It is not worth going to college for any field outside of STEM or Philosophy.

It is not worth going to college for any field outside of STEM or Philosophy. It made sense until 20 years ago to go to college and get a degree. A degree showed a competence and intelligence that stood out on a resume. By presenting a degree to an employer, the employer knew you had the intelligence to go to college and the independence to make it through years dealing with adults.

College only cost hundreds of dollars, and degrees, whether STEM or humanities, led to almost guaranteed employment. This was during a time when the management professions and the “value-add” industries like advertising and marketing were added to businesses. These value-adds came from the humanities. Marketing and advertising appeal to the psychology of people. Management is applied sociology.

These were the booming jobs of the time, and a humanity degree not only checked the college box – it was preferred. These degrees added the value that organizations were looking for.

The labor market has changed in the last 20 years. Universities changed too, but they did not change to keep up with the changes in the labor market. The changes in universities ran counter-productive to the changes in the labor market.

Where humanities were the value-adding jobs from the 50s through the 80s, the internet has changed the requisite jobs and, because of that, the requisite skills needed. The internet runs on math and technology. STEM degrees are the degrees that are employable. The management and marketing jobs of the 50s are being replaced by technology just like the labor-intensive jobs were replaced 40 years before. The reduction in management and marketing jobs means fewer degrees in humanities are needed.

STEM is the humanity degree and the management job of the 60s. These are the employable degrees and the driver of technology, which is the driver of the current economy. Instead of management and sales adding value like 50 years ago, technology is able to add value by cutting out the managers and the salespeople. Technology connects buyers and sellers where the humanity-pedigreed salesmen did until recently.

Humanities degrees are being produced like money in a collapsed economy. Except, unlike money in a collapsed economy, the degrees being produced cost tens- to hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, we have more people graduating college than ever, which has debased the degree so that not all graduates are guaranteed a job. Humanity degrees add little value in this technology-driven world where life is managed with code.

The majority of students are still choosing to major in the humanities. There are a majority of college graduates leaving university unprepared for the job market, which is technology-driven and requires technical degrees. Also, they have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans that must be paid back.

These debt-ridden graduates have to find employment to pay back debt. Those that are lucky find themselves a management or marketing job, which are decreasing in number as technology improves and reduces the need for these functions. Those that are unlucky pick up a low-paying service job. This has become a stereotype – the barista with a humanities degree. A well-read barista is attractive – there’s nothing wrong with serving coffee. A barista who has to be there because they owe the bank $200,000 is not attractive. That person is enslaved with no way out in sight. They must work for a company until the debt is paid off. There is a legal and ethical commitment to pay off the debt.

Why are there so many humanity degrees? Because of those blasted humanity degree students from 50 years ago. The universities and banks are profit centers that make money with each enrolled student paying tuition. There are advertising channels that promote more students going to college and getting degrees. The banks and universities don’t care what degree is studied. They care about $200,000. Which, if that’s the price of tuition and the person is working at Starbucks to pay it off, she will end up paying far more than double that.

College is a scam for everyone that is not majoring in a STEM degree. Students are sold a lie that they “need to go to college” to get a job or to find a good relationship. This is all just branding by the universities and loan banks. Any skill can be learned online these days, and banks and universities are sweating hoping the masses don’t drop out to develop skills online. The advertisers are working hard to keep the college brand attractive. They are heavily incentivized to make college attractive.

“It’s an important phase of life.” “It’s where you develop the social skills.” These are all jargon statements sold by the loan banks. You know what else is an important phase of life and a place you develop social skills and have fun? Timeshares in retirement. Rent a timeshare to signify your new phase in life. Meet other travelers and party. You can do this for a lot less than a college degree.

The exception to all this is the philosophy degree. The philosopher learns that none of this is really necessary. You can get a degree in STEM, get a high-paying job, create a technology that makes businesses better, but if at the end of the day you still aren’t satisfied because of an insecurity or relationship drama, then what’s it all for? To better humanity? That’s great, as long as it doesn’t cost your suffering. You can make money and then face your insecurities and internal demons, or you can face your demons from the start. Many people face a demon called consumerism. The philosopher recognizes this demon and stays away.

You can become a philosopher by reading books, through experiencing all the hells of consumerism and life, or through an expensive degree. Being philosophical is worth it. The philosopher finds meaning in life itself, and knows not to become enslaved to debt, or anything else. Hopefully, he didn’t buy an expensive degree to learn that lesson.

It is not worth going to college for any field outside of STEM or Philosophy. This is because:

  • The price of tuition is increasing.
  • Skills needed for jobs are becoming more technical.
  • Philosophers understand you don’t need jobs and can find meaning without the 9-to-5.

Human nature is mostly fixed, though human behavior can be modified via game theoretic incentives

Human nature is mostly fixed. This means that our likes, dislikes, and the things we show attention to are predictable. These qualities don’t vary from person to person, or group to group. Human nature evolved to be this way. Our psychology, which determines our nature, evolved just like any organ or limb in any animal. It evolved to maximize our ability to survive and reproduce.

It is in our want to survive and replicate on a genetic level that leads us to define what feels good, what doesn’t, and what deserves our attention. Basically, we are awarded, psychologically and chemically (by release of hormones that make us feel good), when we do things that move us towards more security and a better chance of survival, or closer to reproducing. The easiest example is sex. Sex feels good because it is a reward for doing what is in our biological interest – reproducing and passing on our genes.

Another example is our taste buds. We are awarded with a taste of sweetness when we bite into an apple. The sweetness tells us that the apple is an edible source of nutrition. We evolved to find apples attractive and also taste good.

