Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ornery pseudologist

I had one of those meetings that never seems to end yesterday.  Not the administrative kind, but the one-on-one encounter kind, where you just don't know how you'll get away.  It ran over five hours, and my brain was pretty well shut off by the end.  I may have need of this contact at some point in the future, so I tried my best to be polite and deferential.  Somewhere around the fourth hour of conversation, I kicked deference out the window and replaced it with the arrogance of the university-trained postdoctoral scholar.  I should be a little sorry for this, but I'm not.  He deserved to hear a few things that no one else around here will tell him.  I hung on to politeness, but just barely.  I'm really grateful for that Ph.D.; it gives me a surprising amount of street cred here in Research City.

This is kind of how I operate, I've found.  I can't be one of those people who keep their mouths shut at all times while collecting data, and simply smile and nod and occasionally ask a question of clarification.  I make my interlocutors back up what they say.  I argue with them, I disagree with them, I occasionally may or may not tell them that I think their ideas are dangerous and counterproductive.  I sometimes wonder if I'm doing research all wrong, or if I just have a very different approach than has the ordinary pseudologist.  I also wonder what my colleagues will say at the conferences, once my papers and talks make clear what an ornery SOB I am.

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