It would not be unreasonable to expect that most academic study will be prove to be worthless for the student. Years devoted to Heidegger may produce only a progressively greater personal folly, for example. (I choose Heidegger for the same reason that the logical-positivists chose him, but you may replace his name with that of any author you think particularly half-baked.)

Yet it is not at all pointless for a society to have many scholars and enthusiasts working on such unpromising topics. Indeed, it is one of the ways that a population of minds gleans through its detritus for lost jewels. The particular researcher pays such a high personal price for this work that they always believe themselves to have found treasure. It is thus that a creature protects itself against despair. Of course, to an observer things may seem rather different, but it would be churlish of anyone to say "You have been wasting your time", for this hapless and deluded drudge has been saving yours.