How to Recognize Disingenuity: 1

The ability to recognize disingenuity requires a far better mind that most people realize. One commentator posted a link to an article which I had read years ago. I am now going to burn that article and piss on it. Note that it contains many half-truths and therefore sounds true, when it is really a disingenuous piece of shit.

Let us start..

First Clue- From the end of his article

Some folks read this and assume that the author is a bitter or disappointed scientist.

Hmm, why would you say that.

but otherwise I have spent my life as a humble electrical and software engineer, not as a scientist (my PhD is in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science;

“I, as an engineer, am more deserving than those scientists”- aka the ‘ape mind’ at work.

I also teach a software engineering lab course at MIT every three or four semesters (textbook).

He believes that he is now part of the “elites”. Moving on..

How much exactly do universities pay PhDs in science? Let’s consider the University of California at Berkeley. blah.. blah.. For the fall of 2007, the university pays Instructors $45,900 per year. Assistant Professors earn between $53,000 and $69,000 per year.

I won’t argue with that. ALL people should steer away from academic careers (in their current form) after grad school. The best use of grad school is for develop thinking, writing, analytical skills and other abilities which can be used for doing things beyond academia.

The AAUP ranks U.C. Berkeley as the highest paying public university in the United States.

Why would a person want to live in Berkley?

Second Clue-

Summers was deservedly castigated, but not for the right reasons. He claimed to be giving a comprehensive list of reasons why there weren’t more women reaching the top jobs in the sciences. Yet Summers, an economist, left one out: Adjusted for IQ, quantitative skills, and working hours, jobs in science are the lowest paid in the United States.

Summers represents parasitic financialism. If you think that summers is a genius, you are beyond help.

age 18-22: paying high tuition fees at an undergraduate college
blah.. blah..
age 36-43: professor at a good, but not great, university for $65,000 per year
age 44: with (if lucky) young children at home, fired by the university (“denied tenure” is the more polite term for the folks that universities discard), begins searching for a job in a market where employers primarily wish to hire folks in their early 30s

partially true, but with two major caveats.

a] Almost every job that pays less than 250k can eliminated by ‘restructuring’ and ‘rightsizing’. You could be a software engineer at goggle and get the same treatment.

b] Why would any sane person with a PhD in a scientific field not consider careers beyond academia? I mean.. are you that dense?

Consider someone taking the kind of high IQ and drive that would be required to obtain a tenure-track position at U.C. Berkeley and going into medicine. This person would very likely be a top specialist of some sort, earning at least $300,000 per year. Instead of being fired at age 44, our medical specialist would be near the height of her value to her patients and employer. Her experience and reputation would continue to add to her salary and prestige until she was perhaps 60 years old.

And who is going to keep on paying for these “magnificent” doctors? Do you really think that any lobby can beat overwhelming deflation, ratios and technology. Seriously, just because physicians have sorta held back the tide in the 1990s-early 2000s does not mean that they can hold it back forever (demography is a bitch).

Consider taking the same high IQ and work ethic, going into business, and being put on the fast track at a company such as General Electric. Rather than being fired at age 44, this is about the time that she will be handed ever-larger divisions to operate, with ever-larger bonuses and stock options. A top lawyer at age 44 is probably a $500,000 per year partner in a big firm, a judge, or a professor at a law school supplementing her $200,000 per year salary with some private work.

Miss those wonderful 1990s-early 2000s. The world upto 2008 looked good for wannabe upper-middle class types. But then reality struck, and has not stopped striking.

Even a public schoolteacher actually does better than a scientist. blah.. blah.. By age 44, when the scientist is desperately trying to switch careers, the schoolteacher is making more than $90,000 per year for working nine months.. blah.. blah.. Being a public employee and a member of a union, the schoolteacher cannot be fired but may at this point in his or her life begin thinking about a comfortable early retirement and some sort of second career.

And there are infinite amounts of debt-based money to pay for pensions AND also pay ever increasing salaries to current teachers. Isn’t life grand! Where is my skittle shitting pony?

He then talks patronizingly about immigrants and how even they are living the american dream. Are this guys delusions so deep? Never mind.

How did so many smart people make such bad mistakes in planning a career for themselves? Part of the answer may be that young people fail to appreciate the risk that they will become more like old people when they are old.

The stupid cocksucker still lives in the 1960s, when white men like him had lifetime careers. Wake up moron, that show ended about 2 decades ago. The concept of lifetime careers is DEAD.

In the personal domain, young people are very different from old people. If you interview old people and ask “What are the greatest sources of satisfaction and happiness in your life?” almost always the answer “my children” comes back.

This moron really lives in the 1960s..

I can give you a list of the ones who had the best heads on their shoulders and were the most thoughtful about planning out the rest of their lives. Their names are on files in my “medical school recommendations” directory.

Of course, he has no stats on how many made it into that semi-protected career. But why let reality stop a good story. Plus that career option is no longer secure, even if all white doctors in the north america rapture themselves in protest.

