Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Look At Some Strange College Courses

By Professor Doom

     When it comes to math, I’ve already shown that most of what’s offered in college, especially at community college, is just repetition of the material students saw in the 9th grade or lower, for about 90% of the coursework.

     In times of yore, the way how a college course was created was faculty, in a department, would get together in a committee and decide what a course would have in it. As the entire point of college is preparation, each course would be filled with the material which would prepare the student for ever more advanced material. You couldn’t just come with a course, make up your own curriculum, and have it offered without other scholars looking it over and verifying that the course would be worthwhile for students to take.

      This process has changed at many campuses. Instead of a committee, all you need now is just one faculty saying he has an idea which will sell. He then goes to admin, and tells him the course will sell; if they believe him, then, just like that, we have a new college course. Whether the course is a waste of students’ time or not is irrelevant…sales growth is all.

     Now, courses which will sell are naturally courses students are interested in. A key component in this is to have very little material (because studying isn’t fun for most students), and today students have a wide variety of fake courses which they can take…and learn nothing.

     This is a big factor in why so many college graduates have literally nothing in the way of new skills or knowledge: the bulk of their coursework is, at best, introductory material which anyone can learn in a few weeks, a month at most.

      A recent article on ZeroHedge listed a great number of fake courses—it’s a small sampling, I assure you—and I want to discuss how some of these courses highlight the issues in today’s higher ed.

“…the quality of education that our college students are receiving is a complete joke.  Especially on the undergraduate level, almost all testing consists of either true/false, multiple choice or fill in the blank questions…”

     The above actually addresses what goes in the “real” courses. Even fairly advanced courses are now taught in huge lecture halls. There simply is no way you can grade hundreds of tests in a sane amount of time except through “fill in the bubble” testing.

     Similarly, there’s no way to address even mildly confusing material in a huge course. It’s one thing to address a topic that 6 students will have questions about (in a 30 person class), as you can handle that many questions in a typical 50 minute course. But if now you have 60 people with questions (in a 300 person class), well, there’s no way to handle that many questions in a sane amount of time. Best not cover things which generate questions.

     The end result is many of course college courses only address the lightest part of material in the most superficial way, putting it all down in a few dozen PowerPoint slides; I’ve reviewed a number of these courses, and you can literally read/learn everything in the course at a passable level in an afternoon, two at most if you knew nothing of the material before you started.

      But these courses soak up 4 months of a student’s time while generating thousands of dollars of tuition per student.

      And those are the “real” courses. Let’s look at just a few fake ones:

WOMGEN 1225: Leaning In, Hooking Up (Harvard University)

     For the uninitiated, let’s go over what the above says. “WOMGEN” says this course is taught in the Women’s and Gender Studies department, a department notorious for fake courses. The “1” in “1225” says this is a course for freshmen (if the number started with 2 it would be for second year courses, and so on).
     And the title says this course will teach students about “hooking up” and getting into sexual encounters.
     Yes, sure, this course will sell, but pretty much every adult on the planet knows about how to get sex, and it hasn’t been an issue anywhere for millennia. It’s obvious on the face of it that no useful job skills are here, and, far more importantly from the point of view of someone who cares about education, this course in no way prepares the student for more advanced study.

     But the title is obviously an easy sell to students, right? Way to go, Harvard.

SOAN 261: Campus Sex in the Digital Age (Washington & Lee University)

     “SOAN” refers to Sociology and Anthropology, and the “2” makes this a second year course (not all campuses use 4 digits for their course numbers). A second year course? Can the gentle reader even guess what about this title makes it clear you need to know some prior coursework to do well here? I sure cannot.

     Again, we have a title clearly chosen to maximize sales. Yes, I’ve mentioned many times in this blog how dubious sex-related coursework is big on campus, but, as always, I like to show that I’m not merely making things up in this regard.

GWS 462: Hip Hop Feminism (University of Illinois)

     Back to Gender and Women’s Studies (not all schools name their departments the same way), this is a senior level course, the most advanced coursework students in the Gender Studies degree program might see before graduating.
      And they learn about Feminism in the Hip Hop community. It takes 3 years of preparation before you can address this topic in detail? Seriously?

SOC 388: Marriage in the Age of Trump (Davidson College)

     You get the feeling this one was slapped together quickly by the Sociology department? I’m puzzled by this being a third year course, but I’m vastly more puzzled by the title. We’re living in the Age of Trump now? Gee whiz, it’s only been a year, and now it’s an “age”?

