• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    jmac on Steve Garvey Running for U.S.…
    William on Steve Garvey Running for U.S.…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on D-Day -1
    thewizardofroz on Steve Garvey Running for U.S.…
    William on Steve Garvey Running for U.S.…
    thewizardofroz on Steve Garvey Running for U.S.…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    riverdaughter on Shiny Happy People
    riverdaughter on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Shiny Happy People
    riverdaughter on Shiny Happy People
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    November 2011
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

  • Top Posts

Over 1000 comments on the NYTimes article on science majors dropping out

Typical lab stuff.

This goes back to the article posted in the Times yesterday about Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (it’s just so darn hard). Typical of the Times, the editor has chosen to highlight a lot of educator comments that go something like, “Well, of course it’s hard.  You have to study and stop whining and then you will get a BIG reward with a generous salary!!”

The *reader* recommend comments prefer comments like this one from someone I probably know (she lists her location as NJ.  No, it isn’t me):

To be a scientist, one has to have an employer. For many reasons, it’s not possible to do science out of your garage or house.

There aren’t a lot of openings for scientist. Or in other language, there aren’t enough jobs for scientists, compared to the people who have science degrees and wish to be employed.

It’s hard for these students who get through the STEM program and realize they won’t get a job in science, because there really aren’t a lot of jobs. They have degrees in science, but no jobs.

I’m saying this many ways because while it’s a simple concept, the people who publish articles like this one don’t seem to understand the simple concept.

No jobs in science. No jobs (or very few) for for people who want to be scientists.

And yet, ome people still do not understand what she is trying to say for some reason. To be fair, the top comment for both highlight lists is this one from a person who has obviously been there:

Even when students do stick with science degrees, what are their career opportunities? I have a PhD in biology, I’m working on my third post-doc, and i have multiple publications in high profile journals. I’m currently on the job market for tenure-track professor positions, and the situation is bleak! This is a horrible job market, and it is made worse by the compression of leftover PhD’s who couldn’t find jobs during their last 1-4 years of searching. At this rate, the US is going to lose a large chunk of an entire generation of scientists. And I’m not talking about undergrads, I’m talking about highly trained scientists with PhD’s! For the most part, our training has been paid for by US tax dollars, which are going to waste when these scientists drop out of science and choose other careers. When state governments slash education funding in response to the current economic climate, this has a huge ripple effect throughout academia. In addition, NSF funding has been stagnate for years, which further reduces levels of science hiring at Universities. While I agree with the goals/aims of STEM, these programs are diverting NSF money away from research, which only makes the problem worse. I think that the biggest issue isn’t a lack of students ‘sticking with’ science degrees, but the lousy job prospects available when they graduate

Yup, pretty much.  That one has 837 recommendations.

I love the ones from people who have apparently never had to get a job by giving a 45 minute presentation on their entire life’s work  that say that scientists should stop focussing so much on money.  We should just do it for the love of it.

What’s love got to do with it?  Sure, we love it.  We were the ones who stuck it out didn’t we?  But most of us didn’t sign up for anorexia and the life of a monk on some barren skellig.  We have to eat and prefer a family life.  When was the last time we told an accountant to prepare tax returns and balance company accounts for the love of it?  Or how about teaching?  Yes, you say you love teaching and developing little minds and everything.  But if you don’t do it for below poverty wages and give up any hope of providing for your own children, how can we really evaluate your commitment?   See how that works?  Take what ever your profession is and ask yourself if you would do it for a temporary post doc salary for 3 or 4 years after your 5-7 years in graduate school.  Would you do your work for $37,000/year if you had a PhD in your subject?  For how long?  Now add three years of calculus, two semesters of calculus based physics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, microbiology, biolchemistry and hours and hours of labs where failure is the norm, not the exception.

Didn’t think so.

