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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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June 6, 2012

How Not to Do Science Education

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Posted by Derek

Slate has one of those assume-the-conclusions articles up on science and technology education in the US. It's right there in the title: "America Needs More Scientists and Engineers".

Now, I can generally agree that America (and the world) needs more science and engineering. I'd personally like enough to realize room-temperature superconductors, commercially feasible fixation of carbon dioxide as an industrial feedstock, and both economically viable fusion power and high-efficiency solar beamed down from orbit. For starters. We most definitely need better technology and more scientific understanding to realize these things, since none of them (as far as we know) are at all impossible, and we sure don't have any of them yet.

But to automatically assume that we need lots more scientists and engineers to do that is a tempting, but illogical, conclusion. And one that my currently-unemployed readers who are scientists and engineers don't enjoy hearing about very much, I'd have to assume. I think that the initial fallacies are (1) lumping together all science education into a common substance, and (2) assuming that if you put more of that into the hopper, more good stuff will come out the other end. If I had to pick one line from the article that I disagree with the most, it would be this one:

America needs Thomas Edisons and Craig Venters, but it really needs a lot more good scientists, more competent scientists, even more mediocre scientists.

No. I hate to be the one to say it, but mediocre scientists are, in fact, in long supply. Access to them is not a rate-limiting step. Not all the unemployed science and technology folks out there are mediocre - not by a long shot (I've seen the CVs that come in) - but a lot of the mediocre ones are finding themselves unemployed, and they're searching an awful long time for new positions when that happens. Who, exactly, would be clamoring to hire a fresh horde of I-guess-they'll-do science graduates? Is that what we really need to put things over the top, technologically - more foot soldiers?

But I agree with the first part of the quoted statement, although different names might have come to my mind. My emphasis would be on "How do we get the smartest and most motivated people to go into science again?". Or perhaps "How do we educate future discoverers to live up to their potential?" I want to make sure that we don't miss the next John von Neumann or Claude Shannon, or that they don't decide to go off to the hedge fund business instead. I want to be able to find the great people who come out of obscurity, the Barbara McClintocks and Francis Cricks, and give them the chance to do what they're capable of. When someone seems to be born for a particular field, like R. B. Woodward for organic chemistry, I want them to have every chance to find their calling.

But even below that household-name level, there's a larger group of very intelligent, very inventive people who are mostly only known to those in their field. I have a list in my head right now for chemistry; so do you. These people we cannot have enough of, either - these are people who might be only a chance encounter or sudden thought away from a line of research that would lead to an uncontested Nobel Prize or billion-dollar industrial breakthrough.

To be fair, Slate may well get around to some of these thoughts; they're going to be writing about science education all month. But I wish that they hadn't gotten off on this particular foot. You've got to guard yourself against myths in this area. Here come a few of them:

1. Companies, in most cases, are not moving R&D operations overseas because they just can't find anyone here to do the jobs. They're doing that because it's cheaper that way (or appears to be; the jury's probably still out in many instances).

2. We are not, as far as I can see, facing the constant and well-known "critical shortage of scientists and engineers". There have been headlines with that phrase in them for decades, and I wish people would think about that before writing another one. Some fields may have shortages, but that's a different story entirely.

3. And that brings up another point, as mentioned above: while the earlier stages of science and math education are a common pathway, things then branch out, and how. Saying that there are so-many-thousand "science PhDs" is a pretty useless statistic, because by that point, they're scattered into all sorts of fields. A semiconductor firm will not be hiring me, for example.

There are more of these myths; examples are welcome in the comments. I'll no doubt return to this topic as more articles are published on it - it really is an important one. That's why it deserves more than "America needs more mediocre scientists". Sheesh.

Comments (53) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: General Scientific News | Who Discovers and Why


COMMENTS

1. anana-mouse on June 6, 2012 8:37 AM writes...

