The difference between respecting your mentors and BS-ing your way to the top
One of my biggest pet peeves is people who can't see shades of gray.
These binary-brains think that lack of ass-kissing equates with disrespect.
It does not equate.
Personally, I think that you respect your mentors enough if you take most of their advice, discuss it with them, argue back occasionally, but mostly seek and take their advice (granted, everyone has a subjective impression of what it means when we say "most")....
I've been thinking about this from the perspective of being a mentor as well as having mentors. Mostly, I prefer mentors who see through bullshit, who don't want their asses kissed and rubbed and polished.
Sadly, you can't always pick the people who have power over your career. They may not be mentors, but they may need a good butt-rub to get moving on your behalf.
Maybe you didn't realize what you were getting into; maybe you just overestimated your own ability to put up with it.
Or maybe, as has happened to me more than a few times, your mentors just disappointed you. You took their advice; it failed. They say they don't like bullshit, but they fall for the brown-nosing from the guy at the bench next to yours (even when it's patently obvious to the objective observer that it's not sincere, just a well-acted manipulation tactic).
So I don't like it when my mentees, or anyone for that matter, give me false compliments in an effort to win my favor or recommendation. I say no, I won't write that letter for you, and please, stop trying to butter me up. I'm not a muffin, cupcake.
But sometimes I do wonder if my mentors know how much I genuinely appreciate their efforts, especially the ones who really gave me advice in good faith, tried to encourage me, and sure yeah, maybe none of it worked out like we hoped.
Every once in a while I'll send them a card or an email and just say Thanks, I appreciate it.
To suggest that doing more than that is actually necessary, even required, for success, just means the quality of people in science is rather low.
Seems to support the idea that science is full of insecure liars who can't tell the difference between a fake compliment and a real one.
And what does that say about their ability to evaluate any other kind of data?