Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beware Academic Elitism

As we explore the concepts of religion and morality in early American history, to what experts or authorities should we turn? How do we decide whether a certain speaker, activist, or writer can be considered an "expert" or "authority"? Who deserves our attention and respect?

If you've spent much time here at American Creation, you've probably seen several cases where the above questions have been debated -- if not openly, at least in the subtext of the comments. How often have we read someone say that a certain activist, writer, or even blog contributor has dubious or suspect qualifications to address matters of history, because...well....he or she "is not a historian." Not a real historian anyway.

These kinds of exchanges raise some important questions. Does a person need to have a master's or doctorate in history specifically in order to warrant our respectful consideration? Or is a degree even enough? How many books must be published or awards received, before a person is considered sufficiently "credentialed" to warrant our respect?

My thesis is that a speaker, writer, or activist should not be judged (and certainly not dismissed) based solely or even primarily on his or her resume. A person should be evaluated based on character and performance, not on credentials. Having a resume full of degrees, awards, etc. doesn't give someone a monopoly on truth, nor does it exempt him or her from making mistakes or errors in judgment.

To dismiss someone out of hand for a lack of certain credentials can fairly be called "academic elitism" and it has unfortunately raised its ugly head on too many occasions in our society, including here at our American Creation blog.

Scholarship and Credentialism - They Are Not Always The Same

Effective, credible analysis of history requires patience, discipline, careful research, and some form of system designed to compensate for the individual's or group's bias. Regarding the latter, that a person or team will have a bias is natural. No one is free from some kind of bias. But it is possible to account for that bias and put in "checks and balances" to channel and control for it. Thus, it is not elitism to insist that a writer or reseacher employ such skills or disciplines.

On some occasions, activists have failed to employ these skills and have encountered reasonable criticism and scrutiny as a result. David Barton, for example, has acknowledged that his past use of quotes landed him in hot water, because he too casually accepted secondhand or thirdhand sources, rather than confirming the authenticity of the quotes themselves by combing through the original source material. It was a layman's error and a costly one, for it continues to dog his credibility in some circles to this day.

The Internet is full of examples where activists, on all sides of the political spectrum, have lifted quotes out of context or clipped quotes to suit their own purposes. This kind of shoddy, agenda-driven "research" should be called out.

Principles and practices of sound scholarship are certainly needed. But credentialed historians are just as capable of flawed or deceptive "scholarship" as any layperson. Remember Ward Churchill? And how about the late Howard Zinn? Both guys had the official credentials, but their "scholarship" left much to be desired.

It's one thing to demand sound, credible scholarship. It's another to demand that a writer or speaker have a certain resume before you'll give her a hearing!

The Dark Side of Elitism

In a recent article "Judge the Person: Not the Resume," film critic and conservative writer Michael Medved deplored elitism in American culture, writing: "The poisonous polarization of the culture has produced some ill-considered attacks that call into question one of the most fundamental American values: the notion that each individual deserves to be judged on ability, not background, and evaluated on performance rather than credentials.

K12 Academics, an education resource website, defines academic elitism as a belief that "only those individuals who have engaged in scholarship are deemed to have anything worthwhile to say, or do."

Once again, it's not unreasonable to demand that a person "engage in scholarship" insofar as his or her specific studies are concerned. But, all too often, a person is considered to have not "engaged in scholarship," unless he or she has the resume to prove it. Scholarship is too often based on resume.

I grant that a credentialed, professional historian deserves a certain presumption of respect. Nevertheless, a journalist, minister, philosopher, or even one completely outside of social studies can still offer something of value to the study and discussion of history. In fact, at times, such a contribution can be of great value.

David McCullough comes to mind. McCullough's award-winning books are well researched and immensely popular. Yet many deride McCullough, because he lacks a degree in history. To them, McCullough is not a REAL historian. Of course, what this usually means is that the Howard Zinns and quasi-Zinns of the historical scholarship community sneer at McCullough's unabashed patriotism. I mean, a historian - a REAL historian - would never be patriotic, right?

Can Ministers, Theologians, or Activists Offer Good History?

Let's take Dr. Peter Lillback, author of George Washington's Sacred Fire and several other books. A few here at American Creation have dismissed Lillback on the grounds that "he's not a real historian."

