Bryan Caplan

Educational Signaling: Letter from a Disruptor

I'm Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and New York Times Bestselling author.

Bryan Caplan
Jun 21, 2022
2 min read

Here’s a letter from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous. Enjoy!

Dr. Caplan,

I’m a long-time reader and fan. I’ve read The Case Against Education and recently listened to your talk with Agnes Callard. You mentioned not being sure of your real world impact except for the kids who wouldn’t otherwise exist, which granted is a pretty big impact.

I own an E-Commerce company and in the last two years, we’ve gone from 25 employees to 85. Hiring is unbelievably hard, and your book has absolutely made it easier.

  1. It helped me understand how I should be thinking about hiring in a much more systematic/rational way
  2. It helped me understand signaling much better, which helps me with understanding candidate behavior and making better predictions
  3. We removed any consideration for college – we explicitly advertise for all of our jobs (including upper management) that you don’t need to have a college degree, which definitely helps with applicant flow. There is for sure a group of undervalued people out there, that I am happy to capitalize on.
  4. It motivated me to dramatically increase our testing of candidates, which yields a far, far better result than relying on the heuristic of formal credentials. I no longer react to it, but every manager who uses our     hiring process has to go through the pain of realizing just how incompetent the average person is (even highly credentialed folks), once you actually put them to the test.

So, we are at least one employer who no longer cares about college, which is maybe something? And I don’t really know if I’ve converted them, but I’ve at least shared the ideas with other owners.

So, there is some real world impact for you, however minor in the grand scheme.

Thank you very much.


The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies - New Edition, – Illustrated (2008)

The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book. Caplan argues that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand.

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