2013 March 30 Saturday
Wasted Scientific Brains, Low Salaries

Occasionally I'm asked for career advice. I ask some questions. Some details are provided. I'm staggered by the poor quality of decision-making and the lack of information that went into choice of undergrad degree and naive expectations of success on the chosen path (not that I was any better). One such recent episode, and my attempts to provide advice, got me digging for info about why to not get a science Ph.D. These charts show why grad school for science is a really bad idea. The final chart shows that the problem goes way back to the 1970s when the odds of getting an assistant professorship plummeted. "Mike the Mad Biologist" has some posts on the size of the PhD glut problem if you need more convincing. Physics prof Jonathan Katz shows by anecdote just how pathetic the lot is for PhD physicists in their 30s.

As examples, consider two of the leading candidates for a recent Assistant Professorship 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 first permanent job (that's not tenure, just the possibility of it six years later, and a step off the treadmill of looking for a new job every two years). The latest example is a 39 year old candidate for another Assistant Professorship; 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 scientist with a Ph.D. has a very good job at 27 (computer science and engineering are 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 succeed in science can also succeed in any of these other professions.

How can so many smart people be such foolish gluttons for labor market punishment? The university departments of course want the cheap labor of grad schools and postdocs. Otherwise they ought to Ph.D. candidates only from the ranks of those who really want to take an oath of poverty. It is the height of folly to get a bio Ph.D. Physics isn't much better.

Typical postdoctoral salaries begin at $27,000 annually in the biological sciences and about $35,000 in the physical sciences (graduate student stipends are less than half these figures). Can you support a family on that income? It suffices for a young couple in a small apartment, though I know of one physicist whose wife left him because she was tired of repeatedly moving with little prospect 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 class life. Science is a profession, not a religious vocation, and does not justify an oath of poverty or celibacy.

Our future is made worse when scientists are unable to reproduce. They've got genes that make them smarter. So they'd have much smarter kids on average if they could only afford to reproduce. If they'd majored in engineering instead they would have started at the highest paying jobs out of college (or see this list and another list that puts petroleum engineering at the top of the pile for big bucks).

It is a huge waste of brain power to have so many people working in science for really low salaries. If the costs of scientist labor were higher then the work of scientists would be more automated and scientists would be more productive. Postdocs at $27k per year aren't going to be well capitalized (and government science grant budget cuts are making this worse). Their time is cheap. Wasting their time does not cost much. That's a problem. We'd probably get a faster rate of progress in science in the long run if the time of scientists was more highly valued.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 March 30 10:19 PM 

Russ said at March 31, 2013 5:20 AM:

"a lawyer at 25 and makes partner at 31" Pfft. This is hilarious as well. Does misinformation and hopeless optimism infect every industry?

Calvaria said at March 31, 2013 10:05 AM:

As someone with a PhD in the biological/life sciences, I'd like to interject some more clarifying information. Similar to law schools, there is a bifurcation in job prospects based on the institution (and by extension in a PhD, the lab you join). A PhD in a well-known lab at a Tier 1 research institute (a little redundant, as there are very few renowned researchers at directional state universities etc.) will net you "decent" job prospects. Those job prospects are nowhere near the level of a physician, pharmacist, nurse, or even a welder, but they're alright if you want to stay in the University setting. From judging my peers: a post-doc isn't too difficult to get, you'll interview probably 3 or 4 locations and get acceptances at 2 or 3, with salaries ranging from 38k to 58k. Afterwards, if you want to stay academic, you'll likely toil away for 4 years or so, interviewing for a half dozen assistant professor positions in your last 2 years before landing one. That ass't professor position (if it's at a Tier 1 research university) will likely start at 68k. For comparison, an *apprentice* (i.e. no experience) welder in my area makes 42k. If you want to stay academic but didn't go to a Tier 1 university or work in a high profile lab: you're fucked (with the caveat: unless you're a 'diversity hire' prospect; I'm not kidding, I just had an associate come back from an interview where he was told he was the perfect fit for the job and he'd get it...unless a female or minority applied as well).

Some other thoughts:
1) Based on the above, DO NOT GO to a Tier 2 or lower research institution for training. You're pissing away your 20s to become an over-qualified lab technician.

