227 Comments

Awesome victory lap!

I think the case is already closed on online vs. traditional book learning. The volume of high quality, well curated resources available online dwarfs what even the best university libraries and lecture halls can provide.

Credentialing is a solvable problem. The software/IT world had to figure this out on its own because the universities were too slow to adapt, and high quality certifications are worth more than a degree in most technical fields (such that universities often focus on teaching to the certs and offer them in addition to or in lieu of internal exams).

Research and practical learning is where I see the biggest deficit. University and corporate labs provide access to tools and materials that independent learners simply cannot reproduce in a garage, no matter how big their patreon accounts are. Imagine trying to acquire your own human cadaver or test monkeys for your self-guided medical studies. And though I've seen a few people with their own electron microscopes and other high end lab equipment I don't think garage labs are going to be competitive or affordable any time soon. So the question is how to solve this problem? Hacker/makerspaces may be the right model in some cases.

Expand full comment
author

Yes, the lab question is one I don't have a great answer to. MarkS points it out elsewhere and I agree it's worth thinking about.

Makerspaces are probably great for engineering education. Probably better than many university labs in fact.

Medical education is a whole other question. No one's going to be carving up cardavers in their garage. Hospitals can likely take this on - as it is universities usually have affiliated teaching hospitals.

However, I don't think we need to have all the answers at once. It's more a matter of identifying what can be done outside the universities, building out that, and seeing where it goes.

Expand full comment
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

Medical students used to go in as a group and buy cadavers, apparently near the biggest universities during the Enlightenment there was a thriving business in selling bodies.

I would suspect that since the "big iron" physics and engineering is staffed in part by graduate students currently it will continue to be that way, with funding from the same granting institutes, or perhaps from industry.

I am not sure if you are aware of the writing of Terrence Kealey about the drawbacks of public funded science. He argues that the wash of government funding in science (and academia since that is the distribution point of the funds for the most point) results mal-allocations of funding away from the most promising and useful areas of knowledge to the most politically favored areas, it sucks the air out of the room from non-favored areas since the good money attracts the best minds (and all the others as well) and the best facilities and leaves the others to shrivel in neglect. Further, since funding cycles are typically very short term, it requires lots of off the cuff papers that might be better if considered and tested longer, and since there are so many papers so many will never be read, so the bad ones get lost in the archives.

In a way it is a sort of re-quoting of the concept of the Austrian business cycle in real world application without using any of the terms or economic theories of Mises.

Expand full comment
author

I'm not specifically aware of Kealey, but his argument seems valid. To add to this, once a large project has been started - CERB, ITER, the Shuttle program, etc - it is very difficult to end, because it has attracted the participation of so many people, whose careers are now dependent upon it. If that project turns out to be a blind alley they will do everything they can to avoid acknowledging this. Meanwhile absorbing funding that could be better used elsewhere. And of course the grant agencies don't actually care if results are achieved - so long as the necessary quantity of papers is published, all is well in their books.

Expand full comment
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

which is exactly Dr. Kealey's point!

He has written a number of books, and has lectures and is on various podcasts on YouTube as part of his book promotions/ He is good speaker and worth listening to. I recommend him to anyone.

Expand full comment
author

I will check him out.

Expand full comment
Jan 7Liked by John Carter

I was a participant member in arguably the original Silicon Valley makerspace Techshop in Palo Alto. The founder tried to franchise and expand and after moving from Palo Alto to San Francisco, I joined Techshop SF. Then they went bankrupt and I joined an SF gov sponsored makerspace that was super sleek, all new machinery.. and it floundered and departed.

I was also a member of a Santa Rosa makerspace that closed during Covid and never reopened. Currently a member of a Tucson makerspace, Xerocraft with crappy but useable machinery and a core of retired engineers.

I LOVE makerspaces. I’m an inventor and pro woodworker. Can’t afford the machinery or rent as a part timer. However, makerspace have huge financial problems. Those who use them cannot pay the costs, not even by subscription across large user bases for relatively simple machines like woodworking or metalworking. So, a socialized system is the only viable answer. Especially if you want expensive high tech research and development tools.

