Productivity and Ivyphilia

Fattah Fathun Karim
56 min readSep 14, 2020


The fascination towards Ivy leagues and similarly reputed colleges abroad like MIT is nothing new for us Bangladeshis and Indians. Pretty much every student have had the fantasy of studying in these highly esteemed institutions at some point of their lives. No matter how far fetched these fantasies might seem to be for the individuals, but hey, let’s be honest, who at some point of their lives, didn’t keep their rational thoughts aside and fantasize for some brief moment about walking down the aisles of MIT or Harvard? Or vicariously imagining oneself in the positions of others who have already scored the dream; through seeing all their fancy videos from youtube, their social media presence, and gorging into reddit forums to learn their experiences. When we fantasize about something so tangible but yet so far beyond our reach, we start to expose ourselves to a wide range of scammers. And that is of course, the fundamental basics of scamenomics. When scamming someone, it should always be the topmost priority to make sure that the individual being targeted has a shrouded inner craving, as well as sheer ignorance on the subject matter.

Section 1:

(This section is just for context. I tried to dig in the roots of hustle culture and toxic productivity in general. You can skip this section if you are more keen to read on scammer profiles which i will be discussing on section 2)

Toxic Productivity

Capitalism has pushed the world into a rat race. Productivity, Career-centrism, tenacious workloads, all are celebrated with one goal in mind, which is to become the maximum profit yielding asset for a corporation. With the rise of the productivity culture, along surges up the levels of anxieties in an individual as well. Keeping in mind that these people face severe insecurities regarding their jobs and career ascensions, there emerges services which promise people to get them on the right track. These services may include productivity apps, self help gurus, motivational speakers, self-help productivity booster books and tons of other similarly related stuffs which are supposed to program ourselves to the best, so that our accelerated output growth catches up to the expectation of our employers, or pushes us to the summit of our corporate ladder. For example, Let’s take into account a popular social networking site, LinkedIn. Linkedin is a professional networking social media website which aims at connecting employers and employees from all over the world. It’s just a marketplace for corporations to scour around for potential employees and also for individuals to find suitable jobs. It would have been great if it was just that, but no. LinkedIn is a for profit company which has been acquired by microsoft for 26 billions dollars. A company offering just a networking facility for employee and employers do not amount to such a gigantic net worth. It has to hook up its customers and engage them as much as possible to the platform. LinkedIn capitalizes on the insecurities of people, insecurities about job, career growth, productivity and self development. It designed its news feed section just like facebook and twitter, with infinite scrolling feature to update feed. The infinite scrolling feature is a popular social media trick to keep its users hooked. While in facebook and twitter you are engaging in fun yielding hooks, news, memes, songs, stupid cat videos, or political discussion forums, in linkedIn the hooks are a bit different. You are constantly bombarded with the success stories of your peers and others. You are constantly fed bright and glistering industry profiles, success stories and reminded each moment that you are not enough, and that you are missing out. The fear of lagging behind generates stress, anxieties and eventually pushes one to a state of depression. You get driven to do something only to realize upon finishing it, that there lies another checkpoint ahead completed by others which you need to follow. And this cycle never ends. LinkedIn thus promotes corporate rat race to the extreme, at the cost psychological distress of its users. linkedIn even offers you ways to get around your inferiority complex. They offer you courses through LinkedIn learning, which shows up right under the drop down option “Work”.

Crazy right? How linkedIn makes you feel lazy and keeps a hook named “Work” so that you click on it driven by the insecurities that has been rattling from your insides through frantically browsing your linkedIn feed. The reason i categorize linkedIn just as any other social media platform is because the way it is designed actually resembles other addictive social media platform to an uncanny level. Its layout is just like facebook, with three columns where the feed section is in the middle. Its feed is just like facebook. LinkedIn’s color palette is just like facebook and twitter, that is blue. The reason for using blue color palette is to make the experience more eye soothing so that users don’t get stressed away by spending too much time on these social platforms. Because of course, the more time invested, the more the stock rise for these companies. Like facebook, linkedIn introduced post reaction button replacing the like button to offer users with more options to express themselves. This feature introduction followed 3 years after facebook introduced its reaction feature. Facebook’s like, or reaction feature is a well known hooking technique which engages users more with their platform and keeps them hooked into the platform even more. Now why would linkedIn follow the psychologically manipulative hack that Facebook introduced, and implement on their very own platform if linkedIn actually don’t want people to waste their time on linkedIn but to actually “Work”. LinkedIn’s addictive platform design matches so well with facebook that at a time it just feels like a big ripoff. And additionally, since linkedIn has insecure users who come here looking for opportunities, they can use other means of manipulative tricks which facebook or twitter cannot. For example, “invitation to connect” through one’s email inbox, “see who viewed your profile” in ones profile feed, etc. which are in psychological terms, known as social reciprocity hacks. The amplification of personal insecurities and unhealthy thrust to becoming increasingly competitive makes me conclude that linkedIn is in fact worse than other social media platforms. It’s billion dollar existence depends upon psychologically stressing out its user base through pushing the toxic productivity culture even further, and also without offering an end point. And it’s not just that, such heightened anxieties push people towards deceptive measures as well. No matter how much engaging other social media platforms maybe, people are at least genuine in those places, but in linkedIn people always put up on an ersatz appearance, and hide their genuine self so that employers don’t get deflected away. In an article by techcrunch, it highlighted an applicant survey by ADP, which states that around 44% applicant lie about their work histories, 41% about their education, 23% use fake credentials and licenses.

This fraudulence, phoniness and the inauthentic practices with a goal to score some personality points for certain gains (employment, social credits) reminds me of a popular episode from Black Mirror, “Nosedive”. In this hypothetical realm, everyone has to feign their persona in order to win and maintain adequate social credits to thrive within their surroundings.

But is this productivity craze actually worth it? While yes, laziness is never the answer but stressing yourself out to the extent that your anxiety hits its the ceiling is also not worth it. To make farm animals more productive, we engineered their life out of them. Most animals in factory farming are just miserable meatbags for whom being born itself is a curse. Now do we want to be just like that? Do we want to be alive or just breathing? Do we need to chase the productivity illusion so bad that we need to sacrifice our psychological well being along with all that makes a life worth living? Recently the corona pandemic highlighted this issue in a more exemplary way. Everyone being confined to their household started to feel like they are missing out something and falling behind the race. With countrywide lockdowns increasing internet traffic and social media activities, people are falling prey to these psychological manipulations even more. Added to that, the soaring unemployment and job insecurity inadvertently grows the people more anxious and thus productivity schemers start to profit off their vulnerabilities.

The productivity craze also lures us into programs which claims to save our time, and thus stretch our hands into a multitude of productive works. Speed reading for example. Speed reading trainer apps and speed reading trainers would tell you that by doubling or quadrupling your reading speed you can quickly consume the content of a book while saving your precious times which can invested into wide array of other productive works or read more books with the power of extra speed.

But what the trainers won’t tell you is that, speed read comes at a cost, it costs you your comprehensibility. Reading at a faster pace brings your comprehension level to a drastic low. The only way to read speedily is by mastering the language that the book is written into and through cultivating a habit of reading. All those tracker apps and WPM ( words per minute ) training apps are bullcrap if you really want to comprehend and understand what you would be reading. And not just update your social feed to let others know that you’ve just read a book.

Check what Elizabeth Schotter and her research team found out on this particular issue which is to me, the last nail in the coffin for speed reading gurus.

How did speed reading craze soar so high in demand?

Of course for the race to be hyperproductive.

But if you feel this to sinister wait till you see people enjoying movies in 2.5x speed.

I just can’t wait until a guru comes to save me from wasting time sleeping and teaches me the art to sleep in 5x speed.

