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Grad school is mostly about indoctrination

By Patrick follow Patrick   2021 Feb 13, 9:32am 190 views   10 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


https://fromthearchives.blogspot.com/2008/01/thanks-daniel-for-excellent.html

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.)


Of course generally conservative male engineers are not going to fuck with you for having your own opinions. Such people are far more tolerant than "liberals", who always demand conformity.
1   Rb6d   ignore (0)   2021 Feb 13, 3:13pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I went to grad school in "exact sciences", and it was intellectually very enjoyable. I could ask any scientific questions and debate them...as long as I did not bullshit. My advisor(s) and co-advisors were typical examples of persons living in 100-mile high Ivory Towers - any ideas could be debated, they were fine if I could prove they were wrong, and they were very generous with their time and brains. The same Ivory Tower residence made most of them not only oblivious, but also hostile to any real life applications of research (if you can apply it and earn money, it is obviously not academic research), interviews about their research, etc. There was no political correctness - lazy and dumb students were instantly informed about who they are. I miss all of that..."scientists" these days have become worse than used car salesmen. Besides pumping their research in media (aka lying about practical implications) they are serving whims of political masters.
2   Patrick   ignore (1)   2021 Feb 13, 3:25pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

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.
3   Rb6d   ignore (0)   2021 Feb 13, 3:29pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
He was angry and insisted there was no application at all to his work, and was proud of it.

If there are practical applications of research, companies should do it! We are not here to earn money, but to do research!
4   Patrick   ignore (1)   2021 Feb 13, 8:30pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

He wanted to do "math for the sake of doing math".

What does that even mean? He liked to masturbate?
5   Onvacation   ignore (5)   2021 Feb 13, 8:43pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
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.
Patrick says
He wanted to do "math for the sake of doing math".

What does that even mean? He liked to masturbate?

Math is often way ahead of technology. Much math is just contrived to take care of contradictions; look at imaginary numbers. Sometimes math says we should find something, and sure enough the technologists find something.

Technology has yet to exploit wormholes for faster than light travel, but the math says it might be possible.

Math is mans weak attempt to explain nature. A lot of cool technology has come out of this pursuit.

Your G-friends dad was probably just a prick.
6   Fortwaynemobile   ignore (3)   2021 Feb 13, 8:43pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Schools in California now have lgbt and critical race theory indoctrination. Science replaced with global warming affirmation indoctrination. It’s insanity here.
7   Onvacation   ignore (5)   2021 Feb 13, 8:46pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

My favorite math teacher of all time was Dr. Vrem. We called him "Vrem Vrem" like a motorcycle revving up. I took Calculus I and II from him. It was amazing to watch him derive algebraic formulas on the blackboard with chalk.
8   richwicks   ignore (4)   2021 Feb 13, 8:54pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
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.


Joseph Fourrier died in 1830. It wasn't until I think the mid 1980s that the Fourrier transform could be applied to audio and video signals to make efficient digitization of each, albeit lossy. MP3 and MP2 are based on that work.

So really, it's not that there is no application, it's just a mathematician has no idea how it can be applied.

Not only can I store a full film in 1080p HD quality on an SD card that would previously take up an entire video tape, I can store 200 of them, for $20. Seriously, how fucked up of a world do we live in because of math?

Just think, when we were kids microdots were the edge of technology, I can now smuggle out of a country more information than can be read over a lifetime by swallowing an SD card wrapped in a condom than any one person can read in a lifetime.
9   just_passing_through   ignore (7)   2021 Feb 13, 10:41pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

We use Fourrier transforms to analyze dna images on dna sequencers these days as well. Not what you'd think like some double stranded DNA structure but images that look more like images that astronomers take of stars in a night sky. Fragments of DNA lite up from a shattered genome, the signal from which allows us to stitch back together and 'read' the genome it came from.

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