Re: Economist essay contest on 2050

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Mon Jul 31 2000 - 10:33:42 MDT

Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Eirikur Hallgrimsson wrote:
> > On Tue, 11 Jul 2000, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> > Question for those who decide not to write an essay: is anyone willing
> > > to pre-read essays for those of us who do submit one?
> >
> > Count me in, or even post 'em. It's not off topic and I'm sure
> > comments would be plentiful (and we can hope, mostly constructive).
> Alright. Here's draft 1 of my entry. It's probably a piece of crap -
> but then, it *is* draft 1; only the final draft has to work. (If I get
> enough comments to do significant changes, I'll probably post draft 2
> next weekend. Of course, the final draft has to go in before 8/14...)
> ---
> "Specialist" is such a dirty word. I prefer "focused", because that is
> what I am guilty of: focusing on one subject.
> Although this may seem unfashionable at the midpoint of the 21st
> century, I assure you that it is a practice that was quite popular up
> until recently. Indeed, until the end of the 20th century, it was
> possible for people even in the most technologically advanced nations to
> learn only a few basic facts about how the world worked, stop learning
> at around age 18, and live full and productive lives. Only the elite -
> scientists, engineers, chief politicians and businessmen, and a few
> others - needed much more information to do their jobs.

THis is a pretty arrogant statement to make. The only people I know of who get
by on only a high school education are burger flippers (and treating only formal
accredited bachelor or higher programs as 'education beyond age 18' is even a
higher level of arrogance). A larger percent of people WITH four year degrees I
regard as not only having sub-average intelligence, but pathetically low
interest in 'how the world works', where I know many less formally educated
people who are not only well versed, but give a damn. These are postmen,
mechanics, sales people, etc. I, for example, am a college dropout. Everything I
know about what I do for a living (computer consulting) I learned outside of ANY
accredited program. I also happen to read the newspaper every day, front to
back. I've got a better idea of what is going on in the world and how it works
than about 90% of the college grads I know (a large percent of whom work in jobs
that have absolutely nothing to do with what their degree is in, jobs that
frequently have no degree requirement, like waiting tables.)

> Even then, some people advocated lifelong learning as a path to a fuller
> life, but this movement never really caught on until recently.

On the contrary, lifelong learning is a pretty popular path today. More people
earn bachelors degrees after age 30 than before it today (similarly for masters

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