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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Phil Sandifer explains the PhD lottery

And why it is best avoided. Let it not be said that the man has never written anything sensible:
At the end of my last class of the semester, one of my best students - one who, out of some tragically misguided instinct, actually took a class with me a second time because he enjoyed it - came up to tell me that he’d had a good semester but didn’t think he was going to re-enroll next semester. I asked why, and he explained that he had a job lined up in the family business and just couldn’t justify the loans.

Years of defending academia and the value of a college education reared up inside of me, ready to make an impassioned speech. I wanted to tell him not to. And… I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Because he was right. I could not in good conscience tell one of my best students that it was worth the loans. And in hindsight, that was the moment I decided I was well and truly done with academia.

I had been going to take one last stab at the job market this fall. With the Flood book done and maybe one or two more articles in process, and maybe even a book deal on an edited version of my dissertation. Just to answer the question, one last time, of whether I could make it in academia.

Which is, as it happens, terribly silly. Academia is not a meritocracy. It’s a lottery, in which the grand prize - a tenure track position - is dangled over the heads of everybody so that we agree to work for the appalling wages that adjunct faculty get.... Meanwhile, the odds on tenure track appointments are astonishingly grim. It’s not unusual for a job to get five hundred applicants. There were, last year, maybe two dozen jobs in my field.
This lack of employability also tends to explain why educated SJWs have so much time to comment so prolifically at File 770 and elsewhere.

I find it very interesting that both Dr. Sandifer and I have reached precisely the same conclusion about higher education, despite our vastly different perspectives. Then again, we probably have very different ideas about the solution, as his likely involves increasing the demand whereas mine would involve eliminating the larger portion of the supply.

In any case, the best way to be done with academia is to avoid starting with it unless it is necessary for your job.

Labels:

91 Comments:

Blogger Salt June 13, 2015 11:56 AM  

Kudos to Sandifer.

Anonymous Tom June 13, 2015 12:02 PM  

Voddie Baucham (Vox, if you don't know him you would probably love him) gave a terrific talk at our homeschooling conference recently entitled "Harvard or Heaven" that took a more spiritual approach to the question. But, his slides about the financial impracticality didn't raise any eyebrows. He went through and tore to shreds the cost and the types of degrees that were available. "Film Studies, Black Studies, Women's Studies, anything with the word Studies in it, useless!" was a great quote.

Anonymous Not-So-Merry zen0 June 13, 2015 12:16 PM  

Hey Dr. Phil,

I have a great employment idea for you that requires your skillz.

You could become a Street Philosopher. You could entertain people with your verbiage. They will probably pay you to go away.

Anonymous anonimo June 13, 2015 12:16 PM  

You were really digging through his back catalog, weren't you?

Blogger hank.jim June 13, 2015 12:17 PM  

PHD's have low value in the market place. Attempting it is a waste of resources in most cases. The PHD track is a few courses and a final dissertation that takes years to achieve. A bachelor's degree is usually sufficient. I know even that is useless, but nothing is more useful than a high school degree. Funny that we need to invest in a bachelor's degree to prove competence.

Blogger VD June 13, 2015 12:25 PM  

You were really digging through his back catalog, weren't you?

No, I went there to read the transcript and the Farewell to Academia title caught my eye. I didn't need to do any research for the debate, other than reading THE WASP FACTORY. That was way more than I wanted to do already.

Blogger Beefy Levinson June 13, 2015 12:31 PM  

I volunteer with the youth ministry at the local parish. One night I said to the kids, "Can you provide a clear explanation for why college is necessary for your professional goals? If you can't or if you don't know what you want to do yet, then you must not go to college right out of high school." The youth minister got some angry phone calls from parents over that one, but the kids said it was one of the best things they ever heard.

Blogger rcocean June 13, 2015 12:40 PM  

The fact is that Liberal professors produce nothing of literary value in terms of criticism or anything else. I like Phil, but I can't think of any student getting anything out of his classes except the old tired cultural Marxism and lots of blather about race, gender, and class. The entire American liberal arts professorship is rotten to the core and long ago devolved into well compensated racket for a bunch of leftists. For example, having just read "Tender is the night" I went to our local very large college library to find a book literary criticism of same and Fitzgerald. Almost every book on the subject published after 1975 is unreadable drek full of academic jargon and cultural marxism.

Blogger Daniel June 13, 2015 12:41 PM  

You didn't need to do any more research about the debate, because Phil actually stuck to the topic of debate. Sadly these days, that is a noble thing.

In any case, I think that Phil has the opportunity to learn something about potential new markets for his future books based off that debate. Be interesting to see if he actually will.

He is definitely dead on about academia; if you are in it and don't see it as an amusing and daft circus, get out, because the brass rings and intellectual stimulation are buried under the school's long forgotten founding mottos.

Anonymous RedJack #22 June 13, 2015 12:52 PM  

He is almost reasonable there.

Anonymous The other robot June 13, 2015 12:57 PM  

Perhaps Phil could write a story about a black market in organs of a certain type.

It could be about poaching or organ-legging in a manner that Larry Niven never thought of.

Anonymous TLM June 13, 2015 12:57 PM  

One of my children is currently being recruited by several universities for athletics. The facilities on these visits have been very impressive, as well as the paid staff dedicated to keeping the athletes eligible and so on. My guess is that if it wasn't for all the federal student loan dollars that keep pouring in from the student body many of these schools wouldn't be able to afford more than a trolling motor in a bathtub for therapy equipment and such as in Major League.

I've made it clear to my children that they will learn more from six months working with me at my business then they ever will in some over-priced classroom at most any university. And they know I won't be financing their college educations if they fail to land an athletic or academic scholarship. With modern technology I see on-site classroom learning as a long outdated concept.

