Programmatic snowflakes

Nov 23 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

Also from the tweets. A discussion about how long to finish a PhD

Now this really frosts my shorts. Anthro is right up there in the competition for most-unique-fucking-snowflake discipline in the universe. Physical /biological anthropologists can be the worst. We work on primates/humans, so 1) we don't have to know state of the art in other biological disciplines and 2) people are more interested in what we do, so that gives us a pass on issues of professionalism and 3) blah blah blah.

You can't have it both ways: either you are a social science, and therefore "more scholarly" than those assholes in hard science/engineering and thus we need 7 years to do a thesis, and our methods/results can't be held to your standards, OR you are a  "real science" and you jackasses need to pay attention to what we do, and furthermore, we want resources equal to the hard sciences  from the university/college.

And yes, yes, #notallanthropologists. There are lovely anthropologists out there in the world. But if you want to swim in the ocean, minnow, you need to know which way the current flows.


4 responses so far

  • dr_mho says:

    I don't follow you at all - is this a complaint about 7 years being too long for a PhD?

    • potnia theron says:

      Even with field work, yes. But many of the anthro folks I know think that they are *special* and the work done by their students takes longer. Just because.

  • postdoc says:

    um, yeah, try getting a good sample size working with primates with those shorter field times. Ever tried to learn to identify dozens of animals on sight, with no tagging or marking by observers allowed, even if the animal is running away from you 10 meters away? From any angle, sometimes through binoculars dozens of meters up a tree, etc? That part alone takes as long as some entire studies I've seen of other species. Anything where you hve to do this and/or work with animals with slow life histories on social behavior is like this (primates are simply a more popular example). I spent 1.5 years in the field (not to mention preliminary trips) and then a year in the lab. Add in coursework, developing and applying for funding for said project? (in the US, I've not heard of many, if any, students who are funded by their advisor, which seems to happen sometimes in Bio). Of course this takes 7 or more's not "just because" it's because of straightforward practicalities of the work and the life history of the species. And yes, we darn well need to know both the primate work and everything else (I have worked in both biology and anthropology).

    • potnia theron says:

      I think everyone can come up with the list of problems in their particular field. Listen to botanists complain about finding a rare species, in sufficient sample size, in lowland tropical rainforest. Or people who need to find one particular cell in the brainstem. Or people doing developmental work on something other than rodents. There are always problems and challenges and difficulties. I think a 7-year PhD program in this day and age is selfish on the part of the advisor/department and foolish on the part of the student.

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