At all the makerspaces I have used, visited and surfed (50 at least) mostly silly crafty electronics stuff and after school programs for middle class kids. Also ppl doing auto projects on the cheap, or learning trades like welding. A mixed bag. For real R&D high end govt subsidized maker spaces are needed.

Also, sadly, all the makerspaces I’ve been in have been woke. The one in Tucson has a women and trans only night every Tuesday. Those identifying as male have to leave at 4pm to create the safe space for the ladies and huge fat guys named Rebecca or Maryanne. As a radical anti-everything I bite my tongue till blood flows.

Expand full comment
Jan 7Liked by John Carter

RE: woke makerspaces, this is why I don't attend the one in my local area. The hackerspace I used to frequent in (place where I lived last) was very nice. Grungy, messy, but had some great equipment and a lot of good guys with technical and life experience all over the map.

That difference is also why I'm not interested in govt/corpo-sponsored makerspaces. They're daycares for bugmen doubling as advertisements for their sponsors and their fancy gear. Soon as you get big money involved, bureaucracy comes with it because they all want to make sure they've put their name on something "safe", physically and emotionally, and good for the brand - meaning diverse, inclusive and equitable! Which means nothing real will ever get done there.

Expand full comment
author

I have essentially zero experience with makerspaces, but.

Could there be a correlation between wokeness, state funding, and financial nonviability? Grant-sucking tends to mean woke, woke means incompetent, incompetence is incompatible with viability. Public funding tends to destroy viability in other ways. Plus woke tends to drive away participants, particularly the competent ones who could make it viable.

Expand full comment
Jan 8Liked by John Carter

It's probably some sort of suck feedback effect yeah.

I was pretty jacked to check out aforementioned local one since they had a big list of shiny equipment and a lot of space, but then I read through their rules... Expecting simple safety guidelines and no politics / no religion type rules like you normally find. Instead found an HR manual about a mile long and didn't care to memorize the words, gestures, and faces I couldn't make while present, nor did I feel like wrapping myself in six inches of foam padding and duct tape to comply with safety rules, nor did I want to wait my turn (potentially for weeks) to use a single piece of equipment, to make way for all the special people who get priority...

Anyway, dumpster fire of suck.

Expand full comment
author

These people ruin every space they enter. Open source software and literally the entirety of academic science also come to mind.

Expand full comment
Jan 8Liked by John Carter

Yeah...

Expand full comment

Bingo, you've hit on the teeny-weeny little problem with Mr. Carter's autodidacticism, namely that the most important learning (to the future of US society) that goes on in universities is hands-on, happens in physical labs (zoom labs during the pandemic were a total joke), and needs a shit-ton of expensive equipment.

Expand full comment
author

Yes, zoom labs were a joke. Engineering and physics students got screwed - I know this first hand and was very upset about it.

Interesting that you just sort of glide over Fukitol's excellent suggestion of makerspaces being used for technical training, though.

Expand full comment

Won't work at scale. If it did, we should be seeing rapidly rising economic conditions in third-world countries. But that's not happening.

Expand full comment
author

Consider that the populations of third world countries - I assume you're talking mainly about Africa - may be the most salient aspect to this.

Expand full comment

Well I'm mostly thinking about South and Central America, where the universiites exist but generally aren't very good. But also Africa, sure. If you think those populations are just dumber than us, well, that's definitely a hypothesis, but I think it's much more likely that your distributed mentorship model just doesn't work at scale.

Hey, I've got an idea! Let's burn down the US universities and find out!

Expand full comment
author

The research on IQ differences between human subvariants is ironclad. One might disagree as to cause, but the fact of those differences is beyond dispute. Ditto consequences for per cap GDP.

Again, I believe you are missing the point, and rather obtusely at that. It is not that I advocate burning the universities; it is that they are already on fire.

Do you happen to work at one?

Expand full comment
founding
Jan 5·edited Jan 5Pinned

Ackman's gambit is almost certainly part of a wider, more ambitious, initiative. Higher education is a vast industrial sector in its own right and the US government is heavily involved in financing it. Overt direction/regulation risks phenomenal pushback, covert direction/regulation by way of selectively targeting key institutions for a scandal enables the key players in the Deep State and key industry stakeholders to make progress.