One very productive avenue is to have HR's role in recruiting senior scientists abridged. Their rubric involved to discern creativity is literally an oxymoron. Have scientists bring in scientists and in an interview(s), put them in the Coliseum amongst the lions and see what they can do.

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2. cirby on June 6, 2012 8:40 AM writes...

"commercially feasible fixation of carbon dioxide as an industrial feedstock"

They're called "trees."

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3. The Iron Chemist on June 6, 2012 8:53 AM writes...

Good post. The relevant problem isn't minting new scientists and engineers, it's finding meaningful employment for the ones we already have.

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4. Virgil on June 6, 2012 8:56 AM writes...

The one thing I would like to see in science education, is for kids (not college age, waaaay before then) to actually learn the scientific method. Solid principles like...

- A hypothesis is useless if it can't be tested
- How will I know if the experiment worked?
- Correlation is different from causation

Such principles are woefully lacking in all branches of science education, and quite scarily they are often lacking in the teachers themselves (e.g., the number of shcools that teach creationism vs. evolution, which breaks all 3 of the above principles). Here's an old link about 65% of students in a science fair falsifying their data...http://t.co/Lo9NHJ9T

Forget about training more chemists/biologists/astrophysicists. If the kids leaving high school to pursue liberal arts courses don't get what science is, they'll grow up to be the same folks who vote down NIH budget increases, vaccuum up homeopathic cures, and whine because there's no "cure" for cancer yet (hint - there likely never will be).

Deal with the shocking lack of undersanding of what "science" actually IS in the minds of the general public, and the impact will be far greater than a thicker pipe full of new soon-to-be-jobless STEM graduates.

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5. Derek Lowe on June 6, 2012 8:57 AM writes...

#2 cirby: Well, yeah. But they're not the fastest things in the world, and they tend to take things a little bit too far, what with all that lignin and whatnot. I'm thinking more stop-at-methanol chemistry, and with a flippin' high turnover.

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6. opsomath on June 6, 2012 8:59 AM writes...

I'll see your crappy article and raise you a good one I found.

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/06/maker_faire_and_science_education_american_kids_should_be_building_rockets_and_robots_not_taking_standardized_tests_.html

Between a strategy of teaching science that actually has students doing things, and a supply of good science jobs, we would fix any existing problem in a generation. Not gonna happen, though. We love standardization and outsourcing too much, and people smart enough to become a Whitesides or a Sharpless will do a runner to a more supportive industry early.

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7. DrugA on June 6, 2012 9:01 AM writes...

We need more efficient science. The greatest loss of productivity in our system (at least in publicly-funded life sciences research) is that the science enterprise is actually more accurately the grant-getting enterprise. Senior scientists spend a quarter to half (perhaps more) of their time writing grant applications. Only the top decile gets funded and generally not on the first submission. Grantsmanship is a skill that solves no social problems and contributes nothing to the greater good. Imagine if we could suddenly make academic scientists 25 to 50% more productive.

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8. jtd7 on June 6, 2012 9:10 AM writes...

You ask "How do we get the smartest and most motivated people to go into science again?" An article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine early in May pointed out part of the problem. The article profiled Edward Conard, a former partner at Bain Capital whose forthcoming book "Unintended Consequences" argues that income inequality is good for everyone. Investors are richly compensated because they make the economic system work for everyone else. At one point he uses this illustration:

Conard picked up a soda can and pointed to the way the can’s side bent inward at the top. “I worked with the company that makes the machine that tapers that can,” he told me. That little taper allows manufacturers to make the same size can with a tiny bit less aluminum. “It saves a fraction of a penny on every can,” he said. “There are a lot of soda cans in the world. That means the economy can produce more cans with the same amount of resources. It makes every American who buys a soda can a little bit richer because their paycheck buys more.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/magazine/romneys-former-bain-partner-makes-a-case-for-inequality.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

That's true as far as it goes, but he didn't figure it out. An engineer figured it out, and figured out the machining process that can take advantage of it. As long as the engineer who did the real work is not recognized and compensated, of course the smartest and most motivated people are going into investment banking instead.

