Re: Required degrees for TGDC membership

From: Charlie Strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Tue Nov 28 2006 - 10:19:31 CST

On Nov 28, 2006, at 8:08 AM, Jerry Lobdill wrote:

> At 07:36 PM 11/27/2006, Kathy Dopp wrote:
>> So Please then, tell me a list of all the degreed fields that
>> would be
>> appropriate to require for membership on the TGDC because I am
>> determined to increase the academic requirements to remove the
>> current
>> persons with degrees in hotel management and political science who do
>> not belong on that committee simply because they've had years
>> experience implementing shoddy voting equipment.
>> What degrees in what fields specifically should be required to be on
>> the technical guidelines development committee?
>> Thank you.
>> Kathy
> It is no guarantee of competence when someone displays an academic
> credential. I can easily think of and example, someone who has an
> advanced degree in math who does not know the elementary properties
> of the Gamma function and the factorial.

I'm feeling like a snob even trying to reply to this but this comment
is so preposterous it makes me wince. Since were on the subject of
statistics it seems to me that statistically it's more likely that
some one with degree in mathematics would know about statistics then
someone without so it's not such a bad criteria. I've known a few
folks who did not really deserve their pHd, but the measure of that
is not what they know about "Gamma Funtions". The difference
between a Masters degree and a PhD is that a Master is someone who
has shown that they have been educated to mastery of a subject. A
pHD goes not to improved subject matter mastery but one has proven
one is capable of teaching yourself whatever you need to solve a
problem. The reason pHD holders are sought after is that they may
not know how to use a Gamma Function but that they demonstrated
competence in training themsleves so you know they can probably
figure it out if they need to. As I always tell the graduate
student's I've mentored: anyone can start working on a novel problem,
when you figure out how to finish working on it you get your pHD. If
it's easy to recognize when a problem has been solved then, with
obvious exceptions, it may not have been that hard a problem. A
pHD's education is about carving a neat, answerable problem, out of a
larger messy problem, not knowing more tools.

That said, I don't think putting educational credentials in a legal
document is going to fly simply because it does smack of intellectual
snobbery and elitism and democracy don't mix. It would however make
an excellent best practices document and hopefully will find it's way
into policy.

Now I'm going to go shower since my elitist guilt complex is making
me feel all clammy :-)

> Jerry Lobdill
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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:15 2006

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