Another Reason to Get an Econ Ph.D.
By Bryan Caplan
Bruce Charlton says that the hard sciences just aren’t fun anymore. The system now rewards workaholism and subservience a lot more than creativity:
Modern science is just too dull an activity to attract, retain or
promote many of the most intelligent and creative people. In particular
the requirement for around 10, 15, even 20 years of postgraduate
‘training’ before even having a chance at doing some independent
research of one’s own choosing, is enough to deter almost anyone with a
spark of vitality or self-respect; and utterly exclude anyone with an
urgent sense of vocation for creative endeavour. Even after a decade or
two of ‘training’ the most likely scientific prospect is that of
researching a topic determined by the availability of funding rather
than scientific importance, or else functioning as a cog in someone
else’s research machine. Either way, the scientist will be working on
somebody else’s problem – not his own. Why would any serious
intellectual wish to aim for such a career?
Back in the good old days, in contrast:
The whole process and texture of doing science has slowed-up. Read the
memoirs of scientists active up to the middle 1960s – doing science
then was nimble and fast-moving in texture and also longer-termist in
ambition. Unexpected leads could be pursued. It was common for people
to begin independent (really independent) research in their early- to
mid-twenties. For the individuals concerned there was a palpable sense
of progress, a crackling excitement.
This sounds like yet another reason to get an Econ Ph.D. Want to start doing independent research in your early- to mid-twenties? In econ, you still can. So drop your test tubes and bunsen burners and get over here where the action is!