Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I said I'd post every day.

But lately I am finding a lot of people talking shit about me on other blogs.

Like this one.

Go back and read the original ScienceWoman post, then read what DrugMonkey had to say.

I was so pissed off after that, I didn't even want to touch PhysioProf since he usually makes me even more angry.

Makes me wonder why I bother blogging, much less being part of the blogging community. It's not helping my stress levels. At all.

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At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol. they have an interesting site. it's like unsolicited "one size fits all" career advice with a holier than thou kind of thing going on. at this point, i'll take all the advice i can get. mean or not :(

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Helen said...

Ugh, you have my sympathy, if that's worth anything.

I noted the post to try to wade through it to see if there was anything useful I could glean, but the times I've tried to, I get stuck by the strawmen he keeps stacking up and knocking down. His arrogant egomaniac pose is only funny when he does not devolve his discourse that far.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde said...

For what it's worth, Ms PhD--the reason I enjoy reading both your blog and PhysioProf's is that it's an education from both ends of the spectrum. Obviously PP is someone for whom the whole setup worked out. And while he is exercised about some aspects of the System (particularly the way women get shut out of it, I might add) he is generally supportive of the System.

You provide perfect contrast as someone who is skeptical about the entire workings of the System. It hasn't treated you well, and you are understandably incensed about it. The two of you together are hugely educational--glass totally empty, or brimming full. I don't think I'd want to read one without the other.

At 6:14 AM, Blogger Becca said...

Well I, for one, am glad you are braving the BS of the blogosphere- I've really enjoyed reading your posts lately.

It me personally if I try to remember that both PP and DM tend to mean well. They've found something that works for them...that doesn't mean it's right for you. Their advice is worth every penny you pay for it.

What you've written about choosing hard projects (or at least not running away from hard techniques when good scientific questions find you) seems to me to be dead on.

That said, PP would probably point out that in terms of editors, grant reviewers and tenure boards, you rarely (if ever) get any meaningful brownie points for the path you took. If the path you took isn't making you a much better scientist, but is [b] just [/b] causing you to tear your hair out, there's something worth considering about PP's perspective. On the other hand, if the path you took is making you a better scientist, PP is way off.

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, do not stop blogging. Your posts keep me sane :) i.e. there are people out there at least noticing the problem.

I read mentioned posts and had some fun. I see everyday (thanks to my TOP workplace) that publishing in C/N/S cannot be explained so easily. In fact, just reading C/N/S tells me that problem is broader. In each issue of C/N/S (yes, I read too much instead working hard) I find very questionable papers, which make me wonder where were reviewers and editors. Yes, these papers sound interesting but they are not scientifically sound. The biggest problems: simplifying assumptions; ignoring observations/results that clearly do not agree with whatever point authors are making and trying on four pages describe 5-6 years of work.
I could talk hours about unsolved, very important problems in biology, chemistry, biophysics. Nobody works on them because they are to difficult to be attacked in current hypothesis-driven, PI-centered system promoting a short-term investment in science, which is kind of funny because just common sense tells us that science will become more difficult rather than easier with time.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger butterflywings said...

What a pompous prick this PhysioProf guy is. See the big man dole out patronising "advice" to the little women.
The comment about women "choosing" to spend time caring for kids particularly pissed me off...yeah, a guy has a kid and his work life is barely affected, he's seen as a good family man if he leaves on time once in a while. Whereas women get burdened with more than half the housework and seen as less committed.

Of course, being a man, PP would not understand that. Oh, to be so blind to privelege.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger mind said...

some PIs talk about their postdocs to grad and undergrad students...

i like you blog, i was looking for postdoc job forums, and found yours

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me this illustrates part of the dichotomy in general about why people enter science.

To some extent, for people like PP, it's just a more interesting way to make widgets, if you know what I mean. So to him it's obvious that if you 'play the game' (ahem), you play it to win. You have to pick a direction based on what is most likely to make you 'win' and on a logical and practical calculation. Obviously in some ways this is a generally (though not always) male view.

There are a lot of other people, including myself, and probably more women than men, who went into science because we loved science. We hate the politics and the bullshit and mysogyny but we are curious and fascinated and amazed by the universe, and we want our career and our salary to focus around thinking about the universe. Therefore we weigh our directions and priorities a little differently.

After all, considering the battles and abuse we went through to get and stay here, why would we treat this like making 'upwardly mobile business decisions'? Aren't I here to think deep thoughts about interesting things?

Yet what a lot of people advocate is essentially either like telling a chef to cook only what people will buy, and not what she or he likes to cook. Or telling them conversely to only cook their interesting experimental dishes, but it's nothing to base a restaurant on. The truth is that there are two circles that overlap, like for the chef: what you like, and what people will buy. Ideally one finds things at the intersection.

In my humble opinion the truth is somewhere in between. PP is right but he leaves out the heart of the matter - if we have no heart in what we are doing, we can't succeed in the end. But we also have to try to pick the research that unites BOTH our heart and the potential for payoff, because that's life.

