Sunday, 9 December 2012

Stuck with these clowns

Today on Twitter, Comets Mum was appalling amusing her followers by tweeting information on the educational attainments of the CONtempt Party's cabinet ministers, taken from the official source.

There are 38 cabinet ministers, including the Trained Economist PM.

There are 12 lawyers: Nicholson, MacKay, Toews, Clement, Fast, Oliver, Valcourt, Bernier, Flaherty, Van Loan, Raitt, and Paradis. Of that gang, Van Loan and Raitt seem to have gone a bit beyond the LLB.
Mr. Van Loan obtained a master of science degree in planning and a master of arts in international relations from the University of Toronto and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School.
[Raitt] is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and holds a master of science degree from the University of Guelph. She earned her law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University.
Master of SCIENCE!!

There are degrees in subjects other than law.

• Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, has a BA and MA in political science.
• Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, has a BA in administrative studies and MA in business administration.
• Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has a BA in 'political studies'. Not quite political science?
• Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, 'is a graduate of the University of Northern British Columbia.' No discipline? OK, then.
• Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, has a BA and MBA and he's an engineer.
• Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 'studied business administration at the University of New Brunswick.' Didn't graduate?
• Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, has a BSc in forestry. More SCIENCE!
• O'Connor, Minister of State and Chief Government Whip, 'has received degrees from Concordia and York universities.' Real degrees or honorary?
• Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, 'has degrees in education and law.' Not quite a lawyer, then?
• Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport), has a MBA and BSc in engineering. More SCIENCE!
• Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), has a PhD in 'curriculum and instruction.' Oo, sounds like something one could earn at OISE.

Mostly lawyers, political scientists (sic), and business administrators.

These are short bios and natch, they would be as positive as possible. So let's look at the 11 for whom there is no mention of education at all.

• Aglukkaq, Minister of Health
• Kent, Minister of the Environment
• Ritz, Minister of Agriculture (Bio mentions coaching.)
• Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
• Shea, Minister of National Revenue
• Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation

Six pretty damn big important (?) ministries there. The people in charge of Health, Environment, Transport/Infrastructure, National Revenue and International Cooperation seem to have no higher education worth mentioning.

There are also five more minor players without educational brags: Yelich, Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Farming is mentioned); Menzies, Minister of State (Finance) (Another farmer); Uppal, Minister of State (Democratic Reform) (Another coach); Gosal, Minister of State (Sport); and LeBreton, leader of the Senate. (Actually, if Marjory had any kind of post-secondary education, I'd wanna know which institution and work to get it discredited. Have you ever heard her speak?)

Now to some cases that get special treatment in the education department.

Look what they say about Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and Evolution-Denying Creationism.
Dr. Goodyear attended the University of Waterloo specializing in kinesiology and psychology before graduating from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.

Kinesiology is what star athletes 'study' at university usually without getting a degree either. The 'Dr.' is entirely bogus.

On to Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
He graduated from Brother Rice High School in St. John’s and pursued studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
And Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
Mr. Kenney is a graduate of Notre Dame College. He also studied at the St. Ignatius Institute of the University of San Francisco.

Notre Dame College is 'an international Catholic, co-educational, college preparatory boarding school for students in grades 9 to 12.' High school, not college.

I get a chance to post my fave vid again of how Jason distinguished himself at St. Ignatius.

Courtesy of Twitter pal Stephen Lautens, we can compare the people running the country to the overall educational attainment of Canadians.
In 2011, about 53% of Canadians aged 15 and over had trade certificates, college diplomas and university degrees. This was an increase of 20 percentage points since 1990.
That's pretty impressive, isn't it? In fact, Canada has the highest percentage of such graduates of any of the OECD countries.

The Cabinet -- with 25 out of 38 ministers holding degrees of some kind -- fares better than the national average with 65.7%. (That's generously counting Ashfield and O'Connor, not counting Kenney.)

But isn't that to be expected? That people with big jobs, big responsibilities, making the big bucks actually have some edumaction, some exposure to facts and learning and critical thinking and logic and asking questions and looking shit up.

That one-third of them DON'T is scary.

That those WITHOUT are running Health, Environment, Transport/Infrastructure, National Revenue, and International Cooperation is really really scary.

