Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm Going For Speed

More from Second Suitor. --PGS

I’m sure all graduate students have come across it sometime. The study where some scientist got spiders high on all sorts of drugs and observed how they subsequently spun their webs. Sure the one on Peyote did alright. The weed spider seemed to forget what he was doing sometimes, but let’s let her be. What worried me was the caffeine spider.

A personal note: chilling in the coffee shop, procrastinating my way through a large cup of coffee I realized I needed to be productive. No worries, I got my refill and did work. Strong work. Lots of work. Sounds great right. So long as I’m not caffeine spider.

--Second Suitor

Update from PGOAT:

Nice web, Mr. Crack Spider.


Anonymous said...

it's worth remembering that most of the vegetal alkaloids--e.g. caffeine, and nicotine, and our friend capsaicin--were most likely developed by plants as methods of insecticide.

so the fact that they fuck up arthropod nervous systems is just evidence that they are working as intended. it don't necessarily mean much for the nervous systems of creatures from distant taxa, e.g. large mammals.

(sure, some of them will fuck you up, in ways good and bad. i'm just saying it's not a straight line extrapolation from what they do to buggies, to what they do to us.)

Anonymous said...

The PJMB really is an educational wonderland!!!!!!

drugs are bad, mkay? said...

Ok, I *know* I'm not the only one who has tried to do philosophy while high (you know...on the pot, MJ, reefer, devil weed, etc.).

What's your experience with that? Me, not so good. At the time, I thought I was writing some genuis shit. But the next day, I see obvious problems I didn't see when stoned. Dammit.

...but just like alcoholic authors, it might still be a useful tool to at least get some ideas going, as long as you clean it up when sober.

Anonymous said...

check this out

Anonymous said...

Caffeine is for kids! You need to take a tip from math grad students and find some modafinil or ritalin or some kind of prescription amphetamine. Your dissertation will, at least for a while, benefit greatly--if you are careful to monitor your use.

jimmyjimmycocoapuff said...


31 philosophers from US institutions have found TT/PD employment thus far this year, according to Leiter.

--19% (6) jobs went to students from Top 10 Leiter programs.
--13% (4) jobs went to students from 11-20 programs.
--10% (3) jobs went to students from 21-30 programs.
--16% (5) jobs went to students from 31-40 programs.
--10% (3) jobs went to students from 41-53 programs.
--32% (10) jobs went to students from unranked programs.

What about 'especially good' jobs (Which I stipulate to be those at Leeds, Bryn Mawr, Auckland, Fordham, UIC, Brandeis, Harvard, Washington & Lee, Northwestern, Baylor, and Pepperdine)?

--23% (3) to students from Top 10 Leiter programs.
--15% (2) to students from 11-20 programs.
--8% (1) to a student from a 21-30 program.
--23% (3) to students from 31-40 programs.
--15% (2) to students from 41-53 programs.
--15% (2) to students from unranked programs.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy - where are you seeing Northwestern on Leiter's TT list?

Anonymous said...


"...especially good' jobs (Which I stipulate to be those at Leeds, Bryn Mawr, Auckland, Fordham, UIC, Brandeis, Harvard, Washington & Lee, Northwestern..."

maybe getting hired by northwestern would count as a great job, but they didn't hire anybody--two of their grads got hired elsewhere.

this was probably just a slip or typo, but are you sure you're not doing statistics on the wrong alkaloids?

furthermore, i'll agree w/ you that auckland is a great place and a great department.

but for n. american natives, it doesn't really stand as a counter-example to 'a phd in philosophy means never being able to choose where you live'.

instead you'd better read up your seneca and epictetus on exile, and be at home wherever you get sent. i hear good things about the university of gyara.

Anonymous said...


I have no ax to grind, and I don't want to piss on anyone's parade, but why would anyone think that the jobs at Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy or Pepperdine were "especially good"?

Baylor's CMEHP doesn't have any philosophers in it, with the possible exception of Brody. And since it's not a phil. program, it's not really a straightforward philosophy job anyway. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld might say, but if we're talking "especially good" philosophy jobs, it's odd to talk of this one.) Pepperdine only has two philosophy faculty (which makes it hard to see how they can even have a major!) So while this *is* a philosophy job, I wouldn't say it's an especialy good one by any means.

Anonymous said...

m'kay? might like to look at this:

wm. jas. record of his experiments with nitrous.
it made him an hegelian.
til it wore off.

jimmyjimmycocoapuff said...

