Paul Nervy Notes
“Jokes, poems, stories, and a lot of philosophy, psychology, and sociology.”

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Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  .This section is about academia.  ---  1/24/2006

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  (1) Business today is covering virtually every area that academia is.  (2) Today, many businesses are faster, flatter and more flexible than academia.  (3) Today many businesses are about change and college is left defending tradition.  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  (1) College is about money.  (A) For example, how else do you explain the circus we call college sports.  (B) College is about professors kissing up to get tenure, and then using the power of tenure to one's advantage.  (C) College is about students striving for grades in order to get a degree in order to get a job in order to get money.  (2) Thus, college is not about truth and knowledge as much as it is about money and a job.   Academia is a business.  Academia is about money, position and power.  However, academia claims they are in the truth business.  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  (1) The young are often liberals, so if anyone at a university is liberal it is more likely to be the students who are liberal, not the tenured professors.  (2) The old are often conservatives, and tenured professors are old, so tenured professors have a tendency to be conservative.  Powerholders tend to be conservative, and tenured professors are among the powerholders in academia, so tenured professors have a tendency to be conservative.  (4) Thus, academia, which can more accurately be described as the professors and not the students, has a tendency to be conservative, not liberal as is so often thought.  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  A critique of college.  College today is too expensive.  It is wrong to saddle young adults with tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.  College should be free, like high school.  Find an inexpensive college.  Teach yourself.  ---  1/2/2007

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia always defends itself by bragging about its use of the "peer review" process like they have a patent on it.  The "peer review" process is used in business just as often.  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia fears an "anything goes", all too permissive, relativism, not merely ethically but also epistemologically.  This is what academia and religion have in common, they are both about standards.  Religion is about self-appointed ethical standards (i.e., what is good).  Academia is about self-appointed epistemological standards (i.e., what is true).  However, we do not need religion to discuss what is good.  And in the same way, we do not need academia to discuss what is true.  The most fruitful discussions about what is good transcend religion.  The most fruitful discussions about what is true transcend academia.  The  interesting paradox is that as humans evolve, ethical behavior (good action) is becoming more important (see the ethical refinement of legal codes over the past 2000 years), and religion is becoming less important.  In the same way, epistemology (truth) is becoming more important, yet academia is becoming less important (for example, due to the Internet letting us learn online).  ---  10/1/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia has power.  They decide what is truth.  And what they decide to teach trickles down directly to students, and indirectly to the masses through the media.  Academic turf battles between views are fought bitterly because they mean jobs, position, and money.  ---  11/28/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia is an ideology.  Touting a cannon.  Rigid thinking.  System-bound thinking.  Rather than being flexible, pragmatic and pluralistic.  ---  9/4/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia is an institutional bureaucracy, prone to the same flaws as other institutional bureaucracies such as business corporations, the military and the church.  The academic is an organization man.  ---  4/6/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia is very closed and clubby.  Notice how they only cite their fellow academicians in their articles.  They only cite other academic journals and academic books.  Very rarely will they cite an idea from any other form of media.  In effect, academia is creating a closed proprietary system, as opposed to an open system.  In computer terms, academia is Microsoft as opposed to Linux.  (2) Academia is also closed in a Popperian sense, with all its negative implications.  Isolated, insulated.  They are like various social groups that say "we are closed in order to protect our knowledge and remain pure, to maintain our standards and our way of life".  The effect of such attitudes is that these groups become out of touch, fringe, passe, restrictive, non-pluralistic, closed, unwelcoming, cliquish, old boy networks.  ---  10/1/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia often has a holier-than-thou attitude, like they believe they have a monopoly on truth and knowledge.  (2) Academia is a self-perpetuating beauracracy.  (3) Today academia is on the defensive.  In the age of the Internet education, bricks-and-mortar academia is trying to justify their physical existence.  In the rapidly changing Internet age, academia is trying to justify an education based on the classics.  Their defensive pose gives academia a decidedly conservative posture.  (4) Many people today are skipping college.  They can get the knowledge anywhere, and they do not need a degree from a diploma mill to get a job.  (5) Anyone can buy the books themselves and read the books themselves.  How much does a lecture add?  Not much.  College is supposed to be about "learning to learn" and "teaching yourself".  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia says "We use rational argument, open debate and group consensus to arrive at our truths."  However, open debate in a small, closely-knit, closed society, where members are pressured to conform, is not really open debate.  Such is academia.  ---  10/1/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academia, criticisms of.  Most PhD's do not come up with anything especially original or creative.  We create most PhD's because we need college teachers, and we decided that college teachers must have PhD's.  Most PhD's perform a defensive, conservative function.  They defend a body of knowledge.  They protect turf.  However, most PhD's are not one of the few "academic stars", but rather one of the many droning workers.  The "PhD thesis" is often just a review of other people's work, or a confirmation of other people's test results.  The PhD's know this.  The public knows this.  But the image that most PhD's have of themselves, the image they try to project, the image they would have us believe, is that they are somehow irreplaceable stars.  The actual image of the professor today is increasingly like the image of the priest today, once feared yet now not quite with it.  ---  10/14/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academic disciplines overstepping their abilities and their subject areas of expertise.  Two mistakes are involved.  (1) In general, thinking, "My subject area explains everything.", when it does not  (2)  In specific instances, thinking, "This specific issue is an issue for my subject area.", when it is actually not.  Using the wrong tool.  ---  5/5/1999

