The Appearance of Brainpower

WaPo has a neat story that describes Wall Street recruiting. Contrary to popular belief, Wall Street does not attract “the best and brightest” STEM students; the best and brightest end up in research. Wall Street does however attract under-preforming students from elite engineering schools like MIT or the Ivy League.

Critics say that firms aren’t really interested in what students have learned in college — only their educational pedigrees. According to Binder, Wall Street chases Ivy League graduates chiefly because, as the industry was expanding in the 1980s, firms had “developed business models that relied on the appearance of brainpower in order to win clients.

“Appearance of brainpower” describes the business model of vast sectors of our society over the past ten years: finance, politics, fashion, media, etc. Millennials, for example, embrace nerd fashion without nerd intelligence. People claim to “believe in science” as if science were in the realm of faith (of course, maybe for them it is, as a sort of tribal talisman) or they “fucking love science” internet memes that have nothing to do with science, again, as if science had something to do with love.

“Smart” and “scientific” have become business buzzwords, tribal signifiers and political slogans, completely inverting their meaning. And the hollowing-out of American institutions continues apace.



One comment

  1. But science still means I know at what temperature water will boil 😀

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