Paid shills are always wedging themselves onto university faculties. These people are essentially lobbyists, spokespersons, promotional writers, and any other form of cheerleader you can think of for corporate and government uglies desperate to look less ugly. Think pharma and big oil. Think rich dictatorial post-communist and middle eastern states. These guys want to look legit, and there’s nothing like a life-sized professor doll who, when you pull its string, says A liberal application of antipsychotics will make America’s children all better or Gaddafi represents the middle east’s great democratic hope or the fossil-fuel industry and climate change have nothing to do with one another or Azerbaijan is one hell of a country and a crucially important security partner for America.

These people are often outed, and when they get outed the university gets a wedgie, which is to say that nothing much happens except that the university gets its knickers in a bit of a twist. The Deniability Office is called into play, and it says This person isn’t on a tenure-track, pays her own salary, is an adjunct temporary visiting part-time what was the name again…? Most of these people don’t even lose their academic affiliation. Instead, petulantly, under orders from their department chair, they, okay, disclose on their stupid publications that, okay, their work is paid for by the people they’re praising in the publications, okay? Are you satisfied? Are you happy now? Sheesh!

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