Wednesday, July 25, 2012

...while the truth puts on its shoes.

From an astute reader comes a very disappointing passage in a Bloomberg View column by A. Gary Shilling on coming changes in the ways that universities fund themselves:
Most thought that a bachelor’s degree was the ticket to a well-paid job, and that the heavy student loans were worth it and manageable. And many thought that majors such as social science, education, criminal justice or humanities would still get them jobs. They didn’t realize that the jobs that could be obtained with such credentials were the nice-to-have but nonessential positions of the boom years that would disappear when times got tough and businesses slashed costs. 
Some of those recent graduates probably didn’t want to do, or were intellectually incapable of doing, the hard work required to major in science and engineering. After all, afternoon labs cut into athletic pursuits and social time. Yet that’s where the jobs are now. Many U.S.-based companies are moving their research-and-development operations offshore because of the lack of scientists and engineers in this country, either native or foreign-born. (emphasis CJ's)
Apparently, Mr. Shilling is an economist of some moderate repute, which makes that sentence even more galling.

It's a remarkable shame that the "scientist shortage" meme has spread so thoroughly through our elites. If only a scientific society, say, the largest one in the world, had the bully pulpit to attempt to refute such fairy tales. Alas. 

11 comments:

  1. At least the author has a helpfully descriptive surname.

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  2. Why do research and get your facts straight when you can just take someone else's word for something? It'd just "cut into athletic pursuits and social time."

    PS: He could probably have listed journalism up there with the useless majors. That field makes domestic science look robust.

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  3. Is it me, or does come of as bitter for his lack of extracurriculars in college.

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    1. sorry, "does he come off"

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  4. In his sentence "moving their research-and-development operations offshore because of the lack of scientists and engineers in this country....who are willing to work for low wages". There, fixed that.

    This, "Furthermore, the best graduate students in the top universities are often foreigners. And they come from countries that have much cheaper education systems. Yet American 15-year- olds rank in the middle of the pack in math, reading and science scores, and their high-school graduation rates are below international averages", is perhaps sobering. When was the last time a white kid (note, I am a honky) won the national spelling bee? When was the last time an Asian won the Heisman trophy?

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    1. News from one of our main tech rivals:

      http://www.firstpost.com/india/mr-obama-rest-easy-indian-students-have-hit-rock-bottom-174684.html

      (Perhaps spelling wasn't included on the exam.)

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    2. I wouldn't be worried so much about winning the national spelling bee not matter how many people can spell at that level there will still be only one winner. The rest of that statement is only slightly more worrisome. Keep in mind those rankings take all of the students into consideration - even students in a terrible inner city school with years of poor education. I question if that holds true across all countries in the rankings. For example would Germany's ranking include all it's different secondary schools or just the gymnasiums? While I'm not going to say students in lagging schools should be left behind panicking that the United States has suddenly gotten dramatically more stupid is excessive. Further having taught for several years I can safely say we have plenty of stupid foreign students coming to our Universities.

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  5. The paragraph from Bloomberg seems unfinished. Full disclosure requires adding that we lack scientists and engineers willing to work for wages competing with those offered in Mumbai or Shanghai and without benefits (soon we will be required to purchase the health benefits).

    We also lack scientists and engineers who 100% match half-page long lists of requirements. Now, if the HR departments were not laid off as well those requirements would be reviewed and corrected with the goal of actually finding a fitting candidate...

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  6. 11:19 is on target, and I suspect that the apples-to-oranges nature of the comparison is even more exaggerated in many of the Asian countries examined. Also, my own experience is that the "best" grad students at the two research universities that I have attended (admittedly a small sample size) were equally as likely to be domestic as Asian (I'm emphasizing Asian because that's where jobs have flowed)--really what I would expect given the approximate 50/50 split in enrollment. If any group was somewhat overrepresented among the "best" it may have been the Europeans, who often already had completed high-quality Masters degrees.

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  7. Hey now. I participated a sport AND managed to get good grades in science and math classes. As did many of my teammates.

    I've recently been told I would have a job waiting for me if I moved to Singapore. Circumstances won't allow me to move THAT far from my family....

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  8. I am so over hearing about the lack of scientist and engineers in the US. I just graduated in May and only know 2 B.S. chemists who landed positions right away. Obviously, there are likely others...but far too many are unemployed, working for $12 as pharmacy techs, or working the temp circuit.

    I want to say NO to the Aerotek's and Kelly Scientific's of the world but I *can't* :-/

    I wonder if they could at least hire recruiters with SOME knowledge/background of the industries they staff for??

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