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Receiving A Degree In Biology (or In General)- Waste Of Time?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by tyler, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. tyler

    tyler Member

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    Hello everyone!
    I'm currently 21 years old and am interested in pursuing a career in environment and wildlife conservation. I've been heavily contemplating going back to school so I can receive a degree in something like Ecology/Conservation Biology/Environmental Studies.
    However, I am concerned about being mislead in my studies of biology, biochemistry, physiology, etc- as from what I understand, the basis of these teachings (traditionally) isn't in line with Peat's view of science. His ideas really resonate with me, and I am concerned about receiving flawed models.
    From what I understand, a degree in this field is pretty much required in any professional position. But I truly want to make the greatest impact I possibly can, and for that I want a solid/valid foundation.
    Has anyone here studied biology in a traditional US college setting? What are your thoughts on the ideas you received from your education vs. Peat's ideas? Are they drastically different? What are your thoughts about receiving undergraduate degrees in general?
    Thanks for reading!!
     
  2. michael94

    michael94 Member

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    I think it depends on
    1 . if you are interested in doing the kind of research that requires being in a university to carry out
    and
    2. if you can motivate yourself to study on your own or whether you would benefit from being enrolled in something
    3. how much you are paying

    I don't think there are too many bad ideas when you are learning about chemistry/biology/histology, maybe the prescriptions are wrong. Undergraduate degrees for the most part are pretty overvalued, market is extremely inefficient in that regard currently....so I think going for the degree is a good idea so long as you aren't paying too much for it.
     
  3. Integral

    Integral Member

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    I've not read all your post but I just wanna say that the modern, neoliberal university is a joke and you're not going to catch the big fish from attending any of those lectures and classes tbh. I just got my B.A last week from The University of Birmingham here in the UK which is supposed to be a very solid institution but modern pedagogy is nothing more than the cumulation of bitterly guarded conservative 'knowledge' and academics will hold onto these ideas for dear life though their questionable nature at times stares them in the face. All these teachers were taught by other teachers and they never question the master. Radical thought is strangled, which in many cases is warranted, ideas must be very robust to be accepted, but these hectoring, vindictive fools who call themselves academics will gladly humiliate and wade in the blood of those who dare to question the orthodoxy. Alfred Wegener proposed the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift in 1918 and was absolutely ridiculed and considered to be a mad man. Now we regard it as plain fact and it's taught to us in school! You gotta do what you've gotta do so by all means go to school, I went at 20 and had an absolute blast, but I truly didn't learn anything man I'll be honest....lol....

    Peace,
    Rav.
     
  4. burtlancast

    burtlancast Member

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    Chemistry runs the world; not much politics there.
     
  5. Integral

    Integral Member

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    Yeah I get that, in a discipline like chemistry I'm sure it's not as bad because I don't know if there's much of a war of ideas going on there.

    I just want to raise another issue: the authority. One of my friends was kicked out of University and taken to court after he did not consent to giving his name in a police kettle during a protest....something which I think was unlawful of the cops, he won the case and a year later was allowed back into the Uni. Similar stuff happens throughout the system here in the UK. Free speech and free thought are repressed from the level of students to lecturers and if you want to be free in thought and have academic recognition, you need to wait until you have a professorship and they can't get rid of you so easy. That was when Amit Goswani started talking about the Self-Aware Universe and other such mind-blowing stuff.

    Peace.
     
  6. Such_Saturation

    Such_Saturation Member

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    I've asked Ray Peat how to keep sane in academia and he never responds. Some other person told me just take LSD after you're done.
     
  7. tara

    tara Member

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    Non-expert, but my hunch is, if it's going to get you access to do the work you want to do, that may be worthwhile. You are likely to need to know what the standard models are anyway. Knowing there are other ways of seeing things, you can read some other scientists too, like Ling, Pollack, and others (there are some beginning lists here).
    Do you get taught physiology in an ecology/conservation/environmental science programme?
     