I do feel sad for these young kids coming out of college with massive debts that can never be discharged for something as useless as a communications degree. Their parents failed them in that regard, but after a few semesters, it's something they should have realized on their own.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet June 13, 2015 12:58 PM  

VD,

I half hear the solution coming from his angle: many more tenure positions to fulfill the promises and better wages for the rest.

Tuition must be raised? Well, a little, because you can get everything you're promised now. Or make it all tax-payer funded.

Problems solved.

Anonymous The other robot June 13, 2015 1:00 PM  

Peter alludes to sturm und drang at Tor.

Blogger Cail Corishev June 13, 2015 1:01 PM  

Let it not be said that the man has never written anything sensible:

This time, he was trying to convey information and hoped to be understood.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza June 13, 2015 1:08 PM  

Zeno probably watched the skit of the history of the world, fall of Rome, regarding the philosophy angle.

No, the edu-debt-serfdom is a sin to ensnare the youth who do not understand those dysmiseducating you want to you fail. They dont want you to have anything but grief, debt and frustration with this absurd failed post american labor farce.

Throw your yoke off, disown, disavow these losers in academia, all they offer are lies. The Lord will uphold his own, we dont need all this college henhouse nonsense.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza June 13, 2015 1:10 PM  

Other countries uphold their youth, educate them with real values, honor and skillz at near zero or very low cost.

A country values their youth or wishes to ruin them, post americana ruined their youth but the Lord shall uphold his own in what is a labor farce.

Blogger Tommy Hass June 13, 2015 1:11 PM  

Over here, you have to pay around 350€ per semester.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Blogger darkdoc June 13, 2015 1:11 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Jeff Y June 13, 2015 1:12 PM  

Pretty much my story exactly, just in math not language arts.

I'm soon establishing educational funds for my twin three-year old boys. I'm requiring them to achieve certification in at least one trade (So far, I've specified welding, plumbing, HVAC, diesel mechanics, and electrician.), before they can use the funds for college.

They also get an extra $15k for any use they wish, if they establish a track record in a personal combat or shooting sport. Military service automatically qualifies. Notice they could become Marine HVAC techs or diesel mechanics, and fully qualify for all the funds plus have the educational funds from the Marines. That's intentional.

Also, they can trade in the funds to start a business, instead of going to college. (Turns out this is the tricky part, for tax reasons.) If they go the Marine route, that might be the smartest way to play it. The Marines will pay for college; my fund pays for their business start-up.

I want to send the message to my boys that there are alternatives to college, you will like some of them, and you can always go to college later in life for reasons other than an occupation, and - you can be bookish, you can even be a bit nerdy, but you can't be a pussy.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza June 13, 2015 1:13 PM  

Hey, SJW's are not well enough to actually work so they have plenty of time to attempt to stress out people who dont care about their nonsense or lies unless we have to reign in their dysinfo.

As for this small weak woman, the labor farce dont want, gatekeepers rule and now I'm not well enough to work, so its all grand.

Blogger darkdoc June 13, 2015 1:13 PM  

I think, therefore I bot.

Blogger Danby June 13, 2015 1:14 PM  

Let it not be said that the man has never written anything sensible:

This time, he was trying to convey information and hoped to be understood.

I would say rather that the truth broke through. Phillip is not stupid, as such things are accounted. He has a brain, and he writes clearly because for one shining moment, the truth broke through his defenses. He realized he'd been a patsy, sold a bill of goods, hanging on to a thing (an academic career) that was not going to come through and was impeding his progress in life.

If only we could get him to savor those moments instead of desperately avoid them.

Anonymous Anonymous June 13, 2015 1:17 PM  

I was in academia, considering an academic career about 20 years ago. I didn't pursue it (for a variety of reasons: fit, my experience with academia, academia's experience with me, and others), but even then, a simple mathematical formula struck me.
If each faculty advisor has one mentor in a given year, and that advisor works for say 25 years, he is training 25 replacements for himself. Growth may take up some of the slack, and the private sector may take up some of the slack (moreso in the sciences than in Arts and Sciences). But the essential math is against you.

PhD's made sense when not many people wanted to get them. When so many people want to get them, they don't make sense any more. Very simple supply and demand.

anonymousse

Blogger IM2L844 June 13, 2015 1:30 PM  

mine would involve eliminating the larger portion of the supply.

This is why you and the murderous Evil Brain-in-a-jar make a great team.

Blogger VFM bot #188 June 13, 2015 1:38 PM  

Fuck you, Phil Sandifer.

Fuck you for trying to break a culture I love. Fuck you for doing it to serve your stupid, lame SJW ideology. More to the point, fuck you for your stupid, lame SJW ideology. Your beliefs are horrible. You’re horrible. You’re a nasty, cruel SJB asshole, and I do not like you.

Fuck you for making this minion feel that way. Fuck you for the way you’ve helped bring this thing that I love, this great country and great civilization, to a point where it is full of the sort of mean and hateful desires that seem to animate you and all SJW's. Fuck you for dragging us all down to your sorry SJW level. Fuck you for being so odious that we must fight to you and all SJW's to save our culture and our civilization.

And fuck you for making me have to deal with your hatred. Unlike SJW's, normal people do not thrive on power and hatred. Fuck you for all of your beliefs that amount to nothing short of hatred for the things I love. For the people I love. For the art and beautiful things of Western Civilization and American culture that are why I get out of bed in the morning. Fuck you for living your life for the sole purpose of destroying things that I and all minions love, and for making us fight continuously to defeat your ugly, vicious, dangerous SJW ideas. Fuck you for making me put up this little dithyramb in the sincere and passionate hope that it will make you feel even a moment’s unpleasantness.

