Ass Backwards

This is funny, at least for those familiar with the work of the individual described.

Dershowitz generally employs one or two full-time researchers, three or four part-timers, and a handful of students who do occasional work—all paid at $11.50 per hour. (Since Dershowitz doesn’t get enough in the $7,500/year research budget the law school accords him, he often has to pay that hourly rate out of his own pocket.) Several students who have worked with him describe his hiring practices as almost arbitrary—barely looking at résumés, hiring anyone who asks him for a job, sometimes having his wife interview applicants, and often forgetting those who’ve worked with him in the past. One long-serving researcher was a local high-school student.
Several of his researchers say that Dershowitz doesn’t subscribe to the scholarly convention of researching first, then drawing conclusions. Instead, as a lawyer might, he writes his conclusions, leaving spaces where he’d like sources or case law to back up a thesis. On several occasions where the research has suggested opposite conclusions, his students say, he has asked them to go back and look for other cases, or simply to omit the discrepant information. “That’s the way it’s done; a piecemeal, ass-backwards way,” says one student who has firsthand experience with the writing habits of Dershowitz and other tenured colleagues. “They write first, make assertions, and farm out [the work] to research assistants to vet it. They do very little of the research themselves.”

Via. (Say, I should do that hyperlinked Via. thing. It makes me feel like a real blogger.)

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7 Responses to “Ass Backwards”


  1. 1 Kevin December 4, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Several of his researchers say that Dershowitz doesn’t subscribe to the scholarly convention of researching first, then drawing conclusions. Instead, as a lawyer might, he writes his conclusions, leaving spaces where he’d like sources or case law to back up a thesis.

    I just bought a huge black coffee that is far to big to quaff down quickly and, in any case, far too hot to drink at the moment. Thing is, I’m allowed into the computer room with it, but not into the library. So, I’m doing essentially the same thing. Let’s hope Karl Popper agrees with what I’m about to write.

  2. 2 Hugh Green December 4, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    That’s what everyone does. Isn’t it?

  3. 3 Kevin December 4, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Probably. It’s unfortunate, though, for without enough notes, essays become little more than incomprehensible, extended metaphors. The way I’m going, Hume’s Fork will soon have a Cake to piece.

  4. 4 Kevin December 4, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    That should be pierce, of course.

  5. 5 Hugh Green December 4, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    You make notes for essays? What’s wrong with good, honest beginning, muddle, end?

  6. 6 Kevin December 5, 2007 at 1:23 am

    It’s actually something closer to beginning, muddle, beginning. In Philosophy, anyway. Does Popper’s falsification solve Hume’s Problem of Induction? Vicky Pollard got it right, but came short on the word count. Yes1, if2; no3, but5.

  7. 7 Kevin December 5, 2007 at 1:26 am

    (Those are meant to be those little notation of source numbers. Your comment box is clearly of inferior nerd capacity.)


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