Occupy the laboratory

In Baltimore, scientists have joined the Occupy Wall Street movement. They're worried about the lack of job prospects for Ph.D.s, but they're also worried about what that lack of jobs says about a society that's no longer interested in funding discovery and expanding human knowledge. (Via Bora Zivkovic)


  1. yes! finally!  so where do i post my CV?
    (semi-seriously…  having had my senior scientist position shipped to Hyderabad ~2007)

  2. Certainly there is the fact that society doesn’t appreciate science as much as it should, but the fact is the scientific community itself is contributing to the problem by generating far more Ph.D.s than can actually be employed. That’s because grad students and postdocs make great cheap workers for faculty during the time that they are supposedly in training. There are all sorts of editorials in journals that imply that grad students should just see their doctorate as good training for “alternate careers” and not expect to get a faculty position in the end, which is frankly insane.

    1. Viewing this as a problem of too much supply is depressing and in my opinion misplaced. The problem is that we are not using the productive potential of all college graduates, not just Ph.D.s. Mostly this is do to our general lack of demand in this great recession. But, I’d place the long term blame on the financialization and deindustrialization of our country. I wonder how many physicists now work on Wall Street instead of working to advance our fundamental understanding of the universe.

      Kids are told they need to go to college to survive in a service based economy. Except they aren’t surviving in this economy, and the debt they took on to invest in their future looks wasted. And now you are saying the problem is that we educated too many? It’s a question of priorities, we could have a system that employed our educated to their highest potential.

      1. Yes, this – I can imagine a society that is over-educated, but ours is not it by a long shot. It’s just that no one in power is willing to let people work to their full potential.

  3. Yeah, lawyers are having the same problem.

    JD + federal job in DC = $100K in debt and no chance of ever owning a home.

  4. Egads, yes!  The lack of funding is also part of the impetus behind http://scifund.wordpress.com/ which is going live on Nov 1st!  Let’s see if society is interested in giving directly to scientists…

  5. There’s plenty of reasons to be pissed off even without the prospect of unemployment. Getting corruption out of our financial institutions and our government is a moral imperative, not just a matter of self-interest.

    It strikes me that if people only protested because of self-interest, none of the great movements would have happened, like women’s suffrage, civil rights, and the anti-Vietnam war.

    1. I know I’m off topicing a bit here, but surely most of the protestors for those things (women, black people, young people facing the draft) were all protesting their own self interest).  They were right too, but still.

      Back on topic.  Didn’t a big lump of stimulus funds go on scientific research?

Comments are closed.