July 11, 2010

RUSSIAN SPY MAY LOSE HARVARD DEGREE, and James Joyner asks: “By all accounts, Bezrukov completed the program and earned the degree in the same way as any other student. A decade ago. So, what’s the problem? He lied about his name, of course, but so what? Presumably, he also used fake credentials to get into the program. Maybe he wouldn’t have been admitted based on his actual qualifications. But that seems trumped by the fact that he was obviously qualified to do the work since, um, he did the work.” I remember a professor telling me about a fake-student case at Yale; she’d done the work satisfactorily but was still booted. Explanation: “We turn down lots of people who could do the work satisfactorily if they got in. If we start letting them stay on that basis even if they’re frauds, we’ll have a lot more frauds show up.” But, you know, that’s Yale. The Harvard crowd seems to have more trouble figuring out how the incentives created by a policy will play out . . . .

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