Re: Degrees vs. smarts

David Lubkin (
Mon, 04 Oct 1999 17:45:15 -0400

The recent postings from Robin, Amara, and Kathryn would seem to be in response to, or in rebuttal to, my email. Robin and Amara both excerpted the same paragraph, thereby removing it from context.

Let me rephrase, and extend, as clearly as I can.

General observations (from my brain):

In some professions, such as Amara's and Robin's, a PhD is an essential component to career success. In some professions, such as mine and Natasha's, a PhD is not. If one is in a profession where a PhD is not particularly useful, it is prudent to ask oneself what one's reasons are for seeking one.

Degrees, particularly advanced degrees, require commitment and hard work. They are accomplishments that their holders can be proud of. There are also many other noteworthy accomplishments that are outside academia.

Noting someone accomplishments in a field of endeavor is a useful heuristic for gauging their expertise in that field and their overall intelligence or other qualities. Their behavior from that point on may reasonably lead you to raise or lower your estimation of them.

In a discussion, there is a rebuttable presumption that someone with a degree or professional accomplishments in a field of endeavor is more reliable when opining on *that* field of endeavor than someone without those accomplishments. As they stray from their areas of expertise, the presumption of reliability drops.

Extropian-specific (from my heart):

This all started when Joe intimated that his opinion on gun control would be more worthy of consideration if he had more degrees than Mike. I disagreed, and away we went.

On this list, I know the professional or personal background of some of the participants. For most, however, I can judge them solely by the words they post. And surely that is a great strength of the list. That you are judged by the quality of your brain and your heart, not by your nationality, or gender, or degrees, or age, or skin color, or infirmity.

I've been reading postings from Robin, Amara, and Sasha for the past decade, and came to look to them (among others) for clarity and insight. I respected Robin's ideas long before I knew he had a PhD (or that he was male, for that matter). I don't rate Amara's postings any lower than Robin's because he has a PhD and she doesn't, and I won't suddenly rate them any higher when she finally gets her degree. I still have no idea what Sasha does professionally, or what degrees he has, despite reading hundreds of posts and visiting his home several times. But I can speak to his creativity, perceptiveness, humour, warmth, and generosity. None of which changes if he turns out to be Dr. Sasha, or not-Dr. Sasha. || Unreasonable Software, Inc. || a trademark of USI:

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