Jason Brennan and Phillip Magness: A Request for Disclosure

Considering the number of times Jason Brennan has alluded, in the context of public discussion, to his once having worked at GEICO, I think it’s only fair that he disclose the following for public consumption:

  1. When did he work at GEICO, and at what location?
  2. What was his title while working there?
  3. What was his salary?
  4. Did he work there through a temp agency, or was he hired directly by GEICO itself?

If the GEICO job is important enough to bring up that many times, it’s worth clarifying the details by way of answers to the preceding questions.

A similar query is in order for Phillip Magness, who’s also been very autobiographically assertive on the subject. The article linked-to in the preceding sentence alludes to 1.5 years spent as a full-time adjunct (I’m presuming that “1.5 years” refers to the period 2008-2010, corresponding to the position of Lecturer at American University on his CV), then invites us to do some “arithmetic” about the income he claims to have earned during that period, and how he managed to live on it while being otherwise productive.

That’s fine, but Magness’s CV indicates that he received three grants during roughly the same period (2007, 2009, 2011). I regard the 2007 and 2011 grants as potentially relevant even though they strictly speaking fall outside of the 2008-2010 period. To be blunt, a year and a half of adjunct work cushioned by three grants is not quite as impressive as the impression one might get by reading the unadorned version of Magness’s apologia pro vita sua.

Three questions for Magness, then:

  1. What was the cumulative monetary value of those three grants?
  2. Does his CV exhaustively list all of his income sources for the relevant years (meaning 2007-2011)?
  3. Did he, during those years (2007-2011), live in a household with someone earning an additional income?

All three questions strike me as relevant to evaluating the story Magness tells.

One problem with both sides in the adjunct debate is that the most assertive people in it seem more interested in parading selective recountings of their valor or misfortunes than in documenting their claims in a way that demonstrates the credibility of what they’re saying to neutral or skeptical readers. If people are going to start going autobiographical in the Great Adjunct Debate–whether they’re adjuncts recounting their minimum-wage woes, or academic stars recounting their Horatio Alger stories–I think they owe us fuller disclosures than any of them have been making about the stories they tell us. Brennan and Magness clearly think of themselves as exemplars for the rest of the profession. How about exemplifying some disclosure about those stories you’ve been telling?

Postscript, 11 pm: I’m satisfied with Brennan’s answer, but on second thought, I have to say I’m not just puzzled but mystified by the autobiographical claims Magness has made in his increasingly-famous essay, “The Myth of the Minimum Wage Adjunct.

As someone who spent the last ~1.5 years of grad school as a so-called “full time adjunct,” constituting my only real source of income at the time, I can state first hand that it will not make you wealthy.

So he was an adjunct for 1.5 years, during which time adjuncting was his “only real source of income.” I take it that the word “real” implies that there was some other, secondary source of income. I’m curious what it was.

Later he tells us,

I can also speak to this first hand as it is something I learned to do quickly during my own period as a full-time adjunct ca. 2008-2009. I was not anything close to well off during this period of my career, but with a little basic time management I not only met my teaching obligations but I (1) finished a dissertation, (2) wrote several peer reviewed articles, (3) composed a substantial part of an academic press monograph, and (4) found more permanent employment.

The problem is, his CV lists a Doctoral Research Grant from George Mason University for the year 2009. I can see how the grant might not literally have overlapped with the adjuncting: if he started adjuncting in January 2008, and continued through fall 2008 and then spring 2009, that would be 1.5 years of adjuncting; he could then have gotten the research grant for the latter half of 2009. But I’m speculating. I think we’re entitled to hear the explanation directly from him.

Literal overlap or not, he cannot, on this basis, claim to “speak to this first hand,” where “this” refers to the experience of the average full-time long-term adjunct–which is what the discussion at BHL was about. One and a half years of adjuncting sandwiched between two grants, along with some undisclosed secondary income source, is not long term adjuncting in any sense relevant to the ongoing controversy. And we don’t even know what he did during the summer of 2008, when he was a “so-called ‘full time adjunct’.” According to Magness, adjuncts don’t teach during the summer months (point 5 of his enumerated points), from which it seems to follow that he didn’t. So did he simply go without income during the summer, or is that when the non-real income source kicked in? If so, what was the source? The answer surely has some bearing on the relationship between his personal experiences and the predicament of the long-term adjunct.

