It has been too long since I've had an interesting result that actually made sense. I'm in the fog part of the project, where all I can do is keep moving forward and hope that eventually I'll reach dry land.
Meanwhile, I'm finding myself wanting to know more about other people's results, even when I don't care about their projects very much. Just because it's nice to see things falling into place, and remind myself that it can be done.
But sometimes this backfires and makes me think, why do I bother asking? Maybe I just shouldn't even try to talk to anyone.
Case in point: I had a really disturbing conversation today with a professor.
This person was going on and on about consulting with other people in the field before proposing or embarking on new research projects.
Here was the list of concerns this person had:
1. To avoid scooping them
2. To avoid competing with them
3. To potentially collaborate
(in that order).
Here is was what I was thinking as I listened to this:
1. I'd be more worried about them (or you!) taking my ideas, since I have no interest in theirs (or yours!)
2. Who cares if we compete, and besides it's unlikely that we'd be doing exactly the same things in exactly the same ways. But why should I drop what I'm doing in the rare case where you happen to be doing something similar? Fuck that.
3. Why would I want to collaborate with you, when you sound so much more concerned with being nice than with actually doing science?? Look at all the science I got done while you were worrying!
I mean, I don't pretend to be a super-nice person, but I don't deliberately try to be an asshole, either (sometimes I can't help it, the assholishness just leaks out...). I used to really admire the super-nice people. Some of them seem to be really good at getting what they want using niceness, and I thought well, it doesn't come naturally to me, but it's something I could work on.
But lately I have less and less patience for the super-nice types. It seems to me that most of these people just waste a lot of time.
Case in point: our lab had a problem recently that affected almost everyone. However, nobody wanted to test the most obvious variable because it equated with blaming human error. In the end, of course it was human error (most things are!), but nobody wanted to say anything because they were terrified that feelings would be hurt.
And yet, to me, the real tragedy is how much everyone's science suffered in the meantime. Lots of time and money wasted because of this super-niceness bullshit. Over something trivial. A mistake that anyone could have made (and which ultimately came down to the PI being absent too much and the lab being too big).
Me, I want to work with adults who know that everybody makes honest mistakes. I want to work with people who are willing to say, "Hey, I'm having a problem with that thing." And I want the other people to say, "Okay, let's try to fix it." And perhaps more to the point, I want to work with people who appreciate that I already do that for everything, every day.
I guess this means I want to be the queen of fantasy-land.
I really like the phrase I heard from someone else who was talking about jealousy and competition in science: Eyes on your own plate.
My eyes are on my plate. I don't particularly care what other people in my field are doing, and I don't particularly want them to know what I'm doing (until I'm pretty darn close to being finished).
My field seems to be populated by people who spend all their time worrying about making sure they dress the right way so the popular kids will like them. Nobody is even trying to be creative and come up with something new to do.
This is yet another reason I find myself seriously thinking about quitting science. Because most people's science bores the shit out of me.
And I'm sick of people trying to offer me cookies in exchange for copying my notes. I don't want your fucking cookies.
Eyes on your own plate. I know you're a shark in nice clothing.