Joel Spolsky's cognitive dissonance

I have a knack for spotting contradictions. It's a blessing and a curse. Mostly a curse.

Joel Spolsky 2012, when talking about New York City's Engineering High School (

"It means that any student who is interested can apply—their grades and attendance record are not taken into account in deciding whether or not to admit them, only their interest. I think this is the best thing about the school. A lot of kids are just not interested enough in other academic subjects to get good grades, but they would make great software engineers."

Joel Spolsky 2005, when talking about hiring software developers (

"Why should I, as an employer looking for software developers, care about what grade you got in European History? After all, history is boring. Oh, so, you're saying I should hire you because you don't work very hard when the work is boring? Well, there's boring stuff in programming, too. Every job has its boring moments. And I don't want to hire people that only want to do the fun stuff."

So what is, Joel? Do great software engineers need good grades in non-CS topics or not?

I don't want to hate on Joel too much. You and I aren't any different. There's psychological research demonstrating that people, especially intelligent ones, have unlimited capability of finding arguments to support whatever point they want to make.

Both Joels have good, even if leading to contradictory conclusions, points and they pick the point that better suits their current argument.
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