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千万别当科学家,更不要读博士 转

已有 2752 次阅读 2010-1-12 12:09 |个人分类:请学会倾听不同的声音|系统分类:观点评述

发信人: Mizar (白桦树), 信区: Teachers_Forum
标  题: 千万别当科学家,更不要读博士
发信站: 吉林大学牡丹园站 (Mon Jan 11 07:52:31 2010)

虽然讲的是美国的情况,但中国现在感觉也越来越像了,句句大实话.


【 以下文字转载自 PhD 讨论区 】
发信人: lzhking (东方鸿卫兵), 信区: PhD
标  题: 不知道有人转过没:千万别当科学家,更不要读博士
发信站: 水木社区 (Tue Dec 29 00:14:29 2009), 站内

发信人: studio (成功三绝:不要脸,不要钱,不要命), 信区: DP.THU
标  题: 不知道有人转过没:千万别当科学家
发信站: 水木社区 (Mon Dec 28 15:00:16 2009), 站内

这篇文章够牛,物理学教授写的,句句大实话。翻译过来给大家共赏。
Don’t Become a Scientist!
Jonathan I. Katz
Professor of Physics
Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
[my last name]@wuphys.wustl.edu
千万别成为科学家!
约拿单 I. 卡茨,物理学教授,华盛顿大学

Are you thinking of becoming a scientist? Do you want to uncover the mysteries
of nature, perform experiments or carry out calculations to learn how the wor
ld works? Forget it!
Science is fun and exciting. The thrill of discovery is unique. If you are sma
rt, ambitious and hard working you should major in science as an undergraduate
. But that is as far as you should take it. After graduation, you will have to
deal with the real world. That means that you should not even consider going
to graduate school in science. Do something else instead: medical school, law
school, computers or engineering, or something else which appeals to you.

你在打算成为科学家吗?你想揭开自然的奥秘、用做实验或计算的方式来研究整个世界是
怎么运作的?把这个想法忘了吧!
的确,科学很有趣,也很刺激。由发现而产生的强烈快感是独一无二的。如果你很聪明、
有野心,并且也很刻苦努力的话,你的确应该在读本科的时候选择科学。但这就够了,到
此为止。本科毕业之后,你将必须面对这个真实的世界。这意味着,你不应该哪怕是考虑
去读科学方面的研究生。做点其他的行当吧:医学、法律、计算机、工程,或者其他随便
什么你能想到的。

Why am I (a tenured professor of physics) trying to discourage you from follow
ing a career path which was successful for me? Because times have changed (I r
eceived my Ph.D. in 1973, and tenure in 1976). American science no longer offe
rs a reasonable career path. If you go to graduate school in science it is in
the expectation of spending your working life doing scientific research, using
your ingenuity and curiosity to solve important and interesting problems. You
will almost certainly be disappointed, probably when it is too late to choose
another career.
American universities train roughly twice as many Ph.D.s as there are jobs for
them. When something, or someone, is a glut on the market, the price drops. I
n the case of Ph.D. scientists, the reduction in price takes the form of many
years spent in “holding pattern” postdoctoral jobs. Permanent jobs don’t pa
y much less than they used to, but instead of obtaining a real job two years a
fter the Ph.D. (as was typical 25 years ago) most young scientists spend five,
ten, or more years as postdocs. They have no prospect of permanent employment
and often must obtain a new postdoctoral position and move every two years. F
or many more details consult the Young Scientists’ Network or read the accoun
t in the May, 2001 issue of the Washington Monthly.

为什么我,一个有终身职位的物理学教授,一个在科学事业上很成功的人,要来试图打击
你们将科学作为毕生事业的勇气和信心呢?因为世道变了。我1973年拿到我的博士学位,
1976年就拿到了终身教职。美国的科学界现在已经不能提供一条合理的事业生涯的途径了
。如果你去读科学的研究生,你大概一定会期望着用你毕生的工作精力去做科学研究,用
你的智慧和好奇心去解决那些重要而又有趣的问题。实话讲,你基本上一定会失望,而失
望的时候,你大概已经错过了选择其他任何职业的机会。
美国的大学制造了两倍于其工作职位数量的博士。当随便一个什么东西,或一种人,满大
街随便捡的时候,他就不值钱了。对于博士科学家来说,掉价的形式是他们不得不用许多
年做一期又一期的博士后,等待着一个工作机会的到来。永久职位不会比以往给的薪水少
多少,但25年前一个博士毕业后大约2年后就能找到一个真正的工作,而现在绝大多数的年
轻科学家都得当5年,10年,甚至更久的博士后。他们没什么拿到永久职位的盼头,常常必
须每两年找一个新的博士后工作,然后搬家。欲知更多详情,请咨询“青年科学家协会”
或读一读华盛顿大学月报2001年5月的文章。

