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Oversupply of Ph.D.s in Canada?

Placid Ol' Dingo pod at karsh.demon.co.uk
Wed Jan 12 12:44:20 EST 2000

Arthur Sowers <arthures at magpage.com> wrote:

> On 12 Jan 2000, Placid Ol' Dingo wrote:
> > Doing science is a vocation, doing a Ph.D. is a career choice. A bad
> > career choice in some cases, no doubt, but a career choice nonetheless.
> Incorrect AND badly stated...
> Doing science, for 99.999% of all science PhD requires a _position_ (i.e.
> a job) which is accompanied by _space & facilities_ AND some kind of
> salary, stipend, or compensation. Doing science usually means publication
> and/or aquiring or analysis of data, etc. 

You seem to start off by assuming that 'PhD' and 'scientist' are
virtually the same thing anyway. Science is about wanting to find out
things about how the natural world works. That, in itself, is not a way
of earning a living and is therefore a vocation. If you want to earn a
living from your vocation, you must find a way of turning the knowledge
you acquire to other people's advantage. Earning a PhD is merely one way
of convincing other people who don't yet know you that you can do this
for them. The decision to do a PhD is therefore a career choice. 

> Its a bad career choice if age discrimination, politics of the culture,
> changes and evolution of what is important lead to layoffs or turnover.

Same as any other career choice. We all have to take our chances.

> It has been my interest over the years to try to make people aware of some
> of these factors (on my websites) and ask if they really want to "pursue"
> (for as long as it lasts) a career in science. My "career half-life"
> essays are based on both my own studies and references to other sources.

I am aware of this. Your efforts are a valuable public service in the
sense that they should help to reduce the number of people who enter
science naively. Even then, though, those who feel that science is their
vocation will find it easy (necessary even) to believe that they can be
the exception that proves the rule.

> I also think scientists need a "union-like" organization, similar to the
> AMA for MDs

If the AMA is analogous to the BMA here, then it not only fights for
improved working conditions but also decides who can practice medicine,
just as the law society here decides who can practice law. Do you
propose that your 'ASA' have the power to decide who can and who cannot
practice science? 

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