Why Is The Academic Job Market So Weird?

Source: Astral Codex Ten
by Scott Alexander

“Colleges want two things from their professors. First, they need them to teach classes. Second, they need them to do good research, raise the college’s reputation, and look prestigious. Colleges want to pretend to students that the same people are doing both these jobs, because students like the idea of being taught by prestigious thought leaders. But they don’t want to actually have the same people do both jobs, because the most valuable use of prestigious thought leaders’ time is doing research or promoting their ideas. Every hour Einstein spends in the classroom is an hour he’s not spending in the lab making discoveries that will rain down honors upon himself and his institution. And there’s no guarantee Einstein is even a good teacher. Solution: hire for two different positions, but give them the same job title to make things maximally confusing for students.” (05/17/23)