And fuck you for the very real possibility that a civilization you don't deserve is teetering on the edge of suicide because you and your SJW friends have used your noxious little voices to rally your loathsome, asshole supporters to wreak the social, political, and philosophical destruction you so ardently desire. Fuck you because it’s actually possible that you and your SJW friends will break Western Civilization successfully and demonstrate that you’re oh so much stronger than a bunch of normal people who were previously just happily going about their lives, but now must devote their time and energy to taking back the culture that you and your SJW friends have worked so hard to destroy. In short, fuck you, and fuck all SJW's.

Blogger Danby June 13, 2015 1:41 PM  

@#188
C'mon now, don't hold back. Tell us what you really think.

Anonymous NateM June 13, 2015 1:55 PM  

I'll give Sandifer credit for being honest. Also in the debate, he may have been misguided, but he was mostly honest. I have developed after reading her a deep distrust of academia used for anything other than direct career advancement. Hell, i've been studying a science (chemistry) and even find myself questioning the utility of getting any loans for that. Sure we'd all like to go back to the day when academia was a valid alternative to private sector and could be rewarding in its own right, but unfortunately we can't. And to me, unless something will get a job in the private sector, it's not worth a thing. (sure personal enrichment is fine, but you could easily spend that time and money and something better)

One of my professors was a PhD in Biology from Stanford, and he's still teaching at a Jr College in a non research position. I remember discussing it with him and even it admits that yes, there are just too many PhDs for anybody to have a good chance at finding a permanent position.

Anonymous Varenius June 13, 2015 1:59 PM  

This time, he was trying to convey information and hoped to be understood.

I barely recognized it as his writing, to be honest.

Blogger Philip Sandifer June 13, 2015 2:00 PM  

My solution is not, at this point, to increase demand, though it may well have been two years or so ago when I wrote the piece you're quoting. Indeed, I don't think the problem has a solution. I have tremendous affection for the academia of, oh, thirty or forty years ago. But it's dead, and it's dead for reasons that include its own inadequacies, although certainly there were other factors as well. I don't imagine that it can simply be "brought back."

My solution is more akin to "follow the money that's been steadily cut from academia back to its paymasters, and then burn their houses down and put their heads on spikes," although I will admit to supporting this solution in more or less the exact same way that John C. Wright supports my murder.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza June 13, 2015 2:00 PM  

Phil was or could have been a tad jealous of a young man wanting to stay in his family's business/trade AS THAT MEANS KEEPING THE FAMILY MONEY IN THE FAMILY!

It is so hilarious how educratbums clash with mere generational disconnections.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza June 13, 2015 2:04 PM  

Philip, we love learning, understanding and moving forward. Yet few young'uns buy the line of academia anymore since the advent of the internet, the theft of debt and the fact that taxation is theft too. It is not your fault, at least you are thinking through your own logic.

Also no one here is speaking of hurting anyone***

Anonymous NateM June 13, 2015 2:07 PM  

Phil-

Don't know if you thought I was suggesting you thought we should turn back the clock to that era of academia, but I could tell from your comments that you knew that wasn't possible. Honestly you're burn it down and put their heads on spikes theory might be more correct than you think.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar June 13, 2015 2:09 PM  

Without Truth academia is just an indoctrination camp training cannon fodder for Glorious World revolution. I went to college to see what the enemy was up to, it cost a lot, but now I see and know their strategy. Agenda 21 and urbanization. Pol pot for dummies really. What a disappointment. I thought that just once they would try something new, but its same old same old again...

Anonymous The other robot June 13, 2015 2:22 PM  

You don't need colleges when there is Whole electronics courses on Youtube.

You just have to be capable. And then do something with the knowledge. I know people who did not complete college who work in high tech. They are paid a lot because they are capable.

Blogger Danby June 13, 2015 2:26 PM  

My solution is more akin to "follow the money that's been steadily cut from academia back to its paymasters, and then burn their houses down and put their heads on spikes,"

I think all the VFMs will support you in this, and when the effort begins, would be glad to lend a hand.

although I will admit to supporting this solution in more or less the exact same way that John C. Wright supports my murder.

That, sir, is a foul lie, and you know it. And yes, I read your original post on the matter. It's a specific gotcha created by intentionally misreading the original material. Post-modernism may be fashionable, but it is not an excuse for slander.

Blogger GK Chesterton June 13, 2015 2:27 PM  

So...not sure where that came from. He was a jerk post debate evidently but the debate was well done. And frankly we won.

Blogger Dexter June 13, 2015 2:28 PM  

If each faculty advisor has one mentor in a given year, and that advisor works for say 25 years, he is training 25 replacements for himself.

This can work for a professor at Elite University, because the 25 replacements will get jobs at Big State University around the country. It does not, however, work for a professor at Big State University because his PhD students will have to compete against graduates of Elite University doctoral programs.

Blogger Dexter June 13, 2015 2:38 PM  

I don't think the problem has a solution.

Yes, it does. REDUCE SUPPLY.

Make universities repay student loans IF doctoral students do not get tenure-track jobs in academia within four years of graduation.

Put a strict limit on the number of doctoral students that "teaching" (non-research) universities may enroll. Most universities simply should NOT have PhD programs, period.

Eliminate government grants to PhD programs so there is no incentive to hire cheap labor.

Require universities to pay doctoral students the same annual salary as entry-level professors.

Blogger Dexter June 13, 2015 2:42 PM  

follow the money that's been steadily cut from academia back to its paymasters, and then burn their houses down and put their heads on spikes

Burn academia down, too, and put their heads on spikes. They are the ones who benefit from the entire corrupt system. They are the ones who take public money, use it to hire cheap labor, and saddle kids with debt and zero employment prospects.

