Stay in a particular lab long enough and you’ll soon figure out who knows what they’re doing and the ones that truly don’t. You know, the dangerous ones, the ones who are inadvertently sabotaging not only their own work, but yours too, if you’re not careful. (In fact, they may even turn out to be a lab gremlin.)
In my mind, there’s an easy way to figure out if someone can do lab work properly. I’m talking about just the basic wet lab stuff in this case, not math/statistics for instance, since that’s a whole other can of worms. (And we all know scientists are crappy statisticians.)
The secret to figuring out if a scientist is actually a good scientist is whether or not they can cook. Why? Lab work (or at least the kind I do on a daily basis) is essentially cooking. But instead of getting yummy food at the end of it all, you get “data”. Which is not yummy nor eatable, which might be why grad students are hungry all the time.
I have anecdotal evidence to support my hypothesis: I have noticed that all the bad scientists always bring crappy/store bought food to potlucks. Furthermore, I like recipes because they’re just like protocols (written procedures outlining how to do an experiment). Also, recipes are more well written compared to protocols in most cases.
I would make everyone coming into my hypothetical lab do a basic cooking test. I would write the recipe – it would be a detailed standard operating procedure containing everything you could possibly need to know of course. All the equipment (oven, fridge, unicorn apron, etc.) and ingredients would be provided by me and so there wouldn’t be a question of things being calibrated or expired. Also, I’d be judging you on how (or whether) you kept the kitchen clean and organized while you cooked. Whether you got to be a scientist in my lab would be entirely up to the decision of my test buds. For a particularly important position, I’d insist on you making three batches of the recipe (for a nice n=3).
As such, next time someone insists that they are right – and it’s because of “SCIENCE” – I urge you to ask them if they know if the scientist in question can boil an egg.