Friday, May 27, 2005



The Maverick Philosopher points to a study in Men's Health Magazine that ranks United States cities by intelligence, from smartest to stupidest, based partly on the percentage of inhabitants who earned bachelor degrees. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are both in the top four.

If academic degrees were reliable indicators of intelligence, one would expect Ph.D.s and other holders of advanced degrees to be among the most highly intelligent members of the population. The possession of a Ph.D. might be a sign of persistence, but it is no guarantee of intelligence. One could even argue the opposite, that it is a sign of stupidity, at least from an economic point of view.

Many of the Ph.D.s I know (including myself) spent long years in the fruitless pursuit of a will-o'-the-wisp, an ignis fatuus. We foolishly dreamed of prestigious jobs in the groves of academe and ended up with something far less. Once I was so down and out that I applied for a job sweeping floors. On the application form I omitted my Ph.D. (all of my college degrees, in fact).

In an effort to make a career change, I've been taking classes at a community college. At least two of my fellow students also have Ph.D.s but never managed to find permanent teaching positions in colleges or universities. We might have been smarter not to have wasted so many years in graduate school. A wiser course of action would have been to go directly from high school to the community college where we now find ourselves.

Experientia docet stultos.

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