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academic gang warfare on the battlefield (or marketplace) of ideas, to determine whether one idea or view will be taught over another.  Force of numbers times academic positions and the power they hold.  ---  08/15/1994

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Academics and pedagogues are insufferable.  ---  01/11/1997

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Adjuncts are like secret agents.  Technically, adjuncts don't exist, and, if pressed, the faculty will disavow any acknowledgment of adjuncts.  ---  3/20/2007

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  College is often a financial rip-off.  (1) Rooming in the real world to share a $300/month studio with a room mate costs $1500 a year.  Board (food) at $5 a day costs another $1500.  Tuition for one year at five courses a semester, and two semesters a year, at $400 a course would cost $4000 a year.  Combined Room/board and tuition would cost maximum $7000 a year.  Many colleges charge twice that.  (2) Many conservatives are trying to dismantle public higher education.  They are trying to close state universities.  That leaves only private universities, which are often even more of a rip off than public universities (many private universities cost more than $20,000 a year).  The total effect of the high costs of college education is to exclude and oppress the poor, who are the ones who need education the most.  (3) I say we should have cheap (or free) college level education available via the Internet.  Then we should have national college level tests which you can take in each subject area.  If you pass enough tests then you get the college degree.  ---  5/24/1999

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  College should be free, and not paid for by tax payers either.  There should be a teach yourself cheap option.  On the Internet.  You buy nationally standardized texts cheaply printed on newsprint.  Study on your own, at your own speed, and then pay $50 to sit for a nationally standardized test at any age, in any subject, on any level, for any degree or career path (ex. Math for business majors).  College would end up costing $2000 total.  ---  07/03/1994

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Criticisms of academia.  (1) How often does an academic defend an idea that s/he knows is wrong, simply because s/he has built a career on that idea?  Unfortunately, it happens quite often.  (2) How often does an academic cite a fellow academic simply as a form of favor swapping?  How often do academics say, "I'll cite you if you'll cite me?"  Unfortunately, it happens quite often.  (3) How often do academics write papers that are padded with fluff, simply because they are expected to "publish or perish"?  Unfortunately, it happens quite often.  (4) How often are academics hobbled by excessive specialization?  How often do academics feel that they cannot think about anything outside their narrow area of specialization?  Unfortunately, it happens quite often.  ---  6/9/2007