As examples, consider two of the leading candidates for a recent Assistant Pro
fessorship in my department. One was 37, ten years out of graduate school (he
didn’t get the job). The leading candidate, whom everyone thinks is brilliant
, was 35, seven years out of graduate school. Only then was he offered his fir
st permanent job (that’s not tenure, just the possibility of it six years lat
er, and a step off the treadmill of looking for a new job every two years). Th
e latest example is a 39 year old candidate for another Assistant Professorshi
p; he has published 35 papers. In contrast, a doctor typically enters private
practice at 29, a lawyer at 25 and makes partner at 31, and a computer scienti
st with a Ph.D. has a very good job at 27 (computer science and engineering ar
e the few fields in which industrial demand makes it sensible to get a Ph.D.).
Anyone with the intelligence, ambition and willingness to work hard to succee
d in science can also succeed in any of these other professions.
Typical postdoctoral salaries begin at ?,000 annually in the biological scienc
es and about ?,000 in the physical sciences (graduate student stipends are les
s than half these figures). Can you support a family on that income? It suffic
es for a young couple in a small apartment, though I know of one physicist who
se wife left him because she was tired of repeatedly moving with little prospe
ct of settling down. When you are in your thirties you will need more: a house
in a good school district and all the other necessities of ordinary middle cl
ass life. Science is a profession, not a religious vocation, and does not just
ify an oath of poverty or celibacy.

就拿我们系里最牛的两个准备竞争一个讲师职位的人来作例子。一个家伙37岁,博士毕业
已经10年了,一直没找到工作。另一个最牛的家伙,35岁,人人都认为他很聪明,博士毕
业7年了才找到一个“永久工作”(其实不是永久教职,只是6年后有希望获得永久教职而
已,不过这已经让他稍稍远离那种每两年就要找新博士后工作搬家的驴拉磨死循环了)。
还有一个例子,一个39岁的家伙,想竞聘另一个讲师职位。他发了35篇文章。与之形成鲜
明对比的是,一个典型的医生29岁就进入了实习阶段,一个典型的律师25岁就开始实习,
31岁正式进事务所,一个计算机博士科学家在27岁时已经能得到很好的工作了。计算机科
学和工程科学是工业界需要人才的仅有的两个领域,因此这两个行当还是值得去读个博士
出来的。任何一个人,如果他有智慧和野心,能刻苦工作,如果他能在科学上成功的话,
他也能在其他任何行当上成功。
典型的博士后薪水是每年27000美元(生物科学)或35000美元(物理科学)。博士生的奖
学金比这个一半还少。用这么点收入你能支持一个家庭吗?嗯,够年轻的小两口住一个很
小的房子。不过我认识一个物理学家,他的妻子把他踹了,因为她是在厌倦了跟他不停地
搬家却一点定居的希望都看不到。当你三十多岁的时候你就会需要更多的东西:一个大房
子,附近有好的学校,以及其他中产阶级生活所必需的设施。科学是一个职业,而不是一
个宗教的呼召,也不是一个贫穷或独身的判决或者宣誓。

Of course, you don’t go into science to get rich. So you choose not to go to
medical or law school, even though a doctor or lawyer typically earns two to t
hree times as much as a scientist (one lucky enough to have a good senior-leve
l job). I made that choice too. I became a scientist in order to have the free
dom to work on problems which interest me. But you probably won’t get that fr
eedom. As a postdoc you will work on someone else’s ideas, and may be treated
as a technician rather than as an independent collaborator. Eventually, you w
ill probably be squeezed out of science entirely. You can get a fine job as a
computer programmer, but why not do this at 22, rather than putting up with a
decade of misery in the scientific job market first? The longer you spend in s
cience the harder you will find it to leave, and the less attractive you will
be to prospective employers in other fields.
Perhaps you are so talented that you can beat the postdoc trap; some universit
y (there are hardly any industrial jobs in the physical sciences) will be so i
mpressed with you that you will be hired into a tenure track position two year
s out of graduate school. Maybe. But the general cheapening of scientific labo
r means that even the most talented stay on the postdoctoral treadmill for a v
ery long time; consider the job candidates described above. And many who appea
r to be very talented, with grades and recommendations to match, later find th
at the competition of research is more difficult, or at least different, and t
hat they must struggle with the rest.

显然,你走科学道路并不能使你发财——你没有选择去读医学或法律,而一个医生或律师
典型的收入是科学家的2-3倍(这还得是那些运气忒好的正教授科学家们)。我也做了这个
选择。我成为一个科学家是为了有自由来解决那些让我感兴趣的问题。但你可能并不能得
到这种自由。作为一个博士后,你只能按照别人的想法来工作,可能被当成一个技术员来
使唤,而不是作为一个单独的科学家来合作。最终,你可能被彻底排挤出科学界。你可以
得到一份很好的工作,比如计算机程序员,但为什么不在你22岁的时候做这份好工作,而
要在科学界的人才市场上面悲悲惨惨地混上10年先?你再科学上面花的时间越多,你会发
现你越难离开,而且你对其他行当的雇主而言变得越来越没有吸引力。
也许你脑瓜足够灵光,以至于你能跳出博士后的陷阱。有些大学会被你打动而在你博士毕
业2年后给你一个可能的永久职位。这是可能的。但是科学劳动力市场的整体掉价意味着最
灵光的脑瓜也得被拴在博士后磨盘上当驴转上很长时间。想想上面举过的例子吧。许多看
上去非常有才而且有傲人的成绩和推荐信的人,后来发现研究上的竞争比其他一切的奋斗
都要困难。