2) DO NOT STAY ACADEMIC. As the charts in the original article indicated, the job market for professors is *horrible*. 30 years ago you had a 1 in 5 chance of getting the ass't professor job you applied for, now it's 1 in 40.

3) Related to points 1 and 2, SERIOUSLY DO NOT GO ACADEMIC: funding at higher ed is stagnant relative to demand. Grants are incredibly difficult to get unless you're politically connected. We have over-produced academic PhDs, taken tuition and tax dollars to build them labs, then told them to go out and compete for grants for which the total number has not risen concomitantly. I helped a funding agency triage grants for approval recently. The lead guy noted he'd received 100 grant applications out of which ~20-25 were pathetic and rejected right away. Winnowing down the remaining 75, he came up with 15 EXCELLENT proposals which were all feasible, interesting, and useful. Choosing which ONE to fund came down to rolling dice. This is a cautionary tale. How ridiculous is it to go after a career where at the age of 55, after decades of success, the decision on whether you get a project to pay your salary is literally a roll of the dice?

4) Furthermore on point 3, and where I mention some politics to getting grants: if you don't currently have grants, you'll never get a grant. So for the above 55 year old, if his last couple grant applications didn't get funded and his final grant runs out, he's just retired. It kinda makes sense from the funding agency's perspective (if a scientist has funding, it's external validation that they produce useful work), but presents the classic chicken-and-egg problem. New grads are familiar with this: nobody will hire [fund] me b/c I don't have experience [grants], but how can I get experience [grants] if nobody will hire [fund] me? This is where politics comes in. If you have an 'in' with a funding agency (maybe your former boss reviews grant applications) or have an older colleague who is willing to add your name as a collaborator to their grant (where of course you'll do far more work than your share), you can get that first grant. Welcome to open-minded, thoughtful, idealistic academia! Pay no attention to the close-minded, groupthink, nepotistic and exploitative tendencies.

5) The labor issue you alluded to, oh God this is a good one. Again, I'm speaking to this from the perspective of a student at a renowned lab at a Tier 1 institution. In 'less demanding' labs you can get by on 30 hours a week but will have really poor job prospects coming out. In experiences such as mine however, you'll dedicate 6-7 years of your 20s working ~60 hours a week making 24k/yr. None of your friends will understand why you work so hard and make so little $, indeed you won't really either. In your first couple years you'll reassure yourself that it's because you'll be making the "big bucks" when you get out. As you go along though, you realize you've been sold a fantasy and your motivation becomes one more of trying to escape it ASAP but still have something (the diploma) to show for it. Now HERE IS THE FUN STUFF: your boss *knows* they're using you. They *know* you're an intelligent, highly-skilled worker they can exploit with zero repercussion. In a weird twisted moment, I've even witnessed a boss claim they're doing the grad student A FAVOR by training them, that grad students are EXPENSIVE. It's akin to a plantation-owner telling the slave they should be *thanking them*. A lab technician will cost about 40k in salary and work 40 hours a week; a grad student can do the same job and will cost 24k in salary for a 60 hour week. And if you're like I was at the end of my training, you're making 24k/yr while managing 5 projects, 2 fresh graduate students and a technician. If plantation owners still existed, they would be flocking to my boss for advice like middle-management to Tony Robbins.

Now, what's on the other side of the diploma?
1) Academia: see the previous points, it's a stupid career move (odds are really stacked against you) and you're perpetuating the exploitation of persons with high intellectual capital. If you have a soul, you shouldn't even consider academia.
2) Industry: job prospects are better, but you'll still need something of an 'in' to break into the industry. As bench work becomes more automated and higher throughput as well, fewer and fewer bench scientists are needed (hello synthetic chemists!). To succeed in industry, you must prove your worth in being a high-level thinker who can effectively identify and manage a profitable 'direction' for the research. You'll actually be expected to do something valuable. I know this sounds weird to people outside science, but there is a significant contingent of scientists who hate doing things that other people find useful. This probably has a lot to do with the pathologic tendencies seen in academia.
3) Don't do science. This is probably your best choice. As someone who has completed a PhD, you actually have A LOT of good skills. Completing the PhD requires the ability to perform extensive research and *really* understand a niche (market); the ability to view a problem from several different angles; a capacity to synthesize lots of information; and perhaps most important of all -- the ability to fail and not get discouraged (because dear god, you will fail hundreds of times in graduate school). As a bonus, if you come from a renowned lab at a Tier 1 institute, your PhD advisor (boss) was probably a pathologic asshole and you've demonstrated the ability to deal with such people. Consulting and Entrepreneurship are two good ideas for example.

superdestroyer said at March 31, 2013 12:37 PM:

The best thing for a physics undergraduate to do is get their graduate degree in Therapy Medical Physics. There are jobs in that field, the professional organizations are fighting to keep the job pool small enough, and the pay is high.