     Marriage is a serious commitment, in our Western Society a couple usually is romantically involved well over a year before they get married. So how could the Trump phenomenon, being less than a year old, affect a multi-thousand year old institution so quickly?

     Being taught in the Sociology Department (very notable for Leftism), it’s a safe bet the professor here is going to use this course to rage against Trump in a torrent of hate; I’ve a number of friends suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, so I’m pretty confident of this.

     In any event, the “Age of Trump” might not even be 4 years, and can’t be more than 8 years…so what exactly could this course be preparation for?

SOCI 332: Alternative Genders (Texas A&M University)

    Just a quick comment on this one: we really, really, need to cut back on sex-related coursework, particularly when it’s based on fad material.

AFA 4430: Black Lives Matter (University of Florida)

     In addition to heavy emphasis on sexuality, there is a strong emphasis on ideology in fake courses. Now, absolutely, the BLM movement is worthy of study, even study by advanced scholars (this is a 4th year course taught in the African Studies department), but…BLM is not so old, so huge, with figures so prominent, that you can spend 4 whole months on it. A seminar would have been fine, if there were more interest in educating students than soaking up student loan money.

ENVS 042: Ecofeminism (Swarthmore College)

     This course might technically not count as college level, at least (a “0” usually indicates remediation, but that word doesn’t seem to apply to this topic). How can there be any doubt from the title that this course is ideology? Environmental Sciences is now a department, apparently.

FRSEMR 61D: Trying Socrates in the Age of Trump (Harvard University)

     Again with the Age of Trump? This is a generic Freshman Seminar, so not a college course. With any luck at all, the students aren’t charged for this…but I’m worried that scholars at two different institutions honestly think a single year makes an “age”—actually, it’s less than a year, since these courses couldn’t possibly be proposed, much less created and offered, until after the election. Would “1 week” constitute an age? That’s seriously how much time could have passed between the election and creation of the course (when I review a course before teaching it, incidentally, it takes me more than week, even for a course I’ve taught many times before).

     The article goes on with courses on Star Trek, Lady Gaga, Harry Potter, and other topics, often taught in departments which didn’t even exist when I was in school. And, I assure the reader, none of this stuff is preparation for more advanced study.

     I’m so grateful I went to college in a time when the only coursework available was work that prepared me for better things. If my degree had been filled with the above stuff, things which will almost certainly be of no relevance a few decades from now, I would have nothing from my education…much like many students today.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Higher Ed Primary Expenditure 2025: Marketing.

By Professor Doom

     A recent posting about official government predictions of growth in our higher ed system by 2025, despite the fact that the vast bulk of our high school graduates already go to college today and we’ll have fewer people in that age group in 8 years, got me to thinking about the future of higher ed in the US.

     Around 70% of high school graduates go to college right after graduation, and over 80% go eventually. The gentle reader really should consider the implications of this: if you’re in the 20th  percentile of intelligence (roughly an IQ of 87, low enough to qualify for mentally disabled), you’re still college material…how much lower can we go? College graduate IQ is already below average, so I suspect we’re pretty close to the bottom as it is.

     Growth in the student base at this point would be preposterous.

     While I’ve often mentioned a possible collapse in higher ed in the US, I know this is something of a pipe dream. Even though there are now many videos on YouTube of gurus advising against going to college, against going deeply into debt for worthless degrees, it’s a simple fact that our kids are trained from near birth that college is an absolute necessity. Nothing anyone can say will change the great demand for it, even if the ending of the student loan scam (not quite a pipe dream, but not a near-reality) would close many, probably most, of our colleges and universities overnight.

     So, we’ll still have them in 8 years, but how will they survive? What will they be doing with all that money? Unlike government predictions that as near as I can tell, are simply made up out of nothing, I like to have some empirical evidence.

       I’ve written of the immense fraud of higher education in Australia before, and, again, a recent blog post gives me some reason to believe the corruption and debasement there is even more advanced than it is in the United States (I know, hard to believe, but if they’re paying their admin even more than the luxurious salaries admin here get, that’s at least a sign).

