is academia a scam?


by gravenewworld
Tags: academia, scam
chill_factor
chill_factor is offline
#217
Mar9-12, 12:57 AM
P: 887
Interesting. So can you tell me why bio related fields are getting immense funding at the academic level, but in industry, even some PhDs in biology related fields are waiting tables and driving buses (like one almost-Nobel prize biochemist)?

Why is it that "biotechnology" was touted as the answer to all of humanity's health problems and chemical shortages, yet the delivery has been relatively disappointing?

If its supply and demand, is it that they want a large supply of highly educated lab serfs working for Big Health to keep them alive for a few years longer?
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#218
Mar9-12, 03:46 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by chill_factor View Post
Interesting. So can you tell me why bio related fields are getting immense funding at the academic level, but in industry, even some PhDs in biology related fields are waiting tables and driving buses (like one almost-Nobel prize biochemist)?
I can tell you want bio-related fields are getting a lot of finding because there is some rivalry between fields over tax dollars. The reason that bio-related fields are getting a ton of money is that people are scared of either they or their parents getting sick and dying.

Even the richest most powerful person in the world will get old and die, and that helps set funding priorities.

As far as what this means for biology Ph.D.'s you'll have to ask a biology Ph.D.

Why is it that "biotechnology" was touted as the answer to all of humanity's health problems and chemical shortages, yet the delivery has been relatively disappointing?
Because human beings seem to be genetically programmed to die at around 70 to 80, and in order to prolong life at that level, you need to spend increasingly large amounts of resources for increasingly fewer gains. In addition a lot of the major advances in wealth have tended to shorten lifespan. The increase in obseity have overwelmed technology advances in health care.

Also, people are willing to spend huge amounts for marginal gains. If you have someone that is dying of terminal cancer or how has Alzheimer's, then an extra six months of life or an extra three months of being able to recognize your kids is worth a huge amount of effort.

Finally, I suspect that there is *some* way of disabling the self-destruct mechanism in the human body, and then world totally changes if we can figure that out.

If its supply and demand, is it that they want a large supply of highly educated lab serfs working for Big Health to keep them alive for a few years longer?
Yes and so does everyone else in the world. One thing that you have to understand is that when I say that the world is run by a relatively small number of people, I don't necessarily think that it's a *bad* thing. People with power are human and they are afraid of death just like anyone else. Now if they spend bizillions of dollars so that they can live longer, and I end up benefiting, then I'm not going to complain.
chill_factor
chill_factor is offline
#219
Mar9-12, 02:36 PM
P: 887
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
I can tell you want bio-related fields are getting a lot of finding because there is some rivalry between fields over tax dollars. The reason that bio-related fields are getting a ton of money is that people are scared of either they or their parents getting sick and dying.

Even the richest most powerful person in the world will get old and die, and that helps set funding priorities.

As far as what this means for biology Ph.D.'s you'll have to ask a biology Ph.D.



Because human beings seem to be genetically programmed to die at around 70 to 80, and in order to prolong life at that level, you need to spend increasingly large amounts of resources for increasingly fewer gains. In addition a lot of the major advances in wealth have tended to shorten lifespan. The increase in obseity have overwelmed technology advances in health care.

Also, people are willing to spend huge amounts for marginal gains. If you have someone that is dying of terminal cancer or how has Alzheimer's, then an extra six months of life or an extra three months of being able to recognize your kids is worth a huge amount of effort.

Finally, I suspect that there is *some* way of disabling the self-destruct mechanism in the human body, and then world totally changes if we can figure that out.



