Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wuffle's Law

One of the recurring themes both in my blog and at the Poli Sci Job Rumor site is that of rankings.  See here, here, and here for a start of my fixation.

Anyhow, I am always reminded of a simple fact when I see any poli sci ranking of journals, presses, departments whatever: that whenever a ranking is suggested or revised, it is always suggested by someone who benefits from the new ranking.  Nobody ever proposes a ranking that puts their department lower.  So, Godwin's Law is that the longer any internet discussion, the probability of Hitler/Nazis/Holocaust being mentioned approaches one.

What would we name the following law: Any ranking of any aspect of the academic enterprise will produce revised rankings that improve the standing of the folks who produce the revised rankings? In honor of a semi-anonymous person who published amusing pieces at PS (see here for an example if you can--gated), so how about Wuffle's Law?


Anonymous said...

Actually, Wuffle--by his real name--was quite a good example of this law. When he published the particularly egregious "Political Science 400" in PS (sort of like the Fortune 500 for well-cited scholars), nobody was surprised to see that he made the cut. In fact, I'm sure that if he had been in 550th place, we would have been treated to the "Political Science 600" instead. The prevalence of "here's a ruler, whip it out" articles in PS is perhaps the most disgusting part of our profession, and probably owes itself to the fact that we otherwise have a hard time demonstrating that our research--unlike that of physicists and chemists--makes any difference to anyone.

Steve Saideman said...

Interesting--had not realized Wuffle's law was so Wuffle-esque. I would say that we probably overestimate the maturity of other disciplines especially the hard sciences. I am sure folks there are also narcissistic, insecure, and guilty of rank-envy.