Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Today, while my son was signing up for additional educational debt, I asked him, "Now that you have a degree, are you still impressed by them?"

His response: "No, not really."

That statement made me so proud. If he learns nothing but this, then his time in college was worth it.


My house is full of books. All but a smattering of them have been read. I think that learning is a wonderful thing. And it sometimes surprises people when I express my opinion that a college education does not benefit everyone and that it doesn't benefit society in the slightest to require it of everyone or shame those who do not pursue it.

Nothing drives this home more effectively than actually going to college -- even for a while -- and paying attention while you're doing it. I think that for some people, nothing demonstrates the severe limitations of a college education more than getting one. Education is neither intelligence nor knowledge. Achieving a degree is the beginning of an education, not the end of one. It is not an indicator of encyclopedic knowledge of a subject. It's only an indicator that you have been instructed in how to approach the subject and demonstrated that you have absorbed this to your instructors' satisfaction... maybe only marginally so. But frankly, it doesn't indicate whether you have actually done so.

If you have an education, understand that anything you got in a classroom can be gotten outside of it. As you should well know, your own education took place inside your head or not at all. You have no idea what is in someone else's head until you talk with them, and their ideas are to be judged on their own merits. There are people who treat a degree as a table of contents for their brain, and who act as though the lack of a degree is the same as a lack of content. Don't be that person... sooner, rather than later, you will regret it.

If you don't have a higher education, or can't afford it, don't let that stop or discourage you in the least. Do not let it diminish your confidence. The Internet and your library are full of resources. The rest is supplied by you alone. But once you have established that you want to learn, then the very next thing you should do... something that embarrassingly few college students master... is to learn to reason. Before you apply your mind to anything else it's vitally important that you learn about logical fallacies; about the application of reason; about the scientific method; about the difference between religion and superstition; about Rhetoric. These should be required learning in the first year at any college, and they are not. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this gives you a huge advantage. Do not let a degree intimidate you when you believe the person holding it is wrong. Make them prove their point. Appeal to authority is not proof.

The title of this piece is "Wisdom", but it contains no wisdom; rather, it's about wisdom. It's a reminder that the beginning of wisdom is a greater respect for ideas than authority. You don't know anything about a person until you've talked to them with respect. That goes for everyone.

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