Well, Lillback is the president of the renowned Westminster Theological Seminary and head of the Providence Forum. He possesses three degrees: a Bachelor's from Cedarville University, a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a PhD from Westminster. In addition to serving as president of Westminster, he also teaches a class in historical theology.

It's true that Lillback doesn't have an advanced degree in history specifically, but I can tell you that a degree in religion or theology (and Lillback's degrees and schools are quite impressive in their own right) is similar to one in philosophy, political science, and, yes, even history. Not exact, mind you, but similar in some respects.

I would submit that a minister or theologian, with training in scholarship (be it in the form of an advanced degree or otherwise) can offer something of value to the study and analysis of history. As self-serving as this may sound, a minister or theologian should not be dismissed out of hand for their contributions to the field anymore than a philosopher, political scientist would be.

Of course, scholars like Lillback or activists like David Barton are often dismissed not simply for their lack of history-specific credentials (or lack of "sufficient" history-specific credentials), but because they....heaven forbid...have an agenda!

Anyone who dismisses Lillback or Barton because they have an agenda should never, under any circumstances, pick up a book written by the likes of Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, or Ward Churchill or ever watch a documentary by Michael Moore. If having an agenda disqualifies someone from being taken seriously, then, frankly, you're out of luck until Mr. Spock is born or we invent Data. (That's a wink at my fellow Star Trek fans. And frankly, even Spock and Data had agendas!).

So, knock off this nonsense about agendas! I have no problem with scholars having agendas. None whatsoever. And you shouldn't either.

What matters is how a person HANDLES his or her agenda. Are they honest, disciplined, reasonable, and rational in doing the research and laying the intellectual groundwork for the pursuit of their "agenda"?

Let's Not Forget Common Sense

And, frankly, while I agree that it's important for us to exercise some scholarly discipline in our exploration of these subjects. And I'd certainly hate to see American Creation degenerate into partisan mud-slinging or sloppy, superficial articles that are long on agenda and short on research. Nevertheless, let's not ignore the wisdom of common sense!

There are times when average, ordinary Americans without an Ivy League education have something to offer our society. In fact, there are a LOT of such times. I would submit that our greatest Presidents in American history (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln) were not intellectual giants, when it came to academic training and certainly not when it came to "credentials." But they possessed character, wisdom, and a driving desire to learn and grow. This made them great.

So, again, I am not devaluing the importance of knowledge, education, and wisdom. On the contrary, I'm a big believer in all those things, and in the need for honest, painstaking, disciplined research and analysis. But I categorically reject any implication, assumption, or tendency to automatically extend favor to those with certain CREDENTIALS at the expense of those who may not have them.

I'll allow the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr. the last word. Alluding to the Left's unfortunate bias toward intellectual elitism at the expense of common sense, Buckley famously remarked: "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."


Angie Van De Merwe said...

I think what one's creditials are are important in certain situations/circumstances. When it comes to our government, then, no creditials are not important, as we are "the people". And we should take a role in having a voice.

So often those that have credentials, or those that are extremely ignorant or self-serving will make mistakes in judgment due to the over-confidence in their own opinion, without considering any other opinion...

Agendas are good, as long as they do not impose themselves upon others without their consent. This is what is disturbing to many about how the government is being run today. Leaders are to consider their governed...and know and understand that they are in the place they are because of them...So, they should be indebted and act gratefully, for the opportunity to serve!

James Hanley said...

Well, I'll go ahead and speak up for academic elitism. While elitism obviously can go too far (and can do so quite easily--I had grad school colleagues who were quite sure they knew what the working class really wanted, despite never having been part of it), I think anti-elitism is even worse. Anti-elitism says there's no need for any special training, the people who invest great effort in learning their craft can't do it any better than those of us who pay only the most casual attention.

Only in academia is elitism despised. In Hollywood films, we admire the skill of good actors (Gary Oldman, Glenn Close) and laugh at bad ones (Tara Reid, Keanu Reeves). No one would ask an inexperienced electrician to rewire their house (well, I am rewiring my own, so maybe that's not completely true). We're all elitists when it comes to sports--all football fans would rather have Drew Brees (passer rating 109.6) on their fantasy football roster than Chad Henne (75.2). And I'm sure we're all quite elitist about who we'd want to perform open-heart surgery on us.

