You Are What You Learn

From Scott Adams' often-wonky but always thought-provoking blog:

Have you ever wondered who you are? You're not your body, because living cells come and go and are generally outside of your control. You're not your location, because that can change. You aren't your DNA because that simply defines the boundaries of your playing field. You aren't your upbringing because siblings routinely go in different directions no matter how similar their start. My best answer to my own question is this:**

You are what you learn.
If all you know is how to be a gang member, that's what you'll be, at least until you learn something else. If you become a marine, you'll learn to control fear. If you go to law school, you'll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you'll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking.

I'm fascinated by the way a person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. People who study economics come out the other side thinking a different way from people who study nursing. And learning becomes a fairly permanent part of a person even as the cells in the body come and go and the circumstances of life change.

(via The Dilbert Blog)

I definitely emerged from my Economics degree a fundamentally different person than I was before it. I was somewhat analytical before, but now I can't help but see cost-benefit calculations, diminishing marginal returns, rational actors responding to incentives, and market inefficiencies all around me. On paper, my faculty didn't do much for me- I didn't graduate with honors or accolades, and I've never been quizzed on my Econ knowledge in a job interview- but I believe I owe a large part of my success during and since college to the thought patterns I learned from my Economics classes.