2010 June 23
I thought I’d flag that the article about the oversupply of US PhDs that appeared in Scientific American in April and that I discussed has resurfaced in expanded form (same author, Beryl Lieff Benderly) in the Miller-McCune (now Pacific Standard online magazine. The basic thrust is essentially the same as before: the crisis in scientific careers is that there aren’t sufficient (or, perhaps, worthy) career opportunities for newly minted PhDs, not that there are insufficient numbers of potential American scientists.
I still agree that the thesis is correct, though this article in particular seems to endorse the idea that it’s really rough to be a graduate student or postdoc, which is only true in a very limited sense. Unlike the previous iteration, this article also argues that US science and math scores are generally strong, and rising, at the K-12 and college levels. I’m not familiar with the numbers, and I could believe that this is true, but having seen average Berkeley students try to work with fractions, even if it is true, we need to do better.
As a side note, I’ve never heard of this Miller-McCune thing; it seems to be a relatively new organization funded by essentially one wealthy person. Given that, the website is pretty professional-looking and there’s a lot of content. Generally seems to be an earnest endeavor.