22 June 2012

Worthless ‘degrees’, pointless ‘research’

I wrote previously about how socialism had been a bad influence in my life until I got a very modest amount of support in setting up my independent research establishment from a newspaper tycoon, Cecil Harmsworth King. As I had been thrown out at the end of the state-funded ‘education’ with no usable qualification, I had seen no way ahead but to set up my own academic institution to provide me with the circumstances of a tolerable and intellectually productive life.

The temporary initial support from Cecil King was the only non-trivial support I have ever had. By trivial I mean donations and covenants which cost more in accountancy, bookkeeping work and letters of acknowledgement than they are adequate to pay for. Neither bookkeepers nor secretaries come cheap, or are reliable.

I am still in need of financial support now.

When the very modest amount of finance from Cecil King ended we were left with no support from any source. I would not get into debt, nor would I sell the house, so we lived from hand to mouth.

It has continued to be impossible to get financial support from any source. The modern world has become increasingly averse to ‘unsupervised’ research, in which a person might be free to find something out. The concept of supervised ‘research’, on the other hand, has expanded as ever larger populations acquire worthless doctorates, Masters’ degrees, and so on. Before a certain date I do not think that the concept of research included ‘supervision’; I am not sure what that date was. Certainly by the time I was an undergraduate there were ‘research students’ working under supervision for ‘higher degrees’.

People, especially of course academics, like to talk as if ‘degrees’ had some intrinsic value, and as if one should be grateful to the university for allowing one the opportunity to use one’s ability in this ‘interesting’ way, even if one has been receiving no salary and, on the contrary, paying fees to the university.

It is important to realise that none of the degrees, at whatever level, which have been obtained by people here were of the slightest use. This includes my own DPhil, which I obtained in 1996. In every case it was a matter of putting in a good deal of hard, boring and pointless work over a period of years, with the sole aim of obtaining a qualification, which one had to hope would lead to a salaried appointment, or its equivalent in the form of a grant adequate to support comparable work outside a university.

I always hoped that my colleagues Dr Charles McCreery and Dr Fabian Wadel would attain professorial status as quickly as possible, so as to be able to use their status in support of my applications for Professorships, etc. But their careers never progressed beyond the stage of sweated labour; doing useless but tiring work to obtain academic ‘recognition’.