Aunt Pythia’s advice
And most importantly, please submit your question at the bottom of this column, I need more questions!
I forgot to give the readers something to do last time, so let’s start out fresh.
Dear Auntie P,
Is it possible to convince others about how excited you are in a subject in which you have little trainng, and make them give you a chance to work in this field? I’m a recent post-doc in pure mathematics trying to be a population scientist.
Credentialing is a tough thing in general, but in my experience a math Ph.D. is pretty useful in most situations. In industry it will get you an interview, especially if you also have some relevant skills like computer programming. Once you are in the interview, of course, you have to turn on the charm and communication and generally behave like a human being that people can relate to.
The exception might be other academic fields. There’s a feedback loop in academics, whereby people have a very precise idea of what makes a good researcher in their field, and they just kind of ignore people without those credentials. Since you really can’t do good research whilst being ignored (or at least it’s really hard), it’s a self-fulfilling blindspot, and the ignored people really do end up not doing very well, which reinforces the notion that one should ignore them.
One reason I think this happens less in industry is that there, people are used to the fact that they have to work in teams of people with various skills, so they know that someone who’s a proven quantitative problem solver will be useful. On the other hand, the problems they solve are typically less involved and theory-based, so it’s easier to train a smart person to be helpful. So really that’s two reasons.
My advice to you, or anyone else who wants to switch from math to a different academic research discipline, is to find someone deep in that field and ask them what the credentialing in their field looks like, and how to rebrand yourself as something closer to their ideal. Maybe you can collaborate with them on a paper, to show you are capable of bridging the communication divide.
Can I remain in academia despite the crazy status-conscious, petty and grandiose nature of it?
Out on the Island
You never get rid of your problems, you only get a new set of problems. Look into your options and their accompanying problems and decide what to do in that light. Keep in mind, academia is at least not unethical (usually).
My friend has a new friend who is pretentious and snobby and hard to be around. Now these qualities are wearing off on my friend, one of the sweetest naturally people I know. Is there a way to make her see this?
Dear Concerned Friend,
Easy peazy lemon squeezy. Next time you are alone with your friend, complain about her friend the snob for being a snob – make sure not to mix it in with other complaints or she will just think you’re mean or jealous. So, say something like, “I generally really enjoy Martha’s company but it really embarrassed me how she treated the waiter the other day, what an elitist snob!”
It’s the oldest back-stabbing trick in the book, and it will make her aware of the snobbery, which she probably doesn’t see, and it will also make her aware that you don’t like that kind of behavior, so she will be conscious of her snobby ways near you. Problem solved!
If you are conflict-avoidant, or just think the above suggestion is rude (same diff), then you could first try making a general complaint about snobby people, and give an example very similar to something your friend’s friend did recently in her and your presence (“Don’t you hate it when people yell at flight attendants?”). But if that’s not sufficient, move on to the above.
Tell me what happens!
When I’m in polite company I sometimes feel the need to scratch my balls. How can I do so without attracting notice?
Somewhere in the world
Isn’t that what pockets are for? Jeez.
Dearest Aunt Pythia,
What’s the most important? Length, width, magic of the performer? Doesn’t matter above/below a certain threshhold?
Just wanna read you write about sex
Glad you asked. There’s been a quantitative study on the matter which I’ve been dying to share. The key visual:
Hope that helps!
p.s. I’ll keep an eye out for a quantitative study comparing “penis” with “magic” to finish answering your question.
Dear Aunt Pythia,
What are the effect of alcohol on your state of mind?
Boy from Delphi
Alcohol merely allows me to say what I really want to say, as if I don’t already.
Here’s a question for you. It’s rather vague but I think you guys will have something important (or funny, or pithy) to suggest:
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I was one of those kids who when asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” said “Errrghm …” or maybe just ignored the question. Today I am still that confused toddler. I have changed fields a few times (going through a major makeover right now), never knew what I want to dive into, found too many things too interesting. I worry that half a life from now, I will have done lots and nothing. I crave having a passion, one goal – something to keep trying to get better at. What advice do you have for the likes of me?
Forever Yawning or Wandering Globetrotter
Please submit questions, thanks!