To understand productivity craze let’s watch the market dominance of productivity enhancing tools. According to market research, the net worth of productivity enhancing softwares is to boost upto 96.36 billions of dollars by the end of 2025, whereas in 2018 it was just valued at 33 billion USD. The 16.5% drastic growth has can be partly contributed to the Covid-19 pandemic which steered many people into seeking productivity enhancer tools due to increasing anxieties and insecurities. And the most dominant market for such products will be the United States with 60.7% of the total market share. The rest 39.3% would be consist of China, Japan, south and central america, southeast asia, india and the rest of the world. Now this should come of no surprise. Because US work culture is pinnacle of rat race olympics, where you just need to keep on working harder and harder and keep on climbing up the corporate ladder till you reach the position of the apex predator. Even then you won’t be paid in millions. So you have to work even harder to join the million dollar clubs. But then again, there would be billionaires ahead that you would need to beat. So you gotta work hard to reach the billionaire club. After that you need to work even harder to reach to the level of the world’s richest man. And if you are in fact the world’s richest man, you have to work hard to retain that position, and keep a watch so that no one topples you any time soon. The work culture never teaches you to be satisfied. This is the american dream basically. Anyone can find success if they work hard enough. Its a free land, anyone can become a billionaire like Bill gates, or zuckerberg or Musk Or Bezos. People like Oprah are celebrated and idolized for being the perfect embodiment of the American Dream, that is the self made billionaire. What’s the secret to their success? Work hard, harder, more hard, neah! still not hard enough, you are not giving your 100%, invest your full energy, give it, give it now, don’t take washroom breaks you fool (amazon’s obsession with keeping workers productive), don’t give excuses of illness or the pandemic, even if your local government wants to stay home for your safety (musk defies state’s pandemic measures to reopen california plant). American rat race is like a happy gulag. Everyone works round the hour to chase a deer that only keeps on moving and moving. You chase and chase, complete checkpoints after checkpoints only to never know when to relax, because there is no time left, and the next checkpoint looks so close. It’s like a voluntary gulag where you are self motivated instead of being forced. But actually the self motivation stems from worshipping money. Money is undeniably necessary but the celebration of grotesque greed is only possible through selling neoliberal capitalist stories, like the american dream. But this is not true, as in the book “Animal Farm” the character Boxer, who keeps on working and working in hopes of a better future only ends up feeding the pigs to monstrous obesity. The amazon retail workers can never reach the level of Bezos. But the american dream says so. Every american is given the same opportunity, and through working hard and smart anyone can become an oprah or a bezos. But sadly this is just bollocks. Success requires merit, and hard work, true. But it requires luck and environment too. And having a rich family who can invest your ventures like Bill gates’ parents helps too. Having a degree from ivy leagues help too. Or winning an accidental lawsuit of 250 million dollars like Nicholas Sandmann. Or having a rich husband like the world’s richest woman, Mackenzie Bezos. Success is measured through riches, so yes even though she earned her fortune from her divorce, but theoretically speaking she is the most successful woman on the planet now. Not the people who are working 24/7 in amazon with little break and little vacation period.

Thus the infatuation of chasing an elusive success point, makes the rat run the wheels even faster until he is completely enervated. And in the meanwhile, many meaningful facet of life is lost without the rat even noticing. For example, meaningful friendships, relationships, personal space and a sane psyche. Anxieties, Depression replaces all those major aspects of a meaningful life. To understand this phenomena better i can suggest you Sam Polk’s biographical book on this. Sam Polk was an Wall Street Hedge Fund trader who rose up the ladder up to the millionaire club but could never reach the point of satisfaction. His pursuit of moneymaking resonates with many young people who turn their success pursuit into an addiction, with shifting their goals further and further as they start finishing one after another milestones. For Sam, getting into Wall Street was supposed to be the fulfillment of his dreams. But soon started to lose track of that satisfaction. He started to realize his toxic obsession with moneymaking when he was offered 3.25 million dollars in bonus and yet it could not satisfy him at all but rather infuriated him for the sum being too, which in fact it wasn’t. He realized that his pursuit of the elusive success checkpoints cost him his relationships with his life-partners, friends, families. It eventually drowned him into states of depression, overeating, bulimia, alcohol and drug abuse. He then quit wall street, his pursuit of greed, and returned back to a relatively normal, stable, and a healthy family life.

I had a review of the thing written back in 2018, attaching it here, if you don’t have much time to go through the book.

Also this blogpiece was a good read which i recommend, which echoes similar sentiments on how toxic productivity strips you away from all that’s good.

Thus we can pretty much realize why america would be the biggest market for productivity enhancing softwares and apps. Most americans are systemically fed the insecurities about earning success to become extremely competitive and milk the best out of them. But they never get to be aware of what constitutes success in the first place. Hence they keep on running the never ending rat race. To keep them from not enervating and keeping the wheel running, they need energy and performance boosters. And productivity services thrive based on their voluntarily heightened anxieties. And along with them thrives motivational coaches and gurus, and performance enhancing drugs.

The other places of the world lag a little behind than the americans but american productivity craze has started to reach those parts of the world too. And this is due to the globalization of the anxiety market.

Now reading all of this, one might come to conclude that i am trying to put up a case against productivity in general. But actually i am not, just to stay clear. Anxiety and distress are our vital evolutionary trait. If we don’t get anxious, we won’t be motivated to work and without work we won’t be able to grow or collect resources to live on. But then again, we need to eat to live too, but does that mean we need to keep on binging ourselves on food? What happens if we actually do? Does our physical and psychological health ameliorate or deteriorate? This is just the case when we ride on the hyperproductivity trend. WIth the active and passive promotion of hyperproductivity culture being promulgated through social media, workplace culture and productivity monitoring, floods of advertises luring towards of maximizing productivity, and through other dystopian ways the system keeps our anxiety and stress level up making us feel that we are always lagging behind. All these cumulatively motivates us to consume more productivity enhancing tools (thus creating a 92 billion industry), and also helps us into turning ourselves into farm chickens stripped off a normal life to maximize meat output at the cost of destruction of the self, the psyche. In an article published in the citizen, Bhabani shankar nayak articulately explains how unfettered capitalism drove competitive productive hysteria into our minds with the aid of social media, and how it decimated our “self” to alarming extent. She argues that unfettered capitalism taught us that idleness is a sin, time is money, and productivity maximization is our only hopes to salvation. While blatantly ignoring our working conditions, mental healths, family, friendships and other meaningful aspects of life. The author draws parallel between workplace hustle culture with ancient wartime economics which rewards alertness, prudence, fecundity, constant vibrancy and in the meanwhile vilifying any sort of frivolity. But wartime strategies should not be our benchmark to follow which would drive our anxieties like that of a military general or a field marshal. We do not have countries to liberate nor tribes to conquer. So, why the bustle and for whom and for what?

Now, the american dream would like to tell us that to better our socio-economic condition we need to work our hearts out and make ourselves useful. What it forgets to mention that people in fact do work hard. Some people faint out working hard in their workplace just to make ends meet. How is fainting out while catering to customers in a burger shop going to help one reach the level of silicon valley entrepreneurs whose motivational life stories are the fuel of every motivational channels that you will come across online. An article run by Nytimes highlights the overloaded work culture in the US and and how people’s lives are shaped surrounding it. It brings up the story of of a hospital food service worker Alexander Cutler, who worked extra shift to make her ends meet. She faints down while overworking and is sent to bedrest for weeks without being compensated at all. It mentions of a guy named Julion Payes who used to work 80 hours a week at Mcdonalds and Aerotek. To keep him up awake and energetic he used to binge on coffees and sodas. His town paid him even less of a minimum wage than Cutler’s town which was barely enough for a person to make his ends meet. Such low pay prompts the workers to work extra shifts or take multiple jobs just to earn a square living. But the huge chunk of time invested onto this, takes away their life away from them. Payes too fainted out at grocery stores, had little time for his family and friends. It shows an instance where his little brother emotionally begs Payes to spend some time with him saying, “How much for one hour to play with me”. But little did he know Payes was just on the virtuous mission of exhausting himself to the brink of becoming a saint in the eyes of employers.

