Not to learn, certainly.
David Friedman says:
I have long been puzzled by why lecturers were not replaced by books shortly after the invention of printing made books cheap. Video is just the latest incarnation of that puzzle.
Well if you’ve been puzzled for long, why don’t you think about it? Come on, Mr. Friedman. You’re a smart guy. If you don’t understand something, just think a bit harder. Or better still: think outside the box.
Some guys out there put theories about humans being wired to pay attention to lecturers, more than to books or videos. I don’t know. Certainly didn’t work like that for me. A boring lecture is a boring lecture whether on video or in person. I’m not the most patient guy so your mileage may vary but I surely didn’t pay much attention myself to my professors unless they were particularly good.
The answer to the question is obvious. I mean, come on. People don’t go to college to learn. They go because it’s the official way of attaining high status. That’s what education is for. The guy who just wants to learn already reads the book and doesn’t bother with the lecture. The fact that we still have lectures and pay lecturers, as some guy said over there, “pay thousands of professors to give exactly the same Calculus lecture”, is not to satisfy the market of kids who want to learn. That’s not the market that high education caters for.
Robin Hanson made what I consider the best claim: education is about making friends with high prestige people. “Impressive people”, as he put it. He would know, as he’s quite impressive himself, and he appears to understand that a lot of people try to be friends with him even though they aren’t at all interested in what he has to say. So for any average kid, a math professor is a high prestige guy. He’s smart. He’s impressive. Being in the same room with the guy means you have something of the social standing of that guy. You may not be impressive yourself, but you’re good enough to be in the same room as an impressive guy.
You’ll notice that’s the same logic for why people follow celebrities all over the world. What’s the freaking point in going batshit crazy over some singer, paying thousands and thousands of dollars? Why do people ask for autographs? Why do teenage girls go insane when some famous guy looked at them? Why the hell does every TV celebrity have millions of followers on Twitter? Because interaction is status. I have some connection with a high-status guy. Means I’m high status too. Sorta. It used to work like that in 100,000 BC. Not so much today in social media. But evolution is what it is. Gnon is lazy.