(1) Good catch with Northwestern; there certainly may be a typo or two in there.

(2) Perhaps Baylor and Pepperdine aren't 'especially good' places; like I said, that was just a matter of stipulation so I could get some numbers. I included Baylor because I believe that it has a top medical school--and therefore is a prime place for a young medical ethicist. But I know very little about that field. I included Pepperdine because my understanding is that it's a very good undergraduate college, similar to Bryn Mawr.

But again, I don't know much about these things and in fact generally find talk of rankings banal and the people that do so irritating.

VAP said...

Thanks for the numbers jimmyjimmycocoapuff. I found it useful and interesting.

Anonymous said...

Why would we count Leeds and Auckland if we don't also count non-US PhDs taking US jobs? Anymore, the US/non-US distinction just doesn't seem to matter much: US PhDs will happily take good non-US jobs (of which Leeds and Auckland are certainly instances) and non-US PhDs routinely land good US jobs. Or would you also rule out Canadian PhDs taking US jobs? Surely not.

So, if we're going to run the numbers -- and for my money, it's far too early to be doing this yet -- in the interest of the most accurate picture, let's at least count ALL of the numbers.

You're not a Florida elections supervisor, are you JimmyJimmy?

transport is arranged said...


Interesting data, though it's still early. I think that as the Leiter job thread grows, the top Leiter places will do better and better. I'm in the camp that says Leiter rankings have a big impact on hiring. I know that Leiter, and many posters here, disagree with this, and maybe they are right.

But I've always been curious why Leiter is so sure that the rankings don't effect hiring (maybe he addresses this somewhere and I am simply not aware of it). Is it because people have told him this? But people here have also said the opposite (just the other day someone said they ignore all files from below top 20 schools unless they are extraordinary).

I wonder if Leiter's argument is something like the following: all the rankings do is track or reflect department reputation, and it is department reputation that influences hiring. So in a sense, the rankings are epiphenomenal...they merely reflect department reputation, which is what does the real causal work. That seems plausible to me. But I wonder if it holds up to closer scrutiny.

Here's a possible issue: the rankings magnify - to an unreasonable degree - what are actually small differences in departments. A difference of only .5 in the overall score can be the difference between top 30 and mid to low 40s in the rankings. Even though two schools can be very close in terms of quality, they can be very different in terms of ranking, which makes it much tougher - more tougher than it should be - for the lower ranked school to place grads relative to the higher ranked one.

Also, I'm skeptical that pre-Leiter, people had views on department reputation that are as fine grained as they are now. Look at a school ranked around 25 and one ranked around 50; we think there is a huge difference between these schools (e.g., all other things being equal, if someone decided to go to a 50 school over a 25 school, we would probably think they were crazy). But what if there were no rankings? Would we then?

Anonymous said...

"I included Baylor because I believe that it has a top medical school--and therefore is a prime place for a young medical ethicist."

This inference is clearly mistaken.

Anonymous said...


Nice work organizing by leiter rankings.

I wouldn't separate the jobs by quality unless you're willing to put in a little bit of effort to see what the job actually entails. Weatherson, for example, defined a good job as 3/3 or better load. There are obviously other factors that matter, but at least that was quantifiable.

It can be easy to be mislead by school names. Some lesser big universities (mostly MA program places) do not offer very good terms, while some liberal arts colleges you've never heard of offer excellent compensation and relatively low loads.

mr. zero said...

That video is so awesome.

Superleiterrific and jobless said...

Just a note for the curious:

I know for a fact that one department that is tip-top on the Leiter scale is having an absolutely awful time of it this year on the market. Only two candidates have had any job offers at all. The rest are completely empty handed.

hillary c. said...

I think the dark horse who will surprise us all is...Obama, who will take a coveted Ivy League tenure-track spot, despite having no experience in the field. Can we change? Yes, we can!!

Prof. J. said...


I think you might be overestimating how much attention people (on SCs) pay to Leiter rankings. For instance, I doubt that many SC members notice the difference between, say, a #29 program and a #41 program. I know that grad students and prospectives do notice this, but I doubt that, e.g., the Pepperdine SC members pay that much attention.

And JJCC, Pepperdine isn't an undergraduate college similar to Bryn Mawr. It's a university. Personally I can't see much attractive about the position, except its location (which for some people must be a gigantic plus).