Whatever the answers, we’re left with a mystery in Magness’s account that’s worth clearing up. He wants us to believe that he knows what it’s like to be a long-term adjunct, but the story he’s telling is consistent with saying this:

I was a so-called full time adjunct during 2008-9. Of course, I got a grant in 2007, then one in 2009, and I wasn’t an adjunct during the summer of 2008. During the summer, I got a real job–a real job, albeit with an unreal income. Meanwhile, I had established a relationship with the Institute for Humane Studies, which eventually gave me an administrative job as Academic Program Director, a job I cheerfully hold while suggesting all over Twitter that the university’s problems could be solved if only we eliminated all of those useless administrators on the payroll. I realize that very, very, very few long-term adjuncts could get such a job, precisely because it’s sui generis, and I am now the person who holds it. And yet, I won’t hesitate to lecture long-term adjuncts about what bad time managers they are.

Say it ain’t so, Phil.

13 thoughts on “Jason Brennan and Phillip Magness: A Request for Disclosure

  1. I worked at GEICO in 2001 in between college and grad school. I was an injury adjustor on a management program. I was hired directly, full-time, with benefits, not through a temp agency. I don’t remember my exact salary, but it was good.


  2. Phil said something about putting myself through college by working at GEICO. Actually, I put myself through college by working at a bakery, a microchip factory, and an electronics factory. I’ve got more working class cred than most of my interlocutors here. Also, born to a single mom and received welfare benefits when I was a baby. I’m a first-generation college student. There’s some radical privilege there.


    • That’s a very defensive answer to a very neutrally-worded question. I didn’t claim that you were the beneficiary of radical privilege. I didn’t make any accusations at all. I just asked you to clarify your autobiographical claims. A person who repeatedly makes such claims and uses them in argument opens himself up to a request like that.

      It doesn’t seem to occur to you that you don’t actually know anything about the biographies of your interlocutors, that you’ve never had any interlocutors “here” (because you’ve never commented here before), and that “interlocutor” is a dispositional term that includes would-be interlocutors who have so far remained silent, but may have harder luck biographies than yours. That’s an accusation. For a person who spends so much time trumpeting the virtues of social science, peer review, etc. etc. you really seem to lack common sense at a pretty elemental level.

      The response to others’ accusations of privilege is to answer questions like the ones I posed, not to confabulate the presumed class backgrounds of interlocutors you’ve never met. Frankly, I’ve just done you a favor by asking the questions I asked. If your class background is as impressive as you’ve implied it is, your disclosure will make that plain. if it isn’t, don’t blame my questions. Ask yourself why you brought the topic up of your own accord.


  3. I probably should know better than to indulge a writer whose tone suggests an obsessive level of hostility as well as a habit for making unfounded suppositions about people he does not know, but in the interest of full disclosure:

    1. The 2007 & 2009 doctoral grants amounted to a whopping $500 a piece. One purchased a data set I needed for my dissertation. The second purchased a plane ticket to a conference I presented at during that period. Since both were 100% dedicated to the itemized budget receipts of their respective objects, neither substantively altered or improved my income.

    2. The 2011 grant was in support of another research project I completed I finished my degree and obtained a full time job. It is of no relevance to my income during my time as a “full time adjunct,” though it did yield a number of subsequent publications.

    3. During my adjunct period I lived as many low income college students do: in a small house near campus with a bunch of roommates. We ate a lot of fast food, pizzas, and ramen noodles because they were cheap and none of us were wealthy. You should try it some time if you ever want to save money.

    4. As I said previously, adjuncting was my main source of income in that phase. By far. I did have a little cash left in my bank account from a consulting project I did sometime around 06 or 07. But the job market in general also sucked ca. 2008-09, so that dried up. Then I graduated and got a full time job.

    5. That job is at a university research institute that receives a grand total of zero dollars in funding out of the general university budget, or from the state, meaning it is all self-raised through grants and donations. Your insinuation that I have somehow contributed to administrative bloat is therefore unfounded.


    • Let me address your preface about my tone separately. Just to remind you: what’s at issue is whether you have the experience to discuss long-term adjuncting, and whether your experience gives you the basis for giving advice to long-term adjuncts. It was transparent just from your essay and your CV on their own that you don’t. I simply asked you to clarify some details. Now that you have, my initial supposition has been confirmed: you really don’t.