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9. PedroS on June 6, 2012 9:16 AM writes...

I remember reading Derek's posts about his introduction to Pharma research: as a newly minted academic researcher, his default setting was "synthesize from scratch" instead of ordering an expensive intermediate. His boss rightly told him that buying the expensive intermediate would reduce costs in the long run, as scientists then could devote their skills to highly productive, not-readily-outsourced, problems.

In short, doing modern science is a capital-intensive enterprise. Minting ever more and more scientists without the corresponding investment on research capital may be a less than optimal use of resources.

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10. anon the II on June 6, 2012 9:21 AM writes...

This kind of crap makes me so mad I could spit fire. And if David Plotz was in my general vicinity, I know in what direction I'd spit it.

But I've got work to do. After 25 years of what almost looked like a successful career, I'm now a post-doc. At least I have health insurance.

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11. MTK on June 6, 2012 9:31 AM writes...

Does anyone know the actual unemployment rate for chemists in the US? And not ACS numbers, because I don't trust those for a heartbeat.

We all know that a lot of chemists have gotten laid off the last several years, but how many don't get reemployed in the field and for how long do they stay unemployed? how does that compare to other professional fields?

I ask only because what we may feel is a "bad" employment situation may be a "shifting" employment situation rather than all out bad.

Now this can cause a lot of problems and anguish on a personal level and I fully acknowledge and recognize that. What I'm saying, however, is that perhaps the granularity that Derek is writing about, i.e. chemists as opposed to just scientists, isn't fine enough. Maybe we have to go even further to "chemists in Pharma". If that's the case, then it may be true even for chemists that there's a shortage and that its a distribution issue, along with the selection bias of this blog, which makes it seem like there isn't.

(and before you spit fire at me anon the II. I'm a postdoc right now also. My second stint two decades after my first.)

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12. John Schilling on June 6, 2012 9:31 AM writes...

America needs a lot more science labs and engineering firms. A scientist without a lab, an engineer without a firm, is at best inventing complex new derivatives for Wall Street and at worst flipping burgers. Or possibly I have that backwards.

I gather there is a perception in some corners that wherever there are scientists and engineers, the relevant institutions will crystallize without effort. Or perhaps that the excess scientists will go home from their burger-flipping jobs and discover the secrets of the universe in their basements and garages.

And I get the appeal, to people who are not in this community. Building or even just expanding scientific and R&D institutions requires real money, policy changes, sustained effort by people who are not scientists and engineers. "We need more scientists" just requires a bit of quick PR aimed at borderline-geeky high school kids nobody cares about, they switch majors in college, and presto! Fusion energy and all the rest! The innovation problem is solved without cost or effort.

How do we get the message out that thes does not work?

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13. Zen Faulkes on June 6, 2012 9:35 AM writes...

"Is that what we really need to put things over the top, technologically - more foot soldiers?"

Maybe - if those foot soldiers are given bullets and body armor.

The "rate limiting step" for many scientists is NOT intellectual dullness (which this post implies). It's not lack of ideas. It's not lack of hard work. It's resources.

An army where only 10% of the soldiers are armed can't win a damn thing.

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14. rab on June 6, 2012 9:40 AM writes...

Great post, Derek

I agree with a lot of your respondents that the original article is simply lazy journalism.

I think an even more important point is that we need the general population, and the Arts graduates that rule our countries (I'm in the UK) to have more scientific understanding. Or at least not to be afraid of science, or so in thrall to the idea of science being "a good thing" that they fall prey to the snake-oil-peddlers.

For example, a couple of years ago, the UK government got a venture capitalist to do a top-to-toe review of Life Sciences in the UK. Guess what his conclusion was? You guessed it-we need more venture capitalists.

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15. lt on June 6, 2012 9:43 AM writes...