Just Chillin said at March 31, 2013 1:18 PM:

I'll probably just start raising my own chickens and perhaps sell both eggs and meat. Maybe hydroponics too.

I'll just have to do it illegally because the government -now another product of the big corporations- makes it impossible to do it legally. Food producing business is always a safe bet and there will always be a market for it.

I believe that in the near future more and more people will start trusting home grown/raised food, even if it hasn't gone through all the government "sanitary" bullshit controls.

Maybe we -or our next-door food producing neighbor- will just have to pluck and gut our own freshly killed chikens and wash our own fresh eggs, right after we buy/sell them. Furthermore, I don't see why we can't have "great private sanitation controls" in our backyards. We'll just call them procedures "Old fashion raising and growing food properly" and "Old fashion washing and cooking food properly".

Besides you won't have to pay any taxes, unles they catch you doing your legitimate, but now illegal thing.

Nanonymous said at March 31, 2013 3:20 PM:

Just in case someone doubts what Calvaria wrote: it's all true. In fact, if you already made a mistake of getting into a grad school, quit now with masters. Industry does not care that much, your chances of getting entry level position are a lot higher and by the time your PhD peers will be on a job market, your salary will already be higher then their starting.

Times when doing science was a good career offering high status, decent pay and reasonable job security are long gone. Immigrants depressing wages were part of that transition, BTW.

Nuclear physicist said at March 31, 2013 6:26 PM:

My experience doesn't really mesh with the doom and gloom views on science careers.

I'm six years from my PhD in physics at a 2nd tier university and most of my former classmates have done pretty well. None were on the postdoc circuit for longer than three years and they have found jobs at the DOE/DOD national labs, finance, radiation oncology, semiconductor industry, & silicon valley. The thing is, academia is and has been the alternative career path for most physicists for a very long time. I knew this going in & made a conscience effort to position myself for a job at one of our national labs. For me getting a higher degree was a childhood dream and it was a blast learning stuff like general relativity & field theory on a grad student's stipend.

Though, going forward I'm a bit more pessimistic. The sequester will have a pretty bad impact on science careers of young people in this country. This is really the first sign that entitlement spending is crowding out other more useful areas of government spending.

Randall Parker said at March 31, 2013 7:35 PM:

Nuclear physicist,

The sequester might be the first sign you noticed of entitlements crowding out useful government functions. But entitlements have gradually been crowding out other functions for decades. Federal R&D funding as a percentage of US GDP peaked in the late 1960s and is now at less than a third of that peak. Similarly, water and transportation infrastructure spending peaked as a percentage of GDP in the late 50s, early 60s and the federal portion continues to decline with state and local rising to partially compensate.

It is going to get much worse.

Calvaria said at March 31, 2013 9:54 PM:

My experiences come from the life sciences side, and I recognize they're not necessarily applicable across the spectrum. When I look at my peers on the materials science and engineering side of things (don't know any physicists), graduate school seems much more directed and defined, which I assume prevents a lot of the opportunities for exploitation. It was my impression though that students aren't really pushed towards a PhD, so there is less over-training. It seems everyone acknowledges and accepts that a masters degree imbues you with the knowledge and skills to independently complete projects, a PhD is only necessary if you want to become a professor and push into theory more.

The life sciences has gone an opposing route, with many schools not even accepting masters degree candidates. With the engineering PhDs I did know, I was a little jealous of their metrics for a dissertation as well. Their candidacy was essentially: I'm going to probe these three different areas and will graduate after I have investigated and defined them (regardless of the result). The life sciences candidacy was: I'm going to try and probe these three areas for novelty; if nothing novel comes up I'll keep hitting at different areas until I find three things worth reporting or until I've been in graduate school for 7 years and they kick me out with a 'pity' PhD. It's a great system of moving goalposts to exploit young scientists.

