Friday, May 26, 2017

Zuckerberg's embarrassing degree, commencement speech

I have avoided Facebook for years but I think it's right that its primary founder is a billionaire. When billions of people think that this particular social network qualitatively trumps all others that have existed before or at the same time (something I could never see), it's simply unavoidable in a fair business environment for the owner of that network to get very wealthy. He has also demonstrated lots of programming, social, and other skills and lots of good luck, too.

Hackers have improved the main page of The Harvard Crimson.

But I don't think it's right for a credible university to give him a doctorate because of this commercial success. And yes, the dropout has just bought an honorary degree to become the doctor of law (a four-minute video). I think it's formally a PhD although it could be some JD, too. Add any adjectives you like (honorary) but the degree for a dropout demonstrates that at the end, the money trumps any values that Harvard ultimately tries to defend.

Many Americans love to imagine that it's some other countries, perhaps in Latin America, Asia, or Eastern Europe, that are corrupt. But this is plain corruption standing in front of your eyes.

You know, my main problem is that Zuckerberg's 33-minute Harvard commencement speech

makes it self-evident that his failure to complete the university wasn't an unlucky coincidence. He simply doesn't think as a scholar.

I would say that his monologue was almost exactly a male counterpart of the monologues you may hear from the contestants of the Miss USA contests. In the first one-half of the talk, the girls as well as he keeps on talking about how wonderfully modest and perhaps even witty he is and how they must love him. In the middle, the girls and he approaches the "more intellectual" topics, relatively speaking. Both the girls and Mark Zuckerberg ultimately overwhelm you with all the superficial clichés that dimwits love to repeat in order to be recognized as a part of the herd of the other dimwits who have appointed themselves to be good for the world.

So we hear one or two superficial sentences asking why don't we fight climate change that will otherwise destroy the world. You know, Mr Zuckerberg, sensible people know why they are not fighting against similar non-existent threats because they have been able to do at least the basic homework exercise to see that this alarmism is utterly idiotic. The government must also monitor everyone's DNA in order to prevent diseases – I think that he was proposing some vague restoration of the eugenics policies from the early 20th century. And everyone should embrace globalism which probably gives everyone a "sense of purpose".

Miss Teen USA 2007 contestant from South Carolina had almost the same opinion about globalism as Mark Zuckerberg. More Miss answers like that.

Globalism, climate alarmism, the fight against inequality, and a few other typical "progressive" causes weren't the only thing he wanted to contribute. He also wants everyone to be able to vote online. Let me spend a minute with this particular cause because it's something that isn't hysterically celebrated by every left-wing activist but something that tells you about the superficial, one-sided perspective of the likes of Mr Zuckerberg, anyway.

You know, the Western countries have obviously had all the tools needed to introduce online votes for many years and there are lots of tools around that some organizations and perhaps countries have begun to rely upon. I could surely use them – or help to create them – too. But I always prefer the personal presence during the elections. It has some very good reasons and by overlooking these reasons, folks like Zuckerberg show that they always see at most 1/2 of the relevant considerations, they always miss at least one-half of the story, they don't really understand what makes the societies work well.

Elections are serious events in which citizens help to decide about the political fate of their countries or other communities for years to come. They're not quite the same thing as buying consumer products online. And they're usually not obligatory. So if someone doesn't vote, it's not an existential catastrophe for him. It's not an existential catastrophe for his nation, either. In classic elections, a citizen spends half an hour or an hour by going to the booth and manipulating with the paper and envelope that are employed to transfer his opinion to the local commission.

A society could shorten the average time needed to vote from 30-60 minutes to 5 minutes. But would it amount to an improvement? I don't think so. It would probably mean to incorporate lots of the people who don't care and who – literally – don't find the politics in their countries and communities worth 30 minutes of their life every 2 or 4 years. Do we actually want to maximally increase the political influence and convenience of such people? I don't think so. People who won't sacrifice more than 5 minutes to the elections probably wouldn't fight in a civil war if there were one. When they're allowed or encouraged to vote, one fills the election results with noise and makes the result easier to manipulate (well, indeed, that could be the reason why Zuckerberg and soulmates actually want this system). Elections should be a peaceful replacement of a civil war – a series of events in which citizens are willing to sacrifice their life to defend some values in their countries. Elections are more human because people actually don't need to kill each other (and they're more economically effective because assets usually don't get destroyed), like in the civil war, but do we want to replace the events in which people are ready to sacrifice their lives by events dominated by the people who wouldn't sacrifice more than 5 minutes?

Does Zuckerberg realize such matters and does he care? I am not quite sure but his commencement speech surely indicates that he doesn't – and, in fact, he seems to be miles away from the ability to even ask any of the questions that started e.g. the previous paragraph. Like the typical i.e. brain-dead Miss USA contestants, he has just memorized the "right" black-and-white answers to lots of rudimentary questions. And sadly enough, this is usually enough. The Miss titles go to the prettiest girls and no one assumes that they are deep, careful, let alone transformative thinkers so it doesn't matter. But holders of doctorates from Harvard shouldn't be just pretty or likable.

This superficial, one-sided approach of the Miss contestants – memorizing of the right answers to the questions – applied to all the "intellectual" things he was talking about. The climate alarmism is a clear example and globalism is another. Here, it's subtle to criticize him for this one-sided promotion of globalism because it largely boils down to his background that simply is different from mine and many of us. He is Jewish – and, incidentally, he claims to have returned to the "important" religion after years of atheism – and Jews have been living "globally" for quite some time.

But if he were intelligent, he would know that this is not necessarily a "part of the belief system" that should be expected to be universally accepted by nations across the world. Many Jews may find it natural to live everywhere and nowhere. But most other people in the world have found it normal to be much more attached to some country and a piece of land, sometimes their own piece of land that allowed them to survive and avoid starvation. Jews have generally made many important contributions but so have non-Jews. And for many of these achievements, the well-defined nations or local communities that differed from the rest of the world were absolutely critical. In other words, the rejection of globalism has been important many times.

Europe refused to be globalized – which could have meant "mostly Islamized" – half a millennium ago and that was arguably a necessary condition for the Enlightenment to emerge. We could mention thousands of big and small examples of that kind. Even Jews' well-being has often depended on the work of totally non-globalized folks, e.g. Central European farmers attached to their piece of land.

Simple people often adopt the one-sided, superficial approach that Zuckeberg has sketched and it may actually make them happy. They may genuinely believe that globalism, climate alarmism, online elections, and dozens of other things are "pure good", opposition to them is "pure evil", and they just honestly believe in this "pure good" of theirs. And some of them work on it, too. Even when they're working on something that is mostly harmful, you could say that they have a kind heart. But even if that's true, it's something else than thinking as a holder of a Harvard doctorate.

When filmed, these kids have been high school students (more geography, failing science in CA, citizenship, astro, health, animals, kids 1998). Now they work on their college degrees and once they earn some big bucks, they will get their PhDs.

Scholars simply must be able to look beneath the surface of things and they unavoidably find out that most things are not as black-and-white as the Miss USA contestants' or Zuckerberg's answers would lead you to believe. In many cases, what the naive people believed to be "pure good" is "mostly evil" and vice versa. This complex world of levels of grey and color may look uglier to those who naively want all the things to be "pure good" only. But this complex world is ours and educated people not only understand this basic fact but they learn how to positively influence such a complex world, anyway.

Mark Zuckerberg isn't an educated person in this sense. He's still mainly a coder who got very wealthy and it's shameful for Harvard to place his wealth and the influence that came with it – and that could be useful – above all the things that Harvard actually should encourage.

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