Degrees vs. smarts

David Lubkin (
Fri, 01 Oct 1999 14:05:56 -0400

It can be a useful heuristic to judge people by what degrees they have, what they majored in, what they do for a living, what they wear, etc. Because people are gaussian. Most of the time, people *do* match my preconceptions.

But they don't always. I think the heuristics are fine if you use them as working hypotheses for assessing someone you meet, but revise your opinions when you get additional data.

One of the smartest and most perceptive people I've ever met, with the broadest range of interests and knowledge, has maybe a dozen college credits and has worked in secretarial positions for the last twenty years.

Surely it is least appropriate to judge people on this list by the criteria Joe is applying to Mike. Is Robin any more insightful than Eliezer because he's Dr. Robin? Do you know what degrees, if any, Anders or Hal or Kathryn have? Who cares?

>This discussion has degraded to the point where we are back
>in grade school, and going, "Look Mommy, I got a gold star...".

Because there are a couple dozen Dr. Lubkins in my family, including my father and grandfather, it nagged at me that I never finished my PhD. I eventually realized that a PhD is largely irrelevant in my profession, and I wanted one as a bright, shiny ribbon I could wear. (These days it only nags at me when I'm reminded my kid sister has her PhD. Sibling rivalry dies hard.... :-) || Unreasonable Software, Inc. || a trademark of USI:

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