"Ex falso quodlibet" - so how can people with different premises (models of reality) every come to rational agreement? Having more people who have learned that there is an objective reality, of which we have only a tentative and fragmented understanding (science), would seem to be the only sane way to build a stronger community. It seems we do not need more scientist as much as more appreciation of science itself as a basic way of making sense of the world
One of the best and most unique aspects of science is that there is (at least in theory, often in practice) an objective criterion for (eventually) deciding who or what is right, which goes beyond convincing others using arguments based on subjective social values and neurobiological quirks. This obviously appeals to those who are not good at persuasion (most geeks) and not at all to natural born BS artists. But as long as BS gets one to the top, there’s really no need to find a common understanding based on a shared model of reality.

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16. Anonymous on June 6, 2012 9:43 AM writes...

From the cell biology PhD (cancer research to be specific) perspective...The same prereqs are used for entrance in medical, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, etc. professional schools as they are for PhD graduate education. The exception being the standardized test to get in. Why spend 6 years on a PhD and 4 on a postdoc when you can do 4 on med school and 3 on residency? Then make 3-5x as much out the door, with WAY better job security. And if you ever want to get into research your MD is a huge shoe-in. Just write "translational" on your grants and force the PhDs to put you on their papers for clinical relevance, etc...There are too many reasons to list, but basically you have to be dumb to want to get a PhD in a field of medical research. Obviously some American students see through this, so they don't go the research route...but alas our American academics will import an endless flow of workers.

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17. Chemjobber on June 6, 2012 9:54 AM writes...

@11 (MTK):

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures chemist unemployment at 6.1% for 2011 through the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. (Click on my handle for link.)

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18. GC on June 6, 2012 9:55 AM writes...

This ranks right up there with that "we need more women in IT/computers/comp-sci" crap that pops up every 6 months.

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19. alig on June 6, 2012 9:55 AM writes...

Does Slate believe the decline in the number of newspaper reporters is because the US is not educating enough journalism majors?

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20. Anonymous on June 6, 2012 9:59 AM writes...

@17 Chemjobber

I wonder what the percentage is of those employed that are employed as chemists?

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21. Anonymous on June 6, 2012 10:03 AM writes...

Thanks for the number Chemjobber.

That's actually higher than I anticipated. My guess would have been from 4-5%. And I'm guessing that 6.1% is historically quite bad.

In your blog you do mention the other thing I thought of as a measure and that would be pay. If there truly is a shortage than salaries should be rising at a greater rate than other fields.

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22. Chemjobber on June 6, 2012 10:12 AM writes...

20: I believe that the number is extrapolated from direct measurement, i.e. their households are asked "What is your occupation?", "Are you currently employed", etc.

21: Median salaries for ACS members have been falling, but have recently ticked up. From the latest ACS numbers (summary released 3/2012): "For the first year since 2008, the median salaries of chemists were up for all degree levels in 2011."

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23. Brian on June 6, 2012 10:16 AM writes...

This is always difficult. Do we need more scientists? Do we need more brilliant scientists? We definitely could use a refocussing of resources on science (and away from, say, things like wars). It seems like for that to happen, how we do science education needs to change - that part, at least, Slate is right about. Virgil (the one up above, not any other Virgils) is right on. Here's a pretty nice proposal, from a group of eminent scientsts: http://8plus1science.org/.

Let's focus on learning how science works, what it can do, and how much fun it is. Let's train kids to think like scientists.

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24. sepisp on June 6, 2012 11:08 AM writes...

Well, the U.S. government subsidizes immigration of scientists, since they need to pay only about a third of a native's salary, and it's perfectly legal.

Perhaps it would be better to abandon the idea that everyone should have a college degree, and only select those who have a realistic chance of being employed when graduated. As in any industry, overproduction leads to a glut. What's the aggregate cost of educating 10 times more scientists than needed?

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25. Haider on June 6, 2012 12:12 PM writes...

