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StatisticianFuzzy327 OP t1_j6moysl wrote

Haha. Thank you. I'm not sure if you meant it seriously, I respect your advice, and this is something I myself used to think not too far back in the future- I'd get multiple doctorates and combine all these fields and learn everything!- but then I read stuff written by other people, heard what they have to say, and realized that multiple PhDs is looked down upon in academia as it shows you weren't able to decide what it is that you're interested in, and that you have "perpetual student syndrome"..

So that was discouraging at first, but then I realized that I don't need any sort of credentials to do what I want, and I can just learn everything by myself and with the help of the professionals who have those credentials, no need to get a piece of paper from institutions that tell me what I'm capable of.

Thought I still do plan to major in multiple disciplines, and I was happy to discover there were things like joint PhDs, Interdisciplinary PhDs and MD-PhDs, and I might just end up doing it anyway but I'm not as hell bent on it as my younger self who used to think that these credentials are necessary to gain the knowledge necessary to make new inventions and discoveries; I no longer have any such delusions, at least I think I do.

Of course, I might be wrong, and I'd be happy to change my mind if you share your perspective and present me with convincing logical reasons, but that's just my current opinion, and what I think about multiple doctorates.


ammenz t1_j6mr8iq wrote

My comment was meant to be serious although I personally believe that, depending on your age, you might be missing out on the real progress in those fields by just a few decades. As of today your goals are unfortunately in the science fiction territory more than actual science territory. Still, there are plenty of good career options available for you that will scratch that itch while providing a decent living.


StatisticianFuzzy327 OP t1_j6mx1us wrote

Hmm I see. I turned 19 very recently, and I suspect what you say is true, because it'll remain sci-fi for my life, or it'll be so fast that we are able to witness the rise of true AI this decade, I don't know.

But I'll still try to work on my research interest while not neglecting financial security (and possible financial independence) to carry out my research activities, regardless of the outcome. Thank you!


objectsession t1_j6n4eoj wrote

Getting a PhD is not really about learning a lot in a particular field—it’s about contributing or demonstrating the ability to contribute to the research of that field. The process of getting a PhD involves or requires a lot of knowledge in some academic discipline, so it’s great if you are interested in learning about that area, but what you’ve researched—your dissertation (or equivalent)—is really what your PhD is.

As a PhD, I personally wouldn’t necessarily look down on someone with multiple PhDs, but I’d wonder why they chose to do that. Wanting knowledge from multiple areas is not a good reason because (1) you can learn things without getting a degree, (2) you could use multiple areas of knowledge to get a single PhD, and (3) you could do further research in an academic position, like postdoc or professor. Sadly, the third reason is easier said than done, but is not any easier with multiple PhDs—actually much harder—so why bother?

In my opinion, wanting to know about multiple fields is neither a bad thing nor particularly special. The trick is to have a life where you have the opportunities to do the research you want. What you get a PhD in should ideally be whatever helps you get on that path.

From what little I know from this thread, it sounds like you should be someone considering getting a PhD. My suggestion is to start looking at what graduate students and professors are working on. Try to start being a part of the academic world as soon as possible, which means independent research but also taking advantage of the academic community at your university.

As for what field you should study considering future technology and society, my opinion is to forget about all that. Definitely think about what you should avoid studying based on what the future holds (although I think those concerns are exaggerated), but don’t study something because it may be the next big thing. Study what you’re interested in and what can help you get the type of job and have the type of life you want.


StatisticianFuzzy327 OP t1_j6ncye0 wrote

That makes sense, the point about PhD being contributing to the field with novel research rather than just acquiring large amounts of knowledge. I thought that a PhD involves specializing in a very narrow subtopic of a discipline, but recently I have discovered that there exist interdisciplinary and joint PhDs that allow you to tackle a subject from multiple disciplines. That might be what you are talking about, and what is more aligned with my plans. I'll definitely look into it.

I'm also reaching out to professors and researchers working on my research interests and trying to get in touch with them. I do intend to eventually get a PhD, so I plan to do the right things during my undergraduate years to maximize my chances of getting into the PhD program of my choice and develop the skills needed to carry out independent research.

I like the point about not studying what seems to be the next big thing, and just going with what's the most popular thing and basing such important career decisions based on such unreliable criteria, I'll make sure to not fall for such traps. I'll work on what I find interesting and also allows me some degree of financial security.

I'll also try to choose something that won't be automated anytime soon. Plus I was planning to study neuroscience and psychology but this comment has made me seriously reconsider that decision:

Anyway, I'll try to make an informed decision based on my interests, abilities, financial prospects, and the type of life I want, as you said. Thank you very much for sharing your comments.


objectsession t1_j6njlay wrote

I have a interdisciplinary PhD (media arts and technology). Personally, I think any PhD could pull from multiple disciplines and, really, most dissertations must to some extent. If you are doing something new in your field, you need to at least check what is relevant in other fields.

It’s good to know interdisciplinary programs are an option, and I wish I knew sooner, but I’d recommend joining one only if there’s a good reason. In other words, I’d suggest looking into a more typical program by default. The reason is that you will have to work with established disciplines at some point. For teaching positions, you will probably need to demonstrate both that you can do innovative research (thus the requirement of a dissertation) and that you can teach more broadly. And just generally, academics are actually pretty conservative as a whole, so you’ll have to fit your research into their view. Having a PhD in an established discipline just makes it easier to do that.

But the programs are still useful. For me, it would have been pretty difficult to get into a music or art program based on my past studies and work. I wouldn’t necessarily plan on doing that from the start though, because I could have studied music and engineering (for example) from my undergraduate degree onward.


Chroderos t1_j6oanqy wrote

Getting a PhD and working in academics is usually about slowly inching forward our theoretical understanding in an obscure corner of knowledge known to your small circle of a hundred or so fellow academics.

If that is not for you and you get more out of seeing your work affect the real world and/or building things you will see in use than advancing theory, may I recommend looking into engineering, computer/data science, or medicine (MD)? These fields are very flexible and you can lean into the more research oriented side and work in R&D as an engineer/computer scientist or in research/clinical trials as an MD, or even bring those skills fully to an academic setting where they are highly valuable. Additionally, you can much more easily pivot if your desires in life change.

PhD is a big commitment and I just would make sure you understand it is typically hyper focused on advancing very very specific, very niche knowledge that may not ever see real world application in your lifetime, so if you need that part for fulfillment, PhD might not be optimal for you. Coming from someone who spent many years in academics before becoming an R&D engineer at a company, which I love.

I can’t speak personally about the MD experience, but there’s an old saying about the difference in motivation between scientists and engineers which might be helpful:

Scientist: you build in order to learn things

Engineer: you learn in order to build things