But when it comes to academics, we suddenly attack elitism and proclaim the virtues of common-sense. But how valuable is common-sense? Common-sense says trade barriers are good, even though elitist academic economists have argued against them for centuries. Common-sense says the founding fathers were all devout Christians, even though we know that's not true.

I think the reason is that academics go beyond common-sense, and frequently expose the errors of so-called common-sense. That is, they tell the public that it is wrong about many things, and that offends the public. And since no one likes to be told they're wrong, made to feel as though they're an idiot or otherwise inferior, they protect themselves by closing their mind and rejecting what they've heard.

That doesn't mean all academics should be admired. They're just a collection of humans, with all the failings of humans, and many--because they know they have more native intelligence than the average person--are insufferably arrogant, which makes them unable to see their own intellectual limitations. They have a tendency to think their intelligence and education bleeds over into areas they haven't studied (although that error ought to be the most obvious of all to them), so--for example--I have no respect for PZ Myers when he talks about politics. Academics are also no more immune to ideology than anyone else (regrettably--it'd be nice if at least one group of people was), and so they are sometimes misled by ideology as much as anyone else is. Indeed I think what most people are referring to when they say "common sense" is "my particular ideology."

But academics--most, not all--have something that very few average citizens have. They have learned how to do disciplined research. If they have learned their lesson well, they have learned how to avoid the tendency of confirmation bias, which is perhaps the most common tendency among those who rely on "common-sense." Regardless of how many or few books one has written, regardless of whether a person has finished their dissertation or remains ABD for life, those with a greater degree of advanced education are far more likely to be able to overcome this fatal error than is the less educated person.

Ray Soller said...

Brian, I tend to agree with what you are driving at where you say, "A person should be evaluated based on character and performance, not on [a sometimes exaggerated set of academic] credentials." The problem with "character" is that character is so much a matter of public perception, where, unfortunately, one's character can be so affected by malicious muckraking. Take the Newt Gingrich statement aimed at Michael Newdow as an example where accredited historian Dr. Gingrich wrote, "You have to wonder how soon a lawsuit to scrape the references to God and the Bible off the [Lincoln Memorial] monument so as not to offend those who hate or despise religion. This is no idle threat. Dr. Michael Newdow, the atheist, who brought suit to outlaw the motto :one nation under God," told the New York Times [reporter, Evelyn Nieves] he intended to 'ferret out all insidious uses of religion in daily life.'" [See NYTs July 1, 2002 article, 'Under God' Inconoclast Looks to Next Targets.]

If one examines the article firsthand, then one can see that the alledged Newdow quote was not spoken by Newdow. Those words were an editorial comment inserted by the reporter, Evelyn Nieves. Here's the full context:

Despite the outpouring of outrage from politicians and pundits over the [Ninth Circuit] pledge ruling -- not to mention the death threats on his answering machine -- Mr. Newdow still plans to challenge the use of "In God We Trust" on currency. He would like to see an end to prayers at presidential inaugurations. "At President Bush's it just went on and on," he says, clearly annoyed. "I said, "Holy smokes, they can't do that!" As an atheist, he plans to ferret out all insidious uses of religion in daily life. "Why should I be made to feel like an outsider?"

Brian Tubbs said...

@James - I see your points, and I'm certainly not dismissing or downplaying the importance of training. I'm simply pointing out that a credentials don't automatically equate to good history. And that it IS possible for a non-credentialed person to offer something of value to the field. But, certainly, I understand that universities aren't going to hire a high school dropout with no additional education to teach a graduate course in science.

Brian Tubbs said...

@Ray - Good points, and your example shows how even a trained, credentialed academic (Gingrich) can draw fallacious conclusions or make unsubstantiated allegations.

Brian Tubbs said...

One follow up point I'd make to the article is something I alluded to, but didn't fully develop.

When it comes to social studies, there's a lot of overlap. Take Peter Lillback, who has two advanced degrees (a ThM and a PhD) and who heads up a well-respected seminary. Lillback's primary discipline is religion / theology.

While he's not trained to do brain surgery or practice law, he IS qualified to cross over into other social science fields, like philosophy, political science, and (yes) history.

Brian Tubbs said...

Oh, and with respect to David Barton....

