From Victor Davis Hanson at National Review,  The Deflation of the Academic Brand

In truth, elite education has become a cattle brand. It signifies lots of things other than knowledge: for some, politically correct certification; for others, good test scores and grades that got them in; for a few, later entry into the alumni ranks of high business, law, academia, government, and the media.

Old-boy networks, alumni giving, affirmative action, sports, and diversity have pretty much put an end to classical meritocratic admissions. That decline of standards in admissions is perversely ironic, because at about the same time, a new campus ethos of grade inflation was predicated on the self-important notion that if you were smart enough to get into Princeton or Harvard, then Harvard and Princeton would make the necessary adjustments and concessions to make sure you graduated.

The result of self-congratulation is that a Stanford graduate now usually knows less history than his Hillsdale counterpart. A successful self-made businessman can know a lot more about the economy than does a Harvard M.B.A., and a state-college graduate is likely to have better ethical bearings that the Clintons with their Yale Law degrees.

The Trump revolution is often attributed to the angry pushback of the deplorables and irredeemables and all those who lacked the knack for getting with the global agenda. Perhaps. But it was also a popular consensus that our experts in government, the university, and the media were not very expert, and the résumés and letters behind their names increasingly denoted nothing much at all.


Nassim Taleb called them IYI – intellectuals yet idiots. We used to call them intellectual idiots, but that usually indicated some one who was highly educated but did not know how to do common things like handle a firearm are change the oil in a car.  The Intellectual Yet Idiots today are worse; they do not know much about what they are certified to know.  This is due to distraction into subjects less relevant to the field, the politicalization of every subject, the intolerance of legitimate disagreement, the absence of context, and the absence of humility.  The less they know the more certain they have become of their own infallibility.

The more you truly learn the more you become aware of what you do not know. Broadening the mind requires discovering new questions, not fixating on comfortable self confirming answers.