A passage from an interview with Freeman Dyson:
Stewart Brand: One of the things I got from Infinite in All Directions – it was a delight to me, and I’ve been quoting it ever since – is that you honor inventors as much as scientists.
Freeman Dyson: It’s as great a part of the human adventure to invent things as to understand them. John Randall wasn’t a great scientist, but he was a great inventor. There’s been lots more like him, and it’s a shame they don’t get Nobel Prizes.
Stewart Brand: Is it the scientists who are putting them down?
Freeman Dyson: Yes. There is this snobbism among scientists, especially the academic types.
Stewart Brand: Are there other kinds?
Freeman Dyson: There are scientists in industry who are a bit more broad-minded. The academics look down on them, too.
Stewart Brand: Is that a weird British hangover?
Freeman Dyson: It’s even worse in Germany. Intellectual snobbery is a worldwide disease. It certainly was very bad in China and probably held back development there by 2,000 years.
Stewart Brand: How would you stop this intellectual snobbery?
Freeman Dyson: I would abolish the PhD system. The PhD system is the real root of the evil of academic snobbery. People who have PhDs consider themselves a priesthood, and inventors generally don’t have PhDs.
Stewart Brand: Are those getting PhDs rewarded in any other way than as an honor?
Freeman Dyson: It’s much more than an honor. It’s a ticket to a job.
Stewart Brand: So is anybody buying this? Are PhDs being abolished or disregarded?
Freeman Dyson: No. The stranglehold has gotten even tighter over the years. It’s become essentially like the MD – with much less justification. It’s simply a barrier you have to climb over before you can make a career, and it’s being imposed on more and more jobs. At even the smallest liberal arts college, nowadays, they say with pride, “All of our faculty have PhDs.” Many of the best teachers are thrown out because they don’t have a PhD. It’s a paper qualification that poisons the whole field.
I strongly suggest that you read the whole interview.
Stewart Brand, Freeman Dyson’s Brain, Wired, Feb. 1998.