(hat-tip to blogger Whiskey for inspiring this blog’s title)
One thing that all business people need to understand: Academics HATE you…with a PASSION. Of course not all academics hate all business people, but as a general rule. I’ve intuitively sensed this for a long time, but now, it just can’t be avoided. For example there’s a Princeton University academic named Daniel Kahneman who did some research supposedly proving that the success of professional investors is just dumb luck; no intelligence, talent, or skill required. If that weren’t insulting enough, Kahneman writes with incredibly smug arrogance about what happened shortly after he insulted the investment community:
When we were done, one executive I dined with the previous evening drove me to the airport. He told me, with a trace of defensiveness, “I have done very well for the firm, and no one can take that away from me.” I smiled and said nothing. But I thought, privately: Well, I took it away from you this morning. If your success was due mostly to chance, how much credit are you entitled to take for it?
Of course I’m sure Kahneman’s success had nothing to do with luck; and in fact, where would society be without his book Thinking fast and slow. My God, we’d never know that sometimes it’s useful to make quick decisions, and other times it’s useful to think long and hard.:-) Very brilliant Kahneman! You deserve a second Nobel prize!:-)
But Kahneman (no pun intended) is far from the only academic who has a problem with business people. Scientist Steve Hsu quotes a Harvard grad trashing them:
Very high intelligence actually negatively correlates with career success (Kotter), probably because smart people enjoy solving problems, rather than making money selling things — which outside of quant trading, show business and sport is really the only way of being really successful.
There are some extremely intelligent people in business (by which I mean high IQ, not just wise or experienced), but you tend to find them in the corners of the business landscape with the richest intellectual pastures: some areas of law, venture capital, some cutting edge technology fields.
Steve Ballmer – for instance – might deafen you, but he would not dazzle you.
Even I was personally attacked, merely for stating in the comment section of Steve Hsu’s excellent blog, that in fact there is indeed a correlation between IQ and money, such that for every tenfold increase in income, IQ increases on average by 8 points. Such a relationship would result in the richest people having extremely high IQ’s. One reader (almost certainly an elite academic) was so furious that he actually came to this blog to tell me to stop posting on Steve Hsu’s forum.
So what’s motivating all this hate?
1) Jealousy: Even though academics have comfortable lives and interesting leisurely prestigious autonomous jobs, they deeply resent the fact that some people make orders of magnitude more money than they do. This comes from a deep sense of entitlement. For elite academics very often did great on their SATs and attended all the right schools, and had been told all their lives that they were the best and the brightest, so to see some high school dropout with a Pizza shop raking in ten times as much money as they do offends them deeply. They can’t possibly imagine that the pizza boy might be smarter than they are or at least respect his hard work. No academics look down on hard workers because it means you’re not self-actualized.
In addition, because academics are not especially highly payed, their main form of currency is cultural capital; the fact that they’re considered smarter than everyone else. But in order for them to be considered brilliant, others must be considered mediocre, hence their constant need to diminish others.
2) Liberalism: Elite academics have high IQ’s and high IQ people tend to be liberal. Some of this high IQ liberalism is probably the product of high rationality and well developed ethics since there is indeed a lot of abuse and exploitation in capitalism and too much wealth in too few hands is not healthy in a democracy; however when it comes to the academics, a lot of the liberalism is just hatred and jealousy of the rich masquerading as concern for the poor (who they avoid like the plague).
3) Guilt: Although elite academics don’t make especially large salaries on average, they tend to make a lot of money for the amount of work they actually do; money that comes from struggling students and tax payers, many of whom don’t get much in return for the money they give to academia. Naturally some academics feel guilty about this and seek to project that guilt on to others by pointing out the lack of merit and morality in the business community.
So what should the business community do about this?
They should stop hiring graduates from elite schools and stop funding their political careers. The more they advance such people, the more they elevate the status and power of the very institutions that most hate them. In fact they should go even further and start hiring the best and brightest young people right out of high school, thus robbing universities of their greatest minds. And if they’re really rich, they could just outright pay any high school kid with an SAT score above 1400 (and there are only 40,000 such kids a year) to not attend or work for an elite college at any point in their life.