       In addition to the excessive pay for bogus jobs, like the US, Australian higher ed is all about butts-in-seats, and they’re overbuilt. The latter concept is the most important: our institutions are massively overbuilt, thanks to huge construction sprees and an emphasis on online education, we have a system of stealing student loan money education more than sufficient for 150% of the population to go to college. The building hasn’t slowed, but at some point, they won’t keep building 100,000 capacity stadiums and won’t need yet another administrative palace to build. I guess.

     Catallaxyfiles often covers the fraud of Australian higher ed, and a recent posting gives an insight to the future of American higher ed:

Liberal senator James Paterson said he was “pretty sceptical about the value to taxpayers of government-funded, not-for-profit universities spending up big on marketing to attract students’’.

He said this was “particularly so when many of those marketing activities were not about the ­substance of what the universities ­offered but resembled gimmicks and irrelevant sponsorships’’.

     And there’s my answer: marketing. For-profit institutions in the US already spend ridiculous amounts of money scraping the bottom of the barrel for suckers willing to sign up for student debt (University of Phoenix was spending $200,000 a day just on Google advertising before realizing there were no more kids to plunder).

Spam received 12/13/17:

Immediate Action Required
You now have approval to request to receive $5,920 via check and/or direct deposit.
You would just have to take few classes online.
The best part you don't have to pay any of this money back.

--the money referenced above is from the Pell Grant scam, fraudulent use of which supplies 25% to 70% of the student base for community colleges. What other business has so much of the customer base being fraud?

     I already get a dozen spam mails a day from colleges and universities wanting me to sign up for “fast, convenient” degrees from campuses throughout the country, thanks to their “easy” online programs that nevertheless cost every bit as much as a brick-and-mortar degree despite the nearly no overhead to run such things.

     This spam is just fallout from my research into higher ed; I had no choice but to say I was interested in higher education when I was investigating the massive, widespread fraud that is our higher education complex here. I accept this is my fault but…It’s going to get worse. It has to.

     Most of our institutions have justified their huge construction projects, their legions of Vice Presidents of Debasement and Diversity, upon future growth. No growth means collapse. They need more students.

      In the past, those students were readily supplied by the public school system, which advertised relentlessly on behalf of higher ed. Many of our public schools even boast just how many kids they screwed over by sending them off to college.

     But all our schools need constant growth…growth that can’t happen because they’re already getting every kid that could conceivably benefit from higher ed, and a huge number of kids who cannot conceivably benefit from higher ed.

      The mathematics of our population make it clear that not all institutions can grow…but some can.

     The only way some of our public institutions can grow past this point is to cannibalize from each other, somehow getting kids not to go to the campus a few miles from where they live, and instead go to the campus 10 miles from where they live…or even further (I ask the gentle reader to consider how many colleges and universities are within a 50 mile radius; for me it’s over a dozen). There’s only one way to succeed in such cannibalization:


     It’s the conclusion reached for Australia:

Given the existence of price controls universities cannot really compete on price. Given excessive regulation and TEQSA Australian universities cannot really compete on product differentiation, or product and process innovation. That leaves advertising and marketing.

    The universities in the US might not have price restraints, but the student loan scam means most kids think the price is basically free until that nebulous day in the future after they graduate. As far as product differentiation, well, much of college coursework has no requirements as it is…hard to differentiate “nothing” from “nothing.”

      I rather suspect the most “successful” institutions in the US in 2025 will be those that devote huge sums of money to their marketing departments, we might even start to see Super Bowl ads from State U (assuming football is still popular in 2025, not exactly a given at this point in time).

     I know, the most popular advice given to kids about to hurt themselves in college education is “get a STEM degree,” but I have my doubts (the “M” in “STEM” is mathematics, and to judge by own career in mathematics, I wouldn’t call it exactly stellar). Besides, the only reason STEM is of some value is scarcity…not everyone can master the half dozen or so books necessary to get a degree in these fields.

      But, look, marketing is going to be the big deal for higher education. For the many kids who honestly can’t cut it in a STEM degree (and there’s no dishonor in that), might I suggest marketing? At the very least, it should offer more of a chance at life than yet another Gender Studies degree…

     That said, it saddens me that we’ve poured a few trillion dollars into higher education, with the end result that, in the future, most of higher education money will be spent, not on education, but on commercials, billboards, and spam.



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

About that radio interview...

So that was my first interview in a long time, and I was a bit nervous. I mis-quoted a statistic.

