Suppose you were a student of modest intellectual ambition, but you came from an aspirational family that pushed you to high accomplishment, eventually landing you at the Institute for Advanced Study, where you managed to do a graduate degree with the aging Albert Einstein. It would be smooth sailing from there for you, as you would surely long occupy a coveted position at a prestige institution before the profession caught on that you weren't really motivated for your role.This illustrates the structural 'problem' with academia: the bottleneck occurs much too early in the journey. Society thus puts a lot of faith in, and pressure on, the gatekeepers of those (early) opportunities, which opportunities in many cases, due to tenure, inertia, et al, become extremely difficult to unravel.So when Professor Greene notes parenthetically that he met his bestie after Green mentioned he liked Seinfeld in class, and the newfound friend came by his office to say "Hey, Seinfeld! Me too!" - given how fraught the triage is in Professor Greene's control...well, that story is not especially comforting.
Right, because academia is not competitive at all.
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At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect