Video: “I Failed – Why Academia Sucks” (Sabine Hossenfelder)

I watched this video this morning and thought I’d share it here. YouTube physicist Sabine Hossenfelder gives a short account of her career as a physicist and discusses her experience of trying to have a satisfying career as a scientist in academia, and why it ultimately did not work out for her.

She talks about many of the frustrations she encountered and how she ultimately gave up on academia and transitioned to being a YouTuber. A couple of quotes:

“The moment you put people into big institutions the goal shifts from knowledge discovery to money making.
Here’s how this works. If a researcher gets a scholarship or research grant, then the institution gets part of that
money. It’s called the “overhead”. Technically that’s meant to pay for offices and equipment and admin etc.
But academic institutions then pay part of their staff from this overhead, so they need to keep that overhead coming.
Small scholarhips don’t make much money, but research grants can be tens of millions of dollars. And the overhead can be anything between 15 and 50 percent. This is why research institutions exert loads of pressure on researchers to bring in grant money.”

“But there’s a happy ending in that I’ve found you. A community of people who share my interests. Well, more or less, or why the heck have you not been watching my video on indefinite causal structures. It’s been quite a change to switch from academia to being self-employed.”

Overall, I found this video enlightening, giving context about what is involved in being a professional scientist in the academic world. It’s short and easy to follow, and the video seems to have struck a chord with Sabine’s viewers. This video was posted three days ago, and has already almost 750 thousand views already and nearly 20,000 comments, with most of the commenters that I have read so fare echoing her sentiments.