Suppose you do eventually obtain a permanent job, perhaps a tenured professors
hip. The struggle for a job is now replaced by a struggle for grant support, a
nd again there is a glut of scientists. Now you spend your time writing propos
als rather than doing research. Worse, because your proposals are judged by yo
ur competitors you cannot follow your curiosity, but must spend your effort an
d talents on anticipating and deflecting criticism rather than on solving the
important scientific problems. They’re not the same thing: you cannot put you
r past successes in a proposal, because they are finished work, and your new i
deas, however original and clever, are still unproven. It is proverbial that o
riginal ideas are the kiss of death for a proposal; because they have not yet
been proved to work (after all, that is what you are proposing to do) they can
be, and will be, rated poorly. Having achieved the promised land, you find th
at it is not what you wanted after all.
What can be done? The first thing for any young person (which means anyone who
does not have a permanent job in science) to do is to pursue another career.
This will spare you the misery of disappointed expectations. Young Americans h
ave generally woken up to the bad prospects and absence of a reasonable middle
class career path in science and are deserting it. If you haven’t yet, then
join them. Leave graduate school to people from India and China, for whom the
prospects at home are even worse. I have known more people whose lives have be
en ruined by getting a Ph.D. in physics than by drugs.

假设你最终拿到了一个永久教职,一个终身教授职位。现在你不必为每两年一次的工作而
奋斗,取而代之的是为研究经费而斗争。你会又一次地发现,这个世界上的科学家有一大
箩筐,而你自己又不值钱了。现在你焚膏继晷地写研究计划,而不是去做研究。更糟糕的
是,因为你的研究计划会被你的同行竞争者来审阅,你就不能按照你自己所好奇的东西来
写。你得把你的努力和聪明才智浪费在怎么咬文嚼字地让那帮混蛋不要挑刺上,而不是去
解决重要的科学问题。这是两个截然不同的事情:你不能把你过去的成功写进研究计划,
因为那些是已经完成的工作;而那些原创性的天才想法还没有被证明。一句谚语说,原创
性的想法是研究计划中的死神之吻(乍看有益但实则会导致毁灭的行为),因为这些想法
根本就没有被证明可行(废话,被证明可行了你还写个屁的研究计划),因此它们会被认
为是垃圾。因此,当你费劲千辛万苦终于到达了那“应许之地”的教授职位上,你会发现
这根本就不是你原来想要的。
那么,你能做什么?对任何年轻人(即任何还没有取得科学界的永久职位的人)来说,首
要任务是去找一份其他的工作,这讲是你避免失望的痛苦。美国年轻的一代已经觉醒,看
到了科学界黯淡的发展前景以及无法拥有一个合理的中产阶级生活,因此他们已经不愿意
做科学家。如果你还没有觉醒的话,赶紧加入他们的行列。把博士班留给印度人和中国人
吧——他们的家乡情况更糟。在我所认识的人中,人生被读物理博士所毁的人数比被毒品
所毁的人还要多。

If you are in a position of leadership in science then you should try to persu
ade the funding agencies to train fewer Ph.D.s. The glut of scientists is enti
rely the consequence of funding policies (almost all graduate education is pai
d for by federal grants). The funding agencies are bemoaning the scarcity of y
oung people interested in science when they themselves caused this scarcity by
destroying science as a career. They could reverse this situation by matching
the number trained to the demand, but they refuse to do so, or even to discus
s the problem seriously (for many years the NSF propagated a dishonest predict
ion of a coming shortage of scientists, and most funding agencies still act as
if this were true). The result is that the best young people, who should go i
nto science, sensibly refuse to do so, and the graduate schools are filled wit
h weak American students and with foreigners lured by the American student vis
a.

如果你身居高位,能够领导科学界,那么你应该尝试着去劝说那些发放研究经费的部门少
招些博士生。大街上论吨撮的科学家完全就是他们的资助政策的后果——几乎所有的博士
生都是由联邦基金支持的)。那些基金会总在抱怨很少有年轻人对科学感兴趣,而造成这
种结果的原因正是他们毁了科学作为事业。他们本可以扭转这种局面,只要他们少招些博
士生,让博士生的人数与教职的人数大致相当就可以了,但他们不干,甚至他们根本不屑
于严肃地讨论这件事(许多年来,NSF到处宣扬他们虚假的预测,说科学家短缺,而多数基
金会好像真以为是这么回事)。结果就是,最好的年轻人,本该去做科学家的,对此唯恐
避之不及;而博士班里是一帮弱弱的美国学生,还有一帮被美国学生签证所吸引来的外国
人。


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