Wow, there must be a loooooooooooot of folks who don't f*cking love science

Sep 20 2013 Published by under Issues in Science

Yes, the funding situation for science research and the career trajectories for PhDs are all sorts of suckery right now. I’m currently in that boat navigating those waters. So if you ask me, “Should we push for increasing research funding?” The answer is obvs yes. Should we push to put people in office who reflect this sentiment? Yerp. Should post docs be paid more? Yes….err...I'm open for debate (see below). Should all of these issues get "debated in the media, that sees equal time with the wars we fight and the bills we pay our aging workforce?” Absolutely.

So why do I find this WHY YOU DON’T “FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE” post misdirected?

Breaking people down into a false dichotomy of those who truly love science and those who just proclaim that they “fucking” love science dismisses the multitude of ways people (have to) prioritize matters that impact their lives. If science funding isn’t your number 1 priority...well, psshh, then you’re doing it wrong is quite frankly condescending. Ever wonder why people thumb their noses at scientists? Well…

If the point of the post is to preach to the choir, then bang up job. But if it’s to make a case to those who prioritize entitlements/earned benefits, military spending, etc. ahead of science to bump science higher on that list, then I don’t think this helps:

“No, what you love is social security, high-tech fighter aircraft, and bombing the Middle East so that it stays in the stone age where the government has assured you it belongs.”

Can anyone else taste the contempt?

Also this:

Not to mention that many graduate students are paid less than the average unemployment benefit.  That’s right: for the first five years of those two decades, most people would’ve gotten paid more if they’d not had a job at all.

Cool. Thanks for contributing to the “you’re better off doing nothing and suckling at the teat of government” narrative. One, as far as I know you can’t draw unemployment benefits for 5 years. Two, as a graduate student you agree to be trained and receive said stipend. Three, although they may not end up in their expected/intended careers, science and engineering PhDs have the lowest levels of overall unemployment (1.5%). But you know...trivializing the unemployed is *totally* ok.

As for increasing postdoc pay, this is debatable and I’ll let the peeps with more experience in the postdoc game hash it out. For me, I have several questions: Is a postdoc really about further training anymore if the intended career opportunities on the other side are dwindling? Or has it basically transitioned into a de facto midcareer position? In which case, should we really be making what is essentially a temp position more desirable by increasing its salary? Is it possible to have better paid, more permanent-y, PhD-level research positions instead?

3 responses so far

  • Bill says:

    "Is a postdoc really about further training anymore...?"

    No, because as you say "the intended career opportunities on the other side are dwindling", which means the original deal (work for shit now, get a decent job later) is off the table.

    "has it basically transitioned into a de facto midcareer position?"

    Yes.

    "Is it possible to have better paid, more permanent-y, PhD-level research positions instead?"

    Probably not, because the system depends on exploiting a continuous supply of cheap labour. If that labour became costly, the system would find a way to replace it (outsource to CRO's? the postdoc visa program? PhD required even for tech jobs?) rather than cough up.

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