Sabine Hossenfelder blows the whistle on Academia

Renegade physicist Sabine Hossenfelder has posted a genuine cri-de-coeur about her experience with Academia on her blog. Often You-tube videos turn out to be very inefficient means of communication compared to text, but on this occasion her delivery is a key component of the message:
Sabine Hossenfelder: Backreaction: How I fell out of love with academia

In a sense, there are no surprises here. Advancing in Academia was difficult for a woman while she was young, but still possible. [Editorial Note – now being female is essential for advancement in Academia. Times change!] However, advancement for an independent thinker is almost impossible – then & now.

Academia is a grind in which topics that can find funding are studied excessively, while important questions in fundamental physics languish.

Her presentation is worth your time.


After I watched this video, I went to her home YouTube page and her introductory video is on climate change. Setting climate change aside, it is interesting that she didn’t learn the appropriate lesson(s). She should have learned the general lesson that is summarized by Charlie Munger. Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcomes.

If she had learned this truism, she would be a little more critical about climate change research and modeling.


I’ve seen a couple of her videos and found hem insightful. My only complaint about this one is that she seems to be somewhat invested in a victim mindset, perhaps one inculcated by feminist ideology.

Not every academic uses their grad students and postdocs as slave labor but the right answer, should one find oneself in such a situation, is to seek a better one. It strains credulity that every, or even most, institutions are like this. It certainly wasn’t my experience nor was it the experience of my colleagues. It’s true that I once interviewed a candidate who was being ill-used by his thesis advisor, so it’s certainly not unheard of.

Exploitative behavior is hardly unique to the academy, though it may well have deteriorated in recent years because of the increasing politicization of science. Particle physics has its unique problems that Dr. Hossenfelder has outlined in earlier videos. In this one, she is leaning a bit too heavily on woe is me, they hate me because I’m a woman.


Agreed! But we have to make allowances – she is German, after all, and it must be very difficult for anyone to resist the peer pressure of her foolish fellow-citizens who are true believers in the ClimateScam.

She does at least sensibly point out from time to time that the best current option for those who seek to reduce anthropogenic emissions of CO2 would be nuclear power; simply that reasonable position could get poor Ms. Hossenfelder the Joan of Arc treatment in “Green” Germany.