April 27, 2010, - 4:50 pm

You Need a College Professor For This?: “Dancing w/ the Stars” & Why College Costs Too Much

By Debbie Schlussel

If you’re wondering why college tuition costs so much for something so useless as a college degree, you might wanna check out tonight’s edition of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”


On the show, a college professor will display her absolutely worthless area of expertise on the backs of hard-working American parents paying tuition to fund her unnecessary salary.  And there are many, many academics and researchers on university payrolls studying similarly useless items and concepts that are of absolutely no use or necessary application in the real world.  Of course, there are many reasons college costs too much–from lazy professors who teach an hour a week and have tenure to lazy administrators who collect high salaries for pushing paper in giant university bureaucracies.  But esoteric wastes of time like this are a huge part of the problem:

Wayne State University’s Cindy Bir will appear on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” tonight.

The professor of biomedical engineering used a system called functional assessment of biomechanics to monitor professional dancers Dmitry Chaplin and Edyta Sliwinska. Hooking them up to the system allowed her to track data such as foot speed and the force with which they landed. It also revealed exactly how their bodies moved.

“It’s nice that we can … showcase what Wayne State does and get some science out in front of the general public,” Bir told the Free Press.

I doubt watching some professor make some irrelevant measurements of athletes’ speed will make any kids interested in science.  It’s a dumb gimmick.  And some college professor is getting paid to “study” it.

Hey, who needs to research a cure for cancer or an inexpensive way to make cars run without gas, when you can study important things like bimbos and himbos on a TV dance show?  It’s worth dying from a debilitating  disease and staying dependent on the Saudis, right?

Tags: , , , , , ,

30 Responses

They call this education. Uhuh. And most Americans will think that it is! They’ve educated us alright!

BB on April 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm

To be fair, some applied research can yield tangible benefits in the future. But the bulk of what what’s at universities today is nonsense and left-wing political advocacy dressed up as “academic research.” We need that like we need a bad toothache. Fortunately, the rise in college costs has a good up side: fewer kids get exposed to all that dumbed down pedantry that today passes for education.

NormanF on April 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

College costs so much because of the ease of obtaining grants/student loans and lower admission requirements. Once the govt is the only source of student loans, it will get worse. Now, students compete to get in a school, the better plan is fewer students making the college compete for the student. As the judge in Caddyshack said, “The world needs ditch diggers too, Danny.”

thomas o'malley on April 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Sorry to say but it seems out of touch!

Iris Zaft on April 27, 2010 at 5:49 pm

They WILL con the general public into how hard they work, though

Patrick on April 27, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I always regretted for “dropping out” of college to join the military. However after many years of seeing what are “fine institutions of higher learning” are producing, I do not regret it anymore. I am not downplaying the actual sciences and engineering courses that a good gray matter still counts. Its dribble like this that tells me why we have to import students from other countries to fill our engineering schools. Well at least I can say that I am not up to my eyeballs in debt.

Mario on April 27, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Bir is a useless human being doing something useless. A janitor cleaning public toilets would be of infinitely more value that her. Will Dr. Bir next be hooking up porn actors to obtain relevant data for her research? That would be o less wild than her present project.

Worry01 on April 27, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I have to say I commend the show for doing something to try to smarten up the show. I’ve only seen bits and pieces but it appears to be a major brain drain with absolutely no redeeming value. So out of the millions of viewers, if only one or two are motivated to explore their world a little further or learn something new, its a huge accomplishment.

As for the prof and her particular field of study, to each his/her own. Hey, at least she’s not a lawyer, right Deb? 😉

joe schmoe on April 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm

“As for the prof and her particular field of study, to each his/her own. Hey, at least she’s not a lawyer, right Deb?”

That was an inane point. Is that what you tell your employer when you waste time at work, assuming that you have some sort of job? Also, this is not a freebie. Taxpayers do pay for people as useless as Bir and their antics. If you actually read the article and thought things out just a bit, you might just be taken seriously.

Worry01 on April 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Not really sure the point here.
Someone studies biomedical engineering, “Dancing with the Stars” asks her to use it on their dancers.
And that means her field of expertise is worthless?

Wouldn’t the study of how the body moves be valuable to the world? From soldiers boots to car design seems pretty useful.

Her appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” is a gimmick, but that doesn’t invalid what she dose in her 9 to 5.

