I enjoy going out drinking with my colleagues, although it only seems to happen a few times a year. It should come as a surprise to nobody that professors are natural bullshitters and people always have good stories: nearly destroying a ticket booth at Alta while doing avalanche control work, barely sub-nuclear pyrotechnic displays out in the desert, skiing across Siberia during the good old days of the USSR, things like that. It is perhaps relevant that one of my colleagues, Erik Brunvand, is the son of the guy who popularized the term “urban legend.” We also tell work stories; these are slightly less colorful but this is one of my favorites:
At some point before my time at Utah, some professors got together and decided to bring a few principles to the chaotic process that is graduate admissions. The experiment worked like this. First, the applications to graduate school from a number of previous years were gathered up and a spreadsheet was created containing every current graduate student in addition to all of the quantitative data from their applications. This spreadsheet was sorted by various fields such as GRE score, undergraduate GPA, etc. Then, the resulting lists of names were passed out to the faculty without telling them what the sorting keys were. Each professor was asked to choose which list or lists best sorted the graduate students by ability. Finally, the results were tallied up. The most important predictor of grad student quality turned out to be whether the student arrived with a MS degree or not, followed closely by social security number and then phone number. GRE and GPA were not predictors at all.