A parent and attorney cross-examines Penny Pritzker, billionaire member of the Chicago Board of Education. (She was Obama's finance chair.) Via Diane Ravitch: Farmer is a trial lawyer. He describes how he bristled when .
............. post

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26. exGlaxoid on June 6, 2012 2:37 PM writes...

I am more concerned that ALL students have some underlying STEM education that that the smartest are pushed into college when there are way too many college graduates to employ currently in many fields. Everyone should have some basic knowledge of math, basic materials, biology and physics.

What concerns me most if that many people, especially many parents, would be very upset if they were told that 50% of US children perform below average in science and math fields...

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27. Anonymous on June 6, 2012 2:48 PM writes...

I'd like to see the following article: "America needs fewer mediocre articles on science and engineering education"

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28. Philip on June 6, 2012 2:52 PM writes...

@26 exGlaxoid, You bring up a good point without saying it. Along with some basic knowledge of math, basic materials, biology and physics, we also need to teach a basic understanding of statistics. A subject I referred to as sadististics, because of my dislike of it. BTW, it is not technically correct that 50% of children perform below average.

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29. David Formerly Known as a Chemist on June 6, 2012 4:06 PM writes...

The market for scientific talent (it is a market, after all) does a surprisingly good job of regulating itself. College students pursue degrees in STEM fields if a) they love it and want to pursue it no matter what, or b) they perceive robust career opportunities down that path. Or of course both a and b.

I read lots of commentaries lamenting the awful employment situation that scientists face. But I read the same types of articles about engineering, law, liberal arts, etc. Everyone is finding it difficult to find work these days, it's not limited to STEM fields. These are cyclical processes.

But I agree with the general feeling here, there's a lack of opportunity for scientists right now. Our society (especially the sources of capital) seem much more interested in apps that tell your friends when you last took a dump or games that launch birds into pigs, rather than products and services that actually produce something and solve problems. Just the nature of the times.

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30. Ric Locke on June 6, 2012 4:45 PM writes...

The notion is preposterous upon its face, and has been since I've been noticing it, which is since the mid-Sixties.

If there's a shortage the price goes up. Malaria medicine is expensive because the supply is short. If STEM people were in short supply, salaries would rise and employment would become more secure.

But STEM employment is fragile, full of layoffs and "redundancies", and relatively poorly paid compared to what must be invested to perform well. The money goes to politicians, regulators, lawyers, and managers. What is never said out loud is that it is STEM workers that produce the value that makes the money the PRLM "workers" take, and if there aren't enough STEM workers that supply is likely to be restricted.

Wails that there is a shortage of scientists and engineers amount to ticks complaining that there aren't enough dogs.

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31. MIMD on June 6, 2012 6:38 PM writes...

Per the WSJ, You can't find science talent, either excellent or mediocre, using broken and/or brick wall-overprecise eRecruiting systems. See "Healthcare Talent Management: Seeking Unicorns Using Broken Software Not Very Good for Patients - or Stockholders"

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32. Renee on June 6, 2012 7:14 PM writes...

Although the Slate article is ill-conceived and poorly researched, the Comments section for the article is very enlightening. Plenty of scientists and engineers are leaving comments, nearly all saying the same thing - it is difficult to find jobs, or find permanent positions that require one's technical skills. It is all to easy to be unemployed, about-to-be unemployed, or under-employed. The only technical person to say things are pretty good was an electrical engineer.

Nearly all the other commenters do understand that there would be more interest in pursuing science and engineering careers if jobs were more available and more stable. Better pay would help, too.

I encourage you all to go over there and read the comments, and leave one of your own, to enlighten the readers over at Slate - as well as the idiot author - as the the real employment situation for chemists nowadays.

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33. epistemology on June 6, 2012 10:06 PM writes...

Batteries. We need better batteries.

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34. Anonymous BMS Researcher on June 6, 2012 10:26 PM writes...

