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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Academic Elitism

Economist Dan Klein shows that the worldwide top-35 economics departments pull 76 percent of their faculty from their own graduates. He argues that the academic culture is pyramidal, not polycentric, and resembles a closed and genteel social circle. Meanwhile it draws on resources from taxpayers, foundations, endowments, and tuition payers, and it judges the social service delivered. The result is a self-organizing and self-validating circle
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_elitism

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  2. I don't think this is is elitism, this is a combination of:

    * cronyism or academic closed shop

    * "academic nepotism"

    * You scratch my back/I'll scratch yours

    * Profs/administrators being too lazy and stupid to read and understand applicant papers, so just look at the school - credentialism combined with laziness and stupidity - or may be rational choice, because who really wants to hire someone better than they are?

    I've read that when Stanley Fish was a Dean, he claimed he didn't trust his profs judgement on tenure decisions and instead regarded university presses as being more credible, hence the requirement for published books for Arts tenure.

    I've also read that tenure committees don't bother to read papers, instead they they count them, weighted by the prestige of the journal. Of course, the Jan Hendrik Schon scandal demonstrated the weakness of "peer review").
    And Alan Sokol demonstrated the quality of humanities publishing with his hoax.

    All you really have to know about being a Phd is that Einstein couldn't get a an academic job, not only after graduating, but even after his famous 1905 papers. He gets his first academic position in 1908, but doesn't quit the patent office until later. He only got the Swiss patent examiner job through a friend.

    Are you the next Einstein?

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