Eric Weinstein and Disrupting Education (Heath’s Creative Q&A #41)


Hello! – Well hey! Are you Heath – Yes, I am. Pleasure to talk to you. – Nice to talk to you Heath. Where are you calling from? – I am calling from Jemison, Alabama, which is about 45 minutes south of Birmingham. 45 minutes south of Birmingham, but not so far as Mobile? Is Mobile down at the tip? – Mobile? Mobile is all the way down south. I am not that far. – You wouldn’t go that far. – No. Well, tell me what is on your mind in Alabama. – I want to ask you about eduction. And, because, I feel like, when I think about a lot of things and different kinds of problems that we are having, that we all talk about, and that kind of thing, that it always comes down to eduction, or my answer anyway, is that the problem is eduction. But, I feel like that is a very cliche thing to say because everybody is like, oh well, we need better eduction, but most of the time what they are talking about is a very traditional kind of vein we are talking about. – Yeah, you can’t educate your way out of these problems exactly. – No, but our system also doesn’t generate highly capable, highly effective, people. – Well, and it doesn’t need to. It just needs to not destroy all of them. That would be nice. This sort of Elon effect, where you have like one or two remaining examples of something that shows something else is possible, and then there is this urge to make sure we hunt the last anomalies to extinction so we will be done with that problem. That’s very converning to me. – I agree. But I would hope that is more than just eliminating that. That, by the time you go through something that you are actually capable of even achieving your objectives. I mean, I have been through quite a bit of education myself and I have been thinking about it. What I do now to be effective and successful, you know, wasn’t part of my education. You know, by the time we got past reading and writing, you know. – That is an interesting point. There is a problem about the fact that many people stay in eduction as students and then they train to become teachers and researchers without ever leaving. And once you leave it is very difficult to come back. So, part of the problem is that the world of eduction is intrinsically insular because of the way in which we select for educators. So it’s people who generally who kind of stay in school and never leave that have an outsized impact. That’s not everyone, but it is a lot of the field. But I also think that part of what we are up against is that, for a long time, the returns to eduction were terrific. And, like anything, you find a successful investment strategy and after a period of time of overuse, you erode the premium to whatever that thing was. And so you find people who are now engaged in, crazy versions of that old track, trying to get that magic back, but it is just too hard. So I guess what my sense of it is that education is weirdly ripe for a total revolution because the cost of in particular post-secondary education has gotten do high that something is going to crack in our university system here in the U.S. and one thing I think that could easily happen is that we could find college-equivalency degrees. So that you can prove that you have the equivalent of a college education without actually having to impoverish yourself and put yourself under a mountain of debt. By the way, a lot of people who used to say that Peter Thiel was immoral for trying to lure people to drop out of college never understood the extent to which Peter was focused on the evil of non-dischargeable student debt. Which is, you know, effectively a way of enslaving people. And the thing I will say to you guys again. If I were, how old are you Heath? Approximately? – I am 36. – Okay. So, if you could people like yourself and younger to repudiate your student debt in an organized. – Well, I don’t have any. – Okay, but like for example, if we could, get debt unions going and organize debt, and hold the university system accountable for its insanity, and hold teachers and their unions accountable, for the insanity, and try to figure out what the right exit points are, where somebody should try to learn a trade, or try to learn something outside of the educational system. Education does not begin and end at school of course. So, I think this is a great place to disrupt, and as guy who invested in fancy degrees and all of that stuff, I can tell you that there’s real value in the university system, and there is also anti-value. That is a predatory aspect of it. So people are very confused by my position. I believe that wonderful things reside in our university system and terrible things as well, and our high school systems both public and private. So, I think that right now, the right thing to do is to just use the COVID epidemic to realize this is making no sense, and to violently break the shackles. – I agree with that. I went through it as well. I went all the way through a Ph.D. and I was a professor at the University of Illinois before I left and then from there starting my own companies and I was like, but none of that was taught. And I did know a lot of people who went through with me who studied business. Because that was always the standard answer, oh, well you weren’t a business major or something like that. – What was your Ph.D. subject? – Geography, – Okay. Well. I think the right thing to do is to use organized debt and debt unions to go after the vulnerabilities of the system. And we need to decrease the number of universities that we need to salvage and feed. And we have to reduce the number of Ph.D. programs, and we also have to just get these tubs on their own bottoms and get some tax-payer dollars in where we need them and remove taxpayer dollars where they are just effectively rent payments to people who already have a seat on the exchange. That is what I think. -I think that is excellent. And do you think online eduction is the way to disrupt that? – It depends. The problem with education currently is that it is a bundle. And so the part of that that is the most obvious part of the bundle, which is like what can be transmitted in terms of your ability to do voice learning if you are a music person, or solve partial differential equations if you are an engineer. All of these things. Some of that should be done online through distance learning. But then there is some really amazing stuff that only happens face to face, that almost only happens when you almost live with people who do the research, and so it is really important to like, just, I can just tell, if you are thinking “online eduction is the way to go and universities are bad,” or “no they are great!” “No college eduction is your highest value!” “No its slavery!” All of that is way too simplistic and its is just really important that we fight all of the simple answers all the time. So, that is what I think. Heath, thank you for calling in. And, join us again, and I will try to get to Alabama when this whole thing is over. – You have a place to say when you are here. – Looking forward to it, sir. – Thank you. – Alright, be well.

1 thought on “Eric Weinstein and Disrupting Education (Heath’s Creative Q&A #41)

  1. Hi Heath- I was searching Eric's website for anything on education reform. MY KIDS NEED MORE. But I'm always searching for ways to help them. I'm extremely interested in this educational reform.

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