The problem of corruption in academia cannot be solved by keeping the money coming any more than the problem of heroin addiction can be solved by keeping the heroin coming.

Blogger VFM bot #188 June 13, 2015 2:56 PM  

My outburst...sorry...couldn't resist. The whole thing's a paraphrase, actually. Of Phil Sandifer. Attend:

http://www.philipsandifer.com/2015/04/guided-by-beauty-of-their-weapons.html

Blogger Groot June 13, 2015 3:09 PM  

My BA was a joke (had to practically beg for a job), and a PHD is an actual detriment to being hired, but my Masters from Stanford is pure gold. First job paid off all my debt as a hiring bonus. Of course, I only got in because I'm a tree. Go to a top school or go to a State University for a skill degree (e.g., computer science). Anything else is just paying big bucks to prove you're an idiot.

Blogger Cail Corishev June 13, 2015 3:09 PM  

I'll give Sandifer credit for being honest.

If it weren't obvious before, this piece should make it clear that he's nothing of the sort. It proves he's able to convey a thought without burying it in so much meaningless bullshit that you can't recognize it by the time you dig it free, but he carefully avoids doing so. So all that nonsense for the past week, all the walls of text with the snide little insults tucked inside, all the, "Oh, I'm not really saying anything here but I'll spend another 500 words saying it," was completely dishonest. Not one word of it was intended to inform, enlighten, or convince. Its only purpose was to confuse and dishearten, and mostly to make you think he's a very smart boy.

So one time he has an emotional reaction (the only kind a SJW trusts) to noticing that he's wasted a good part of his life on a scam, and he accidentally lets a few coherent thoughts about it slip out. Should we give him a cookie?

In one of the early Foundation stories, the Foundation is being pressured by the four kingdoms around it. An ambassador comes from the dying Empire and tours the planet, talking to the leaders for several days. By the time he leaves, they're all convinced that Terminus is solidly under the Empire's protection and there's nothing to worry about. They think he was a really swell guy. The protagonist reveals that he recorded all the ambassador's speeches and conversations, and he's analyzed it all through a new symbolic logic mathematics that they've developed. It turns out when all the contradictions are removed, the guy said absolutely nothing:

"That," replied Hardin, "is the interesting thing. The analysis was the most difficult of the three by all odds. When Holk, after two days of steady work, succeeded in eliminating meaningless statements, vague gibberish, useless qualifications -- in short, all the goo and dribble -- he found he had nothing left. Everything canceled out.

"Lord Dorwin, gentlemen, in five days of discussion didn't say one damned thing, and said it so you never noticed. There are the assurances you had from your precious Empire."

But here's the best part. He knows he hasn't been honest. He said so. So when you commend him for his honesty, he's laughing at you for being a sucker. VFM#188 said it best.

Anonymous fish June 13, 2015 3:16 PM  

41. VFM bot #188 June 13, 2015 2:56 P

Yeah...that sounded a little whiny for a vile minion. But just whiny enough for he who penned the following.

We’re still liking it. Stuff the ballot box all you want, but “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” was still a great story, and there’s nothing you can possibly do to change that.

PhD in English Literature indeed.

...and as to this: You have already lost.

Dare I say things are just getting started.

Anonymous fish June 13, 2015 3:26 PM  

35. The other robot June 13, 2015 2:22 PM

Thanks Robot....perfect for my youngest!

Anonymous Anonymous June 13, 2015 3:27 PM  

"This can work for a professor at Elite University, because the 25 replacements will get jobs at Big State University around the country. It does not, however, work for a professor at Big State University because his PhD students will have to compete against graduates of Elite University doctoral programs."

I was going to follow up on this idea. This concept is why a small number of schools can remake the entire educational and judicial institution of 300 million people. Probably 150 law professors (those at the best 5 or so) educate the majority of law professors and federal judges throughout the country. Control those 5 schools, and you control the judiciary for everyone in the United States (and, as mentioned, this is how academia was remade as well). 25 mentors from a Harvard professor/law professor go on to teach at 25 schools. 25 mentors from Iowa State go on to be marginally- or un-employed.

anonymousse

Blogger njartist June 13, 2015 3:36 PM  

One of the major problems to avoiding academia is that it has absorbed many of the avenues of education/training in the various professional fields: the visual arts is one such field; I am not talking about art teachers/instructors: I am talking about where can someone who has the talent go: the studio apprentice system is nearly dead: I am sixty-five years old and I only discovered that there were still artists who carried on the tradition; and very few students can migrate to NYC and join the Art Students League or attend Cooper Union, which now charges a high tuition.

Unfortunately, the university is the source of much of the rot and miss-education of American artists.

Yes, the serious talented can self-educate: ironically, my graduate studio art professor didn't go beyond an eighth grade education; but he having grown up in New York had access to artists' studios. He also had access to artists who could be role models.

What has to happen is artists, as does any artisans who desires to see their profession survive, must set up centers of training in major cities throughout the nation: create Cooper Unions in each state.

Blogger njartist June 13, 2015 3:53 PM  

"This can work for a professor at Elite University, because the 25 replacements will get jobs at Big State University around the country. It does not, however, work for a professor at Big State University because his PhD students will have to compete against graduates of Elite University doctoral programs."

I made this assessment back in the early seventies in grad school: it is a reality one must consider. I also came to the conclusion that I did not want to play patty-cake with 99% of the students: I had seen it in my undergraduate days and had enough then.

Anonymous The other robot June 13, 2015 4:13 PM  

Thanks Robot....perfect for my youngest!

