Written Words – Why a PhD is like Chicken Broth

This post is titled:

Down in Quantity, up in Quality : or :  Why PhDs are like Chicken Broth.

You’ll have to forgive me, I’m reading Michael Lewis’ The Big Short (quotes to come), and I’m thinking a lot about value. Really, I’m thinking a lot about where exactly the value is in the financial system. There are some obvious points; when you diversify your portfolio, it lessens your risk. There are other relationships, other benefits of these financial tools, and I’m just starting to learn and understand them.

But there does seem to be a dramatic difference between the people who are paid for quantity and the people who are paid for quality. I’ll be the first person to be skeptical of investment quality; my investment strategy of being high on mutual funds shows that. I’m not sure people can consistently “pick” good stocks. But I’m even more skeptical of people who take a percentage of the quantity. Like hedge fund managers who are taking a percentage of the money they convince investors to invest with them.

Skip to the PhD. People often say a liberal arts education teaches you a little about a lot, and a PhD teaches you a lot about a little. Rephrased, the quality of learning is improving, while the quantity (applicability? diversification?) is dropping.

It’s like the chicken broth I’m making. As it boils down, it’s becoming richer and better quality. But I’m losing chicken broth.

At what point does the quantity I’m losing become more important than the increased quality of the broth?

At what point does the quality of my knowledge become less useful because of its specialized nature?

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