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03/12/2015

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Jason Brennan

We had a job search this year, bringing in people from a wide range of fields.

At one point, we had a political science Ph.D. who had done a range of experimental economics games, and he hadn't randomized one particular variable among participants.

A psychologist on our faculty said, "In psych, that would kill your research. No one would publish it."

He said, "Yes, I'm aware that psychologists take this to be a necessity, but that's a methodological difference between our fields. We don't just assume this matters. If you're so confident that it does matter, let me ask you: How much do you want to bet that I would get different results if I re-did the experiment after randomizing that variable? After all, I'm going to do that anyways for other reasons--we're conducting it again in a few weeks. So, do you want to put any money down right now that I'll get different results?" (He explained the "bets are a tax on bullshit" idea to the crowd.)

She said, "No." He got the job.

Wow

In response to Brennan: Well, I guess one person's boss move is another person's dick move. The truth, no doubt, depends on the telling, but from that description, I wouldn't want either person as my colleague!

Bow

I am with Wow. It is not at all clear that the boss move described above was so boss. Perhaps the psychologist in the audience was trying to get the discussion moving because no one else was speaking. Perhaps she was serving on the search committee because the university requires an outside representative. But the response from the speaker seems very aggressive. As Wow says "one persons x is another's not-x". I could imagine this being the doom of someone: "bets are a tax on bullshit" ... that seems unnecessary.

Jason Brennan

This was for a job in an interdisciplinary department, so the audience included economists, psychologist, political scientists, and philosophers. In the context, it came across as if the psychologist was aggressively dismissive, and the political scientist job candidate had a snappy defense. It helped that most of the people in the room already accept the "bets are a tax on bullshit" view.

Erik Angner

Back in the day of transparencies, I attended a job talk where the projector malfunctioned. The slides must have come into contact with the high-wattage light bulb inside, because without warning they burst up in flames. The candidate just went silent as the hiring committee frantically put them out, then resumed as though nothing had happened. I can't recall if she got the job, but I found her cool under fire admirable.

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