Is America Pumping Out Too Many Ph.D.s

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Lerner, Jan 4, 2021.

  1. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    Agreed; hence why it doesn't belong in a university. It isn't serious academic study... see Sokal, et al
  2. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    I would argue that your "version" of so-called "grievance studies" as outlined here is a strawman argument based on your own personal biases. Having said that, I don't think your criticism is totally without merit. There are most definitely currents, particularly within those "grievance studies" tracks that are looking to retrofit evidence that supports a specific conclusion and a specific narrative - but that does not invalidate the entirety of their fields - these "grievances" or "oppressions" are observable, identifiable social phenomena that have a wide-ranging impact on our contemporary society. These are, however, "soft sciences" - they are based on observations - much like Communication or other fields that fall more into the realm of Behavioral Sciences. Their utility and value is generally evaluated by whether or not they are useful in resolving a specific (usually social) issue by unraveling where a particular intervention might be useful. In that regard, I would see a PhD in something like Gender Studies as one of ongoing INQUIRY - and as valid as any other field that examines political, cultural, religious or other structures that we still continue to use in organizing our societies.
    innen_oda likes this.
  3. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    To throw another wrench into things (again with the caveat that this is not my field either): apparently string theory is in vogue in particle physics. It can be very difficult to go against the grain as a young professor hoping to get tenure if you're publishing papers on loop quantum theory instead. That means that when I meet a physicist I can probably guess which theory they support. Does that make the scholarship wrong? We would say no.

    Some things are definitely more true than others. Natural laws are the easiest in which to point this out, but it also holds true in other fields. Without knowing anything about gender studies I have to assume there are people working from an outsider perspective (like the physicists and the loop theory) but I bet they're much less common than whatever the standard view is (the string theory.)
  4. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I respect your opinion but all I can tell you is that if a PhD is open at an accredited university is because there was a combination of political, economic, etc reasons to approve it. You might find it irrelevant, this is you and you have the right not to hire people in this field, but if there are students taking this program is because they feel there is a market it.

    Parapsychology is a field that has almost no economic value so only few Universities offer this degree even if there are hundreds of years of published research in the area. Basically, there no ghost hunter positions available at indeed. com or so the degree has almost no use even when we can argue lots of research background.

    Universities are business like anything else, fields like social media, business coaching, etc might be argued as with little academic value but you have many universities offering these programs mainly because there are cash cows.

    Academia is also a business, money and economic value has many times more weight.
  5. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    OK, then throw my argument out and read it elsewhere. Haidt (as in the link I provided) does a good job, as do many others. I can provide a starters list, if you are interested.

    Grievance studies are not a "soft science". Here is an example of social science. You notice a lack of representation of factor "x". You then do a multi-variate analysis. This is important because there will inevitably be multiple causes of the lack of representation which may or may not support the thesis of oppression due to factor "x". Wilfred Reilly does some good stuff in this space (albeit, I am not generally a fan). Gad Saad out of Concordia does some good work in this area also but it is highly likely he would never present at a "Gender Studies" conference... they would not like his conclusions. :)

    Within Grievance studies, this type of empirical analysis is not allowed. The results are pre-determined by the ideology.
  6. innen_oda

    innen_oda Active Member

    Am watching LockdownTV's recent (brilliant) interview with Haidt just as I came across this post. Great discussion - includes some discussion of how politicised academia and the sciences has become.

    If 'faith-based' studies are out, then the religious studies mentioned in my first post (and this was exactly why I zeroed in on theology) must not be an allowable focus either.

    I don't find the 'rationality' a reasonable metric for higher study. Rather, human phenomenon is rich with investigative potential - understand how and why we are as humans was, one might argue, the genesis for the PhD in the first place.

    There are living breathing humans, who vote and reproduce, who genuinely believe in the ideology set forward by grievance studies. As long as it is a part of the human condition, it should be discussed and debated and dissected in our higher institutions.

    Again though, this enquiry MUST involve more than one perspective. Whether I (or you) disagree with them does not mean the discussion should be ended and further study prevented. On the contrary: everything - every view, belief and supposition - should be contested and challenged.
  7. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Well, if there are a number of scholars with journals and research evidence that the earth is flat, they can convince for a PhD in this program.

    What is academia? It is a bunch of people that share the same beliefs and share research journals, conferences, etc.

    Most of the academia only survives when there are government grants that can make them alive at a University.

    Any PhD can be supported if there is enough money there, the academic value is many times fabricated to support the economic interest of some individuals.

    You have to remember the origin of Universities, they were once under the authority of the catholic church, they used to teach that the earth was flat because that what the pope said. There was no other authority but the biased opinion of the Vatican, if you were against it, you were just sentenced to death because heresy. This non sense existed because economic interests, things are better now but economic interests still drive research.
  8. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    That doesn't mean Universities should be or always were.
  9. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    Yes, Haidt is very good. I am generally highly critical but I can't think of anything of the top of my head where I disagree with him.
  10. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    Let me put it this way; Liberalism can incorporate grievance studies because it is an idea that can be understood and debated. Grievance studies cannot incorporate liberalism because it sees language as violence against victims of oppression (see cancel culture). Hence, I am not against the "ideas" but rather reifying something which is inherently anti-liberal; which I think you do when you have separate faculties and PhDs in illiberal disciplines.
    innen_oda likes this.
  11. innen_oda

    innen_oda Active Member

    I hedged a little in you first response to you, but I am now quite sure you are not grasping my posts.

    I am not saying that grievance studies should be banned from universities, or that I find it irrelevant.

    I am saying that a field of study has value where it is open to debate and discussion, and can be intellectually defended. I want gender studies, etc, where alternate points of view can be presented.

    I'm not concerned if you respect my opinion, but taking the time to actually read my posts would be awesome.
  12. innen_oda

    innen_oda Active Member


    I think where we differ is the notion that grievance studies can be . . . improved upon, I guess might be the phrase.

    I see merit in exploring the idea of objective reality no longer being the yardstick, and the consequences of that approach. Is identity politics wholly without value? Does queer theory have the ability to inform how we reconcile pure biology with psychology? I have my own opinions on critical race theory, but that fact is that it is now a philosophical viewpoint (it just has only one permitted perspective in academia and popular media).

    So just as an atheist or humanist can study theology purely as an -ology, so should, say, an IDW-adherent be able to study grievance studies as an -ology.
  13. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    I don't think that "grievance studies" can be improved upon, by definition. In other words, if you were to accept that gender is social AND biological it would not fit within the gender studies paradigm.

    Reality is objective... don't get me started :).

    Is identity politics without value? Yes. Ethically, the challenge is bringing people together and identity politics rows in a different direction.

    Yes, one can definitely study grievance studies as an -ology. The interesting question is this: grievance studies can be easily refuted logically. Yes, many still cling to it. What is the psychology of those who find it persuasive in light of the evidence against it. THAT is an interesting question. I have some thoughts but nothing concrete.

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