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Remember, Remember, the 5th of November

The 1% treason and plot

I see no reason why the 1 % treason

Should ever be forgot

Today is the day to move your bank accounts if you still need to.

see the V for Vendetta ending here.

“A government afraid of its citizens is a Democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny!”
― Thomas Jefferson


60% of science majors switch majors before graduating?? Quelle Surprise!   In Why Science Majors Change Their Minds, It’s Just So Darn Hard, the NYTimes writes:

But, it turns out, middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls “the math-science death march.” Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.

Studies have found that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree. That increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to new data from the University of California at Los Angeles. That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.

Yeah, try the math when you’ve been at 14 different schools before graduating high school.  Talk about test anxiety.  With all of the obstacles to getting a degree in the sciences, and the Times lists several including the full immersion into theory and low GPAs, you have to be really dedicated and interested in science to want to stick with it to graduation.  Or crazy.  Or both.

“We’re losing an alarming proportion of our nation’s science talent once the students get to college,” says Mitchell J. Chang, an education professor at U.C.L.A. who has studied the matter. “It’s not just a K-12 preparation issue.”

No s$%^, Sherlock.  Could it be the hundreds of thousands of layoffs in the computer science and life science industries and the low pay as a consequence of those layoffs when you finally do find another job have scared students away?  No one goes into science to get rich but they do go into it expecting that those  years of calculus, physics and P. Chem. mean a decent salary and some kind of recognition by upper management that these are very difficult fields of study leading to very difficult jobs.  If everyone could do it, you wouldn’t have 40% of your majors switching and regular average Americans avoiding you at cocktail parties when you try to describe the last project you worked on.  And even if you are a math wiz, that doesn’t necessarily make you a good problem solver.  In other words, high SAT scores are helpful but not sufficient.

This paragraph is either really funny or horrifically out of touch:

Most of the top state research universities have added at least a splash of design work in the freshman year. The University of Illinois began this fall to require freshmen engineering students to take a course on aspirations for the profession and encourages them to do a design project or take a leadership seminar. Most technical schools push students to seek summer internships and take semesters off to gain practical work experiences. The hope is that the lure of high-paying jobs during an economic downturn will convince more students to stick with it.

Little Children, run away, run away!  Do not pursue a degree in science.  No matter how good you are or how hard you are willing to work, the executives think the Chinese can do it better.  It doesn’t matter how many Chinese scientists your parents know who turn out to be a mixed bag like every other demographic group.  There are no high salaries in science and engineering anymore.  Every company is laying off in droves and bugging out to Asia and western Europe.  All there are is a series of contract positions with low pay and no benefits for all of your years of toil and sweat over your condensation apparatuses, Hamiltonians and operator algebra.  Go into finance.  You may be miserable but you’ll never starve.  The New York Times has no idea what it is talking about.  Take it from us, the unemployed researchers of America.  Avoid chemistry and math like the plague.

I’ve wanted to be a scientist from fourth grade when my teacher burned sugar in a pan and put a watch glass over it so we could see the physical and chemical trasformation.  Damn her!  She ruined my life.  Don’t get sucked in by clever teachers who make it look “cool!”  Burning sugar is just a gateway drug to bitterness, sorrow and wasted lives.  People will see you and shake their heads and think, “She could have *owned* her house by now if she had just become a CPA.”  I volunteered to do a demonstration at a science night for little kids at Princeton recently and I’ve been feeling guilty ever since.  It’s a hard habit to break.

This has been a public service announcement to promote good mental hygeine among aspiring scientists.  Just don’t.  We can’t stress this enough.

Postscript: The comments section of that article just kills me.  The educators go on about how noble and lofty a science degree is, you just need to buckle down and study hard.  It’s hard work but so rewarding.  While the *real* scientists are like, “Are you nutz??  THERE ARE NO JOBS, NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU WORK TO GET A DEGREE!  Go take an easy major and become an investment banker.  Don’t break your heart in science.  We are severely underappreciated.”  Go read them, very illuminating how off the mark the general public and journalists are.  They are being deliberately mislead into thinking that a profession that requires so much hard work and dedication from its practitioners MUST be well paid and valued.  Nothing could be further from the truth and it would be immoral for those of us who have been there to tell students anything else.