You are welcome. I like his presentation style and the depth that he goes into.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 13, 2015 4:36 PM  

Rand wanted me to take a PhD there, based on GREs. I thought about it, even seriously. It was basically not just cost free, but they'd pay me (mind you, a portion of the pay went to tuition) to go. With various other things (GWOT GI Bill, which is amazingly generous for some locales, and military retirement, it would have made for a pretty fair living for a few years, just being a student.

I decided not to do it on three grounds. 1) I didn't want to live in or near DC or Santa Monica. 2) I did not want to be a part time research drone for someone in the Think Tank portion for three years, which is why they pay you. 3) Rand really believes, deep in its collective "soul," that everything is quantifiable, and I just don't. Indeed, I think that essentially nothing important is readily quantifiable and everything important cannot usefully be quantified (your definition of important may differ from mine, of course).

I looked into a couple of others, War Studies, forex, At King's College, London, and the same at Duke UNC, but just couldn't see a reason to go, having decided against Rand. (I only thought seriously about Rand for the potential street cred.) To put "Dr." in front of my name? In Heaven's name, why, when I could introduce myself as "Colonel Kratman" if I wanted to (and, no, I don't and I don't). To learn? What am I going to learn I cannot teach myself? What that would interest me, I mean?

In the end, I just didn't see the point.

More on point for this, though, ever notice how the quality of both college and high school academics seems to have dropped? I theorize that this is because people who should have been high school teachers, spurred by teaching jobs created by the GI Bill, post WW II, and easy student loans, have migrated upward where they're really out of their depth, except insofar as they're parroting the Marxist nonsense they were fed in college, themselves. This leaves further openings for, at best, marginally qualified "teachers" for high schools, which those marginally qualified teachers are quite often not up to, leading to smaller classes, thereby opening the way for still less well qualified "teachers."

It's another of those death spirals we seem to be caught in. I know a lot of people here detest public education but, ya know, before the overexpansion of college it used to work fairly well. (The dearth of "Boston-married" lesbian elementary school teachers, these days, has hurt, too.)

Now...now I liken academia to the Bedu, not sons of the desert but the desert's fathers. Where the Bedu overgraze their animals, Academia overgrazes itself on the tender minds and future potential earnings of the young. I suppose they will someday move on, leaving, like the Bedu, a wasteland behind them. The difference is that academia is leaving a moral, fiscal, and intellectual wasteland, rather than a physical one.

Anonymous anonimo June 13, 2015 6:04 PM  

Well, I know websites don't display the same for everyone, but not giving you the benefit of the doubt, I went to his home page and then to the debate page and the Farewell to Academia was no where to be found.

Given your history, obsessively reading through his blog is more likely.

Anonymous Amok Time June 13, 2015 6:10 PM  

I believe the number of tenured professors and academic PHDs should approximate that of say the late 19th century. Then, the folks that now squander their skills and intellect may become learned plumbers, electricians, mechanics and technicians. These upper-blue collar workers make very attractive wages. Let the Universities stew in their own repugnant mental muck.

Anonymous BigGaySteve June 13, 2015 6:12 PM  

“In one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college.” – Joseph Sobran

Jeff Y Military service automatically qualifies. Notice they could become Marine HVAC techs or diesel mechanics

You don't want them to be marines first in the line of fire to die upholding affirmative action, single moms and the welfare state. The air farce will keep them safe.

although I will admit to supporting this solution in more or less the exact same way that John C. Wright supports my murder.

Is there a webpage we can donate money to help support this cause?

Blogger automatthew June 13, 2015 7:09 PM  

"the exact same way that John C. Wright supports my murder"

All good Christians ardently hope for the death of the Old Selves, so that the New Selves may live.

Anonymous Athor Pel June 13, 2015 7:11 PM  

"50. Tom Kratman June 13, 2015 4:36 PM
...
More on point for this, though, ever notice how the quality of both college and high school academics seems to have dropped? I theorize that this is because people who should have been high school teachers, spurred by teaching jobs created by the GI Bill, post WW II, and easy student loans, have migrated upward where they're really out of their depth, except insofar as they're parroting the Marxist nonsense they were fed in college, themselves. This leaves further openings for, at best, marginally qualified "teachers" for high schools, which those marginally qualified teachers are quite often not up to, leading to smaller classes, thereby opening the way for still less well qualified "teachers."
..."



Many here have very good reasons to detest public education in America. We know its history via John Taylor Gatto and Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt and we attended public schools ourselves.

Gatto wrote, "The Underground History of American Education"
and
Iserbyt wrote "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America"

This history reveals something very specific, the system is running as designed. It's not an accident.

As for your specific point about teacher quality, good teachers get spit out of the system on purpose. The system enforces mediocrity in student and teacher. Real academic excellence is not tolerated.

If you are dubious just go read the course descriptions at any college of education within any university in America. Then find out how many hours of education courses must be taken to be certified in your state. It was 50 hours in my home state. That's a lot of indoctrination.

Anonymous Mr. Rational June 13, 2015 7:14 PM  

I know people who did not complete college who work in high tech. They are paid a lot because they are capable.

This goes hand-in-hand with the test which draws a clear distinction between those who can learn to program and those who never will.  The capability has to be there.  Education can develop it but not create it, and there are much better and cheaper ways to find it than a 4-year degree.

"follow the money that's been steadily cut from academia back to its paymasters, and then burn their houses down and put their heads on spikes,"

The layers and payroll of university administration have exploded while the number of professors and students has stayed more or less the same.  There is the bulk of your problem in a nutshell.  You can start by revoking Title IX, whereupon all its enforcers are looking for real work.  Eliminating all the departments bestowing "-studies" degrees would do for much of the rest.  When you are left with classics, mathematics, languages, engineering, chemistry and a few slots for students in the fine arts (no debt allowed), you'll have a real university again.

Anonymous Mr. Rational June 13, 2015 7:16 PM  

ever notice how the quality of both college and high school academics seems to have dropped?

Very much so, Tom.  I've had the opportunity to compare what today's students are receiving (fake algebra, in community college no less!) with what I got (considerably better), with what my parents got (much better yet), and with what my grandfather received and taught himself (albeit I was too young to grasp much of it).  Just comparing today's high-school essential knowledge tests with what one once had to pass in order to ENTER high school tells the story; the rest is just commentary.

The dearth of "Boston-married" lesbian elementary school teachers

I'm sorry, but that term is unfamiliar and doesn't turn up anything relevant in a search.  Elucidate, pls?

OpenID michaeltho June 13, 2015 7:27 PM  

"Also in the debate, he may have been misguided, but he was mostly honest."

I disagree. He engaged in a debating tactic that was dishonest, no matter what side of the ideological spectrum you sit. As soon as he said, "I think what you're really objecting to is xxxxx," it meant that Vox was not saying what he thought Vox was going to say and he had all these great arguments for all these objectionable things that he just knew that Vox was going to say, so he was going to make those arguments by putting those words in Vox's mouth.

He fully expected Vox to find the book repellent because of how icky it made Vox feel because of the gender confusion of the narrator, so when Vox spent about 30 minutes doing nothing other than critiquing the book on a structural level, it confused and frustrated him. As soon as he started to put words in Vox's mouth, he lost what, up that point, had been a fairly interesting exercise.

Blogger Dexter June 13, 2015 7:28 PM  

ever notice how the quality of both college and high school academics seems to have dropped?

If you expand the student body... and you're not allowed to expel the incapable because you have to avoid feelbad and accusations of racism... inevitably you have to dumb down the curriculum.

I work with several people who have RAND PhDs. They got out of the military as O-3s, though, so it was a much better deal for them.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 13, 2015 7:31 PM  

Rational:

It used to be fairly common for lesbians to become teachers, especially elementary school teachers. The salary wasn't much, then, but the prestige was relatively high and they could acquire a degree of responsibility that suited them, which civil life didn't generally offer. Very often, two such teachers would rent or buy a house or apartment together, "to save on expenses." This was called a "Boston Marriage." Nobody was fooled, I think, but nobody much minded, either, so long as it stayed in their home and they didn't show any undue interest in their charges.

Blogger MendoScot June 13, 2015 7:57 PM  

Now...now I liken academia to the Bedu, not sons of the desert but the desert's fathers. Where the Bedu overgraze their animals, Academia overgrazes itself on the tender minds and future potential earnings of the young. I suppose they will someday move on, leaving, like the Bedu, a wasteland behind them. The difference is that academia is leaving a moral, fiscal, and intellectual wasteland, rather than a physical one.

Now this is why I came and stayed here. People who have no experience in one field can still recognize that what they know is applicable in very different situations. This used to be the the lifeblood of academics.

Now we fight to hold that line.

Blogger MendoScot June 13, 2015 8:04 PM  

This was called a "Boston Marriage." Nobody was fooled, I think, but nobody much minded, either, so long as it stayed in their home and they didn't show any undue interest in their charges.

Common at the University level as well.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza June 13, 2015 8:28 PM  

Nein and No.

What people think was stolen from them, the Lord will give back in due time here or later or whenever or whatever, God is faithful to his own.

Blogger Eric June 13, 2015 9:17 PM  

The whole tenure track thing is stupid, particularly since a lot of academics have enough math to know better. These are the dumbest smart people on the face of the earth.

Blogger MendoScot June 13, 2015 9:50 PM  

The whole tenure track thing is stupid, particularly since a lot of academics have enough math to know better. These are the dumbest smart people on the face of the earth.

Consider the history of tenure. Neither King nor Pope. People bled and died for that right, and it gave rise to the most systemic, creative investigation of the natural world that we have ever seen.

That it has been corrupted is undeniable. But that is the point.

Neither KIng nor Pope.

Blogger Jourdan June 13, 2015 10:37 PM  

When I was an undergrad at Cal, I had a rare undergrad seminar course with one of the History Dept's up-and-coming U.S. history professors. It was a great class, heavily focused on the history of Chicago.

One day after class, the professor invited me back to her office in Dwinelle Hall, where we shared some Marlboro Lights and talked about my plans.

She spoke to me for about three hours. He speaking to me was divided into three sections:

1) First, that I was an extraordinary student, the kind a professor sees only a handful of times in one's career and it would be a crime if I didn't pursue a history Ph.D. and a career in academia.

2) That professor so-and-so agrees with my assessment, I went to Very Famous University, she went to Another Very Famous University, and both of them are willing to call in favors, use all ties and influence with those schools to get me in to their grad program.

3) But there are no positions and you'll likely end up with no career, in debt and struggling, so be warned.

I was so pleased that had the professor stopped at 2, I would have made this mistake.

I think what happens is that a lot of professors don't go to the 3rd point.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 13, 2015 11:01 PM  

Athor:

Except for one thing, it _used-_to_work_reasonably_well_. No, it doesn't anymore. No, it hasn't in some decades, but still it used to. Possibly, even probably, it cannot be fixed, now or in the future, but it still _used_to_work_reasonably_well_.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 13, 2015 11:23 PM  

"This used to be the the lifeblood of academics."

