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Post Archive
2014 (0)2010 (39)
December (3)

It's not "goodbye," it's...
Friday, December 17, 2010

I can haz music warz?
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two weeks
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
November (10)

Interviews, for reals!
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can I get a pdf of this?
Thursday, November 18, 2010

SfN 2010 Day 5: A video featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SfN 2010 Day 3: A video featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Monday, November 15, 2010

SfN Day 2 (better late than never)
Monday, November 15, 2010

SfN 2010, Day 1: a video blog featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Saturday, November 13, 2010

30,000 people is not actually that many people
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We have a winner, and a cocktail!
Sunday, November 7, 2010

You. Immortalized. In a cocktail.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time for BANTER!!!
Monday, November 1, 2010
October (8)

Your PowerPoint and You
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Have I told you lately that I love you?
Thursday, October 21, 2010

So I have an Interview.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's bribe time
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Research Blogging: The Postpartum Brain
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Business Time
Friday, October 8, 2010

That time I was on TV
Thursday, October 7, 2010

What?! Only 300 thread-count and no robe? Two stars!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
September (5)

SABOTAGE!!!
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let me give you my card
Thursday, September 23, 2010

I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me!
Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Science Enemy
Monday, September 13, 2010

What I wish I knew before...I moved to New York City
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
August (9)July (4)
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Dr Becca, Ph.D.

Dr Becca can now be found at http://scientopia.org/blogs/drbecca .

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

A few days ago, I got an email from a service I don't at all recall signing up for. It's called CiteAlert, and its job is apparently to notify you when one of your publications has been cited in an Elsevier journal, which is pretty much all of them. All of the journals.

I was of course very pleased with this news, and was also of course very curious as to what extremely intelligent person had read my paper and thought it worthy of a mention. When I clicked through, however, I discovered something troubling. The citation was made by my Science Enemy, and my work was mentioned for the sole purpose of taking a jab. Well, I never!!

My history with Science Enemy goes back around 10 years, when I was presenting my first ever conference poster. She was very interested in my work, and, wanting to be sociable, I casually asked her whose lab she was in. My friendly query was met with an indignant "MINE," and it's there I believe the rivalry began. I of course tried to remedy this faux pas with "Oh, it's just because you look so YOUNG!!" (and truly she did), but my conciliatory words fell on deaf ears; it was on.

Since my post-doc began, our lines of work have come dangerously close together. In fact, due to a certain journal taking for-fucking-ever to review my manuscript, she even semi-scooped me. But she took some shortcuts, and frankly, my lab has more sophisticated methods, so I went on to publish mine in a journal with twice the impact factor. We've found similar, but not exactly matching results, and consequently have developed differing theories as to what's actually going on in our general area of study. Happens all the time, right? But she's harassed my lab mates at meetings, and once came up to my poster, whipped out a ruler, and proceeded to measure my error bars. Who does that??

i have to say, I don't like this. I'm not used to being actively disliked! Considered a loser and forced to eat lunch alone, sure, but just flat-out antagonized? It's weird. I see her at every SfN meeting and I try my best to be cordial. I even call her "Dr Enemy" to show respect! And yet, it is still so uncomfortable, because every time I catch a glance at her, her eyes are shooting laser beams in my direction.

Now, I don't mean to be painting myself as some passive victim, here. In defending my own work it's unavoidable that I address our discrepancies, which means that in some way, I have to state what I think is at best unclear and at worst wrong about hers. So I get it. I just wish we could talk about our differences like adults, rather than dance around each other like the Sharks and Jets. I just can't kick that high.




I know there are plenty of science rivalries out there--any good stories? Any happy endings? (Genomic Repairman, don't answer that).

This post has been viewed: 2164 time(s)

Blog Comments
Dr Nice

Guest Comment
How about the Dr Enemy who invites the young naive post-doc to their department to give a talk, pump them for all your new data, ask you for plasmids and then jab you 2 months later with a paper saying all of your data is wrong!

Doctor Zen
The University of Texas-Pan American
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Kix

Guest Comment
Sounds like Golgi and Cajal :-) Which one would you prefer to be?

Prof-like Substance
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I say own it. Take a jab at her lab in every pub or write a review in which you disparage their work. Start actively referring to them as "The Dark Side" at conferences and maybe let it slip in a presentation. What's the fun of having a nemesis if you can't play it up?



Nikkilina
Washington University School of Medicine
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Mail her a squirrel in a box!

