Letters to the Editor

Degree defended

December 3, 2010


To the editor:

In a recent letter (Public Forum, Dec. 2), Michael Kelly writes that there is a gross imbalance in Kansas between “non-essential” and “profession-ready” graduates. He cites psychology as an example of students in the “non-essential” category. Broadly labeling a set of majors as “non-essential” reveals a misunderstanding of the workers a knowledge economy needs.

Not every job in our economy is a specialized, professional, position. The number of professional positions such as nursing or environmental engineering represent only a small portion of the job market. The engines that drive our economy require workers with broad training in numeracy, problem solving, critical thinking and the ability to do research.

As an article in the Guardian UK titled “What makes psychology and geography grads the most employable?” noted on Nov. 18, psychology graduates are less likely to be unemployed than the average graduate because they possess “an impressive range of skills that make them highly employable.” In fact, they point out that “profession-ready” IT graduates were twice as likely to be unemployed as psychology graduates. We need professionals, but we also need graduates trained with broad skills to do jobs our future economy has not even imagined it needs yet.

Paul Atchley,



devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

A "knowledge economy" is failing us. While the misdeeds of bankers, politicians and other nefarious characters has certainly contributed to the current economic decline, the biggest reason for our economic demise is the lack of fruitful work.

Computer engineers are employed making games. Psychologists are employed manipulating your buying choices. Geographers and other map-makers, mathematicians, and computer-savvy thinkers are employed to build eye candy. Politicians use these folks to sway, manipulate, cajole and otherwise steer the mass audience toward political goals.

Issues are contrived and solutions are proposed.....by "knowledgeable " people. There is an expert at every turn telling us that they are knowledgeable. And we are treated to new things like twitter, Taylor Swift and other useless things. But the computer models predict doom and gloom, and the "experts" will save us from our iniquities. Ha.

Meanwhile electrical engineers are tilted toward windmills and other technologies that don't work, but are sold by psychologists to the public. The engineers hold their noses, get paid, and laugh at the solar panels on rooftops. Sigh.

"Knowledge economy" means a computer program economy. Computer models of investment risk, climate, marketing and virtually everything else are making a lie out of knowledge.

We need more kids in shop class and fewer kids in computer lab.
We need to build character in our youth. "Knowledge" is overrated while honor, integrity, and reason are not taught in public school. These character traits don't come from a psychology book.

How 'bout we start teaching kids first to show up and do a job? Nothin' fancy, just show up and work.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

Nothing like changing the game so that the rules apply. Of course those remote applications like construction signals work. When the load (portable traffic signals) is remote, the solar panel/battery is sufficient to run the signal. It isn't very efficient, but it is better than running lines from the grid to the signal.

All your other examples are specialized and adequate, but not efficient. That is, the NASA applications occur in space where the atmosphere doesn't block the sun and the sun is in view for a long time and the panels track the sun and the alternatives are limited to nuclear. It still is expensive and not efficient.

Clearly what I was referring to is when solar panels are compared to coal-fired power plants.

Here ya go: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/electricity_generation.html

Compare for yourself. Cool off, go for a walk, read the numbers and see why I say that these alternatives don't work. Simply making energy isn't the point.

Solar and windmills are the ethanol of electricity. Plant-based ethanol is less than 100% efficient. That is, if all farmers where required to make ethanol from crops and that ethanol was used exclusively in the farm equipment, the whole system would run down to nothing.

It takes more energy to make the ethanol than you get from the ethanol. Solar panels and windmills are also less than 100% efficient because they are so unreliable. You must have backup generation to take care of the times when the solar and wind are not available. When you add it all up, the energy cost just doesn't balance. They don't work. They make less electrical power than it takes to build and maintain them.

And finally, this blog is about psychology. It is about the relative usefulness of psychology graduates versus technology grads. Your emotional and incorrect response is just what I was referring to when I said that the power of mind bending was better in today's world than the power of reason. You have bought the line on alternative energy because you don't know about energy. More to the point, you don't know what exergy is. Look it up.