I don't think writers or activists always need advanced degrees or credentials in the areas on which they comment. But, in Barton's case, given that he's very much "in the arena" of historical debate and presents himself as an authority on the subject, I would strongly advise him to seek a master's degree in history.

If you're going to take your career in a direction like Barton has, then you should get the training to build your knowledge and credibility. Barton would be very wise to pursue a master's in history.

James Hanley said...


And in case I overstated my case, I agree that credentials don't automatically equal true competence. Sometimes getting through grad school can be accomplished by riding the right coattails, rather than actually learning your field and craft. And there are indeed some amateurs who through diligent effort develop great competence. I greatly admire them, as I don't know whether I could have accomplished it without the discipline of grad school.

And most certainly there are any number of people without advanced degrees who have wholly as much native intelligence as any randomly selected academic. I know a cement truck driver who's as quick as just about anyone I've ever met, but who only lacks training in any particular method.

Brad Hart said...

When it comes to history and credentials I like to use the pilot analogy. Do all pilots need to serve in the Air Force in order to fly? No. But do most good pilots come from the Air Force? Yes. Of course one can become an excellent pilot without serving in the military, but the fact remains that the majority of good pilots have those military credentials behind them.

Such is the case with history. Most good history does come from accredited historians. However, there still are good histories written by "non-historians." Brian's example of McCullough is probably the best...and I think there is more than enough room for the McCullough's of the world and the accredited historians.

In addition, I also agree with James. There is just as much (if not more) anti-academia out there these days. You constantly hear people whining about "those evil liberal colleges" and how our kids are being "brainwashed." The number of home-schooled kids in America has skyrocketed. Now, this doesn't mean that home-schooled kids are somehow worse off than others. Not at all. I have lots of friends who home school and their kids are every bit as educated as others.

But my point is this: we are seeing an increasing number of people who accept the Glenn Beck/Michael Moore take on history and politics as opposed to seeking actual sources on history, etc. This to me is far more disturbing that "academic elitism."

But Brian's point isn't without validity. Let's face it, when Howard Zinn is given a 2-hour prime time slot on The History Channel (which is rarely if ever about actual history these days) and books like "Constantine's Sword" and "The Godless Constitution" are hailed as "cutting-edge" then there's a problem.

Bottom line is this: academia is a two-edged sword. You have elitism on one side and anti-academia on the other. Both sides, inherently, reject rationality.

Oprah said...

I was one of the people who derided Lilliback, I'll admit it. I think he is a poor writer. His powers of analysis leave something to be desired. He also relies on filler. He reprints superfluous matter in full for no reason, and often when it doesn't even support the argument. Pull out the good quotes, the key passages and analyze, I say! While I agree with his main point (Washington was a Christian) I do not think his book is good because of its composition.

That being said, I say three cheers to your point about David McCullough. That man is an artist.

Am I championing academic elitism by dismissing Lilliback? No. I don't care if your a vet by trade writing about Nazi Germany, or the guy that cleans the neighborhood pool writing about Ancient Rome. Just please write well! That's all I'm saying...

Oprah said...

Everyone has been mentioning David Barton...don't pounce on me if I ask...who is this infamous Mr. Barton?

Jonathan Rowe said...

I think the problem Lillback (with Newcome) illustrates -- and I don't mean to pick on Brian's thesis here -- is not being officially "vetted."

It's not that (I find) Lillback et al. to be "poor" writers. Rather, the book reads like a non-final draft, in GREAT need of editing.

It's published by a start up company that he is affiliated with. It's like a glorified self-published book.

Lillback thought by sending 1200 pages he'd win by "settling" the matter by sheer force of weight.

But much of the book is, as Oprah alluded, redundant prose with endless speculation on his part.

A respectable academic publisher would never accepted or published the book as Lillback sent it.

Rather, they'd chop off at least 500 or so of its pages without touching a lick of its key arguments.

Jonathan Rowe said...

To comment on Oprah's Barton question, it's funny Barton is well known in certain circles, among the homeschooled evangelical crowd and among leftish figures who are known for fighting religious right politics.

In other circles, he isn't well known at all.

And that's in part because many respectable scholars of the conservative vein won't cite him.