Pete Bone on April 27, 2010 at 10:45 pm

I saw the sports science segment on the show this evening. As an amateur fitness enthusiast I found it enlightening and entertaining. As a matter of fact, I think using that bit as an example of wasted college credits and tuition was off point. Arguing that an education in sports science is wasted is comparable to arguing that an education in law or journalism is wasted, with Sports Science probably being more profitable to the general population in terms of reward for effort.

Frankly the business of news is the entertainment business, and lawyers are nothing more than a necessary evil, so get off your high horse.

Also, calling these dancers bimbos and himbos indicates sexual promiscuity on a professional level… so they are whores? Your insulting degradation of these dancers, who are high level professional athletes cheapens your image. If you want to pick on the sorry state of higher education these days, the last place to look is Dancing With The Stars.

Finally… are you nuts?

Steve Tew on April 27, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    With tuition climbing to unaffordable levels and professors spending less time teaching in the classrooms, I would say that this is a waste. Places like U.C. Berkeley treat undergraduates like dirt when they fill auditoriums with 500 students, since there can be no meaningful interaction with students with such numbers. Also, graduate students and teaching assistants are no substitute for such contact. It is like someone saying that a registered nurse is just like a medical doctor, which is just as absurd. One of the reasons for this problem is that professors who achieve tenure get to escape the drudgery of undergraduate instruction in favor of graduate students or publishing in journals. Debbie is really not really going over the top when she claims that many tenured professors are often in the classroom or lecture hall.

    Worry01 on April 28, 2010 at 6:43 am

“Wouldn’t the study of how the body moves be valuable to the world? From soldiers boots to car design seems pretty useful.”

And what do you think the line should be for this cost per benefit ratio? Are you telling us this analysis has provided us a better boot or car seat? Most comfortable vehicle I own is my 64 F-100, far less fatiguing to drive then my late model car. And guess what, a boot is a boot. Our soldiers aren’t better killing machines because of arch supports.

lowandslow on April 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

    As someone who has put 63 years of hard use, including lots of dancing, on 2 congenitally damaged feet, I can tell you you’re wrong. “A boot is [NOT just] a boot.” I have always been active and now my knees, hips and entire spine are paying for the lack of good support my feet failed to provide. As a woman, of course I compounded the problem when young by wearing non-sensible shoes but still… I pay a small fortune for good footwear now and I’m not talking Jimmy Choo.
    I agree with most of what Debbie wrote about “higher” education and am glad my daughter is a drop out but I also don’t think valuable research has to be dry and dull for those doing it. if a prof can find a fun way to do a meaningful study, which this can be if designed properly, then I say, why not? There are plenty of medical studies that seem very “proper” done in labs that are stupid because they derive their results from statistics. Dr. Bir has found ways to study movement stresses that use live subjects without turning them into numbers or without torturing small animals. Also think about this, maybe some company like Nike or even Dr. Scholl’s might pick up on the DWTS angle and help fund further studies. Doh! What an idea. Who’d a thunk a college prof coming up with a funding idea that doesn’t take money from her students or tax payers. Sometimes the best discoveries are accidents.

    mk750 on April 28, 2010 at 2:38 am

“Your insulting degradation of these dancers, who are high level professional athletes cheapens your image.”

For a minute there I thought you were serious till you typed that. Good one.

lowandslow on April 28, 2010 at 12:09 am

I thought you were going to say she was some Women’s Studies professor talking about how dancing is oppressive to women or something silly like that, but you have a problem with biomedical engineering? You people are idiots if you don’t have the imagination to think of how better models of human movement could benefit humanity in the future.
– Prosthetic limb design
– Physical therapy / rehabilitation
– Robotics
– Footwear design for less long-term wear on legs

That took me about 30 seconds to think up. The kind of research this professor is doing is exactly the sort of thing that will benefit our injured soldiers, and you’re too dumb to realize it.

Libertarian Bulbasaur on April 28, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Couldn’t have said it better!

    mk750 on April 28, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Libertarian Bulbasaur nailed it right on the head.

    Tom on November 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I did enjoy watching Edyta Sliwinska dance. But the wonderful world of acadamia does have some passion. I have had instructors who wanted us to learn.

Davidlj on April 28, 2010 at 6:53 am

Another example of the culture distracting us while America goes to hell in a handbasket at the hands of foreign offshore bankers like Goldman Sachs and their puppets including the DC elite! WAKE UP!

