Integralmath, our Justicar, recently reposted my ‘debate’ with Steve Kern on his YouTube channel, and its gotten some fun comments. One was from someone making fun of Kern:
I CAN’T INTO SCIENCE, I HAVE THE DUMB.ï»¿
I love it and literally loled*.
While the commentor was making fun of Kern, I also had to laugh because even though I am a scientist, I TOTALLY feel like this sometimes.
For instance, last Friday I was really busy. Experiment after experiment after experiment.
Not one thing worked.
Not one goddamn thing.
New stuff I was trying didnt work. Old stuff I have done a million times didnt work. And the best: When I was trying a new thing and I didnt think about a control I needed so I have no friggen idea if it worked (but it probably didnt). On top of it all, Bossman and I are editing a paper, and ironing out details is immensely frustrating– Data 1 and Data 2 obviously overlap. OBVIOUSLY. But what is the right stat metric to ‘prove’ that they are ‘statistically similar’? I dunno why ‘WTF? THEYRE THE SAME DAMN THING!’ isnt acceptable terminology for your results section. I get it. And then there is “Is this the right way to say that? Or will saying it that way hit someones hot-button?” “Do we even want to bring this up? Or is it just making the paper too long?” (section I spent over 9000 hours writing).
There is one phrase that sums up how I felt that day:
I CANT INTO SCIENCE, I HAVE THE DUMB.ï»¿
And when you feel like this, there is nothing you can do but go home, go on a run/drink a beer/get a good night of sleep, and get up the next day and try again.
The only way you can do that, the only way you can get through the “I CANT INTO SCIENCE, I HAVE THE DUMB.ï»¿” moments, is if you love what you do.
So I recently gave a high school student wanting to know about being a virologist the following advice:
Modern science is all inter-connected. You can have cell biology, immunology, biochemistry, genetics, physics, mathematics, and computer science PhDs all working on the same project in virology. Do not force yourself to take microbiology courses if you end up hating microbiology and loving biochem (I never took a micro course until grad school– micro was a 200-level easy A for premeds at my school, lol!). Do not avoid taking ecology classes because you think you have to stay in ‘medical’ classes (I learned 50% of what I know about evolution/population dynamics for HIV from my ecology courses).
You can pretty much do whatever you want and have a career in virology, so dont feel like you have to box yourself in to one thing or another 🙂
Science isnt a medical school list of prerequisites. You can do pretty much whatever the hell you love, and have a career is pretty much whatever the hell you want to study. Do what you love in science, and you will be fine**. Do what you think you are Supposed To Do To Be A Scientist, and you will be miserable.
You have to have something that makes you keep thinking about experiments after a bad day and YOU DO NOT WANT TO THINK ABOUT EXPERIMENTS. Something to get you out of bed in the morning to try everything again, when nothing went right before.
Monday: Everything was coming up Millhouse. Beautiful data. Set up all my experiments right. Everything is going to be fine. I CAN INTO SCIENCE!
* Also the one responding to someone saying I should be more like Hitchens “I dont see why she should be drunk”. lol!
** You wont be rich, but you will be fine.