Such productivity crazed work culture is nothing new. It roots back to american history of slavery. With the boom in cotton industry american demand for slave trade only increased in order to meet up with the rising cotton demand which brought down the price of apparels to a drastical low. To increase productivity americans confiscated and conquered native american lands to expand their plantations, and push their slaves to work to the verge of breakdowns. To keep productivity in check they devised monitoring schemes to watch over their slave’s productivity. Each slave was supposed to yield a minimum threshold of crops, and if that didn’t match the overseer’s expectation, severe whippings befell upon them as punishment to bring them back on the productivity track. Being more productive was a drawback for a slave too, because once a slave yielded more than expected the bar for him got set up even higher which would eventually require him to keep that consistency all throughout the following days. The slaves often fainted out only to vomit again when waking up, then got back to work and return to being broken by the end of the day. The plantation owners never saw them as human beings but as tools of productivity. And they did succeed. The american cotton industry boomed to 500 millions of dollars worth in a short period of time. America was responsible for yielding half of the world’s net cotton production. And they couldn’t but afford but exploit every inch of their slaves to keep the consistency of the production or to expand them in fact. To quote the article,

Like today’s titans of industry, planters understood that their profits climbed when they extracted maximum effort out of each worker. So they paid close attention to inputs and outputs by developing precise systems of record-keeping. Meticulous bookkeepers and overseers were just as important to the productivity of a slave-labor camp as field hands

With the plantation owners devising spreadsheets like that of Thomas Affleck’s “Plantation Record and Account Book”, superior supervision and accounting techniques and hierarchical work management, the plantations grew increasingly efficient and individual worker yield grew up to 400% within the span of 60 years which is astonishingly huge and pretty insidious too once you start to think what might have went through the workers to have reached that bar. But it did accelerate innovation and paved the way towards industrial revolution. Modern era workplace management, supervision, accounting, hierarchical reporting, banking system, etc can be attributed to those plantations. But just because it yielded excessive production, brought innovations, accelerated world economy (which eventually fell apart for production overflow; crashing slave market and cotton market along with it), can we justify slavery and worker exploitation? As historian Edward Baptist said, quoting from the article,

Before the civil wars, lived in an economy whose bottom gear was torture.

While the slaves were forced into work, many supposedly “free” workers before and after force upon themselves the hideous workloads voluntarily just out of the virtuous notion that exhausting oneself to work is the pinnacle of human virtue. Bertrand Russell ponders upon the cause and effect of such enervating work culture in his essay “In praise of idleness”.

According to Russell, since long idleness was perceived to be a vice and overwork as a virtue. Such sentiments were basis of wartime economics of the past. Leisure was allotted for only some privileged fractions only. It was deemed blasphemous to ask a king to work, just like it was blasphemous to call a peasant to rest. Overwork was glorified and applauded for exploiting the labors of the bottom line through generations after generations with the help of fables, scriptures, mandates and what not. And all of this just to maintain the status quo, just to keep the idle faction immerse themselves into eternal hedonistic idleness and the drive the rest towards an exhausting culture of productivity to lift the civilization up.

Russell argues that intensive labor does more harm than good. While we moved far ahead from wartime economics, nevertheless we carried away with us the glorification of overworking and restlessness from our past battlegrounds. Russell argues that leisure is mandatory. Because it was the small leisured class who could afford thinking things out of the box. Because they did not have to worry about exhausting their asses out to make out a living. He says, these particular class, for being granted freedom in pursuing their interest could bring paradigm shifts in science, politics, philosophies, arts and other frivolous endeavors which did not necessarily generate much of a wealth considering the time and resource investment behind them. In this essay he proposes a 4 hour workday which would grant an individual to explore his interests, be free in his creative endeavors and have time of his own to indulge into things that make a life meaningful and not like a farm chicken or the life of “Boxer” from the book Animal Farm. It’s not just Russell though, John Maynard Keynes predicted that with technological revolution the world would enjoy 15 hours work week. But russell argued that if that happened, the companies would then lay off half of their workers and overwork others to save employee costs rather allow them 15 hour workweek.

Russell wrote the book in 1935. While it was written nearly a century ago, the idea still holds true to date. With productivity being the buzzword of 21st century, and the hyper productive farm life being glorified everywhere, our psyche and self are getting destroyed. We lost the person residing in the middle and replaced it with the person that a LinkedIn professional would find useful for his company. The race to enriching resumes with meaningless certifications, most of it which are done just for the sake of something other (to show off to employers mostly and generating a productive farm chicken image of the self ), the gist of those which one will eventually come to forget later on, are stripping us off from a life that we can actually claim an ownership on and be satisfied with.

Russell claims, “ The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake”. So what do you think? Should we be Russell’s modern man and spend your whole life behind pot boilers only to realize later on that this is an endless and an elusive pursuit that we are pursuing?

And at least the workers having been mentioned above get paid. Alexandria Cutler of the previously mentioned nytimes article got 12.32$ hourly wage. Payes was paid low but after minimum wage reformation in his town he started to get 15$ per hour. Considering he does 80 hours a week as per mentioned in the article, he should get 62,400 dollars a year. Considering vacation leaves and others, lets consider the worst case scenario. let’s presume payes works 33 weeks in total and earns 40,000$ a year. Even then, thats double of what a graduate student gets from his professor. But academic exploitations are always overlooked since in most cases these are not considered to be jobs. Since the student status retains, professors can get away with exploiting their student’s labour to built up their research project while paying them negligible sum of money. The workloads of a grad student is enormous, just like any other professional employee in any industry or in some cases even more. Since it’s still technically a learning phase, and a degree earning phase, they don’t get to have employee benefits as per labour acts. And it creates room for massive labour exploitation. The extensive workloads breed extensive stress and anxieties. In a report published by the guardian, it shows that around 30% phd students develop psychiatry conditions which is by the far the highest of any profession including the most stressful ones like in emergency response units or people working in defence.

Ignoring grad students’ conditions is not a new topic in town. The exploitative professors were once exploited students themselves. It’s just a cycle that keeps on being repeated over and over again.

In an article by the economist, “The disposable academic” the author takes the criticism even much further by analyzing the potentials of PhD degrees over career prospects and weighing it against the years and years of low paid, overworked, overstressed academic journey to see if it yields much of a value. Of course, he concludes, that in most of the cases it doesn’t yield as much value as is to be expected out of it. The author highlights the cases of foreign students too. He shows how professors searching for cheap labour turn their cheeks towards international students who are easier to exploit at the cheapest possible rate and burdening them with extensive workloads without getting whined at is an easy shot too. Most of these foreign students come with a hope of permanent residency and therefore the professor’s offer seems to them like a dream come true. Thus, they themselve create the room for the professors to push them into conformism. Most of the students pursuing higher studies do not have much awareness about worker rights, minimum wage and healthy work schedules. Most of them view conformism and subserviency as the only path to salvation, that is a good career in later life and a permanent residency. But this is unfair if we consider human rights to be same for everyone. And the reason the professors can get away with it, is because PhD students are not considered workers but rather learners or apprentices. The unionization of grad students is a rare sight too. Many universities even actively detest and try to drive away unionisation attempts. And even if they do acknowledge grad students unionizing themselves, they neglect or stop negotiating with them afterwards, like that which happened in New York University. Most student work so restlessly with the notion that they are working for something greater than them. The only way to prove your worth in such a highly revered field, to be acknowledged as an expert, a brainiac and a part of the fringest talent pool, is to enervate yourself as per your professor’s will. And all in the meanwhile, putting a blindfold to the ways your professor and the university is benefitting themselves from exploiting you.

