Seen in the wild: “All a tells me is you were at least able to cram study and pass tests.”

I can’t even.

Do people really think this? Obviously this guy does, but in general? An honest question, not a rhetorical one.

I’ve spent a significant chunk of my life in the company of people with —including two grandparents, so I understood from childhood that getting a PhD was quite different from any other kind of degree. Most people I know haven’t, but everyone who was part of my life through my long and winding career has a pretty good idea what I did to become Dvorkin. For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m always happy to give a quick sketch.

Among people who don’t have family or friends who have done it, and have never thought seriously about doing it themselves … is that the perception, that grad school is just a more intense version of elementary school through college? More tests, more cramming, more regurgitation, and then you get some shiny new letters after your name?

If that’s the case, I guess I can’t blame them, exactly. Like I’ve said before, most people have no idea how most of the things I’ve done for a living in my life actually work. The , , : all quite mysterious except for what people think they know from movies and TV, which is often worse than complete ignorance. So I guess it’s shouldn’t be a surprise if is on that list.

But I would really like to know how widespread this view is. Maybe I can do something with that.

@medigoth Anyone who thinks that is an idiot, or at least profoundly ignorant.

@DavidDvorkin Well, yeah. But I’m wondering about the precise nature of the ignorance and if there’s anything I can do about it. Or maybe I’m just over-analyzing it as we ivory tower types are wont to do, when all I really need is some good old-fashioned common sense!

@medigoth I’ve known a lot of people who seem to think that a doctorate is basically to a master’s what a master’s is to a bachelor’s: just the next rung up. It seems to be the default position even for professionals who haven’t had a lot of exposure to doctoral programs or anyone in one. It’s really hard to explain to them the extent to which the difference is qualitative.

@pieist I just wonder if there’s any way to fight this. Maybe not, but I’m not quite ready to give up.

@medigoth No one in my family is a Phd, but I am aware that you have to do a lot of research, write a thesis, and have it accepted by a small group of people.

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