We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

We have too many people who are credentialed rather than educated, and too many people who think their education creates an automatic entitlement. The problem isn’t with “merit” rising to the top, the problem is that we have a false and destructive idea of what constitutes merit.

Glenn Reynolds

30 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • RRS

    We might also say there is more “Education” than learning.

  • rxc

    It is a return to the guild system, back in the middle ages. You have to have credentials from organizations that are certified by the existing members of the guild in order to get into the guild and practice a profession. Some experience may count towards getting a certificate, but more important is getting past the gate-keepers. It ensures that only the right people get in. And then only the guild members can be trusted to pronounce on the relevant subject matter. “97% of experts in this field have reacehed consensus, so you can’t question it, even in light of facts that show that they don’t know what they are talking about.”

  • Alisa

    And this is how the science gets settled.

  • RAB

    The Inns of Court and the Law Society… two of the oldest closed shop trade unions on Earth.

  • Laird

    I like to say that such people are “educated beyond their capacity.” Ten pounds of excrement in a 5-pound sack.

  • James Hargrave

    Ah, the Law Society. Unrepresentative of anything much. Another self-perpetuating, corporatist leech of inveterate mediocrity.

    A system of paper qualifications – who are the gullible? Those who have expended effort on the qualifications or those who believe that these credentials are evidence of anything much at all?

    I escaped after 25 years an occupation in which registered membership of something I thought was worth a pitcher of spit had become all the vogue. many may have been registered, but it struck me that few really knew what they were doing. Thus, time to make my excuses and leave.

  • Laird

    Am I to infer that the Law Society is like the American Bar Association: a professional association which doesn’t actually have any control over whether one is admitted to practice law, but in which membership is perceived as bestowing a certain amount of cachet?

  • Paul Marks

    A good quotation – Glenn Reynolds is correct.

    Thank you Brian for posting this.

  • Alisa

    the American Bar Association: a professional association which doesn’t actually have any control over whether one is admitted to practice law

    What about the bar exams?

  • Mr Ed


    The Law Society of England and Wales is the governng body for solicitors in that jurisdiction, a similar body operates in Scotland. It sets out who can be admitted to the profession usually by law degree (3 years) (or non-law degree then 1 year law crammer) then 1 year post-graduate ‘practical’ course, then a 2 year training contract with a minimum salary higher than the minimum wage to keep the number of trainees down, er, no, guarantee social mobility. It also sets the Rules of Practice for the profession.

    It provides standards for CPD and generally acts as a lobby group. Getting people thrown out of the profession is done by a body called something like the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which operates a quasi-judicial Tribunal system for breaches of the practice rules. IIRC, you would have to join as a Student member to get into the profession, but once in, membership of the Society is voluntary, whilst following its rules is not voluntary, just seemingly ‘optional ‘.

  • RAB

    Whoops! Stirred the pot a bit there didn’t I?

    When I joined the Law Society I had to go for a rather searching interview to be accepted in the first place ( I had passed no exams up to this point, you have to be a member to sit Part 1 and Part 2 exams). I was sponsored and coached by Cardiff’s Chief Clerk of the time and the head of South Wales CID, both members themselves. You have to be in… to be in.

  • bobby b

    July 31, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    When I joined the Law Society I had to go for a rather searching interview to be accepted in the first place . . .”

    Much like in the USA.

    Finish law school, sit for the two-day Bar Exam, then the Bar Association does an in-depth character review to make sure you’re of sufficient good character to join a bunch of . . . lawyers! Always thought that was amusing.

  • bobby b

    July 31, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Am I to infer that the Law Society is like the American Bar Association: a professional association which doesn’t actually have any control over whether one is admitted to practice law, but in which membership is perceived as bestowing a certain amount of cachet?

    I joined once, at my admission to the bar, because I thought it was the usual thing to do.

    Then I cancelled my membership about a year later when I learned what the ABA really is – the SJW wing of the bar.

    They’re the ones who pushed for all of the state bars to put diversity education requirements into the CLE’s. (Continuing Legal Education yearly credit requirements, I should clarify. Mandatory credits to keep up with education, which turned into one-third diversity ed and racial equality classes.)

  • Laird

    I did much the same, bobby.

    Alisa, the ABA has nothing to do with admission to practice law; that is the purview of each state’s Supreme Court (and is often delegated, at least in part, to the state bar association). The ABA is merely a trade association, although it does wield a certain amount of power (promulgating model rules of conduct for the state bars, vetting federal judicial candidates, etc.). But you certainly don’t have to be a member to practice law anywhere (state or federal).

  • Laird

    bobby, those “diversity” requirements don’t surprise me in the least. When I was practicing law (I haven’t for 20+ years), in both of the states where I was licensed a certain number of CLE credits were required to be in either legal ethics or law office management (with the rest in substantive legal matters). To me, that always seemed a very strange equivalency.

  • Bruce

    “What about the bar exams?”

    Three guys walk into a bar………….

  • Alisa

    Laird: thanks.

    Bruce: 🙂

  • Clovis Sangrail

    A dyslexic guy walks into a bra…

  • John K

    An armed citizen walks in with a BAR.

  • Umbriel

    Laird — The “diversity” education requirements seem not to have infected all the states yet. In Pennsylvania our only specialty education requirement remains a certain number of “ethics” hours, which I suppose might encompass “diversity”, but aren’t yet required to.

  • Mr Black

    I’m going through an in-house credentialing exercise at the moment run in cooperation with a well known local college. A group of us have been designated as being in need of more engineering qualifications to meet company requirements but the process is abysmal. Those from countries where cheating is considered more acceptable can barely put two numbers together but are being passed through on the basis of their written submissions, all of which seem to have been created by others. Various management types are “too busy” to actually attend or meet the requirements – they are also being passed through via an informal presumed knowledge standard. Less than 30% of the group has actually met the standard for the credential to be awarded but 100% will get it anyway.

