Scientists Formed by Apprenticeship, Not Classes

I don’t agree at all that to be a scientist you need degrees. Thats turning science into a noun as opposed to a verb.
one is a scientist if one seeks to figure things out using scientific methodology. You don’t need a committee to give a thumbs up.
Passing school grades is just memorizing things. Nobody gets SCIENTIST put on the degree.
You have to try to figure things out, win/lose, with the knowledge and the insight and the control on methodology.
very few “scientists” in the past would qua;ify with the “degree” need etc etc

Did you know that a PhD has little to do with classwork?


A post was merged into an existing topic: Can Philosophy Reduce Confirmation Bias?

PhD, surely in most approaching all, cases, is gained by people in their early/mid twenties.
they are just revealing what they memorized. I know its hard work but i see no innovation or science going on or very little.
Anyways scientist is a person of action. One only starts AFTER school is finished.
To be something its got to be something. You must do something.
Then anyone doing it IS a scientist.
I don’t see education as relevant at all. A computer knows all science but nobody should say its a scientist.
its a verb and not a noun.

This is false. It appears you do not know much about what PhD requires.

This is false. Every science PhD has to do original scientific work in order to gradaute.

PhD education is an apprenticeship. I know of zero people who are doing scientific work who have not been apprenticed for years.


Exactly. I’ve known people who became scientists without going to graduate school, but none who did so without the apprenticeship. A PhD program is just a formal apprenticeship program.


In my program, PhD students are expected to publish at least 3-4 original scientific papers, and be first author on the majority of them, before they’re allowed to graduate.

Literally nothing comes down to rote memorisation. You really don’t seem to know what a PhD actually entails. It’s not a taught program where you sit in classes all day and study for tests.


For those who are interested, here is the course work required for a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at Boston University:

There are 5 semesters of general classes and 12 semesters of graduate level science (assuming those are 2 semesters each) courses for a total of 17 semesters. Spread over two years that is 4 classes a year. I assume that grad students are still trying to get most of their class work done in their first two years so they can focus on their dissertation.

On top of that, rote memorization makes no sense in the biological sciences. The breadth of research is so vast that there is no way you could learn all of it in 2 years, much less 4. All research scientists are specialists, and all are life long learners. The best way to describe grad school is that it teaches you how to learn and how to be a scientist.

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I guess that’s one of the differences between American and European PhDs. Other than a pedagogy course, research seminars, and maybe a couple of other small courses for a couple of credits, the entire program is pure research. We tend to get most of our classes out of the way in Master’s programs, although I assume it’s the same for new PhD students who’ve come directly from undergrad.

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Most grad students in my group have a grand total of two courses.


Still remember…
NaCl MW = 58.4g
2-mercaptoethanol stock is 14.3 M
MOPS MW = 209.3g

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Multiplying the SE by 1.96 gets you a 95% confidence interval - that’s a handy one. :slight_smile:

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There are pi x 10^7 seconds in a year
Light travels a foot per nanosecond

(Two handy approximations that you would not learn in a classroom)


Really? In chemistry I think we typically do more.

My program was a bit course-heavy (I think because the undergraduate backgrounds were so diverse) but we still only did about 8 courses over 2 years. We average about 5-6 years to PhD in my field so much less than half the time was spent in course work.

Double it and add 32 to convert from Canadian beers to American beers.

– Bob and Doug McKenzie

i will retreat if everyone insists Phd is about original research.
However it still would have to prove it accomplished new insights or failed to do so. Just doing original research seems to be to be a cheap way to say one is doing science.
Something wrong here.
Anyways thats okay.
It makes my point science is about doing things. Not having degrees. Any phd is just a degree proving one did, seemingly, some actual scientific research.
I’m interested in geomorphology and have read jeaps of papers from people using them to gain thier Phd’s. Often, not always, they are dumb simple memory work from others with a twist of , hm, imagination.
Ideas in science can’t be phoned in to gain a degree. I question how sciency these folks are getting their Phds
Notwithstanding educational degrees are ireelevant to who is doing science and isn’t.
Its about figuring things out, methodology, and then your a scientist.
These kids are scientists you say for gaining the more serious degrees. Phd.
HMMMM. I guess so IF ITS original research.
Yet with that paper done its done. They are not scientists anymore UNLESS they do stuff.
Its a verb and not a noun. Its not about memorizing things as you all agree.
In fact you should of said it was doing the original research that made then a practicing scientist and not the degree that came later after it was marked.
Thats my point here. you are making my point. I just was wrong about original research, as far as it is/if it is, being done to gain the degree.
I think everyone agrees scientists are intellectual activists and not card carrying members.

Why does anyone still give @Robert_Byers oxygen in these discussions? I’m not opposed to engaging YECs at all–most of my colleagues and friends fit in this category–but what’s the point here?


American PhDs tend to last longer than European ones. In the UK, you typically get a master’s degree after 4 years of undergraduate training, then exactly 3 more years of PhD work. Here undergrad takes 4 years, plus 5-8 years of PhD. In my lab (experimental atomic physics) PhDs take 6-8 years to complete! It’s a really long slog. But I’ve also heard that US PhDs typically have more experience and scientific maturity compared to newly minted UK PhDs because of how long they have spent in the field.

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Getting a PhD was described to me as “pushing the boundary of knowledge out just a little bit farther.” Just what that means depends on the field - if not theory, then application.

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Yeah usually the UK is 3 years for undergrad, 1 year for Master’s (optional), and 3 years for PhD. 4-year PhDs are becoming more common in the UK though.

I’m studying elsewhere in Europe where Master’s are 2 years long, and PhDs generally take at least 4 years, which can be extended to 5 years if you spend a fair bit of time teaching. So with my British undergrad, it’s a 10-year process. 6-8 years is a loooong time for a PhD. I guess it’s about the same amount of time for research as in Europe, given the extra classes you have to take.

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