In fact, maybe you should look up a lot of information regarding energy.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I remember Ψ 101, too.

They get a little harder later on.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 3 months ago

In 1982 I saw my first academic advisor at KU, an English professor. As I told him what my career goals were, he lamented that universities had simply become "trade schools". It took me a while before the truth of that sunk in, but he was right: the reason to attend college was no longer for learning, it was for career. The liberal arts are important, but not to those who can only see dollar signs.

"Psychologists are employed manipulating your buying choices."

Really? Therapist, psychiatrists and hostage negotiators don't count?

gchawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Still blaming another administration for the current administrations problems? If you're going to do that don't just stop there, continue to blame every conceivable problem out there on someone or something that you either don't like, understand, or agree with. Accountability and maturity are wonderful traits, both of which elude you. I am so tired of liberals continuing to blame all of Obama's problems on Bush, get over it. Bush had an extreamly nice mess he inherited as well, starting with Clinton cutting military spending by over 50% which left us volnerable to attack, and guess what happened? Was this totally Clinton's fault? Of course not, but it certainly wasn't all Bush's fault. Time to move on, or perhaps look into the shallow crevices of your mind and find out what else we can blame on Bush.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 3 months ago

Good letter Prof.

the first LTE writer displays some ignorance in such a reference. in the psychological professions, a graduate degree is necessary, so the four year degree is just the first step in getting into a job.

Psych degrees also prepare people to do other things, such as writing, organizational psychology, etc.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

"Really? Therapist, psychiatrists and hostage negotiators don't count?"

Maybe if the liberal arts of character development were taught in the home and in secondary school, there would be less need for hostage negotiators.

Seems like there are more gang members and social outcasts who threaten our world than there used to be. Seems like there are more prison cells and dangerous people out on the streets than there used to be. Maybe not. Maybe the criminal and depressed have been here all along and they were just not reported.

Maybe when I hopped on my bike and cruised around Tulsa by myself at age 11, I was just lucky. I went back to that neighborhood about 5 years ago. I wouldn't walk those streets alone today and I'm 6' 2" and 220 lbs. Maybe I was in grave danger back in the 50s. But maybe, just maybe, those liberal views taught in the University haven't made our world better. Maybe those drugs and that irresponsible freedom that masqueraded as liberalism didn't work out.

Maybe we are educating young kids in the new conservatism. All those old hippies are now in charge. They are 60 now and they are in positions of authority. And their proscriptions are just as authoritarian as those old fat men in horn-rimmed glasses of 1960.

I say rebel. Kick out the jams. Question authority. If it ain't workin', fix it. I think that our youth playing video games all day long is not good. I think there are lots of things that aren't good and psychology departments doin' studies aren't needed to deal with those things. Grownups need to be more disciplined and require kids to tow the line. Behave themselves and be responsible. And you don't need a psychology degree to implement that.

Let's do a study to investigate the formation of a committee to organize a group that will study the gathering of data to form a society to study the actions of an action group that will publish quarterly reports on the actions of the committee that will make a computer model of behavior of cohorts in the presence of committee members who investigate the gathering of the data.

We'll send out press releases so that we can get funded for the formation of new committees that will............ do nothing. And the economy will crumble.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

"As an article in the Guardian UK titled “What makes psychology and geography grads the most employable?” noted on Nov. 18, psychology graduates are less likely to be unemployed than the average graduate because they possess “an impressive range of skills that make them highly employable.” In fact, they point out that “profession-ready” IT graduates were twice as likely to be unemployed as psychology graduates."

While I, of course, agree with the part about the "impressive range of skills", I would be remiss in not pointing out that the likelihood of a graduate finding a job has much more to do with the ratio of job openings to graduates in any given field, rather than on a '"range of skills". If there are only three graduates available to fill five openings for forensic anthropologists, that makes those three highly employable, but not necessarily possessed of a broader range of skills than the 30,000 IT graduates fighting for 5,000 open positions.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Wouldn't know, as I have no idea what your degree is in.