To get more Claude Shannons we need more workplaces that treat their potential Claude Shannons the way Bell Labs treated its people in Shannon's era. Even now I am not convinced breaking up the old AT&T was on balance a net gain for the US: much was lost including the old Bell Labs.

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35. cthulhu on June 7, 2012 12:28 AM writes...

@33: if Derek gets his wish for the fusion and space solar power, then better batteries may not be as big a deal because power will be so cheap and plentiful :-/

I'm in a contrarian mood: we don't need more scientists, we need more managers - good managers, that is. A good manager is worth his/her weight in platinum. A bad or even mediocre manager will seriously dilute progress.

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36. Troy on June 7, 2012 12:33 AM writes...

Here is an important question. Is the best way to get more winners simply to take more pulls on the lever? If this were a lottery, yes. But do we get one Crick for every 10k or even 50k mediocre STEM grads? China implies no, considering their graduation rate and the lack of an advancement rate 10 times that of the US.

That having been said, why go into STEM when you can make better money in finance for the same brainpower and have a better shot at promotions?

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37. emjeff on June 7, 2012 8:53 AM writes...

Slate's position here is entirely consistent with their liberal agenda. No doubt that they will be calling for more government-sponsored funding for science education. This will not accomplish any increase in science, but will accomplish the real goal, which is to increase the government's power over the citizenry.

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38. Young Padawan on June 7, 2012 9:53 AM writes...

The article had an unwanted funny element in it: For me, just after the sentence about mediocre scientists, there was an add for Dow...

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39. CMCguy on June 7, 2012 10:17 AM writes...

Not sure the perspective is on target as perhaps what "America needs is less Lawyers, Politicians, and Financiers in charge of things" because coupled with a public that has limited understanding of science/engineering and "investors" looking for a quick buck the current and potential future available and capable science resources appear to be largely wasted with a lack of leadership and vision.

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40. hn on June 7, 2012 2:05 PM writes...

@34, @35,

Good points. The brightest young scientists can be crushed and discarded working for bad manager/PI. What we really need are good working environments for all the incredibly talented scientists we already have.

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41. Henrik Olsen on June 7, 2012 2:25 PM writes...

More scientists rather than more science reminds me about a bad manager joke.
A bad manager us one who believes it's possible to make a baby in one month by using nine women.

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42. newnickname on June 8, 2012 5:20 AM writes...

I haven't read all the Comments yet but want to chime in, e.g., agreeing with @4, that we (the US) surely need greater scientific literacy of our citizens. If non-scientists knew more STEM principles, they might elect reps that will fund better (and more?) science; they might sooner realize that some things don't work or can't work as advertised and that should leave more revenue (public and private) for better STEM R&D; it could even make the jury system in the courts work better!

However, according to my own research, that will not happen anytime soon.

@19: Good one!!

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43. Mitchell on June 8, 2012 7:45 AM writes...

Derek,

Thought provoking post, though I'm not sure your argument makes economic sense. If we agree that advancement of science and technology has broad societal benefits that are generally worth the investment, let's think for a minute about what having more scientists (whether brilliant, middling, or mediocre) means. Labor is expensive, and with greater labor supply its cost goes down. Yes that means lower salaries for scientists and engineers, but it also means the cost of that input goes down. Therefore research projects "on the fence" (barely NPV negative, in corporate finance terms) become worthwhile to pursue (NPV positive). More projects become worth pursuing, technology advances at a faster pace, and society benefits.

We should keep in mind unemployment rates for scientists and engineers are still relatively low compared to the rest of the population. Plenty of mediocre scientists are among the employed. So society has found NPV positive uses for mediocre scientists. If they were even cheaper (due to more supply) more projects would be undertaken and the rate of scientific discovery should increase.

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44. psl on June 8, 2012 9:46 AM writes...

#2 Virgil is spot on

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45. Gerry Atrickseeker on June 8, 2012 6:04 PM writes...

