View From The Trenches

U27111 at U27111 at
Fri Jun 23 13:33:36 EST 1995

The PhD's latest reply via e-mail:

On Fri, 23 Jun 1995, Kathy wrote:
>    "All significant discoveries in science have been by
>    accident.  Thus you can consider it a random event.  And
>    a low caliber lab has just as much chance of having that
>    random event happen to them as a high caliber lab.  Thus
>    it doesn't matter if we were a low or high caliber lab."

I've always known that the harder you work, the luckier you get!

> By the end of the week it was mutually decided that my
> personality  did not fit into their lab.  The one tech even
> suggested I might seek a job at ATCC because they are the only
> ones who have to be so strict with how they handle their cell
> lines... out here in the real world of research, such details
> does not matter.

Details are the _essence_ of good science, they separate good work
from mediocre or bad work (in _any_field, not simply science).

> Anyway, when I asked, "Yes, but sometimes you have to stop and
> determine if what you are doing is actually valid"  Her only
> reply was, "It's valid!"

I have to stop you here and write this little passage down for you.
I find it very relevant to the way people are in all aspects of
life, work, religion, everything.

        What happens when one has striven long and hard to develop
a working view of the world, a seemingly useful, workable map, and
then is confronted with new information suggesting that that view
is wrong and the map needs to be largely redrawn?  The painful
effort required seems frightening, almost overwhelming.  What we do
more often than not, and usually unconsciously is to ignore the new
information.  Often this act of ignoring is much more than passive.
We may denounce the new information as false, dangerous, heretical,
the work of the devil (or busybody research scientist in your case
with Dr. M).  We may actually crusade against it, and even attempt
to manipulate the world so as to make it conform to our view of
reality rather than try to change the map, an individual may try to
destroy the new reality.  Sadly, such a person (or group) may
expend much more energy ultimately in defending an outmoded view of
the world than would have been required to revise and correct it in
the first place.

> One PhD student I previously 'attempted' to train said "Gallo
> wasn't so stupid... he got the patent didn't he... he was just
> stupid in getting caught!"

Can you see the mentality that has crept into the conscience of
society from the abuses of the legal system by lawyers.  No one has
to take responsibility for their actions anymore therefore anything
that they do is fair as long as they don't get caught.  Actually,
in Gallo's case (as in _many_ others), he got caught and _still_
got his patent and monies?!?!?!????!!!!
        What is the penalty for wrong acts?  Jail time?...not with
the current state of the judicial system and the billable hours
mentality (especially if you have money).  Respect by your
peers? one cares about or respects anyone anyway, so the word
*respect* is quickly fading from the vocabulary of mankind.
Reputation?...Gallo is a perfect example of the twisted nature of
things in society.  My father always stressed the point of self
respect and respect for others, yet Gallo steals, gets caught, gets
a patent, and by the sound of your student, is still respected for
the *smart* way he got a patent???????????????????  WOW!

[stuff deleted]

Sorry about your uncle and mother, I too watched a vibrant healthy
sister-in-law deteriorate into a vegetable that had to be helped to
go to the bathroom from MS over a 9 year period.  It was very hard
and seemed quite unfair.

BTW, I have not graduated yet (I'm writing), I'm still in the meat
grinder and looking forward to getting the hell out of here to
_any_ job (I would just _like_ it to be a *good* one).

Here is the 5 secrets to grad school successs (this came from a
cartoon but is haughtingly accurate:

     1) Do not annoy the professor.

     2) Be consistently mediocre.

     3) Avoid anything smacking of originality.

     4) Do exactly what you are told.

     5) Stop reading this right now and get back to work.

          Fight the good fight,

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