Evie
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Great post Dr. :)

Sounds to me like DrIsis and DrugMonkey share a common ancestor w your Dr Enemy here. Don't you just wish ego could be checked at the door so that we humans could cooperate w each other? Ahh.. what? A girl can dream..

Anywho.. as I see it, you're in control of this. If you pay no attention to her, and go about your business without allowing her negativity to make you feel smaller in any way, or push you to the side somehow, she'll eventually get bored and move on, and by that point you will have ignored her so much you won't even notice.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Duke University
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I caught someone from my science enemy's lab taking pictures of my poster at a conference! I wanted to beat the living crap out of them.

Genomic Repairman
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Damn it, you cut me off at the knees. I agree with PLS, every hero needs a villian. So at every opportunity you need to disparage this diabolical motherfucker. Its not your fault that their science is weak and fails to compare to the awesomeness of your own.
DrugMonkey

Guest Comment
For all you know Evie, I AM her Science Enemy...

Genomic Repairman
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If that's the case DM, you just got called the fuck out. You got some splaining to do!

Evie
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For all I know @DrugMonkey, you're my science enemy as well..

Gerty-Z
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I SO hope that I can remember to take a ruler to the next poster session I attend! That may be the best way to get in someone's head that I have ever heard. Maybe not the dept. retreat, but the next conference for sure!

Suzy
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Some people have such fragile egos. Her offense was probably at the fact that you did not recognize her name (10 years ago). Like "anyone in the field worth their salt should know me" kind of attitude.

I've also noticed that there are some women scientists who just hate on other women scientists and are more competitive with women than with men.

In biotech, I have not seen the same level of antagonism between women executives and middle managers like I have in academics.

We also have arch enemies in biotech. Marketing people from our enemy companies will come over and check out the new products and ask questions at the tradeshow booth. They'll try to hide their name badge so you can't see where they are from- although I know everyone so it's not easy to do that. But they can pull that shit on my scientists who don't travel as much and get away with it.

One time a competitor came over to my booth, started insulting the booth graphics and the message- just being an overall dick.
Another time, I had a competitor stand right next to me and listen to my sales pitch to the customer and then try to talk to the customer about their own product- in my booth!
Both of these tactics are totally not allowed and I could get them prohibited from exhibiting at that conference ever again if I wanted.

On more than one occasion I've had to physically push a competitor marketing asshole out of the booth.

It's a vendor war out there, I'm telling ya!

Thomas Joseph
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Ha ha ha .... brought a ruler to your poster to measure your error bars (now were you using standard error or standard deviation? hmmm?). That is classic! If that happened to me, I would so totally snap a picture of them doing it and include it in my next talk somehow.

I had inherited a couple of science enemies through my PhD adviser, but since I no longer work in the field, they've sort of moved on by. Also, it was never really to the level you experience. I don't think I have any science enemies currently ... agricultural science seems to be fairly tame compared to everyone who gets their knickers in a twist in the biomedical areas.

Dr. O
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I absolutely love the measuring your error bars story...just classic. My ScienceEnemies aren't nearly as creative; they just take third reviewer jabs at my papers and grants. I tot agree with PLS about playing this up, too; if she's going to go there (with a ruler no doubt), you might as well jump in with her. As long as you're semi-respectful, I think it's plenty professional to have some fun.

BTW, if DrugMonkey is your ScienceEnemy (that is, the young female carrying around a ruler around at poster sessions), then I've obviously got him pictured all wrong. It sounds like I need to develop a new heels-wearing, ruler-wielding persona for reading his blog. :P
Liberal Arts Lady

Guest Comment
Not to give Enemy too much of the benefit of the doubt, but having your work in a higher-impact journal gives them a great way to justify the need for their publications and further research if they have a different interpretation. I'd say own that controversy and milk it for grant money - too bad you apparently can't do that without the personal conflict.
BethAnn Stanwood

Guest Comment
Ahh...science enemies are the BEST! I would love bomb 'em. Which is to say, when you publish, send her your work, thank her for advancing the field and be oh-so-happy to see her at science meetings. If she asks about error ask her why she so concerned. I've been treated horribly (as most scientists have at some point) by senior folks, but find the love/excitement is the most adaptive response. Carrying a chip gets to be a heavy load and it really must suck to be her -vengeful and small minded. That being said, I do exclude them as reviewers....I'm not THAT naive.
DrugMonkey

Guest Comment
Many people have me pictured all wrong Dr. O. But why picture the blogger at all? The author is dead, yo. All that remains is the text.

Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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I picture DrugMonkey as a monkey, literally.
narbour

Guest Comment
I love it! I never had a personal science enemy (ah the missed opportunities), but I always thought the concept was sad in that not "pushing the research forward faster" kinda way. Think of all the lost opportunities to brainstorm ideas together and take grant money further! Having said that, there is definitely room for personal entertainment here...and next time someone comes to your poster with a ruler...be ready with a camera...as other commenters have mentioned...this could be an excellent retaliation method!

AmoebaMike
Independence Science
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I've seen DrugMonkey be abrasive, but DrIsis has been nothing but nice to me. Not that I don't think they both have their light and dark sides, just thought I'd point that out. :-)
Mr. Gunn

Guest Comment
Not to derail the thread here, and the error bar thing was pretty lolsworthy, but what I found most shocking about the post above was the mention of Elsevier as the publisher of "pretty much" all the journals. Well, that and the reference to the impact factor of some journal, as if it somehow means your work is better. The new approach is to put your paper in an open access journal with a rapid turnaround that exposes your work to search engines and provides article-level metrics (pageviews, bookmarks, downloads of the PDF, etc). This means that your work comes out a whole year or more sooner, can't be torpedoed by your enemy during "peer" review, and you get feedback on the impact it's having as soon as it comes out, without having to wait years for the citations to trickle back down via the academic equivalent of a FICO score.

The point is this: Enmity festers while waiting for research to be published. Don't just sit there and hope you don't get sabotaged, especially if you're a junior researcher. Don't play the game by the rules stacked in their favor. Kick their ass by publishing so fast they can't compete. @brembs can tell you more about this.

Genomic Repairman
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What's the old saying, "You only make fun of the ones you like..." I'm pretty sure its no secret that we are all fans of DM and read his blog quite regularly. We just like to poke the silverback from time to time to make sure its awake.

Tideliar
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"But she's harassed my lab mates at meetings, and once came up to my poster, whipped out a ruler, and proceeded to measure my error bars. Who does that??"

KTFO with a spinning backfist in the middle of the poster session. Seriously. DO IT!!

Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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Mr Gunn, re: Elsevier comment- please don't mistake my hyperbole for, well, not hyperbole. I was merely making a joke about the very large number of journals that Elsevier publishes.

Your second point is very well taken, and may be worth addressing in a separate post. I'll just say briefly that I wish I were further along in my career so as to not have to be bothered with impact factor. The reality of my situation though, is that as long as hiring committees and study sections care about IF, I have to, too. Also, I did not mean to suggest that the higher IF pub meant my paper was inherently better, but you've got to allow me a little smugness after everything that's gone down between me and Science Enemy.

NatC
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Take it as a compliment! Your work is worthy of being JABBED - which means it's important. And it means more attention - don't you always go and read the papers that someone has made a jab at?
And if nothing else, at least you have an outspoken enemy (who isn't ashamed to make a fool of themselves) and not a Frenemy who is pretending to be nice (a la Dr Nice's comment).

Dr. O
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GUEST COMMENT said:
The author is dead, yo. All that remains is the text.
Very Nietzsche-esque...I like it.
Jen

Guest Comment
You make her feel insecure. That means you're a worthy nemesis. Really, this is a form of respect.

Erm, a very disrespectful form of respect.

I say you should just smugly gloat about it.
hibob

Guest Comment
Well if she has her own lab she has henchmen, and if they all wear matching labcoats and OSHA-approved specs that should do for the required arch enemy & henchmen uniform for now. I think you'll need a sidekick before she can officially arch you though.
Namnezia

Guest Comment
As an undergrad I remember going to my first SfN meeting, all happy to be there and presenting a poster, when I was unsuspectedly descended upon by my undergrad mentor's "science enemy". This guy showed up at my poster and yelled at me for about half an hour. Shaken I told my PI, when he finally decided to show up, about the experience. He just shrugged and he said, "Oh him. I forgot to warn you about him, he's hated my guts for ten years." I guess that's trial by fire.

Fortunately I have no current nemeses that I know of. Well I do have one, but he's not really a scientific nemesis, just a regular one.

Jason Goldman
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Dude, now I want a nemesis. Who wants to be my science enemy?
antipodean

Guest Comment
She's in love with you but has all the emotional maturity of a 7 year old. Next time she'll push you down in a playground and call you smelly.

