Science Stereotypes -5- Challengers


The challengers can stay hidden for quite a while at conferences or institute seminars. They will sit quietly trough most of the talks; but while have intermittent and impulsive needs to provoke speakers.

  • They will ask questions in such a way that it makes the speaker look like a 5th-grader, or like a incompetent abuser of taxpayers money.
  • They will typically revoke the entire data set on the basis that they ”just don’t believe it”, or that the contribution to the field is just as high as the latest season of  “America’s Next Top Model”.
  • The challenger might also interrupt you every 20 seconds during your poster talk, or interrupt you discussions to challenge you on very detailed technical questions about your experiments.

How to deal with them ?

The fact that they might lack basic manners, courtesy, and diplomacy, does not mean you should loose those qualities. Try to stay professional, composed, and logical. Especially if you’e answering one of their weird questions, statements, or opinion in front of a larger audience. You don’t wont to look like a jerk as well.


Science Stereotypes -4- Loners

Loners constitute an other crowd present at any science event, and like the celebrities, and raising stars, they are quite easy to spot.


  • They generally stand alone in corners or secondary rooms
  • They play games on their phones when everyone else is socializing or hanging out at the coffee break
  • They might give awkward glares
  • They might try to form a little group of loners at some point

This is harsh, but nobody notices them, knows their names, or even really wants to. I believe science attracts and somehow selects for people with poor or akward social skills, so it’s better to get used to them.

As a nice person, you can make a communication attempt by reaching out to them with a basic conversation opener : “The coffee taste so bad here, no ?”, “How boring was that last talk ?”, “Hey, where do you come from ?”, “May I borrow your pen ?” … bla bla bla. Despite all the efforts, please do realize that it will still probably result in a 5-minute conversation with lots of awkward silences and little eye contact.