“Yesterday night I was in my office in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge packing my stuff, resolved to not go back to research again …”
This sad story is another warning to all those enthusiastic about getting into science. One more outtake:
“I know of people that have given crippled software to a colleague to sabotage his project. I’ve been violently attacked verbally for having dared talking with my supervisor of a project I was collaborating with, because she feared that I wanted to “steal” her credit. And I can’t blame her: she was “helped” by another postdoc when she first came in Cambridge, only to find all credit for her work taken by the nice and smiling guy who scammed her by “helping” her. There are endless horror stories like that. Everywhere. Now, do you want to work in a place full of insanely clever people who are also insanely cynical and determined to do everything to get on top of you? If so, you can do top level science.”
It goes on with many quite accurate observations, although often the interpretation is maybe not something I would agree with. Anyway, here is something that I have to add.
One cannot stress this enough: If you are somewhere in the middle of the science hierarchy doing a project you do not like or some such, get the hell out of there right now! Today! Either you have the intelligence and determination to come up with or get into a better project or you are wrong there all together and need to get out and be useful in the real world.
See, here is how I do it: There is almost not a single day that I have been anywhere in science, be it in theory, experiment, as a student, teaching, whatever, that I have not enjoyed the project I was doing and getting more out of it than I put in, in whatever strange way (reading what I am interested in anyways, cooking up 'research chemicals' in my lab, whatever). If I did not like a project, I convinced supervisors of better ways. If they did not appreciate it, I went somewhere else.
And yes, I am poor (still a rich white guy though) and maybe have no further position next year, but see, that is no problem as long as you know what life is all about and you can at least claim not to have ‘worked’ for a single day for almost 40 years and even have gotten some money for it. I would have done it for free, too, seriously! Every single day especially these days, I do what interests me and I do not care much about anything else.
If you cannot claim similar, if you can already foresee that in a few years you may likely have to say something like “I wasted my whole youth and intellectual peak, did not have much fun and a lot of pain and now I have nothing for it to show but age and those who got me into this looking down upon me as a loser or even traitor”, if this is your situation instead, GET OUT OF SCIENCE NOW.
The scientific community, unlike politics, Hollywood, or straight business or law, successfully fools people into projecting a peaceful, benevolent image, an atmosphere of acceptance by intelligent, advanced, progressive people who surely know better than to sour up each others lives. Same deception with science blogging communities by the way.
Guys, wake up, the truth is almost the opposite! This is all straight hustle, straight business, straight ripping each other off, being mean, supporting ‘friends’ even if they are wrong, pretending to be something better, elitism, exploitation, … . Do not sacrifice yourself on other people’s altars. Some of your future branches will have a stroke tomorrow. Do the right thing TODAY!
Oh – as I am at it, here another story I found just today about something actually common: