Friday, 15 April 2011

Equally useless.

I was passed this link in Email a few days ago. I can't embed the video.

By the way, if I don't reply to Emails or take days or weeks to do so, it's not just because I'm about as sociable as a Siamese fighting fish. I'm running two businesses and as the tax year has now passed, work is cranking up again. This year I hope to earn enough for my modest needs earlier than I did last year, so I won't have to go out in the snow at all next winter.

The video is a book advert, but it's also an interesting observation. People - everyone, in that video - don't believe they need to even look at the information before forming an opinion. This is a big part of what leaves them so wide open to suggestion, especially if delivered confidently and with an air of authority, and most especially if you have 'Doctor' in front of your name, as I have. Yes, I abuse it, but what the hell. I abuse it less than most others. And I only do it for a laugh, not for any devious plan. The only blogger who's met me is Kynon and I'm sure he'll tell you I don't look like someone who has any kind of plan.

I have a PhD. It means something. It means I did stints of analyses over three or four days at a time, often sleeping in the lab. We didn't have auto-loaders for samples in those days. I had to put them in at twenty minute intervals. There was an autoanalyser and I used that too but it was only for certain tests and it was an unreliable swine. The scheme of work was mine, I was given a problem and told 'You have a BSc, you know the basics, sort it out'. The supervisor was very good, he would guide but not direct and he left me alone most of the time. It wasn't easy but a lot of it was fun. These days the actual analysis is easier but students are expected to produce a lot more of it because of that. For me, it was hard to do the analysis but I at least ended up with a manageable quantity of numbers. Today it's the other way around. Swings and roundabouts.

If I had just been handed a PhD after idling away three years, what would it mean? If everyone was handed a PhD at 25, what would it mean? Nothing. Equality, if you like, but in that instance (as in every instance) equality makes the equalised thing pointless. If everyone had a PhD then there would be no point in anyone having one. A waste of paper.

I have no plumbing qualifications. I am not CORGI registered, never even seen an application form, so I would make no attempt to fix a faulty gas appliance. I'd phone someone qualified and have some confidence that they had been trained in the work. Yes, I'd have to pay them, but I'm not likely to pay anywhere near what it costs for current CORGI registration. The plumber who did my last gas boiler service told me what it costs and it's in the 'Bloody hell' range.

What if those qualifications were handed out like Christmas cards? What if you only had to say 'I want to be a CORGI-registered plumber' and some suited drone said 'Okay', ticked the box and gave you a spanner?

Sure, you might say 'it's unfair that some people get degrees and higher degrees and others don't' but apply it across the board. You want to just give away that qualification to anyone? Fine. Then anyone can be qualified to meddle with your gas and electricity supplies, anyone can be qualified to attach new brakes to your car using only a pair of pliers and a four-pound hammer, anyone can be qualified to drive a train and anyone can be qualified to operate on your brain.

Agree with one and you have to agree with them all. Happy to take that flight knowing that aircraft maintenance qualifications are available to anyone who asks, in the name of equality? Happy to get on that bus driven by the guy who came last in the Special Olympics events for the blind and utterly deranged? Go on, get on the train. The driver is an alkie drug addict who likes to sit backwards so he can ogle the passengers, shouts 'Warp Factor Seven' and cackles but hey, equality, remember? Then, when they crash, you have to go to hospital where your consultant is Benny from Crossroads (aged reference, sorry).

The new President of the Union of Students is perfectly happy with all those scenarios. There is a reason he's so happy. He is an idiot. Idiots are always happy. Look into any bar in Parliament and you'll see how happy they are.

He is also a student of physics. Not mince-pie-hurling, tofu-weaving or socialism. Physics. A serious and complex subject requiring intelligence and application. Hey, I have a PhD and most of that physics stuff just goes right over my head. Not so Liam Burns. Education does not go over his head. It goes straight through, unopposed, like a neutrino through Swiss cheese.

He wants universities who have a reputation for producing well-trained students to accept Johnny Gibber and his drooling crew, so they can come from a good university too. He cannot grasp that by the time they come out of there it won't be a good university any more. It'll be another drone factory.

Why would a student of physics want this? Well, one can only assume that somewhere in that pristine, unused brain of his, he has reached the conclusion that he is thicker than a really thick slab of thick stuff, soaked in thickener, given three thick coats of thick paint and then had 'Thick' stencilled onto it. It must be assumed from his statements that he believes the only way he will get a degree is if they are free in Cornflakes packets. So he has to push for 'equality' which in his case, will mean that I will be the world authority on quantum physics within five years, and all I can do on the subject is spell it.

The President of the Student's Union does not believe you have to bother with the facts to be an expert on any subject. Fortunately, most students will ignore him.

I think Frey's book is unneccesarily insulting to Christians. It's stirring up trouble just to make a buck. However, he has, incidentally, made a very good point.

These days, independent thought is unfashionable. People who read stuff and look stuff up are to be despised almost as if they were smokers.

Pol Pot had a similar idea. The results were unpleasant.

6 comments:

PT Barnum said...

I now have a lump in the middle of my forehead from it hitting the desk. And I still have a doctorate as well.

The only consolation about Burns' asinine posturing is that it will only receive a serious hearing in those institutions which used to be vocational colleges and now pretend to be research universities and amongst the students such places attract. Everyone else will just boggle.

I have never heard of the University of the West of Scotland. I'm an academic (now without affiliation). I wonder if it even has independent degree granting powers. You only get those when you can demonstrate you warrant them and it's an on-going process.

kynon said...

1) I can confirm that I don't think there's any way that you could be taken for having a devious plan just by looking. ;-)

2) Thank you for those links, that has raised my blood pressure quite remarkably this morning - so much so I even posted about it!

WV: coick - only one letter more than what I think of Mr Liam Burns right now!

The Spine said...

I also have a doctorate (is there anybody here who doesn’t?) and I still don’t know what advantage it is meant to have given me in life. The lowest plant life from my old school is driving around in a flash car when I’m struggling along on Shank’s pony. All the bloody thing does is alienate me at every job interview, make people snort with laughter when I mention I’m a ‘Dr’, and, to add insult to injury, the bloody dentist (who hasn’t got a Ph.D.) has started to call himself ‘Dr’ and I’m always ‘Mr’.

Anonymous said...

The corollary of no-one feeling the need for facts and reasoning to arrive at an opinion is that everyone's now an expert and unable to discern when expertise is actually required.

I work with a product which requires specialist legal knowledge yet have people deciding to check it out with their friend, the milkman.

I have every sympathy with the guy who wrote a guest post recently on Puddlecote's blog who said that, as a solicitor, he was sick of ignorant gobshites (I paraphrase) having no respect for the expertise which he has spent years acquiring.

Jay

Leg-iron said...

PTB - We'll soon be able to recognise each other in the street by our forehead lumps.

Kynon - you think he's a coik? A foamy bit of tree bark stuck in the end of a booze bottle? Hmm... quite possibly.

The Spine - Nobody sensible does a PhD for the money. There isn't any, during or afterwards. Not unless you use it for nefarious purposes, such as taking grants from fake charities to run studies with predtermined outcomes.

Jay - oh yes, everyone's an expert now. I work in intestinal microbiology and too many people like to tell me what to eat and how to avoid those gut infections I never catch but they do. I long ago gave up trying to talk sense to them.

Now, all I'll tell them is 'Syrup of figs cures everything' and get out of the way fast.

kynon said...

LI - methinks you do wilfully misunderstand me! ;-)

Besides, even if that is what I thought, it would only work with a Brooklyn accent...

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