Sunday, February 17, 2013

Education Is no More for Many - "Ph.D Illiteracy"

We have all witnessed these at one time or another:

The high school English teacher that does not know when to use "he" in a comparative sentence and insists that one should say or write "Johnny is taller than him" or teaches students to say "between you and I".

Your friend who has a master's degree in history or theology but knows next to nothing about the Roman Republic nor the Church Fathers of the 1st-3rd centuries A.D. To the former, the Celts were not the product of waves of Chalcolithic and Bronze age migrants but diverse groups of people who just happened to develop virtually the same language in different places without having so much as met each other (Or that they just absorbed another group's language lock, stock, and barrel because it sounded cool*). The theology graduate knows about as much of Christian doctrine and its history as I know about the Hadron Particle Collider, but he knows that the German Emperor Henry IV had to stand in the snow in Canossa because the mean old pope would not let him be the sole appointing authority for German bishops. If the pope had acquiesced to the Emperor, he would have been a a toady. But since he stood up for an independent church, he was a jerk.

*We are told that all of this happened over three thousand years ago but even with TV, computers and other devices, we can't get Americans to speak somewhat uniformly today.

Our current graduates of higher education in the US are, excepting those who studied the hard sciences, far and away the most ignorant and unlearned group of people that have ever been produced.

Again, if one has not taken up mathematics, geology, chemistry, engineering, etc., odds are that a lot of money and time was spent, not on being educated, but on being indoctrinated and filled with truckloads of flowery phrasing with less actual content than an answer from Alexander Haig.

The following excerpts are from the link at top. I have an enormous amount of respect for the work of Mr. Dietrich Price. It was from a post of his that I learned that "sight-words" (Which I detest and have written about) that are shoveled at out first graders, were the product of Leftists** who, even in the beginning, made it clear that they were perfectly fine with creating a people who are largely illiterate. Those who cannot read past the level of a newspaper, pamphlet, etc., never develop their own ability to put their own thoughts into words. Once one has given up trying to express his thoughts on a social or cultural issue, he generally ceases to do much thinking at all and tends to accept what he is being told to think.


-From the top link:

"Besides being ugly and artificial, Ph.D. illiteracy is also dishonest. The intent is to deceive, to make the simple seem complex, to make the obvious seem brilliantly and even arduously discovered, to make the tautological seem like a giant leap forward for mankind. The writer’s first priority is to impress or trick you. Conveying information rates only second priority. The more that tricking outweighs telling, the more language is deformed—that is the essential dynamic of Ph.D. illiteracy.

Jacques Barzun has stated our predicament best: “Today it is the educated who lead the way in destruction”—the destruction of what we fondly call American civilization. The crime is (if you'll indulge the coinage) culturecide. The murder weapon is debased language. The murderer, as we’ll see, is debased education.


To be fair, I’d like to take a moment to put our professors in perspective. Even professors of English can be Ph.D. illiterates, though they rarely are. Biologists likewise are seldom Ph.D. illiterates—unless they happen to be working for the Pentagon or seeking a grant from the National Science Foundation. As for anthropologists and accountants, however, they are plummeting to new depths. And when you come to social scientists and educators, you find that Ph.D. illiteracy is practically the norm. Here is an educator describing what he is going to teach to anyone silly enough to show up:

"Learning System Design I: Introduction to development learning system design concepts is provided with practical applications of the systems approach in human learning. Concepts in topics such as needs assessment, task analysis, goal formulation, and process and product evaluation are explored emphasizing relevance in the learning process."

Perhaps you don’t object to high-toned dissimulation, and you’re now asking yourself, “So what’s the big deal if social scientists play their little games?” The problem, to quote Barzun again, is that “the condition is progressive; loose language first makes analysis difficult, then absence of thought is hidden by technical discourse.” In short: no Beauty, no Truth.

Furthermore, our Ph.D. illiterates are vastly influential. They are, of course, often nomadic, foraging about from academia to business to government. With their advanced degrees and presumed learning, they have clout. In consequence, they have been able to sabotage American English. Their deceitful language has washed like a dark tide through all the groves of academia, even muddying the once-lucid physical sciences, and then flooding out into the larger society. Here’s a marketing executive making the obvious opaque:

"Target emphasis based on speciality productivity is presently being applied almost universally in the journal selection process. The concept is a simple one: the more productive the doctor on a per-man basis, the greater his potential return per ad dollar spent. Therefore, the promotion spend is apportioned according to the relative productivity of each target physician."

An important aspect of the problem is that Ph.D. illiterates tend to be shameless. These are the “barbarian” specialists that Ortega y Gasset warned us about. Too many will defend their imagined right to speak in private codes—and to hell with the rest of us. In sum, Ph.D. illiterates have exerted a pervasive and near-irresistible influence in favor of wordiness, murkiness, and pseudo-scientific language in even the most commonplace circumstances....


Some might say that my laments are merely esthetic, like objecting to a surfeit of garish signs along a highway. My answer is that these phenomena are not esthetic at all, but are signs of pathology. Ph.D. illiteracy diminishes the nation’s intellect and vitality. Signs along the highway may well be an indication of vitality, as may many other eyesores. But Ph.D. illiteracy and the detached language of the New Class are decay made visible.

The inestimable George Steiner has written a pertinent analysis of the relationship between the decline of the German language and the decline of the German nation. He contends that German, starting before 1870, was debased by a combined assault from the academic community, the government, and the military. He feels that two things happened as a result: the nation’s literary output in the years since has been less than it was before; and more dramatically, the debasement of the German language made Naziism possible. German’s fall helped Hitler to rise. The language became chunky and imprecise and fat with emotionalism. Literature wasn’t possible. Truth wasn’t possible. The Third Reich was possible. Orwell explains the synergistic, downward spiral in this way:

An effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language."

There is much more in the linked post at top.

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