  8. Sheila

    Sheila Member

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    Dear Tyler
    I look back and think what did I learn at my various times at Uni. To paraphrase the old joke, "50% of what I learned was true, I just didn't know which 50%". In my earlier degrees, I learned the scientific method, the value of observation and reflection, to write up experiments in a disciplined manner and see the gaps, to critique research, to discuss and debate, free thinking was more encouraged and I have always tried to operate this way going forward. Despite the alphabet soup after my name, I have largely widened the borders of my ignorance, that's all, but then life is a great preoccupation and being exposed to new, if erroneous ideas, is one way to spend it. In my later degrees, I concur more with Integral, there was a change to much more conformity and a poorer standard of tuition, just as I think education became a commodity and the marketing deans over ran the academics.

    When students ask me now where to study now, I know that there is nowhere I can suggest that isn't teaching at least 50% nonsense as gospel and, if that student writes what is real, via observation and reflection and thought, rather than what is an accepted part of the current belief system, they will be failed. So it depends on how much they can 'duck and weave' without it ruining their soul if they stay in the system. I have spent years unlearning things that I presumed were true but like the curates egg, there were good parts in my 'educations', there were inspiring students, deeply caring, thoughtful lecturers, there were signposts to studies elsewhere, there were life lessons (I think I lost a husband or two in the milieu, it's hard to keep track), there was a stray line that made something unrelated suddenly make complete sense - ahaa!!, and I truly believe we do learn something even if it's 'that is so not right!".

    I have also taught, and I see more students now who want 'tidy answers' and not to have to think too hard, or consider how context may change a result, a function of modern energy levels no doubt. Some lecturers would love to have people in class who question them, who want to think, and they too may come alive again with such students. So there is an interplay here between the students and the lecturers, the unwritten expectations and the available energy levels of both!

    Would I choose all these degrees again? I don't know as I am not who I was when I didn't have them. It has been in the experiential part of my learning (ie. putting it into practice) where the real growth, understanding and learning has occurred and without the costly paperwork, that wouldn't have been as possible at least in my era.

    You are starting with a very sound attitude, you already know there is more than is being taught as gospel so you may be able to duck and weave, get your paperwork and leave with your curiosity and questioning mind intact. Factor in also that you may start in one field of study but end up somewhere completely different that you now know you love. You still might get taught nonsense, but without the earlier exposure you wouldn't have got to the new place.

    I wish you the best of luck
    Sheila
     
  9. Integral

    Integral Member

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    I found this a very good post, I really liked how you touched on your early training in the scientific method, that sounds like true observational science, isn't that what we need more of surely.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Rav.
     
  10. Such_Saturation

    Such_Saturation Member

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  11. DaveFoster

    DaveFoster Member

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    The current sociopolitical climate will be very receptive to your environmentalism. You can make a difference this way, or you can acquire a large amount of capital and create your own initiative. One's the obvious easier choice.

    Solid advice.
     
  12. OP
    tyler

    tyler Member

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    I am immensely grateful for all the responses and insight you all have offered- thank you.
    It seems to me that there are various approaches I could take to reach the position I'd want to be in. While I could potentially get to where I want to be professionally without a degree, it would take a tremendous amount of motivation to educate and fund myself to that place.. I think that receiving a degree would be the quickest way to go. This is not to say that the latter wouldn't require any less effort- from what I've gained from you all, I think the most important factor in terms of receiving a degree is doing it in a way where my "curiosity and questioning mind remains intact." (Thanks for summing that up so nicely, Shelia!) I think if I can do that, stay open, and keep the education affordable, then receiving a degree would work greatly to my benefit and project me closer to the place I want to be.
    I now see clearly that what I gain from undergraduate studies isn't only determined by what the professor's offer, but my role as a student will play a massive role in the value of the education. It's unfortunate that students are satisfied with having "the answers" spoon-fed to them- they don't want to think too hard or for themselves. I can understand how this mindset would be easy, even beneficial, to adopt in today's society. But for my goals, this mindset certainly won't get me there.
     
  13. OP
    tyler

    tyler Member

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    Oh yeah, mental note made for the post graduation LSD- thanks :smug:
     
  14. Amazoniac

    Amazoniac Member

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    That's really important.
    By the way, nice post and on a side note, you're such a classy woman, it's easy to tell by the way you write. Damn!
     
  15. NathanK

    NathanK Member

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    I owe a lot to my B.S. degree at the University of Texas at Austin. It shaped who I am today. Sometimes it's a handful of professors that make the biggest difference. I was fortunate to have them and they came from many disciplines. Those professors fueled my motivation and drive to search out the truth and not accept the truth for what I am told or taught. Though I graduated almost 15 years ago, without that drive I never would have found Ray's work 2 years ago. That is what a true education is supposed to accomplish regardless of focus of study.

