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One problem with letters is that they often lack evidence, even thin bits of evidence. Instead, they just praise the applicant. They tell us how great they are. But a good letter should provide evidence for factual claims. "X wrote an important paper on Y, and it will change the debate." Well, isn't that nice to hear. Can you give me any reason to believe you - remember, 200 other people are writing that same damn sentence for their intellectual child.

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