Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There's no right answer

When a famous person in your discipline asks you what your thesis topic is and on hearing the reply says, "I find that stuff really confusing. I don't think I entirely understand it", it puts you in a difficult position.

On the one hand, I have this maxim that kicks in automatically and says that if someone (especially someone who I know is smarter than me) says they find something difficult, then it's only polite to agree with them.

On the other hand, there's a little voice in my head that says it might be a bad thing to sound like you don't have a clue about your own thesis material.

So while these two principles battled it out in the back of my mind, I stood there with my mouth half open and no words coming out. Finally I managed a faint, "Grkgh".

Which was, you know, so much more impressive than any of the other possible responses.

1 Comment:

Stellar_muddle said...

The best one I had was at a drinkies at the Staff Club with the attendees of a conference. The person next to me in a group of about 8 people asked me what my thesis was on and what I had found. Across the circle was the person who had hired me for this job and 2 people around was the person who probably fell asleep on his flight back to Canada while marking my (then newly submitted) thesis. I think I managed to sound vaguely cohearant on the subject but I couldn't be certain.