In case you harbor any delusions of grandeur that you or your children will someday rise to fame and fortune in academia, let me gently harsh on your mellow. The truth is, most of our higher education faculty members are now adjuncts, or under a more fancy title, contingent faculty. As this article details, many adjuncts earn about $10,000 a year.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, this applies to other people but not to my little Johnny because he is going to be a scientist.” Good luck with that. Science jobs are also getting harder to come by in academia, or anywhere.
Finally, before the reality party is over, I invite you to take a trip to 100 Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School. It is extremely well-written and well cited (the links all work and bring you to current and relevant articles).
And, on a note of full disclosure, yes, I did apply to graduate school this past year. And yes, I am not going.
With a popular press that is, as far as science reporting, dumber than a bag of hammers– concerned citizens need critical thinking tools. Lifehacker has a toolkit…
How to Determine If A Controversial Statement Is Scientifically True
Every day, we’re confronted with claims that others present as fact. Some are easily debunked, some are clearly true, and some are particularly difficult to get to the bottom of. So how do you determine if a controversial statement is scientifically true? It can be tricky, but it’s not too difficult to get to the truth.
That article links to this one about ‘confirmation bias’.
Punditry is a whole industry built on confirmation bias.
Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck and Arianna Huffington, Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter – these people provide fuel for beliefs, they pre-filter the world to match existing world-views.
If their filter is like your filter, you love them. If it isn’t, you hate them.
Whether or not pundits are telling the truth, or vetting their opinions, or thoroughly researching their topics is all beside the point. You watch them not for information, but for confirmation.
It’s contrary to human nature to approach life with a blank slate, but it never hurts to air out your assumptions and apply some scientific method now and then.