Of the ones who do hold degrees, only 5 of them have anything at all to do with science. And no, I'm not counting chiropractology.

Science is by no means the be-all and end-all of education. But it does require its students to recognize that YOU CAN'T JUST MAKE SHIT UP.

The people in charge of Health, Environment, Agriculture, and Fisheries wouldn't be able to distinguish a CO2 molecule from a petri dish of e.coli.

I am not an edumacational snob, but I find this shocking.

But it explains much doesn't it?

That PM Shithead likes to surround himself with low-information minions, for one thing.

And this observation from Lautens:

I'll leave you with this. (Dig the clothes.)

UPDATE: Thursday, December 13/12 in The Tyee, 'Can't Call Conservatives Overeducated'. Someone having a Wentegasm?

Spotted by our pal Kev.


Námo Mandos said...

As someone with a somewhat longer educational experience than average, I will say that there are people with no degrees that I would trust to run a country more than some people who are far more qualified than I am.

fern hill said...

Absolutely. I wouldn't make a degree a prerequisite to holding public office.

But don't you think 1/3 of ministers is high?

Not at all surprising, though, considering the anti-elite/intellectual mindset of the right wing.

Luna said...

I was trying to hunt down educational information on Aglukkak several years ago. Forget why. I called her constituency office even. No one could tell me anything. They promised to get back to me and didn't. Sketchy.

Niles said...

Forewarning bias, I've not had formal advanced education.

I think Harper picked the people he picked for their authoripologist obedience. Their formal education was secondary and coincidental. The voters have demanded nothing else. This is the party/leader that ran/runs candidates as complete ghosts in their ridings during campaign debates, assured that voters will elect them anyway. And they did, allegedly helped by whatever alleged shady vote suppression occurred.

People can go through the finest schools in the land and if they never learn actual critical thinking and how to apply it or *worse* they DO have it but suppress it to gain benefit and retain privilege, what's the point?

Lawyers learn rhetoric and how to manipulate a legal system and to network like crazy. Same for business degrees and 'medical' administrators and community organizers and political organizers and any number of socially oriented professions. Not surprising to see many of them entering law-making positions.

I don't need them formally educated in an MBA or Economics degree that extols the Straussian laissez faire free market that cuts back on healthcare. I need them oriented on progressive goals short and long term and willingness to base decisions on evidence built into relationships with subject matter experts. And willing to make decisions, not manage expectations to the lowest common denominator.

The dismay with our present government is not the formal education of our 'elected' representatives but what they do with the power they have been handed and the distracted quietude of the electorate.

If anyone could benefit from better education, at least in the comprehension and participation of our political system, it would be the electorate. Then the education of our elected officials wouldn't be a topic.

Námo Mandos said...

Er, hm, I am not really convinced that a single run of the experiment really demonstrates anything in particular. The Right is exceptionally good at finding people with Credentials.

But now you have a certain Baleful Eye turned upon you ;) As usual I take my cowardly but oh so Valinorean position of general complaisance.

fern hill said...

Who needs the Baleful Eye when my own co-blogger is fucking with me?

Valinorean? WTF?

fern hill said...

Damn straight about educating the electorate, Niles.

But do you think a respect for evidence and facts and logic is necessarily 'progressive'?

Isn't it just plain rational?

Kev said...

I've been uncomfortable with the tenor of this debate on Twitter as many seem to be sneeringly saying the absence of a Tertiary education disqualifies one from making a positive contribution to society.

The issue isn't the lack of formal education, it is the lack of continuous education and accepting advice from those with expertise in a given subject.

It is this unwillingness to learn that is at the heart of the Conservative failures not their level of education, for this unwillingness also affects those within caucus who have attained a higher level of formal education.

Námo Mandos said...

I'm a Tolkien character :) Valinor. The Valar who inhabit Valinor (including Mandos) walled themselves away from the world when mortal humanity was eventually given dominion over it, but they continue to opine without doing anything.

fern hill said...

Yes, 'unwillingness' to learn is the crux.

I'm more impressed by Penashue's 'pursued studies' than O'Connor's 'received [unspecified] degrees'.

