Philosophers Called “Brilliant” More Than Other Profs (On Stupid Website)

Philosophers Called “Brilliant” More Than Other Profs (On Stupid Website)


The Economist analysed 1,289,407 RateMyProfessor.com reviews of 1,066 professors and lecturers in New York and has reported on some of its findings. Among them is the nugget that instructors of philosophy, compared with other disciplines, are most often described as “brilliant” by their students. According to the article, “an adoring student termed her teacher ‘a philosophy love-God’, and remarked that her life’s goal was to ‘become the mother of his million intellectual babies’.”

Meanwhile, instructors of mathematics are the ones most often described as “horrible.” Sorry, mathematician friends.

Fitting with other studies of student evaluations of teachers and bias, women instructors are less frequently described as “brilliant” than men are and more frequently described as “horrible” than men are.

Economist brilliant horrible professors

As this is RateMyProfessor.com data, it is based on self-selected, anonymous contributions to a website that asks students to rate their instructors on helpfulness, clarity, easiness, and hotness, so it is unclear whether this constitutes bragging material.

(via David Grober-Morrow)

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Louie Generis
Louie Generis
5 years ago

I’m most often described as ‘fictional’ by my students.Report

PeterJ
PeterJ
5 years ago

Bragging material? Hmm. On my reading of these charts philosophers are more often called ‘horrible’ than ‘brilliant’. No?Report

Rusty
Rusty
Reply to  PeterJ
5 years ago

“On my reading of these charts philosophers are more often called ‘horrible’ than ‘brilliant’.”

That’s also the case for the other disciplines listed and, although I’ve just glanced and haven’t done the math, there looks to be a larger ratio for most of them as well other than maybe History and English.Report

Nick Byrd
5 years ago

I find that people regularly use “brilliant” (more than other complimentary words, perhaps) to dampen their overall low view of someone. “So-and-so is intolerably rude, unreliable, disorganized, and out of touch. Don’t get me wrong, they’re brilliant. But I’ll never [knowingly involve myself with them] again.”Report

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman
5 years ago

I don’t think anyone should be particularly proud to get “brilliant” on a teaching evaluation. That’s compatible with a complete failure to teach your students anything, e.g. “She’s brilliant – she understands all these complicated things that I still can’t make sense of.”Report

MG
MG
Reply to  Derek Bowman
5 years ago

If that were the case you’d think maths would be up there with philosophy, instead of English.

So maybe it’s just ego and the power of suggestion.Report

Wayne Fenske
5 years ago

I once read the following comment about myself on Rate My Professor: “Tries to be funny, but he isn’t!” … “Ouch!’Report

Avi Z.
Avi Z.
5 years ago

I’ve always thought that many professors simply post sterling reviews of themselves (and bad reviews of hated colleagues) on such websites. If so, this may be evidence that philosophers are more likely than other academics to rate themselves as brilliant.Report

Andrew Sepielli
Andrew Sepielli
5 years ago

So basically, “brilliant” is this:

http://tinyurl.com/jf789sv

I shall undo another button.Report

Madeleine Ransom
Madeleine Ransom
5 years ago

This is symptomatic of a much larger problem in Philosophy, as revealed by the research of philosopher Sarah Jane Leslie and her collaborators (for example: https://www.princeton.edu/~sjleslie/Frontiers2015.pdf). Women are less likely to go into fields they believe require genius or brilliance (because they are less likely to believe themselves geniuses), and this seems to be one reason for the dearth of women in philosophy.

If this is the way many students are describing their philosophy profs, then they are arguably under the impression that genius is required to continue on in the field. One thing we can do to counteract this in the classroom is to make sure the subject comes across as being composed of learnable skills (which it is) that take hard work to acquire and master. This comes down to gearing some lessons, exercises and assignments towards “building block” skills like learning to extract an argument from the text. Breaking down skill sets is a great way to help take the mystery out of philosophical ability.Report