Review Comment

[PHIL G4675] Direction of Time

December 17, 2013

Albert, David
[PHIL G4675] Direction of Time and [PHIL C1010] Methods and Problems of Philosophical Thought

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Regardless of whether you are majoring in philosophy or not, taking a class with this man should be on your before-you-graduate bucket list. For non-philosophy majors, I especially recommend methods & problems.

Professor Albert is the epitome of what a philosophy professor should be, namely, deeply disillusioning. If you let him, he will leave you more puzzled than when you began. His lecture style is very Socratic. He is not interested in giving you answers for free and will make you work for them. Maybe this is what rubs people the wrong way, but isn't this why we came to Columbia in the first place? To be forced to critically examine our worldview and, if necessary, uproots those pieces that do not stand up against such examination? And when he finally does offer his two cents, he does so in the clearest, most colloquial way, so as to make the typical philosopher blush. His ability to translate extremely complex and abstract issues into layman's terms is a rare gift in this field. In so doing, he is able to make philosophy extremely accessible, which is why I, again, recommend methods & problems to all non-philosophy majors.

Workload:

Methods and Problems: 3 papers on a topic of your choice

Direction of Time: His book, Time and Chance, which serves as the sort of textbook for the course, a few supplementary readings, and a final exam.

August 12, 2007

Albert, David
[PHIL G4675] Direction of Time

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I would have once said that I am "amazed" that a professor like Alberts is still allowed to "teach," but for any Columbian who's finished more than two years of education knows, the quality of instruction can varying across orders of magnitude from horrifically bad to exceptionally terrific. While Alberts does not fall in the former, he is definitely below mediocre and subpar. Bottom line: He simply doesn't care about teaching. It is obvious that this is a chore for him, and one which he does with the greatest detachment from his students. He didn't create a syllabi, stick to any coherent plan of lecture, rambled while seated well over 95% of the time without ever writing on the board, and used a horribly written, largely unreadable text, which he himself authored: Time and Chance. In addition, as if this were not bad enough, he would never give details about grading, announcing late into the semester that either a single final exam or a 25 page paper would be the sole determination of grading. He never ever responded to any emails, and would become visibly irritated with any questions after class, instructing people to email him, which again he never would respond to and use the common excuse to all of never having received any email. I am not impressed by this so-call "professor's" brillance. Where is it? What has he done to genuinely earn this distinction? Has he solved any outstanding problem in either physics or philosophy? No. Has he achieved an academic performance and excellence in teaching that would be the envy of his peers? No. People have mistaken confusion with the notion that somehow Alberts is on a level beyond ordinary men and women--a notion that was held by those majoring in the soft-sceinces like philosophy. No science major thought this, as Alberts routinely failed to convey simply what were often very simple concepts. Not once did Alberts even write a single equation on the board! How can you discuss the philosophy of science without the language of science?: Math! This was among one of only two regretable classes I ever took as an undergrad, the second being a mandatory English class that was turned into the soap box of a ranting, pretentous, jaded, so-called "feminist" English lecturer who saw misogyny in ever passage of male-written literature. How I would love to have them both dungeoned together, lecturing to one another until both have gone totally mad. Apparently, however, if one is only partially mad, that is still acceptable for the purposes of worthless lecturing to undergraduate, so long as tuition is fully paid that is.

Avoid this charlaton parading as an academic. He is fraud and slacker.

Workload:

Just Alberts Time and Chance book and either a final 100% exam or 25 page paper.

November 24, 2006

Albert, David
[PHIL G4675] Direction of Time

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Many claim this man is supposedly "brilliant." How brilliant, however, can he truly be if he cannot get in his own head right the concepts he so struggles in conveying to his audience? The man is a total pompus ass without reason or cause for his arrogance, which is totally unjustified. I got a B+ in this BS course, and I counted my lucky stars that I got that grade. This was the course that made me swtich from philosophy to physics, for the former is a total pursuit of nonsense by nonsensical little minds dressing up as something more than vacant post-modern retardation.

Lastly, the man needs to take lessons in basic grammar, for he can't write worth a damn.

As far as I and many others are concern, he is a total embarrassment to the Columbia faculty.

Workload:

Read his dumb, unreadable book, Time and Chance, and either write a 25 page research paper or take his one final exam.

March 12, 2006

Albert, David
[PHIL G4675] Direction of Time

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This guy just makes me laugh. I mean he is such a spas. He has this dumb grin on his face when he talks, kind of like a smart-ass smirk that makes you think he is just playing a fast one on you and trying to not to laugh in not believing how people are buying what he is saying.

