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Scientist Arrogance

  1. Aug 10, 2006 #1

    Clausius2

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    As some of you know I'm left my home land and I came here to do research. I'm mechanical engineer and ph.d. student. That means that I am able to work in another place and make more money (and may be more interesting things) than what I am doing right now. Why did I start with this business?. It was a chance of travelling abroad, meeting a lot of people, living your own life. In addition to that, it was a great chance of broadening my knowledge in a field I like a lot. I have found a lot of things here, amongst them I have found the arrogance of some scientists. Moreover, I have found the arrogance on those who are even a proto scientist, not even a professor.

    About professor aspirants: To say the truth, I say thanks for getting payed money only for learning. Some arrogants believe that they are working. I better call it studying. To be honest, I wouldn't pay money to a guy for learning. I would like to get production from him. Usual engineering transactions move thousands of dollars, most of us will be unable to make a single buck with our studies. It broadens the science, I know, but we have to keep in mind that we are given a gift, we are not a worker who gets out of work. There is no possible comparison. The time I spend in my office reading books and papers, and trying to integrate an unreal problem gives little profit compared with the construction of bridge or an airport. Some of them say "I worked yesterday until 11pm", but what work?? It is a work for you!. They really think that they are saving the world or something like that. Honestly, the 95% of science advances that are obtained in a university department are useless. The only contribution is to give a further insight on a physical issue that doesn't have a practical impact.

    About the faculty community. I think they diminish the mission of a normal engineer and engineering. It is like for them a working engineer is a retarded or something like that. A working engineer won't sign papers in renamed journals, but probably will come out with something that that guy will use everyday without being aware of it. Even an engineer as me has the potential to do another thing and make more money and live better, so the professors should be praying to God for having us doing research.

    My thesis? Incredible interesting. I'm really happy with it. It's a great problem, elegant, and I am going to squeeze my head a lot in order to solve it, that was precisely my intention when coming here. Am I hoping to save the world by solving it? No, never, I am happy but I am conserving my modesty. Probably my solution will collaborate in a 0.001% of the design of a machine which had something to do with the electrohydrodynamics of microparticles, maybe somebody takes a look at my future paper, or maybe not, or maybe I only broadened my knowledge and collaborated to push a little bit the thesis of another guy. My mission here is to learn, and no more. I don't hope to become the mesias of the world.

    But man, let's keep our feet on the ground!!!.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2006 #2

    Bystander

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    Just keep in mind that arrogance is inversely proportional to competence in any field --- then, it's kinda nice that the stuffed shirts let you know right up front that they aren't worth hearing.
     
  4. Aug 10, 2006 #3

    Clausius2

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    Yeah, today I'm in very bad mood. Somebody asked me if I was planning to come back to Spain to hold a faculty position (hilarious) after my ph.d..And I said, "I think after my ph.d. it will be the time to ask myself if it is worthy to live making the same money than a homeless or to try to even give to my future family a better life than the one I had when I was a child". And somebody replied: "but aren't they paying you enough?". And I said: "yeah, I am grateful indeed, they are paying me for doing nothing!". And he replied: "you are the only one who doesn't do nothing, I used to work 12 hours per day when doing my thesis!".

    Hilarious, I am "working" even on weekends. But who the hell in the industry thinks that the work of a grad student is indeed a work???. When one gets paid for learning? Do the companies give you the chance to spend one whole month only studying for an exam and paying you in the meanwhile???.
     
  5. Aug 10, 2006 #4

    NoTime

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    How right you are!
     
  6. Aug 10, 2006 #5

    SpaceTiger

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    I haven't noticed any correlation, to be honest. Arrogance does sometimes make it more difficult to work with your peers (Fritz Zwicky is a famous example), but that's not really an issue of competence. I think it's more a matter of personality than anything else.
     
  7. Aug 11, 2006 #6

    Mk

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    Ugh, you're right.
     
  8. Aug 11, 2006 #7
    I think the effect arrogance has on a scientist's competence depends on how much that science depends on social interaction.

    For example, I'd think arrogance would make a bad medical scientist much sooner than it would make a bad materials scientist.
     
  9. Aug 11, 2006 #8

    Bystander

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    Not saying arrogance affects competence --- I'm saying it's an indicator of competence --- that is, the incompetents compensate for their incompetence by being arrogant --- the "competents" have no need to be arrogant --- they can "walk the walk."
     
  10. Aug 11, 2006 #9

    Astronuc

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    When it gets like that, its time to head to the beach and drink some beer. :biggrin:

    Once in a while, get to down to Wind & Sea in La Jolla and relax.
     
  11. Aug 11, 2006 #10

    Lisa!

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    Definitely!:devil:


    What's wrong with that? That sounds wise to me.:uhh:
     
  12. Aug 11, 2006 #11

    George Jones

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    Sean Carroll on the arrogance of: string theorists, in particular; academics, in general.

     
  13. Aug 11, 2006 #12

    Monique

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    What kind of an attitude is it to think that time 'working' is spending time in 'lala-land'? Ofcourse it is work, you should come up with a thesis that has relevance and work to a conclusion. Not everything will be relevant and the goal of academic freedom is that you can go in new directions, that does not mean you can just sit and fool around.
     