Yes and so does everyone else in the world. One thing that you have to understand is that when I say that the world is run by a relatively small number of people, I don't necessarily think that it's a *bad* thing. People with power are human and they are afraid of death just like anyone else. Now if they spend bizillions of dollars so that they can live longer, and I end up benefiting, then I'm not going to complain.
so the moral of the story is:

rich people living longer while the poor work as serfs for them is a great system?

i still don't get why industry doesn't seem to want much to do with bio. I'm not talking about just biology itself, but all the physical chemistry, physics, engineering, etc. that goes along with biological and pharmaceutical applications.
cdotter
cdotter is offline
#220
Mar9-12, 02:44 PM
P: 306
Quote Quote by chill_factor View Post
so the moral of the story is:

rich people living longer while the poor work as serfs for them is a great system?

i still don't get why industry doesn't seem to want much to do with bio. I'm not talking about just biology itself, but all the physical chemistry, physics, engineering, etc. that goes along with biological and pharmaceutical applications.
It's more profitable to produce infinitesimally better products than it is to produce revolutionary products because the research associated with the latter is going to significant increase the price. Look at how expensive cutting edge drugs and medical procedures have become. I realize that consumer-level prices are affected by more than simply R&D, but can we really afford to make them even more expensive?
chill_factor
chill_factor is offline
#221
Mar9-12, 02:52 PM
P: 887
Quote Quote by cdotter View Post
It's more profitable to produce infinitesimally better products than it is to produce revolutionary products because the research associated with the latter is going to significant increase the price. Look at how expensive cutting edge drugs and medical procedures have become. I realize that consumer-level prices are affected by more than simply R&D, but can we really afford to make them even more expensive?
each tiny little 1 month lifespan advancing drug costs billions to make. you're right, it takes "revolutionary" price, for "incremental" improvements.

all the new cancer drugs, therapies, etc. give the patient maybe, 1-2 months extra or increase survival rate from 1% to 4% (they'll call it "quadrupling the survival rate" but that's a joke).

its funny how the biggest increase in lifespan was due to sanitation, then due to diet. medicine is surprisingly inefficient and brute force despite trillions being invested in it and millions of careers ruined because of the false hope of biotech.
deRham
deRham is offline
#222
Mar9-12, 03:18 PM
P: 412
Yes it does. In order to keep yourself in power, you have to tell a story to explain to people why they must kill and die for something. When people are no longer willing to kill and die for a cause, then countries collapse. In the 1940's, people in Russia were willing to kill and to die for the hammer and sickle, but in the 1990's, people stopped and everything collapsed.

One of the major functions of schools is political indoctrination.
Why do the people in power trust disgruntled math PhDs to do their indoctrination for them?



Define "useful"
For who, me? Because my comment was meant to acknowledge that "useful" doesn't have a universal meaning. At the end of the day, it means that I don't think I'm wasting my time, and the person funding me doesn't think I could be using my time better. That's the best possible outcome. The next best possible outcome "to the world" is that the person funding me is happy, and I'm not but I put up with it and the world goes on.

I'll refine my definition of "useful" as long as someone can help justify what I'm doing to me.

If I'm funded to research stuff involving path integrals (I'm using that example only because it's come up) and I use those kinds of ideas in my work that's considered more valuable than publishing papers, I can imagine that's a good argument. If I learned differential geometry and I do the same job as someone who would never want to learn it, then I wonder how one can justify the time I spent, aside from "personal enrichment," but I'm pretty sure it's NOT in someone's interests to fund my enrichment for the sake of it, which means working for a better system where I actually use (not necessarily directly) what I learned is not a bad thing.

Now one may argue that doing the same job as someone who doesn't want to learn that stuff is valuable because it's good for the PhD to try to convince people why they'd want to learn those things. But that presumes that there's reasonable opportunity to even do such convincing. If plenty of people with some cleverness are able to achieve such a thing, even if it's unobvious, then yes, there's a point to how things are working.

I always like to bring up the example of a non-PhD who learned differential geometry or some such "pure" topic that still could find itself making interesting contributions to the more applied world. We can't discount non-PhDs as potential valuable intellectuals.

It depends. In my situation, it's understood than any new mathematical technique is going to be known by everyone eventually (usually in a matter of months), however, the game is to be able to exploit the edge that you have.
OK, I think that makes sense, thanks for the example.


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