I was uncomfortable with some of ScienceWoman's statements... I suspect it was more her wording of it, but it came off like she was passing things off or making excuses, or giving too much weight to the wrong things. Mind you PP was patronizing as well but I think the reality was lost in the middle. ScienceWoman was really expressing her 'emotional truth', as it were, on some level. Meanwhile PP approached this from a not-untypical 'let's solve the problem' approach. They are both correct. ScienceWoman was expressing angst, PP was refining solutions, there is a middle ground there that can address both.

The truth is that there are two circles that overlap, like for the chef: what you like, and what people will buy. Ideally one finds things at the intersection.

- Another YFS

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Sara said...

I, too, enjoy your blog and hope you keep blogging.

I think PP's point is that you can't just do what you think is interesting, but you have to optimize for what you're also *good* at. As a corollary, I would add that it's a good idea for people embarking on their science career to actively weight the pros and cons of various fields, rather than just riding the tide.

Personally, I'm in the process of making the switch from cellular-level bioscience to mathematical modeling, because I find benchwork tiring and I am much smarter at computer code and mathematical modeling. I'll still study the same questions, but from a different perspective.

One of the best things I get out of your blog is that I feel like I'm a lot like you in my intolerance for political games. I know I'm not going to succeed in grad school unless I find the right program with the right mentor. And reading your blog (and PP's and DM's, as well) has given me the ability to say "Fuck Them, this is what I want, I'm going to be a damn great scientist, and if they have trouble with that, tough shit", even if I have to spend a year looking for an advisor with whom I can effectively communicate.

I'm glad you've stuck it out, and I hope you find some good colleagues soon.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger JaneB said...

Anonymous 10:29 - YES YES YES! There is so much BAD science published in C/N/S as well as some really hot stuff in my fields too (broadly defined). Almost always either on a really sexy topic or from one of 'the establishment' groups.

At the end of the day the risk/reward matrix that PP talks about is very important. But if there's only FUNDING for low risk/high reward projects (which makes sense when there's such huge competition for money) then how does he suggest that we do high risk/high potential reward projects? A lot of what I see as the most exciting opportunities in my field require a lot of resources - particularly people hours - to achieve the sorts of results that will be CNS-able.

So how do we fund this work? I have a full-time job. I write a lot of research applications (yes I often try and include some medium and high risk stuff in with the low risk stuff but have never yet had one of those grants funded...) - but if they're funded the money has to go on doing the project work. Do I give a high risk project to a grad student? Seems very unfair. If they fail, they could quite reasonably argue that my bad mentoring - allowing them to undertake a high risk project - was a major factor in their failure. So I carry on writing applications, getting disillusioned, and wondering how the heck some people have the cheek to decide that their three data points which might suggest Radical New THeory but probably don't are so clearly TRUE that they should write it up for CNS. And ignore all the contrary data/literature because clearly its WRONG. Interesting that sometimes there isn't a lengthier paper explainging things more thoroughly for as much as 5 years after the CNS 1000 word 'wow look cool!' has come out...

YFS, please carry on posting! Not everyone in the community is so know-it-all. Only a small numebr can make it to the top - but that doesn't mean that they have any solid grounds for telling the rest of us that the reason we aren't there too is that we have a bad attitude or are stupid or naive.

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Makes me wonder why I bother blogging?"

MsPhD, I'd be interested to know *why* do you blog? What do you get out of it? Are you trying to help others, or trying to help yourself?

The blog is such an interesting forum, because *you* control all the information your readers have about you and your concerns. This means that we can't judge your situation except by what you tell us, and that can lead to exceptionally loyal readers (like some of those who commented above), and exceptionally critical readers (like PhysioProf). Since we can only judge by what you tell us, I wonder if you don't have to accept both types of readers?

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

Well, on the plus side, you are creating quite a lot of dialogue in the blogosphere, no? And it's getting people talking about a lot of these issues.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many of the comments above are right on the money. I'm tenured faculty at a top medical school, and when I choose where to take my research, I try to find something of interest to me that I know will also be of interest to reviewers and the field at large. As Anonymous 2:48 said above, it's the intersection of overlapping circles. I play to my strengths, but also try to stretch myself to keep expanding my knowledge base and technical expertise. It's a method that has worked very well for me. In contrast, my husband (also tenured faculty at the same school) approaches science much more like you. He's drawn to the hardest, most interdisciplinary, paradigm-shifting problems he can find, all the while mentally giving "the system" the finger. We're both successful, but guess who has an easier time of it? Sometimes we get frustrated with each other. . .he can't understand why I would try to play to a system that's so obviously broken, and I can't understand why he doesn't make choices to make his life easier. When it comes right down to it, I'm not sure these are real choices, but are more simply expressions of our different personalities. He claims it would be anathema to him to do things differently, and I have to admit that I'm comfortable with my own system. My guess is that for you also, taking the easy way goes against your own personality. This is why it is so upsetting for PP and others to claim that some choices are just wrong. . .it implies your whole being is wrong. Being drawn to difficult questions is not a bad thing, but it doesn't make one's life or career easy, and I think that this is what PP was trying to say, although perhaps too bluntly.


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