  • PeterT

    An armed dyslexic person walks in with a bra

  • Thailover

    Most humans are authoritorians, seeking a chieftain to tell them the official “truth”. Alas, this is why so many people are impressed with written works that have references and footnotes, which are, in themselves, worthless. If an author says, maybe A because Steve said so, or maybe B because Tom says so, or maybe even C because Sally says so, somehow this is supposed to be more impressive than, maybe D because I the author say so. I remember someone giving Hitchens hell because he wrote The Missionary Position about “Mother” Teresa being much, much less than a saint, because he didn’t include footnotes. Hitches response was, so? Investigate the facts yourself and see if they don’t ring true. It seemed to bother this fellow to no end that it was Hitch’s say-so and not Bob, Ted and Alice’s say so. This guy’s objections really seemed to ring out, “but…I’m Catholic”.

    People don’t seem to know the difference between being a thinker and being merely well instructed. A degree is largely a matter of becoming an expert on the opinions of Bob, Ted and Alice rather than thinking independently, although this is, ostensibly, what a graduate (doctoral) thesis is about.

  • Thailover

    BTW, I’m not suggesting that every use of footnotes is worthless. I’m saying that ‘the use of footnotes in and of itself, lends gravitas’, is nonsense.

  • Mr Ed

    From my Latin ‘O’-level, I recall a phrase, iirc from a poem by Martial. One character says to the other ‘docti sumus‘ ‘We are learned’.

    Contrast the ‘docti‘ with the ‘educated‘. Education derives from ‘ex’ (out of) and ‘ducere’ (to lead), so to be educated is to be led out of one state and put into another, education is a passive process, learning can be an active one, with a discernment that an ‘education’ lacks.

    Ceteris paribus, it is better to be ‘learned’ than ‘educated’.

    (Pretentious? Moi?).

  • Julie near Chicago

    Or, as we used to say, “other things being equal,” or “all else being equal.” But that was merely English, a most vulgar language, even if it is the lingua franca.

    One might also be put off by the relatively recent adoption of arguendo, which is clearly much more erudite than the formerly common “for the sake of the argument.”

    And inter alia, or “among other things” if one is among the unwashed masses.

    Mr Ed, as a Legal Eagle (variensis Britannium ??? or some such), youse gets a pass on Ceteris &c. ;>) But I must say, youse has never struck me as pretentious. Although I’m a bit miffed because you didn’t take me to Venice with you & the S. of K. *frown*

    It is (I am informed) an interesting fact that in the Southern Appalachian highlands (Smokey Mountains, so forth) in the early 20th Century, the isolated, illiterate unwashed were insistent that their children be taught Latin in the new schools that were appearing in those parts. (I believe the Quakers had a notable hand in this, though the Great Frog knows I could be wrong.)


    Purely arguendo of course, your etymological deduction that “education is a passive process” doesn’t entirely convince me. It seems to me, first, that “to be educated” does carry with it at least a connotation of “to be learned [in some area presumably indicated by context].” I absolutely agree, of course, that “learning” is an active process [though not necessarily a conscious one: We do “pick things up,” often enough. For instance we “pick up” the (apparent, rough) meaning of words simply from hearing the context in which they’re used].

    Besides which, “education” does involve conscious learning, even if what is “learned” happens to be false, wrong, prejudiced, fallacious, etc. etc. etc.

    Also, one might be “led out of” a state of ignorance into a state of knowledge about something or other.

    Let us not forget, also, that all the mountain guides in the world can (try to) “lead” you from Base Camp to the summit of K-2, but (assuming you are ambulatory) you will have to do the climbing your own self….

    O/T again, I know. Apologies.

  • Julie near Chicago


    I am not going to tell Prof. Chomsky that you said that.

  • Laird

    Julie, I like those Latin words/phrases (arguendo, inter alia, sua sponte, etc.) because they are generally much shorter than their English equivalents. (And they are pretentious!)

    As to footnotes, they are quite useful and important. They can direct the reader to the original source; show where you can find more detailed information on the specific item or topic; or make an observation which is interesting but tangential to the main point. What matters is that they be used correctly, not merely as padding, or for providing the illusion of scholarship, and especially not to fraudulently suggest that some source supports your argument when in fact it does the opposite. From what I can see, in her polemical book Democracy in Chains Nancy MacLean appears to be guilty of all three of those sins.

    I almost always read (or at least scan) footnotes. They can be both rewarding and revealing. And of course, for a truly literary use of footnotes (as a plot-advancement device in a work of fiction) one cannot do better than David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nothing wrong with a little pretension, then, if pretense is your forte. *g*

    As for footnotes: I was joking about Chomsky, who is famous for heavily footnoting his stuff, said footnotes turning out mostly to cite his own writings (which are also footnoted and refer mostly to works by N.C. his own self, or so ’tis said). This shows Thai is right: Footnotes ≠> gravitas.

    In fact I’m all in favor of footnotes. Of course as Chomsky shows us, you do have to come to some judgment about the scholarly accuracy of the source, if it is not an original document, not to mention the intellectual honesty of the writer who is the citer (so to speak). Yes, Noam, I am looking at you. *frown*

    On the other hand, I hate endnotes as a rule. I know it breaks up the page and makes the word-processing program work harder, poor thing, but it’s a lot easier to have a quick look at a footnote than to hunt up the endnote and then try to remember what it said after you find your way back to the main text. And it breaks up the intellectual flow. Or, you can wait till the end of the chapter and then run through them all in one go. Of course then you have to futz around finding the corresponding reference in the text. Nertz.

    OTOH, YMMV, ATS. (“As They Say.”) :>))