I'll give an anecdote. Law Professor David Forte (who co-edited Heritage's guide to the Constitution with Ed Meese and Matt Spalding) is a brilliantly learned natural law type Catholic conservative legal scholar. Like his friend Robbie George, he had ties to the Bush White House and may well have spearheaded Bush's "Islam, properly understood, is a religion of peace," line.

Somehow one night last year, I managed to tag along with a him and a group of others at Princeton, going out for drinks.

When we brought up David Barton's name, Forte asked "who is David Barton?"

This is a man who was well familiar with First Amendment arguments from all of the "important" folks.

I brought David Barton up to Jeff Morrison (another fellow in our group) and of course, Morrison knew who he was because Morrison teaches at Regent.

Morrison, btw, defended Barton's credibility. (Noting that Barton properly corrected the record of his "unconfirmed quotations.") But he still doesn't cite him in his book on GW. And that's probably because Barton's activism has made him "damaged goods" in the world of scholarly respectability.

Jonathan Rowe said...


This is Barton's website:

And this is that of his chief nemesis, Chris Rodda, who has sometimes stopped by and commented here:

Brian Tubbs said...

Oprah and Jon, I don't consider criticism of Lillback's work to be "elitist." His work is fair game. Criticize all you want. :-)

And, frankly, I agree that "George Washington's Sacred Fire" was too long and in need of some serious editing.

It's only "elitist" if one dismisses Lillback because he's "not a historian." THAT is elitism.

Oprah said...

Jonathan Rowe, thank you for saying what I was trying to say, better than I could say, about "Sacred Fire"!

I had forgotten completely about wallbuilders, I used to visit that website all the time! It's been years but woah, I didn't know it's creator as so hotly contested. It was a real flashback going back to that site.

I'll check out liarsforjesus, it's important to get both sides of the fence.

Brian, I'm glad you agree with me about the editing issues. I see, and agree with, your point about elitism.

Ray Soller said...

Lillback's book is not 1200 pages long. The main text stops at page 724. The rest is appendices and endnotes. Despite the books shortcomings, I for one am very glad he wrote it. He did some very good research when it came to enumerating the many different oaths that Washington was required to take during the colonial era. On top of that he showed that Parson Weems was a one of Washington's neighbors, and Washington did actually know the man.

Anonymous said...

Excellent essay, Brian. You're far more objective and impartial in your analysis than many others, including those who comment here, whose own personal biases shine through attempted objectivity. But one thing about Lillback - his PhD, if I'm not mistaken, is in Historical Theology, so, technically, he is a credentialed historian, which, to the best of my knowledge, others like David Barton, William Federer and Gary Demar are not. (Sorry, I'm not touting academic elitism, just correcting incorrect statements.)

One thing I do like about Lillback, even if his message doesn't always agree with my own personal convictions or views, he does seem to do a good job as respects primary source research, i.e., representing what his subjects, in the case of Sacred Fire, George Washington, said and wrote themselves, not necessarily what others interpreted their words as having meant. We may not like or agree with what someone wrote or said, but we sure can't deny that they said and wrote it.

James Hanley said...

On "common sense." This is from Tim Sandefur's legal blog, criticizing the so-called "Justice Courts" in New York, whose judges frequently have little formal education, and no legal education.

"several people in the small town of Dannemora were intimidated by their longtime justice, Thomas R. Buckley, a phone-company repairman who cursed at defendants and jailed them without bail or a trial, state disciplinary officials found. Feuding with a neighbor over her dog’s running loose, he threatened to jail her and ordered the dog killed.

“I just follow my own common sense,” Mr. Buckley, in an interview, said of his 13 years on the bench. “And the hell with the law.” "

That is why I am not impressed with "common sense." Real sense seems to be disturbingly uncommon.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

James Hanley said, "That is why I am not impressed with "common sense." Real sense seems to be disturbingly uncommon."

This is why religion should stay out of the State concerns, because religions thinks its way of viewing things is "common". And there is no way to argue differently, really....

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

Brian, your post purports to oppose "academic elitism," yet some may think you employ it yourself when you argue that Dr. Lillback should be taken seriously becaause, as you put it:

"Lillback is the president of the renowned Westminster Theological Seminary and head of the Providence Forum. He possesses three degrees: a Bachelor's from Cedarville University, a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a PhD from Westminster. In addition to serving as president of Westminster, he also teaches a class in historical theology."