Ackman is a hedge fund owner. Those guys are plugged in to serious power networks. He would not make a public move as controversial as this without backing from within the oligarchy and the Deep State. He would be well aware of the implications of DEI for both finance and industry. The great DEI experiment of South Africa (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) was vigorously supported by the US and has crippled South Africa. The more prudent elements of the US leadership class can see where such things are heading and are proactively preparing to curtail DEI in key areas.

The underlying motivation for the scandal would be to prepare the sector for future change. The re-industrialisation of North America requires a serious technical and research skills-base. If I am right we will see some positive developments in key institutions like the National Science Foundation, NASA or DARPA. Change is certainly easier now that the public is aware of the size and gravity of the problem.

Expand full comment
author

I hope, and suspect, that you're correct. There has been precious little sanity from the inebriated ruling class for some time now. If the adults are making a play for power much good could be accomplished.

Expand full comment
founding
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

Also the crisis in academia has profound implications for the bottom line...especially in high tech, biomedicine/pharmacy and anything downstream from research. You can bet that leading industrialists and their minions would have a pitilessly accurate understanding of the quality of graduates.

Expand full comment
author

Absolutely. Of course, that only matters insofar as a research corporation isn't itself a grift *cough* Theranos *cough*

Expand full comment

Do you really think that leading industrialists have this understanding? I rather doubt it to be honest. "Leading industrialists" these days rarely have a clue about the actual work of the industries they are leading, nor do they ever encounter the graduates, nor would they be capable of evaluating their work, nor even comparing it to previous generations of graduates with whom the leading industrialists never interacted either.

"Leading industrialists" tend to emerge from Wall Street, and their expertise is in politics and financial wizardry (or perhaps possibly in patent law) rather than engineering and manufacturing.

And in any case, the graduates that really matter - especially in high tech - are the ones who wll emerge unscathed through this, or any, system; the ones brighter than their teachers in the first place and for whom therefore teachers are merely decorative adornments to their learning stories.

Expand full comment
founding
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

Good points, but captains of industry typically get advice from people who do know what they are talking about and the talent at the top of major firms, especially multinationals, is often impressive.

Expand full comment
founding
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

I am assuming that people with that much skin in the game have simply been preoccupied by making money and wary of getting into anything as dirty as politics so they neglected things. Now the system is undeniably at risk they need to get serious ASAP. Seeing the US turn into another Venezuela was viable only as long as China remained a compliant US sweat-shop. Also there is no denying that the US scientific/technical strengths have been depleted and increasing female participation rates is not going to turn anything round.

All of this should have happened at least 25 years ago. Metaphorically Mount Doom is smoking and the regime Nazgul are racing against time. Given white fertility rates the main game now should be to fortify everything, including institutions, while the opportunity to do so is available. By the time Malia Obama is ready for the presidency or Prince Archie is getting his first tattoo (Harriet Tubman or Bob Marley) or transitioning will be way too late.

Expand full comment
author

"Also there is no denying that the US scientific/technical strengths have been depleted and increasing female participation rates is not going to turn anything round."

If anything, the opposite. Filling STEM with women is crippling it.

You're right that the time to act was a generation ago. eugyppius said basically the same thing. That's why I tend towards thinking that saving the institutions is too late, that's it more of a salvage operation at this point. Breaking them down and using the spare parts and viable human capital to build again.

One of the big challenges in the US is civil rights law, which practically forces DIE at gunpoint. This is part of why I advocate a more decentralized approach: informal networks of independent scholars are essentially immune to such legal pressures.

Of course that calculation might change if an elite faction makes a successful power play to shut the DIE system down.

Expand full comment
founding
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

Key long term trends were very obvious by the early 90s. Around then the NSF published a study on the displacement of US students from graduate science because of immigration...all the incentives were to bring in overseas doctoral students. But it was a supremely unpopular fact and things are vastly worse now.

Expand full comment
author

From what I've seen the grad student pipeline has been filled with a mixture of uninspired Asian grinders and women with green hair and pronouns. I've also heard that diversity statements are starting to expand to grad school applications. All reasons why I'm skeptical the system can be saved. There's a bolus of undeserving people working its way through the system that would need to be expelled.

Expand full comment
founding
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

You can bet your life that the most toxic of the green hairs will be entrenched in research mgt positions for life and will sabotage anyone with better claims to being active within science.

