Lion of the Blogosphere

Does the United States have too many scientists?

According to the NY Times “Upshot” column:

We have been told time and again that the United States needs more scientists, but when it comes to some of the most desirable science jobs — tenure-track professorships at universities, where much of the exciting work is done — there is such a surplus of Ph.D.s that in the most popular fields, like biomedicine, fewer than one in six has a chance of joining the club in the foreseeable future.

Maybe there should be a moratorium on high-skilled immigration until there are more jobs available for the highly skilled?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Education, Immigration

29 Responses

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  1. “High skilled” immigration is a scam as most people who come under these programs neither high-skilled nor filling any sort of skills shortage.

    NY Book Review of all places punctured the myth of high-skilled immigrants filling skill shortages last year:

    The golden age of high skilled immigration in USA was from 1914 to the 1950s when geniuses of European culture immigrated in large numbers to the USA to escape World Wars and Holocaust. These people were invaluable to American science. BUT that era is OVER.

    Most great foreign scientists stay in their own countries where they are treated very well. With some exceptions we are getting the 2nd tier of foreign scientists. And they are not innovating but doing routine bench work. American universities and corporations like them because they work harder for less pay (Less than $50K a year).

    These scientists undercut high-skilled Americans who are willing to do these jobs. BUT want better pay, tenure, and respect.


    July 18, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    • Jimi and the other commentators have it right. The whole “high skills shortage” is a scam.

      What is infuriating is that it is not difficult to find that the actual figures. The scam is maintained by nothing more than repeating the same, not that difficult to refute, lie over and over again. And people believe it.

      Academic careers at this point, even in the holy STEM, are a ponzi scheme and I figured that out myself over twenty years ago (!) as an undergrad. But so is pretty much everything else, so if you are attempting an academic career it may not even be the worst of a whole host of bad options.


      July 18, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      • Basic income would solve these problems of prestige and inequality.

        For some of Lion’s anti-Muslim readers, a career peddling Islamophobia could be lucrative:


        July 18, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      • Robert Spencer self actualizes as a Muslim hater and does pretty well.

        It could be rumored that he makes more than any of the academics at the Ivy Leagues, indoctrinated with PCism.


        July 18, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      • JS, islam is a prole culture. What else would you expect of a people whose students average an IQ of 92, i.e. dumber than your average European? In Europe, muslims form a large underclass due to being low in IQ and high in aggression. Nicholas Gomez Davila would have laughed at you.

        race creationist

        July 19, 2016 at 1:40 am

      • Lucrative in what sense? Free room and board at the local prison?


        July 19, 2016 at 3:54 am

  2. Are most Phds. highly skilled and intelligent? I think they hand those degrees out to easily. What Silicon Valley is doing, I suppose, is getting the very best of the best wherever they reside in the world.


    July 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    • I don’t get the impression that it’s easy to get a Ph.D, although much of the difficulty is that it takes a lot of work, but not any more IQ than it takes to get a Master’s degree.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 18, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      • There are some barriers which make it difficult. For instance I got a physics PhD, which required a 4 4-hour exam qualifier where you had to write long solutions to physics problems. You had to do well enough for a professor to decide to pick you up or you would exit with a Master’s (maybe). After that it is up to the dissertation advisers what decides whether you get your PhD or not. Some will be easy and will accept all sorts of crap for your dissertation, others are real bastards. You will have a dissertation committee, but they almost always defer to your adviser.

        If you restrict the foreign students you really restrict the best students, though you get rid of the worst students, too. Probably they should just constrict the NSF money for students and post-docs and less people will have graduate school as an option and PhDs will have to go find a non-academic job (like I did).

        albert magnus

        July 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      • “If you restrict the foreign students you really restrict the best students, though you get rid of the worst students, too. ”

        So what if you restrict some top foreign students? US colleges are there to train Americans, especially state schools. Even private schools get govt money.

        The argument is we will benefit in the long run by these foreign scientists doing something great, but the vast majority will just fill jobs Americans can fill.


