College grads get bad commencement advice.

Author: Greyparrot ,

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  • Greyparrot
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    If you listen to commencement speakers without falling asleep, you will often here the same phrase "make a difference"

    This has to be one of the worst bits of advice well-meaning commencement speakers habitually offer to the youth of America. This hackneyed mantra assumes that everything needs to be changed, when that's clearly a very bad idea if some things are working just fine, or have a low priority for change. Likewise, this advice assumes that all differences made are good changes. This is an extremely naive assertion. Making changes just to make changes without any rational thought is something a monkey can do, not what we expect out of college graduates. Change solely for change's sake can easily lead to the collapse of everything we value in society.

    In a nutshell "hope and change" is terrible advice to give to graduates. A monkey can do this without prompting.

    "Evaluate and improve the world" would be far, far better advice. This is what we should expect from a rational, critically-thinking responsible citizen.
  • DBlaze
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Agreed!
  • TheDredPriateRoberts
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    --> @Greyparrot
    I would dare same some mass shooters "made a difference" in how we now live.
  • drafterman
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    Well it's certainly better than the opposite.
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @drafterman
    Well it's certainly better than the opposite.
    Lol no it's not. Marching around at political rallies decked out in a sandwich board with words you don't understand isn't beneficial for society.

    Society would be better off if you simply stay at home when you choose to be intellectually lazy.
  • drafterman
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    --> @Greyparrot
    I'll just help you out and conceded that you can think of thousands of examples of "change" that are harmful. I will still assert that it's all better than no change at all.

  • Greyparrot
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    --> @drafterman
    No change will always be better than bad change.
  • drafterman
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Right, but that’s not the comparison I’m making. No change is worse than allowing change, good and bad.
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @drafterman
    Because of the general law of entropy, random change is more likely to be detrimental than no change.
  • drafterman
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    --> @Greyparrot
    lol, the laws of entropy don’t say that and have nothing to do with the kind of change that we’re twlking about. Regardless, even if most change was “badl, it’s still better than no change.

  • RationalMadman
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    --> @drafterman @Greyparrot
    It is actually neither.

    There is absolutely no way to say that in all situations a bad change is worse than no change in the long run.

    A very good example is how the Atkin's diet or meat-only diets work. They force the body to hate the diet so much that it begins to actively get rid of toxins that were just sitting around as they weren't too potent.

    Similarly, if 9/11 was an inside job it was likely still a benevolent act in the grand scheme of things so as to make us root out the evil that Sharia law and Islam are to the world.

    A negative change can often lead us to either fight back harder against a malignant thing we were tolerating or alternatively can be so negative that we really were better off with no change.

    There's another angle of this that's different to both and supports drafterman (so 2 of the three angles do support drafterman's take) which is that a negative change can tell us what not to do in the future which ends up being a positive gain in net worth.
  • Stronn
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    --> @Greyparrot
    You are taking a single phrase out of context and applying a literal interpretation to it. When commencement speakers say "make a difference" they mean a positive difference, or "improve things," which I suspect is clear when you look at the most commencement addresses in their entirety. 

  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Stronn
    You are taking a single phrase out of context and applying a literal interpretation to it. When commencement speakers say "make a difference" they mean a positive difference, or "improve things," which I suspect is clear when you look at the most commencement addresses in their entirety. 
    That's actually not even close to the actual case. Most speakers preach about following your dreams and feelings. A scant minority will actually address rational decision making and the actual purpose of all education, which isn't to teach you tables of data to memorize, or even a specific trade skill; but to actually teach you to think and process data for the rest of your life outside of academia. Leaving out this crucial context, the listener is only left with the blanket mandate: "mutationem faciunt"
  • Stronn
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    --> @Greyparrot
    I agree that typical commencement addresses are filled with platitudes and empty slogans. I just don't agree with your contention that "make a difference" is bad advice, when what it really means is "make a positive difference."
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Stronn
    I agree that typical commencement addresses are filled with platitudes and empty slogans. I just don't agree with your contention that "make a difference" is bad advice, when what it really means is "make a positive difference."
    And it really doesn't matter what pleasant modifiers you put to that platitude. It's still a call to action with no advice on HOW to do it. What's the point of education if you're just basically telling students..."go out there! and stumble about randomly (with a positive attitude!), and hope for the best!"

    Jesus Christ that's horrible advice!
  • Stronn
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    --> @Greyparrot
    That is like saying that "be careful with money" is bad advice because it does not say exactly HOW to be careful.

    The fact that advice is too general to be of much practical use does not necessarily make it bad.

  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Stronn
    That is like saying that "be careful with money" is bad advice because it does not say exactly HOW to be careful.

    The fact that advice is too general to be of much practical use does not necessarily make it bad.
    Again, it's not even close to an analogy.

    A better analogy is someone saying "spend your money carefully" which is a call to action without any advice on how to exactly do that. Advice that would be much better would NOT be a call to action, rather a call to thought. Advice on how saving your money can allow you to spend more later is better advice than a call to action to either spend carefully or to save carefully. You are completely missing the point about blind calls to action. If you haven't understood the point by now I am unlikely to convince you.
  • Stronn
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Would you say "improve the world" is bad advice? It is, after all, a call to action, without any advice on how to go about it.
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @Stronn
    Would you say "improve the world" is bad advice? It is, after all, a call to action, without any advice on how to go about it.

    See, now I am convinced you are not even trying to understand exactly what I wrote by taking snippets out of context.
    I'm done.
  • DBlaze
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    --> @Greyparrot
    I think the advice means different things to different generations.  A more seasoned, successful person, giving the speech may not realize that the younger generation will probably not weigh the consequences of what they "believe" is right and fair and how they want to make a difference, or go about making that difference.  Feelings have taken over the younger generations, and feelings need to be kept in check. 

    The older generations should be more cognoscente of that fact.  

    Also, make a difference to one person may mean feed the poor, to another person, it could mean go commit mass murder to rid of what they believe are bad people.

    Critical thinking is lost on the younger generations.
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @DBlaze
    Critical thinking is lost on the younger generations.
    It is lost indeed. These young adults, especially minority adults, have had to deal all their life with the unintended consequences from bad government programs created by well-meaning politicians that wanted to make a difference.... young adults who would have been much better off had these politicians simply done nothing. Thought before action is advice RARELY given.