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I think everyone would agree that saying "I can't believe you work at Google/Facebook/Twitter instead of curing cancer" would be ridiculous.

Yet, every time finance work is mentioned, someone brings up "I can't believe you work in finance instead of curing cancer."

Guess what? I don't want to work on curing cancer. I used to. I went to school for biomedical engineering and wanted to work on big problems. I realized I would rather do as little work as possible (but still be challenged), and spend time with my family and friends. And I'll happily give money to people to cure this problems.

And those big problems that I wanted to work on before? Well, I'm sure there's somebody that really cares about that. The best way I can help is using my time in ways that I enjoy, and giving my money to those who will actually enjoy finding that cure.

A friend of mine almost died from some disease when she was in her teens. She survived, and is now a researcher for that specific field. She has a personal interest in that research, even if it means she might have to sacrifice other things. And she was also the one who convinced me to bail from the PhD program. She said "if you can imagine yourself doing anything else, do something else."

That's when I realized academic research is long, painful work, but you have to be excited for it. If I'm not excited, I should do something else, and then give money or help increase funding to make it less painful for those who still want to be there.

I begrudgingly agree. It is similar to me to a star athlete making millions. Most people aren't happy that we value athletes over teachers, but free market, yada yada yada. I get paid well to solve puzzles every day. It's fun, and I can buy groceries without using a credit card. I wish I could make a living with a reasonable amount of stress doing research, but we have arrived at the point where we can't do that. Supply is out-stripping demand for PhDs, so prices fall.

tl;dr - Go short on PhD salaries!

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