Robert J. Bradbury (
Thu, 9 Dec 1999 11:02:27 -0800 (PST)

On Thu, 9 Dec 1999, Robin Hanson wrote:

> You can even sit in on classes at Stanford for free, even taking part
> in class discussions, if you are willing to not get any official credit
> for it. I did this many times. The fact that so few people do this
> just goes to show how few students are motivated primarily by wanting to
> learn things, as opposed to getting a degree.

I did something similar at the Univ. of Washington. I sat through a bunch of 400 and graduate level classes in molecular biology the year I was taking apart the problem of aging in a detailed way. It would have been too much to take the classes for credit and devote my time to all the library research I did, but the synergistic effect was great.

The Univ. of Washington is also pretty open minded about using the libraries. I can walk into any of them and stay until closing. They won't let you check out books unless they get a letter from my company stating what I want to use the libraries for. It seems like a formality to screen out the loose nuts rather than any attempt to restrict library use. Washington state is pretty big on promoting synergy between academic and business activities (as is Stanford). In contrast students going to Harvard don't even own the software they write for classes (unless they've changed the rules since the mid '70s). The attitude is that anything created using University property becomes the property of the university.

I think its an East-coast vs. West-coast thing.