Anonymous said...

I think it's still way too early to glean any interesting statistical information from Leiter's thread. Several of the first-time marketeers at my Leiterrific school have offers that haven't been posted (either on Leiter or on the Wiki).

As for anecdotes though, here's one: a friend at a top-5 school had a bazillian APA interviews and at least 10 flybacks. No offers yet. 5 of those flybacks--at a variety of Small Liberal Arts Colleges, Selective Liberal Arts Colleges, Flagship Sate U's With Unranked PhD Program, Branch State U's, etc.--have hired people, and all the hires come from schools with Leiter rankings well below my top-5 friend. So clearly there is not a super-reliable correlation between Leiter ranking and search committee's preference ranking, even when the number of interviews is high enough that you can start to see correlations.

transport is arranged said...

Maybe I am overestimating the influence the PGR has on hiring? I suspect the overall reputation of a school plays a large role in hiring at many places too (I could see a dean saying something like, "why would you hire someone from Pitt when there's an applicant from Northwestern here?"). If this is true, then it is odd that prospectives hardly ever take that factor into account (and tend to just look at the PGR).

The degree to which the PGR influences hiring is an empirical issue, though, so as the Leiter thread fills up I guess we'll see. Of course, we still won't have all of the relevant data (e.g., how many students at school x did not get a job), and it won't be clear exactly what the data is telling us (e.g., do people from school x fare better than those from y because x is ranked higher than y, or because, at least on averge, x's students are better than y's?).

Asstro said...

I mean, this is a pretty interesting discussion... deserving of its own thread/web.

Coupla points:

The numbers could be crunched on last years stats. That would be pretty interesting and I think tremendously helpful, particularly to those at the bottom of the Leiter list who walk around with their heads hanging, feeling sorry for themselves.

Frankly, I'm too damned busy to do it myself, but I suspect that it'll show that Leiter's rankings, once again, really only reflect the overall reputation and influence of several _faculty members_ in these central departments. That's important, as I've said, but it's not the only thing to consider when choosing a graduate school; and it's certainly not the only thing that gets or does not get a grad student at TT job.

(Yes, I _do_ think coming from a Leiterrific school helps get a foot in the door, but it is by no means the end word on the job market.)

If you just consider that each SC will pull ten grads to interview, and that there are usually only one or two students from any cohort in the same AOS, that already, on Leiter ranking of school alone, taps deep into the Leiter list. If three of those potential candidates haven't done anything impressive, that means the SCs have to look further down the list.

All of this, and then there are other factors: multiple offers, the orientation of given candidates, their influence and prominence in the field (which is expressly not measured by Leiter's ranking), and so on and so on. Which is to say, you can run pretty deep into the Leiter rankings and still find very respectable young scholars. So, yeah, if the Pitt Candidate is a snob, the Rutgers Candidate is a dick, and the NYU candidate is a slacker hipster, then out goes the elixer of the Leiter ranking and in comes the merit.

Anybody wanna run those numbers from last year?

Anonymous said...

I think Asstro is right that we shouldn't overestimate the influence of pedigree, but we also shouldn't underestimate the importance of getting one's 'foot in the door'. If a genie offered you the following two market-related goods, which would you take? (1) You can be guaranteed of coming off to the SC (and anyone else directly involved with your candidacy, like letter writers) as a very nice person, which, if you are given any APA interviews, is very likely to put you in the top 5 of the 10 APA semi-finalists to whom the character-sensitive SC will consider offering 3 campus visits. (2) You can get the exact same education you already have gotten, but your pedigree will now be recognized by anyone directly involved in your candidacy as top 3, which is very likely to put you in the 10 APA semi-finalists, out of the 300 applicants for the position.

I'd take option 2 over 1 any day of the week, and hope that other things, like, oh, say the quality of my work, carried me through from the APA to an eventual offer.

So even if pedigree isn't the only thing that counts, it can count for quite a bit. Also, keep in mind that character arguably matters much less. Plenty of dicks and snobs get offers.

Also, Asstro wrote, "If you just consider that each SC will pull ten grads to interview, and that there are usually only one or two students from any cohort in the same AOS, that already, on Leiter ranking of school alone, taps deep into the Leiter list." There seem to me to be some falsehoods here. First, it assumes that no one grad program will send out applicants from multiple cohorts, which seems incorrect. Second, several programs have more than one or two students in the same AOS, and many jobs advertise a disjunction of AOS's. Third, even if the assumptions are granted, it at deepest taps through ten programs. That kind of math can leave the vast majority of applicants feeling pretty sorry for themselves.

