Journalist Tom Chambers has kindly provided a list of ‘5 things you should know before dating a journalist‘. While some might consider this list THE WORST THING EVER and that it HAS to be a joke, I think it could easily be adapted to scientists….
So, you’ve been eyeing that smart, attractive scientist you’re lucky enough to know personally. You’re intrigued. Your scientist is smart, funny, confident. Visions of Louis de Broglie or Rosalind Franklin putting on their safety glasses and lab coats to come to do experiments with you runs through your head..
Who can blame you? Science is a sexy occupation.
But scientists aren’t like the bimbos you usually pick up at the bar. Nor are they the assholes you continually fall for. No, scientists are different beings (which is why you’re attracted to them in the first place), and you should realize — before jumping in — that this isn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill, boring, lame relationship you’re used to.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. We can figure things out. Understand, we’re paid to dig deep, find the secrets and wade through bullshit. We can pick up on subtleties, so what you think you are hiding from us won’t be hidden for long. Sure, we’ll act surprised when you eventually tell us you failed freshman biology in college — but we already knew.
We don’t take shit from anyone, so don’t lie to us or give a load of bullshit. We spend all day separating fact from fiction, listening to scientific supply sales reps and dealing with students’ bullshit. If you make us do the same with you, you’re just gonna piss us off. And don’t think we’ll be quiet about it. We’ll respond with the vengeance of an science blogger railing against some researcher’s recently-retracted paper — and we’ll enjoy doing it.
Just tell us the truth. We can handle it.
2. At some point, you will be a topic. For either a research project or blog post covering an area of research, something you’ve done or said will be the motivation. Get over it. Consider it a compliment, even if we’re arguing against you in print.
Think about it: we live our lives doing and writing about science. If you’re a part of our life, we’re going to do science on or scientifically write about you, your thoughts or a subject springing from one of the two.
Don’t be upset when an argument against your adoration of homeopathy turns up on our blog. We’re not directing the writing at you, personally — your ignorance was just our inspiration (there, doesn’t that make you feel better?).
3. Yes, we think we’re smarter than you. In fact, we know it. Does that smack of ego? Absolutely — but that confidence is what makes your heart go pitter-patter.
We have a strong, working knowledge of how the world works. That makes us great in conversation. We can delve into the intricacies of scientific laws, national and international research, where to find the good instruments, what’s happening with science fiction, what the good gamers are playing and more.
But there are pitfalls.
Guaranteed, when you say “evolutionary psychology” we will automatically say “bullshit” — “evolutionary psychology” is not science. We’re not trying to call you dumb (even though you don’t understand basic science), it’s habit. The same will happen when you say “causation” when you mean “correlation”.
We carry ourselves with a certain arrogant air. Embrace it (that’s what attracted you to us in the first place, after all). Don’t be surprised if we’re not impressed when you say, “I’m a scientist, too.” No, you are not. The fact that you sit in a coffee shop wearing @ThinkGeek t-shirts while reading @sciam does not make you a scientist. Nor does the fact that you “did some experiments in college” or that one day you want to “find a cure for the common cold.”
Look, we’re paid to do science. Every day. What’s more, our science matters. It changes opinions, affects decisions and connects people with the world around them.
We’re not spewing our data or trying to fabricate an aura of creativity. We study the real world — with real consequences.
Our research papers goes through three or four cranky editors who make us revise it before it’s printed a few hundred thousand times and distributed all over the world. You don’t do that unless you’re confident, even egotistical.
You may have some great notebook entries, scientific questions and rudimentary research ideas — good for you. Just don’t assume we’ll accept that as on par with what we do (unless you’re really hot, then hell, you’re a better scientist than I).
4. You’re not less important than the job — the job is just more important than anything else. One doesn’t become a scientist to sit in an office from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.
We do take our work home. If science is happening, we’ll drop whatever we’re doing — even if it’s with you — to study it. We’re always looking for fundable research ideas, so yes, we’ll stop on the street to write something down, interview grad students or gather information for a grant.
On that same note, don’t get upset if you call us on grant deadline suggesting some afternoon nookie and we say, “I’ve got to put the paper to bed first.” That could mean hours from now, but we’ll have plenty of time to put you in bed later.
5. You won’t be disappointed. Scientists are intense, driven, passionate folk. We carry those same attributes into our relationships, making it an extremely fun ride well worth the price of admission. Our lives are never boring and each day is different.
If the pitfalls are scaring you away, consider this:
The fact that we’re inquisitive means we’ll listen to you. Even if it does seem like an interview, we’re paying attention to what you have to say (see rule No. 1).
We’ll write about you or your thoughts because you’re an important part of our life and we care about you (see rule No. 2).
Our brains are a great resource. Ever go on a date with an attractive person and wind up wishing you hadn’t because everything they say is just, well, stupid? That’s not going to happen here (see rule No. 3).
Yes, it may seem that we put the job ahead of you, but we’re driven. You’re not with that loser whose life is going nowhere and who’s completely content being mediocre (see rule No. 4).
There you go, five things you should know before dating a scientist. Feel free to add to the list, point out where I’ve missed something or leave a comment.