Make sure you read this article if you are planning to become a physicist to learn what kind of deception academic physics is.
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First I notice that Katz is using science as a pun for physics. This is indeed a funny pun. Although mistaking religions to be science has had tragic consequences in humanity’s well-being.
- Don’t go into physics. If your are in it get out. Now. You can thank me later. Go into computing. Go into biology. Into law. But not into physics.
Below, I replaced “physics” where Katz writes “science.”
American physics no longer offers a reasonable career path.
True. Read this:
If you go to graduate school in physics it is in the expectation of spending your working life doing scientific research, using your ingenuity and curiosity to solve important and interesting problems.
You will almost certainly be disappointed, probably when it is too late to choose another career.
I have been repeating this same warning for a long time. Bright students are lured into physics education believing that they will get to do scientific research using their ingenuity and CURIOSITY to solve important and interesting problems. This is a recruiting propaganda as false as any used by the military.
First order of business of physics education is to kill your curiosity. Physics is serious business. You cannot remain curious and a physicist. Physics is a priestly legal religion and questioning physics doctrines is anathema. In fact it is illegal to question Newton’s laws in physics.
You will waste your most productive years learning archaic and occult laws of Newton and amendments Newton’s disciples added to Newton’s laws. For twenty plus years you will study Newtonian scriptures which include such dead scripts as Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity and String Theory. These theories may have had merit at some point but when dozen pages Einstein wrote on General Relativity is imposed on you as the 1000 page MTW so that you can do the same calculation of bending of light that you can do with Newtonian model, i.e. by a simple application of Kepler’s rule, then you know you have been fooled by the Big School.
Listen what Katz says:
You will almost certainly be disappointed probably when it is too late to choose another career.
Yes, he is right. You invested 10 of the best years of your life, and invested thousands of dollars, and more importantly, you cannot turn back because you will be perceived as a failure. The only choice left to you is to sell your soul to Newton and become a defender of the faith, i.e. a physicist.
Yeah, so much fun, for the rest of your career you will teach introductory physics to the new recruits. I can imagine the perverse satisfaction physicists get from indoctrinating their students knowing that they will reach the same point of crisis in a few years’ time. No one warns the students. No one tells them to get out now when there is time.
Here Jonathan Katz is telling you. Prof. Katz is an insider. He is telling you the truth. GET OUT NOW!
Here are the numbers. Universities spew out twice as much physics PhD as there are jobs for them. Are you now wondering why physicists are the lowest paid professionals in the world? A physicist studies Newton’s laws and earns a starting salary of less than $30,000 if he can find a job. A law student studies Roman law for a few years and earns a starting salary of over $160,000. Law firms fight among each other to grab each and every graduate. After all both are law students. If you like law why go into Newtonian law. Just study corporate law and be rich.
I disagree with one of the points Katz makes:
Physics is a profession, not a religious vocation, and does not justify an oath of poverty or celibacy.
No. Physics is a priestly profession. Physics is Newtonian religion. Physicists are Newtonian priests. The rule for celibacy was removed after Newton’s time in Cambridge but other than that physicists are priests because they are the faithful. Their faith is Newton’s force. They believe that this force, or Newton’s Soul, permeates the whole universe and it is the prime cause of all phenomena.
But Katz is telling you the truth about life as a physics student. He writes that you have no freedom, you are a slave.
As a postdoc you will work on someone else’s ideas, and may be treated as a technician rather than as an independent collaborator.
He is being too nice. Imagine that now you are over 30 and still you have not achieved your dream when you entered physics education. Why? The Big School will milk every last drop of money out of you and then squeeze out any kind of labor that it can get from you for free and then and only then it will tell you “you are now free.” Free? Like free to find a job in a market where you are treated as an overqualified technician hooking up cables in the tunnels of LHC? And that’s one of the best jobs available.
I have nothing to add to this:
Suppose you do eventually obtain a permanent job, perhaps a tenured professorship.
The struggle for a job is now replaced by a struggle for grant support, and again there is a glut of scientists. Now you spend your time writing proposals rather than doing research.
Worse, because your proposals are judged by your competitors you cannot follow your curiosity, but must spend your effort and talents on anticipating and deflecting criticism rather than on solving the important scientific problems. They’re not the same thing: you cannot put your past successes in a proposal, because they are finished work, and your new ideas, however original and clever, are still unproven. It is proverbial that original ideas are the kiss of death for a proposal; because they have not yet been proved to work (after all, that is what you are proposing to do) they can be, and will be, rated poorly. Having achieved the promised land, you find that it is not what you wanted after all.
Wow. I wish I could put it as well as that. So you are first the slave of the Big School. The Big School uses you up until you are almost dry, your best research years are behind you and you did no research. You find a job and now you are at the mercy of the Big Government who hates any kind of curiosity or new idea.
And the next stage? Suppose you got funding and got your grant. Now you are at the mercy of the Big Media! Your Press Release and the slick professional photo of your gadget you include in it are much more important than the results of your experiment. So you make sure that your title includes a new and fantastic pun that the media will love. Otherwise all your efforts will be in vain.
I have known more people whose lives have been ruined by getting a Ph.D. in physics than by drugs.
Jonathan Katz is right. Don’t enter physics education. Physics education is a profession that indoctrinates you from day one towards a membership in the Brotherhood of the Vis, the secret society of Newtonianism. By the time you realize this it will be too late. Your curiosity will be dead. You will be a bureaucrat at best and a mediocre indoctrinator at worst. If you are already in it get out of it as soon as you can. Good luck.
I noticed that the original of this article was written over 7 years ago. Things are now even worse.