By Alan Caruba
I was talking with a friend about the latest hot topic involving Prof. Henry Lewis Gates of Harvard and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department.
We both agreed that some of the stupidest people we have ever known were PhDs who too frequently turned out to be over-educated fools.
In this country, we have been taught to revere anyone with the title of doctor, starting with physicians and working our way through the maze of doctors of law, education, music, library science, and the long list of fields of a study that grant these degrees.
These days physicians leave medical school owing about $100,000 on the average and, if the president’s healthcare reform passes, they will never be able to pay it back no matter how long they are in practice. Having to pay $200,000 for insurance against malpractice every year has done more to drive up the cost of medical care than anything else.
I used to work for an institution of higher knowledge, a well-respected institute of technology and, while I came to respect the technical achievements of those pursuing engineering or architecture degrees, I also learned that many of those teaching these ancient skills and modern technologies often displayed all the personal failures of judgment and deportment of those far less educated than they.
The one thing one learns in a college or university is that the admiration which its faculty and deans feel toward themselves. It is their bulwark against the real world where people are actually growing, inventing, making, and selling things.
The problem, as my friend noted, is that PhDs may know a great deal about a particular thing, they are often totally out of their league when it comes to extrapolating that niche of knowledge to practical matters or the great issues of the world.
The recent passing of Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense for Lyndon B. Johnson is a case in point. A good and decent man, McNamara was a wunderkind of the Ford Motor Company who had previously taught at Harvard. He was one of “the best and the brightest” brought into government by John F. Kennedy.
The re-airing of a C-Span interview with him made clear that he went to his grave knowing that he, President Johnson, and his colleagues had been quite thoroughly wrong about expanding the Vietnam War beyond the provision of U.S. military advisors. One can be very gifted in an area of expertise, but that does not necessarily transfer to real world, real time situations.
Moving forward in time to the present, President Obama has surrounded himself with lots of PhDs and each one is just weirder than the next. Dr. John Holdren, his science advisor, once advocated putting stuff in the food supply that would reduce the fertility rate. His Energy Secretary, Dr. Steven Chu, is a Nobel Laureate who thinks painting all our roofs white will stave off global warming. His Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, is hell bent on ensuring that not a drop of oil is sucked out of the vast U.S. reserves, nor a single new ton of coal if he has anything to say about it.
Barely a day goes by when one of these loons says something so stupid that you have cause to fear for the future of the republic.
The reason “Joe the Plumber” made all those headlines during the campaign was that he was not a PhD. He was a working man with a very useful skill and he was smart enough to know that Obama was a…how can I say this nicely? Someone not telling the truth and a Marxist.
Prof. Gates suffers from the hubris that goes with being a Harvard professor. He has made his reputation on the basis of his research about the Negro race in America. Any ghetto homeboy could have told him to be polite to the police officer, but Prof. Gates flew into a rage when asked to identify himself and continued to hurl the racism charge at a police officer who was immediately defended by his Black and Hispanic colleagues.
President Obama, despite saying he was unfamiliar with the details of the incident, could not resist visiting the theme of racial profiling. We are now decades passed the great achievements of the Civil Rights movement but the beat goes on.
America used to be a meritocracy. Now the nation is so heavily into “diversity” that we are dumbing down the standards for everyone from firemen to surgeons.
It’s a good idea to proceed with caution when some PhD advises you on anything more complex than your digital camera. It is said that a little education can be a dangerous thing, but too much education can actually blind those chosen to lead the nation and teach its youth to the lessons of history and to plain old common sense.