I'm interested in the subject of migration, generally, Mendo. Academics are not the only ones acting like Bedu, which is to say like people who flee the desert only to carry it with them wherever they go. Hanson talked about it in Mexifornia, IIRC, how Mexicans are fleeing Mexico but bringing it with them anyway, which will cause them to flee still further, and spread everything about Mexico that causes them to flee in the first place to still further reaches...until there is no place else to flee to.

But think of the migration of jobs from union friendly yankeeland and the left coast to the south. Texans and such are currently cheering themselves silly as Yankees flee the economic desolation of Yankee liberalism, thus increasing southern representation in the House. I don't know that they've quite figured out that just because a Yankee (and remember, I was born one) flees the results of certain policies, it doesn't necessarily follow that he won't carry those policies with him and ruin where he goes. Could he have learned his lesson? Maybe. And the Bedu could contemplate not overgrazing, too, but he never acts on that.

So, too, the capable upscale black flees the results of liberalism - namely feral black male teenagers - for a white neighborhood. Rather, he thinks that's what he's fleeing from and to. Rather, though, he flees to an address in this white neighborhood. And then the neighborhood dissolves around him as the whites, knowing by this point that liberalism and the feral teens will follow their new neighbor, git while the gittin's good. Are they racists for fleeing? Oh, I dunno; was the black a racist who fled in the first place? (They are racists, of course; they know perfectly well that they cannot trust their fellow whites to stick it out.)

I am not sure but that migration, internal and external, might not be the greatest defining feature of the collapse of our civilization.

Blogger Jourdan June 13, 2015 11:25 PM  

@Tom Kratman - Absolutely agree. I have family who have fled Britain, for example, for very specific reasons. They have gone to places like Australia, Canada and the U.S., where they do and vote for the same things that caused them to leave the UK in the first place.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 13, 2015 11:32 PM  

To paraphrase a certain political figure of the last century:

"Timocracy now. Timocracy tomorrow. Timocracy forever."

Though even that won't last forever.

Blogger John Wright June 14, 2015 1:43 AM  

@ Danby comment #35

"My solution is more akin to "follow the money that's been steadily cut from academia back to its paymasters, and then burn their houses down and put their heads on spikes," although I will admit to supporting this solution in more or less the exact same way that John C. Wright supports my murder."

Danby, Mr Sandifer is indulging in an agony of precision here. He supports arson against paymaster in exactly the same way I propose that Christians are right to murder magicians: that is, in no way at all. He and I are both using purple prose and exaggerating language to express mild exasperation with something we find mildly annoying.

Now, the difference is that on his blog he lied about it, lied like a dog, and when he realized he was saying something absurd beyond belief, instead of retracting it, he lied some more and claimed to have understood me all along. Because he is a liar. HE FUCKING WORSHIPS THE FATHER OF LIES.

I worship the way, the truth, and the life. So I tell the truth.

That is the difference between us.

Anonymous Discard June 14, 2015 2:06 AM  

Tom Kratman 50: You're better off being "Colonel" than "Dr". I had a professor who, I discovered, was a Captain in the Naval Reserve. From that moment I addressed him as Captain, and he never objected. He knew respect when he heard it.



The biggest drop in the quality of teachers came from, in my experience, intelligent and literate women turning to law school instead of teaching. We lost excellent teachers and gained mediocre, life-disturbing, lawyers.
When I was a teacher, one of my co-workers said to me, "Did you know that Canada was its own country?" She was the most highly educated among us, as she had a Masters' degree. What child could ever benefit from being placed under so stupid a sow?

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 2:50 AM  

Oh, I agree. Though it wasn't just law school; there's been a lot of waste going on since the 60s and 70s.

Anonymous Discard June 14, 2015 4:24 AM  

Tom Kratman: I think law school, not art school, stole the best potential teachers. Those smart and disciplined women could keep our chaotic instincts under control.

BTW, the best women teachers I've seen in recent years have been the smart daughters of Mestizo immigrants. Fully bi-lingual and articulate, they're hard and sharp and know what their charges will need to get out of the barrio, and they get no crap from parents either. They're all pretty slender too, no sloppy gorditas.

Blogger Dexter June 14, 2015 6:41 AM  

I don't know that they've quite figured out that just because a Yankee (and remember, I was born one) flees the results of certain policies, it doesn't necessarily follow that he won't carry those policies with him and ruin where he goes.

They know, but what can they do about it? You can't stop people from relocating, and they get to vote when they do.

I hate, hate, hate seeing NY and IL plates around here -- and there have been more and more of them since 2008.

Anonymous Luke June 14, 2015 7:57 AM  

I wrote this as part of a 17-page advice letter to a relative who's just graduated high school:
"Do not get a Ph.D. Not one in seven people who do this are glad they did so. The only possible exceptions are if ALL of these are true for you: an employer (other than a college, who pay graduate students almost nothing to live upon) or someone else other than you completely pays for all of it (so it does not involve ANY debt on your part); you understand you will never have a career teaching at a college or university (a horrible career path, now that university tenure-track positions are almost completely replaced by poorly-paid adjunct teachers with zero job security); and, preferably is in Accounting, Nursing, or perhaps Chemical/Electrical/Petroleum Engineering (where there actually are perpetual shortages of native-English-speaking Ph.D.s to fill teaching jobs). And, the move to online classes taught by a few genius professors and computer software, combined with increasing wariness of student loan debt by college students (killing college budgets), will substantially lower the number of college teaching positions available between now and when you could possibly receive a Ph.D. (Organizations involved in massive layoffs don’t do much hiring in the positions they’re laying off from) ,Please read this paper written by Gary North if you have any desire to pursue a Ph.D.:
The Ph.D. Glut Revisited:
http://archive.lewrockwell.com/north/north427.html "

Blogger VFM bot #188 June 14, 2015 11:34 AM  

Col. Kratman said "I am not sure but that migration, internal and external, might not be the greatest defining feature of the collapse of our civilization."