Because human nature is largely fixed, we can modify behaviors by appealing to game theoretic incentives. Game theory is the study of mathematical models related to decision making by rational individuals. Game theoretic incentives are incentives that appeal to the rational decision maker.

The rational decision maker in a theoretical game model will make decisions that maximize his ability to survive and reproduce. By understanding the psychological drivers that determine how a human best secures survival and replication, human behavior can be predicted, since we are likely to act in ways that will maximize the two biological desires. Humans can also be incentivized to act in certain ways by playing off of the knowledge of how people are wont to act.

Going back to taste buds, it is possible to employ incentives that prey on our psychology and the wants we evolved to have. For example, we said apples taste good because they are sweet, which suggests that they are nutritious. Processed food companies prey on this behavior by creating very sweet foods that appeal to our taste buds. Our taste buds evolved to tell us what is safe to eat, and to award us when we choose correctly – such as in the case of an attractive and sweet apple. Our taste buds did not evolve to identify when manufactured food takes advantage of the sweet flavor and gives us good feelings without giving us nutrition. That is why people can be trained to return to a food that is extremely unhealthy for them – the chemicals being released in their body are pleasure chemicals. These pleasurable feelings suggest that what the person is doing is good, and that they should do this again.

Human psychology can be manipulated by employing tactics that appeal to our psychology. Positive feedback works better than criticizing faults because it engages pleasurable sensors.

Even sex can be manipulated. Men and women both evolved to find certain characteristics attractive in the other sex. For men, this means an attractive woman is young (fertile), healthy (not fat), and has hips and a butt (can deliver strong children). Women find a man attractive when he is wealthy (resources suggest survivability) and when he is intelligent and able to communicate that intelligence, which suggests that he is reproductively strong. Women wear makeup to make them look younger, clothes that eliminate the appearance of weight, and push the boobs up and their butts out. Men wear expensive watches and boast about their grades or employer. We seek to deceive not because we are bad people, but because we get rewarded for the behavior, which makes us feel not only like we have done no wrong, but that we are actually doing the right thing.

How do we know whether we are being manipulated by others that are preying on our deeply-ingrained nature? We must be objective about the world. We must not let our passions – whether positive or negative, blind us from what we are doing.

In summary, human nature is mostly fixed, because nature tells us what to like, dislike, and show attention to. Human behavior can be modified via game theoretic incentives because:

  • Incentives appeal to our fundamental psychology.
  • We can encourage and discourage behaviors that appeal to our psychology.

 

Buddhism and Christianity

Buddhism and Christianity are closely linked. Deep Eastern philosophy and classic Western philosophy agree on the same core values.

So, too, do many great books. Those of Homer and Virgil and Shakespeare. Apparently. I haven’t read them yet.

The primary thing they agree on – do not give in to pleasure. Pleasure is the root of all evil. All suffering.

From pleasure we see the deadly sins emerge. Lust of the pleasure of women. Gluttony of the pleasure of food and drink. And five other sins.

Pleasure is at the root of the commandments. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in killing someone, even if your life would be more enjoyable. More pleasurable.

In fact the devil, the tempter, represents the temptation to simple pleasure. The forbidden fruit, the mana in the desert.

In Buddhism, we learn pleasure is the root of all suffering, and that this suffering is inherent in all humans. In psychology, Buddhism is validated.

All disciplines are connected. Even different philosophies.

In psychology, we learn that the brain evolved to seek pleasure in order to fulfill two animalistic functions: survival and replication.

The modern world feeds on this evolution. It takes advantage of the evolution of the brain. It takes advantage of natural selection. Of our base nature.

We are sold candy which appeals for the same reason fruit of a tree appealed – its sweetness was once a sign of nutrition. Today that sweetness is replicated with processed sugars to give us pleasure.

Sex is awesome and has more obvious survival and replication implications. You either had sex or your genes didn’t replicate and your bloodline thinned and your tribe became smaller and weaker and more threatened by other tribes.

Sex, even the natural act that precedes replication, can be abused.

It is in the search of these pleasures that we find ourselves removed from the moment and we, according to the Buddha, suffer. We are living in the future. Being hopeful of things to change.

Buddhism says to eliminate the need to want pleasure. Buddhism teaches us that this can be reached by meditating. When we meditate, we learn to focus. We focus our thoughts and eliminate being subject to feelings, thoughts, and behaviors we don’t want.

The Bible also teaches us to not seek pleasure. Not just in the commandments, but in the imitation of Jesus. Jesus was repeatedly tempted with pleasure by the devil, which he rejected.

Eve ate the apple god forbid because it was the most attractive. She gave in to pleasure and lived her life in shame.

Now, one doesn’t have to live in shame because they chose pleasure once in their life. But it is shameful to always be needing a high – whether drugs, alcohol, food, or sex.

This chase of pleasure is shameful because it’s enslaving. Needing pleasure is voluntarily submitting to that pleasure and the need of that pleasure.

To be free, one must reject pleasure.

Pleasure is a powerful force with powerful bounds. Those bounds become stronger when pleasure is given into.

Psychology tells us the brain rewards pleasure. We are likely to repeat what is pleasurable, since it feels better than not pleasure.

If a caveman ate a fruit and didn’t die of poison, he was likely to return and eat that fruit. He was rewarded with nutrients which reinforce that he should be eating the fruit.

So, too, the pleasures today encourage us to return. Only now there are billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores that throw pleasure at you.

If one follows the Buddha and Jesus’ example, he will see that the billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores are only offering to tighten your own shackles.

At least, according to the Bible, Buddha, psychology, and me.