Freedom Loves Autodidacts. The State Demands ‘Credentials.’

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The scientific method is not about credentials…..Ultimately, the letters that tag at the end of your name have nothing to do with the process of science.” That is a quote from the autodidact Chris Masterjohn in an upcoming podcast with Jimmy Moore. Chris is the master of exposing the government-medical-pharmaceutical establishment on cholesterol issues.

Believe it or not, some self-educated and otherwise critically-thinking libertarians still think mandatory credentials are a part of one’s expertise, and that without the “right” credentials — that are granted, controlled, overseen, and sustained by the state — one is not capable of commenting on topics that people typically associate with credentials. I get this attitude a lot from libertarian readers who disagree with me on an issue. Often, if the issue is one that appears to be the stomping ground for only credentialed “experts,” there is the ultimate line, “What credentials do you have….?” I hear this interrogation come up often, even during casual conversation. Folks look for a credential they can believe in, sort of like a blind faith. If it’s on gold-outlined paper, a stamp, a certificate on the wall, a card, or other marker of completion of some course of education, it must make you an expert, or, it puts you in the proper position to express your knowledge, whether or not you have bona fide expertise. Yet, somehow, years of self-study and diligent research is not the same as a credential, and therefore, the onus is on you to defend your knowledge and explain why you might be knowledgeable about the issue at hand.

Note this is the same thought process that guides the establishment’s condemnation of self-taught bloggers, as opposed to those servile flatterers in the paper press who went to some “properly credentialed” college and received a journalism degree in between bong hits, video games, MySpace postings, and beer parties. It is also the same notion that inspires government tyrants to conjure up ways to silence or black out bloggers.

Getting back to Chris Masterjohn (proprietor of cholesterol-and-health.com), just as a good example on the topic, he is not a doctor, and in fact he is only now pursuing his PhD in Nutritional Sciences because of the passion he developed for the topic — and the truth — when his life and health experiences led him to the myths and lies of the medical-nutritional complex that sits firmly in the grip of the corporate state that owns U.S. lawmakers and associated policy hacks. He became an active force against the medical establishment well before his pursuit of a PhD.

Maybe I’ve had a slight edge in thinking along these lines — my dad was a brilliant man, and an inventor, engineer, and builder who refused to patent anything, and his last formal education was probably about 7th grade. Still, I think much more thought has to go into dissecting staid societal “norms” (such as credentials) that are passed off as established facts and accepted at face value by the masses. Individuals have the ability to critically assess, reason, and make choices. Blind acceptance of conventional wisdom or standards is anti-freedom and anti-progress.

For the autodidacts out there who believe that passion and knowledge are far more relevant than institutionally-granted paper degrees or certifications, there is Salman Khan. Khan, with his Khan Academy, is a tremendous asset to the world with his growing library for autodidactic folks. For self-motivated folks with spare time and ambition, there is also the MIT Open Courseware. See Gary North’s “Digital Education vs. the Ruling Elite” where he discusses these options. Gary North — a poster child for self-learning — has also recommended a plan for the Ron Paul Curriculum, a free, digital education for homeschoolers. Imagine the “credentials” you won’t have after such great learning experiences as listed above.

By the way, North briefly mentions the Junior Achievement program for business as a part of the early Ron Paul Curriculum. I volunteer and work with middle school and high school kids in the Junior Achievement Finance Park program in Detroit, where they learn the basics of home and personal finance. My employer even grants me company time to do it, while I put up the effort. Those of us who have the knowledge and skills should be philanthropic and generous with our time if we truly value a voluntary and cooperative society that will break away from the grip of Big Government’s propaganda that is disguised as public education.

6:03 pm on January 2, 2011