Great post. In thinking about the balance between production of PhDs and science jobs you need to realize what drives graduate training in the US. It is not the desire to educate young people. It is the need for hands in the lab to keep the papers and grants coming.

See also http://www.sciencemag.org/content/301/5634/763.2.full?sid=8a04fd4c-886e-4cca-825d-a73ba76fbc1e

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46. M. Simon on June 10, 2012 10:17 AM writes...

The really good engineers are into it by age 5 (taking things apart - carefully. Putting them back together? Age 10).

If you have to attract some one to the field they are mediocre by definition because they will not be self motivated.

I live and breathe electronics. I go to bed reading it and wake up doing the same. You don't get that kind of motivation from a "program to train more...."

I write for ECN BTW - my beat is the electronic hobby.

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47. M. Simon on June 10, 2012 10:31 AM writes...

And how did I educate myself - I didn't go to school for electronics ever - (well not counting the Navy but by the 6th week of the course I was teaching electronics) - I read books and trade publications. You couldn't stop me. I took them yo parties.

I worked my way up from bench technician to aerospace engineer. I hated school but loved learning.

The motivated do not need training. They need opportunities. The credential system is an obstacle not a help. IMO. YMMV.

At will employment is the answer. And how did I get that? I became a contractor - produce quickly or else. I loved producing.

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48. Angry Orange on June 10, 2012 4:12 PM writes...

Chemjobber said-

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures chemist unemployment at 6.1% for 2011 through the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. (Click on my handle for link.) "

Chemjobber has got to be one of the most transparent shills for the worthless data put out by the BLS and ACS. The BLS data is possibly even more fraudulent than the ACS data (which is a response based polling of foreign graduate students and University professors. In the ACS world those who are not part of the ACS are not chemists).

From an article linked below.

"Each month the BLS compiles unemployment data from a US Census Bureau telephone survey of approximately 60,000 households. As per internal regulation, the Census can only contact prospective survey participants via land line. "


This is a bogus methodology. Forget the fact that those who only use cell phones are not included.
I contend that this survey is not conducted. I have polled twenty friends and family (some in their seventies). None have ever received a phone call from the BLS concerning their employment status.

Don't believe me? Ask around yourself!

seekingalpha.com/article/305251-bulls-beware-the-real-unemployment-rate-is-much-higher-than-bls-reports

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49. M. Simon on June 11, 2012 9:06 AM writes...

The closer you are to the money the more you get paid.

The hierarchy is something like this (very abbreviated)

1. Management
2. Marketing
3. Engineers
4. Scientists

Example: an engineer screwing up a design is going to cost more than a scientist screwing up an experiment. Generally.

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50. Industry GUy on June 11, 2012 12:27 PM writes...

@48 Orange, this is not true. I volunteered to be phoned by the US Census one/month for about 6 months after the last census. They asked me questions about my profession, current employment status, salary, etc, and any other employment about me and my family. I only have a cell phone for the past 12 years. These 6 months of calls began after an initial 1st home visit asking the same questions. I am currently employed by big pharma as a med chemist.

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51. Anonymous on June 17, 2012 6:07 AM writes...

it is not always the wish and craving to educate young people in the field of science but to search and see whether there is job availability or high employment for such a field as it was reported in an article that the number of Americans earning PhDs in science and technical fields has risen by 18 percent since 1985.Besides that a good working environment is also crucial.

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52. Tyrosine on June 23, 2012 12:48 AM writes...

America definitely needs more mediocre science graduates. Not to do science, but just to lift the level of science literacy in the country. Surely it's embarrassing to have a population where half the people think Jesus walked with dinosaurs.

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53. Chennai public school on June 26, 2012 4:53 AM writes...

Not only America, many countries are in need of scientists and Engineers. Every one wants to make their job easy and be without stress. My advice is to train the kids from school itself to become great engineer or scientist in future.

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