And I second Asstro's proposal: it would be fantastic if someone ran last year's numbers.

transport is arranged said...

"The numbers could be crunched on last years stats. That would be pretty interesting and I think tremendously helpful, particularly to those at the bottom of the Leiter list who walk around with their heads hanging, feeling sorry for themselves."

I just did the "eyeball test" on Leiter's hiring thread from last year (which isn't worth much, admittedly), but I'm not sure people at low ranked or unranked programs would find much to cheer about if we really studied the numbers. Look at Rutgers's placements alone on that thread.

transport is arranged said...

Digging a little deeper into the numbers on Leiter's hiring thread from last year:

There are about 200 total jobs listed (though I counted *very* hastily and there are some repeats in the list etc). Rutgers placed about 12 people and Oxford placed around 11. That's just 2 top schools accounting for over 10% of the jobs listed there. I wonder if a real examination of the numbers would show a bias to highly ranked departments that is even greater than many of us suspect?

Anonymous said...

Staggering number, transport is arranged -- thanks for that. Could we get a link to last year's data?

Anonymous said...

What we know is that the PGR top 20 hire from the PGR top 20 or so. Look at Leiter's post on where the non-tenured tt faculty in the PGR top 20 came from:

top 20 tt faculty

transport is arranged said...

Here is the address for the Leiter thread (hopefully it works):

That is amazing about Rutgers and Oxford. I went back and counted the total number of jobs again and got 199; take away the repeats in the thread and the total jobs listed is probably around 190. I see around 9 or 10 placements for Pitt, about the same number for Toronto, and around 7 each for Cornell and UCLA. Assuming my math is correct (and it probably isn't), that's 6 schools accounting for about 30% of those jobs, and many of these jobs aren't top 20 PGR, or even top 50, type jobs.

Anonymous said...

worth noting: the number of grad programs not ranked by leiter is about 150. So their overall hiring success, by sheer dint of numbers, relative to the 50 or so leiter-ranked programs isn't surprising to me. More interesting is the relative success of the programs that are ranked by leiter; I agree that so far of those ranked by leiter there isn't as much correlation with great jobs and great ranking as I would have supposed.

Anonymous said...

It's important to keep in mind that not everyone posts on Leiter, or reads it. And perhaps those who are low-ranked/not ranked at all are even less likely too. So the stats on Leiter's blog are not exhaustive (although they're the best we've got, it seems. Unless someone wants to go over last year's JFPs, then go to dept websites to see who was hired beyond what is listed on Leiter. But that would take a day).

A related question, why don't we just post the names of who gets the job on the wiki? They do this in political science. And it seems more people read/update the wiki then read/post on Leiter (more jobs have been accepted on the wiki then are listed on Leiter)

inquiring mind said...

I'd propose the following criteria for ranking positions (in lieu of ignorance re: both realities on the ground and individual preferences):

FAIR - 3/4-4/4, no grad prog or mediocre LAC
GOOD - 2/3-3/3, MA program or SLAC
VERY GOOD - 2/2, PhD program

Ion said...

I know that there are two or three grads, from top-ranked schools, who are currently basking in the glow of multiple job offers, many from top-ranked schools. If you're hot enough to be fought over by 4 schools in the top 20 (or whatever), you might want to take some time to mull things over, which means showing up on the Leiter thread fairly late.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

jjcp et al. --

What's the point of trying to "rank" jobs? I mean, it's interesting and informative to try to track correlations between the kinds of departments people come out of and the types of jobs they end up in. But isn't the useful information about those jobs expressed simply by their teaching loads? And then doesn't assigning evaluative labels to different kids of jobs add no extra information?

Here's where I'm coming from: This information is supposed to be for prospectives, right? (That's my main interest in it at this point at least.) If so, why bother telling them what's "good" and "fair" and whatever? Why not let them figure out on their own what kinds of jobs they want--teaching v. research and teaching. Then we can try to help them get the information they need to figure out what steps to take to get the kinds of jobs they want. E.g., you'll maximize your odds of getting the job you want if you go to a program ranked from X - Y.

juniorperson said...