(Incidentally, my own is not in "psychology" either, it's in a more applied area of practice.)

Brandon Devlin 7 years, 3 months ago

It all comes down to that clichéd "well-rounded education" that everyone always laughed about. Lets face it. . .I didn't graduate from KU with a degree that was going to get me into the IT field. . .I had a liberal arts degree, and some specialized, home-spun skills that got me in the door. I was one of those "well-rounded" individuals.

Now, still in the IT field but with the added joy of managing a department and having to hire, I get all kinds applying. . .those with an engineering background, those with a liberal arts background, those with no education whatsoever. I still find it amazing that those with that more "well-rounded" background draw my attention the most. Those coming out with a "profession-ready degree" don't necessarily have the skills that my department requires. They may have lots of experience in something else, but if it's not in the specific language I need require work in, I don't have time to re-tool someone. Yes, I'm looking at "a degree," but not a "specific degree." Both show the ability to commit and complete. It's the total package I'm looking at.

patchley 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing, Cutthroat. It has been my experience as well after doing many years of senior exit interviews across a range of majors at KU that students with liberal arts degrees seem more adaptable when asked to answer problems that are specific to a single domain of study. If I need a circuit board designed, I will hire an engineer for that. But if I need an employee that can adapt to a variety of tasks, then a liberal arts degree is still of great value.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

Patchley, if you want a circuit board designed you would hire an engineer to translate your poorly described system into a rational function block.

Your desires regarding a "circuit board" would be first rationalized and then implemented in a mathematical algorithm. This is the first job of an engineer. Most lay people come to engineers with a vague understanding of what they want. So defining the problem is the first task.

Next the engineer will program a Spice model for circuit design. The model will be tested on the computer, including component tolerance, temperature effects, and a statistical analysis of the expected performance.

Then the Spice model will be run through a schematic capture program that lays out the circuit board and the files sent to a fab shop nearby. A coupla dozen boards are made and prototypes are built. Real life tests are run and modifications are entered into the Spice model and new circuits are laid out.

The design goes into production and the next project is tackled.

Notice that the engineer must know a lot about computers, math, modeling and statistics. Notice that the engineer must interface with a customer and derive a formal solution to a problem from the shaky information provided by the customer.

Many business are run today by people who rose through a company from engineering to CEO. The rational, organized and effective engineer gets the job done.

And the modern engineer is not as valued anymore because the success of a project is defined by marketing, not performance. I think Coors Light is nasty tasting beer. Coors sells a lot of it because of advertising, not quality product.
The psychology student is far better adapted to running a modern whiz-bang marketing effort than the engineer.

So yes patchley, the broad education of the psych student allows him or her to adapt to shoddiness. Manipulating the customer and yourself that McDs and Coors light, and solar panel electric generating is the modern choice and rational is to be ignored. Performance is measured in numbers of people fooled.

So liberals, how do like Obama now? Did he fool ya? Are you disappointed? If he is different than you thought he would be, don't blame engineers, blame the political scientists, psychologists, marketers. They packaged him, promoted him and sold him. Oh, and everybody does it. Right, left, everybody. And you think that psychology education is helping us? I don't.

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

It's the psychology education that helps us to see past the hype. It sure helps to avoid falling into the mistake of believing the right-wing fear machine and its anti-Obama propaganda.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

It also helps to see through the left-wind propaganda and the fear machine that includes, oh....I don't know,...how 'bout global warming?

The sky is falling, the sky is falling.....

It's all propaganda voevoda. Wake up to the endless advertising. Everything you see and hear all day long is one big advertisement. It might be for a product. It might be for some behavior modification, It might be to sway your opinion on politics, a university, love of country, nature, music. The list is endless. You are being constantly barraged by overt and subtle messages from every part of your life.

Limiting your jaundiced view to the right-wing is a sure sign that you are not a liberal. So how has Obama been, voevoda? Are you happy?

