Some Hard Stats about University Teaching

Thinking about becoming a university professor?  Read Kevin Birmingham’s “The Great Shame of Our Profession” before making definite plans.

A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays….

According to the 2014 congressional report, adjuncts’ median pay per course is $2,700. An annual report by the American Association of University Professors indicated that last year “the average part-time faculty member earned $16,718” from a single employer. Other studies have similar findings. Thirty-one percent of part-time faculty members live near or below the poverty line.

queueingtheadjuncts

It’s amusing to think of all the underpaid university adjuncts striking for a “living wage.”  Unfortunately, the pool of potential “scabs” is way too deep for any strike to be effective for more than one semester.

Of course, not all disciplines have the same problems.  My department is chronically desparate to find enough statisticians to teach all our courses, and I’ve been comfortably esconced in a non-tenure track job for over 15 years.  But statisticians are rare birds, and everyone I’ve talked too allows as how it’s far too late for them to swot up on their math and stats to become employable.

Tip from the Instapundit, who knows exploitation when he sees it.

Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

The ability of statistics to accurately represent the world is declining. In its wake, a new age of big data controlled by private companies is taking over – and putting democracy in peril.

begins William Davies tale of woe in the Guardian.  Unfortunately, he confuses credible statistics with modern state-istics*; and seems impervious to the idea that Joe Sixpack has wised up to the fact that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics,” and that most of these are peddled by the Leviathan State and its corporate cronies.  Usually to Joe’s detriment.

Statistics in industry and scientific research is doing quite well, thank you.  The Big Data movement is still immature and riddled with snake-oil salesmen; it will eventually spot them, possibly by applying its methodologies reflexively.

Tip from that same O’Reilly Newsletter.  Finally, I got on a sucker list that’s interesting!

*Where did you think the word came from?

Update:  Briggsy holds much the same opinion as I do, but expresses it more eloquently.

Multiple Comparisons, Made Easy

Adrian Colyer at the morning paper, takes a stab at explaining the problem with p-values and multiple comparisons.  He shoots!  He scores!  The crowd* goes wild!

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Tip from an O’Reilly Daily Newsletter, which I found languishing in Clutter purgatory.

*OK, the crowd of two or three statistics lecturers who struggle to explain the multiple comparison problem.

Everybody can do something better than you can

Rachel DiCarlo Currie explains Why We Need a Revival of Humility.  Here’s the money quote

Shortly before leaving the Senate, Kyl spoke to Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard and described a childhood trip to his local county fair in Iowa. Upon arriving at the fair, Kyl said, his father made sure that he saw the man who managed parking for the attendees. “He does that better than anyone else,” his father told him. “Everybody can do something better than you can.”

Everybody can do something better than you can. Imagine how much different our society would be if each of us embraced those words as a daily mantra.

That’s why I don’t tell the plumber, the tile guy, the yard guy, the pool guy, or my mechanic how to do his job.  If I was so friggin’ smart, why would I be paying these guys?

Tip from the Instapundit, where Sarah Hoyt has been on a roll lately.  Must be ’cause she just finished another novel.

Revealed, a True Romantic for the New Century

This man

president-trump-first-lady-melania-their-first-dance-inaugural-ball

said this: “I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.”

If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is.

Update:  Shane Bouvet is an under-employed FedEx courier and Trump campaigner who scored a ticket to the inauguration, but had to scrounge a suit and shoes.  This Man read that story, and showed what a sweetheart he is.  (Tip from the Instapundit, who doesn’t do fake news.)