Expand full comment

What incentives leaned in favour of overseas doctoral students, specifically?

Expand full comment
founding
Jan 8Liked by John Carter

It has been many years, but the principal incentive in the 80s and 90s was financial. Grad students in STEM from China were prepared to work for a lot less than US born ones. I will never forget one case I read about concerning a poor woman who spent years working in the canteens at Yale or Harvard to finance herself while working for free in the labs. The exploitation was breathtaking.

Expand full comment

In my doctoral research I cited an author from the 1950s who had TWO papers to his hame. Just two.

And the papers were readable.

Need to bring back those days.

Fast science is like fast food.

There is supposed to be a leisure of the theory class, not a multi decade hazing to the point where the aspiring theorist is burned out before he can finally theorize deeply.

Expand full comment
author

There's also the famous case of Higgs, who barely wrote at all, but wrote one of the most important physics paper of the last several decades. He's on record stating that he'd never have gotten a job under the present system.

Unfortunately leisure is a very difficult thing to achieve, absent wealth; and absent inheritance, no one is just going to hand you wealth. Professionalized research is therefore very likely incompatible with leisure.

Expand full comment

I wonder if we even need revamped standardized testing in this new model. I think you could make a good argument for the superiority of apprenticeships as a test of real world competence. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is the ability to perform.

Expand full comment
author

Depends on the subject tbh. If we're talking multivariable calculus, standardized testing is the way to go.

Expand full comment

As a BSEE, I must agree with Mr. Carter.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

You all know that college does NOT prepare you for a job "in your field," right? At least not at the level where you're expected to do real work. Of course, if you're getting hired into management, you don't have to know anything, because nothing is expected of you, other than torturing the real workers under you.

Expand full comment
author

Believe me, I am very aware of this.

Expand full comment

It provides a foundation of knowledge and principle, and the ability to learn; assuming the student brings the willingness to learn. I learned more about my future job as a co-op than I did in college, but I also needed the education to understand what I learned how to do.

Expand full comment
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

Apprenticeships, in the original medieval sense, were as much about teaching adolescents how to live as adults, as about teaching skills.

Expand full comment

Congratulations, John. You prayed away the Gay.

Expand full comment
author

Let none gainsay the power of prayer

Expand full comment

I dunno. True, the wicked witch just had a bucket of water dumped on her, but let's see if DIE is extirpated before we hold that victory parade. Could just be a lateral move: Yagoda to Yezhov.

DIE seems to be a central pillar of this evil leftist movement, I have a hard time believing they'll surrender it so easily.

Expand full comment
author

Oh DIE isn't going to die because of this. This is a single small victory in a much larger war. As I tried to emphasize. destroying DIE requires the entire academy, and a great deal beside, be dismantled.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

What is so outrageous (and dangerous) about this incident imo is the same reason it will eventually implode:

They can't even think of how to make plagiarism look novel.

Pretty sure I could've done that in 4th grade. One, because I would've sensed "something" was wrong about it, and two...I'd rather not be shamed for being so stupid.

It's not just that they can't build upon knowledge of those prior to them; its that they can't think deep enough to understand prior accumulated knowledge.

Why?

Because university has weeded out true intellectual prowess:

Knowledge about knowledge.

In other words they've selected against wisdom, ergo novelty.

Benjamin Button Academia can't go below ZERO

Expand full comment
author

+++

Expand full comment

Gay's shamelessness is truly incredible, followed closely by her laziness in lifting entire sentences, without tweaking them.

We have nothing but frauds atop our society. They deserve zero respect or deference.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

"I'd rather not be shamed..."

That right there is the difference between you and them; they belong to a movement (in the sense of Zeigeist) where shame is objectively wrong, because the source and feeling of shame is to them simply more proof of someone projecting power onto them.

(If you've read Foucault at all, that's where it comes from: he needed to rationalise his pedophile urges to reconcile himself with himself, so he could be a homosexual pedophile without feeling shame.)

You, as I and I susupect most of mr Carter's readership, have a cultivated sense of shame. They (the Gays and DEIs) have purposefully removed theirs.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

remember my pseudo-diatribe on Bray's stack about why we need shame...and what happens without healthy shame?

case in point

Expand full comment

Interesting. I've thought a bit about that. Shame is essential to a healthy society, I believe.

