Educated vs. Trained

I assume most people intuitively already know this, but I found this article to be a clear explaination of something that I’ve found 100% true… that there is a real difference between people who are “educated” and “trained”.

“This brings me to my last point… I have noticed a distinction between the various people that one encounters in the work place, a distinction made by Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Apart from the truly useless wards of the state, there are two kinds of people: those who are educated, and those who are trained.

Educated individuals tend to be generalists. They might be especially good in a few specific things, but that is not their main selling point. By far and away, their main virtue is adaptability. They have absorbed a large body of knowledge and generalized it into a framework that allows them to reason about and solve novel problems. They do not tend to get into ruts. They do not tend to bump up against walls and get stuck. No matter what the environment is into which they are thrust, they can adapt and prevail.

Trained individuals, when in their domain, are indistinguishable from educated folk, or perhaps even superior. They have absorbed some particular body of knowledge and are now purveyors of it in the same way that followers of a religion are purveyors of their faith. Pointed in the right direction they are very capable people. Put them up against a novel situation, however, and they are damn near useless. They will spout ideological nonsense that aligns with their programming, and there is quite simply nothing that you can do to convince them that there exists a better way. If they learned system A, and part of their indoctrination is that system A is the best system ever, then there is nothing in this world that you can do to convince them that system B is better. You may just as well try to make a Satanist of a fundamentalist Christian.”


Rep. Marilyn Musgrave

Today, I got a spam from Rep. Marilyn Musgrave from Colorado about the 2007 Farm Bill. I thought since she took the time to email me, I should send a thoughtful reply:

Dear Rep. Marilyn Musgrave,

Thank you so very much for your email. I found your words especially relevant since I live in California and spend most of my time as far away from farms as I possibly can. I think it is great that so much of my tax dollars are being spent on worthless pork such as farm subsidies and that I have people like you to blame for it. Also, I want to thank you for sending me this unsolicited bulk email (often known as SPAM, but please don’t confuse it with the Hormel product- they don’t like that). While most people of your stature have enough common sense to not want to be associated with something that peddles free pornography, cheap viagra and bogus stock tips, it apparently suits you quite well.

Unfortunately, while I would love to vote against you in an election, I will have to find it enough to tell my representatives and senators to vote against the 2007 Farm Bill.

Aaron Turner

P.S. Please remove me from your spam list.
Hopefully I wasn’t too subtle…