Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Formation of a Thickheaded Professor

This post was made by a post-doc our age about the problem of listless post-docs. And here is her follow-up.

I'm kinda busy today, so I don't really have enough time to go into too much of a rant, but I will take enough time to say, "get over yourself." If you read the rest of her posts, she seems to be a very sensible, intelligent nice person, but it seems that she's bought into the idea that because she (thinks) she knows what's going on, everyone else should too.

Yeah, there are many postdoc's who don't have a freaking clue about what they're doing and why they've chosen the job that they have. At times they annoy me. But at the bottom of it, I'm annoyed (well, really pissed off) at a system that focuses so much on the stupid esoteric details of scientific progress that it completely ignores the people doing science. Why do you think these people got into science in the first place? I'm sure many of them enjoyed it early on. What caused them to lose that joy? Or perhaps who caused them to lose that joy? You know, not everyone is a great self-career counselor and can tell themselves at a moments notice to get out of a field that's not good for them. Did you ever think that might be a bit scary? Inertia is common in all people be the post-docs or drug addicts (or both). An academic system that focused on developing people as opposed to laboratory instruments would help students find ways to leave a field that they didn't fit into, or better yet would ensure that any student selected to enter into an academic discipline would find a way to fit into the field. Shocking, I know. Because do you really think that those other listless post-docs/gradstudents are really dumber than you? Are you really a better scientist? Or are there other things that go on in life?

What stops that type of academic system from developing? Students who embrace the culture of their elders and start thinking that the reason for other students' failures is something internal to those other people. It's right along the same lines as complaining about the Astro 101 students being dumb. Well fucking teach them something, then.

It's obvious to me that someone who says "I chose to go to gradschool, because I didn't know what else to do," has something hurting in side. But we as an academic culture chose to ignore that and just worry about how many paper that person churns out. That's exactly why I couldn't choose to be part of that academic culture anymore.


At 10:55 AM, Blogger maki-girl said...

Nice blog hoagie boy. I am also disturbed by this woman's opinions and feelings. Although I couldn't face the prospect of post-doc-ing, I could think of much worse things to spend my time on if I didn't know what to do and I enjoyed doing that kind of research. I also don't think there's anything wrong with still not knowing "what you want to be." I think there's something else going on with her but I don't know what.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger hoagieboy said...

thanks. I fixed the broken link.

Yeah, you're right. Even if I didn't like everything about a field (hmmm) I might still end up working in that field, because I had just spent the past 6 years working in it already, and it's pretty likely that I did enjoy the field to begin with. It's hard to completely jump ship. What should she expect people to do? Run to Wal-mart after your phd?

At 11:08 AM, Blogger maki-girl said...

I would venture to say that 50% of Americans or more don't enjoy their jobs or professions. Why do they stay? It's secure. It's a pay cheque. In some cases there's prestige. It's comfortable. It's great if you can jump ship and go work in the Amazon or save children in the inner cities but realistically, most people stay with what's comfortable and familiar. I don't think that's always a bad thing. Although I am really happy that neither of us did a post-doc!


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