        July 18, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      • It takes a hell of a lot more acumen and intelligence to get a Ph.D. in physical science or engineering than medicine, law, or other “trade doctorates”. A research doctorate is about creating new knowledge, not merely learning to practice a trade. That’s a lot more difficult than merely passing classroom courses (which one also must do to earn their Ph.D.). Many who begin Ph.D. programs never finish or get to the stage of producing a viable original line of research that can pass the defense. By the way, my qualifying exams in engineering physics and electrical engineering were 8 hours over two days.


        July 18, 2016 at 10:26 pm

  3. “The highest R0 is in environmental engineering, at 19.0. It is lower — 6.3 — in biological and medical sciences combined, but that still means that for every new Ph.D. who gets a tenure-track academic job, 5.3 will be shut out.”

    Its a little unclear here but I think they are assuming that there are a static number of positions and therefor an R0 >1 means “shut out” candidates.

    But for these environmental degrees the government is minting plenty of new positions for them. I’d expect to continue to multiply until the tax payer is debilitated.

    Lion of the Turambar

    July 18, 2016 at 1:08 pm

  4. The physics prof who got his ass handed to him for being “homophobic”* wrote a column saying, “Don’t get a Ph.D” in science, outlining all the problems of a science career. I think his name is Jonathan Katz.

    *Yes, I know that one of his sons came out as gay.


    July 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm

  5. Damn, it sucks to be them. I rejoice at the path not taken.

    Academia are the greatest hypocrites on God’s green Earth.

    (1) Tight controls entry into their own club (while demanding open US borders). Elite institutions are happy to remain very small and they actually reduce the number of tenured professorships even as population grows. The academic experience is kept elite and away from the unwashed masses.
    (2) Running a tight ship to strictly control costs. Academics violates almost every labor law ever written.
    (3) The academic climate is actually very conservative and hierarchical, almost to the point of being feudal. Grad students, postdocs and adjuncts have almost no status or money or power, while full professors have almost all of the money and status and power. Grad students do most of the teaching and research grunt work and get none of the recognition.

    I recall when I did research at a lab at Cornell as an undergrad during the summer. The end results of my experiments and data grinding was a paper. But my name wasn’t even on the paper. The postdoc who supervised me took my results and wrote the paper. But his name wasn’t even on the top of the paper. That spot was reserved for the head of the research group who had no involvement and didn’t even know what we were up to until I presented my work at the end of the summer. The postdoc was Chinese and the head of the research group was Indian.

    Luckily I was precocious and did academic research as an undergrad, so I could be cured of my dreams before being stuck on a PhD track.


    July 18, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    • Dr Ray Stantz: Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*.


      July 18, 2016 at 7:40 pm

  6. This has always been true and probably should be true.

    A professor at a major research university should graduate a PhD student every few years. Even if it is every 4 or 5 years, he is still going to turn out 10 new PhDs over his career and many will do way more than that.

    Now there are universities that don’t offer graduate programs, so the market for PhDs in universities is bigger than just the major research universities, but only the top PhDs will land a tenure track job at a university. That is the way the system is suppose to work. Universities are suppose to be very selective in giving out those tenure tack appointments.

    In fields like biomedicine there is a demand for PhD researchers at drug companies. Most science PhDs are smart enough they will find well paying jobs although not necessarily in their field.

    Mike CA

    July 18, 2016 at 1:45 pm

  7. There’s no such thing as a “skills shortage”. Just make the employers pay the market wage. Or mechanize so they don’t need the labor. Or go out of business. And stop them moving abroad out of pique. How ’bout we actually give the free market a chance, for once?

    Have you ever noticed that all the conservative love of the free market goes out the window once it inconveniences employers?


    July 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm

  8. Just Google “STEM unemployment” and you’ll be deluged with the facts , most of which are bad for the graduates. Average wages for STEMer’s are about the same as during the Clinton administration twenty years ago. About two-thirds of new hires are foreign “guestworkers.” Major US employers such as Disney and Abbott Labs have laid off most of their American IT staffs to bring in cheapo H-1B’s. If the lying politicians in Washington actually cared about US citizens instead of their globalist billionaire supporters, they’d severely restrict STEM immigrants. Fat chance of that. Maybe Trump will do something about it.

