The biggest shame is that this comes as a surprise to so many of them AFTER they've graduated.
This is probably the case for some. But I don't understand how it could be the case for very many. The mismatch between PhDs and available jobs has been in place for decades, and I don't know of anyone who is ignorant of it. If you so much as apply to a humanities PhD program in ignorance of the lay of the land, you have not done your homework. I teach at a liberal arts college. Every year I advise students who are considering graduate education. I give them the same advice I was given in the early 1990s, when I was in their position. That advice is: if you are not admitted to an absolutely top-tier institution for the PhD, DO NOT GO. Find something else to do. DO NOT enroll at a second-or lower-tier institution UNLESS you have a fallback career-- a family business, a trust fund, a talent for subsistence farming, whatever. The statistics regarding the number of PhDs in the humanities who find jobs are depressing; regarding those who get good jobs, apocalyptic. But if you confine your field of view to the top institutions, things look considerably better. Not great, but not as bad as the aggregated numbers suggest. From where I'm sitting, the causes of the mismatch between humanities PhDs and good jobs has two causes. First, strong supply: quite a few people would love to devote their lives to the study of the humanities, and they vote with their feet, and about nine years of their lives. And second, weak demand: the number of good jobs has shrunk because of the adjunctification of higher education generally. There may be other factors in play on the demand side, but I think everything else pales in comparison to the effect of the shift to contingent labor. In effect, most people who enroll in a PhD program in the humanities (and are not simply unaware of the supply/demand problem) are taking a calculated risk, and gambling that their decision will pay off. They are gambling against the odds, most of them. But it does pay off for some.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going." In the forthcoming book, published on 9 September, Hawking says that M-theory, a form of string theory, will achieve this goal: "M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find," he theorises.
The term of art for this sort of claim is the 'promissory note'. It's a version of the claim 'some day science will be able to explain [something it cannot currently explain]'. The Guardian article doesn't say anything about why Hawking has decided to repose confidence in this particular version of string theory, so we don't have the means to evaluate his decision. So: the story is that Hawking has decided to place a rather large bet on a version of string theory to, one day, explain the law of gravity and hence complete the explanation of why the universe exists. That idea doesn't have any particularly interesting consequences as regards God's existence or nonexistence. If Hawking is right, however, atheism will someday be able to justify itself scientifically without resorting to promissory notes. Sorry to be so non-inflammatory about this-- I teach this material for a living.