Did it start with Clinton? At the time of his dalliance and subsequent lies under oath, I kept telling myself that he would have to resign. That was the decent thing to do. It was, and Bill lacked all decency. His forces rallied to excuse and defend the indefensible...shamelessness became chic.

Expand full comment
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

Agree 100%.

This is a byproduct of a society where it's no longer acceptable for someone to feel "healthy" shame and/or guilt for being a loser (in both senses). That can not be taught into existence through a textbook or in a safe-space. It has to be felt/experienced. The capacity to feel that is there for a reason. It is the equivalent of that one noxious smell that you will never forget, but also requires stimulation, from time to time during development, or the association of the smell and what CAUSED it become disjointed-leaving just the smell.

Expand full comment

Very good.

Failure and humiliation are great teachers, for those willing to honestly reflect on it and learn.

Expand full comment

Shame is not an obstacle when your sole focus is power and using that power to crush perceived enemies.

Expand full comment

Spending a few years engaged in the business of teaching adults has left me rather cynical about education as a whole, I'm afraid. Yes, it's a good thing but it's also a good thing that most people just don't want. The problem with education is neither a lack of resources of opportunities, the problem is a widespread lack of curiosity.

Right now, on this here internet, there is more accumulated knowledge and information than any previous generation or civilisation has ever possessed or even dreamed of possessing. And, despite it being mere fingertips away, most of it lies fallow.

In my experience, most people don't know anything and don't want to know anything. What they want is a piece of paper that will enable them to get a job. That's it. Outside of that, they want to know just enough to operate a dish-washer and that's about all. Try to engage them in a conversation about, say, history, literature, science, philosophy and watch their eyes glaze over.

This is why I think JC is correct that the academy is not going anywhere anytime soon. The plurality of people don't go there to actually learn anything because they don't want to learn anything. All they want is that piece of paper and if that means staying in the good books of the howler-monkeys who run these places, well that's just a small price to pay.

Expand full comment
author

You're correct. Most students, and for that matter most academics, are profoundly incurious, and are engaged in "scholarship" as an elaborate signaling mechanism.

Which is why I propose an alternative credentialing system.

I may well be too polyannish about the ability of scholars to survive outside the ivory tower. The demand may well not exist to support them all on the open market. However: that's a good thing. Just as most students have no business being students, the vast majority of academics have no business being scholars.

Expand full comment

Your scheme would reduce the US to third-world status under the thumb of China. Smart kids in the US would do everything possible to get to China and study there.

Expand full comment
author

You mean it would reduce the US to the status it already occupies?

Expand full comment

You really think the US is currently the same as, say, El Salvador?

No, the fact of the matter is that there is a LONG way further down to go. And closing all US universities would get us there faster than pretty much anything else I can think of.

Right now there is a HUGE number of Chinese students in US universities (almost all studying STEM), and a tiny number of US students in Chinese universities. You really think reversing that is going to IMPROVE the US?

Expand full comment
author

You're acting like I'm the dictator of education here. I'm not. I'm a dude standing outside a burning building, saying "well, that can't be saved, but we're going to need a replacement because that building served an important purpose."

Expand full comment

And my point is that the burning (actually more like smoldering) building is not going to fall over any time soon, and if it did, it would be really REALLY bad.

Look at past and present totalitarian regimes (Soviet Russia, modern China): the universities are where the bulk of the resistance lives.

Talk to any Russian scientist who emigrated to the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union. You think things would have been better there with some broadly distributed mentroship network? No, it would have been way worse, because resisters would have been spread too thin to provide mutual support.

Yeah, it's fun to burn things down. Living in the ashes for decades afterward is a lot less fun.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

The basic problem is one of dishonesty. A professor polled my undergraduate class as to who was willing to cheat on exams. Every student raised their hand except me as a lifetime learner. The actual knowledge and skills are unimportant to them. The only thing that matters to them is the morterboard and degree. They will stoop to anything to achieve this. This attitude continues through grad school and beyond. It is only when placed in a spot where they can't cheat and must actually demonstrate intellectual competence that the gaping hole in their intellect is exposed, as in the case of Gay.