This particular article threw the academic world in a tantrum. It even generated cult followings. Many forums followed and continued the discussion. Many follow ups got written by academics sharing their personal experiences. For example huffingtonpost ran an article following the economist one under the title, “I am a Disposable Academic” which encompasses around the writer’s own experience as an academic.. Psychologytoday also has an article from psychologist Michael W Kraus sharing his own experience. Both are attached below for you to read. While they mostly agree with the economist article, but kraus takes a backflip at the end, saying that doing phds are intellectual pursuits. The thrill of overcoming challenges should be the reward, not the money. Well yes exactly! That’s what many other defender of the status quo has in their mind too. Although kraus doesn’t go on completely defending the status quo, he does express that he could use a little more money while he was in grad school. But nevertheless, he believes that the intellectual pursuit and overcoming intellectual challenges are worth the long hours and low pay. This is an instance of stockholm syndrome in my opinion. Since you have to justify your noble pursuit in one way or the other, you start to twist reality. Plus you might become a professor soon enough after your slavery clause ends, only to turn yourself into slave owner. So you can’t but keep some potholes and have some defense on your side.

Plus selling stories is the most easy way to keep people content and contained when you are running out of palpable values to offer. It worked selling nationalistic stories to wage wars. It worked selling religious stories to suppress women and minorities. It worked selling abrahamic stories to displace a nation and create a never ending crisis in the middle east. It worked selling stories of a superior aryan race to germans for uniting them under hitler and wage world war. It worked selling stories of caste to keep the social division in check, and keep a perpetual labour supply for dead end jobs. On a more relatable side, MLM companies, ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes all operate on the basis of selling dreams to marginal or middle class families. Stories have the power do wonders.

Coming back to the context of higher education, how else can you convince an indian or a bangladeshi or a taiwanese to work long hours for you, provided with the slightest pay, other than selling the glorified story of academia. The story of Green Card and a prosperous career after the doctoral program, would that come to your assistance? Realistically speaking, can a doctoral program which earns one 2–3% more than a Masters degree entice an individual? Umm Idk, maybe! But what if they decide to unionize to better their condition due to a lack of delusional lenses in front of their eyes? How else can you prompt them to work like workaholics with the least of benefits provided?

While the stories might indeed seem to be quite fascinating which the universities or the professors sell to students, but then again, most of these stories are illusions too. I can’t help but quote the Unabomber’s Manifesto on this.

Unabomber Manifesto along with the Unabomber

It might seem weird that i am referring to a anarchist terrorist to make my point. But let’s not kid ourselves. He was one of the brightest minds of his time after all, who advanced faster than any of his peers. His contribution towards mathematics is fairly noted as well. Since Ted was immersed into academia, he got to know the ins and outs of it’s research culture. He claims that most research works are basically surrogate activity of professors. They have little do with real world impact but mostly to keep oneself busy with or to showcase his intellectual exercise for advancing his career. In the chapter, “The motives of scientists” Kaczynski claims, researchers are not merely driven by curiosity and a goal to ameliorate mankind, but they rather engage into them as surrogate activities, as a part of the “power process”. By surrogate activity, kaczynski means those activities which are directed towards artificial goals that people create themselves in order to just have a goal to look forward to and get fulfilment out of them. By power process he means, 1. to have a goal (a scientific problem to solve), 2. to make an effort (a research), 3. to attain the goal (get solution to the problem). Thus kaczynski claims that researchers engage mostly in surrogate activities which are not much driven by the motive of benefiting mankind or mere curiosity as they claim but just out of feeling a sense of fulfilment and conquer.

Science and technology provide the most important examples of surrogate activities. Some scientists claim that they are motivated by “curiosity” or by a desire to “benefit humanity.” But it is easy to see that neither of these can be the principal motive of most scientists. As for “curiosity,” that notion is simply absurd. Most scientists work on highly specialized problems that are not the object of any normal curiosity. For example, is an astronomer, a mathematician or an entomologist curious about the properties of isopropyltrimethylmethane? Of course not. Only a chemist is curious about such a thing, and he is curious about it only because chemistry is his surrogate activity. Is the chemist curious about the appropriate classification of a new species of beetle? No. That question is of interest only to the entomologist, and he is interested in it only because entomology is his surrogate activity. If the chemist and the entomologist had to exert themselves seriously to obtain the physical necessities, and if that effort exercised their abilities in an interesting way but in some nonscientific pursuit, then they wouldn’t give a damn about isopropyltrimethylmethane or the classification of beetles. Suppose that lack of funds for postgraduate education had led the chemist to become an insurance broker instead of a chemist. In that case he would have been very interested 10 in insurance matters but would have cared nothing about isopropyltrimethylmethane. In any case it is not normal to put into the satisfaction of mere curiosity the amount of time and effort that scientists put into their work. The “curiosity” explanation for the scientists’ motive just doesn’t stand up. — ( Industrial Society and its future: para 87)

Kaczynski then goes on to conclude the section “ The motives of scientists” using this striking paragraph,

Thus science marches on blindly, without regard to the real welfare of the human race or to any other standard, obedient only to the psychological needs of the scientists and of the government officials and corporation executives who provide the funds for research. — (Industrial Society and its future: para 92)

While many thing here may be debatable, for example, that the modern academic culture is different-It is more of a job, rather an surrogate activity, that tenureship depends on publication counts, and its either publish or perish for which professors are forced to conduct frivolous researches. Also that many industrial collaboration happen within academic sphere which aim towards real life utility of projects and seek out results for industrial benefits. But lets kid ourselves not. Most of the academic papers are so specialised that they have little to no impact due to lack of readers who would actually go on translating those knowledge into real life applications. Kaczynski’s period in Academia was in the sixties (1962–1969), a time when the publication hysteria hadn’t much hit academia like it has today. The focus and pressure on publications paved way towards trivial scientific pursuits and trivial knowledge addition in already saturated fields. Such expansion of insignificant contributions, no matter how noble they may seem, are not much more than a dog chasing his tail. Both are trivial means to keep oneself busy. But this trivial contribution culture costs universities more. In an article by Richard Vedder, a Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ohio University analyzes the additional costs that universities have to go through for research emphasis. He explains that unlike the sixties, in modern era research emphasis have pushed faculties to recruit more teachers to balance the abated course-loads of tenured academics. Thus in places where 12 tenured professor would have done the job, now requires 18 to cover up the overall shortfall. And this amounts to 600,000$ additional investment from the university administrations. But the output of papers from all these faculties don’t amount much more than 33,000$. Added to that, the output gets read by roughly 100 people in honest sincerity, that too considering the maximum. So the author wonders if investing so much money into research hysteria actually worth it where the outputs are not significant enough.

The point, however, is that lower teaching loads over the past half-century have come at a cost. In part that cost is met by moving away from using expensive tenure-track faculty to teach, going to more part-time adjunct faculty (some would argue with a loss in instructional quality). The emphasis on research, however, is expensive and leads often to a trivial addition to the stock of knowledge. Diminishing returns set into research. The 100th paper on the impact of gerrymandering, interpretation of John Rawls’ veil of ignorance, or the effects of climate change on the mating habits of insects no doubt is typically less consequential than the first or second paper. Moreover, while research sometimes complements teaching and leads to more insightful instruction, a publish or perish environment can lead to student neglect, perfunctory teaching, and a decline in mentoring of young persons that helps them navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The fact that most scientific academic journals often go without being read or any value being churned out of them has been a part of an ongoing discussion on how to reform academic publishing practices. Smithsonian magazine ran an article on how many people actually do read academic papers. They argue that apart from authors, editors and referees, reviewers the readerbase of such specialised academic journals is practically non existent. Although the report showed some skepticism about the actual metrics but nevertheless it does acknowledge the fact that most of these rigorous works often go unnoticed because of their lack of real life utility. And as times are passing by with more publishers coming on board the problem is only increasing. Trivial scientific pursuits with redundant researches are thriving rampant, because of the notion that it’s better to publish anything rather than nothing.