I mean, is he who you voted for? Were you sold a bill of goods? Is he selling out to big banking and other evil-doers in the world? Boy he sure hammered BP didn't he. Just askin'.

traveller83 7 years, 3 months ago

I have an undergraduate degree in Psych- I work for a mental health center providing services to individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. My Psych degree is required.

Just saying- it happens.

booyalab 7 years, 3 months ago

Classifying the "non-essential" degrees as knowledge based gives your average "communications" or "art therapy" major far too much credit. The schools from the Classical period up until about 100 years ago were arguably "non-essential", but they did value knowledge. In college today, you can go four years without learning anything that is taught above middle school or without developing any marketable skill.

booyalab 7 years, 3 months ago

Really, what it comes down to is that the whole college system is obsolete. I'd like to read an article about that.

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago

I think it is entirely the individuals right to decide what degree to pursue. However, IMHO subsidizing that decision with low cost federally underwritten loans and special grants devoid of meaningful requirements on performance and endurance in obtaining the degree and with no regard for the usefulness of the degrees sought to the people paying for them needs to be reexamined.

verity 7 years, 3 months ago

Some 30 years ago, after a discussion with classmates and a professor, I asked my very thrifty, practical and fundamental Christian parents what they wanted from my college education---learning how to make a living or learning how to live. I was expecting them to answer that they wanted me to learn how to make a living. The answer they gave was that they wanted me to learn both.

My own experience has been that a person with a well-rounded education is much better at adapting to life, including employment situations. Those with narrow training or education tend to be very rigid and can see only one way of doing things, whether that way makes sense or not.

However, that education certainly does not have to take place in a school environment. My father never went past high school, but was one of the most knowledgeable people I know. I could actually change his mind (sometimes) if I had a valid argument.

verity 7 years, 3 months ago

Just to make clear, I am not putting down formal education in any way. Some things can only be learned in that kind of setting.

A good education opens one's mind to listening to others and considering more than one way of looking at something. I realize some (many?) of the commenters on these boards think that is heresy and "liberal"---the same ones who consider the word "liberal" an insult. I consider it a compliment.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

Your liberal education was an augmentation of previous discipline and love. I can tell this from the way your parents answered your question. You were most fortunate to have been given the most important lessons first...those related to character.

The problem occurs when kids are not shown discipline at home or in school......then they get further liberalized, but have a poor context with which to compare.

They go wild. Some are very smart and think that their wild ways are the truth. They proscribe liberal views and are not aware that their proscriptions are impositions. Just like the bigots of yesteryear. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The only reason to consider "liberal" an insult is when it refers to the disorganized, undisciplined, anything goes mentality of those liberals who become sclerotic in their own views. They demonize conservatives. They insist on useless explanations of the world and impose new order........No, these aren't your parent's liberals. They are the guilt patrol. Global warming, vegan, guilt-trippers. Sigh. Just like the religions of old.

And now they have the power of psychology to help manipulate the world. If I were starting a company today, I would hire lots of psychologists. H.R. sales, commercials that don't offend. It doesn't matter what your product is, it only matters that you make money and don't get sued doing it.

ksriver2010 7 years, 3 months ago

Baloney. Take a look at job ads. Employers want potential employees to come with the training necessary for the job. While it used to be that liberal arts graduates and psychology or general education degree graduates could get jobs outside their degree fields, it is not happening in this economy. They can't break into a field that they didn't have the training in because there are plenty of available unemployed trained folks out there. One of the things that needs to be discussed with students that start a degree program in college is "where is this going to get you?". Many undergraduate degrees like liberal arts, psychology, and even biology and physics will not have job opportunities with just an undergrad - they require futher graduate degrees, and are focused on grooming teachers, professors, and researchers, all of whom require a graduate degree. Biology is a good example. A biology undergrad gets you a job processing urine samples in a drug testing lab.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

"Employers want potential employees to come with the training necessary for the job."

