Certified Seminar

In the ongoing race for credentials, one notes the increasing frequency with which the terms “certified,” “seminar” and their derivatives are being employed.

Most by now have seen and scoffed at 13-year olds claiming CEO status on their LinkedIn profile. CEO of what? Lawn cutting? Oh, right, 13 year olds don’t do that.

In the “certified” and “seminar” instances, the claim for the credential insists upon answers to related questions; answers that typically are not forthcoming. For instance:

Who is doing the certifying and what is their entitlement to do so? A diploma mill that will attest to whatever it is one wants as long as the check clears?

What is being certified? The fact (or, better still, the claim) that one attended class? Online? Which, by the way, is what correspondence school is now called.

Is certification at all associated with what one learned and testimony that one knows something? Or has mastered a body of knowledge, craft, trade or skill? Such certification usually involves testing and is ordinarily accompanied by the notion that there are, in fact, right and wrong answers.

“Seminar” is now used synonymously with “sales pitch.”

There are retirement seminars. Senior housing seminars. Car buying seminars. Financial planning seminars. Seminars for organizing other seminars (and getting rich).

In the Rochester, NY area is an antiques appraiser. Among the individual’s credentials is the claim that the individual has “appeared on PBS’s ‘Antiques Roadshow.’”

Recently, a public library presented the appraiser, cited the Roadshow credential, and invited the public to bring in their items for appraisal.

Helpfully, Antiques Roadshow’s website provides a list of all their appraisers. (Except the ones that were discredited and kicked off the program.) The Rochester-area appraiser’s name is not present.

When presented with this, the public library’s representative politely responded that they had not done the extensive research that would reveal this fact.

Extensive research: one click. Try it.

And this was the L-I-B-R-A-R-Y, for cryin’ in the sink. The bastion of knowledge!

These are credentials without merit. Don’t we all know this? Aren’t these the Nigerian princes and overseas financial wizards offering shady bounties we’ve learned to ignore?


Then I’m ordering my Russian bride today.

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