So the point is,

Is making a grad student reach the verge of psychological breakdowns for such insignificant pursuits worth it? And also, is selling daydreams to graduate students ethical? Most foreign PhD students are usually in their mid twenties or thirties. In such age groups you need a living wage to survive, since you start to become independent from your families, and your financial needs are just like your counterparts who are working in industries. But despite working more arduously than your friends in the industry, doing 10 hours weeklong work schedules with very little pay and living on instant noodles and free pizzas (ref. Economist),is satisfying the trivial scientific pursuit of your professor and the university reputation actually worth it? Or are you actually getting ripped off and your labour not being properly evaluated nor even properly rewarded? Do you think the Napoleons are just exploiting Boxers like you for your cheap and dedicated labour, in exchange of an elusive dream? (Animal Farm ref.)

Section 2


Apparently the reverence of doctorate degrees and academic research culture stretch far and beyond. A PhD is still a matter of great social prestige be it the united states or in other countries. The title “Dr.” is very lucrative one , just like the title “Alhaj” in a person’s name. The reason being that both titles are generative of deep admiration and social points. Although having a doctorate degree would also offer you the image of being one of the smartest fews on the planet, overlooking the actual intellectual contribution that the degree yields. But nonetheless the social recognition is enough for grad students to live under minimum wage working with demanding professors for 5 years or more, The glittery outward appearance blinds people to the overworked, overstressed, underpaid living condition of poor grad students.

Now the fascination with grad schools and graduate degrees have opened scopes for impostors to seep in, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries where people worship grad schools like crazy. Being one of the most advanced, intelligent species is like being among the 1% of the whole nation. Its like ascending from ghettos and turning yourself into a prophetic figure. Having a doctorate multiplies the credibility of your words to a thousandfold, since you start to be considered among the highly intelligent 1% of the population. A claim seems suspicious? No worries, just attach the words PhD behind it, it won’t be anymore.

“Vaccines are a hoax. They cause autism and evolution is a lie.” — Random Joe

“Vaccines are carefully crafted lies that is part of a colonial project through which the west tries to dominate the third world. The racist and unfounded theory of evolution is promulgated to support the theory of vaccinations and bolsters the sales of big pharmaceutical companies.” — Random Joe (PhD in xxxxxx)

The random joe might be discarded at an instant by branding him stupid and insane. But can you call the random joe with a PhD insane? And what if the random joe with a PhD is from Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard?

And i am not even kidding. There are multiple people with PhDs with extremely idiotic viewpoints. Although i came up with the example above on the go just to demonstrate how a statement’s credibility increase with the help of a doctorate degree. But if you search online you will find numerous such PhD holders with dumbfounded views about the world.

Geez, who could’ve thought!!! That working on the 100th paper measuring the bond lengths of isopropyltrimethylmethane or the 100th paper on the effect of gerrymandering about might not necessarily land one among the intellectual saints.

This enormous power of credibility that doctorate degrees hold did not go unnoticed in the eyes of the shrewds and scammers. Many scammers will try to either fake certificates, invitations or amplify their tenuous relations with reputed universities (non degree, execed or online programs), to garner public attention. Sometimes they may be done for business purpose which many motivational self help gurus do, sometimes they can be done to establish a business, sometimes they might be done get contracts from governments of NGOs and sometimes just out of pure narcissistic inner drive.

Let’s take some case studies for example.

Case 1. Clint Arthur

Clint Arthur is a celebrity entrepreneur and a personal branding expert who helps financial advisers stand out of the crowd and flourish in their business. His website states,

Clint Arthur is one of America’s most sought-after Motivational, Inspirational, and Entrepreneurial Speakers, and The World’s Top Expert on Creating Celebrity Positioning for Authors, Speakers, Coaches, and Entrepreneurs

There’s just so much buzzwords in that one sentence, that it starts to feel like to have been overstated, aggrandized.

It feels like that because it actually is.

In an article by Wall Street Journal the journalist Jason Zweig dives into arthur’s whole business mechanism. Arthur, a once cab driver turned motivational guru trains businesspeople, including dozens of financial gurus, most of them are fake too. So, he is technically a fake guru of fake gurus, as a youtuber coffezilla puts. WSJ reveals that the what Arthur does is that he basically charges a hefty sum of money (5000$ to 25000$) from financial advisers and motivational gurus through his courses, arranges them a speech in Harvard or US Military Academy at west point and thus helps them flourish in their business. Now what’s the motivation behind doing that? As Arthur says,

In order for a person to give you a lot of money,” Mr. Arthur said in an interview, “they must admire you, like you and trust you.

And i’ve already state before how an affiliation with reputed institution instantly swells up your credibility to people. So Mr. Arthur is just reaffirming my previous argument.

But the funny thing Arthur is not affiliated with Harvard neither the US military. Apparently just “believe in yourself, do it now!” is not much of an attractive feat. for Harvard administrators that they will invite a person over it. So how does he accomplish that? Arthur sponsors an independently run HBS Students club with a huge chunk of money and they invite him over as a courtesy. Arthur brings in with him his clients to render speeches in the event. And thus his clients get to tag themselves with the “Harvard” image which is so vital for their business scheme, that is to earn client’s trust.

Upon knowing the fact Mr Arthur is using HBS students club as a means of personal gain and helping scammers, the club closed their ties with him. Arthur hires Faculty clubs at harvard or west point which anyone can hire given the designated fee. Arthur claims they were all sanctioned by harvard and west point authorities, where in fact upon contacting them WSJ found out that none of them were sanctioned by any of those aforementioned authorities. In fact west point released statements saying that they do not support Mr Arthur’s deceptive ventures.

but Arthur has a fanbase, of course why wouldn’t he. He just let people earn the credibility they wouldn’t have found otherwise. As Ms. West, a client of Arthur says,

Ms. West said in an interview that “there shouldn’t be any confusion” over whether these are school-sponsored events: “We spoke at Harvard.” She called mentioning the Harvard name “dropping the H-bomb” and said it brings “instant credibility” with clients. “It’s like, ‘If I’m good enough for Harvard, I’m probably good enough for you.’

People’s tendency to not question any harvard affiliate with their degree of intelligence is what makes these fake gurus thrive online and offline and its them themselves admitting it.

The Wall Street Journal article can be found here,

There are multiple instances of such motivational deceptive gurus that can be found online who sell people platitudes in disguise of something wise. Coffeezilla did a whole episode exposing clint arthur and explaining his deceptive mechanism. You can find it following this link below,

The funny thing is Arthur uses the wall street journal’s scathing review to his advantage while it is basically a scathing review of his works. But Arthur is just one guy. The fake motivational guru industry is even much more wide. All of them have have one thing in common, selling unfounded dreams, to be more precise, “The American Dream” and promoting hustle culture with bundles of cliches wrapped as something extremely thoughtful.

In this article by Larissa Faw in the Forbes Magazine, she highlights such overused niche culture that are rampant in these fake guru services which are thriving in the west.

The funny thing is that, what rises in the west eventually follows to the east too.

In my country, motivational guru business wasn’t a big thing until a guy solaiman shukhon came and changed it all.

Case 2: Solaiman Shukhon

Solaiman shukhon is an ex navy lieutenant turned marketing guru. He was in banglalink, amra network and now currently work at marketing department of Nagad.

