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These Are the People at Your Departmental Seminar
If you're a scientist and go regularly to your seminars you will probably understand this post. If not, you may just enjoy it as well. RPM at Evolgen posted an article about the different types of people you'll find sitting in these talks... It's absolutely hilarious, consider reading the original post and especially the comments! Here are a few examples I liked most:
- The nodder: This guy affirms every part of the talk with a nod. The background information -- he gets it. The data -- he gets it. The conclusions drawn from arm waving and rampant speculation -- he gets it. In reality, he's just trying to show off how smart he thinks he is. With every nod, he's saying, "Look at how smart I am. I understand all this stuff. Do you? I bet you don't."
- The pisser: This guy finds one tiny, miniscule, insignificant point and asks a long drawn-out question about it. Unlike the critic, who asks intelligent questions that get at the underlying assumptions and theory of the work at hand, the pisser is just taking a piss.
- The grand advertiser: No matter how unrelated, insignificant, and uninteresting this guy's research is, he'll find a way to link it to the topic of the seminar. And no one will give a shit.
- the Master -- the senior professor who sleeps through the entire seminar, wakes up for the Q&A, and makes a single comment that demolishes the whole talk.
- the very emeritus professor that sits in the front row and asks a confusing off-topic question, which, after an awkward pause, is graciously humored because everyone is too polite to embarass him publicly.
- the Disrupter? The person who comes in late, no matter what time the seminar is at, and in the process of finding a seat, encounters at least two of the following issues: 1) squeaky shoes, 2) running into chair/desk/person, 3) locked door, thus knocking at door to gain entry, 4) louder than necessary whispering to clear a path to chosen seat (middle of row, near front of room), 5) noisy unpacking/settling (because this person has brought a laptop, a coffee, and some papers to read)
- The Stretcher, who starts to raise their hand to ask a question but then has second thoughts, thinking, for example, that their question might have been answered in the introduction, which they missed because they came in late (see Disrupter) or weren't paying attention (see Pre-schooler/Rookie), so they then just abort mid-hand-raise and pretend to stretch and/or scratch at their suddenly itchy scalp.
- The Punctuality Police, who 1) shakes their head in disgust at people who come in late, and 2)thinks a special level of hell is reserved for speakers who go over the allocated time. In severe cases, when the second hand reaches the moment that the seminar should have ended, they might even stand up noisily and stomp out.
- The Paradigm Shift Hawk, who asks "so, are you saying that [insert outrageous claim that is far beyond the speaker's stated conclusions]?
- The Rehashers: Two or more tenured professors who use the question/answer session after the talk to re-hash an old debate that they had in an unrelated seminar 3+ years ago. They will draw the attention of the audience members who will either think that there was some profound scientific debate that they missed out on or think that the Rehashers are stroking their egos.
- the Jargonizer: the person who absolutely must throw out the most obscure/irrelevant bit of jargon as part of the question. My two faves that I recall:
1) Would you say that this work can serve as a heuristic?
2) Could you offer us a pre-Hegelian example that contrasts your position?
- The Jiggler: Consumes a 2 liter of coke or entire pot of coffee during the day leaving him with a horribly twitching leg that quickly matches the resonate frequency of an entire row of chairs.
- the Note Taker? These are generally first year grad students who have no clue what the talk is about but fervently jot down everything on the slides just in case they can use any of the information later on.