Monday, March 31, 2008

Cognitive dissonance and the USNWR rankings

As Brian Leiter correctly points out (here), the schools listed on Paul Caron's post (here) are trying to eat their cake and have it, too: objecting to USNWR's rankings, on the one hand, as being misleading, arbitrary, etc., and publicizing the heck out of their own results, on the other hand. This type of cognitive dissonance probably stems from the overwhelming pressure that deans face from students, alumni, and university administrators to move ever-higher in the rankings (akin to inventing a perpetual motion machine). Unless the press releases are debunking the rankings, though, as part of the releases themselves, or somehow distinguishing between the overall rankings and some component parts (going up in bar passage rates, for example, or being mentioned in the specialty rankings), those deans who have signed onto the "we hate the rankings" letter but are also touting their own school's overall rankings have some explaining to do.

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