Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Idiot Factories

I used to love laureates. A lot. Who wouldn't? They were the reason we could stay away from dumb teachers for one or more days. And taunt the other schools which did not have any in a particular year. Yep, if you want to be mean, start early.

But then we learn that some of them don't actually manage to finish their first degree. Which is fine. Or if they do they do so in a very average way. Which is fine too. Lack of ambition is one reason. That can change later. Peaking too soon is another. Relying on rote learning will not help them either because there is now way too much codified knowledge around to digest. 

And because there is only so much you can learn in the three years of your first degree. Compared to say the fifty or so years that you'll have on the clock after you promised to stay hungry and stay foolish. If you don't keep on learning you will be outsmarted fast because learning has never been easier. It's even better to learn different things. And stay out of narrow silos at all costs.  

The media can provide a nice platform for some to try -- to borrow from Ken Galbraith -- to make the ideas of your graduate days or of a Washington-based loan shark last a lifetime. But it will be an increasingly risky strategy. Worldwide. Besides maintaining a large ego is quite draining: you will have less energy to go to sleep everyday a bit less stupid than you when woke up. And it will hurt when you will come off that arrogant pedestal. 

So yeah, every year prestigious universities around the world will produce smart people and brilliant ideas. And idiots too. It will become increasingly easy to recognise them. 

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