Now that I have burned and pissed on his article (maybe more later), let me say a few things that people like him miss.

Most career advice is based on what worked during the golden age of the american upper-middle class (1980s- early 2000s). That show has ended, and we are left with crappy reruns.

The environment that allowed such high paying professional jobs to exist is gone, but people are still trying to keep the simulacrum going.. Morons like him do not get it.. there cannot be a prosperous upper-middle class without a prosperous middle and working class.

Demography is a bitch, as are social changes. Why work 15 hour days to pay for your shrew of a ex-wife and kids of doubtful paternity. HIS generation learnt those lessons the hard way. OUR generation saw things before they reached that stage in life.

Comments?

  1. Ray Manta
    November 19, 2010 at 6:55 am

    I won’t argue with that. ALL people should steer away from academic careers (in their current form) after grad school.

    I think that’s the main point behind Greenspun’s article. With rare exceptions, a career in academia is setting yourself up for a huge disappointment and lack of financial security.

    But should that not be obvious to anyone in grad school? Heck, anyone who has been in grad school for more than a few months should understand that even if they were previously naive.

    My objection with his article is the suggestion that professional careers are better. They may have been so, but that age is over now.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving him credit for any profound insights. Art Sowers had web pages about the futility of science careers back in 1996. And Norman Matloff had written many articles about the overproduction of PhDs a long time before Greenspun had gotten the message.

    That has been the case since the mid- to late- 80s, from what I have heard.

    His implication about women not pursuing PhDs or science careers because they’re so much smarter than men is of course silly. I’m guessing the deference to women thing is a habit he picked up in his years in academia.

    Demography is a bitch, as are social changes. Why work 15 hour days to pay for your shrew of a ex-wife and kids of doubtful paternity. HIS generation learnt those lessons the hard way.

    His generation may have learned those lessons the hard way, but I’m not so sure he did himself. He doesn’t write like someone who has endured much significant hardship. His blog includes lots of stuff on hobbies like flying helicopters, which is awfully far removed from the concerns of your average wage-slave.

    Or he has not learnt them. Maybe he got lucky, but most others have not.

    OUR generation saw things before they reached that stage in life.

    Good for them as far as I’m concerned. Why be a serf if you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labors.

    No job security or benefits = No reason to be a wage slave.

  2. Ray Manta
    November 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

    But should that not be obvious to anyone in grad school? Heck, anyone who has been in grad school for more than a few months should understand that even if they were previously naive.

    Yeah it should be. I should know, since I was there. I also know that academics are going to almost always be behind the eight-ball in terms of a reality check. The sheltered environment they live in plus their swallowing of the PC poison virtually guarantees that.

    Greenspun likely regards himself as more outspoken and commonsensical than his peers. The sad thing about it is he’s probably right.

    My objection with his article is the suggestion that professional careers are better. They may have been so, but that age is over now.

    The best that can be said now is they’re not as bad – sort of like saying that roulette isn’t as bad as the slot machines. Greenspun’s a professor who has a vested interest in justifying the expensive tuitions that students pay. Other critics, like career counseler Marty Nemko, are far more blunt about the terrible ROI that a college education now offers. Online learning, community colleges, and trade school/apprenticeships offer a far better deal now.

    The idea that we have to get our education over when we’re young is also obsolete. The combination of a high turnover of knowledge and aging, longer-lived population make the current higher education system a relic we need to get rid of.

  3. Jr. Gorilla
    November 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I don’t really see you responding to the actual article. The point is a ton of people, mostly men at age 22, ARE that naive. You can glibly pretend that this stuff is obvious to anyone in grad school, but most people don’t figure it out until age 30 on the second postdoc. The professors at their school are by definition all employed and they are out-of-touch with the current job market and so will be unlikely to give a realistic view.

    He does do a good job of pointing out that globalization ant the “Someone Will Do It For Less” effect have turned academia into a 21st century McJob for low-paid immigrants from the third world.

    There is really no use for graduate school otherwise. It is precisely an academic boot camp. The skills you develop there are generally not valued or not recognized by other career paths. The only real alternative to academia (except in finance/econ phds) are engineering jobs in industry which the author criticized, and those jobs are going to shit too anyway.

    Computer programming and other technical careers are also long-term dead-ends. The “Knowledge Economy” is dead in the west. These jobs will either be done here for near-minimum wage by immigrants, or sent overseas bit-by-bit until entirely absent. Our “coddled” $100K engineers are an endangered species. Even if it takes twice as many foreigners to replace them, at $10,000 a pop it’s an obvious choice for any CEO.

    The only failing of the author is claiming no job security for academics: they at least have tenure for a few, and less churn than other careers. It’s engineers who need a new job every few years who are in serious shit at age 50 when competing against 22 year olds who work 80 weeks and know all the latest languages and platforms.

  1. January 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 101 other followers

%d bloggers like this: