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Freeman Dyson: Proud of not having a PhD

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In a March 26 interview at Quanta, Dyson says so:

Quanta: You became a professor at Cornell without ever having received a Ph.D. You seem almost proud of that fact.

FD:
Oh, yes. I’m very proud of not having a Ph.D. I think the Ph.D. system is an abomination. It was invented as a system for educating German professors in the 19th century, and it works well under those conditions. It’s good for a very small number of people who are going to spend their lives being professors. But it has become now a kind of union card that you have to have in order to have a job, whether it’s being a professor or other things, and it’s quite inappropriate for that. It forces people to waste years and years of their lives sort of pretending to do research for which they’re not at all well-suited. In the end, they have this piece of paper which says they’re qualified, but it really doesn’t mean anything. The Ph.D. takes far too long and discourages women from becoming scientists, which I consider a great tragedy. So I have opposed it all my life without any success at all.

Of course, if you helped found quantum electrodynamics …

See also:

Known iconoclast physicist Freeman Dyson can talk about scientists’ blunders, including Darwin’s

Freeman Dyson: ” … science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries”

Open Access founder abandons free science; just go back to “name” journals, he says

Should peer reviewers sign their names?

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3 Replies to “Freeman Dyson: Proud of not having a PhD

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Casey Luskin recently, had an article up on ENV along the same lines. In which he was comparing Faraday and Maxwell, noting that Faraday was not educated in a university and poor, and that Maxwell was educated in the finest universities and rich. Yet what tied both of these giants of science together was that they had a deep Christian faith, and they credited that faith as their source for inspiration.

    Since I don’t have a PhD., I, of course, like Faraday’s story. In further defense of those who don’t have PhDs, I would like to point out a few facts so that those of us who were not blessed with the opportunity to attend a University need not be so intimidated by those who did:

    The ability to ‘instantaneously’ know answers to complex problems has long been a very intriguing characteristic of some autistic savants;

    Is Integer Arithmetic Fundamental to Mental Processing?: The mind’s secret arithmetic
    Excerpt: Because normal children struggle to learn multiplication and division, it is surprising that some savants perform integer arithmetic calculations mentally at “lightning” speeds (Treffert 1989, Myers 1903, Hill 1978, Smith 1983, Sacks 1985, Hermelin and O’Connor 1990, Welling 1994, Sullivan 1992). They do so unconsciously, without any apparent training, typically without being able to report on their methods, and often at an age when the normal child is struggling with elementary arithmetic concepts (O’Connor 1989). Examples include multiplying, factoring, dividing and identifying primes of six (and more) digits in a matter of seconds as well as specifying the number of objects (more than one hundred) at a glance. For example, one savant (Hill 1978) could give the cube root of a six figure number in 5 seconds and he could double 8,388,628 twenty four times to obtain 140,737,488,355,328 in several seconds. Joseph (Sullivan 1992), the inspiration for the film “Rain Man” about an autistic savant, could spontaneously answer “what number times what number gives 1234567890” by stating “9 times 137,174,210”. Sacks (1985) observed autistic twins who could exchange prime numbers in excess of eight figures, possibly even 20 figures, and who could “see” the number of many objects at a glance. When a box of 111 matches fell to the floor the twins cried out 111 and 37, 37, 37.
    http://www.centreforthemind.co.....hmetic.cfm

    Here is a book that I am currently reading that should bring a tear to any eye

    Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism
    http://www.amazon.com/Carlys-V.....1439194157

    Not to give too much of a spoiler away, but in the book, Carly, when she finally gains the ability to communicate with the outside world, reveals that autistic people, whom most people look on as severely retarded, and only as severely retarded, reveals that she has an astounding intellect within that broken body.

    Here is a teaser for the book:

    Carly’s Café – Experience Autism Through Carly’s Eyes – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmDGvquzn2k

    I’m only half way through the book, but I will never look at a quote-unquote ‘retarded’ person the same way again!

    Here is a song that sort of reflects Carly’s world before her breakthrough:

    Evanescence – My Heart Is Broken
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....WV41100052

    Of somewhat related note:

    I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily…. All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer.
    Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), considered by many to be the greatest scientist of all time

    Inventors – George Washington Carver
    Excerpt: “God gave them to me” he (Carver) would say about his ideas, “How can I sell them to someone else?”
    http://inventors.about.com/od/...../a/GWC.htm

    The following video gives deep insight into how serious the problem of accounting for ‘knowledge acquisition’ is for the worldview of atheistic materialism (never mind that they can’t account for ‘knowing’ in the first place 🙂 ):

    Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in description of video)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    Along that line:

    In the Air – Who says big ideas are rare? by Malcolm Gladwell
    Excerpt: This phenomenon of simultaneous discovery—what science historians call “multiples”—turns out to be extremely common. One of the first comprehensive lists of multiples was put together by William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas, in 1922, and they found a hundred and forty-eight major scientific discoveries that fit the multiple pattern. Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution. Three mathematicians “invented” decimal fractions. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley, in Wiltshire, in 1774, and by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, a year earlier. Color photography was invented at the same time by Charles Cros and by Louis Ducos du Hauron, in France. Logarithms were invented by John Napier and Henry Briggs in Britain, and by Joost Bürgi in Switzerland. ,,, For Ogburn and Thomas, the sheer number of multiples could mean only one thing: scientific discoveries must, in some sense, be inevitable.
    http://www.newyorker.com/repor.....ntPage=all

    Verse and Music:

    Hebrews 13:5
    ,,“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

    Barlow Girl – Never alone
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8QubLxJI54

  2. 2
    sagebrush gardener says:

    Lots of folks are educated beyond their intelligence.

  3. 3

    This from “the son of an immigrant TV repairman from Butte Montana.”

    No PhD here either, but I have this theory running around in my head (mind you, its only a theory):

    Theory on the “evolutionary” development of a top tier atheist Darwinian Evolutionary Biologist (examples given: Dawkins, Coyne, Hawking).
    1) A very bright young man entering university flirts with atheism. This is nothing unusual, since many of us have such natural inclinations – we often rebel against our parents as well.
    2) The young man discovers professors, authors, guest speakers and fellow students that reinforce the notion of atheism.
    3) The young man’s atheism deepens as the semesters roll by.
    4) The young man, very much intrigued by science, falls in love with the natural sciences, biology in particular.
    5) The young man becomes a disciple of Charles Darwin and the modern day disciples of Darwin – often times on a personal mentorship level with a charismatic and persuasive professor.
    6) The young man encounters few, if any, counters to evolutionary atheism, and rejects out of hand any he does encounter.
    7) The young man continues year after year in school, with few encounters with the world outside of academics. He becomes more narrowly focused on a particular aspect of biology as he pursues and achieves PhD status … example: Coyne and a career in the evolutionary study of fruit flies.
    8) The now much older man writes a book, a very influential and best selling book, and thus influences many under his direct tutelage as a professor in a prestigious university, as well as many in the general populous seeking a “scientific” justification for their own atheism (Dawkins).
    9) The man still has had very little contact or experience beyond the academic world, in particular, no deep and broad encounters with design that his colleagues in the engineering disciplines experience in areas such as computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, mining and petroleum engineering. Thus the man cannot grasp the concept of design in nature … it seems to have been bred out of him.
    10) The PhD man becomes an icon, and his life experience is replicated in many of those that follow him.

    It’s only a theory, and I don’t hold a PhD.

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