Monday, August 30, 2010

FLG's Initial Perception Of The Key Difference Between PhD and MBA Students

FLG previously wrote in the comments:
I think a big part of me being able to filter out bullshit is the result of taking several PhD level classes.

Arethusa responded:
Oh, so that's the value of a graduate education! Funny, though, how most graduate students fail to learn that lesson and instead propagate more BS.

FLG also wrote:
There are a lot of very, very smart people who can [...] talk for a long time on topics about which they know next to nothing without saying anything meaningful.

At first glance, it would appear that there isn't too big a divide between PhD and MBA students on the issues raised above. PhD students, for example, can talk for a long time on topics about which they know next to nothing without saying anything meaningful. Also, they do propagate a lot of BS.

Here's the difference. FLG thinks that the PhD students think that they are actually making profound and meaningful points. Often they're not, but that's because they've either abstracted themselves too much or gone down some detailed rathole. But FLG doesn't generally question their sincerity about making some meaningful point, even if it is, in reality, a load of crap.

A lot of MBA students, on the other hand, seem to be able to put an air of complete confidence upon a presentation they know is pure bullshit hidden behind jargon and lots of often irrelevant facts and data.


arethusa said...

But surely MBA students are more likely to be called on their BS in the real world than PhD students? I suspect this is a professional difference: you need a very healthy dose of self-confidence in the business world, whether you're spouting BS or not, while it is less needed in academia than a willingness to keep spouting your crap and publish it, which requires at least a suspension of disbelief and analysis of one's own work. (Largely talking about the humanities and some social sciences here.)

Withywindle said...

I think there's a critique of MBA students out there by businesspeople, as being all-conquering BSers. David Foster could probably quote you scripture and verse. Maybe not as much as BS as in the humanities, but startlingly high, goes the critique.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.