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Critique of academia.  College in America is a scam.  (1) College in America is a scam aimed at making money for an institution, a corporation, called a university.  A university makes money by fleecing students, alumni, assistant professors, etc.  (2) Its a crime that young people are forced to start out in life saddled with $100,000 dollars of debt due to college loans.  (3) If you have to go to college, the best way is the cheapest way: two years of community college followed by two years of state university.  (4) Big name schools are a rip off.  (5) Do not join a frat.  Frats are a waste.  ---  8/9/2005

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Critique of academia.  College is a scam.  Any system that sends young adults out into the world burdened by the crippling debts of student loan payments is a bogus system.  The only way that college prepares students for real life is by preparing them for crushing debt in a scam system.  ---  6/23/2005

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Critique of academia.  Consider Wittgenstein's distaste for academia.  Surely, it is of some consolation to those who failed to get their PhD in philosophy.  And it gives credence to the view that the educational system is flawed.  Indeed, the entire system, of which the educational system is part, is flawed, yet it is the best we have at the moment, and we are trying to improve it, but to improve it we must first recognize its flaws.  ---  2/15/2005

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Critique of academia.  Most people are in college because they have to be there, not because they want to be there.  They have to be there because employers want to see a college diploma.  Do you want to be in an environment where people don't want to be there and are only there because they feel forced to be there?  No.  ---  6/8/2005

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Critique of academia.  Much of the work produced in academia is bullshit.  Many academicians are bullshit artists.  The academician, the used car salesman and the politician have much in common.  Academia, politics and business have high levels of bullshit.  ---  6/23/2005

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Grad school.  Even in grad school, which is supposedly the most peer influenced and egalitarian level of education, there is a tendency in to produce authoritarian personalities.  The students submissively kiss ass to get a degree, and later they kiss ass some more to get tenure.  Then there occurs an inevitable backlash, as they flip to authoritarian, dictatorial, tenured professor mode.  ---  2/8/2001

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  If a college diploma was not required to get a job then how many people would go to college?  What if there was another way besides a college diploma to prove your general knowledge or specialized proficiencies.  Like a national standard test.  ---  6/20/2002

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  If a graduate level professor teaches too well, he may put himself out of a job sooner.  You are creating your own competition.  ---  12/01/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  If every phd candidate did (1) One original historical study of another philosophers work.  (2) One translation of a philosophical work.  It would do much to peer judge and consolidate world philosophy through time.  ---  08/07/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  If we look at college as a business, which it is, we see that the customers of this business (i.e., the students) are liberal, but the business itself (i.e., the professors and administration) is conservative, as are most businesses.  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Internet and academia.  (1) The Internet shows that high-priced private universities are not the only way to get smart.  The Internet also shows that there are many people just as smart as the college professors.  And the Internet provides a way to get as smart as a college professor.  (2) A related example of this phenomena is the medical industry.  The Internet puts a tremendous amount of medical knowledge online for free.  Patients become more pro-active by researching and discussing among themselves. They switch doctors if they do not agree with their doctor.  They question their doctors.  They talk back to their doctors.  They challenge their doctors.  (3) The Internet does the same thing to academia as it did to the medical community.  The Internet breaks academia's implied claim to a monopoly on knowledge.  ---  8/15/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Internet and academia.  Many academics will bluff by saying, "I can't wait till the average person understands my supposed area of expertise".  But what the academics really fear is students who know more than they do.  Students asking them questions they don't know the answer to.  (2) The academics have been polishing apples for years in order to get tenure.  They want to gain tenure not so they can "teach their own ideas" but rather so they can have a meager amount of power and money and rule their own little fiefdom.  Academia is about power and money just as much as business, the military and the government is about money and power.  The academics know how to play the power game just as well as the business men, soldiers and politicians do.  ---  8/20/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Internet and academia.  The academicians may soon find themselves struggling to keep up with the discussions of knowledgeable laypeople on the Internet who are forging ahead due to the ability of the Internet to let people put their heads together.  ---  12/30/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Internet and academia.  The Internet allows a far-reaching, instantaneous forum that can bring a layman (non-academician) quickly up to speed in a given subject area.  This fact will be welcomed by some academicians but it will strike worry and fear into other academicians.  At one point in time, in the seventies and early eighties, the Internet was only available to select researchers but today anyone can go online.  The academicians cried about "commercialization" of the web, but what they really worry about is how fast the Internet allows a person to become smarter than the academics are.  The universities once had a monopoly on knowledge, but now much of that knowledge is available online for free.  The academicians were once ensconced in positions of power, but now their power base is eroding.  ---  8/15/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Internet and academia.  The Internet disperses power.  The Internet takes power away from power centers where power is concentrated and disperses it among the people.  The Internet empowers the people.  The Internet is a democratizing force.  For example, money is power and so the Internet enabled people to do their own stock research and not fall prey to stock brokers.  Another example, knowledge is power and the Internet enables people to educate themselves without falling prey to universities and academicians.  ---  8/20/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Internet and academia.  The Internet will let you learn more and learn faster than the traditional models of education like the academicians lecturing in universities.  ---  12/30/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Internet and academia.  Two cool paradoxes resulting from the Internet.  (1) People are smarter but the university has less power.  (2) People are wealthier but Wall Street brokers have less power.  ---  8/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Many academicians take knowledge as received.  They aren't as skeptical and questioning as scientists.  They aren't driven to improve as much as technologists are driven to improve.  ---  12/30/1992

