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Memories of the 28th Century

The Inutility of Higher Education

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I am not completely against higher education, but it has little or no value for most people, and it may even have negative value in some cases. This is not something that was on my mind, but it came to mind while was thinking about recent adventures in the medical industry. I have plenty of respect for any of the people in the medical industry, but I think that they waste a lot of time in classrooms, when it comes down to what may be useful in the business. It isnít just that one of the physicians I spoke with said that serum cholesterol definitely does cause heart disease, but it was more that I reflected on what they do versus what they would have encountered in classrooms, and there isnít a huge correspondence. Physicians are sort of like automobile mechanics; they need to know about various things, but the theory behind the function and what would break it down isnít clear, and sometimes the theory conflicts with what has to be done.

But the medical industry is only one place where formal education does not assist all of the time. It is usually more important to pay attention to what is of practical importance, especially things that may be ignored in classrooms. Consider the hard sciences where discovering new ideas is important. Or think of Warren Buffet, who has been making his mark by ignoring the academic teachings; although now his ideas are being taught, because they have been shown to work. Other aspects of business find that the practical things learned on the job are more important than are the theories of the classroom. I spent years as an appraiser using what I learned on the job and ignoring the classroom theories; although some of those theories were interesting, and some of the concepts were applicable in other areas.

I am sure that in every profession there are theoretical concepts that are taught in the classroom that are useful in the real world, but much of what is taught is utterly useless. Most jobs that people get paid for doing require that the employees follow the house rules, but there is little need for things that were taught in university classrooms, and that includes teaching in higher education. And the procedures are designed to reach or create a defined result. For example, people who sell insurance do not need to know the investments that will support the value of the policy, nor do they need to know the actuarial theory; they simply need to know how to get people to spend hard earned money on something. And manufacturers of clothing do not need to know the breeding habits of sheep, the growth patterns of cotton, or the compounding of nylon; they simply need to know how to sew together the pieces of cloth that will make up what they are making.

Even physicians do not need to know the details of how human bodies operate, and they certainly do not need to know why, but they should know how bodies operate and what can make them breakdown. I am writing this because I was shocked to learn that a cardiologist believed the cholesterol causes heart disease. Fortunately, he was not doing anything on me but was working with a physician who was supposed to be doing so. I know that automobile mechanics keep up to changes in how things are repaired, and the same is true of people who work on computers, so I thought that physicians kept up on research about human bodies, their components, and how they operate. Apparently, I was wrong, at least in one case.
Well, this has gone to show me that I should be careful s to whom I select to wok on me. Fortunately, I found one source for such people, but they are only in one specialty.

On the other hand, higher education is useful for people who specialize in theory; philosophers for example. Some physicists operate only on the level of theory or take observations and theorize from them. But there are scientists who may be messed up by the theories; evolutionary anthropologists for example need to know the actual things, and theories about those things may get in the way.