It was completely the opposite of what you're told science is supposed to be. The scientific process lies in investigation and approaching problems from different perspectives -- a negative result is still a result; a positive result is a bonus. If I look at a disease state, and investigate 5 possible causes, only to find none of those 5 is the cause, that is still *valuable* information -- there are 5 pathways that I now know are not viable drug targets for example. Yet in the academic life sciences, that is considered a failure...you can't publish the negative result, therefore it's worthless, therefore you wasted your time.

I think what disgusts me so much about it is that so many of those PIs benefiting at the expense of students hold themselves in high regard and indeed *better* than non-academicians. I've seen young scientists have their entire careers go up in smoke -- and I mean *destroyed* -- because a PI forced them to dedicate their dissertation to a project that failed horribly (but that the PI was sure was brilliant...b/c after all HE thought it up!). Can you imagine mentoring a young coworker, convincing them to dedicate all their time to a path that you assured them success, only for it to fail completely and have every subsequent employer say "well why would we hire this guy? he's done nothing productive in the last 7 years?". I've seen PIs do this to multiple grad students in succession, laying waste to 4 scientists livelihood and careers before the final puzzle piece is discovered and the PI gets the payoff 20 years into the project. That's 4 dissertations of "I tried all this and nothing worked" and 4 destroyed careers (you can't secure a good post-doc without success; you can't get an ass't prof position without a good post-doc) while the PI pats himself on the back. When you juxtapose what academia *pretends* and believes itself to be with reality, it's really despicable.

bbartlog said at April 1, 2013 7:26 AM:

@Just Chillin: hard to make a lot of money with small-scale eggs and chickens, even if you can successfully cultivate a niche market. I speak from experience; my (and my wife's) farm: www.greencirclefarmpa.com . There is a reason that agriculture became specialized, mechanized, and large scale. Not to say that you can't do it, but you'll work hard and still be poor.
As for it being illegal, the conditions vary from state to state. Pennsylvania is pretty friendly to small producers. Many other places, much less so.
Going in to science when you could be studying something more lucrative is certainly one way to go wrong, but at least it's not a complete scam. A friend of one of our farm hands is in school at Slippery Rock getting a degree in music therapy: http://www.sru.edu/academics/colleges/chfpa/music/musictherapy/Pages/MusicTherapyProgram.aspx
I can only imagine the job prospects. I hate to be mean-spirited, but she'd better hope she gets her MRS.

bbartlog said at April 1, 2013 7:29 AM:

@Just Chillin: hard to make a lot of money with small-scale eggs and chickens, even if you can successfully cultivate a niche market. I speak from experience; my (and my wife's) farm: www.greencirclefarmpa.com . There is a reason that agriculture became specialized, mechanized, and large scale. Not to say that you can't do it, but you'll work hard and still be poor.
As for it being illegal, the conditions vary from state to state. Pennsylvania is pretty friendly to small producers. Many other places, much less so.
Going in to science when you could be studying something more lucrative is certainly one way to go wrong, but at least it's not a complete scam. A friend of one of our farm hands is in school at Slippery Rock getting a degree in music therapy: http://www.sru.edu/academics/colleges/chfpa/music/musictherapy/Pages/MusicTherapyProgram.aspx
I can only imagine the job prospects. I hate to be mean-spirited, but she'd better hope she gets her MRS.

asdf said at April 1, 2013 10:11 PM:

Me: I'm 30 and make six figures to do a job where I work from home four days a week and I don't think I've ever put in more then 40 hours of genuine work in a week. I have a bachelors only (have passed some certification exams as well#. I've got four weeks vacation and make my own hours.

My Biology PhD roommate #from a year ago): He's 35 and makes 40k/year. There are 12 hours between his leaving for work and getting back from work. Over memorial day weekend they made him work in the lab all weekend. I've never seen him take a holiday.

Mthson said at April 2, 2013 1:01 AM:

Programming is pretty cool. And beautiful. You get to build stuff.

I have friends who don't think of themselves as primarily programmer-type people, but they still make six figures.

It's hard to find people who are highly organized, friendly, and highly devoted.

1. TechCrunch: Watch Zuck, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, & Others In Short Film To Inspire Kids To Learn How To Code
2. BusinessInsider: 30 Tech Skills That Will Instantly Net You A $100,000+ Salary
3. Wired: Tuition at 2-month Learn-to-Code Boot Camp Is Free Until You Get a Job

Mike M said at April 3, 2013 9:46 AM:

It's a problem of knowledge and incentives.