It was the year 2018 at the month of July. Mr. Solaiman Shukhon drops a bomb to his followers that he has been invited by the Cambridge university to give a speech at a event organized by the Department of Engineering under the banner, “International Branding and Inspiration”. The combo of these two seemed to be extremely fishy and very unlikely. Considering his past bragging, plagiarising foreign contents some of us friends thought of diving into the issue. We found out that it was just the exact replication of the scheme of Mr. Clint Arthur. The WSJ article exposed Arthur in february and solaiman shukhon’s case appeared July. In Cambridge, the authority knew nothing about such a person being invited. Instead it was a found out that a bangladeshi graduate student named Bahauddin invited him in a personal program that he was about to arrange through renting the uni clubs.

But just like Clint Arthur, Mr. Solaiman showed this off as an invitation by harvard authorities and claimed that his hard work was being monitored by people all over the world.

But every scammer leaves a trace. It just needs to be digged. To know the detail of the scam you might try giving a read to shakil ahmed’s medium note on this. The article was first published in his facebook id but after being reported by solaiman shukhon and his team it quickly got taken down.

Solaiman shukhon has a multitude number of other issues that has been exposed by a bundle of other people, but let’s not dive into those issues since it would require a whole new other article.

but it didn’t just end up with solaiman shukhon.

Case 3: Upoma Ahmed

Upoma Ahmed a lecturer at Canadian International university who claims to have earned recognition from harvard university. She runs an organization named Evolution 360 which god knows what they are good for apart from highly adorned facebook branding with cliche NGO terms which never gets materialized. Her whole CV is exaggeration or amplification of cliches. she claims to be global goodwill ambassador of UN whereas such a thing doesn’t even exist. UN and GGA are different entities. But hey, the UN tag is a pricy thing right? What’s funny is that she isn’t even recognized by GGA too. Her forged braggings caught the eye of content derived Bangladeshi news portals and she was turned into an overnight celebrity persona.

It didn’t end in just that, she later on devised her ways to take her credibilities to an extra level. She tried to affiliate herself with harvard, because as Ms. West have previously mentioned, “Mentioning the H-bomb gains you an immediate trust of people”.

The smiley used to hide the “X” in HarvardX was clever and it in fact worked. Journalists took notice and her name were on papers after papers as a groundbreaking achievement of a Bangladeshi Individual. Why? Because of course, it is harvard, and also because bangladeshi journalists can’t fact check.

You won’t much find the articles in the portals now, since after her getting exposed by Manas Nag, a senior from her own university, the papers pulled the articles down. Apparently medium is not letting me embed facebook post, so you can navigate through clicking on here.

No one knows what her motives were. Only she can tell. Maybe just to feed narcissistic ego or to establish her organization. But the takeaway from this incident that i want to bring out to you is the UN, Harvard and western institution craze that we suffer from.

Now, let me tell you the story of a guy from my own university.

Case 4: Shahinur Alam Jony

Shahinur Alam Jony is an ex kuetian from the Dpartment of EEE, now working at Ericsson as a tech solutions senior manager. So far so good, but what’s problematic in his profile is when he claims to be have graduated from harvard. He too is a motivational guru just like Clint arthur whose business is through selling hopes. Though i don’t claim to be aware of his motives, unlike Arthur’s whose motive is totally business driven. My guess is that these are mostly narcissistic pursuits of his and a way to amend his academic shortfalls while he was pursuing his undergraduate at KUET.

It all started when a junior knocked me saying that he wants to invite Mr. Jony to host a session on higher studies at ivy leagues and other similarly reputed institutions, since he is the only kuetian to have earned the honour of graduating from Harvard and MIT. I knew of Mr. Jony before, since such a celebrity figure from my own university would be pretty hard to get by unnoticed. But i had my suspicions from the beginning, since his social media activities were not much convincing. His english usage, pronunciations were pretty poor for a Harvard or an MIT grad, and his insights were full of overused cliches and hackneyed phrases mostly used by motivational gurus. Also when i saw him celebrating the fact that Nikola Tesla was the founder of Alternating Current, while he himself being a EEE graduate, i couldn’t just take him seriously. But these were just merely personal hunches. I had no proof with me with which i could deter my juniors away from him. So i started to investigate and test my hunches. I started knocking Bangladeshi alumni at both unis only to find out that they have no clue of such a person in their database. I had another friend on board with me, my IEEE partner Pritom Mojumder who used his own channels to verify his presence at HBS graduate directory. But he too found nothing substantial. No one knew of such a graduate student. I started knocking registrars at MIT, HBS, MIT Sloan to check if they have their name in his directory. After countless mailing they affirmed me that a person with such a name did enrol in their programs but under non degree executive education course. He is in fact an alumni of MIT Sloan and HBS but not a graduate of the schools. Hence his name is not in the graduate or the ex-student directory.

Now Mr. Jony is just like any other motivational guru. He comes at local campuses, gives speeches, motivates students saying “ স্বপ্ন দেখ,চেষ্টা চালিয়ে যাও, হাল ছেড়ো না, কাজে নেমে যাও, আমি পেরেছি, তুমিও পারবে”, which basically translates to - if i can do it, so can you, you just have to give your 100%. No matter how much motivational it may seem, these are just bunch of overused cliches that motivational gurus use. When he was invited in our campus by the department of ECE, my friends who attended there told me how he snobbishly ridiculed our faculties claiming that their intensive academic dedication in undergraduate level couldn’t take them anywhere near to the level where Mr. Jony reached today. Mr. Jony had backlogs, used to read our teachers notes to pass exams. He says, “ And now now look at us. I am an Harvard and MIT grad working at ericsson and you are still stuck at the boundaries of KUET”. From this i previously concluded that his motive might be redemption and an ego drive. Something he could never find in kuet, but is trying hard to do so get. (Or maybe he is just trying to establish his organization youthcarnival as a credible organization, who can tell)

But getting into Harvard is not easy, at least it wasn’t for him. So what could be done! Because after all, to earn everyone’s reverence you need the H-bomb. To have this tag, Mr. Jony resorted to executive education program in Harvard Business School. Executive programs are not degree programs. They are non degree programs often online based, which are open enrolment programs where anyone with the right amount of admission fees and executive experiences can join. The programs can last from less than a week to several weeks. The programs are hugely expensive too ranging within thousands of dollars. Now given that it is a non degree program why should anyone join? Whats the takeaway? Execed providers like MIT Sloan or HBS will claim that it enhances a professional’s skills and boosts his career even further, whereas the real driving cause here is actually moneymaking. Execed courses are targeted towards industry professionals who are full with cash. Through execed courses the universities charge them a humongous sum of money in exchange of little insights and bragging rights. Most industry professionals and celebrities enrol in such programs to get the prestigious institution’s tag behind their back. Maria Sharapova, Ciara, Channing Tatum, Ll Cool, Ratan Tata, Julia Bishop etc wealth magnets are one of the target people whom Harvard tries to attract towards it’s execed program. And why not, as per BBC execed program brings harvard millions of dollars in revenue per year (132 million dollars which accounts to 14% of Harvard’s total revenue). Since the programs are relaxing, are okay with fragile commitment , lack rigour while generating such humongous chunks of money in the middle, no wonder universities jumped into selling their Brand name for a hefty price. It’s not just rich celebrities and industrial magnets that are attracted to it. The corporate elites are increasingly coming into these courses for networking purpose and career enhancement (or maybe just for showing off like sharapova, depending on the person). While it’s good to have certificate of completion from harvard to show off to people and flex on the alumni status that has been just granted to you, it might not be as useful to an employer on basis of utility. While the world might not know how easy it is get into executive program given you have a good executive work experience, unlike into degree programs where the acceptance rate is around 4.7% — an employer would not so easily be fooled. Sometimes employers fund or endorse such programs for its employees so that they can harness employee loyalty more than before and also brag on having harvard or MIT certified professional in their team.