It's actually 30% of college males are leaving college in the first year (and not 70% like I mistakenly said). Granted, that's from just one state, but my own eyeballs (combined with far more than half of college students being female) tell me it holds for other states, and likely the country.

Apologies for the error.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

West Point Corruption, Part 2.

     I’m looking over an open letter from a faculty who has retired from West Point, detailing how the school is corrupt on every level now.
      One thing he’s pointed out is how the Honor Code at the school is, well, no longer being honored. Why?
To make matters worse, the senior leadership at West Point actively discourages staff and faculty from reporting honor violations. l was unfortunate enough to experience this first hand during my first tour on the faculty, when the Commandant of Cadets called my office phone and proceeded to berate me in the most vulgar and obscene language for over ten minutes because I had reported a cadet who lied to me…

     When your bosses punish you for having integrity, for trying to follow the rules you are told you need to follow, it’s pretty demoralizing. In higher ed, you can lose your job or get a pay cut for daring to catch a cheating student. Faculty figure out early on that trying to enforce any standard at all is detrimental to your career. We all get that memo at some point.
       Apparently, at West Point you don’t get a memo telling you to have no integrity, you get a 10 minute chewing out by a Commandant. I concede this is a little different, but the end result is the same: your boss’ job, as near as any faculty can tell, is to eliminate all standards in pursuit of the goal, whether it be butts-in-seats or producing graduates.
Just recently a cadet openly and obviously plagiarized his History research paper, and his civilian professor reported it. The evidence was overwhelming-there was not the slightest question of his guilt, yet the cadet was not found. The professor, and indeed all the faculty who knew of the case, were completely demoralized. This is the new norm for the cadet honor system. In fact, there is now an addition to the honor system (the Willful Admission Process) which essentially guarantees that if a cadet admits a violation, then separation is not even a possibility.

      Much as I’ve identified in higher ed…admin won’t get rid of the cheaters. Other students catch up to this, honest, and thus does cheating spread throughout the campus.

Academic standards are also nonexistent. I believe this trend started approximately ten years ago, and it has continued to get worse. West Point has stated standards for academic expectations and performance, but they are ignored. Cadets routinely fail multiple classes and they are not separated at the end-of-semester Academic Boards. Their professors recommend “Definitely Separate,” but those recommendations are totally disregarded

      There really was a time when failing students were removed from campus, but that time has long since passed in most of higher ed, and the professor here claims it passed around 10 years ago at West Point.
       I’m not a jerk, I want people to succeed. In higher education, trapping people in college for 6 to 10 years while racking up insane amounts of debt only to get a worthless degree is not helping them, it is, in fact, hurting them far worse than if they were simply allowed to fail, leaving college to pursue a goal they’re more willing to work towards.
      At West Point, keeping students who clearly have no business leading our military might not lead to massive student debt…but it’s still evil. Do we really want the guys operating our multi-million dollar weapons and nuclear bombs to be people who had to take the “press the red button to kill millions of people” course half a dozen times before passing?
      I exaggerate, but it’s pure insanity that our West Point graduates are now people that need many attempts to “get it right.” In the military, you can’t count on getting second/third/fourth/fifth/sixth/seventh chances, but that’s what we have now.
…If a cadet fails a course, the instructor is blamed, so instructors are incentivized to pass everyone…
--blamed by WHO? Have I ever found a retired faculty not reporting this?

     And, I assure the gentle reader, the reason academic standards are nonexistent at West Point are the same as for why they are nonexistent on many campuses. The leadership tells faculty over and over again to reduce standards…or else. We get the message, or we’re replaced with someone who does get the message.  I repeat the key quote here:
…If a cadet fails a course, the instructor is blamed, so instructors are incentivized to pass everyone.
      It’s not complicated, and either way, standards are annihilated.
The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.”

     It’s very clear that Leftism has infested West Point, and that this infestation is, as always, killing the host. It’s a pretty huge flag that a course is a joke when the students are pointing and laughing at it. Too bad the leadership doesn’t care that the school is a joke.
I could not believe I was even looking at a West Point cadet. However, if a staff or faculty member attempts to correct the cadet in question, that staff/faculty member is sure to be reprimanded for “harassing cadets.”

     The above is in reference to a slouching, t-shirt-wearing tattoo'ed cadet loitering on campus. And the faculty there get into trouble for trying to maintain some decorum.
     Meanwhile, faculty on non-military campuses are constantly terrified of performing micro-aggressions against students. We really need to ask questions about what happened to higher ed, so that when this system collapses, we’ll know what not to do when we rebuild it.