LLBs and MBAs are merely professional credentials.

People without formal education can certainly contribute to society.

But these are high-level jobs overseeing complex ministries involving complex policies. Ministers need to listen to expert advice and have the ability to sort good advice from bad. And the ability to ask questions when the advice seems dodgy or incomplete.

Higher education certainly does not guarantee that people will have these skills, but it at least exposes them to the concepts.

Hopefully. ;-)

fern hill said...

Ah. That explains so much.

Niles said...

No, I wouldn't give 'progressive' the default of the rational position, unless your goal is greatest practical altruistic good or greatest practical altruistic harm reduction for the greatest number (and number could involve the human species and/or some species and/or the biosystem).

Given discussion in the 'logic' forums these days, there really isn't 'plain' rational. Humans are emotional creatures with sensory input systems that can be heuristically triggered to accept false data as actual, BUT they're also evolved with the ability to train themselves around those emotions with logic toolkits -IF- they are not adversely trained against desiring it.

"Reality has a liberal bias" only engages if you accept that everyone's goal is to 'lift all boats'. I see rational logic being applied in the strategies of the Harper government to gain an end. It's just not an end *I* need. The tipping point is how many people desire the ends being maneuvered by the present govt and how many people don't.

fern hill said...

You inhabit 'logic' forums? Eek, I'm outta my depth. . .

Take the Insite case, harm reduction in general. It fucking works on all the 'targets'. Reduced crime, reduced overdoses, reduced illness. It works.

The right-wing refuses to admit that it works. Because it doesn't fit their worldview.

That sort of thing confounds me.

Námo Mandos said...

Well, for the idea that "works" should be a relevant factor, you have to admit some amount of "utilitarian consequentialism" into your worldview. There are definitely highly-educated people who are not utilitarian consequentialists...

This is why, when confronted with the accusation that they don't want to pay for maternally-unwanted children or don't care about what happens after birth, the anti-choicers scratch their heads and go "huh"? How it turns out is not philosophically a relevant factor.

Niles said...

Listening to Powers That Be, I'm not sure unwillingness to learn is the key so much as unwillingness to act upon what they learn because it's counter to what they want to gain or maintain.

I can chalk that up to deliberate mishandling of evidence or I can chalk it up to Dunning-Kruger style impermeability of belief. Maybe it's a blend.

'Western' society has an uneasy balance between 'Educated' and 'Everyman' appeals with their overtones of classism and anti-intellectualism. I've had the fun of being socially rejected on both counts. I still rankle at the memory of being turned away from a *temp help* agency for not having a degree, *any* degree, and I've got an arm long list of weird reactions for being 'sooo SMRT'(which I'm not, so what does that say?).

The internet, even with all its noise, might be the modern incarnation of the "Little Blue Book" self-education curriculum, compensating for the lack of access to secondary or even basic education for growing numbers in North America. The cynical part of me sees that as a factor in efforts to censor the internet rather than educationally providing kids with the intellectual toolkits to sift chaff from grain.

Niles said...

"inhabit logic forums" Nyet. Official logic I can catch about every fourth word but there are lots of teh internetz discussions where one can lurk and learn. Namos seems to know the lingo, maybe it's all in Sindarin.

The logical fallacies lists are a good starting point to find all the weird wtf argumental techniques catalogued and explained as to why they're so wtf.

fern hill said...

OK, I give up. I must have a simple mind. (Though I did actually take and pass logic and symbolic logic in university, though I did not graduate, BTW.)

I was honestly curious about the credentials of our ministerial yahoos.

And I honestly believe that education is better than no education and that more education is usually better than less education.

Beyond that, it is obviously too nuancey for my pea-brain.

Alison said...

Apologies for being TTTTOT, but :

fern hill said...

Thanks, Alison. Saw that today. Kinda gob-smacking, innit? Blogpost coming.

Here's the clicky link.

Anonymous said...