  14. Aug 11, 2006 #13

    Astronuc

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    There are those who view graduate students as 'underpaid' professionals, and in some cases that is true. If one is a graduate student, then think of it one's salary or stipend as an investment in the future. :wink: :smile: One's research (and thesis) should be original work, which 'contributes' to the body of knowledge and state of the art in the field of one's degree. :approve:
     
  15. Aug 11, 2006 #14

    Clausius2

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    I think you have absolutely misunderstood my point. I don't know what you did when you were doing your thesis. As I started this thread I will tell you about me, and my co-students. Doubtless, I am in the best department in the world for doing a thesis in my subject. Doubtless, people in my department are not going to do anything which is not the state of the art in the field. HOWEVER, one should take into account that basic science has not always a direct application to engineering. Moreover, I bet that a 95% of the things done will collaborate to a better understanding of a field per se, but no company will use such complex studies for producing something in bulk quantities. Therefore, the EFFECTIVE importance of what we are doing is relative. It is important if you think about it from a philosophical point of view, and it is not very important from the point of view of Boeing or Northrop Grumman. Even though I think it is important, I don't loose my mind and I think I have a modest measure of importance of what I am doing. Clearly, maybe I spend more time in my office than an engineer of Boeing. BUT my "work" is not going to be as PRODUCTIVE as the work of that engineer. With that I mean that I can spend 10 years integrating an engineering-useless but scientific-valuable problem, but still my "work" is not a "work" as far as the "productivity" is concerned.

    A grad student is not an underpaid professional. Moreover I think we shouldn't get paid. They are giving a gift to those like me want to learn instead of having a quicker reward working over there. But never you will hear me talking about work in the classical way (as my father used to work at my age for instance).
     
  16. Aug 11, 2006 #15

    Astronuc

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    :rolleyes: There is a little matter of paying living expenses, e.g. rent for living quarters, utilities, food, occasionally medicine, insurance, . . . .

    Besides, I do similar work now as when I was a graduate student, but I earn more than 20 times as much.
     
  17. Aug 11, 2006 #16

    Moonbear

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    I can somewhat appreciate where you're coming from. This is a fairly recent change in attitude among the grad students. They seem to come in thinking it's a job, choosing their department or university based on stipend levels, not quality of training, and then treat it like a job, where they expect defined work hours and vacation time, and forget that they are students there to learn something. There are still students, like yourself, who have the right attitude, and are appreciative that they get a stipend while they go to school, but they seem more rare than they used to be.

    It used to be, if you entered an academic building late at night or on weekends, you'd find grad students diligently working in the labs (not studying, you can do that at home). Now, the only people I see in the building on weekends and evenings are the faculty, and sometimes a post-doc (except for one lab, where the students seem to have the right attitude and are there all the time). What they don't seem to understand is they're only hurting themselves to not put in the time in the lab. It slows down their progress and the time until they graduate, and they learn that much less while at it.

    But, I don't see that as arrogance, more like a naive view of the point of grad school and what they need to learn and accomplish to be successful when they graduate.

    Then again, it's also possible that you're misunderstanding the way the phrase is being used. For example, we call studying "homework" and someone might say, "I was working all night on that problem," which doesn't mean they are an employee producing product for an employer, but that they were doing something requiring effort instead of going out and doing something fun/social.
     
  18. Aug 11, 2006 #17

    Moonbear

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    Which is why it's called a stipend, not a salary. It helps you afford basic living expenses while you dedicate your time to full-time studies. However, there are a lot of people anymore who think it should be more like a salary...not just pay for basic living expenses, but money for entertainment, fancy clothes, etc. It starts to get a little ridiculous considering how long it takes for a student to become competent enough to be self-sufficient in the lab (and some never achieve that, sadly enough).
     
  19. Aug 11, 2006 #18

    Astronuc

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    The way I was paid, required a certain number of hours, and it was more like a salary than stipend, and in fact it was not considered a stipend - I had to work. IIRC, it was called - an 'assistantship'.
     
  20. Aug 11, 2006 #19

    Moonbear

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    Yes, assistantships come with a requirement of some sort of work. That's what I did as well...I was a TA...no set number of hours though, more like a set number of hours in the classroom and office hours, then as much as you needed for lesson plans and grading. That was the norm when I was in grad school, and that was in addition to studying and doing your research, and you somehow managed to do it all.

    In some places, that's still common, but in others, students just get a stipend for showing up and aren't expected to do anything for it other than their studying and research...not to mention the stipend levels are pretty generous now...and it's becoming more the norm.
     
  21. Aug 12, 2006 #20

    Astronuc

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    Yeah - I did that during my MS program, and had a full time (40hrs/wk) job outside of school as well. I slept maybe 2-4 hrs per night during M-F, and caught up on Sat. The upside was that I paid of my wife's school loans, as well as paying for her and my grad programs. We put her income in the bank, and ultimately left grad school debt free, and actually with a small downpayment for a house.
     
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