coming off as unrigorous or pseudo-scientific, and I think I probably overcompensate by being borderline inaccessible. I think this stems from some time spent enjoying a lack of rigor and the fun that is being pseudo-scientific.

Cue Bill Nye making fun of Neil deGrasse Tyson for being full of it.

For a while, after perusing blogs and social media, I thought, “Hey, I strongly identify with this ‘impostor syndrome’ thing.” Now I realize that’s a pretty ignorant and borderline insulting view to have. From what I can tell, I may have insecurities, but the difference between my anxieties and people with who struggle with true ‘impostor syndrome’ is that someone has to have experience tangible evidence that they are an outsider. As a straight white male, I don’t have these problems. So I guess in the future I will refrain from letting these anxieties be confused with something more serious — I have it pretty easy.

Going further, as a student and a tutor I noticed that far too often when people were in over their heads, they would get quiet and close off to the outside world. Especially in my math classes; a professor could be explaining Jordan Normal Forms, reciting proofs and corollaries and lemmas as if they were gospel, and although everyone was baffled, they would stay quiet. Nobody likes it when someone dominates a lecture with their own questions and at the same time a lot of people have missed fundamentals out of fear of sounding stupid. If I’m ever asked in a job interview to give a personal strength, it would be that I ask questions that might seem stupid with reckless abandon. me in class

These posts are intended for people working to teach themselves a some difficult topics. I apologize for being obtuse and abstract and abstruse earlier. I will do my best to teach things from an intuition-first standpoint from here on and provide resources for refreshing on math and statistics topics. Please get in touch with me if something I say is unclear or wrong; this blog is as much for my own education as it is others.

-John