Why I left academia?

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 Why I left academia: Personal reflection.

- Jong Bhak

I left academia in around 2003 as a pure research scientist. (I have acquired my Ph.D. degree in 1997.)

During and after my Ph.D., I witnessed corruption, cheatings, deception, plagiarism, mafias, racism, and hypocracy spread in research labs in the Western world as well as the ones in Korea.

We all make mistakes in the course of learning and growing. I am one of the best examples of making big and painful mistakes and feel very sorry about. 

However, here, I am not talking about such mistakes in researchers' lives.

I am talking about intentional, systematic, habitual, and malicious misthoughts and misconducts by scientists whom I thought to be of the best and most respectful kinds of human beings for their prestigious goals, ideals, methodologies, jobs, and achievements under the premise of searching for facts, truths, and accurate knowledge.

The practical world of science in the West is rotten. I don't want to overly generalize my experience as there are many great academics I respect. Still, it was one of the very typical examples of 'purpose disorientation'. Many scientists I know are purpose-disoriented. Some are intentionally cheating and abusing the research community to promote their career, political, and personal gains.

I think our education and training systems are producing extremely competitive 'academic sportsmen'. 

I am not sure if that is the best way in performing research (evolutionarily and philosophically where there is no objective value system anyway) as when I look at the politics and sports field, power and money and associated sectarianism seem to be the common working forces.  

Perhaps, philosophically and biologically, humans are meant to be ruthlessly competing each other for their own survival with selfish strategies. They will kill each other to get to "the land of altruism" first and put a national flag there using massive number crunchers that run games of life algorithms.

Whatever the case, such isms and strategies produce contradictions to many virtues and rules we have been generating and advocating externally in the societies. 

It seems hypocracy is so common in academia to the degree that it is a valuable asset. We all seem to try to be "hypocritically correct" in societies. 

Young students need to be aware of that and take care of themselves to protect their passion and ideals from purpose-disorientation and the practices of scientific community.

This line of thought led me to check my research papers and found out that most of my papers published were useless and I would not myself refer it necessarily. Almost all work could be done by other people in the course of advancement and those were not contriuting anything substantial or breaking new grounds. I was doing science to pursue my own passion and interest guessing that indirectly my works will contribute to the practical world. My analysis is that they were all quite useless wasting society's money for my own hobby-sake (this is a good part) and my own career construction as I trust my and my school's pure passion of knowing the world more. Let alone my disappointment to myself, other colleagues' lack of sensitivity and philosophy was beyond awkard.


Why am I interested in how we do science? | Purpose constancy


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