Maybe...maybe not. It depends upon the nature of the migration, and those doing the migrating. If it is people fleeing the results of their own political improvidence and stupidity, then yes, they will help destroy their new homes.

But consider two migrations taking place in North America as we speak: The American Redoubt and the Free State Project. Both are worthy of googling.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 5:08 PM  

Actually, to the extent those two aren't trivial (though, so far, they sound fairly trivial), they likely support my contention. You see, it's not just a question of who comes in; it's also a question of who leaves.

That was one of the subtexts of the ADCP series, actually, though not too many folks got it. Old Earth isn't the hellhole it is merely because the Tranzis took over. They were allowed to take over because those who could have fought them left Old Earth rather than fighting.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 5:18 PM  

Discard, I seem to recall that we both have a "thing" for Latin girls, they're such an interesting mix of sweetness and bitchiness, well seasoned with courage and sheer mental toughness, and all wrapped up in some very nice packaging.

Blogger VFM bot #188 June 14, 2015 6:04 PM  

Major migrations are happening in North America right now. The southwest is subject to the ongoing Reconquista, while multiple cities are emptying out and being abandoned: Detroit, MI; Birmingham, AL; St. Louis, MO. Baltimore, MD; Ferguson, MO. There is a time to stand and fight, and there is a time to migrate. The millions of Vietnamese who fled to South Vietnam and Koreans who fled to South Korea, and Germans who fled to West Germany when the respective partitions occurred. The Cubans who escaped the Castro's dictatorship early. And the many others who escaped the onrush of communism in the 20th century, they all had good reasons to migrate. The alternative was to stay, fight, and be swallowed up, as millions were.

The question is "when to stay and fight" and "when to migrate". A majority of people in America have twice elected Obama to the Presidency. If Hillary Clinton is elected President next year, the proverbial writing will be on the wall...if it isn't already there. In which case, migrating to places inside North America where people insist on maintaining a dynamic, orderly, rational, sane culture might be a good idea.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 9:18 PM  

Might well be a good idea, but that doesn't really refute that who leaves can matter as much as who comes in.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 9:24 PM  

In thinking about a national redoubt, contemplate, too, that Mauretania, Dalmatia, and some few other places, managed to retain recognizably Western Roman civilization after the Empire collapsed...but only for a while.

Anonymous Discard June 14, 2015 9:29 PM  

Tom Kratman: I wouldn't say I have a thing for Latin girls, never having dated one, but I worked with them in the schools of Southern California. The best of them are equal to the teachers of my youth, and are clearly superior to the typical fuzzy-wuzzy White teachers. And if they think well of you they will loudly stick up for you when you are criticized by parents or other staff.
And yes, they are well put together. A matter of self-respect, I gather.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 9:55 PM  

In good part self respect, yes, though genetics can play its part either way.

It may perhaps be said, then, that we have different "things" for Latin girls.

Blogger VFM bot #188 June 14, 2015 10:28 PM  

The collapse of the American civilization isn't the collapse of the Roman Empire. That was then, this is now, and it may be easier to establish and maintain a Hong Kong, Switzerland, or Singapore type polity in North America...if you have the right people and the right template. The template is easy; the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Gathering the people may or may not be. The future of America is probably Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, et al. A tiny 1% ruling class served by a slightly larger 3% professional class and maybe a 5% enforcement military/police class will rule over the masses of impoverished. There will be no middle class. Government will exist to serve the upper 4%, with the enforcement class keeping everyone in line. It will be difficult to establish and maintain a polity of liberty in the midst of the overall breakdown. May not even be possible. But it's probably the best plan for when things really seriously start unraveling.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 11:11 PM  

Lots of "ifs" and "mays" in even the positive aspects of that.

Yeah, I don't know if it can be saved, either, or if the upper class swine wrapping themselves in threadbare cloaks of progressivism, along with their idiot minions among the brain dead left, can be stopped.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 14, 2015 11:13 PM  

Oh, and if we're not quite Rome, we're not that far apart and the threats are not that dissimilar, either. It is possible, too, that we might drop democracy officially, retaining only the appearance of the thing we have now and none of the substance (of which we still have a little). Rome, in any case, if not dispositive, remains instructive.

Blogger VFM bot #188 June 14, 2015 11:19 PM  

All good points, well-taken. With respect to prospectively dropping democracy officially, I'd say we're pretty close to it now, what with vote fraud, illegals voting, Obama's executive depredations. Not much substance left, what with what Washington, DC has become...

OpenID genericviews June 15, 2015 8:32 AM  

Hmm. 89 comments into this threar with Tom Kratman and no one has mentioned crucifixion yet.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 15, 2015 8:33 AM  

Oops, someone just did.

Blogger GoldRush Apple June 19, 2015 3:28 PM  

Nate M said: "(sure personal enrichment is fine, but you could easily spend that time and money and something better)"

Or the library; add in online resources and explanations to aid to the learning. If you need tutoring, say for a language, you can always hang a "help wanted" poster with pay being negotiable. Depending on the subject and the topic there might be some syllabi from professors (I know some American professors have their syllabi ready to download for the students to print for themselves). There are also "open courses" available to view, participated by a plethora of universities. I almost forgot, museums and galleries should be factored, as well as a city's opera and ballet company - if such things are present. Movies are the least capable for actual learning and enlightenment, and this goes for the "best" of them, where live plays can be a fine alternative. Of course these things cost money, the opera, ballet and plays, but it's all worth it at the end (the money you spend on these activities won't lead into debt like most prestigious universities/colleges).

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