That brings me to another point: cadets’ versions of stories are always valued more highly by senior leaders than those of commissioned officers on the staff and faculty. It is as if West Point’s senior leaders believe their job is to “protect” cadets from the staff and faculty at all costs. This might explain why the faculty’s recommendations are ignored at the Academic Boards, why honor violations are ignored (and commissioned officers are verbally abused for bringing them to light), and why cadets always “win” when it comes to conduct and disciplinary issues.

     The above I believe hints at the core problem: educators no longer have any control over education. If I accuse a student of something, I can accept the burden is on me to justify and provide evidence for the accusation. That’s reasonable.
      What is unreasonable is our campuses are filled with administrators, and they’re all there to protect the student, and they all have power over me. If I just had to convince another faculty of my reasons for removing a student, well, I’d be dealing with someone who actually knows something about education, and it would just be one person who cares about education making the decision…it would be a fair enough system, but that’s not how it works.
      Instead, I have to convince an assistant Dean, a Dean, a Vice Provost, a Provost, a Chancellor, and probably three or four other bureaucrats who’ve never taught a class in their life, quite possibly have no education, and whose job it is to protect the student from faculty.
      It’s a ridiculous system, and yeah, it’s not just West Point where the faculty always loses. The professor says above, the cadets always win, but it's really more accurate to say admin always wins.
It seems that the Academy’s senior leaders are intimidated by cadets.

     Yeah, no kidding. Admin are intimidated by students on many campuses, I even use the same word, “intimidated,” to describe the relationship…we need to ask questions about how this happened.
     I come to one part of the letter where I must disagree:
Conduct and behavior that would never be tolerated at a civilian university is common among cadets, and it is supported and defended by the Academy’s senior leaders in an apparent and misguided effort to attract more applicants…

     The retired professor is very, very, wrong here, but it’s simple ignorance on his part. He simply is unaware of how bad things are at a “civilian university.” I’ve documented quite a bit of it in my blog, especially misguided efforts to attract ever more students (I’ve used the phrase “growth uber alles” to describe the behavior for a reason).
     The letter goes on for quite a bit, but the key takeaway is the hopelessness, which, sadly, is quite justified.
It breaks my heart to write this.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Robert M. Heffington
LTC, U.S. Army (Retired), West Point Class of 1997

      All I can do at this testimony (which rings so perfectly true to what my eyeballs have seen, many times) is shake my head, and be saddened that, indeed, West Point is corrupted.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Even West Point Is Corrupted

By Professor Doom

     When I rant about the corruption of higher ed, I’m pretty careful to put some weasel-ly qualifiers: “most” institutions are corrupt, “most” degrees are worthless, “many” administrators are there to plunder the schools, and so on.

     When I consider those schools which don’t fit the general rule, usually the schools which come to mind are those with fairly restricted admissions. I’m not talking about price restrictions, since the scammy student loans (note: no qualifier there) mean money is no object. The restrictions that matter are generally academic: the students must demonstrate they actually care about learning by performing well on admissions exams, or otherwise showing that they really, really, want to be in school (as opposed to really, really, just wanting a check).

      I’ve fundamentally blamed the student loan scam for much of the corruption of higher ed, and I generally believe that the more elite schools are more legitimate. A letter recently made public has shaken these beliefs:

      This is West Point we’re talking about here, the most elite military institution in the country (and probably the world). Student loans are irrelevant here.  If West Point is every bit as corrupt as your typical community college, then higher education has a critical legitimacy problem.

     I feel the need to point out a few things before looking at some precise allegations. First, the author of the letter uses his own name; he’s retired, and so he no longer feels threatened by repercussion for telling the truth. Second, the claims he makes are little different from claims made by professors throughout higher education (often anonymously, or made after retirement).

      Other than retirement, what motivated the airing of dirty laundry here? Well, it seems like many other institutions of higher education, Leftism has infected the campus nearly to the point of fatality:

He wrote the letter in light of recent media coverage of 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone, a West Point graduate and infantry officer who recently came under fire for his public advocacy and support of socialism and communism, and being an “official socialist organizer” of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

     I have to admit, this is pretty bizarre, an avowed Communist in our military is as existentially terrifying as an open Satanist serving as Pope. Communists used their  military to kill tens of millions of their own citizens in the previous century, so a military whose members are required to swear to defend the Constitution, a document in diametric opposition to Communist ideals, is a military that should flat out exclude Communist members.