      You said that you adjuncted for a year and a half. And yet you’re on record as asserting that adjuncts do not work during the summer or winter.

      5. Like virtually all university teaching jobs, adjuncts enjoy an extremely generous schedule that includes 3 months off over the summer, a 1.5 month winter break, and numerous other smaller breaks throughout the year.

      That last assertion, fatuous enough on its own, raises a fair and obvious question that you have not answered. If you adjuncted for a year and a half, that time period had to include a summer (and a winter, using “winter” to refer to the brief period between fall and spring semesters, usually just January; I have no idea where “1.5 month winter break” comes from). You tell us that you subsisted on an adjunct’s pay, but you don’t tell us what you did during the months when, on your account, adjuncts evidently do nothing.

      What, then, should we infer? That you did nothing during the summer, or that you did something? Either way, we face a dilemma. If you did nothing, how did you survive? Even Ramen noodles and pizza cost something. But if you did something, what was it, and what effect did it have on your income? I’m afraid questions like this are a predictable consequence of getting on one’s high horse to dispense advice to low- or moderate-income people. When you offer advice to such people, especially in recriminatory mode, some members of your audience are bound to take you seriously enough to take you literally. You brought up your adjuncting, and you brought up the leisurely summers that adjuncts supposedly enjoy. How do you expect your readers to connect these two sets of dots? And if you didn’t want the questions, why did you bring the topic up in the first place?

      I am not saying that it was wrong for you have to have gotten a high-paying summer job if you did. Nor am I saying that adjuncts cannot themselves get summer jobs that pay well over the minimum wage. I did. (The obsession with the minimum wage is of course yours, not mine.) I am simply pointing out that you have not given your readers enough information to make sense of your so-called “full time adjuncting” experience, much less enough information for anyone to conclude that your experience is a good guide to the average experience of the average long-term adjunct. But that is exactly the spirit in which you offered the advice in the first place. If you can’t see the mismatch, the problem has something to do with you, not with the impertinence of my questions about your “personal finances.”

      Now, as for the points you do answer. First, I’m glad to see the answers. Second, I think the answers make clear what you’re missing about life as a long term adjunct.

      In point (1), you say sarcastically that your 2007 and 2009 doctoral grants amounted only to $500 each. You minimize their significance first by suggesting that the amounts are trivial, and second by suggesting that funds paid out for itemized budgets are somehow not income worth considering or disclosing.

      My response is that the amounts are not trivial. I’m a full time faculty member currently scheduled to teach abroad. My plane ticket to Israel will by itself cost around $1000. The inviting institution probably doesn’t have the funds to cover the ticket, and my own institution probably doesn’t, either. I’ll have to inquire, but there is a good chance the answer on both counts will be “no.” That means I’ll have to pay for it out of my own pocket (as I have for professional activities many, many times before, especially as an adjunct). Are you really trying to tell me that a $500 check would be monetarily insignificant in this context? I don’t think it would be, and I make a full timer’s salary. This anecdote shows what’s wrong with your second point as well. If you want to engage in a career-enhancing activity and don’t have access to grant funding, then if you want to engage in the activity, you have to pay for it yourself. The lower your income, the harder that is. So the idea that a grant doesn’t “substantively” alter or improve one’s income is, frankly, a preposterous statement that doesn’t pass the laugh test (and by the way, doesn’t exactly inspire laughter).

      If you really think that $500 is so trivial an amount, why don’t we agree that a $500 salary increase per 3 credit class be the baseline compensation demand for adjuncts across the country? If that’s too large a salary increase, why not say that each qualified adjunct should be given a $500 faculty development fund allowance, up to x adjuncts, dedicated to itemized budget receipts for professional purposes? I mean, if the sum of $500 is so miserably small, how much budgetary damage could such a demand do? And if we’re talking dedicated funds, well, I guess by your standards it’s not even income.

      By the way, you don’t seem to have noticed the obvious point that one can only get doctoral grants while one is a doctoral student. But long term adjuncts in many cases include people who have long since gotten their PhDs and are no longer eligible for such grants. In order to get jobs, they have to write and present papers, but they have to do so on their own dimes. They also have to fund their job searches on their own dime without recourse to university portfolio services. That makes a demand for adjunct-dedicated faculty development funds eminently reasonable–even if we cap them at $500 per semester for a single qualified adjunct. Something is better than nothing, and right now, most adjuncts get nothing.