Seriously though, try not to engage with the personality disorders that seem to congregate in lab science. It's just not worth it.

Gerty-Z
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Jason, I'm not sure that you can request a sci-enemy.
DTL

Guest Comment
She still cited you, which should mean that you'll look better to other folks who haven't read her paper, because dude, you got cited!
Comrade PhysioProf

Guest Comment
The new approach is to put your paper in an open access journal with a rapid turnaround that exposes your work to search engines and provides article-level metrics (pageviews, bookmarks, downloads of the PDF, etc).

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You're shitting us, right?

GMP
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There will always be people who will actively dislike you for no good reason, it looks like you were lucky (or very amiable) not to have to deal with them much till now. Btw, you should totally be proud to have an enemy of your own making at your career stage. Envy is a form of flattery, really. I inherited a ton of enemies from my PhD advisor who was not exactly Mr. Popular; the guilt by association still lingers a little bit, but I am proud to report that, at long last, most of my nemeses are now mine alone! :) My favorite Sci Nemesis is a guy, we mostly politely avoid each other, although I definitely ask he not be a reviewer of anything of mine. He's a kind of ass who's quiet when another groups' PI is around, but if it's just students or postdocs he goes for the jugular (pick on someone your own size, asshole!). Plus he's rude to waiters and secretaries, and I cannot stand that.
Isabel

Guest Comment
Wow if she really is young-looking you were probably not the first to make that blunder and she must have tons of enemies! I think the envy angle is probably more likely.

In my previous career I was working with a really egotistical and manipulative dude (in a collaboration of was trying to extract myself from partially because he kept taking credit for my work) when he, without consulting me beforehand, hired a young woman to 'assist' me because he had an obvious crush on her. She was quite irritating (snobby and also manipulative) and not particularly talented so I ended up pretty cold toward her, though it wasn't really personal. I was just trying to extract myself from the situation - but it grew, mostly due to gossip behind my back, into a thing where we were "Queen bee" type enemies!

I gradually found out about all this later on, when, for example, I casually suggested inviting her to a party because I felt guilty about my previous coldness and was met with the surprised comment "I thought you two were arch enemies!" There seemed no way to put things straight so long after the fact especially as I didn't really want to hang out with her anyway. I am sure many people were left with the impression I was a jealous bitch threatened by this 'younger' woman. Dealing with people can be so frustrating!
Isabel

Guest Comment
rereading my comment I do sound like I was kind of mean to the worker who was hired, so I want to clarify that it was a side project for all of us and a very casual, very short term job for her, and she did quite well for herself not long afterward. We didn't even have that much interaction as I finally extracated myself from the situation around then, but I did keep running into her socially. And of course i was always at least polite. It was just so weird how this whole drama apparently developed in her and others minds and took on its own momentum. And the irony of being seen as being in some kind of queen bee competition with her over people I couldn't stand and was actually trying to get away from. I honestly think people are too quick to believe the worst about women sometimes.


Gerty-Z
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CPP makes a valid point.

Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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OK, this is amazing. The very excellent (and very naughty) Hectocotyli has alerted me to the existence of Smart Fingers, which allow you to accurately measure things with your fingers!!! Do you hear that, Science Enemy? No more need for awkward rulers!!

Thomas Joseph
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Gerty-Z said:
CPP makes a valid point.


Other than the one on the top of his head? ;)
Scicurious

Guest Comment
Those finger measurement things better stay in the lab, could be HIGHLY embarrassing (or awe-inspiring, I suppose) in the bedroom. :)

I have a science enemy too! I totally ADORED her work and cited her out the wazoo, and when I finally met her she came marching up to my poster to comment haughtily on my methods and whether or not my animals were in fact the RIGHT right age. At first I was all sad that with our similar interests we weren't immediately besties, but then I thought, you know, I always thought her discussion sections were juvenile, anyway. :)

Tideliar
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70mm...that's like 6 inches right?

Odyssey
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Tideliar said:
70mm...that's like 6 inches right?


For you Tideliar, yes.

Tideliar
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YES!

I always knew they were lying! HAHAHA, now I can go off and do manly things like wrestle whiskey and drink mountain lions!
slant

Guest Comment
A few years ago I made what will probably be my nemesis. It all started innocently. I just wanted to point out some literature that was relevant to his research. Ok, I was trying to subtly say that someone had kinda already done something very similar. Before I knew he was making thinly veiled dismissive comments about "not reading those kind of journals" or knowing much about "that kind of research". From there, it was on.

It is all very Jets and Sharks.
Eli Rabett

Guest Comment
Ha ha ha .... brought a ruler to your poster to measure your error bars

Amateurs. Digital metal vernier calipers. After you measure the error bars you stab the presenter with the pointed ends.

Candid Engineer
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She sounds like a winner. Ignore.

Gerty-Z
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Odyssey said: Tideliar said:
70mm...that's like 6 inches right?


For you Tideliar, yes.


How did you DO THAT??!?!? I am amazed by your technical prowess.

Gerty-Z
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never mind. I apparently did it, too. And then got kicked off the system for tripping the flood control system. WTF?

Tideliar
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@GertyZ, the catfish didn't complain >:)

oh, wait..what flood control..

sorry. Move along. Nothing to see here...

Brian Krueger, PhD
Duke University
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GertyZ is a BOT!!! Everyone back away while we do a Turing test :P

You get booted for a minute if you make more than 10 page requests in a 10 second period.
Dr. Feelgood

Guest Comment
I thought my Science Enemy was my friend when I was younger. I actually moved to the same institution as my Science Enemy as a senior faculty member hoping to put together a Program Project. However, when I arrived, I found he ran a creepy dysfunctional lab, that once I witnessed it, I couldn't possibly believe the data they produced was real. What a nightmare! Once he knew I was onto him, it was ON. He is always in a jab-fest with me. He came to my student's dissertation defense to ask a question about a paper she knew she didn't read that had little to do with her work. The assembled room of faculty and students gave him a look like he had just shat his pants. It was super sweet.

Alot of Science Enemies have real self-esteem issues. I don't understand it since I am such a fabulously warm and encouraging guy. However, if he ever talks to me the way he did to my student, I told him I would punch him in the mouth. So much for the Ivory Tower! :-)

Doc F

Tideliar
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GertyZ is a BOT!!! Everyone back away while we do a Turing test :P

You get booted for a minute if you make more than 10 page requests in a 10 second period.


Replicant! Where's ma gun!

However, if he ever talks to me the way he did to my student, I told him I would punch him in the mouth.

Me and you are gonna be firm friends!

chall
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wow, that sounds amazing (/ly strange) Dr Becca. My experience was not measuring my error bars, but when I approached the poster of the grad student from "the other group who did similar things that my grad work involved" he tore down his result section... (he had a poster that was assembled by various pieces of paper)... and then refused to show it to me.

That might have been fine (maybe he was scared?) but he and the other grad student from that lab then came over to my poster, took my hand outs and photographed in detail the whole poster "so they'd know what I did". I dunno, at the time it was absurd, epecially since there were tears involved when I asked why I couldn't see the results.... upsetting much?

Needless to say, I don't really get why some people have the energy to do certain things...
Janne

Guest Comment
Science enemy.. Sounds like a fun job! Smart uniforms, lots of dangerous gadgets, and a really cool Evil Scientist lair underwater, in a volcano or orbiting Earth. And you'd get to laugh maniacally and go "Simpletons! I'll show them all!" without people looking at you funny.

@Jason, you could hold open auditions for an enemy, perhaps?
Dr. Koshary

Guest Comment
Hysterical and, for your SE, truly embarrassing and self-demeaning. Keep publishing good work in short order, keep being an even-tempered and pleasant person in the face of her obnoxiousness, and you will have sweet, sweet revenge on this emotionally stunted creature.

FWIW, I almost always hear such stories about academics in laboratory sciences. Somehow my social science colleagues -- as much of a pack of looney-tunes as they can be -- rarely rise/sink to such absurd levels at big public occasions. (Around the department, I'm afraid, it's a whole other story.)

becca
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@ Dr. Feelgood- ya know, it's far more socially acceptable to punch someone in the mouth for how they talk to your student then how they talk to you. Of course, if your student was a woman it might have had a creepy misguided knight vibe, complicating matters. I think you should have pinned Science Enemy's arms and told your student to punch him in the face.

@ everyone- isn't there an iphone ap for measuring error bars by now? Somebody get on that STAT

I fully intent my science enemy lair to be underwater in a volcano that is orbiting the earth.

Will
UC Davis
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I feel bad for you son.  I have 99 problems but a science nemesis ain't one.

Great article!  I'm very happy that I have not had that happen to me yet!  Academics can be so weird.

The only thing that you can do, is go out and prove her wrong the only way that matters... with good science!!

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