Daily Archives: 2024-04-11

The DDoS attack of academic bullshit

Source: Hacker News

Article note: I feel this in my bones. That said, I'm not sure the author's prescription of "we need fewer more elite academics" is helpful or even relevant - we need to evaluate academics in ways that don't incentivize spraying high-volume bullshit or the behavior will exhibit regardless of numbers. Their premise also seems to imagine that luminaries are preordained geniuses rather than products of their circumstances (both in the sense of "people whose conditions permit them the latitude them to become intellectuals" and "as our overall understanding of things improves, the opportunity for new fundamental ideas shrinks"), which seems hard to defend. Maintaining our escalating technological society requires a larger group of specialists, and that makes space for a growing number of PhDs both for higher-education and niche subject expertise ... but the majority of people filling those roles are being competitively evaluated on their ability to publish and hype papers and attract research funding, which incentivizes each and every one of them to spray or be out-competed by someone willing to spray, until we're left with a population of academics made entirely of game-playing sociopaths. This isn't unique to academia, we're further along watching the same shit play out in a wide assortment of industries (See: every time you hear about Boeing in the news in the last several years.).
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