    Black Death

    July 18, 2016 at 2:01 pm

  9. In Canada there is a HUGE surplus of PhDs in almost every field. Yet the government stupidly still thinks their is a shortage. There is also the problem of foreign students who come here to get a PhD and then never leave. I would say that almost all foreign students who come to Canada have no intention of ever leaving. The few exceptions are people from Europe, Australia or the US–but these students are few and far between. The only shithole country that students return to is Soddy Barbaria, perhaps because the students have to get some sort of job (even fast food) after they graduate in order to stay, and Soddy Barbarians simply don’t work. Ever.

    Most of the students who stay are from China and India, with a sprinkling from Africa and a few other places.

    One of my sons got a PhD in wildlife biology and he got a very good job in the government. Students from China and India aren’t interested in wildlife biology so it is pretty much a whiteopia. I hope it stays that way.


    July 18, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    • “Yet the government stupidly still thinks”

      Say it ain’t so!

      “tudents from China and India aren’t interested in wildlife biology so it is pretty much a whiteopia. I hope it stays that way.”

      You’ve figured out the key to survival. Identify whiteopias, both occupational and physical. And move there. It works – for a while.


      July 18, 2016 at 5:56 pm

  10. OT: Lion, will you be reporting on the Repub convention? Even with Trump, I can’t bring myself to watch these things. The whole shit show revolts me. So I count on you to tell me what’s happening!


    July 18, 2016 at 2:26 pm

  11. I was a member of a post-doc group at a pretty famous non-Ivy. There were maybe 12 people at a meeting they had. I asked a knowledgeable person how many post-docs were at the school. She said about 600, but most are Chinese and work in the medical school. They only come to these meetings if we serve free food.

    60 Chinese students came to our next meeting which was a BBQ thing.

    albert magnus

    July 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    • They are smart.


      July 18, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    • It’s a free lunch, after all. Next time: try to sell them timeshares.


      July 19, 2016 at 4:02 am

  12. A tenure-track professorships is not the path of a scientist, it is the path of a bureaucrat

    The real demand for real scientists/researchers come from industrial research centers, not state funded universities.
    Privately owned research centers have their skin in the game of research. They must produce discoveries and innovations, not prestigious jobs.
    The prestige come after the innovation, not the innovation after the prestige.


    July 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm

  13. And, by the way, the right way to entice people in a field is to raise salaries and bonuses in that field by privately held enterprises.


    July 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm

  14. Going after a Tenure is lucky trying to win the lottery – the odds are not that good, but the prize is awesome.
    Consider this – Tenure professor has:

    1) Good *enough* pay – not the highet, but decent.
    2) Extremely high job security – you basically cannot be fired.
    3) Independence – You can research what you want to, no boss per se.
    4) Status – Professors are highly respected, and looked to by lots of people, more so in the workplace.
    5) Interest – They are usually doing interesting (to them) things.
    6) meaning – Most professors believe what they are doing is beneficail for society.

    This means that for the person inetersted in such a job, is sounds like a dream, something that is really worth chasing.


    July 19, 2016 at 4:32 am

  15. Set the IQ minimum for all doctorates including Professional like MD (which in effect is what it is, sorry but good MD’s blow most engineers out of the water) be at 145 and all will be well.

    Let anyone below be an EdD with IQ 135+–someone who loves the subject and teaching it but isn’t a researcher or inventor.


    July 19, 2016 at 3:29 pm

  16. All these lefties LOVE LOVE LOVE immigrants, until an H-1B takes their job. But that’s different right? All those techies in Silicon Valley used to laugh at the blue collar guys being laid off from factories and voted straight D-Party. Now those suckers are being replaced with cheapo Indian H-1Bs.
    Let me tell you, those foreign workers are a scam. A PhD from India may as well be a HS grad here. Anyone from the Third World with a Doctorate isn’t even as good as a GED from podunk America. Its more than a scam. All those fake scientific studies are being written in large part by these idiot frauds with degrees from Shitholistan. Science may as well be Astrology at this point. Vaccines and pills made in India, China and Indonesia may as well be tainted candy.

    Joshua Sinistar

    July 20, 2016 at 1:48 pm

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