Duke professor Dan Ariely is engaged in some research on attitudes towards sex toys. According to this story in the Raleigh News & Observer, a few people at Duke are upset. This reinforces my view that faculty research ought to be put on a free-market footing. That is, the norm should be a full teaching load (let's say 12 hours, although, speaking from experience, it isn't hard to do more), but if a professor can get sufficient outside funding for a research project to be able to buy a reduced teaching load, fine. That would lead to far less waste that the prevailing system, which has a low teaching load norm and assumes that professors will devote much of their time to useful research. What we get from that system is a lot of research that's done just for the sake of publishing. We should put academic research to the test of the market: Will people voluntarily pay for it?
- November 09, 2009