Sean Carroll comes very close in this post to vindicating an outsider’s view of physics profession and physics professionals. But he falls short of applying scientific reasoning to the profession itself since he is an insider, the way a cosmologist cannot know the cosmos, so let me help.
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.
In any case, physicists themselves are the victim of the professional physics propaganda that is perpetuated in the media about heroic theoretical discoveries by physicists. They are recruited into the profession by this propaganda. Behind the glamorous facade there is the ugly physics hierarchy as strict as the Vatican and the military. This hierarchy is like the famous Higgs field but as the physics student swims upwards in this hierarchy she gains not mass but authority. After two decades of learning a useless legal language called physics the doctoral candidate gets his license to practice and starts looking for a job to do data reduction or at best to work on some obscure topic defined and paid for by the military. What happened to the promised fundamentally heroic discoveries? They don’t exist. So the disillusioned physicist after two decades of studying legal Newtonist religion in all its incarnations and becoming a secular priest of Newtonism becomes a chauvinist bureaucrat defending Newton’s 18th century religious ideologies as science.
The picture of scholastic physics described here by an insider under the guise of giving advice reveals that physics is another name of the old hierarchical bureaucracy called scholasticism. The advice to the new members of this bureaucracy is simple: if you want to advance in this hierarchy you must conform.
Physicists are employed by the scholastic corporation and they must abide by company rules. The corporation outlives any physicist and no physicist can change the corporation. If they do not conform physicists will be out and unemployed.
Also take a look at this table showing the similarities between physics and the Church.
What Dr. Carroll proves in this post is that physics is an organism. He recognizes that there is a bureaucracy and there is a hierarchy. Physicists are professionals who must move up the hierarchy continuously or drop out. How? He doesn’t say. I’ll tell you. The currency of academic physics hierarchy is authority.
Physics is not structured like minor-league/intercollegiate-sports system. Physics is structured like the military and the Catholic church.
Law, the medicine, the military, the church and physics are hierarchical bureaucracies based on an absolute respect to rank and seniority. Anyone who even thinks of questioning authority is pushed out of the brotherhood. Excommunication in physics is as real as excommunication in the church. Science on the other hand is defined as questioning authority.
Any climber in the hierarchy who reaches academic bottlenecks with less authority appropriate for her rank and seniority will be told as Dr. Carroll nicely put it “you have passed your sell-by date, no more jobs for you.” Just like in the military.
I am glad that now there is a verification by an insider that physics is a rotten unhuman organism feeding on human intelligence.
Why is this relevant?
- Proposition: Similar organisms behave the same way
If the physics profession has an architecture which is identical to the architecture of the Catholic church, that is, a hierarchical bureaucracy based on sanctity of rank and authority then both practitioners will behave exactly the same. And they do, as I’ve written yesterday.
Compared to Hollywood Academic physics is fringe entertainment.
So, physicists who are reading this what do you think?