The lure of higher education can be quite strong. The scientific endeavor takes time and a bit more commitment than some other options. It would be interesting to find out what people have given up to go to graduate school and keep up a scientific career. Home country, family and friends, hobbies, time for your self, and job stability could be some items to pop up frequently. And some of the losses are not considered a sacrifice at all when the reward is scientific discovery.
No-one accidentally learns string theory or stumble upon tenured position in academia. The losses have been weighed carefully against the payoffs and passions. This is why it makes me a bit miffed when some people claim scientists only run after the money. The bulk of new research is conducted by people who get paid very little money for it. People who don’t have cars, because they cannot afford such luxuries.
And when the scientific findings are swept under the rug in public conversation or in communications of special interest groups, I get a bit sad. We have given up some things or aspects of life to produce that information. And it is not just today’s scientists who have worked on the findings. It is the past generations who have made today’s findings possible. Some even sacrificed their health to make the world better. It is frankly insulting to disregard their sacrifices.