Sunday, June 14, 2015

Academic Exploitation

I love this comment from NeuroDojo. It sums up my feelings completely, even as I approach the final battle at the gates of tenure.

"There is a myth that being a scientist isn’t a job or a career, but a calling or vocation. The corollary is that people who want to do science must be willing to put with anything. That, my friends, is bull.

As I mentioned on Twitter, it isn’t reasonable to ask people to put up with an indefinite among of crap for an indefinite amount of time to join a profession. People do not have infinite patience, and they shouldn’t be expected to have infinite patience.

Make no mistake: people, particularly young people, will walk away from scientific careers..."

Monday, June 8, 2015

Finding the right fit

I think I might finally be discovering what I like to do. It only took 30+ years. I'm really enjoying my adventure of building a new venture. I'm consistently excited by the work and it moves at a faster pace than academia. It also doesn't have all of the administrative crap. Honestly, I feel like this is what engineering in academia should be, but isn't because truly useful ideas are very rare.

Most of my ideas are mediocre, but I admit it. I have lots of decent ideas for experiments that will advance our knowledge or understanding of a problem, but they won't solve anything. So far, I think I've had 2-3 ideas in my life that I think really have any sort of even minimal chance at changing the world. Insight for it's own sake is awesome, but it is science, not engineering. Most engineers in academia refuse to admit that. We have to keep busy while we struggle to come up with the next great idea, and advancing science is great, but just admit that that is what you are doing. Putting a bow on a turd doesn't make it any better, but professors are great at pontificating broader impacts without any facts to back up their claims. Sure the broader impacts statements are based on sound logic, but they are always, at best, substantiated by other journal papers that are equally based on a very limit world view. The entrepreneurs and successful business people I've been around the last few weeks have no qualms about calling folks out on their bullshit. I love that. Many profs don't, and a few even refuse to accept facts when confronted by people that work in their fields in industry. It was amusing and sad to see them try to argue, it was almost as bad as the anti-vaxers.