His teaching style is quite original. He just sits all through the lecture and talks to himself. He just talks and talks and talks often ignoring his students except for what I understood were a few of his grad students, who really asked the most lamest questions that proved more brown-nosing in nature than genuine.

Often after a straight fifteen minute monlogue with himself, Albert will then stop and pause in dead silence for a couple of seconds with this priceless lost expression and lost look on his face and go "I totally forgot where all that was going. Oh well..."

He would do this constantly and never gave us any assignments. About half way into the semester he announced that our entire grade would depend on one final exam or a final term paper no less than 25 pages long. He genuinely expected us to produce an original scholarly article worthy of publication.

What is more infuriating is that the man used his own written text book, which was so incredibly poorly written that one rightly concluded that Albert should be the last person to judge the scholarly merit of any writing when he himself is in serious need of learning basic writing skills.

So after thousands of dollars sent and an entire semester sitting in his course, all I got out of his class was that some people in some profession get paid for literally sitting on their duff talking nonsense. There is a famous well known saying: "Those that can do; those that can't teach." Apparently Albert cannot do either.

Avoid this man and his courses. It will rob you of your time and money and leave you quite frustrated and angry as to how a professor with such a lack of conern and committment to teaching can be allowed to the Columbia faculty. It is genuinely inexcusable.

Workload:

None unless you opt to write a 25 page research paper. Otherwise all you have to do is read his unreadable book "Time and Chance" and take a final exam, which determines your entire final grade.

January 27, 2003

Albert, David
[PHIL G4675] Direction of Time, [PHIL V3576] Physics and Philosophy, and [PHIL W3551] Philosophy of Science

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

As you can tell from the amount of courses I've taken with him, I like Professor Albert. However, of the three I consider only Physics and Philosophy to be exceptional. Philosophy of Science is very good too but Direction of Time is disorganized, confused, and very weak overall....
Physics and Philosophy deals with various interpretations of quantum mechanics, some of their mind-boggling consequences, and how they bear on certain metaphysical doctrines, e.g., determinism and indeterminism, materialism. In addition to the fascinating subject matter, the appeal of the course lies largely in its accessibility: no background in physics or math is presupposed in lectures or in Albert's book--the only text for the course. As you long as youÂ’re willing to work a bit on the necessary technical/formal stuff, even if you are a non-science major (I am), you will be able to understand quantum mechanics in a general but sophisticated way. It's one of the best classes I've taken. The only assignment was a paper, due at the end of the semester, of approximately 20 pages. You can get away with something a bit shorter....
Philosophy of Science also had only one requirement, a 15 pager. The course is a good introduction to the field and you explore interesting issues, e.g., how to interpret scientific theories, realism, scientific explanation, objectivity. Albert was irresponsible about putting photocopies on reserve. In fact, the syllabus was generally vague and you did not have to do any reading because he didn't talk about the readings in class nor did he test us on them. He sort of just lectured on the subjects--if you were interested you could do the reading. Despite his sometimes surprising nonchalance learned a lot in the course and found his lectures interesting.....
Direction of Time is a different story. The only text used was Albert's own book about the conflict between the time asymmetry of thermodynamics (and our everyday lives) and fundamental physical theories. It is a confusing book and, unlike his book on quantum mechanics, poorly written. For one thing, he goes parenthesis crazy. In addition to his stylistic unclearness, the structure is awkward. He makes the problems more complicated than they have to be and the class mirrors the confusing progression of the book. I don't know if there are better, non-overly-technical books/articles on the subject, but if there are I wish he had assigned them. Further, after I finally deciphered his main points I wondered why there was a whole course devoted to them: they're few and simple once the decoding of his insane style is through. It seemed that he had stretched his book into a semesterÂ’s worth of material by being so confusing. I left the class annoyed that I hadn't learned more about this problem or about the philosophy of time in general. There was a choice between a final exam and a final paper. I took the test, which I found shockingly easy.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G4675: The Direction of Time David Albert 2011 Spring W / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G4675: The Direction of Time David Albert 2009 Spring F / 2:10- 4:00 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G4675: The Direction of Time David Albert 2005 Fall T / 2:10- 4:00 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G4675: The Direction of Time David Albert 2003 Fall W / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G4675: The Direction of Time David Albert 2002 Spring T / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1