"But isn't the useful information about those jobs expressed simply by their teaching loads?"

To a large extent, I think yes, but with two caveats:

1) Official teaching loads can differ vastly from the actual teaching load--although this is rare. A well-run department with resources will be able to reduce the teaching load of its junior faculty for a year or two--maybe more. By contrast, a factionalised department, or one run at the whim of the Chair, will be able to dramatically increase the loads of its TT faculty.

I've experienced both situations. My current 3/2 position was a 2/2 for my first year (with 1/2 preps.) owing to my having a superb Chair and Dean. My previous position at an MA-granting R1 was officially a 2/2 position. But in my first semester I was required to teach 3 extra classes (for which I was paid half the adjunct salary for one course for ALL THREE), and then a further two extra (for no pay) my second semester. After that, my load never dropped below a 4/4, and would have been a 5/5 with full responsibility for supervising 6 graduate students (2/3 of the entire program) the year I left. I received no extra compensation for any of this additional teaching after my first semester.

2) Resources, faculty productivity, and admin loads count for a lot. A very well-funded LAC with a good-sized department, all of whom are active, is a much better place to do research than an ill-funded R1 with a deadwood or factionalised department. So, check on these things, too!

Anonymous said...


Could you say more about how the 'official' 2-2 at the MA-granting R1 became a de facto 4-4? I teach a 2-2 at an MA-granting R1, and (literally) can't (realistically) imagine how this could happen. Does (or, since you've left, did) no one there in fact teach a 2-2? But then in what sense was the load 'officially' 2-2? If you were being singled out, or if junior people were in general treated differently, how did the authorities justify that?

Anonymous said...

Dear Junior Person 618AM,
I am APPALLED at what happened at the MA granting R1 you taught at.
Could you name names??
Is that institution still doing it?

How could they give you a 2-2 and then up it to 4-4 legally?

I take it you and your colleagues weren't unionized (as the faculty are here in Canada).

Anonymous said...

Just be careful, 3 years ago my department rescinded a tt job offer to a new hire because when he was 19 got busted for felony drug possession.

It was sad, but it was university policy and it turned up in a background check.

juniorperson said...

The official teaching load was 2/2 for TT faculty, and 4/4 for instructors--on paper, all was normal. The *actual* teaching load, however, pretty much depended on the whim of the Chair, or the Dean, which could be for good or ill. (When I was there a favoured instructor--described to me as "a good Christian boy"--had his load secretly reduced to a 2/2 by the Chair, until the department as a whole found out and this was stopped.) My teaching load rocketed upwards for the simple reason that the Department decided that it specialised in X, and so offered lots of X in service courses, promising the Dean that n number of courses in X would be made available. Minor problem: despite claiming to "specialise" in X, I was the only person who did X at all. So, to ensure that all of the department's commitments could be met I was required to teach my usual 2/2, plus pick up all the students who couldn't fit into those classes as additional, uncompensated, classes. These were officially listed as "Independent Studies"--hence no official violation of my contract. Whenever I questioned this I could rely on rapid and vicious emails from the Dean noting that I was required to do "duties as assigned" in my contract. Nice. And I haven't even got started on the other even more serious problems there, as they start me having Saw III-type fantasies!

I don't think that I was singled out. The same thing would have happened to anyone who got that position. (This is a department that hired someone into a TT position who had listed themselves as having the job already on their CV, which tells you all you really need to know about the place!) I'm just very, very, VERY glad that I was able to leave, especially since I now have a TT position at Sheer Bliss College which is the complete opposite in every way from Pure Hell R1.

And, of course, no matter how hellish PHR1 was, it *was* a job in philosophy....

juniorperson said...

Anon. 9.30am:

No, not unionised. (Obviously!)

I suspect that this is no longer going on, as X seems no longer to be in favor there. But, it wouldn't surprise me at all if it was.

Anonymous said...

One instance of such a person with multiple offers is mentioned in the 2007 job thread:

"Note: Sam Cumming (Rutgers, AOS: philosophy of language) is still undecided; he has offers from Berkley [sic], Harvard, Pittsburgh, Princeton, and UCLA."

It looks like he ended up at UCLA.

Those departments are ranked 12th, T-7th, 5th, 3rd and T-7th, respectively in the overall 2008 PGR rankings, and in groups 3, unranked, 3, 3 and 1, respectively in the specialty rankings in Phil of Lang.