      As for point (2), you may not regard the 2011 grant as relevant to your income, but I do. Remember that we’re talking about the income prospects of long term adjuncts. A year and a half is not long term. So a snapshot of your income situation during a year and a half is not informative. Open the lens up to wide angle, and it becomes clear that your income situation was materially different from most people’s. I am not saying that that was all luck, nor am I denigrating your achievement. I am simply pointing out the obvious: your experience is not typical, and being atypical, it is not a legitimate basis for adverse moral inferences about other people. For every grant recipient, there are several equally deserving non-recipients. Those people in particular have legitimate room for complaint. And there are plenty of them.

      Point (3): I can only point out that if a person tried to survive on Ramen noodles and pizza as a long term adjunct, the impact on their health might well remove them from the academic market via premature mortality. That this hasn’t occurred to you suggests that you really don’t know what it’s like to subsist for a long time on a low income.

      Point (4) conflicts with your silence about your summer employment.

      Point (5) misses the point. I am not the one complaining about administrative bloat. You are. Nor am I complaining or making the slightest reference at all to the source of IHS’s funding. I am simply suggesting that your current employment situation is atypical: few long-term adjuncts have the opportunity to become program administrators at a place like IHS. You became a Program Director at IHS the very year you got your PhD (2010). That’s about as atypical as it gets, and I haven’t even bothered to ask your current salary. Compare your situation to the average long term adjunct who got a PhD in 2010 and is still adjuncting, and the contrast should become clear.

      I am also making the point that it’s odd that* the people loudest about administrative bloat are themselves administrators (or on the left-wing side, are people who attack administrators and then defend unions, as though unions operated without administrators). In other words, what they are complaining about is administrative bloat produced by administrators other than themselves.

      Meanwhile, I’m a faculty member who isn’t complaining about “administrative bloat,” because I know that it’s a fashionable nostrum thrown around by people who regard it as The Diagnosis That Explains Everything, when it doesn’t. Administrators play a crucial role in the academy, and there are good reasons why their numbers have increased over time. Perhaps there should be fewer of them. Perhaps more adjuncts should go into administration. Etc. But the whole “administrative bloat” mantra has become a slogan devoid of meaning. Both sides in this debate seem to think that if you attack admin, you’ve done something significant. My claim is, you haven’t–especially if you are admin.

      Postscript: I should have written “when,” not “that.” My point is not that administrators are the only ones complaining but that it is odd when they are so loud about complaining.


    • OK, Phil, let’s talk “tone.”

      I probably should know better than to indulge a writer whose tone suggests an obsessive level of hostility as well as a habit for making unfounded suppositions about people he does not know, […]

      If you “knew better,” you wouldn’t have written an article that makes essential reference to your personal finances, then complained about people making inquiries into your personal finances. If you “knew better,” you also wouldn’t have publicly scrutinized Mary Grace Gainer’s personal finances , then expressed indignation and bewilderment when you were on the receiving end of my scrutiny of your personal finances.

      As for “obsession”: if you add up the word count of your contributions to this controversy (BHL, Twitter, Policy of Truth, Facebook), and then add up mine (BHL, Policy of Truth, Philosophy Smoker*) , you’ll find that yours exceeds mine.

      Here’s another leak from your Facebook page from a few days back:

      “Honest question: If someone you’ve never met & never engaged with begins publishing a chain of lengthy innuendo-laden rants making bizarre and false insinuations about your personal finances from the better part of a decade ago, all apparently spurred by this person’s deep visceral disagreement with a short article you wrote having nothing to do with him or his research, is it unreasonable to question his present state of mind?”

      Honest answer: The author of that passage has a gift for compressing an enormous amount of falsehood into a very small space.

      • Contrary to your claim, we did engage on BHL before I wrote my post here at PoT. Conveniently, you’ve forgotten that you abandoned that “engagement” in mid-stride. In the exchange, I asked you how you reconciled your claim that adjuncts have a heterogeneous set of motivations for being adjuncts with Brennan’s claim (which you were defending) that all or most adjuncts are culpable for their situation. I’m still waiting for an answer.

