Moreover, universities have a strong incentive to not be corrupt in their grading - if they let people slip through without learning the work, employers will start to notice and discount qualifications from that institution This assumes that employers are using a college degree primarily as a signal for education, outweighing conformity, conscientiousness, class, deference to authority, low time preferences, habitual credentialism, or anything else a degree might signal. We note that most employers want to know that you have a degree but not, say, "must have at least a B+ in Intermediate Microeconomics," so the entire degree might as well be pass/fail apart from the few hiring at the top of the graduating class. And no employer is going to detect or care whether you legitimately passed something not relevant to work. I had an undergraduate course in Magical and Occult Philosophy, and I have yet to be quizzed on Plotinus and Hermes Trismegistus during a job interview.

The fact that few employers request transcripts and fewer distinguish between "barely passing" and "summa cum laude" (maybe apart from recent graduates?) seems like pretty strong evidence about caring about grading corruption. You really need to corrupt your school's degree award process (like a diploma mill) before anyone will care about it.

Also, as Old_Gold suggests, if you count grade inflation as corruption of grading, empirically this incentive wasn't strong enough. We also note that across-the-board corruption of this type undermines incentives. If someone comes up with a better signal, the entire institution of universities would collapse, but most people have seemed to accept rampant grade inflation with a shrug rather than mostly ignoring degrees. It may eventually collapse, but on a time scale where it seems difficult to believe "this was due to grade inflation starting 50 years ago."

You really need to corrupt your school's degree award process (like a diploma mill) before anyone will care about it.

Yes, that's true. The incentive works on grading corruption at the level of "this guy should have scored 10%, how did he pass?". It has no effect on grading corruption on the level of "this guy should have barely passed, how did he get a distinction?"

Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016

by elharo 1 min read2nd Feb 201697 comments


Another month, another rationality quotes thread. The rules are:

  • Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.
  • Post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself.
  • Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so here.
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.