… is from page 390 of Joseph Epstein’s 2008 short essay “Negative Pleasures” as this essay is reprinted in the 2016 collection of Epstein’s short essays, Wind Sprints:
Another great negative pleasure I enjoy is not having a PhD. Some of the most deeply stupid people in the country have PhD’s.
DBx: Speaking as someone with a PhD, I fully concur with Epstein’s observation. Over the past 40 years of my life I’ve encountered – and in many cases gotten to know very well – people too many to count with PhDs. I’m not impressed.
I quickly add that some of these people are amazingly smart and wise – for example, Steve Davies, Roger Garrison, Tom Hazlett, Bob Higgs, Dan Klein, Dwight Lee, Hugh Macaulay, Deirdre McCloskey, Mario Rizzo, George Selgin, Vernon Smith, Walter Williams, and Leland Yeager, to name, almost at random, only a few. But the number of people without a PhD who I can name, and who I’ve personally known, whose intellects and judgment I respect comparably is also very high. This number includes Betsy Albaugh, Lyle Albaugh, David Boaz, Fred Dent, Donald Dewey, Dan Griswold, Dan Grossman, Methinks, Gerry Ohrstrom, Adam Pritchard, Candace Smith, John Stossel, Gordon Tullock, and Todd Zywicki. Were I to extend both lists each to its full length, this latter list would almost surely be longer – much longer – than the former list.
And were I to make a list of the people whom I’ve encountered with PhDs who spout utter idiocy, and a separate list of those whom I’ve encountered without PhDs who spout utter idiocy, the longer of the two lists would unquestionably be the former.