Not entirely true. The first thing employers are generally looking for is dependability - they want someone that's going to show up, every day. Then they want someone that can do the job, but demonstrated experience is a better indicator of that than a degree. In addition, employers want someone that can do the job their way, which means someone who's adaptable, not someone who's going to come in and tell the employer a 'better' way of doing things.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

Adaptable as in .....able to justify lies and cheating to make a buck? People trained in post-modern relativism and other fuzzy thinking are easily steered toward new belief systems.

Drill into them that cell phones plans are good and they will sell them for you. Since sales is all we do in America anymore, it doesn't surprise me that squishy-brained psychology types are in demand.

Jennifer Dropkin 7 years, 3 months ago

Businesses want employees who are just knowledgeable enough to do the work and just uneducated enough to be docile and laid off without complaint when they are no longer needed. If we go by what the business sector wants for an educated workforce, we will get partially educated workers only.

A partial education will prepare us for the nuts and bolts of existing in the working world--for a good many of us, that's how to read, write, and use computer applications.

A complete education teaches us how to think critically, how to consider and sometimes evaluate all aspects of life, not just economic or financial ones: the point of morality and ethical behavior (so often ignored in the business world), the context provided by historical and scientific knowledge and understanding, the consolations and terrors of philosophy and religion. A liberal arts education used to cover this.

The idea that a degree is "nonessential" works only if one thinks that the sole point of education is to get a job. It's not. The point of an education is to make life not just salaried but worth living.

But, having said that, I think our schools should and could do a much better job counseling students to get practical, employable skills as well as a broad knowledge base and the ability (and inclination!) to read and think in depth.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

"But, having said that, I think our schools should and could do a much better job counseling students to get practical, employable skills as well as a broad knowledge base and the ability (and inclination!) to read and think in depth."

Excellent points. I think we have dummied down too much eduction. People are smart enough to do both, get employable skills and have a broad knowledge base, but I think there is a lot of anti-intellectual pressure to just get job training and not learn to think critically. I also think that our society worships money, so anyone whose focus is not making lots of money is an outcast.

melott 7 years, 3 months ago

Actually physics BS recipients have the highest average salary right out of school...right behind business majors.

Tom McCune 7 years, 3 months ago

I've been an employer for quite a while now and have hired plenty of people. I want to hire people who will make me money. Period. This isn't my hobby; it is my livelihood and I do it for the money.

Every hour I spend teaching someone to do the job is an hour they aren't doing the work.

Hiring someone with a degree or two in the appropriate field is no guarantee, but is one item that helps narrow the field. Put yourself in my place, and remember that I am meeting payroll out of my own pocket every two weeks. This is a "knowledge" business. Which would you hire, ceteris paribus?:

Candidate A: - BS degree in relevant field - MS degree in another closely-related field - Internships with good companies - 2 or 3 years work experience between the degrees

Candidate B: - Switched majors 5 times - Spent 6 years in college, but never managed to graduate with anything - Expounds in rounded tones about the history, theory, and philosophy of the field but has never really worked in it - Lists 7 hobbies on resume

We'll let the liberal arts majors translate "ceteris paribus" for us. Oops. Sorry. They don't require Latin any more, but we always have Wikipedia.

Now that I think about it, Candidate B sounds a little like Sarah Palin. I wouldn't hire her either. I certainly wouldn't vote for her. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

gccs14r 7 years, 3 months ago

Depending on what you offer for a starting salary, Candidate A: may tell you to take a hike, leaving you with only B. A may command $145k to start, but B can probably be had for half a cold pizza and a Schlitz.

Tom McCune 7 years, 3 months ago

... and when you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Sorry. My apologies to the monkeys of the world.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Nice choices. Lawrence must be an interesting town, with over-educated candidates who can't find jobs, and undereducated idiots. With nothing in between.

gccs14r 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh, and then there's this:

"Every hour I spend teaching someone to do the job is an hour they aren't doing the work."

