Friday, August 1, 2014

Correlation =/= Causation, Revisited: Education & "Success"

Yer ol' perfesser (amply supplied with degrees (three and a half of 'em), all of which were paid for by the State, one way or another, what with the GI Bill, scholarships and assistantships) hopes everybody already knows that correlation does not imply causation?


Yes, the 'level' of one's formal education is to some (greater or lesser) extent correlated with income: a "higher level" of (formal) education is often part of the resume of wealthier, more 'successful' people.

But industry, gummint, and the Owners have constructed a mythology and an 'industry' (for-profit "colleges") around that correlation and have marketed it as if the relation were causal, when it is NOT.
Getting a "degree" will NOT lead to financial/economic/career "success."


The myth constructs/portrays the phenomenon exactly bass-ackwards.

The relation upon which the myth is premised goes back to a period when only those who were of the 'upper-middle class' and 'higher' were ABLE (or permitted) to attend institutions of higher learning. The wealthy GOT degrees, but the degrees did not confer wealth or even the opportunity to gather it. Rather, a degree was often the signature of inherited status and the wealth that that implied.

But, to gin up revenues (and, not incidentally, to supply 'industry' with another tool by which to discriminate in hiring without appearing to do so), they owners and the institutions began to portray it the OTHER way, and so it has become, in the mythology of getting ahead.

Meanwhile, as the costs of 'higher education' escalate at rates far in excess of the rates of other, recently commodified social 'goods,' those aspiring to improve their chances in the rigged "game of Life" have been convinced that it is worth it, somehow, to mortgage their futures and voluntarily indenture themselves--and their families--with loans they 1) cannot hope to repay and 2) cannot escape through bankruptcy, the revenues of which enrich shysters and grifters in an "industry" created from the fabrics of hope and despair.

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