Disciplined Minds

Image of book cover


"One of the most original and provocative

 books of the past decade."


 -- John Pilger in New Statesman



"An important description of the work-life

 of professionals."


 -- Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal (2016)



"I have been waiting a long time for

 someone to write this book, and Jeff

 Schmidt has done it.  He exposes, in

 crystal-clear prose, the inevitably

 political nature of the professional

 in our society, and, most importantly,

 suggests a strategy for resistance.

 This is an extraordinary and valuable

 piece of writing."


 -- Howard Zinn,

    Author of A People's History

    of the United States



"A radical, disturbing, and provocative

 look at professional life.  It offers a

 profound analysis of the personal

 struggles for identity and meaning in

 the lives of today's 21 million

 professionals.  The book will shake up



 -- Andi O'Conor

    Ohio University



"A witty, incisive, original analysis of

 the politics of professionalism --

 especially with respect to those fields

 in which professional training involves

 an education in how to become oblivious

 to the political role of one's



 -- Michael Berube,

    University of Illinois



"A blistering critique of how knowledge

 workers have been subordinated in

 America.  Finally, a book that tells it

 like it is."


 -- Stanley Aronowitz,

    Author of The Jobless Future



"This book should be read by anyone

 thinking about embarking on a

 professional education in any field,

 as well as by those who wonder why their

 dream job doesn't seem so dreamy after



 -- Andrew Pollock,

    Politics and Prose bookstore,

    Washington, D.C.



"Schmidt analyzes the true meaning of

 being a professional and the sacrifices

 that professionals make to achieve their

 career goals.  He challenges them to

 think outside the box -- to use their

 intuition and their attitude to provide

 for a better society."


 -- Carrie Crystal Van Driel,

    Public Citizen



"A freewheeling, thought-provoking

 examination of the way ideological

 control is exercised over an

 increasingly important section of the

 working class -- the professionals."


 -- Nature, Society, and Thought



"I found Disciplined Minds while planning

 a course that deals with the social

 role and moral responsibility of

 intellectuals, and after I finished

 reading it I whooped with joy.  It is

 the perfect book to engage students on

 these issues -- well researched,

 powerfully argued, and clearly written.

 Even conservative students with politics

 at odds with Schmidt's find the book

 valuable because of its (sometimes

 painful) honesty and clarity.  In

 addition to using it in my course, I

 wish I could make Disciplined Minds

 required reading for my faculty



 -- Robert Jensen

    School of Journalism

    University of Texas at Austin



"Schmidt has hit the bull's-eye."


 -- The Texas Observer



"Your employment is terminated --



 -- Physics Today


Articles and letters with
deletions specified by the
American Institute of Physics
in Settlement Agreement Exhibit D (all pdf)...
* The Biological Physicist
Article in American Physical Society
publication, after deletions required by
the American Institute of Physics
[American Physical Society, Division of Biological
Physics, The Biological Physicist, volume 1,
number 3, October 2001, pages 3-5.]
* Canadian Undergraduate Physics Journal
Article after deletions required by
the American Institute of Physics
[Canadian Undergraduate Physics Journal
(ISSN 1499-9439), volume IV, issue 2, January 2006,
page 19.]
* Letter from Michelle Squitieri, an organizer
who has three degrees in English, after deletions
required by the American Institute of Physics
* Letter from medical doctor Susan Rosenthal
and graduate student Roberto Jankowski-
Alfonso, after deletions required by the
American Institute of Physics
* Letter from Matt L., after deletions required
by the American Institute of Physics


Author interviews
Radio (mp3, 36:22, aired on 17 stations)
Times of India
Carta (published in Italian)
Italian State Radio (RealAudio, 2:11)
Education Review
The Adjunct Advocate

Teaching Sociology
(American Sociological Association)

Public Integrity

Z Magazine
Sex and Guts magazine

Washington City Paper   (text)

Radical Teacher
Processed World (pages 93-94 in pdf)
Texas Observer

AMAPCEO Member News (Canada) (p. 5 in pdf)