    Regardless, holding a degree is a fundamental barrier of entry as seen and accepted by society in order for you to accomplish professional endeavors in life. It's well worth getting. Your focus of study means less as not very many are still using that focus professionally years after graduation. Even Haidut, whom works as an IT professional, started a supplement line based on the premises of Ray Peat's physiology research. Go figure.
     
  16. James_001

    James_001 Member

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    I would not go to university again lol, pretty much learned nothing. OP if you are interested in conservation biology pm me and I will tell you the name of a non profit that I am certain would hire you with no degree and no expereince.

    Also, all these people saying its a barrier to entry are lying. Unless you want to go into academia or be a professional like a lawyer you can find others cheaper ways into a field.
     
  17. dfspcc20

    dfspcc20 Member

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    The university experience is nice if you can afford it, but I don't think it is worth taking on too much debt. I say that as someone with a Master's. I could have probably learned 99% of the stuff I needed to know on my own in about 1% of the time. There were a few classes and professors that stuck with me, though, and impact what I do today.

    TIL...
     
  18. goodandevil

    goodandevil Member

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    Just audit lab classes you need, especially analytical chemistry / instrumental analysis. Ochem labs .. you could do inorganic labs and axvanced labs. Id sooner bribe a teacher to sit in than pay tuition. Opencourseware from mit has excellent lectures. If you're not feeling a lecturer, **** em move on. Most of tbe lies are in cell biology and genetics.
     
  19. Liubo

    Liubo Member

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    My key to the "school or not"? question is to know that the end does not justify the means. I was in school but did NOT like having to sit down a lot, be in a class room, stuff my head with facts, the stress, the tests. Oh, and the loans - so steep! The way I learn is to be on my feet and DO stuff. So, while I would still like a degree, to me the "means" was not worth it. But I made friends with someone who said she loved the whole deal, she liked being in class and she knew she could pay back her aid loans. So work with the end in mind, but know that you have to like it on a day to day basis. That's all. Good luck :D
     
  20. AmishMechanic

    AmishMechanic Member

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    As a first generation college student, going to the university was THE best thing I ever did for myself. I worked it silly.

    I did not just pick an easy major and attend class then graduate. I loved biology, endocrinology in particular, and I found out what professors were conducting what kind of research and I volunteered to help. I was published before I ever got into veterinary school. I ran ELISA test all-nighters and did back to back surgeries on pony mares in 24 hr shifts on the weekends. I sat in on lab meetings and experienced the real issues. I got on the "inside" of what a good university has to offer. The one on one conversations over coffee at 2am with the professors and their grad students were priceless. Going to the university exposed me to real doors, super cool doors that are not available to most on the outside.

    Dr. Peat mentioned that he found the reproduction endocrinology researchers to be more open minded and I found that to be true as well.

    I learned several things about going to the university along the way.

    One, if I had a child I would pay them NOT to go to college right after high school. I watched most of them crash and burn gpa-wise and waste their time. Let them learn the value of a dollar, what their booze tolerance is and how to use a condom on their dime and time. It was painful to watch.
    Two, pick a major that once you graduate will easily land a good paying job. Or at least be a good or required stepping stone to another degree that can land you a good job. Unless you are a trust fund baby then go ahead and get a frivolous degree. Look, it may not be a degree that lands you the "job of your dreams", but you will have plenty of time and then resources to pursue it once you are on your feet and no longer living with mom and dad. Your degree will not define your life. Your career can be recreated over and over again. You can save the whales in a big way later when you are financially independent and stable. Not if you are broke.
    Three, like I mentioned above, get involved behind the scenes. It is where the most valuable connections and the real education can occur.

    If I could do it over?

    I would have pursued an undergraduate degree in geologic engineering. I love geology, I am good at science, math and physics. Expected salaries with a 4 year degree are >$100,000.00 to start. Cost of 4 year degree? Below $40,000 easy! The current vet school debt load is over $250,000.00 with average starting salaries being around 40-50,000.00. Today I would never pursue it since I am NOT a trust fund baby.

    My suggestion is to go. But go with a plan and then dig into your university!
     
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