Expand full comment
author

Cs and Ds get degrees, as they say.

Making a degree essential to getting a job means that education is treated as a means to the end; insofar as the education itself has nothing to do with the job, it becomes even less important. This breeds dishonesty.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

> theories [...] that cannot, by their very nature, be falsified.

Those are properly called «doctrines».

«Climate change» is not a theory, it's a doctrine as it can explain anything.

To be fair, many «conspiracy theories» are not theories either.

Expand full comment
author

An excellent point. Yet another way in which the lexicon has been polluted.

Expand full comment

Post Modernism/Critical Theory/Social Justice/whatever *needs* to push unfalsifiable doctrines, or the whole thing is seen for the nonsense it is. Try asking, for example, what "gender identity" is - if you get an answer at all, it will be a welter of unfalsifiable assertions. I've pointed out elsewhere that, by this point, there would be a "Trans For Dummies" if there was anything concrete upon which to base it. The absence of such a thing serves to undermine the very notion of the doctrine/ideology. The same can be applied to just about any other "Critical" "Theory" (thanks for this, John!), since neither word means what it claims to.

Expand full comment

“Forcing Fake and Gay’s resignation was not, you see, a win for the forces of the true, the beautiful, and the good”.

Right. Because in her new job she will be teaching undergraduates, where she can do more fake and gay damage than she did as the leader.

Hillsdale College in MI has a terrific catalogue of online courses. All free for the general public. With quizzes and tests that must be completed to move on to the next lecture.

I just completed the two courses on the Constitution. I practiced law for 25 years. I took Con Law 1 and Con Law 2 in Law School and had the highest and 3rd highest grade in those courses, respectively. I didn’t have many cases with Constitutional issues, but enough to dip my toes. I learned more from the Hillsdale courses than from Law School or from practice.

It can be done.

Expand full comment

It wasn't because of her refusal to condemn Armenian genocide before Congress on Dec. 9 (or the outrage that caused among all those Armenian legacy donors that control nothing) that she was forced to resign and was replaced by an Armenian. It was the plagiarism which is entirely uncommon among token hires, almost non-existent. Cough. Cough.

Expand full comment
author
Jan 4·edited Jan 4Author

Heh. Obviously, Jewish pressure played a big role here.

But that alone wasn't sufficient. Nor would the plagiarism have been, I think. The combination, on the other hand, successfully mobilized two powerful groups, and brought her down.

But don't let me stop you from thinking of this as a giant L.

Expand full comment

What Jewish pressure? Ask your doctor if Noticinol is right for you John.

https://twitter.com/Dannyjokes/status/1741199037137657971

Expand full comment
author

Kek

Expand full comment
Jan 5Liked by John Carter

Def need Noticinol! My doc won’t prescribe. Trying the dark web...

Expand full comment

Regular strength or extra strength?

Expand full comment

To illustrate just how far America has fallen in just 20 years, the University of Notre Dame fired its head football coach (George O'Leary) shortly after hiring him when it was discovered that he had embellished his academic record. Gay received a vote of support from the Harvard board despite her egregious failings.

The complete lack of integrity of those who find themselves atop government, academia, medicine, etc. is the rot eating away at Western Civilization. It was hilarious to read Gay bemoan the fact that the little people were sowing doubts about "experts" and weakening trust in institutions. This level of obtuseness is truly awesome to behold. The self-righteous lack the capacity for self-reflection.

Expand full comment
author

They never seem to notice that it is their dishonesty that has destroyed faith in institutions. No, of course not - it's the people noticing it that are the problem.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

remember when obama’s academic records from occidental, columbia, and harvard were open for public review? now you know why? published nothing while pres of harvard law review. did he actually do anything at any if those institutions of higher learning? did he also plagiarize? was he admitted as foreign student? 🤔😏

Expand full comment
author

The academic credentials of the so-called elite mean about as much as the military decorations on the chests of contemporary European nobility.

