Several others have discussed the topic since his original post, but I can't find all those now.
Honestly, since my trip to Belgium in '94, I've had a theory about Americans.
Americans are profoundly anti-intellectual.
What you know simply doesn't matter at all.
How well you think simply doesn't matter at all.
What credentials you have don't matter.
Who your parents are doesn't even matter much.
What you do matters...and only what you do.
This is, as far as I can tell distinctive about America/Americans (certainly as compared to Europe, and as compared to Russia)...and it's probably distinctive to sections of America as well. But I'm inclined to believe that the blue-er sections of America don't know that what you do is the only metric. Certainly the Academy doesn't. Certainly DC doesn't. But the overwhelming position of Americans is this:
What you do is all that matters.
Of course, do is a rather inclusive term. And so...the great error of Academia is to think that what you think or know or are certified in matters. And the rest of us...even those of us who have escaped the Academy's clutches have discovered...not so much.
Other thinkers on this topic:
Smarts and $2 might get you a cup of Starbucks coffee...unless you're too smart to drink regular coffee.
Work, focus, dilligence, funding, throwing away bad ideas, and ... more work is what matters. Smarts is the other tenth of a percent.