LINK: Don’t become a scientist!

One of our readers sent us a couple of links to articles where becoming a scientist (or even going to grad school) is strongly advised against. The articles are quite brutal and straight to the point, and they can be depressing or shocking for some readers…

In the essay “Don’t become a scientist!”, physics professor Jonathan Katz explained that “American science no longer offers a reasonable career path”. It was written more than 10 years ago, but I bet the author has not changed his mind. You might want to keep in mind that J. Katz earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University at the age of twenty-two and he has had later a very productive research career, so he has a first-hand knowledge of the issue. You might want to keep in mind too that he is been involved in some controversies

Among a lot of other provocative and interesting stuff, he writes…

I have known more people whose lives have been ruined by getting a Ph.D. in physics than by drugs.

Pretty much along the same lines, Philip Greenspun wrote in 2006 the essay “Women in science”. The bottom line of the article is that becoming a scientist is such a terrible career choice that only testosterone-poisoned man, that tend to lack perspective, are blind enough to follow it.

Again, let me give you a few sentences from that article…

Adjusted for IQ, quantitative skills, and working hours, jobs in science are the lowest paid in the United States
Some young people think that science is a good career for the same reason that they think being a musician or actor is a good career
The women I know who are university professors, by and large, are unmarried and childless. By the time they get tenure, they are on the verge of infertility.

Philip Greenspun is a well-known computer scientist, educator and early Internet entrepreneur (see his wikipedia article for more about him), so that he also seems to have a deep knowledge about the issue he is writing about…

If you know about similar links, or articles defending just the opposite, use the comments of this post to share them with us!

2 thoughts on “LINK: Don’t become a scientist!”

  1. The statement “I have known more people whose lives have been ruined by getting a Ph.D. in physics than by drugs.” is definitively true.

    As a matter of fact, Jonathan Katz is a physics professor, hence he most likely does not know any drug addicted person. However, Dr. Katz is acquainted with a large number of physicists holding a doctoral degree.

    It is just a matter of statistics. 🙂

  2. I’m a researcher in physics, maybe the sentence is exagerated but I know many people ruined by science, in particular physics. People frustreated by the impossibility to get a position after years and years of hard work and sacrifices, or researcher complitely isolated in their own lab. Science is tough.

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