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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Big Boy Table

Dedicated to my anonymous reader from Allozyne:

Many years ago While as an undergrad I came across a most unusual man on public tv. He was a communist, pacifist and so on. He never cut his hair. Each week he would go on public tv and espouse his views, most likely because others around him had no interest in his interests. He needed to get his thoughts and ideas out and it was easy to secure a little time on local public tv. One particular criticism of him sparked my interest. A young student called in with no interests in the communists message. He wanted to know why the guy never cut his hair. It was meant to be an insult. To his surprise the host of the show had an answer. I won't go into it. The point of the story is that there was a person who was not like the people I grew up with. That is why I went to college. It was an experience unlike any I had ever had. This long haired old hippy with his own tv show was different. The young man with the "long hair" insult was what I was used to. The norm would have been to accept the insult and offer one in exchange. Instead the answer was legit. He really had a reason his hair was so long.

Flash forward to my crazy blog. I started writing little essays on the plight of a lab tech working in an environment that I cosidered hostile to science. I used Feynmans Cargo Cult Science commencement speech to address some of the problems I see in methodology. Like that old hippy on public tv, I throw out my ideas, ill concerned if they will ever be heard. Along comes a man representing the norm. This man, like the young man concerned about hair length norms, is appalled by my lack of adherence to our shared authoritarian system.

Rather than accept the insults I will address the sentiment behind my perceived lack of influence and career success. I am no longer working in this environment. I saw the influential is people most successful in groupthink.
Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints. 
 To my anonymous friend from Allozyne, I want to say that the big boy table is a place I was never a place I wanted to be. It is a place of groupthinkers involved in something I call bullshit. The big boy table at most any biotechnology company that has ever existed represents the most successful people in the Cargo Cults of science. Like the big boy table at Mary Kay Cosmetics or DNKY, it is a table surrounded by people who do things in life that I don't care about. I care about the scientific method, fairness, piecing together a long history of research hits and misses that eventually solve an unknown that others will be able to use in the form of technology. 

I wish I could be more like the old communist hippy on my local public station. The problem is that I like new cars and a semblance of normalcy. I put up with the leaders of the Cargo Cults because I made more money. But at the end of the day I had to admit that I was wasting my education and my brief opportunity to contribute something. So I do have my little blog. It isn't meant to illicit insults but I understand. It's pretty insulting at times. That is life. Look at it from a viewpoint outside of the big boy table: