The Scientist And The Artful Beggar

Gregory Benford, SF writer and science professor, writes about the type of student he calls grade-seekers, who all have in common a dislike of any kind of definitive statement: “Instead, they believed that the esteem-building smiley faces of grade school carried over to the university; artful begging should bring a higher grade, right? Final grades, done and posted, simply announced a last chance to whine for more. Just asking should count for something, shouldn’t it? Points could be added to a score, like freebie burgers or T-shirts. After all, out in the big world fame and wealth often went to those with no love of knowledge at all; why should the world of academia be different?…”

“But bridges fell down if you calculated the stresses wrong, people died on the operating table if a med school graduate miscalculated a dosage. Such possibilities did not affect their quaint feeling that they should be doing better, so something was wrong with the system…. They wanted to be judged on their ‘potential’ and wondered why the world didn’t see it that way.”

Professor Benford also remarks that the brightest at school become academics, only to see worldly wealth and power go to the B students or worse. The quote itself suggests why that might be – because, outside his classes, “artful begging” is indeed the way to go. Or the rest of the psychological suite that goes together with artful begging, such as the sense of entitlement or the allergy to what can be tested. It is, perhaps, Professor Benford’s love of knowledge and truth that is “quaint”.

Posted on June 20, 2011 at 22:14 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, The Great War On Brains (GWOB)

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