While athletes do take kinesiology, for much the same reason that others take their diplomas/degrees, you do a disservice to the discipline. Biomechanics, physiology and skill acquisition are anything but easy options as many a student finds out. You and many a student underestimates the amount of work and application that is required to do well in this discipline.
I understand that you wish to downplay our creo-science minister's achievements, but just stating that he is a chiro should be enough to damn him scientifically speaking. Trying to minimise an actual scientific credential is a bit counter productive in my mind.

fern hill said...

Ok. As long as you agree that chiropractery is 'enough' to damn him. ;-)

Niles said...

Nuancy? Hell, that's full blown cynicism about the specific case in question. The edimicated Conservatives are acting just as badly and conformingly as the not-so edimicated Conservatives. Did *any* of them disagree with killing all the departments and projects that might counter their claims with facts? Any??

People have biases but accredited education definitely helps protect many well meaning people against crap. But, I mean, Harper was educated in the 'Calgary School' an offshoot of the Straussian economics message that has been blowing up national infrastructures since the 1980s. Even what the definition of 'higher education' is has been blurred in the wake of that.

Niles said...

Yeah, but Harebell, is it Kinesiology or 'kinesiology'? The quack one is often practised by the chiropractors who tell you it's all so much more than musculo-skeletal. They use the real term for cover.

Anonymous said...

And now we know why adults who haven't been properly edumacated are so eager to vote for the progressive candidates and ideas you claim to support. I noticed you didn't bother to check whether the leaders of the NDP met your high-faluting standards. Good luck with your snobbery.

fern hill said...

Ah. A sample CON voter. Who assumes because I loathe the current incarnation of the Conservative/Reform Party that I am an NDP supporter.

A fine example of binary no-think.

deBeauxOs said...

So. It says much about the CON brain, that some have the university credentials, yet their individual and collective greed supersedes any basic critical thinking they might have accidentally acquired whilst their butts were parked in lecture halls.

Anonymous said...

Ah I believe the quack version is called "applied kinesiology." At least according to the link given in the post above.

You can always trust the peddlers of woo and other shenanigans to try and conflate their shite with real science. Just as kinesiology is a science, applied kinesiology is woo and just as subluxations are real tangible trauma, chiropractic subluxations are made up bullshit. You know just how quacky they are by just how hard the tards try to appear legitimate.

Luna said...

Did you? Do you have some sort of evidence that the NDP is just as uneducated? Or are you hoping someone else will do the work for you to get you through?

You know, like the rest of your kind who apparently can get through an education of some sort and still not manage to learn anything.

Mackenna said...

Aglukkaq has a two year college diploma in 'journalism' from Iqaluit. Prior to being in charge of the entire nation of Canada's health she was, to be realistic, a small pond territorial official in Nunavut (population: 6,699 in 2011). Prior to that she was a broadcaster. While I have enormous respect for the territory and its people, I simply do not for this imbecile. I sense she picked the Con Party because it's the only one that would advance a person with her severely limited qualifications. It just boggles my mind that someone like this is in charge of Health Canada.

Anonymous said...

I felt insulted and embarassed having her as our Health Minister. It signalled just what Harper thinks of Health Canada.

fem_progress said...

1. I have a business degree and I consider myself a progressive.
2. Jeez I thought Aglukkak was a M.D. Now that I know, I understand better what was going on.
3. If I say anti-intellectualism, does that ring a bell? It is not just suppressing evidence that contradicts you that is at play in the way CPC behaves towards scientists. Some people pride themselves in not having been to school long, like the mayor of Saguenay Quebec not happy because a sociologist said he is an intégriste!

They think theory is "cloud shoveling", useless, just like basic research. If there is no widget at the end, it's no good.

It is late, but you get my drift, I hope.

fem_progress said...

A MBA is a cookbook. Some people are good cooks by instinct and don't need a book. And if you are someone who can't heat water, all the cookbooks in the world won't help.

Management is both an art and a science. They show you tools (and also the management theories currently in fashion... ho hum... laughable, too often). The tools are useless if you don't use them properly.

Also, some universities and some professors are better than others. And you have to look at what the person studied. Was it relevant? Is it relevant to what she is doing? You can get a diploma while avoiding all the tough courses.

So definitely a diploma is not a guarantee. I know of a guy who is a researcher in biology, he teaches at McGill but he is a racist idiot.

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