Workplace (issue 6.2)
Workplace (issue 4.2)
Business and Society Review
Nature, Society, and Thought
Frontline (India)
New Statesman (England)
International Socialist Review
Self-University Newsletter
Physics and Society
(American Physical Society,
Forum on Physics and Society)
Review of Radical Political Economics
Higher Education Review (England)
Social Anarchism
The Antigonish Review (Canada)
Interchange: A quarterly review of education
Public Citizen News recommended reading
Politics and Prose staff pick
IEEE Spectrum "Editors' Picks" (pdf)
Goat Bulletin (page 6 in pdf)
Chronicle of Higher Education
Journal of Economic Literature
(American Economic Association)
20 more reviews are posted at Amazon.com

Agents didn't think anyone would publish DM

Centretown News (Ottawa, Canada)
Get the book!
 Click here or on the image below
 to go to the book's listing at Amazon.com.
 The paperback version is in stock.
 Use Disciplined Minds in your courses
 and provoke your students to question
 some of their most basic assumptions!
 Disciplined Minds works well in
 courses in sociology, education,
 business, labor studies, STS
 (science, technology and society)
 and many other subjects.

Fired author follows own advice, wins justice...


The power of a public campaign


Upon publication of Disciplined Minds, the American Institute of Physics fired author Jeff Schmidt.  He had been on the editorial staff of Physics Today magazine for 19 years.  Following advice given in the book itself, Schmidt and free-expression advocates mounted a campaign that brought public judgment to bear on Schmidt's dismissal.  Such justice is available to anyone not afraid to go public.


The public campaign also led to a formal settlement whose terms are highly favorable to Schmidt.


Schmidt credits and thanks the hundreds of physicists and others who spoke out publicly.  "This is a victory for free expression," says Schmidt, "and a demonstration of the power of organizing."


Special thanks go to activist physicists Sanjoy Mahajan (United Kingdom), Brian Martin (Australia), Denis Rancourt (Canada), Talat Rahman (US), Michael Lee (US), George Reiter (US), and Fay Dowker (United Kingdom) for their support over many years.  The demands for justice that were posted here are now part of history, and have not been erased from history.


Thanks also to the National Writers Union for its support for freedom of expression.


Schmidt thanks the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Howrey LLP for representing him pro bono publico (that's Latin for "free") because of their concern about the free-speech and diversity issues surrounding his dismissal.


The American Physical Society and several smaller physics organizations govern the American Institute of Physics, which is a publishing and advocacy organization that publishes Physics Today.


Highlights of the settlement



The American Institute of Physics has made a monetary payment to Schmidt, settling his demand for years of back pay and benefits, front pay in lieu of reinstatement, compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages.


Public settlement agreement     (pdf version)

At Schmidt's insistence, the settlement agreement is a public document -- highly unusual for an out-of-court settlement with a nongovernmental organization.


Symbolic reinstatement -- view the letter! (pdf)

AIP reinstated Schmidt to his position at Physics Today magazine.  A few hours later, Schmidt resigned.


Public statement by AIP

The American Institute of Physics has publicly acknowledged that Schmidt's supervisors and others praised his work and that AIP fired him for writing in Disciplined Minds, "This book is stolen.  Written in part on stolen time, that is."


Employment reference (pdf)

AIP has given Schmidt a positive reference letter.





Deletion of text from articles published by the American Physical Society and the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Journal

Schmidt has complied with AIP's demand that he white out certain text specified by AIP in articles published by the American Physical Society and the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Journal and posted at http://disciplinedminds.com.


Other website deletions     (pdf)

Schmidt has complied with AIP's demand that he remove from the http://disciplinedminds.com website various documents specified by AIP.  The deleted material includes news reports published by various newspapers and magazines.  However, the deleted documents are fully referenced in the settlement agreement, which is public.  Schmidt would not agree to conceal the deletion list.



Schmidt has agreed to AIP's demand that he not say anything disparaging of AIP.  (A disparaging statement may be true or false.)


Payment amount confidential

Schmidt has agreed to AIP's demand that he keep secret how much money AIP gave him.



Affirmative action


Jeff Schmidt welcomes AIP's pledge, which has been announced publicly, to undertake new affirmative action, under which AIP will...


...Support the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) in becoming a member society of AIP and appointing a member of the AIP governing board.


...Encourage each AIP member society to work with the NSBP and NSHP diversity councils.


...Offer a science-writing course at the next NSBP conference, which will increase the pool of talented minority-group editors.


...Maintain a program of mandatory diversity training for all AIP employees.