Now looking at Mr. Jony’s linkedIn profile you can see that he has completed General Management Program, something that he and Sharapova both have gotten themselves enrolled into. Looking at the program you will see it is an expensive one, requiring 65,000$ for virtual and 73000$ for blended or on campus lessons, covering a total 10–15 weeks.

The only difference between Sharapova and Mr. Jony is that, Sharapova does not claim herself to be a Harvard Graduate, Mr. Jony does.

Technically speaking, you cannot claim to be a graduate after completing a non degree, alumni status granting executive education course. It provides one with a certificate of completion, which is not equivalent to a degree and to claim yourself a graduate you need to have a degree from that institution.

When i was mailing through registrar offices, Mr Jony got aware of us that we were trying to verify him. MIT Sloan forwarded a mail to him asking for his permission if they could cooperate with us. Since then he has been claiming this to be unexpected and outrageous to our teachers, the people who he have been scamming all along. He claims that he never have claimed graduation from neither Harvard nor MIT. But if that was true, how was everyone deluded to believe that he was when his seminar took place at our campus premises? Most importantly, why does his facebook page still have the post of him claiming to have graduated from Harvard Business School, and even more astonishingly why is such a huge mistake his pinned post?

It’s not just the pinned post of him though. His whole facebook page is filled up with him selling his Harvard and MIT image.

Can you really blame people like my juniors for thinking him as an MIT and a Harvard graduate while he himself promulgates this through his social media channels?

Mr. Jony loves to present himself as a conqueror. He conquered MIT and Harvard both, a rare opportunity that very few Bangladeshis are bestowed with. But did he conquer tho?

Open enrollment executive education programs require nothing but money, and a good track record of executive work experience. So what was conquered here actually?

While there are actually a good number of Bangladeshis who in fact did conquer MIT and Harvard, navigated themselves through the challenges and got selected to pursue their degrees despite the rigorous selection process and 4.7% acceptance rate, Mr. Jony’s voice seem to be the loudest although he is not one of the actual “conqueror” bangladeshis. Doing executive education is not conquering neither challenging, but rather pursuing an ivy league fascination. Okay, so now you may argue, this is a news outlet who might have used unnecessary hyperboles to attract readers. But did they? Without his consent?

It feels like this is a fantasy he himself prefers to dwell within rather than silly exaggeration by local journalists.

In Mr. Jony’s linkedIn Id, under his education section, it shows his affiliation with Harvard, Stanford, MIT, University of Michigan, University of California, Irvine, University of Melbourne, Copenhagen Business School. But in none of these universities did he undergo any degree program. LinkedIn has options to integrate non degree certifications underneath its education feature. The education part are supposed to be fully exclusive to degree programs only. Otherwise it confuses people. If an actual MIT Graduate integrates his MIT affiliation under his education section and so does Mr. Jony, how would you be able to differentiate?

These are all collected from his linkedIn profile.

Not just that look at his facebook bio.

Imagine yourself doing a CS50 course from HarvardX and after completion you put in your bio that you studied at Harvard. It’s so easy right?

Sadly you can’t do that either. Harvard, MIT both explicitly state that while a non degree course can certainly grant you alumni status, it is in no way equivalent to any degree courses that are offered. Hence, no execed enroller can claim themselves to Harvard or MIT Graduates.

Gee i wonder why they would give the alumni rights though! Definitely not to use people like sharapova, ratan tata, charlie tatum in their alumni directory, right? Or give a tangible reward for the hideously large amount of money they are paying to the execed authorities, right? Or is it so?

Remember Julie Bishop? The Australian foreign minister who enrolled in an execed program? This is how Harvard uses its execed programs to affiliate themselves with rich industrialists, politicians, celebrities by granting them alumnus status apart from earning the millions of dollars coming along the way. It’s a win win situation. Harvard wins by earning affiliation of influential people. The influential people also get to be a part of the ivy league intellectuals. Or why else would they pay?

Now moving back to Mr. Jony, either he wants to deceive people which, apparently, he is pretty bad at, since the bundles of university affiliations already makes his educational section look pretty disingenuous or he is just blatantly ignorant and blinded by narcissism. Looking at his motivational videos, his hysteric repetitive posts, egotist and conquering image of the self it make me feel like that he is trying redeem himself from his not so successful past. He wants the validation from others which he craved for but never got. He wants applause from all that surpassed him in his school, college or in his university. He wants to display his worth so loudly that it doesn’t go unnoticed to those who were on the lead in his past life. Hence, as the MIT registrar told me, it’s not abnormal to see people amplifying their tenuous relationship with MIT. And it’s understandable since it earns them quick social points, deceive their employers or fit some other agenda

It might also be that he is trying to establish his organization youthcarnival as a motivational guru hub just as any other motivational guru does. But i don’t think that Mr. Jony is a bad guy, rather someone who just went psychotic in search for validation. Or maybe i am wrong, maybe he has other plans, which only he can say.

The prime example of insanity has to be Rashidul Bari from Bari Science Lab.

Case no. 5: Rashidul Bari

Rashidul Bari is an adjunct lecturer at Bronx Community College in the Mathematics department. His unhealthy obsession with academia had led him to lead a delusional life. He derides his countrymen, disparages them with an exalted view of dwelling in the intelligent west. Mr. Bari is not of the intelligent 1%. And therefore out of that grudge, he tries to push his little son, Soborno Isaac to the limit. He wants to achieve his intellectual validation from others through his son. His obsession with showing the world that his son is nothing short of a genius is extremely unhealthy and abusive towards the child. But Mr. Bari too lives in fantasy land. He adopts deception, amplifies polite gestures of high profile figures to fool his countrymen into believing that his 6 year old son got recognition from all of those highly respected figures.

Reading above, anyone with a brain can easily infer that it is not Soborno, rather his father, who is trying to echo the ivy league fascination through his son’s name.

As for all the presidents, prime ministers, college professors, nobel laureates loving him, that should come of as no surprise. Anyone with a bit of empathy in them would show affection towards a child. And when a child does something out of the box (like puking up every symbols and equations his dad forced him to remember) anyone would cheer for him to inspire him even further, and that’s no big deal. No one, and definitely not Prime ministers or nobel laureates would try to be rational and destroy a child’s spirit saying things like, “You suck as shit kid, go play with your nintendo and let the big guys handle this”. On the other hand what happens is that, sometimes while many such important figures do reciprocate to maintain their courteous public image, some do not do that. And that’s when Mr. Bari gets frighteningly furious.

This is what happens when a psycho doesn’t get the validation that he tries to scheme out or force out of other people. For them reciprocation and validation is the only craved thing, than actually doing it out of the love for it. So when that backfires, when people see through the scam, they get fired up. They get really really fired up. For example when he pestered NY Bengali Community with his son’s youtube video “I am muslim and i love america”, claiming it to be the best anti terrorism movie ever to be made, the community did not reciprocate much. His response was that Bangladeshi community is a taxi driver community, for which they weren’t able to recognize his son’s accomplishments.

Just check his breakdown.

In another of his meltdown video, he freaks out over the fact that someone somewhere had undermined his son’s genius (or in other words, Mr. Bari’s carefully crafted genius image of his son). It sucks to see you life’s work get ridiculed like that, doesn’t it?

In another video, Rashidul Bari, upon knowing that he and his son has son has been turned into a subject of meme in Bangladeshi cyberspace, he goes into explosive rants against Bangladeshi youngsters whom he asks to leave degeneracy and pick up the pen. He asks them to level up and follow his 6 year old son’s footsteps to achieve intellectual sainthood and be a worthy human. He probably deleted the video after the video got them memed even more. If i stumble upon it sooner or later i will attach it below. I am just too tired of stalking the person at this point.

