There are three kinds of knowledge influenced me the most in recent 10 years: Science, Philosophy and Business.
I studied science to begin with and it is normal for me to be a science-oriented person. Later I worked in a chemical engineering research lab and I adopted a lot of chemical engineering way of thinking in my research.
I studied a philosophy course in my undergraduate. The reason why I studied it because there was a classmate who had strong knowledge and understanding in philosophy and I admired him (intellectually) a lot. I wanted to be like him in thinking and reasoning. Later I read a “book” called “A History of Western Philosophy”.
I studied business due to a book called “Poor Dad, Rich Dad” and later “Peter Principle”. The later one was a random e-book I download and I thought the name was interesting. Later on, I invested in stock market (because of the growth and culture in Hong Kong) and I started to learn about business.
The reasons why I quitted academia are largely based on these three perspective of thought.
As discussed previously, there is no actual freedom in academic research.
If I pursuit the academic career, I need a justified reason to do so.
What kind of “stuff” I look for in another field which I cannot get in academia?
Fame, the wants to be deemed as important.
That is my answer.
After all, how many people could invent something useful in real life and was a scientist in academia? Most of them were struggling to get a grant….instead of answering a scientific question, not to mention a scientific business solution or a solution to disease or a solution to the suffering of human being.
My 2 supervisors have not done that and why would I suppose I can do that? They have been in the field for longer, more experienced and more resourceful.
The question is not whether if I could do that. What if I cannot do that (went to academia but failed to do any impact), would I hate myself or my life?
I can tell my supervisors do not like theirs life. Academia is very stressful, both of them struggle to get grant or even secure a position in their 50-60 year old. Would I want that in my life?
More importantly, demographically speaking, the baby boomers are going to retire. More government funding will go to medical care instead of research. Meanwhile, there is a smaller youth population and the tax revenue will be reduced, we are going to have less funding for more service….the first cut will be in research.
More importantly, I will have to endure at least 3-5 year period before I could even apply for an assistant professor position. Fire was 40 without a faculty position.
If I went to industry, even if I won’t have the fame, I have the money (freedom) to do whatever I want.
So, why would I suppose my research or idea will not going to work? Basically, unless one is very very lucky, it is not possible to get anything new and working. There are a lot of knowledgeable people but not all of them succeed. One of the major reasons was a lack of luck.
Say even if I could have certain impact on science, what if I was tired of it? What could I do afterwards? Would I be leeching the society because of the successful past? Would I hate myself for being ignorant and stupid or not-caring in front of my fellow students? Given that I did not like my two supervisors (I kept good relationship with them), would I be like them later on?