Friday, April 5, 2024

Sabrina Hossenfelder on why the academy is broken [+ Mark Changizi]

"...unlike academic research, this is an honest trade. You get some of my knowledge. I get some of your attention. I like the simplicity of that" (12:53).

For my own version of Hossenfelder's story, see this post: The changing terms of my Socratic bargain with the American Academy [and the larger search for truth]. I've included that on pp. 19-25 of a working paper, Crisis Among HUMANITIES DISCIPLINES in the Twenty-First Century

Here's what Mark Changizi wrote when he left academia in 2010:

In academia grant-getting is paramount. Universities are a business. Not a business of student education, and not a business of fundamental intellectual research. Universities are in the business of securing grant funds. That’s how they survive. And because grants are the university’s bread and butter, grants become the academic professor’s bread and butter.

Getting grants is the principal key to individual success in academia today. They get you more space, more money, more monikers, more status, and more invitations to lunch with the president.

To ensure one is in the good graces of one’s university, the young creative aspiring assistant professor must immediately begin applying for grants in earnest, at the expense of spending energies on uncertain theoretical innovation.

In order to have the best chance at being funded, one’s proposed work will often be a close cousin of one’s doctoral or post-doctoral work. And the proposed work – in order to be proposed at all – must be incremental, and consequently applied in some way, to experiments or to the construction of a device of some kind.

So a theorist in academics must set aside his or her theoretical work, and propose to do experimental or applied work, where his or her talents do not lie.

But if you’re good at theory, you really ought to be doing theory, not its application.

There's more at the link.

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