Bob Porrazzo on April 28, 2010 at 8:34 am

    The distraction of the “culture” is that the show exists at all, not that a college prof isusing it for a valid piece of research. However, since it does exist, there is nothing more redeeming than to have some good come from it even tho that was not it’s original intent.

    mk750 on April 28, 2010 at 8:59 am

I don’t think the problem stems from academia necessarily. Marketing and advertisement has a strangle hold on our society. We dump billions and billions of dollars into advertisement and marketing research every year. All so we can sell someone something they didn’t need to begin with.

These universities that are using those marketing and advertising strategies to recruit future students don’t seem to be evil entities out to waste our money and time. Viable, important research is constant in academia and new advances in medicine, engineering, economics, etc. are coming out of these universities all the time.

Is it shameless to use some of the talent in the faculty pool to recruit future researchers? I don’t know, but clearly today’s youth need some push to get them into the sciences and pure research so someone someday will find a cure for cancer and find a way to power our cars with water.

Rachelle Foster on April 28, 2010 at 10:59 am

Debbie and everyone, the media has gone berserk.

Have you seen Comedy Central’s latest?! This horrible game where the bad character is called “I.S.R.A.E.L?” It’s out there courtesy of Comedy Central – the same folks that censored South park for the Muslims. Of all the acronyms they came up with that’s the one by accident? This is so blatant and such a direct attack. History repeating itself. Can someone issue a fatwa to stop this? Oh yea, we Jews and Christians don’t do that barbaric kind of thing these days.


OneScaredMomma on April 28, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Naw, it’s just more proof that religion will be the downfall of mankind.

    Pete Bone on April 28, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Yep – “only religions of peace” issue fatwas Momma

ABC on April 28, 2010 at 11:51 am

This is strictly a PR gimmick to highlight her research and the university she works for. The research into prosthetic limb design, physical therapy/rehabilitation, robotics, and footwear design have been going on for the past hundred years or so. Long before ‘dancing with the stars’ has been on television. The producers probably brought her on to give the show an air of legitimacy.

gerob on April 28, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Lowandslow… Yup, I am serious. Professional dancers have endurance, flexibility, reaction times, timing, and explosive strength that compare to or surpass that of any other group of athletes. The professional athletes from other disciplines who have appeared on Dancing With The Stars have had a very difficult time keeping up. Your remark indicates a lack of familiarity with athletics and dance. Do some homework.

Steve Tew on April 29, 2010 at 1:13 am

I understand your point about high tuition and excessive waste in education, but I think it is unfair to scape-goat Cindy Bir with a somewhat personal attack to get your point across. I’m not a friend of hers, but I know her. She works very hard and brings in far more money for her school (from industry) than she collects in salary (probably resulting in lower tuition). Much of her research is aimed at injury prevention in athletics. Is that worthless? This may be a trivial display of her area of expertise, but it’s the closest thing to exposure to science that most of the DWTS audience gets. What’s the harm?

If takes a lot of years of hard work to get to the point where you have the luxury becoming lazy, unproductive and supported by others (as a professor). Look around and see all the people living on your dime who get that way without ever accomplishing anything.

wsu student on April 29, 2010 at 8:43 am

I agree with a few people in the comments – biomedical engineering a waste of time?!?! You know Ayn Rand advocated that all the titans of industry should skip town and see how the world goes without them… but right now, I really think people who don’t appreciate science don’t deserve it.

Your welcome for your computer, the internet, and your blog, all designed thanks to “wasteful university spending.” Your welcome for every medical device, every scanner, implant, pacemaker, set of braces, corrective lens, all products of biomedical engineering, none of which you could have appreciated from looking at bare science like the “functional assessment of biomechanics.”

Reality check: conservative bloggers are less valuable than biomedical engineers.

Tom on November 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I am a biomedical engineering student at Wayne and the applications for biomedical engineering are endless.

Your life is affected by its research everyday. Maybe you should’ve researched before spitting out such nonsense. Did you know Wayne was one of the first places to study car crashes? Did you know biomedical engineers also help in the research and design of all medical devices, pace-makers, insulin pumps, artificial and replacement organs, among many other devices?

Your very life may be here because of this research you dismiss.

mark on August 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field