Merit by Association

March 29, 2017

I use university rankings as a quide to overall performance, but I think that the individual scholar is the driving force behind new ideas. I have never been a fan of “merit by association”. It always comes down to imagination and careful scholarship. That can take place in a dustbin. In my experience a large number of academics were given tenure because they were favoured by a head of department. At the EDCL I would say that 70% were appointed in this way (Autobiography Volume Two). There was no competition at all. As a result they stayed in a comfortable job for life, as long as they dared not to think too originally. That kind of closed shop is no good for anyone. Of course there are some good scholars who are also academics.”

Just imagine how much that performance-rating would soar if someone at those universities actually mentioned you. Perhaps you could boost the rating by also listing all of the industrial research centres which do not mention you. Then perhaps all of the schools … . There is something vaguely homoeopathic about your reasoning. You know, that ‘medication’ where, logically, one should get a fatal overdose by not opening the bottle. Are you also perhaps confusing academia with the church? Are you saying that you were not sufficiently pretty? Are you indirectly criticizing colleague Sewage for occupying that local-government sinecure; the ultimate ‘comfortable job for life’.


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