The Claim: Academics should work free from external metrics that measure the quality of their output

Because the whacky, useless, intellectual dung of today could just be the savvy, pragmatic gold of the future!  Who are we to judge?  Hmm… spidey sense is tingling…


This is part two of a multi-part oracle:

Comment from Peter - December 26, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Depends on the type of academic. Who are you to judge the value of work in algebraic topology? Or more directly, who are you to judge the work of an artificial intelligence researcher building the foundations that will end up used in tomorrows image recognition technology? Or a control theorist playing with a toy problem that tomorrow will allow industrial automation.

A lot of these fields take many years of real study to understand, and normal people cannot do it. Furthermore, academics now spend most of their time fund raising (in other words, trying to explain relevance of their work to idiots outside of the field). The older system, where academics spend most of their time doing research, more of which may have had no applications, did seem on the whole more efficient.

People don’t try to be evil. Most people want to work on things that make an impact (esp. ones who have been vetted through something as taxing as the tenure process).