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Universities: poisoning the well of knowledge

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by akrainer
Friday, Dec 16, 2022 - 19:19

For full disclosure, I do have a university degree, but I’ve worked hard ever since to recover from it.

In my book, "Mastering Uncertainty in Commodities Trading," the key insight I had during my trading apprenticeship was about discovery that the holy grail of market speculation is within: "this game was not so much about mastering the markets or statistics or even the charts as much as it was about mastering oneself. In speculation, markets are the external reality, but what decides the game's outcome is the inner process that determines one's actions."

Our actions depend on the way we perceive that external reality and how we understand its changes. But the problem of how we know things goes beyond the domain of investing; it is central to everything we do in life. The big word for this is epistemology - the "science" of how we know. It is one of the core mysteries of life which, the more we question it, the farther we drift away from the certitudes we embraced in our teenage years.

Defending dogmas, not open debate

This is where one would expect our institutions of higher learning to lead the charge and provide us with the most accurate, best refined understanding of our world. They may do so on the margins, but in the mainstream, it seems that they ossify around dogmas which then become so entrenched that they are not even allowed to be questioned. Instead of true knowledge, they tend to produce groupthink, which can diverge so far from the common sense about reality that they become patently absurd.

One of the most stunning examples of this, is the idea that men can get pregnant. A recent poll by WPA Intelligence found that as many as 29% of female democrats (with or without college education) believed that the statement, "Some men can get pregnant," was true. But as many as 36% of college educated female democrats believed that some men can get pregnant.

Doubling your risk of stupid

In 2021, 39.1% of women in the U.S. had college education, and if the same is true of female democrats, that would imply that "only" 17.7% women democrats without college education believe that men can get pregnant, vs. 36% for college educated ones. In other words, college education more than doubles democratic women's inclination to believe that some men can get pregnant. How can that even be? What kind of intellectual environment produces this lunacy? In a recent piece, professor Jonathan Turley sums up this environment, based on a number of surveys of students in US colleges and universities:

  • About 65% of students fear sharing their opinions in classrooms or on campuses

  • Some academic deans believe that free speech protections do not apply to offensive or disingenuous speech

  • Some student publications are explicit that opposing free speech falls within the protection of free speech

  • 66% of students believe it is OK to shout down and silence a speaker to stop them from expressing an unwelcome view

  • 23% of students believe it is OK to use violence to stop free speech

  • More than half of all university departments don't have a single registered Republican; overall, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 10 to 1

Free speech was once sacrosanct

I came to live in the United States from the Communist block in late 1980s. At that time, the cultural environment upheld free speech as sacrosanct. Suggesting any limitations on free speech would have been rejected outright and viewed with great suspicion. Somehow, this has been turned on its head in the intervening decades, and the trend accelerated under the Obama years.

Today, the institutions of higher learning and professional "journalists" clamor for a clampdown on any speech they dislike for whatever reason. Saying that only women can get pregnant can be a career-ending transgression. This is creating an environment where open discussion falls silent and discovery of knowledge gravitates around politically imposed orthodoxies, no matter how misguided or destructive they may be.

Extinguishing knowledge, perverting culture and incubating dystopia

In this environment, tweeting that "all lives matter" as everyone else screeched, "black lives matter," could cost a college professor his job. This same zealotry equally stifles needed debates on important issues like public health, safety of vaccines, climate, renewable energies, economics, monetary policy and questions of war and peace. But the potential harm from universities goes well beyond merely silencing the heretics and stifling open debate.

 

In my last post, I highlighted the role of British universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Bath and the Imperial College of London in contributing to economic devastation with their November, 2019 policy paper, “Absolute Zero.” Not only do they recommend closure of all airports in Britain, phasing out all construction, steel production and consumption of red meat, they also make suggestions about the ways to manipulate the British public to acquiesce to these changes.

Recall, the Imperial College of London and their excellent pandemic predictor Neil Ferguson also produced the massively inflated Covid 19 casualty projections; Oxford University created the extremely flawed AstraZeneca vaccine and the University of East Anglia has been at the forefront of whipping up climate alarmism by deliberately fabricating temperature records. In this sense, institutes of higher learning are not only culpable in distorting the process of knowledge discovery, and the society’s culture with it – they should be held accountable for the destructive policies they recommend or justify.

In the markets, the only objective truth is the price

Getting back to the domain of investment speculation, the above musings also reaffirm why I prefer systematic trend following to fundamentals analysis in investment speculation. Market information and analysis is just as susceptible to bias, book cooking and deception. Systematic trend following elegantly sidesteps these pitfalls by relying exclusively on security prices for analysis - the one source of information about our external reality that is objectively true, accurate and available in real time. If the price of something is 100, that's what you pay for it in the markets, and that's what you can sell it for (plus minus bid-ask spread). It's the information we can depend upon. It's also how daily TrendCompass signals are generated; here's our net positioning today, determined exclusively on the basis of price fluctuations and zero narrative noise:

 

Alex Krainer – @NakedHedgie is the creator of I-System Trend Following and publisher of daily TrendCompass reports: daily commentary and trading signals covering over 200 key financial and commodity markets – probably the best trend following daily newsletter on the market today. One month’s test drive is always free of charge with no strings attached! For US investors, we propose an inflation/recession resilient portfolio covering a basket of 30+ financial and commodities markets - your essential defence against the occult oligarchy’s dark monetary arts.

Contributor posts published on Zero Hedge do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Zero Hedge, and are not selected, edited or screened by Zero Hedge editors.
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