     The 5 page letter, incidentally, is coming from a 1997 West Point graduate; like me, he realizes that the corruptive changes which have occurred in higher ed are primarily from the last few decades. Let’s look at some choice quotes:

I personally witnessed a series of fundamental changes at West Point that have eroded it to the point where I question whether the institution should even remain open. The recent coverage of 2LT Spenser Rapone – an avowed Communist and sworn enemy of the United States – dramatically highlighted this disturbing trend.

     Please note in the above, that the retired professor (it must be so nice to retire exactly 20 years after graduation) has seen such corruption that he questions whether West Point should even be allowed to exist…much as what I’d seen at community colleges. It’s so clear that some places are so detrimental to the public that supporting them with tax dollars is a huge error.    

First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent…The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline.

     Much like everywhere else, it seems the people running the place just don’t seem to care. The professor doesn’t consider why this is the case, so allow me to attempt to answer “why?” I suspect that West Point leadership are “graded” on producing graduates—it’s not quite the same as the purely butts-in-seats model in our more typical institutions of higher education, but the end result is the same. Focused on this goal over all else, standards are irrelevant. All that matters is producing as many graduates as possible, although I’m sure butts-in-seats is a factor as well.
       Thus it is that even an avowed enemy of the United States can nevertheless graduate from West Point and work to destroy the country from a position of leadership in our military…yeah, if that’s what West Point is doing, shutting it down might well be the best option.

Every fall, the Superintendent addresses the staff and faculty and lies. He repeatedly states that “We are going to have winning sports teams without compromising our standards,” and everyone in Robinson Auditorium knows he is lying because we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board. I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks. It is disheartening when the institution’s most senior leader openly lies to his own faculty-and they all know it.

      You don’t have to be faculty at West Point to have your bosses lie to your face repeatedly, I assure the gentle reader. What? There are students at West Point who are basically illiterate? I’m shocked, shocked, to hear of such a thing. To clarify, I’m shocked to hear we have it at West Point in particular, since most every school in the country has plenty of illiterate students, particularly (but not exclusively) student-athletes, soaking up tax dollars.
The cadet honor code has become a laughingstock.

    Regular readers of my blog know that cheating on our campuses is overwhelming, integrity on all levels is a joke at many institutions. Now, a military school doesn’t just warn students against cheating, it asks its students to obey an Honor Code, a set of rules that mandates behavior far beyond “don’t cheat.”
       Why is this code being abandoned? Well, the same reason cheating is overwhelming on our campuses today. More next time.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Trump Might Lose More Honorary Degrees. This Is A Thing?

By Professor Doom

      I know, referencing Orwell’s 1984 is tiresome and cliché but…every day it seems I see something in the real world that mirrors the supposedly purely fictional world:

“…Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building…”

     My apologies for patronizing anyone, but part of the lead character’s job in 1984 was to throw any evidence of anything that was contradictory to the government’s narrative down the “memory hole.” Orwell was typically brilliant by creating such a name, as things which went into the memory hole were forgotten; almost everything in government is named the opposite of what it does, from our Defense Department (which hasn’t defended this country from a foreign attacker in decades, if ever), our Education Department (which has done everything it can to annihilate education in this country), to the Department of Homeland Security (which has empirically made our citizens less safe) to the Affordable Care Act (which has made health care less affordable) to…well, you get the idea.

     It’s so funny watching evidence contrary to the current narratives foisted upon the public be tossed down memory holes. The narrative regarding the Civil War, for example, is that the South was run by Evil Slave Owners, and everyone who fought for the South was an Evil Slave Owner of pure Evil.

     The reality, of course, is that less than 5% of citizens of the Southern Confederacy owned slaves. So, we have these statues of heroes of the Confederacy, many of whom didn’t own slaves, and weren’t evil…they were just soldiers fighting for their homeland, bravely and honorably enough to merit a statue.

      As long as those statues were allowed to remain, they violated the narrative. Nobody could possibly build a statue of an Evil Slave Owner of pure Evil, after all. Anyone who looked at that statuary evidence might ask questions about how that statue came to exist…might learn of other things that have not yet been tossed down the memory hole. Such knowledge endangers the narrative, and must be destroyed.

