Why Conflating Academic Achievement with Education Keeps Everyone Ignorant
In Part 3 of my series, The Problem with Education, I discuss why the cost-benefit of an MBA degree does not make sense and why ultimately, the value and ROI (return on investment) of an MBA education are both very low in the real world and why self-education offers a far more cost-effective solution.
So what is skwealthacademy? skwealthacademy is an online academy that I designed to address the gaping holes of education in current traditional business curricula taught in brick and mortar classrooms today. Education is one of the most important determinants of financial success in life. Yet, adults repeatedly provide the worst possible advice to children by telling them “Stay in school!” because of the widespread false belief that school provides real education, even when the vast majority of school administrators around the world endorse empty calorie information drills and memorization exercises without the provision of critical thinking skill development that is essential for real learning. Instead of parents telling their children to stay in school they should provide their children with the infinitely better advice to seek the forums that offer them the best education, regardless if they find it in a traditional school or a non-traditional online academy or non-charter school. For example, even though I attended an Ivy League university in America and earned two Masters degrees, an MBA and a Master in Public Policy, were I seventeen-years-old again and faced with the decision of whether or not to continue my academic career, I would 100% choose to forego both my Ivy League university education and my two Master degrees and only pursue self-education from that point forward. Why?
Today, the academic and scholastic classroom has devolved into a social conditioning lab that produces like-minded worker bees much more than an education lab that produces educated and independent thinking young men and women, and I firmly believe that the traditional business school setting makes young adults more ignorant about the real world and clouds their understanding of how capital markets actually work. I have spoken to dozens of graduates from prestigious MBA programs over the years, including MBA graduates from Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton, and without fail, when I ask them questions about the monetary and banking system and about capital market price setting mechanisms, 100% of them that have yet to work in a real world setting answer all questions incorrectly by the answers they were taught in classroom settings, while even those that have years of experience in real world settings still answer the majority of the questions incorrectly. This demonstrates the validity of my conclusions about elite schools’ catastrophic failure to provide real education, even though they successfully provide access and connections to high paying jobs and access to privileged networks. For those that conflate income potential with education, did attending an Ivy League university increase my earning potential after graduation? Of course it did. But that was not my point. The point was that my university and multiple advanced graduate academic degrees contributed very little to my intellectual and educational development. This is why some of you reading this article have likely had conversations with people with very impressive academic pedigrees and have wondered how they could exhibit almost no critical thinking and well-developed reasoning skills.
The Academic System Systemically Fails to Educate
I designed skwealthacademy to provide real education to young adults, as I firmly believe that the global university system has devolved into an anti-education system. In fact, the institutional “education” system has not provided real education to boys and girls, young men and women, and adult men and women for more than a century now. A real school with a mission of educating its students should provide the requisite knowledge necessary to understand and cope with, if not prosper from, the extreme wealth paradigm shifts we are experiencing today. This is a mission that 100% of traditional academic institutions miserably fail to accomplish as illustrated by the rapidly widening wealth distribution gap between the über rich and everyone else in every nation in the world since 2008. Today, my understanding of financial markets is so superior to my level of understanding at the time I earned my MBA, simply due to years of self-education after my graduation from the academic world. Consequently, after engaging in years of self-education to unwind all the disinformation taught to me in business school,
I quickly arrived at the realization that no traditional university in the world, even all the ones perceived as the “top” schools in the world, would have left me with a better understanding of how global currency, commodity, stock, and real estate markets truly operate than my immersion in self-education pursuits outside of the institutional university and academic system.
Furthermore, watching YouTube videos that expose the banking industry does not qualify as “self-education” either, for I have watched some of the most popular ones, in particular, one called Zeitgeist, that has critical errors in its contained explanations of how the banking industry operates. For those who might feel an instant reflexive need to rebut this statement because they attended a top-ranked university and believe in the high value of their “education”, this reflexive response is generated by the immense cognitive dissonance that results from even the slightest consideration of this reality. I am not making this statement cavalierly, without great consideration of its impact, without direct experience with “top-ranked” educational programs myself, or without the benefit of copious amounts of empirical evidence and direct experience with some of the most highly ranked institutional academic programs in the world. After realizing that my self-education process was many times more valuable than my Ivy League education, I unfortunately had to spend many months just to deprogram myself from the ridiculous disinformation I had learned at these “top-tier” schools and to unlearn the inflexible mindset that my professors had programmed into me before I could even truly start to learn the business, financial and monetary truths of which I am cognizant today.
Is the ROI of a Business School Education Still Worth its Price?