      • The word “chain” conjures up images of a chain letter. (That is innuendo.) As is obvious, what I wrote was a post followed by some comments—all of it (unlike your comments) subject to fully public scrutiny and rebuttal by the intended object of the critique. I didn’t engage in innuendo; I asked you some questions. They were (and remain) legitimate questions, which you’ve failed to answer, and which you’ve repeatedly mischaracterized. I suppose they are “lengthy,” at least if you measure prose by the tweet, but brevity would have opened me up to the charge of making unsubstantiated charges (which you’ve made despite the fact that I asked questions rather than making charges, and despite the fact that I explained the point of the questions at length rather than giving them the form of jeering tweets of the sort that clog your Twitter feed).

      • Your so-called “personal finances” ceased to be “personal” the minute you made them part of an argument in an essay published on your website. Yes, the discussion involves events from several years ago, but that’s because you were the one who brought up your adjuncting history in a public controversy in which you were holding yourself out as an exemplar of productive rationality after having criticized other people for their “personal” decisions. Incidentally I wouldn’t have thought that a historian of the nineteenth century would be deterred by discussing events that took place five, six or seven years ago.

      • As for the fact that your “short article” has nothing to do with my research: since my research is on ethics, the ethics of adjuncting has obvious bearing on my research. Since I’ve been a department chair, I have more experience with vetting and hiring adjuncts than you do. Since I’ve been a long-term adjunct, I have more experience with being an adjunct than you do. As an academic professional, I generally have a stake in how the controversy is decided. So if you decide to sound off on the adjunct controversy, I have perfectly good grounds to criticize what is said by someone who lacks my experience in the field but is wrongly taken by people as an authority on it.

      • As for whether it’s unreasonable to question my present state of mind: the question manages to re-writes a bit of history that took place just a few days ago (which is problematic in anyone, and doubly so in a historian). You didn’t just question my state of mind. You ascribed mental illness to me. But suppose that you had managed to get the facts right. In that case, would it have been reasonable to describe me as crazy? No, not really.

      Some people–including some people admire (and some I don’t)–have questioned the tone of my criticisms of Phil Magness. Have they been over the top? Maybe they have, but if that is your view, you might want to keep the following in mind.

      As I’ve said, contrary to Magness, we did engage in discussion before the present post. I was puzzled by some of his claims at BHL, but I went out of my way to stress at the time that I was neither criticizing him nor even disagreeing with him. I just needed clarification about what he was saying. He dropped that conversation in mid-stride. I found that irritating, but wouldn’t have treated it as the grounds for the tone I’ve currently taken. (I’ve already linked to this above.)

      My tone changed subtly as his claims became increasingly abusive, not directly at me, but at others. The attack on Mary Grace Gainer was off-putting (linked to above), but made some legitimate points. The tone of “The Myth of the Minimum Wage Adjunct” was smug, but also made some legitimate points. My first “Request for Disclosure” post of May 5 (before the 11 pm postscript) responded to those items, and I don’t see anything in it that requires apology or backtracking on my part. By 11 pm that day, however, I had read Magness’s Twitter feed, and had read, e.g., his taunting Kevin Carson for his (Carson’s) pre-trial arrest record.


      Phil Magness
      ‏@PhilWMagness Phil Magness retweeted
      Since you’re turning to ad hominem, evidently I’ve hit some sort of nerve. Had any drinks lately 😉

      “Had any drinks lately” is a reference to an as-yet unadjudicated DUI charge against Carson. Apparently, when push comes to shove, for Magness, the presumption of innocence defers to the demands of the rumor mill. He’s not above using an arrest charge as a taunt if it serves his polemical purposes.**

      This part of Magness’s exchange with Carson is worth reproducing, not for the attacks on Carson but on Gainer, the adjunct.

      12:55 PM – 29 Apr 2015
      Kevin Carson Ⓐ ‏@KevinCarson1 Apr 29
      .@PhilWMagness I don’t think ad hominem means what you think it means. My comment goes to your differential willingness to accept…
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      Kevin Carson Ⓐ ‏@KevinCarson1 Apr 29
      .@PhilWMagness …bureaucratically set parameters, based on whose ox is gored… and your utter lack of self-awareness in doing so.
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      Phil Magness ‏@PhilWMagness Apr 29
      @KevinCarson1 If not (1) quality research or (2) quality teaching, of which she has neither, what’s her output? What’s her value?
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      Kevin Carson Ⓐ ‏@KevinCarson1 Apr 29
      .@PhilWMagness I doubt you have sufficient evidence to judge the quality of her teaching. And what’s the “value” of the administrators…
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      Kevin Carson Ⓐ ‏@KevinCarson1 Apr 29
      .@PhilWMagness …who interpose themselves between the tuition-paying students and the adjunct faculty, and skim off what they can?
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      Phil Magness ‏@PhilWMagness Apr 29
      @KevinCarson1 She said she puts in ridiculous amts. of unpaid hours teaching an easy Intro 101 course. Ergo she sucks.

      “Ergo she sucks.” This verdict comes from a person who, in my view, has a pathetically impoverished grasp of how the adjunct market actually works. So my tone changed a bit–but only a bit. Eventually we got to the pseudo-psychiatric mud-slinging I’ve mentioned elsewhere–“crazy cat lady,” “crazy unemployable,” and I’d had it. That’s when I hauled out the most abusive claim I made: I told him he had his head up his ass. The claim still seems to me an entirely proper response to someone who thinks that an adjunct sucks because she puts too much work into their prepping, or that someone is crazy and unemployable because he insists on pursuing an uncomfortable topic.

      I particularly enjoyed this challenge from Magness to Carson (same link):

      1 retweet 1 favorite
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      Phil Magness ‏@PhilWMagness Apr 29
      @KevinCarson1 Curious…when’s the last time you adjuncted a couse & where since you fancy knowing so much of their plight?
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      We all have our curiosity.

      That said, the 11 pm postscript on May 5 is more abrasive than its predecessors, but it isn’t abusive, and there is in fact no innuendo in it at all. What I say in it was literally and exactly true: what Magness had said was consistent with the block quote at the end of the post. I invited Magness to fill in the gaps in his work record, just as I’d asked Brennan to do (and was prepared to accept a responsive answer in Magness’s case just as I had in Brennan’s). It seems to have escaped my critics that the supposedly over-suspicious hypothetical I described in the block quote seems almost entirely to be true. The only outstanding issue in it remains Magness’s summer employment, and he’s the one who’s so far declined to discuss that.

      It also seems to have escaped my critics that after questioning, Brennan’s and Magness’s autobiographical claims have turned out to be less impressive than they were before questioning. Listening to Brennan go on and on about GEICO, you might have gotten the impression that he’d been there for years when he’d been there for six months. Reading Magness, you might have gotten the impression that he’d supported himself entirely by adjuncting. He hadn’t. Well, now you know. That came about by my asking the questions I asked, not through my critics’ complacent willingness to accept Magness and Brennan’s claims at face value.

      Comically, one critic writes (on Facebook, naturally):

      [Khawaja is] questioning someone’s integrity by questioning the work history they publicly post, particularly with Phil, a nice guy whom he never interacted with before. Phil answering his questions actually strengthens the case Phil makes, that being said.

      Put aside Phil’s putative “niceness,” and put aside the incorrect claim that we’d never interacted before. Likewise, put aside the supposed impropriety of asking questions about information that is already in the public domain. This critic is saying that Magness’s failure to disclose the nature of his summer employment, his failure to disclose the amount of his 2011 grant, along with his disclosure that his 2007 and 2009 grants materially helped his career, and his confirmation that he adjuncted for all of three semesters before he got a full-time administrative job, all help his case. Question: How?

      I didn’t start this conversation wanting to engage in a snark-fest. I started it with the reverse intention. So I’m perfectly happy to hit “re-set” if I get some indication that my interlocutor will reciprocate (here I mean Magness, not Brennan; Brennan has reciprocated). What I’m not going to do, however, is have some asshole take to Facebook to spread rumors about me while I’m expected to treat him like a decent person. Justice demands that if you act like an asshole, you get treated as one. It’s up to Magness to figure out whether to apply modus ponens or modus tollens to that conditional.

      *Last item on the list added after initial posting.

      **Brennan, by the way, takes the same tack on the C4SS site, responding to Carson:

      Jason Brennan · 1 week ago

      Kevin Carson logic:

      Kevin: “Hey, Brennan, you asshole, look at this person who chose to be profiled in a national newspaper, is clearly a counterexample to your views.”