That’s what it’s like for the science major right now.  And those are the ones who are lucky enough to get jobs.  The ones who have the years of experience it takes to actually do the research are getting laid off in droves.  It’s really bad in the Northeast because scientists tend to gravitate to other scientists as spouses and when both parents are getting laid off…

Did you ever get the feeling that there is a small evil group to which no one we know belongs who is sitting on a giant mountain of money and would rather strangle innovation in its infancy rather than spend even one shilling more than they think the whiny peons in the labs are worth?  The money for research in both industry and academia has dried up so thoroughly that it can’t possibly be an accident or coincidence.  There is plenty of work to do on some very challenging and difficult projects.  And there are plenty of people who would be more than willing to do them.  The problem is that there is no money.  Anywhere.  Why is that and why is the Obama administration letting them get away with that?  It’s not like when the spigots get turned back on that everyone will suddenly be able to catch up really quickly with the work.  Biology and nature doesn’t work like that.  A cessation in research means a real gap in the flow, one that can’t be made up quickly.  And by the time the money comes back in, the more experienced among us will have learned our lesson, downsized, and gotten new jobs making a lot less money in another field while the new scientists who come after will have to reinvent the wheels and work for a lot less money in a field that no one appreciates.


The only thing worse is not having an opportunity to do what you love.  In the 21st century, we have reverted back to the days when only the wealthy and self-funded can afford to dabble in science.  The joy of discovery for those of us who are not independently wealthy is becoming a dream:

Yes, it really can be this fun.  S%^&, maybe the problem is we’re not supposed to be having fun at work.  It should be dreary, miserable and for low pay or it’s not the American way.


Speaking of Occupy events, what is it about the midwest that makes them have the cleverest stunts?  These guys really go out of their way to piss people off.  Chicago is particularly good at this.  Is it because they don’t really have a place to hang out that they have turned to infiltration?  It would make a good research topic.  What makes occupier stunts successful?  Is it leadership or invention born of necessity?  Anyway, if you haven’t seen this one yet, check it out (H/T Susie Madrak):


Atrios points to a Reuters articles that  reports that Corzine’s brokerage firm, MF Global, sent out snail mail checks to depositors who requested their money when they heard rumors that the firm was in trouble.  The checks went out after MF Global went into bankruptcy.  Anyone want to guess why the checks were mailed instead of wired?  Anyone want to guess what the “MF” in MF Global really stands for?


If you haven’t had a chance to read it, check out Nate Silver’s recent deconstruction of the 2012 election using some updated models.  The bottom line is that if Romney is the nominee for the GOP, Obama looks like toast.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise because next year looks like another change election.  Since there isn’t much difference between Romney and Obama, it’s not that hard to change presidential parties while sending a message to the Democrats that voters expect more from them.  Keeping that in mind, the Democrats *could* get out in front of voter sentiment for change and Change! their own nominee.  Oh sure, it seems unthinkable now (although the rest of the electorate has been thinking it for about a year now) but give them a couple of months and a nice double dip to the recession and they may think that Obama doesn’t look nearly as shiny as he once did.


Moving on…

Speaking of MoveOn, I am going to delete any comment that directs readers to a petition.  It has come to my attention recently that if you sign petitions like the one I did for an occupy event lately, you may start getting a lot of annoying spam email from MoveOn.  If you want spam from MoveOn, I assume you already know how to get on their mailing list.  I don’t like the idea that they are using petitions regarding occupy events to get your email address.  I’ll be paying close attention to the people who are doing this because it feels devious to me and I don’t like it.  If you’re using my blog as an email address collection bot, you will be moderated.

25 Responses

  1. RD, I linked to a MoveOn petition a few threads back, but I did post a warning that it would sign an answerer up to MO. The link came to me from a 3rd party. AFAIK, I’m not a member–I certainly don’t send them money. :mrgreen:

    I apologize if I caused you any problems.

    • It wasn’t your petition link that caused the problem. BTW, I don’t mind if you link to a petition site, you just have to identify the sponsoring group. Which you did. You’re not the problem.

