Monday, November 30, 2009

Deepak Chopra, moron

For those in the business of teaching basic-level critical thinking, this horrendous but mercifully short piece, titled "The Perils of Skepticism," written by professional separator of fools and their money Deepak Chopra is a gem. It's a textbook case of uncontroversially incompetent argumentation. It's so bad that it's hard to believe that it came from an adult. Chopra begins by conveniently neglecting the task of saying what a skeptic is (is there a better way to strawman?), and then gets progressively, hilariously, unbelievably worse. Some samples for your amusement:

1. "Statistically, cynical mistrust is correlated with premature sudden death from cardio vascular disease. Since the skeptics who write venomous blogs trust in nothing, I imagine that God will outlive them."

2. "No skeptic, to my knowledge, ever made a major scientific discovery or advanced the welfare of others. Typically they sit by the side of the road with a sign that reads "You're Wrong" so that every passerby, whether an Einstein, Gandhi, Newton, or Darwin, can gain the benefit of their illuminated skepticism."

3. "It never occurs to skeptics that a sense of wonder is paramount, even for scientists."

4. "Skeptics know in advance -- or think they know -- what right thought is. Right thought is materialistic, statistical, data-driven, and always, always, conformist. Wrong thought is imaginative, provisional, often fantastic, and no respecter of fixed beliefs."

And then a cheap advertisement for Chopra merch disguised as a conclusion:

5. "Thirty years ago no right-thinking physician accepted the mind-body connection as a valid, powerful mode of treatment. Today, no right-thinking physician (or very few) would trace physical illness to sickness of the soul, or accept that the body is a creation of consciousness, or tell a patient to change the expression of his genes. But soon these forms of wrong thinking will lose their stigma, despite the best efforts of those professional stigmatizers, the skeptics."

Friday, November 27, 2009

List of Canceled Searches

Gathering data from the post below, here's a list of officially canceled searches. Please let me know as others cancel (info about AOS might be helpful, too)-- I'd like to keep track.

1. Illinois Wesleyan University
2. Concordia University
3. University of Leeds

Not a long list (yet), but given the overall paucity of jobs this year, three canceled searches has a significant impact, especially if any of these jobs was in an AOS that's especially underrepresented in the overall openings.

Expect a gloomy scene in New York.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Disgusting Theodicy, and Happy Thanksgiving

A reader has just called this bit of DOOM to my attention. The opening paragraph is enough to make any decent human being recoil in moral disgust....
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops released an “Ethical and Religious Directive” this month that would ban any Catholic hospital, nursing home or hospice program from removing feeding tubes or ending palliative procedures of any kind, even when the individual has an advance directive to guide their end-of-life care. The Bishops’ directive even notes that patient suffering is redemptive and brings the individual closer to Christ.
Happy Thanksgiving to the US readers. Hope you enjoy eating dead bird.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Job Ad Nonsense?

Someone has just called my attention to the following "web only" ad. What a mess of disjunctions! Can anyone out there parse the "three openings"? And what is a "Teaching Instructor"? How is that not redundant?
255., 256., 257. EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY, GREENVILLE, NC. Department of Medical Humanities, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Three openings. Fixed term or tenure track Teaching Instructor, Teaching Assistant or Associate Professor, or Assistant or Associate Professor. [....]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Plato Was Right, Part 3942

I'm so sick of the nonsense surrounding what's her name and her book. Of course, this is disgusting. But even more disgusting is that she can make news. We're doomed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Canceled Searches

I've heard tell of one officially canceled search: Illinois Wesleyan University. I've heard unofficially from a few others that their searches are going to be canceled. Are there other searches that are now officially canceled (viz., have notified candidates that the search is canceled)?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When do you pull a paper?

An anonymous commenter on the previous thread poses this important question, which I thought it might be good to have a fuller discussion of....
Initial submission took a year and change before I received R&R. Resubmitted. I think it took about 6 months to hear back. One ref said 'Yes', one ref said 'Wait, I've thought of a new objection'. Ref says that this objection is basically the thing that stands in the way of his recommending acceptance. Objection had been addressed in initial submission in section cut to satisfy the ref's desire to have paper streamlined. Resubmit. I've waited 5 months now and no word. Upon resubmitting, one of the refs (I believe, it would be a crazy coincidence if it wasn't the ref) used the google to trace paper back to my webpage where the title was listed as a conference presentation. I can't seem to get the journal to do much to get this guy to act and I suspect that I've rubbed the ref the wrong way by pointing out (delicately and politely) that the ref's new objection was just the old objection addressed back in 2007 in a section that ref said to cut. So today I floated the possibility of pulling the thing if I didn't receive some sort of up/down decision within the month. Should I pull if I don't hear something by mid-December? Help. I need advice. When do people give up on a journal and start over?

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's the Point of Blind Review?

A few days ago, I agreed to comment on a paper at the Pacific. Today, I was asked by a journal to review a paper with the same title as the conference paper. It occurred to me that I should decline to review it for the journal because I know the identity of the author. But then I started thinking that all I know is the name and affiliation of the author-- I don't recognize the name and don't have any particular view of the affiliation. Is simply knowing these things sufficient to undermine blind review? I suppose it does. Does this seem correct?

Monday, November 9, 2009

"This website is brought to you by..."

Good thing the APA upgraded to a new web hosting facility. Now there's a little commercial for "ASI: Advanced Solutions International" placed awkwardly in the upper right-hand corner (well... kinda) of their pages.

My dues hard at work: A dysfunctional website with the most counter-intuitive layout possible, plus an unhandsome advertisement for some web-hosting company. Good job, guys!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Scaled-back Searches

A reader writes:
We were just told by our dean that we should interview no more than 6 candidates at the APA, and we will be able to bring only 2 in for on-campus interviews. In our search three years ago, we interviewed nearly 20 at the APA, and brought 4 to campus. The search committee is funded for only a one-night stay in New York and must do all the interviewing in a single afternoon.
This seems an drastic scaling-back of the typical search. Any one else hearing this kind of thing?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November JFP: DOOM

I've done a very quick survey, and by my quick count, the total number of ads in the Nov JFP for entry-level tt jobs in the US, minus the repeats of ads in the October and "web only' [sic] ads, comes to well under the predicted 20.... it's more like 10.

Would someone who has the time to do a more careful count post their results here? I won't be able to get to this until the weekend. Thanks!

A Posse Disbands

It saddens me deeply to report that the Chuck Biscuits Posse is hereby disbanded. Apparently, he's not dead after all.

Someone please suggest a clever joke about Danzig to help us through this difficult time....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November JFP: Take Your Bets!

Anyone care to guess how many US entry-level TT jobs will appear in the November JfP, once the "web-only" [sic] and other duplicates are subtracted?

My guess: 20

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is Wrong, Right?

A reader writes with a query:
I had an article recently appear in a decent journal after an initial judgment of revise and resubmit. I just got an email from a graduate student at another department asking a few questions about the article. In the back and forth, it was revealed that the student had read the essay as it was originally submitted, because his professor had assigned it in a graduate seminar last year. In case you didn't get that: Professor X was asked by Journal J to review a set-for-blind-review essay that I had submitted; X agreed and then assigned the submitted essay to his seminar. This is wrong, right?
Yeah, I'd say so.

Overheard in Academia

A friend writes in with this bit of genius, overheard in the hallway of a Religious Studies department. I hope that the speaker was not a faculty member, but you never know....

"I just know that Michael Jackson is still alive. It's just like in that video, where everyone's asking where he is, and he's the one directing it.... He needed a break from all the media, and the haters, and the IRS. He faked his death, totally. He's always thinking about stuff like that, and now he's laughing at us."