I would rather spend a week teaching someone bright-eyed with enthusiasm how to do something, then have them go be fantastically productive for 5-10 years, than put up with a dour burnout who may already know what to do, but couldn't care less about doing it either fast or well. Obviously there are limits to what can be learned in a week, but we're not talking about hiring engineers or neurosurgeons here, are we?

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

What students get out of a college education has a lot to do with the effort they put into it. If they select challenging courses in any field and work hard at them, they will come out with honed minds, research and writing skills, the ability to evaluate data and come to reasoned conclusions, the ability to learn, and a good work ethic. If they party their way through, taking easy courses, dropping hard ones, and blustering their way to a passing grade, they won't be able to succeed in the "real world," either.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

Here's how you get through psychology, history, and any writing class. Google your teacher. Find out what publications the teacher has done. Look for the political bias in their work. It might be gay rights, women rights, ethnic diversity.........well you get my drift.

When you write a paper, make sure that your perspective is that of the politics of your teacher. Even if you don't support your viewpoints thoroughly, the teacher will be biased and "fill in the blanks". They will already know what you mean and will accept your thesis readily.

If your thesis is counter to the teacher's notion of fair, right and wrong, or other feelings, then good luck getting a good grade on the paper.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

See, you're a relativist after all, and apparently highly adaptable. Pretty fuzzy thinking there.

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

notajayhawk, since psychology, history, art, and literature has been deeply influenced by post-modernism, I have no choice but to deal with them. If I am studying engineering, but have to take a class from one of these other squishy subjects, I try to spend as little time on them as possible....so that I can concentrate on vector calculus.

Pragmatic use of my time and effort leads me to an A in the squishy class by scamming their system. Writing a paper that will soothe the feelings of the teacher and takes a very little effort to accomplish.

If I don't value something but I have to do it to satisfy somebody else, I figure out how to accomplish the goal without wasting much time on it.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

"Pragmatic use of my time and effort leads me to an A in the squishy class by scamming their system."

I remember back when I was getting my masters, our Theories & Methods professor was relating a little story about how she had trained her cat. Seems when the cat wanted to go outside at night, he'd come into her bedroom and scratch at the patio door to be let out, then scratch at it again to come back inside. There was a long silence in the classroom, as I'm pretty sure at least a couple of the other students had figured out the obvious before I asked the professor "Um - who had who trained?"

If it makes you feel better, devo, just keep telling yourself you were the one doing the scamming.

camper 7 years, 3 months ago

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemed to repeat it".

To me this is the primary reason why I believe a well balanced education is as important as ever.

Tom McCune 7 years, 3 months ago


I agree. However, the point is that people should leave high school with enough general education that they can get on with learning a career. You can (and should) continue learning about history and the world your whole life by reading, travel, etc. You don't need to spend many years of extended adolescence refighting the Punic Wars before getting on with life.

I love history and try to read about it as much as I can. But I don't earn my living that way. I had to learn a profession to generate enough income to support myself and read history on the side.

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

Learning history is good preparation for a lot of professions. A friend of mine who is the logistics manager for a transport company swears by his history BA. Why? It taught him how to separate fact from fiction. And how to identify a speaker's bias in his/her version of events. And how to gather information from a lot of different sources and construct an accurate picture of a situation, even if the evidence is incomplete. And how to find reliable information in the first place. And how to speak and write persuasively. The academic study of history taught him how to think critically and how to learn. If he had just studied to be a trucker and read history "on the side" as you propose, Newell_Post, he'd still be driving the highway.

camper 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the reply Newell. I agree with your view too. I am basically a history buff with an accounting degree....go figure.

But even in my business courses, we did a lot of management case studies where we studied the reasons why some businesses failed, and others exceled. In a way, even these business courses were history lessons in a way.

And today I see many businesses making the same mistakes I learned of 20 years ago...even the company I work for. I often see politicians who repeat the same demagoguery that I thought was debunked long ago. So in many ways we tend to forget even our recent past quite quickly.