If I had the ability to travel back in time to the point and time at which I was entering university as a Freshman with the knowledge I now possess, I would have elected to reject my acceptance to an Ivy League university, let alone any university, and I would have made this decision quite easily and with no regrets. I can say with 100% honesty and sincerity that since my university and graduate level academic education provided no tangible educational benefit to my future, and because I could have completely avoided the difficult process of unlearning false information I learned in school, it would have been an easy choice to completely forgo a traditional academic education and to pursue my education outside of the institutional academic system. For those that conflate income potential with education, did attending an Ivy League university increase my earning potential after graduation? Of course it did. But that was not my point. The point was that my university and multiple advanced graduate academic degrees contributed very little to my intellectual and educational development. This is why some of you reading this article have likely had conversations with people with very impressive academic pedigrees and have wondered how they could exhibit almost no critical thinking and well-developed reasoning skills.
A comparable analogy of being repeatedly exposed to disinformation is to compare the disinformation process to the muscle memory of athletes. As a martial artist, if someone taught me how to improperly throw a side thrust kick, and I then subsequently practiced the incorrect way to throw this kick thousands of times, even after learning the proper technique to throw this kick, the reinforcement of the improper technique in my muscle memory due to thousands of incorrect repetitions will make the process of learning how to correctly throw it ten times more difficult than had I never learned to throw it at all. Even when I understand the proper way to throw the kick, my mind is going to believe that the proper way to throw it is the improper way I’ve practiced it for thousands of times and my brain will instruct my physical body to throw it improperly even after being given the knowledge of the true way to throw the kick. Consequently, I necessarily must first deprogram my brain of its improper memory of how to throw the side thrust kick before I can even begin to train new muscle memory to plant roots of the proper technique.
Disinformation campaigns work in much the same manner. This is why all the disinformation disseminated by business school professors is aggressively reinforced in the mainstream financial media. Reinforcement of disinformation in various distribution channels provides the thousands of repetitions for this disinformation to become part of your muscle memory. The sinister process of imbedding disinformation into our muscle memory is the reason why you can tell the truth repeatedly, supported with documentation, to someone that society would label as “highly educated”, and that person will not only deny the truth, but will not even consider the documentation supporting the truth that proves his or her belief to be indisputably wrong. To begin, because we have been told thousands of times that high academic achievement is equal to education, we cannot fathom that a Harvard or Oxford graduate could possibly be unintelligent though this is very plausible. Secondly, because someone that graduates from a prestigious university has been told hundreds, or perhaps thousands of times, that this achievement makes one highly educated, this person will also believe this delusion and therefore adopt a rigid thought process that will not allow consideration of views that differ from his or her own. Just as the brain will initially reject the proper way to throw a side thrust kick after repeated indoctrination to the improper way to throw the kick, a brain subjected to repeated indoctrination of disinformation will instinctively dismiss and reject any presented truth that differs from what it already believes to be true.
Why Overcoming Disinformation is Much More Difficult than Originally Learning the Truth
Overcoming incorrect and wrong knowledge imprinted in the brain is infinitely more difficult than learning correct knowledge upfront without repeated exposure to disinformation. Thus initially learning wrong knowledge while attending business school programs, whether at Harvard or at your community college, will inflict tremendous amounts of harm to your future ability to understand the truth. Because career academics are the most misinformed of all of us when it comes to monetary and financial truths, this circumstance explains why academics always appear on television after a global financial crisis rears its ugly head and falsely state that no one could have ever predicted the onset of the crisis. Just because their programming to ignore truth and to latch on to disinformation prevented them from seeing the onset of a crisis that provided many clear indications of its imminent arrival to others does not mean that everyone else suffers from their same shortsightedness. Unfortunately, typical scholars and academics, because they conflate their endless years of academic training with intellect, often express their arrogance through their false claims that global financial crises are impossible to predict and foresee.
If you were a frequent reader of my old Underground Investor blog that I have since retired, you know that I predicted the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis just 18-days before it happened, despite the same messages of “continuing higher highs” given by politicians and bankers that preceded every other market crash in history. And I was not the only one that printed these beliefs in an online public forum. The vast majority of the world was unaware of my predictions and similar predictions made by a handful of others because the mainstream media elects to censor the voices of anyone that deviates from the consensus narrative. However, as history always repeats itself, I can guarantee you that the usual suspects from the academic Harvard and Princeton world will appear in interviews after the next global financial crisis strikes at some point in the next five years (though my belief is that it will strike closer to 2020 than 2024) and state the same lies they always state – that “nobody could have predicted the crisis”.