Rashidul Bari is a product of the hyperproductive craze of the current world. He doesn’t understand the nuances, but nevertheless wants to be a part of it. He wants to be among the 1%, he believes in the american dream. He believes that through working, working and working he can reach the level of nobel laureates someday. Well, but he is aging. So i guess his son can follow his father’s dreams. But a child isn’t born with such ambitious projects in mind. It has to be inserted in, and of course by who else, other than people like Mr. Rashidul Bari.

Below is a video of his son which claims that he loves to study at spare times.

Not just that, he loves to solve maths while in the middle of eid prayers too…

This is not normal. This is child abuse. Unless these are camera stunts of course. But i would like to think that these are in fact Rashidul Bari’s carefully crafted dramas to show his family as hyperproductive and as a global asset.

What’s even more funny is that, Bari take his brilliance craze to a next level. In every video on his channel, he includes “Sponsored by Brilliant”, which is in fact, a lie. The reason to include brilliant is that, it heightens up his credibility. Brilliant is an app to develop mathematical aptitude. The company sponsors it’s app through many scientific and educational channel. I was surprised to see brilliant sponsoring a psychopath with no substance in his channel. But then i found out, it was just Mr. Bari making things on the go.

Hmm, seems suspicious that brilliant would sponsor a channel who can’t even get their url right.

This is brilliant’s website in case you were wondering→

And this is how an actual brilliant sponsorship looks like under a channel.

This is so stupid, it legit cracked me up when i first saw this. But Mr. Bari has the desire to appropriate every single brainiac thing to fit his genius narrative.

But what caught my interest is that Rashidul Bari plays the Ms. West’s H-Bomb (Harvard Bomb) technique too. But unlike Ms. west who just faked her harvard speech by the help of motivational guru Clint Arthur, Rashidul Bari faked Harvard recognition by a courteous reply from Harvard’s 28th president Drew Gilpin Faust. You can get one for you offspring too, by exaggerating their credentials and asking for validation through mail. No one, and definitely not a harvard president would be so rude as to not give a courteous reply to a highly aspiring and desperate validation seeker. Same thing happened with Obama, who too gave a courteous inspiring feedback to his son’s works. But Mr. Bari used them to portray as they were recognition letters.

Rashidul bari worked as a security guard for 15 years. He then earned a shot at being a college teacher in his locality (which is pretty impressive, gotta admit). He too has motivational videos like Mr Shahinur Alam Jony who too had not so much of a successful past. Both have videos with egoistic captions. These inflating ego makes them blind, gives them a sense of meritocracy and to part of the meritocracy, often time they fool, mislead or delude people, just to feed in their ego.

Translation: From Security guard (15 yrs) to professor.
Translation: Reviving from failure as an antifragile individual

Don’t both of these two videos, from two different have have a strikingly eerie resemblance?

Yes, both are vendors of glittery dreams and are on an inflated ego drive. Both feel that they have been done injustice to and now they have won. They have won, and the fact that they did win at the end, has to be validated. They need loud acclamations from their peers, something they never had the privilege to have before. To me, it’s just their insecurities and a crave for long-wanted attention that makes them act like this.

Mr. Bari is not a professor. He is an mathematics teacher. But his clickbaity title does imply otherwise. He loves to claim his son is youngest american professor, a visiting professor per se, which is an equally delusional claim. He desperately wants to portray his child as a child prodigy, which for a fact, he is not. A child prodigy won’t be able to earn professorship at the age of 6 years let alone solve PhD problems. Best they can do is skip some grades for being a little more advanced than others. It’s easy to understand why Mr. Bari’s 6 year old son is not a prodigy. Having a child prodigy is not a desirable thing for parents. Most parents with prodigy children want their children to become normal just like other kids. Because maintaining a child prodigy is extremely hard. They suffer from severe psychological and cognitive issues. Most are socially awkward, and don’t get along with people very well. They are also a subject to jealousy for other parents — a reason for which the parents of prodigy children often try to hide the fact their child is in fact quite advanced than others. In an article by the Economist, “ The curse of genius”, the author articulately explains why having a genius child is sometimes an extremely burdensome thing.

It’s just the insecure ones like Mr. Bari who try to feed their insecurities by exaggerating or confabulating their children’s image towards others.

Fun fact: the Unabomber/ Ted Kaczynski was a child prodigy too.

The obsessive belief in meritocracy is one of the driving factor for people like Mr. Jony and Mr. Bari to go crazy. Mr Bari has severe disdain for people who are in the low profile, low educated demography although he himself was a part of it for 15 years. He believes in an utterly meritocratic world, looking down upon the poor and unfortunate. His endless rants against bangladeshis whom he remark as “Taxi driver community”, his rants against hero alam, memers and countless other endless rants only prove his stick adherence to meritocracy. But this unhealthy obsession with meritocracy is not only delusional but also problematic. First of all meritocracy is myth. A lot of privilege factors work in building a meritocratic individual. Luck, Environment, Nurture, Race, Affirmative actions, Family and Friends, acquaintances etc. which are not equally distributed among every individual. But a person who strictly adheres to the concept of meritocracy tends to overlook these nuances and feel like others are lazy compared to him for which he is more deserving than others. This endorses them to uphold the status quo even if it might be wrong and exploitative. This also kills empathies and makes people more selfish, discriminatory, scornful, less cooperative, less willing to share or even pull others to success. Clifton Mark highlights this issue even more briefly.

Neither Bari or the aforementioned people know such nuances. Hence they live in their fantasies and try to bring others along the way to clap and live in their fantasy stories.

So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Am i presenting a case against academia? or against productivity?

No, i am not trying to deter anyone from pursuing either. In fact i am keen on pursuing a PhD myself sooner or later on a specialised topic in my field. And i know that being a lazy sloth wouldn’t definitely get me there. I am in fact trying to plan out ways so that i may have some financial backups before pursuing them so that i don’t have to completely depend upon the professor and get some independence on my hand. (also so that i don’t need to worry about living on noodles and pizzas, lol).

Through this article, I am just trying to put up case against hyperproductive hustle culture and how people unconsciously stress themselves out over things which are harmful for their psyche and their lifestyle. It’s good to be productive but it equally helps to keep your psyche in check and make time for families and friends. When we are in family programs, or hanging with friends if we are constantly riddled with the thoughts that we are not being productive it doesn’t help more than it does harm. While anxiety does help, it sometimes backfires. A state of constant anxiety and stress reduces performance level and kills cognitive ability. It also hampers any other trivial creative pursuits, as Russell says, and shortens our domain to a confined boundary. Burn out phases aren’t helpful and we need to stop glorifying burnout culture. We also need to stop passively shaming ourselves which eventually others vicariously follow for not being stressed and anxious enough. A balance between work and life can be achieved without having to face insidious repercussions. Because ultimately , hyperproductivity, best employee culture is just for the corporation’s benefit and for the sake of unfettered capitalism. It has very little to do with you. Just learn to know that you are being exploited.

We need to stop our obsessive adherence to meritocracy too and blind worship culture. A ticket to MIT or Harvard is not a ticket to sainthood. We need to focus on the substance and individual provides than his fancy tags. Because ignoring substance over fancy tags is how the world plunges into mediocrity. It creates room for scammers, fake gurus, narcissists, trolls, abusive parents and who not. In the end what matters is what you actually learned, and how are you implementing them, and not the embellishments that adorn you.

Oh and how could i forget!

Fuck linkedIn and other rat race, phoniness, inauthenticity, promoters. It would really suck to see the world turning into a real life nosedive episode from black mirror.



Thank you for your patience.



Fattah Fathun Karim

Love to explore and learn interesting things. This blog is a way to organize my thoughts on certain topics and communicate them with my friends and peers.