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Most academics are not tough, brave, and free.  They are part of the "meekness and conformity = safety" school of thought.  I say meekness and conformity = death.  ---  11/08/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Much of academia I have seen so far (undergraduate and graduate) is a bunch of pompous sycophants who pathologically deify the "greats".  What a load of bull.  How bogus.  I was right to stay out and away.  ---  12/30/1996

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  One can argue that: (1) The business world produces as much theoretical knowledge as academia (for example, there are almost as many books authored each year by business management gurus as there are published by academicians).  (2) The business world produces as much practical knowledge as academia (for example, the invention of computer hardware and software).  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  One of the problems of academia is that the process of publishing in peer review journals can be easily compromised and subverted by over-eager academics.  Academics put a high value on work being published in peer review journals because academics advance their careers through being published in peer review journals.  The question for an academic becomes becomes, "How to get published in a peer review journal?".  Unfortunately, the answer of some academics is, "Get published in a peer review journal by becoming friendly and forming alliances with the group of peers who referee a journal, thus making it more likely that one's own work with be published in the journal."  There is a certain amount of favor swapping in academia.  There is a certain amount of deal making in academia.  Academia is politicized on the micro-social level, in that there is a struggle for money, power, and publication on the departmental level and the subject-niche level.  Another issue is that, academia is also politicized on the macro-social level, in that academics express their national political affiliation through their work, which can and does affect the micro-social phenomena mentioned above.  ---  3/11/2007

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  PhDs hoard key questions and answers in order to make careers.  ---  7/30/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Professors get tenure by developing a line of thought, a series of arguments, a theoretical school, and then publishing their work.  If their school of thought is overthrown, they lose their jobs and salary.  So they defend their view (even if incorrect) and attack opposing views and new views.  Thus there is an inherent inertia, based on job security and greed, in academia.  Progress (change to new and better views) occurs, at best, at the rate of generational change.  ---  3/8/1997