Schmidt strongly supports affirmative action.  He argues in Disciplined Minds that work is an inherently political activity and that hiring therefore involves political screening.  This understanding leads naturally to a new argument for affirmative action: to increase political diversity in the workplace.  Schmidt favored affirmative action while he was at AIP.





Who are you going to be? That is the question.


In this riveting book about the world of professional work, Jeff Schmidt demonstrates that the workplace is a battleground for the very identity of the individual, as is graduate school, where professionals are trained. He shows that professional work is inherently political, and that professionals are hired to subordinate their own vision and maintain strict "ideological discipline."


The hidden root of much career dissatisfaction, argues Schmidt, is the professional's lack of control over the political component of his or her creative work. Many professionals set out to make a contribution to society and add meaning to their lives. Yet our system of professional education and employment abusively inculcates an acceptance of politically subordinate roles in which professionals typically do not make a significant difference, undermining the creative potential of individuals, organizations and even democracy.


Schmidt details the battle one must fight to be an independent thinker and to pursue one's own social vision in today's corporate society. He shows how an honest reassessment of what it really means to be a professional employee can be remarkably liberating. After reading this brutally frank book, no one who works for a living will ever think the same way about his or her job.



Readers write
Engineer and blogger Megan
London educator Dee
Paleontologist Mark Mason
Water plant operator
Premed undergraduate Jonathan Armstrong
Physicist Denis Rancourt
Arts accomplice Christina Martinez
Math student Zaid Khalil
Law student Mireille Gervais
Graduate student in South Africa
Artist Keyvan Minoukadeh
Activist Windy Cooler
Law school graduate Cedric McGee
Entomologist Linda Wiener
Recent particle physics PhD
Psychotherapist Andrew Pollock
Biochemical engineer Brendan Touhey
Scientist Peter Hargraves
Leadership scholar Ruth Guzley
Physics graduate student
Physics graduate student Severin Stojanovic
Artist Garmamie Sideau
Musician and picture framer James Wilson
Political scientist Emily Hauptmann
Former math graduate student Jose
Writer Jack Saunders
Assistant professor
Electrical engineering PhD student
Business professor Nalinaksha Bhattacharyya
Sociologist George Floro
From the book
Preview the book and search inside it!
eBook version of first 23 pages
Artist Keyvan Minoukadeh uses three excerpts
Table of contents
Amateurs and professionals (excerpt from chapter 8)
Disillusionment strikes (part of Physics Free Press article
quoted in chapter 8)
Ideology and professionals (excerpt from chapter 1)
Narrowing the political spectrum (excerpt from chapter 8)
Quotations selected by St. Drogo's Books
The entire book has been read on the radio, and you can listen to
or download the audio files.  Radio journalist Lyn Gerry read
Disciplined Minds on her program Unwelcome Guests, which is
broadcast on a National Public Radio affiliate and several other stations.
Listen to programs 176 to 201 in the Unwelcome Guests archive.

Further detail on some end-of-chapter references

About the author
Jeff Schmidt was an editor at Physics Today magazine for 19 years, 
until he was fired for writing this provocative book.  He has a PhD 
in physics from the University of California, Irvine, and has taught 
in the United States, Central America and Africa.  Born and raised 
in Los Angeles, he now lives in Washington, D.C. 
Write to Jeff at jeff@disciplinedminds.com
Published in English, Hindi and Korean
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.
Cloth (304 pages, 2000) ISBN 9780847693641
Paperback (2001) ISBN 9780742516854
eBook ISBN 9780742577107
Hindi and English (Indian Subcontinent)...
Banyan Tree, Indore, India
Paperback, Hindi (2012) ISBN 9788192095714
Paperback, English (2012) ISBN 9788192095721
Redianmedia Co. Ltd., Seoul, Korea
Paperback, Korean (2012) ISBN 9788994340098
Hindi cover image
Korean cover image

Look inside the Korean edition (through page 30)


The 55-billion page internet archive archive.org has recorded much of the history of the disciplinedminds.com website.



On target




Activists should not trust professionals!

Radical doctor Susan Rosenthal explains why in this pamphlet.



Processed World -- Uppity nonprofessionals critique their assigned work

The Student as Nigger (1969) by Jerry Farber

Z Net -- Insight into United States and world events


MediaLens -- "Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media"

Detroit News report on politically timid professors vs. activist professors in Flint, Michigan, water-lead crisis