The dirty secret of the business academic world is that all the economic theory, marketing theory, accounting theory and statistical models they teach students in brick and mortar classrooms have very low utility in contributing to financial success later in life, though it certainly helps to provide for the multi-million dollar salaries of top University Presidents today. For example, the median earnings of alumni from my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, was reported at $78,000 a year in 2015. Comparatively speaking, University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann raked in in over $2.8 million in salary in 2014, or about 36-times the median earning of a Penn graduate! This shows that it is much more profitable to become an administrator of a school than it is to actually learn a trade or craft from that same school. The enormous salary gap between university presidents and the earnings of its students exists despite the fact that nearly all university business programs don’t reveal any relevant knowledge about the inner workings and mechanisms of asset prices in capital markets today, and despite the fact that university Presidents do nothing to correct this grave deficiency in the educational and learning process at their school’s business programs.
Instead, university Presidents hide the serious educational deficiencies of their school’s curricula by focusing energy on the hiring process for graduates and appeasing graduating students and deflecting any concerns they may have about their educational quality by providing them with access to high paying jobs upon graduation – a strategy that seems to be highly effective in appeasing students’ concerns that they may have gravely overpaid for their MBA degrees, which can run north of $250,000, including costs of room, board and food for a top-ranked two-year program. Reactions of disdain from many business school professors regarding every article I write and any speech I give about the serious deficiencies of business school curricula only reinforces my belief that all traditional brick and mortar classroom business curricula are highly inflexible, set in their ways, and shut off to the possibility that their courses fail to advance their students’ understanding of how today’s opaque financial markets truly operate. I concluded, after graduating from a top 15 MBA program in the US and a top 5 university, that the theory and case studies I learned in business school simply were not applicable to real world situations.
Learning about the concepts of dark pools, high frequency trading algorithms, fractional reserve banking, the differences between sound money and unsound money, and Central Banker techniques to control perceptions of asset price behavior and capital markets were all subjects that I never learned anything about in school, but that I address in great detail in my skwealthacademy curriculum. Furthermore, due to the large volume of disinformation disseminated in business schools, I provide very detailed courses in my academy that address how to overcome confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and social conditioning, all concepts that bind us to wrong beliefs. We must learn how to escape the deceitful web of compliance and ignorance woven in business school classrooms before we can begin to embrace monetary, banking and financial truths, and more importantly, learn how to incorporate the truth in our daily decisions to improve our quality of life.
The investment, brokerage and banking industry has radically changed in the past couple of decades due to technological developments and advancements such as dark pools and HFT algorithms that not only provide bankers with excessive competitive advantages over their clients, but also that often pit a bankers’ interests against the best interests of their clients and cause bankers to sell products as “robust” and “great” to clients that are the exact opposite of these representations. Unfortunately, the rapid technological advancement of the financial and banking industry sent humanity backwards by at least five steps, by encouraging bankers to engage in numerous immoral and criminal activities like spoofing, quote stuffing, illegal frontrunning, pulling bids to create waterfall rapid declines in asset and so on, yet not one business school in the entire world educates its students about how asset prices are controlled by manipulation on a widespread scale on a daily basis. A detailed description of the great influence of all these techniques on asset price movements should be a mandatory element of every business school’s curriculum.
Furthermore, it is simple to debunk the many false arguments that an MBA education has great value because of its high correlation to high salaries. If one uses the strong correlation between MBA educations earned at Ivy League universities and the high annual incomes earned by their graduates as proof of the high value of information provided by MBA educations, this argument is based entirely upon the false premise that correlation is causation. High salaries achieved by MBA graduates of prestigious universities are normally a result of an elevated level of access and privilege granted by graduating with degrees from such programs. As I stated in part 2 of my “Problem with Education” series, I can easily design a social experiment to prove that an MBA education obtained from prestigious universities are of very low utility in understanding the real world mechanisms about gold, money, and asset pricing. Please stay tuned for Part 4 of this series.
About the author: J. Kim is the founder and Managing Director of skwealthacademy, a decade long passion project that is comprised of a complete online academy of 20 courses that specifically address 9 identified pillars of education absent in modern academic classrooms today. All articles such as this one are only possible because of the support of our patrons, so many blessings to all new and future patrons that support us. Please consider becoming a patron to receive special patron-only benefits by clicking here.
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Essential education elements, largely absent in academic classrooms today, but restored in our skwealthacademy curriculum are (1) an emphasis on critical thinking development, (2) a return to corporate ethics as essential in the pursuit of any business mission; (3) a deep understanding of the differences between unsound fiat currencies and sound money, and how this misunderstanding contributes to the persistence and growing proliferation of global wealth inequity, poverty and hunger; and (4) the pursuit of life purpose to replace the singular focus on monetary pursuits that have created and spread elevated levels of loneliness, anxiety and opioid dependence in developed nations all around the world.
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