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Somehow, in the 1960's, academia attained a reputation for being liberal.  But it was not the professors who were liberal, it was the students who were liberal.  Academia (colleges, administrators, and professors) are not liberal.  Most colleges are non-profit organizations with boards and trustees, and they are run like corporations.  College is a business, and a rather traditional business at that.  (2) The job of the professor is to represent the school.  The job of the professor is to appear professional.  The job of the professor is to make an appeal for the classics and defend the accepted cannon of books in his subject area.  The job of the professor is to defend his subject area against attacks by outsiders.  Professors are defensive, conservative traditionalists.  Professors are tribal.  Professors are hired workers, just like those in automobile factory assembly lines and Fortune 500 corporate offices.  ---  9/20/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Taste is important for a scholar.  Intuitively or unconsciously picking out what is important from what is bullshit.  ---  11/27/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  The academics are so similar to each other.  Tweedy and quiet.  How limiting, how sad, to be stuck in the world of academia.  ---  10/16/2001

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  The model of the classroom is a dictatorship.  The teacher tells you what to think and do.  All school succeeds in doing is producing a bunch of sycophantic yes-men.  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  The PhDs.  (1) How do they view themselves?  How do they view their jobs (as survival job, or competitive game, or truth quest)?  How do they view the rest of the world?  (2) How did I come to idolize them?  (3) What are their heads like?  How enslaved to academia, how fearful, how jealous, how driven, how calm, how confident, how narrow minded vs. broad minded?  (4) How did they get so smart?  What did they read?  How fast do they read?  How good is their memory?  How broad and deep are they?  ---  6/30/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  There is as much puffery in academic writing as there is in the most overblown business presentations.  People learn to shovel **it in school.  ---  9/18/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Thesis ideas.  Find a better position, or a better argument for a position, or find a better way of expressing or saying an argument.  They are all good.  ---  11/28/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Thesis ideas.  Find a new position, or improve an old one.  Defend and attack it.  Put it into relationship with other ideas.  See how well it stands up.  ---  08/02/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Thesis strategies.  (1) Apply old techniques to a new area.  (2) Apply new techniques to an old area.  (3) Variation on an already successful paper.  ---  07/27/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Thesis tactics.  Pick a topic outside the mainstream.  Pick and interdisciplinary topic.  Example, ethics of technology, psychology of economics, etc.  ---  10/25/1994

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Thesis types: critical, historical, comparative, combo.  Transfer of idea or method to new subject or new object.  ---  12/30/1992

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  To the extent that academics write in incomprehensible jargon about esoteric minutiae, and to the extent that academics adamantly refuse to write in layperson's terms about pressing issues, to that extent academia abdicates to other forms of writing.  ---  11/25/2001

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  True academics.  Pursue what interests you.  Think and write about whatever you like.  Teach whatever ideas you like.  Read and teach whatever books you consider worthwhile.  Pursue whatever you think is most important.  Advance the world of ideas.  Make some progress.  Not mindless repetition of outdated ideas.  Not the worship of a canon.  ---  12/28/2006

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Two big mistakes.  (1) Academics have a tendency to hide and escape in their books.  To use abstractions to avoid pain of living.  (2) They are often too narrowly focused.  They avoid and ignore much of reality and the world.  ---  12/30/1996

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Two poles in academia.  (1) Risk, new, freedom, liberal, creators of new ideas, and destroyers of old ideas.  (2) Safety, old, conservative, conformist, enslaved, knockdown new ideas.  ---  07/25/1993

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Universities and academicians do not hold a privileged position.  They are not dictators with a monopoly on knowledge.  ---  12/30/2000

Psychology, thinking, education, academia.  ---  Universities are profit-driven corporations.  (1) Universities run on the "wage slave labor" of grossly under-payed adjunct professors.  (2) Universities over-charge their students with exorbitantly high tuition bills.  (3) Universities unceasingly hit on their alumni for donations.  (4) Universities look for tax breaks from the government.  ---  3/7/2004

Psychology, thinking, education, academic.  ---  What, or who, is an academic?  (1) An academic described as a person with knowledge in their head.  (2) An academic described as a person with knowledge at their fingertips.  (3) An academic described as a person who is a creator of new knowledge.  ---  5/1/2007

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Paul Nervy Notes. Copyright 1988-2007 by Paul Nervy.