The universities have a HUGE incentive to inflate their student populations even if they add little or no value to the student in terms of what he or she can eventually produce and earn. Indeed, because the student misses the opportunity for four or more years of job experience, in many cases a university degree (let's not call it an "education") may detract from the graduate's value. The huge incentive for the universities is due to the fact that our federal government subsidies education through seemingly low cost loans and federal aid that has many untoward effects such as inflating tuition - which prevents many qualified candidates from attending college, encourages many unqualified candidates to attend college rather than getting job experience and gives professors an economic incentive to encourage students to hang around for a worthless degree.

Most students are clueless. They are misinformed by those in academia - who profit from their enrollment - that more education (rather than actual work experience) is the key to their financial success when actually their (the student's) enrollment is the key to the academician's financial success.

AMac said at April 4, 2013 10:34 AM:

Calvaria --

Two great comments. They ring wholly true to me, based my 20+ years since earning a Tier 2 life sciences PhD -- both in my own career trajectory and in what I have observed of my colleagues' paths. As you emphasize, things were difficult decades ago, and continue to get worse.

A hopeful note: a very talented friend ditched the academic/national lab route two years ago, and entered an accelerated RN program, specializing in geriatric nursing. Her intelligence, conscientiousness, and self-discipline earned her scholarships and plaudits; she started work the day after the graduation ceremony.

I 've bookmarked your remarks and will be urging young people considering the life sciences PhD career path to read them. Not that it will make much impact -- it seems that everybody embarking on the life-scie grad student pathway averts their eyes from these sorts of grim testimonials. One can almost read the thought bubbles: "That old, embittered loser! I'm a special snowflake; such whining has no application to me!"

Calvaria said at April 8, 2013 12:33 PM:

I should add that we over-demand education from our best and brightest to go into the paths where they can make the biggest impact (science, medicine). The typical "science" route is one where you spend 6 or 7 years post-grad doing research for 25k/yr, then move on to a 2-4 year post-doc where you make ~35-40k/yr, before (hopefully attaining) an ass't prof job where you'll make 60k/yr as you work your ass off to gain tenure (5 year plan). Assuming you make tenure and your base pay bumps to 90k, you've spent anywhere from 13 to 16 YEARS to get to this 'success' point. That means you're 35-38 years old by the time you reach some semblance of 'stability'. Contrast that with someone who took a sales job coming out of undergrad. They likely hit that level of 'stability' in their late 20s.

For medicine, the route is typically 4 years medical school followed by 3 years residency (for a low-level physician), while incurring ~200k in debt overhang. This puts the typical doc at 29 years old by their first 'job'. For more demanding docs (i.e. specialists like oncology, rheumatology, neurosurg), the residency/fellowship training is 6-7 (5+2) years, meaning their typical age at 'first job' is 32-33, with closer to 220k in debt (interest accumulates). During residency, physicians will make ~40k, during fellowship ~60k.

Now, for the "best and the brightest" in science/medicine, the ones we pin our "great leaps forward" hopes on: the MD/PhDs. A typical MD/PhD program lasts 8-10 years, followed by a residency/fellowship of 6-7 years. The one caveat is they will not go into debt as they are supported during this period. during the MD/PhD program they'll make ~25k in salary, then 40k in residency, and 60k in fellowship. Nonetheless, this training program is 14-17 years long, with 'first job' occurring at the age of 36-39 (!).

Now, tell some bright young student they can go directly from college to wall street making 100k+ their first year in derivatives trading, or ask them to take a vow of poverty for the next 15 years for the 'good of society'. Which is the 'smart' path to take?

Randall Parker said at April 8, 2013 8:26 PM:


First off, the students who are going on the long path toward training are wasting a huge amount of time and hurting their own interests. Second, society is not better off as a result. Consider what is wrong with this picture:

- Young scientists who ought to be free to use their own initiative are under the direction of older PIs who are less creative than the young bucks.

- A large fraction of these scientists will not be able to get enough funding to use their own time productively.

- We'd use their time more wisely if the time was not so cheap.

- We do not lack for activities in industry that would go better with more bright (and better paid) minds to execute on them.

