Re: SIAI: Donate Today and Tomorrow

From: Jeff Medina (
Date: Fri Oct 22 2004 - 16:08:06 MDT

Robin Lee Powell wrote: "IIRC, Eliezer is not allowed to put Ph.D.
after his name. That pretty much rules out this avenue of approach."

That absolutely *does not* rule out this avenue of approach. Many
respected journals and conferences in the relevant areas are
blind-reviewed (such that the academic credentials of the author of
the paper is made irrelevant, because the author's identity & other
info is kept secret), and even among the many which are not quality
submissions are never rejected or looked down upon simply due to the
lack of a Ph.D. by the author.

As for gaining a research position at a university, while a Ph.D. is
commonly thought to be a prerequisite, there are a number of points to
keep in mind:

1. Having a track record of doing quality research is more important
than having any particular degree. Bureaucratic morons who would
refuse a great researcher just because of lack of PhD are not
ubiquitous (e.g., Freeman J. Dyson, of Dyson Sphere fame, who spent
his career as a physics professor at Princeton and Cornell, never
received his Ph.D.)

2. If lacking a PhD really becomes a problem... well, why not get
one? PhD students get living stipends and support for their research.
So even being a PhD student may well put Eliezer in a better position
to pursue his research than the current scenario allows. Further, if
he (or anyone else involved) doesn't like the idea of being forced to
take 2 years of coursework for the PhD, he could always pursue the PhD
outside of the U.S., where PhDs are pure research degrees with no
course requirements.

3. There are a couple of schools (e.g., The University of Technology,
Sydney, in Australasia) that award PhDs by prior publication. After
applying, you put together a portfolio of your research, and write an
overarching paper that illustrates your contribution to the field of
study, and if deemed PhD-level, you are granted a PhD. I've come
across at least a few professors in the UK and elsewhere who have
received their doctorates in this manner. (I've also seen quite a few
professors with just Master's, but this falls back to point 2 above).

Of course, most people aren't aware of some or all of the above, so
your reason may be Eliezer's reason. But I hope that, if it is, it
ceases to be in light of these facts.


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