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Should i pursue a career in mathematics or aim for less?

  1. Nov 23, 2011 #1
    Before you start reading this post, let me get one thing in the clear; no matter what, i will continue to study mathematics - let it be either a hobby or profession, its in my blood, and i am not going to quit :)

    Now im a norwegian gymnasium student on 2nd year (i think it is compareable to HS, i'm not certain though), and i am really fond of mathematics, and to some extent physics. My career dream is an academic career in the field of mathematics. I hope to get a phd and get into mathematical research, in some way or another. I just have a few problems, that may complicate or even block the road to this goal.

    My ideal career path looks something like this;
    Main interest is math, but i am planning to study physics besides it, since its my other great passion, although not quite as strong as math.

    bachelor's math --> masters math --> phd math --> research math (hopefully as a professor lol :)

    But - i am worried that i will be hindered by intellectual capability. See the weird thing is, that (and i hope this doesnt sound wrong..) i am considered a near-genius by my peers. My classmates (science-oriented math/phys HS program) consider me a genius, but i think that's due to their own mathematical capabilites, which aren't very good. My teacher on the other hand, whom i actually consider a very "smart" Gymnasium teacher comp. to the norm, thinks that i am somewhat of a mathematical genius as well... He says, and i dont quite believe it, that i am the strongest mathematical student he has seen in his approx. 15 years of teaching. This may all sound rather nice, but the issue is; the numbers say, that its not enough to get my optimum career path. I haven't really cared much about my own intellectual capability up until now, i've basically just had fun deriving, proving and studying math, since especially inventing formulas and proving things are my great interests. It's also something i do in the class hours, since i haven't learned anything from my math classes the past year. I have taught myself the curriculum for A (highest) lvl Gymnasium math, so i can pretty much do what i want in the classes. The issue is just, that my iq is only 130-135ish. This was a bit discouraging as first, since all math phds have in the 145+ region i guess, and succesful mathematicians even more. So even though, when i ask my teacher whether i will be able to complete the uni study his reply is something like:" If you cant, then who can?" it seems that its not enough?

    My impression from poking around is, that you have to somewhat of a mini-riemann in order to get your math phd. It seems that my determination and hard work, and i am def. willing to work hard, is just not enough. But lets say i work my *** off to keep up with the other guys on the courses, then BARELY make it to my masters, just barely get my phd from working 25h/day when the other guys ace it from 2h of work per day, then i obviously will be out of a job when i have finally gotten my degrees - and that is, if i don't flunk out due to the material being too complicated .. Obviously i won't be able to get any job, since all the other phd students will be better mathematicians than me, since i am not intelligent compared to the general scientist. They will get all the jobs because they have better qualifications, they will publish all the research, and i would have spend 7-8 years of my life doing something i really enjoy, but i won't be able to feed myself...

    So maybe i put my ambitions too high? I have all the drive in the world, but thats not enough. Perhaps i should instead aim for an easier degree (bachelors), get a job, and then practice the math i want to in my spare time - as a hobby mathematician :). Of course this will not be as satisfying as working in academia doing real research, but if i would fail at around year 4-5 anyway, not being smart enough to get my masters degree, then i might aswell go for something realistic - and i would still be able to practice math, just because i like it :)

    Im just a bit worried i won't be able to get a research position - how am i suppose to produce original research, when i can only prove easy number traits in real analysis? I am not a genius, and solutions to very complex problems do not just pop up in my head :)

    It is actually a bit unfair that you have to be a genius to make your way in math and to be competetive, but the same does not apply for doctors. Not saying they are not smart, it is just not the same.

    I soon have to choose what i wanna do after gymnasium, since i only have 1 year left here. What do you guys recommend? Even though i want to practice pure math, maybe i should aim a bit lower than my precious research position (bachelor's?), so i am more sure of being able to complete the degree. Then i could work in industry, and practice math as a hobby?

    Thx for reading this very long post
    /the confused ..
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2011 #2
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  4. Nov 23, 2011 #3
    lol maybe i should ask him for his number or something, since he lives in denmark, and i in norway :) He seems to have the same issues as me, in some way. Im not as emotionally weird though, i take a more practical view. (If you dont know norwar is rather close to DK hehe). But i must disappoint you, i am not him. You guys might aswell close down this thread though, there's a plethrora of information in that thread!

    I promise to get better at using the search function.. thx
  5. Nov 23, 2011 #4
    OK, maybe I should also give a response to your question in the OP instead of referring you to another thread (which I do urge you to read!!)

    1) IQ is just a number. That's all. It determines nothing. Feynman had an IQ of "only" 125 and won the Nobel price. IQ doesn't mean anything. Also, the IQ was originally invented as a measure of mental retardation and it does that job very well. But it doesn't measure succes in academia or professional carreers well. The IQ tests are good in saying how well you do in IQ tests, nothing more.

    2) I do not believe the statement that math PhD's have an IQ of >145. It certainly DOES get mentioned in stories, but that's because people like to hear these kind of things. It doesn't make it true.