- Science ought to be much more automated. Better to develop robots, microfluidic devices, and the like to enable scientists to get much more done per hour than to use so many brains to make progress at slower rates.

Medical doctors: They ought to be trained at much younger ages. Start taking pre-med courses at age 15 or 16. Study 12 months per year. Online lectures available to watch at any time 24x7. Have tests always available to take that would let someone to finish a course at any time (i.e. sooner). Someone who can get thru a year or organic chemistry, biochemistry, and basic biology in 3 months ought to be free to do so. One's entrance into medical school should be made easier the younger the person can get a high score on the MedCAT. Then medical school should have video lectures and tests available to try at any time. The average age at graduation from med school should be 4 years younger. Pull all training into one's teens and twenties, even for specialties.

Calvaria said at April 9, 2013 8:10 AM:


For the most part, I agree with you. The students going along this path are irrevocably harming their long-term interests, but are swayed (a gentle term, 'defrauded' may be more proper) by the institutions that profit off them (colleges, graduate schools, residency programs, etc.).

This is a problem that arises when we over-demand training in that we want someone to have 100% coverage of a field (e.g. medicine) where they'll only focus on a small fraction (e.g. oncology). The entire system is sclerotic and wasteful -- both science and medicine, the areas where we theoretically need our "best and brightest". It boggles my mind that we desperately want someone to discover a cure for cancer, but we force them down a 15 year path of high stress/long hours/low pay before they do so. "We want you to make great advances in science and medicine -- but we insist you delay your life for 15 years with little compensation to do so. So do that...or get a cushy job in medical sales out of college and enjoy your life." It needs to be reformed. For example, if you want to be a radiologist, a 3 year undergrad focused heavily on math, physics, and biology followed by a 2 year program on anatomy, basic physiology and exposure to patients, followed by a 3 year clinical residency would be apt. This would lessen the training time from 12 years (post-HS) to 8. This of course would also require that we reform our highschools from glorified daycare to a sorting station where students are free to follow their aspirations.

There are HUGE societal ramifications for going down this path, which I'm sure you'll expand into a blog post one day. As the current system stands, and my timelines above show, we are knee-capping our future as a society. Most intelligent people put off starting a family until they can financially support one. Considering the long hours in training (60+ per week) and poor pay, most of these intelligent people on these paths would not start a family even if their spouse was working (it's difficult to share responsibilities when 1 parent is *never* home). So be it, these people put off starting families until they've finished their training, at which point they're somewhere between the ages of 35 and 40. It's even worse for women in these situations, as it's not feasible to take time off during training (without hurting career prospects), and 35 is a significant age beyond which pregnancy complications increase rapidly. Compare that to the "average age at first birth" for people who provide no economic growth in the economy.

Consider: the average 'welfare parent unit' has 3 kids by 30; the typical high-achiever parent unit will have 2 by 40. Based on the available data, half those kids are female and follow in the same footsteps as their moms. Over a 120 year span, this will produce 25.375 of the low economic value subset, and only 7 of the high economic value. I appreciate that there are exceptions to the rule, but this is what society is facing.

Addendum: I could go to extreme lengths on the problems with the PhD process, I'd hate to bore you all with that.

Randall Parker said at April 9, 2013 8:05 PM:


Let me go even further: a lot of what gets taught in medical school is brute memorization. The mind becomes sufficiently developed to handle brute memorization years before it becomes developed enough to master calculus. The anatomy training for an MD could be started at age 15 or 16. Ditto organic chemistry, basic bio, and biochem which also involves a lot of memorization. Ditto memorizing the clinical signs of lots of diseases. Building up the mind to handle physics and math takes more time.

So I would start a few years sooner, go 12 months per year, and clinical residency should start by age 22 or 23.

Overtraining: your numbers for MD/PhD are shocking. What a tremendous wastes of young minds. In software 22 and 23 year olds at top firms are often doing really important and productive work. They need guidance from more experienced developers. But they can get a lot of stuff done. Software developers could also start getting advanced training at a younger age. Starting from 14 (why not) 19 year olds could be fully trained in many algorithms, a couple of languages, and debugging techniques.

High school is such a waste. My reaction is that it should be bypassed by brighter kids. The politics of public schools make them unfixable. Brighties are going to be held back in them.

The impact on reproduction: yes, this is one of the reasons I want to accelerate education.

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