PhD – The Audacity of Nonsense
Barack Obama wrote a book called “the audacity of hope“. The title sounds foolish optimism.
Interestingly, that phrase seems to pop up in different times in history. Barack Obama definitely is not the first person to rile up emotions with that. See it here
“Hope” rarely solves life’s problems. Yet, in PhD, you will be brainwashed to believe that your supervisor’s pet project will succeed and you will be famous and get a career after 6+ years of nonsense research. This can be aptly named as “the audacity of nonsense”.
Most research projects are very unlikely to produce any results that others will be interested in. 90% of projects aren’t interesting to a broader community to begin with. You can tell by the number of citations the publications receive. Why do that research, then? – because your supervisor only knows that technique and he wont try anything else. Is it easy to find an interesting project to do research? Absolutely not! Many of the interesting projects are done by top universities – admission is difficult. Professor holds all the power over your dissertation and what she considers to be acceptable. After spending four years already, its hard to quit and yet its hard to predict how much longer you need.
More than 50% drop out of PhD. For those who finish, very bleak future awaits. Academia is heavily balkanized. You professor might know two to three research institutes who could be your potential employers. You can’t afford to EVER annoy/irritate any of the fossils in these places if you expect to get a job. If you can manage to pull that off, because you lost your spine, your bargaining power (for salary raise) is exactly zero – again – no other industry/institutes in the entire world care about what you do!
98% of PhDs that finish WILL do something else other than academic job. They have to. It make take 1 to 4 years (dumb?) to figure out that you have no hope in academia. Once you start looking for jobs in industry, you will have to convince them why you want the job and why you think you have any expertise in the said job. When you find a job, you will have to start at the entry-level.
With this kind of odds stacked against future PhDs, no one should, in their sane mind, will embark on a PhD. However, PhD entrants did NOT have the information when they started. If you are pondering to do a PhD, think about some job that might offer a relevant career for the next 10 – 20 years.