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Barba Tenus Sapientes

Barba Tenus Sapientes. It is a Latin phrase meaning, “Wise as far as the beard.” According to one of the leading Latin officialdo publications Mental Floss, they have the following description for Barba Tenus Sapientes:

A man described as barba tenus sapientes is literally said to be “wise as far as his beard”—or, in other words, he might look intelligent but he’s actually far from it. This is just one of a number of phrases that show how the Romans associated beards with intelligence, alongside barba non facit philosophum, “a beard does not make a philosopher,” and barba crescit caput nescit, meaning “the beard grows, but the head doesn’t grow wiser.

When I was an undergraduate and a young graduate student, I thought the faculty should be held great reverence and they represent the best of society. I guess I worshipped at the “alter of science.” When I remerged into academia for my PhD work, I had 15 years of working in the real world that changed my view on the world. In the real world, I cam to realize that there are a lot of people who “talk the talk but can’t walk the walk” when it comes to engineering and science. Now through this new prism, I have realized that academia is the same way. Academia is no different. There are a lot of “ho-hum” professors, a handful of crappy ones, and a couple of really good ones. So, I have been looking for classes from the really good professors. It has been really tough trying to find the really good classes. I shake my head a lot and mutter “Barba Tenus Sapientes.”


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1 Comment

  1. I feel like this is the cautionary side of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Usually you can trust a professor’s or professional’s words, but you can’t blindly trust them, having a bit of doubt and giving their assertions a bit of thought is beneficial for yourself.


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