  2. “…why is the Obama administration letting them get away with it?”

    I assume that was a rhetorical question. You know as well as I do that the “small evil group” owns both corporate parties, including Obummer. 👿

  3. Keeping that in mind, the Democrats *could* get out in front of voter sentiment for change and Change! their own nominee.

    So far, the fix is still in.

  4. I’ve been shocked how often I’ve clicked on a petition (just recently) and been sent to MoveOn … I immediately shut the page down, it’s so upsetting.

  5. livestream of OccupyDC Surround the White House action against the tar sands pipeline. No MSM coverage in sight.


    • I don’t mean to downplay the tar sands issue but joblessness gets more sympathetic response. I wish the occupiers would hammer away at the economic stuff and catch up on the rest after they have some battle wins.

      • Standing up for oneself is important, for whatever reason. If you do it often it gets to be a habit and, I think, that’s what we want for several issues. I imagine Occupy here is joining in for an action with someone else.

      • The “no on Keystone Pipeline” movement far predates OWS. Bill McKibben and others have been picketing the White House for months predating the start of OWS. Paul(?) Hansen, a very senior NASA climate/atmospheric/etc. scientist is one of those who got himself arrested over this. They are two separate movements which can certainly stay separate.
        “No on Keystone” is about long-term survival and threats to it. If that much fossil carbon is brought to market and burned, the skyfilled CO2 will make global-warming prevention or even mitigation impossible. There comes a point where the long-term survival of everyone else in general is more important than some fleeting jobs for people hired to destroy our future and make long term survival impossible.
        I remember hearing on radio recently a spokesman for the putrid puddle of vile filth which calls itself “Third Way” chattering about “jobs” and “oil”. Never a word about CO2-driven climate-chaos-decay.
        If Obama had cared about “jobs” (which he never did and never will, by the way) , he would have protected his “green-jobs guy” whose name I just now forget against Republican Aggression early in his Administration. But since Obama is a secret-agent Republican under Manchurian Democrat cover, he was never going to do that either.

        I will risk my credibility by predicting: Obama WILL aPPROVE the Keystone Pipeline project.

        • Don’t misunderstand me, I think it’s a very idea to bring attention to the problem. It’s just that with so many people out of work right now, the tar sands problem is pretty high up on Maslow’s pyramid. Know what I mean?
          If you focus on tar sands while people can’t feed their kids, they are going to start getting irritated with the occupy movement because it will seem out of touch with the 99%’s immediate needs. Relieve the stress of day to day living and they will turn their minds towards carbon and climate.

        • if you are living under a bridge with your kids and shopping for groceries a the local grocery store dumpster you really do not care if all to spotted owls are going to be gone in twenty years.
          BTW, you don’t have to agree with the third way, or even the tea party, but there are decent people with not totally outrageous ideas amongst both groups.

