February 19, 2007
Academics, and academics-in-training, are some of the most argumentative people on Earth. Often, they lose track of why they’re arguing. They do it just because. This is true mostly of the Londoners I work with. Some of them would argue black was white.
Sometimes it would be nice to be able to work on something without having to justify every single tiny step. In the interests of time and sanity, it would be nice sometimes to decide to use a piece of technology without too much justification because: a) we need to use something; b) it doesn’t matter which of the related technologies we use; and c) it’s a waste of my time to conduct a full literature review to arrive at the non-conclusion I arrived at prior to starting. Sometimes I just want to get something done, and the act of getting that something done is an issue of technical merit rather than academic merit. Annoyingly, academics only allow irrational reasoning to support their own position, not anybody else’s.
It is, however, nice when I write something that they have trouble tearing to shreds. Most of my work is pretty solid, but there’s normally a hole or two I’m glad they find. I tend ever closer toward perfection this way.
However, every now and then, I put something together that just makes sense. They can’t find anything wrong with it. It’s a good feeling, because I just know that they want to find something wrong with it. Recently, one of the team went so far as to suggest that a graph should not be included in a paper because he didn’t understand it. Hmm. Gee, I didn’t think that’s how these things were meant to work. Perhaps you’d like to switch salaries?