Recently I reviewed a bunch of good reasons to remove letters of recommendation when evaluating candidates for jobs or scholarships.
Today I was at a meeting and thought of one more issue. Letters of recommendation are not merely a noisy communication channel; they’re also a biased channel. The problem is that letter writers are strategic: they’re writing their letters to manipulate you, the reader. Yes, I know we all try to adjust for these biases, but that just introduces one more complicating factor.
Really, what’s the point? Letters of recommendations have so many other problems, and this is one more.