      And now we have Trump.

      The current narrative on Trump is he’s an idiot, a fascist, a racist, a sexist, a rapist, and a buffoon, to give just a sample of the litany of words used to describe him. That’s the narrative…but there’s a problem here.

      Donald Trump has been in the public eye for over 30 years.

      In 1989 he had a board game (I almost bought it way back then, but didn’t—today it sells for hundreds of dollars on E-bay). Why would America allow a fascist, a racist, whatever, to have his face on a board game. My God, children could play it!1

     Now this board game doesn’t threaten the narrative that much. It wasn’t a top seller by the standards of games in those days, selling some 800,000 copies. Still, anyone who cares to look can find it, and that game really questions the narrative of many of the bad things being said about him.

     For over a decade, Trump was on TV every week. How could he possibly be a racist, sexist, fascist, and rapist and be on a hit TV show? The narrative can’t handle that, but, luckily, Trump couldn’t continue with his show and be president, so this piece of evidence violating the narrative self-destructed…a thinking person can’t help but realize Trump was never called such names until he ran against a Democrat.

     Another part of the mainstream narrative about Trump is how he’s a moron, a fool, an idiot…not very bright. It’s a strange narrative to advance, truth be told. The man came out of political nowhere and won a presidential election against perhaps the most powerful political machine this country has ever seen.

      Every decision made in his presidential campaign was ultimately made by Trump. He fired campaign managers until ending up with Kellyanne Conway. She’s the first female campaign manager to win a presidential election, by the way. The vast bulk of the country does not know that—Trump having a female campaign manager violates the narrative about him being sexist, after all. So, down the memory hole that detail goes.

     Anyway, Trump has a few honorary degrees, five honorary doctorates, mostly Business related, of course. How can a moron, a buffoon, and an idiot have so many doctorates? Now, I grant these degrees are often given in exchange for money “gifted” to the institution, but I don’t have a problem with such crassness, particularly in business.

      The whole point of business is to make money; if you’re so good at it that you’ve plenty of money to give to higher education, you’re probably as deserving of that degree as an academic with a “legitimate” business degree who’s never made a penny in business in his life.

     Without even considering how he got the degrees, Trump having these degrees violates the narrative…you just can’t be a moron and have multiple doctorates.

       There have been petitions from those whose beliefs are little different from The Party in 1984, to revoke these degrees, to toss these honorary slips of paper down the memory hole. One university caved quickly:

     This is such an idiotic, cowardly thing to do, but at least it opens up precedent. Can we now start cancelling other fake degrees? We’ve many, many, examples of administrators who clearly have done stupid/evil/illegal things with horrible administrative decisions…can we strip out their Administrative degrees?

     Curious, I seem to be the only person on the planet who’s considered this (if a reader with superior Google skills can find an example, let me know, please). But, yeah, it supposedly makes sense to go after an honorary degree given to Trump  years ago, based on…what, exactly? As near as I can tell, the rescinding of this degree was justified based on obvious lies made by the mainstream media.

      This is ridiculous behavior, bringing shame to the institution. But one can only imagine how many priceless artifacts were destroyed in the memory holes of Orwell’s world…the people asking to revoke Trump’s degrees would do the same, clearly, and I suspect if they had the power they’d throw quite a few other documents down that hole (Hi Bill of Rights!).

      So far, no American universities have embarrassed themselves in this way, although they are receiving pressure. At least one, Lehigh University, has officially said it won’t do such a thing…but it appears to be alone in exhibiting such a spine. Who's to say they won't change their mind as the pressure increases?

       It took years of pressure before those Confederate Statues found themselves being tossed down a hole, so I suspect the pressure to rescind those degrees, to destroy any evidence contrary to the mainstream narrative about Trump, will continue. I find it likely he’ll eventually lose other honorary doctorates.

       Is there a chance he’ll keep even one of those meaningless degrees? I suspect he won’t care if he loses them all, but the gentle reader needs to understand that if our institutions can’t maintain their integrity even over a nigh worthless piece of paper, they probably aren’t maintaining integrity anywhere else, either.



1 ) As an aside, another 80s board game, Fortress America, had a likeness of Saddam Hussein’s face on the box. When the  narrative changed to him being The Next Hitler, Milton Bradly actually recalled the game and reprinted it in a new box, minus Saddam, of course. Memory hole!