    3) Even if most math PhD's had an IQ of >145 then it still doesn't mean anything. Correlation does not imply causation. It does NOT mean that you need >145 to have a math PhD. It might very well mean that >145 people are more interested in math than other people and thus are overrepresented.

    4) Being good in math depends crucially on a) whether you like math b) whether you want to put in the time. Intelligence is of some importance, but if your teacher says that you are good in math then you HAVE the intelligence.

    I'd suggest you stop worrying and start having fun in math. Having fun is what math is all about!! :smile:
  6. Nov 23, 2011 #5
    If the only quality necessary to become a mathematician was a high IQ (140+) the majority of math students and famous mathematicians would be gone.
  7. Nov 23, 2011 #6
    Sorry, but i don't buy it at all. When i began to read this thread i remembered the other two micromass posted, one in career guidance and one in this forum. You say exactly the same things as this other individual, right down to the phrase "My teacher thinks i am the best in 15 years...". I am almost certain that you are the exact same person.
    My response to you, after three threads of the same helpless moaping is this:
    Give up. If you don't enjoy the math, don't do it. If you would rather feel sorry for yourself on this forum, posting the same thread over and over again, i doubt you will ever achieve much in college let alone graduate school. Please get over your own self worth and move on, we are not here to make you feel good about yourself!
  8. Nov 23, 2011 #7
    I suggest this thread is locked and the mods look into the connection between levis and physicsadmiR. I cannot believe that this is coincidence. The individuals are the same age, have the same claimed iq score, mentions all mathematicians having an IQ score of 145 (this is very specific for something that has never been verified), and claims almost to the word in both threads "My math teacher says i am the most brilliant math student he has encountered in 20 years of teaching". How many Danish boys are receiving these compliments and still doubting to the extent that they must create a thread on physics forum?
    It is against the rules of these forums to have multiple accounts, or sock puppets in this case, as far as i am aware the admins have every right to ban your ip. You are clearly not your teachers brightest student in 20 years if you thought that you could regurgitate the same story over and over and expect a different response.
    I am sorry if i am being harsh, but you need to grow and realise the world does not revolve around your self pity.
  9. Nov 23, 2011 #8
    There's already a protocol in place that let's the administrators know if there is the same IP address for multiple accounts.
  10. Nov 23, 2011 #9
    He may have seperate IPs but be the same person. Of that i am still certain. He may use one at home and one at school.
  11. Nov 23, 2011 #10
    Yes, this is possible. It doesn't really matter, I'm not making any accusations but the inclusion of statements such as being the greatest mathematician his teacher has seen in 15 years are partly useless to say and really only contribute to the OP's clear insecurity and obsession with pity and reassurance/pride, be it the same person.
  12. Nov 23, 2011 #11
    Kevin the thing is, after two threads he still does not get it. He just asks the same questions over and over again. If we all respond for a week to this thread he will feel good and then the thread will sink away and be replaced. He will want to feel good about himself again, so in a month or so he will make another thread and so on. He has come to depend upon our overly supportive messages. I very much doubt he will ever get a math phd, creating three threads, and getting nowhere...imagine when he picks up a book on Complex analsysis. He needs to develop his own coping mechanism.
  13. Nov 23, 2011 #12
    I don't fall for the whole Denmark, Norway divide either. It is easy enough to claim, and he must have realised that after two threads people would begin to suspect. If the admin can trace the IP they can determine the country and city.
    The reason i am so blunt is that i am quite frankly offended that this boy can continue to use the hard working members of these forums to rid himself of self pity. These people have better things to do than to answer a new thread every couple of months about the same thing. Whats more it is against the rules of these forums to have sock pupets.
  14. Nov 23, 2011 #13
    I see what you're saying but I'd rather not discuss the situation while being under the assumption that they're actually the same person. It can just be a coincidence and all we'd be doing is making fools of ourselves.
  15. Nov 23, 2011 #14
    very well, i am content to have the admins and mods decide.

    I am still certain it is the same individual, and the fact that he lied to micro is quite annoying. My certainty is grounded in his mannerisms, and background story. His attempt to mislead micro "I am not as emotionally weird as him" is too self serving. In the other thread it was discussed that he may have depression, but that was about the third/fourth page in, so how would this poster know that we thought there were emotional problems if he, as he admitted, did not search and see that thread before Micro posted. This dishonesty will not serve him in the academic world, which as i have said he will probably never attain.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  16. Nov 23, 2011 #15
    It appears that they are the same person.
  17. Nov 23, 2011 #16
    It seems that the mods decided to ban this individual, so that probably means my and Functor's suspisions were correct.

    If the OP is reading this: shame on you for lying to us and wasting our time like this. You won't get far in academia if you continue to lie to people like this. A low IQ means nothing, but dishonesty is a big no-no.
    Also, the constant need for reassurance is a big problem. I suggest you work on that.
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