But to your point. If I excelled more in my applied field studies (accounting), maybe I actually could have made it to a higher managerial position and call more of the shots. But still, I'm happy where I am.


devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago


Read the expanded quote:

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience." George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

Notice how Santayana is taking to task the progressive who pitches out the old. Notice that he is defending tradition, conservative and prior knowledge from change for change's sake. Sounds like a tea partier to me.

Oh, never mind the comments about savages and infancy and other borderline bigotry.

When hippies resurrected the quote in the 1960s, they focused on not repeating mistakes of the past. And they left out the part about using the good, useful, or positive things from the past.

As a result, religion was pitched, only to be repeated as pantheism. They needed a religion, had rejected traditional religion, so they created another one, environmentalism. Yet today one cannot point this out in polite company. Call an environmentalist a true believer or a person of faith and you are in trouble. Reprimanded as surely as that old fat man in horn-rimmed glasses did when you were in 8th grade in 1962.

Finally, I believe that the temperature outside right now is lower than it was yesterday and I must deal with it. It isn't a created reality and my adaptation doesn't involve philosophy, or any post modern flim flam. While my perception of cold might be changed by psychology, the temperature cannot.

This is why I sit in my house, warm from hydrocarbon combustion, and thank the engineer for helping me deal with the temperature reality in a way that works. I shall hire an engineer for help before I seek an alternate reality that comes from a psychologist. Or are you one of those who simply takes for granted the efforts of engineers?

camper 7 years, 3 months ago

Devo, I certainly am against change for change sake....or re-inventing the wheel. I see plenty of that. In this regard I am more conservative. But I see many of the mistakes that "we are condemend to repeat" as failed policies of change that did not work out very well. I don't uderstand you characterizing it as a task to the progressives. Can you help me out here.

For example, twentieth century farming practices greatly contributed to soil erosion and top soil depletion. This was certainly a mistake that we don't want to repeat. Were these progressive farming practices?

devobrun 7 years, 3 months ago

20th century farming practices contributed to the green revolution. Yes, they were successful and progressive. Those practices are controversial.


But for all the good and bad associated with the green revolution, at least Borlaug did something real. At least he gave a means to an end that worked.

Today we are cleaning up the process of massive fertilization and GMO. It is an engineering task that can be done. Indeed the erosion on the great plains of America has been greatly mitigated. Farmers in India can modify their techniques as well.

Responsible behavior, practical engineering, and the will to live a good life are all that is needed. No fear, no guilt, no political arguments, and no psychological manipulation. Our world is better because of the green revolution. It is not better because of psychological manipulation of people's minds toward arbitrary political goals.
But liberal arts education is targeted toward political activism. When you write a paper for an English class, you should gauge your teacher's politics first.
After all, what is the point of raising one's awareness? Modify behavior. In a world of competing awarenesses (sic), the goal is to win over the press, and the public's sense of fear. Focus their fear on climate change, soil erosion, etc. Then you can become powerful and an effective member of a business, government or non-profit.

When the game isn't to do something, but is to win political wars, then a liberal arts degree is better than an engineering degree. When the revenue comes from government funding, learn how to manipulate the government.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 3 months ago

Devo describes the process of testing the designed circuit.

hmmm, sounds like if the project is big or serious enough, you've got some of them derned human factors psychologists in thar investigating the application to use by people.

liberal arts education doesn't necessarily always translate into "liberal" values, but sadly it often does.

rtwngr 7 years, 3 months ago

A psychology graduate says, "How do you feel about having fries with your burger?"

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 3 months ago

Let's not confuse psychology with a liberal education (liberal not referring to political but to the original meaning of liberal as having the time and freedom for such studies).

I am afraid too many in psychology and other social "sciences" are concerned more with manipulation, casuistry, and rationalization than with discovering truths about human beings and nature.

Put another way, they have learned that human beings are irrational and extremely manipulable using fear and self-interest. They have made the fields of psychology and social "sciences" one of manipulation rather than one of discovery and knowledge.

Too many in psychology and other social "sciences" are more philosophers than scientists. Too like priests and other religious leaders who manipulate with fear and ignorance.

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