Education bubble XII: Hiring policy, nothing to do with your merit

I was once interviewed for a job in Georgia.  It was a no brainer.  It was a small pentecostal college that had am academic dean with a master’s degree–it paid probably 30k, and so the money wasn’t anything special.  I waited weeks afterward and only to find out that they gave the job to a guy studying at an American seminary who ABD–nobody bothered to inform me.  The academic game had surprised me.  In today’s analogy, I was Lebron–I studied at prestigious university, my PhD was all but in hand, and to top it off, I could speak three modern languages, and had proficiency in Greek, Hebrew and Coptic.  It was a no brainer.  But in the end, the other guy received the call, and I was still out of job.  How could this happen?  I did everything right and I was ready to step into a job, and they give the job to some guy still working on his PhD!  Well, in the end, I determined that merit often has little to do with who gets a job in academics.  Here are the real criteria:

(1) Ethos:  Who fits into the reigning ethos of the school?  A recent graduate from an expensive school is not likely to fit in well at a small school in Georgia that puts no priority on research or writing.  Such a person has to be used to deprivation and self-sacrifice and must be satisfied with the small wage the school has to offer.

(2) Politics:  a recent informal survey of social psychologists at an academic conference showed that their profession is dominated by those on the Left side of the political spectrum. Only an extremely minute number were self-identified conservatives.  This sort of difference can only happen when the admission policies to graduate programs and the hiring policies intentionally weed out those of conservative persuasion, since the conservatives in the American general population greatly out number liberals.

(3) Diversity (=Affirmative Action):  Michael, who reneged on his obligation to return to Africa, was one of 160 candidates for a job at a Christian University.  When I pointed out that the reason he received the job offer was that the school was implementing a policy of diversity, he was offended, but I was able to point out the page on their website that showed that they were trying very hard and had even offered a job to Botswanan the year before.  Adjuncts who had been working their butts off at one seminary I taught at were passed over as white males to hire full-time females; the next three biblical studies appointments were women.  This wasn’t about their relative merit as professors but about increasing the number of women in the faculty.

(4) Old boys’ school:  J. F. K.’s essay explaining why he wanted to go to Harvard was lamentably lame, but he happened to mention that his father was a Harvard man, and he would like very much to study there too. [BTW, old boys could now be a bunch of liberal woman for all I know–I don’t belong to the club–in fact, I’ve never seen the inside of the club either].

Ok.  So lets consider this question from the standpoint of how good the education is, given that merit is not usually the reason why people get hired.  The Chronicle of Higher Education reviews a recent book by researchers of the products of university education in America:

Growing numbers of students are sent to college at increasingly higher costs, but for a large proportion of them the gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication are either exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent. At least 45 percent of students in our sample did not demonstrate any statistically significant improvement in Collegiate Learning Assessment [CLA] performance during the first two years of college. [Further study has indicated that 36 percent of students did not show any significant improvement over four years.] While these students may have developed subject-specific skills that were not tested for by the CLA, in terms of general analytical competencies assessed, large numbers of U.S. college students can be accurately described as academically adrift. They might graduate, but they are failing to develop the higher-order cognitive skills that it is widely assumed college students should master. These findings are sobering and should be a cause for concern.

A cause for concern indeed!  You mean you can send  18-22 year-olds to school and they aren’t one wit smarter after four years of partying and learning about diversity and multiculturalism?  Wow! Who woodda thunk?

I have heard the dogma that if schools become indoctrinators instead of educators, strongholds of political correctness and diversity, that that makes them better places, richer and superior to the monolithic schools (read: professors are all white males) that prioritize academic achievement.  Yet after 30 or so years of this crap, we now have schools where large swaths of kids come out no smarter than they were before they entered.  So what does a BA mean today?  It means a huge debt without necessarily any usable or productive skills.  It means that a university education for something like a third of graduates is a waste of time and money.

Reflexions on multiculturalism and Sarah Palin’s caribou (updated with video clip)

The Left has insisted upon multiculturalism to the point of implementing political correct policies which instead of profiling terrorists require that TSA officers stick hands up the crouches of seniors and down the pants of small children, spreading infectious diseases and violating Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.  Yet these politically correct Leftists see nothing wrong with ridiculing the culture of some people, such as when it comes to the American pioneer values that I grew up with in Alaska.

An article by Aaron Sorkin ranting against Sarah Palin’s shooting of a caribou is making its rounds on the internet;  Jason Dean writes in the Guardian:

West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin today gave Sarah Palin both barrels over her US TV reality show, accusing the contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination of shooting an animal “for political gain”.Sorkin, writer of the recent Facebook movie The Social Network, also accused the Fox News contributor of making a “snuff film” after the latest episode of Sarah’s Palin’s Alaska featured the politician going hunting with her father and shooting a caribou.

He described Palin as “deranged”, a “witless bully” and a “phony pioneer girl”. He also said The Learning Channel, the US cable network, “should be ashamed of itself” for broadcasting her “truly awful reality show”.

Dr. Craig Carter says that Leftists like Aaron Sorkin who support abortion rights, i.e. the killing of human babies, but who find hunting repugnant have lost their moral compass:

So all hunting shows are now “snuff films?” All hunters are morally evil? Well, rural America and Canada, now you know how the Ruling Class regards you. It sure explains a lot – like gun control for example. And here I was laboring under the misunderstanding that they wanted the gun registry because they were afraid people would be killed by guns. Turns out they were afraid you might sneak off and shoot a rabbit or deer. The horror!

I just think it is sickening to assert that there is something morally evil about killing an animal for sport. It betrays a lack of clear thinking about what makes killing evil. The human versus non-human distinction is vital to clear reasoning and moral evaluation. Once it is blurred all sorts of weird and contradictory conclusions are drawn by those who have lost their moral compass.

I responded to Carter:  Even many hunters find it morally repugnant to kill merely for sport. But Palin is exonerated since, as many have reported about the show that I didn’t see, she has duly packaged the meat and placed it in her freezer for later consumption. That hunting is thrilling is only a bonus. Many hunters have a deep respect for nature, for the animals and for the need to be stewards of these resources. What our poorly-educated liberal elites like Mr. Sorkin don’t understand is that the subsistence culture is still very strong in Alaska. Agriculture is very poor in Alaska, and so most food must be imported. The rich supply of game meat and fish that can be harvested thus is a traditional part of Alaskan culture, beginning with the natives (of which Palin’s husband is 1/4) and also the pioneers (Sourdoughs). I grew up eating far more venison than domestic meat. As a child I preferred the softer, milder beef to moose, but my parents gave us no choice in the matter.

The left elitists can’t see this as cultural difference between us and them and it proves that they are snobs who have no appreciation for other cultures. So much for multiculturalism that they preach!  I’ve argued elsewhere that the American pioneer is extinct, having died when our friend Sourdough Jim crashed his Piper in 1979–yet when vestiges of that truly American culture survive, the elite want to destroy it.  Those who preach tolerance are among the most intolerant.


The Palin shooting of the caribou can be seen here.  In my mind, Sorkin has blown it completely out of proportion.  I am particularly impressed by Palin’s emphasis on how she learns hunting from her father.  This is a great example of how to pass on values and skills to the next generation, and she shows humility, that even though middle-aged, she still has a lot to learn even from her own dad.  What I don’t understand is why the caribou didn’t run in the opposite direction when she missed.  Perhaps this is Darwin’s survival of the fittest at work.