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

Or the military deco's on that US Admiral Queenie type that wears a dress. What did it achieve? A panty twister award...? I just read that LinkedIn has opined that the Day of the Degree is done (✔️ onomatopoeia for the day, check,). That a single, static degree is useless as soon as the course has ended. The 🎓 bighats are outdated, slow, invested in legacy tech and by defo alone, can not create courses for as yet unknown uses/industries. You right, Johnno, YouTurd & a couple of bangers on t'other side of t'woild & ... PRESTO! The Unknown. 👁

Expand full comment
author

Yeah the fruit salad on the chests of America's Very Modern Major-Generals is an excellent example of empty fluff signifying nothing but the desire to signify.

And also, yes, the tech industry figured out the problems with credentialism a while ago.

Expand full comment

"... America's... Modern Major-Generals ... " phfff! Nice try, buster 😉

Expand full comment

As a UK citizen and ex undecorated member of “His Majesty’s Armed Forces “ this observation is perfect.

Expand full comment

It's no secret, Obummer was our first AA president

Expand full comment
Jan 4Liked by John Carter

**Half white Kenyan president

Expand full comment

Raze Academia from K-PhD.

It was a mistake.

Happy 2024.

Expand full comment

Great article JC. Thanks.

In reference to your comment about credentialing problems, the most obvious answer seems to me that demonstrated competency in a free market is the answer. Perhaps that's a bit impractical in the current climate, but going forward would be a logical goal. IMO, that's how it should work.

I loved the meme about the collider and points made about such wasteful endeavors.

Expand full comment
author

Demonstrating competence is precisely the proper function of a credential. No one really cares about credentials for established professionals; it's for those who are just getting started that they matter.

Expand full comment

Credentials and loyalty are what gets one up the ladder, not demonstrated competency, as the general public has witnessed with Gay. As things stand now, that's SOP, even if right-minded folk know better.

Expand full comment
author

Honestly I don't think credentials even have much to do with it anymore.

Expand full comment

Credentials are granted for loyalty to the cause. They're fake and gay. But they're part of the Expertocracy (technocracy) narrative that most of the general public still acknowledges, unfortunately. In the corporate world, they're still considered important even if they're not legitimately earned. In such circumstances, earning credentials signal loyalty to TPTB or are granted after proving same, either way reflecting a lack of actual competency, lack of personal integrity or some combination thereof.

I have seen growing pockets of employers who don't require degrees, but the job market as a whole isn't there yet. It's not quite as bad as it used to be, but it's still the predominant school of thought in HR departments worldwide.

Expand full comment
author

There are also growing pockets of the public who roll their eyes at credentials. This incident here grew all of those pockets, by a lot.

Expand full comment

It's interesting that academia and using social media/self-publishing to escape it can potentialy lead to the same trap - where you are stuck writing for a core audience that may want its biases confirmed.

In academia (and I'm thinking humanities/social sciences because I dont know enough about the science, economics, etc. spaces), its the turgid journal article game, where you just know that certain arguments are verbotem, and you essentially lend your voice to the echo chamber. If you don't, you won't be passing the blind readers and/or the editorship. Some interesting, off-beat stuff still makes it through, but it's a minimal imprint. It all becomes a giant circle-jerk where only minor, non-"controversial" points are contested within an ideological framework that goes unchallenged.

In self-publishing, I can well imagine that a writer might run into the same problem. You may have a particular viewpoint, and a select group of readers love that viewpoint - if you then step oustide of that viewpoint (or clutch of topics), that core group (or at least a sizable enough bunch) may then leave. Maybe something akin to a band opting for a new creative direction. They feel the need but know its a big risk - and their livelihood depends on it.

But anyhow, I think the academy is in big trouble because of what digital space now offers. The credentialling game is the last trump card it can cling to. But even so, other troubles beckon - AI probably being the most pressing.

Expand full comment
author

Audience capture is definitely a huge pitfall. However, it's one that people are very aware of, and it's actually fairly easy to avoid: simply don't be a niche writer, and don't just constantly repeat yourself, and thereby attract a diverse readership. Cultivating a general ethos of 'I don't care what you think' also helps.

Whereas grant committee capture is essentially impossible to avoid in the legacy system.

Expand full comment

Yeah, I think that's right - in self-publishing you at least have some room to figure out how you want to play the game. In academia, the game is pretty much set in stone.

Expand full comment
author

Precisely. Further, in the academy, the rules are not set by market demand, but by remote authorities over whom you have no influence whatsoever.

Expand full comment