          • Teresainpa and also Riverdaughter,

            Yes, that is a real problem. Concern about global warming is out-of-sight up the Maslow ladder when you have no food today. Those who already have food today are in a position to worry about being deprived of food tomorrow by earth-sized eco-destruction processes under way. My concern about “global warming” is not a sentimental concern about spotted owls. It is a survival concern about avoiding the Venusian Hellplanet future which the Merchants of Fossil Carbon have been planning for us all. Talk of spotted owls is a clever propaganda meme launched by the Merchants of Carbon to smear the global anti-warmists as elitists more concerned about an owl than about starving people. The global anti-warmists would have to attack it
            on two fronts; first by describing in plain terms the decietfulness of the Merchants of Carbons’ decietful “owls versus people” fake choice, and second by serious full-employment/massive jobs programs in global de-warming/ carbon control as a sincere part of their discussion. That is why the global anti-warmists were so heartened by Obama’s appointment of that green-jobs guy whose name I forget; and so disheartened by his firing of that guy over that guy’s offhand impolite remarkds about some thin-skinned Republicans before he ever had the green-jobs job.
            It is unfortunately a live emergency for the very short-term future because Obama makes his Keystone Pipeline decision very soon. Allowing all that tar to reach the market and then the atmosphere will turn the AmeriCanadian Breadbasket into the sort of open-air burn-barrel we have seen on display in Texas and Oklahoma/ Australia/Russia last summer/etc. When foodgrowing becomes unreliable in a couple of decades because of further carbon-loading of the atmosphere thanks to Keystone when Obama okays it, which he will; then the dumpsters will be bare and empty for starving people all over the world.
            I agree with you that the OWS movement should not diffuse its concern-field right now, which is why I noted that the No Keystone movement was an older, smaller, and different movement with the narrowest single goal possible . . . stop Keystone. So the stop Keystoners can do their thing and the OWSers can do their thing and run down their separate tracks for now without crossing eachothers’s trails.
            I agree that there may be good ideas among the Tea Party people.
            I see no reason to extend that courtesy to Third Way. Third Way is a cynical re-branding of DLC which brought us the International Free Trade Conspiracy against America among other things. Third Way is evil and immoral. Third Way is a propaganda and psychological warfare operations arm of the One Percent. I will never vote for any Democrat or anyone else with any suggestion of any taint of any links and ties whatsoever to the DLC/Third Way. I will be quite McCarthyistic about that.
            By the way . . . teresainpa, did you see my reply to your comment a couple of threads ago about my strictly amateur experience and thoughts about gardening in clay as against sand? If so, did you find it
            interesting or useful at some level?

    • This is going to take the wind out of the sail of many wingnuts who said OWS was Obama’s shill and promised to set tents with them as soon as they protest Obama

  6. Ah reminds me of the heady days of yore when janitors were paid more than school teachers. Why bother with school? You can learn to run a buffer in an afternoon. Oh and MoveOn– pubic hairs at best.

  7. OT…just saw that Taylor Marsh has written a book about HIllary. Wasn’t she a huge Obot in 2008?

    • Only after Hillary pulled out of the race. Prior to that she was very anti-Obama, then turned 180 on a dime to back him completely.

  8. whenever corporate people will start finding interest and benefit in science from business point of view this would be the result.

  9. I have a friend who recently graduated from Villa Nova with a degree in Engineering. She was offered 2 jobs ONLY! Go into the Navy or work for, wait for it………….GOLDMAN SACHS!

    • I was a military brat who grew up in the Navy. There are a lot of very fine people and minds in the Navy. She should take the Navy up on it.

  10. And as far as the protests go. The tarsands project is gonna be used as a job builder so I want to see the protests against it grow. As a matter of fact, I want to see protests wherever they are, whichever way a politician turns I want there to be people in their face protesting. Pretty soon, the Tea Party, OWS, Tarsands, all the issue oriented people sick and tired of DC policies will meld and we’ll have people pouring out, joining forces and hopefully smashing voting machines.

    • And I’m telling you that you will lose public support if you divert attention to the tarsands problem right now. WASTING public opinion. People like me who are unemployed will look at the tarsands protestors as hopelessly out of touch and a huge distraction. They’ll see a bunch of lefty treehuggers who care more about their personal causes than the vast majority of people who are struggling and failing to stay afloat in this economy.
      You will not get anyone joining your force. Instead, you are going to get people who are angry with you for wasting their support.
      I know it is important. I know that it is urgent. But it is not as urgent as losing your house because you can’t find a job. No, no, don’t even start to try to rationalize this crazy tangent you guys are going on. You now have the support of the 99%. Don’t take that force and throw it at something that is going to waste their precious time and life savings.

    • Let the “stop Keystone” project handle it. Let BIll McKibben handle it, with your support if you feel it necessary. That’s what they’re there for.

      Meanwhile, the OWSers can fight the strictly economic battles without diluting the identity of their embryonic presence.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: