2021 Feb 13, 9:32am
190 views 10 comments
An excellent book on the same theme: “Disciplined Minds” by Jeff Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt earned a PhD in physics from Cal-Irvine and worked as an editor at Physics Today for nearly twenty years. After writing the book, he was promptly fired.In the book, he focuses on the experience of graduate students in physics, and how that professional degree program — like all other professional degree programs — is more focused on selecting those candidates who conform to a behvioral pattern than those candidates who would make the best scientists. ... I knew I was failing something besides the material. I knew it was my attitude that set off the professor who told me I didn't belong. I didn't understand why at the time, because I thought that the purpose of grad school was to process the material and develop independent thought. Trusting that was such a mistake for me. ...Coming from an engineering degree, I simply could not believe that policy studies were a science. Since I was in law school, I couldn't catch on fast enough that for ecology students, habitat preservation was the sole and overriding goal of everything and not a subject with trade-offs that we should discuss. While I took econ, I didn't understand why you would have any faith in a law you couldn't derive and prove with data. I wasn't sure about econ's laws either, because after taking all that physics I thought that real laws enforce themselves every single time. In law school, the justice issues behind a decision were worth pointing out. But not in econ or ecology.I didn't want to stand out and be forever blurting out irrelevant stuff that trivialized people's disciplines and offended them. But I wasn't fully immersed in any one program, so I didn't have time to absorb and adopt any one doctrine. The walk across campus wasn't long enough for me to fully shift gears, so I'd point out something interesting! and then realize that I was defying the norms of the discipline. Again. Enough of that and there was no one who would help me stay and work, much less back me against the prof disparaged me in and out of class.This makes me so sad. Schmidt talks about preserving your radical soul and challenging power structures and doing socially worthwhile work. I wasn't trying for any of that. I wasn't even being noble. I just wasn't nimble or discreet enough. For the costs being a critical outsider caused me, I should at least have been deliberately disobedient. What a waste. What a relief to understand more of why second grad school was so awful.(The thing that I find interesting is that first grad school wasn't nearly as oppressive. At first glance, you'd think first grad school might be worse. Smaller school, entirely older male engineers, some overtly religious, in the generally conservative culture of agriculture. But at first grad school, my perception was that the deal was "if you show you thoroughly understand this material, you can think anything you like." I was obviously a very strange bird in that program, but I never once felt like my thoughts infuriated people or that they were evaluating me on anything but my classwork. They'd answer anything I asked and as long as I could tell them how pumps worked, I was never scared they wanted me out of the program. I think it was due to the head guy, who still gets all my respect.)
He was angry and insisted there was no application at all to his work, and was proud of it.
I had a girlfriend whose father was a math professor.I made the mistake of asking about the applicability of his research. He was angry and insisted there was no application at all to his work, and was proud of it.
He wanted to do "math for the sake of doing math".What does that even mean? He liked to masturbate?
I made the mistake of asking about the applicability of his research. He was angry and insisted there was no application at all to his work, and was proud of it.