      Brennan: “Well, she’s not a counterexample. She’s actually an example. Let me give a compelling account why.”

      Kevin: “What as asshole you are for attacking this poor woman? Why don’t you leave her alone, you frat boy!”

      Also, is *drinking and driving* or *taking drugs and driving* a prime example of frat boy behavior? Perhaps you shouldn’t throw around insults and just focus on writing a compelling response.

      The last few lines are a reference to the same DUI charge that Magness has exploited. I emphasize that the charge remains unadjudicated and that as of this writing, Carson enjoys the presumption of innocence.

      Incidentally, note Brennan’s implicit endorsement of the principle that if a person puts her biographical information in the public domain in the context of a public controversy, she must accept public scrutiny of what would otherwise be her private life. I accept the application of that principle to anyone, be it Gainer, Brennan, Magness, or myself. Magness seems to accept it as applied to Gainer, to abuse it in the case of Carson, but objects to its application to himself.


      • Magness has now answered the question about his summer employment in a new essay on his website:

        On a more personal level, adjuncting forms a part of my own career as I have been adjunct teaching in some form or another continuously since 2008 (the first 1.5 years were as a “full time” adjunct including no alternative or summer employment, now I simply contract to teach in another department in addition to my full time obligations at GMU).

        That merely intensifies the mystery and intensifies the sense of Magness’s atypicality as a “full time adjunct.” How many adjuncts make enough during, say, the spring semester so that they don’t have to work at all during the summer? To really make sense of Magness’s claims, we’d need to know (a) how much he was making, (b) whether he had transportation costs, and (c) what kind of rental or housing situation he had. Obviously, an exercise of that nature would be like pulling teeth, but the basic point is both simple and obvious: contrary to Magness’s claim that adjuncts have the summer “off,” long-term adjuncts with transportation and housing costs cannot afford to go entirely without employment and income for June, July, and August. In describing their summers as a “generous” vacation that they take “off,” he simply ignores the fact that many adjuncts seek either non-academic employment during the summer or teach summer sessions at the institutions that offer them.

        Magness’s newest essay, “Empirical Evidence of Adjunct Hours and Expectations,” (version: May 11, 2015, 2:32 pm) claims to summarize the findings of a 2012 report by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce. I’ve brought Magness’s essay to CAW’s attention, inasmuch as the essay strikes me as a blatant misrepresentation of the findings of the report. If they don’t respond to him to correct the record, I will try to make the time to do so, most likely after I get back from my upcoming trip abroad, but it’s their report, and my guess is that they wouldn’t appreciate its being distorted as Magness has for the polemical purposes he intends.

        My suggestion to anyone who reads Magness’s essay would be to do the following:

        1. Ask yourself, clause by clause, whether Magness’s conclusions are justified by the data he himself presents.
        2. Go back and read the CAW report for yourself. Then ask yourself whether Magness has accurately summarized its claims, including the (many) qualifications it makes to the data it presents.
        3. Having read the report, ask yourself whether its authors ever claimed that it constituted “the empirical data” (Magness’s phrase) on the subject.
        4. Finally, ask yourself whether Magness’s intended conclusion–“the economic difficulties of adjuncting are often severely overstated”–really suffices to show what Magness and Brennan have been arguing for the last several weeks, namely, that long term adjuncts are well paid (“highly paid by the hour”) , that they are culpable for whatever hardships they do suffer, that they are undeserving of a place in the profession, incompetent time managers, and, well, that they just “suck.”

        No matter how or where Magness wants to move the goalposts of his own rhetoric, he can’t undo the record at this point. He didn’t take to the blogosphere to defend the uncontroversial claim that there are exaggerations out there about adjunct hardships. He took to the blogosphere to discredit the idea of adjunct unionization by suggesting that adjunct grievances were spurious. If he really opposes unionization so vehemently, by the way, he should at this point regard Jason Brennan as one of his adversaries (see comment 8). Magness may be against unionization, but his ally Brennan is not. Though I generally can’t stand the Leiter Report (especially its owner), some able commentators have taken issue with both Brennan’s and Magness’s views in Leiter’s combox (previous link): consider it recommended reading.

        I’m more resolved than ever to do an Adjunct Summit at Felician this fall to hash some of these issues through.


  4. Pingback: The Adjunct Summit: An Update and Postponement | Policy of Truth

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