Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Are People More Stupid Than They Used to Be?

Typically, this is a question that you'd ask at a Alabama bar-b-q and to be thrown out to several individuals who claim some rural-intellectual status.  Some will admit they attended some state university for six months before they discovered the instructor was actually a third-cousin of Einstein (so they claim).  Some might even say speak up that they know sixty different math equations that relate to some electrical charge but then admit they don't know much about some Chaucer-guy from English literature or how the Sun radiates the Earth.  And a handful through farming will claim enough common sense to make up for four Einstein-guys and their limitations.

There is some basic belief by brilliant people and journalists that we've surged ahead over the past fifty years and have lots of smart people around today.

Generally, ever since the mid 1980s....I've gone with the philosophy that being able to assemble information, determine values from the information, prioritize, and come to a basic summary which explains the best choice.....is the key point where you can grin and admit you are more smart than stupid.

The rest of this book-smart stuff?  Worthless.

I've sat through sixty odd university-related classes via University of Maryland, Louisiana Tech, two community colleges, and the Air Force.  I came to realize after reading a fairly deep summary of Greek tutors from over two thousand years ago....that education alone doesn't really do much.  You need to have some ability take that information and make use of it or rationalize the big picture.

In this way, my answer is that most people probably are more stupid today....than what existed decades ago.  Oh, they may have some certificate and claim to have finished such-and-such university....but beyond that....there's no comprehension.

The brighter crowd?  The engineer brings in the formulas and relates them to his work.  The scientist with an analytical view will be able to gauge what he sees and bring some solution to a problem.  The analyst with some respect for questions will ask enough until there's nothing left in front of him except an answer.

We live in a stimulating age....where kids are hauled off from high school to a university....pay down $10,000 to $30,000 a year and get some status in life of being smarter.  So far, no one much goes to challenge that behavior and we've developed this to a national stage....where kids graduate from such-and-such school....must be offered $80,000 a year for a master's degree but their measurement in wit or brightness would equal some Chinese seventh-grader.  It's bad enough now that we have headhunters, who only specialize in people in this position....helping to find idiots in companies, who will hire new fresh idiots out of graduate school.

The eventuality?  We probably will eventually produce enough stupid people to tell us that we need more smart people, but can't really identify the ways from which you'd produce such people.  That's when you know we've gotten pretty screwed up.

The Market Price of a Degree

In recent days with the Missouri University in the news....the topic of a degree and it's rate of appraisal comes to mind, and makes one want to ponder.

If you went to the University of Missouri.....you'd pay roughly $21,000 a year for tuition and board.  Fees and beer-money would add up to another $6,000 a year.....so one single year costs dad or junior roughly $27,000.  Figure four years, and it's $108,000 that will be spent on this piece of paper in the end.

So, then you question yourself....what exactly did you buy for $108,000?

My dad would have sat and done the numbers to tell you this added up to twenty-odd tons of screws and bolts.  My brother would tell you it'd be enough cattle feed to handle five years with X number of cattle.  My wife would tell you it's the equivalent of 3,375 cartons of cigarettes prior to her quitting smoking or today as a non-smoker she'd tell you that it'd get eighteen four-star vacations with a full booze-bar and world-class accommodations.  I'd probably tell you that it's enough to buy off several Alabama representatives and ensure the passage of some stupid casino bill which is guaranteed to fail in court after passage.

The thing is....this certificate has some value related to the real world.

But there's this odd thing.  You could have an engineers degree from one single college for the $108,000 and you might be highly recruited and sought.  Across town, there's another university with the same engineers degree, and oddly these people holding this certificate are not called upon or recruited.

Why?  Well, you start to find that their instructor and professors at the lesser college are not regarded as winners or competent.  You spend four years in these classes....getting a marginal degree with negligible value.

The $108,000?  After a while, you come to realize that you might end up as a car rental shop manager for the rest of your life.....because there's no value to the four years of stupid classes you attended.

So I look over at the University of Missouri.  There's accusations of racism....there's accusations of politics....there's the potential of student strikes or football player work stoppage, and it would start to turn in my mind that the value of their degree isn't the same as it was a year ago.  If I showed up at some potential employer and they just looked at my degree and it didn't measure up to a similar degree from the University of Oregon.....well, what exactly did I spend the $108,000 upon?

Somewhere out there.....there's probably a thousand parents this week.....looking over their Randy or Darcy.....and this university deal with the University of Missouri.  The parents are questioning this sum of money and trying to talk sense into that kid about moving to the University of Kansas or maybe Auburn University.  The kid can't understand any of this, and questions dad's motives.  Dad tries to act wise, but frankly.....he just wants to make this simple.....there's this funny smell with this university, and you don't want to spend $108,000 on a Ford Pinto degree.