A picture is worth a thousand words.  But a picture with words is priceless.

The Philosophical Gourmet Report’s specialty rankings do not do justice to many evaluated areas.  Here is one example.  I gathered the information for the word cloud below from the wiki on graduate programs in American Philosophy on PhilWiki.   This wiki contains the specializations of faculty who list an area in American Philosophy as a specialization.  The larger the word in the cloud, the more occurrences of the word, relative to the other words.  (I limited the word cloud to 100 words.  You can read more about the American Philosophy word cloud here.)

Am cloud warmer 100

The word cloud below was generated from the specializations listed by the evaluators in American Philosophy for the Philosophical Gourmet Report.

FullSizeRender-7 copy

A bit thin.

But, you say, that the PGR only had three evaluators in American and there are more than seventy-five philosophers in the wiki.  Exactly–that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?   There aren’t any legitimate methodological standards that can support the ranking of graduate programs by evaluators who cover such a small amount of the territory of an area, in this case, both within American and in the fields associated with American.

I say to anyone thinking of using the PGR: Caveat Emptor.  American Philosophy certainly isn’t the only area to have too few evaluators and evaluators whose backgrounds don’t do justice to a field.  (And of course the PGR has many other issues.  See, here and here, for more information.)

[ I welcome comments and corrections.]

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