If that's not an argument based on academic credentials, pray tell, what is it?

jimmiraybob said...

So who makes the more compelling arguments as to the cause of earthquakes, Pat Robertson (amateur seismologist) or the professional and credentialed geologists/seismologists inside and outside of academia?

Whose advice would you seek on city planning?

bpabbott said...

That an individual has an accredited degree is worthy of recognition (it is indicative of some minimum standard). However, the absence of one isn't evidence of anything.

Regarding Pat Robertson's opinion of the causes of tsunami's, earth quakes, hurricanes and 9-11 it isn't his lack of an accredited scientific degree that is indicative of idiocy ;-)

Brian Tubbs said...

@James - Good point, but I'm not defending "common sense" in that way. I agree that true common sense is all too UNcommon. And just because someone asserts that they have common sense does not mean that they do.

Brian Tubbs said...

@Eric - You're picking out one section of my essay/article. I'm not putting Lillback forward solely on the base of his academic creds. I'm saying, as one of several arguments, that Lillback's academic creds are impressive enough to warrant respect in their own right. That just because his advanced degrees are in religion and theology doesn't mean he can't comment credibly or authoritatively on matters of history. That's my point.

@Anonymous - Thank you! I wasn't able to confirm Lillback's PhD being in historical theology, but I do know he teaches that subject, so I was 90% sure that's what it was. If indeed his PhD is in historical theology, then that's a great example of history and religion overlapping in their disciplines.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I was aware -- because I was confronted by Richard Gardiner (posting under some pseudonym like Ambrose Searl or something like that) that Lillback's PhD was in history of theology.

JDs like myself claim some kind of bona fides as historians because of our study of legal history. We also claim some kind of bona fides in political science given our study of constitutional law, government, civil rights, etc.

That's a nice thing about a JD. It's 3 years, considered a "doctorate," no dissertation and some bona fides in political science and history that come with it.

There's also a glut of JDs. :)

Brian Tubbs said...

A big part of me wishes I had gotten a J.D.

Bob said...

Very good information .... Thanks guy...
accredited degree | masters degree

Anonymous said...

I think this is an interesting discussion but seriously is the writer of this post pursuing an apologetics degree? Doesn't that diminish the academic standing of the poster?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Everyone has bias, but everyone does not recognize or acknowledge it.

If one is conservative, then they will most likely choose a conservative school or publication. The same for those that are liberal in persuasion.
Different schools or publishers are known to value conservative or liberal 'agendas'.

Agendas are about ulitmate values, and concerns for a given society.

Lillibeck and Barton are conservative mythicist concerning our historical roots. These serve the purpose of a populist, getting the average American "on board" and engaged in thier government.

But, just as Jon pointed out, Barton is not accepted by conservative creditentialed historians because he hasn't made the effort to be a part of the guild. And Lillibeck might be dismissed because his credentials are from conservatively biased Seminaries.

Political activists sometimes have not evaluated why they have such values, as they are only embraced because of sanctioning their "group's" values, not thinking about the issue themself.

As to whether the credentialed are open to the uncredentialed, that depends on whether they value thier own particular bias and agenda above and beyond another's bias. The problem most often is that the credentialed feel they have earned the right to be heard because they have thought through their commitments of value and have earned their degrees based on those values..

So, having credentials serves a purpose and agenda of the particular individual, as well as particular political purposes or agendas of society.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

While everyone is biased, that doesn't mean that anyone's historical understanding is just as valid as another's. Those that don't acknowledge the Holocost, for instance, aren't biased on historical evidence, (reason) but on presumptive agenda driven bias.

Brian Tubbs said...

@Anonymous - Not sure I follow your reasoning about my alleged pursuit of an apologetics degree. In point of fact, my B.A. is in Government & Politics, my Master's is in Theological Studies, and I'm pursuing a graduate certificate in Christian apologetics. That's my present line of work, as I'm a Christian minister. But I'm not sure I follow how that undermines my credibility in this post.

If you're suggesting that my pursuit of academic credentials undermines my case against "academic elitism," I disagree. I applaud anyone who pursues higher education and additional training. But even if I get 10 advanced degrees (I don't plan on that), I'm not going to turn my nose up at people with no degrees. People don't need a degree necessarily to justify a hearing.

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