The seven ages of the scientist

At the beginning of my talk the other day, I showed a slide that I’ve often used throughout my career: the “seven ages of the scientist”: that is, the various activities we engage in as our career progresses from our Ph.D. to our dotage. I usually put an arrow next to the stage I’m at when I give the talk (I’m currently at stage 7).

I’m often asked for copies of that slide (in fact, a commenter requested one here), so I reproduce the latest version of the text.  Steal it and alter it if you want!

This melancholy career path is drawn, of course, from Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage” speech spoken by Jaques in As You Like It (if you haven’t read it, click the link: it’s wonderful).

The Seven Ages of the Scientist

  1. As student, listens to advisor give talk on student’s own work
  2. As postdoc, gives talks about his/her own work
  3. As professor, gives talks about his/her students’ work
  4. Talks and writes about “the state of the field”
  5. Talks and writes about “the state of the field” eccentrically and incorrectly—always in a self-aggrandizing way.
  6. Gives after-dinner speeches and writes about society and the history of the field
  7. Writes articles about science and religion

Right before my talk, my friend David Hillis (a systematist) noted that there should be a stage 8: “blogs about science and religion.” But of course that doesn’t apply to me since I do not “blog.”

23 Comments

  1. CarlosT
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne: blogging denialist?

    • Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of the MST3K episode where Tom Servo crankily corrected the others every time they said “comic book” instead of “graphic novel”.

  2. Dave
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the intent of this post is not lost on me but I must take issue with what you wrote in the lead in: “… as our career progresses from our Ph.D. to our dotage”

    I have an MS in chemical physics and I am the CTO at a well known tech company. Even without the PhD, I work, act, think like, and consider myself a scientist and so do my colleagues. And I would say that, after many years’ observation, a PhD does not necessarily a scientist make – in some case, far from it! Harrummph! 🙂

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      + 1 😉

  3. JTrentadue
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    “…I do not ‘blog’.”

    You’ve posted fashion updates(05/20/11), things you’d eaten (3/16/11), and funny videos about cats (no citation necessary).

    That’s about as bloggy as it gets. Sorry.

  4. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    ‘that doesn’t apply to me since I do not “blog.”‘

    I concur with earlier comments: MAN, are YOU in an Egyptian river …

    There are certain activities that I truly enjoy, but that have long lists of expressions for them, that I REALLY don’t like.
    But to say that “I do not “?
    No! Just no.

    And, once more, the instructions in your “other-word-for-blog”-s left hand column refer to this “other-word-for-blog” as … blog! (“Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog …”)

    Come on .. be strong .. join us in the 21st century .. you can do it .. say it:

    “Hi, my name is Jerry, and I blog”.

    You’ll feel relieved afterwards…

    (And no worries: I know the boundaries: I’ll never make you twit, or whatever that is called)

    All together now:

    H I .. J E R R Y …

    • Jack van Beverningk
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      Oops .. I know better than to use ‘less than’ and ‘greater than’ symbols …

      Somewhere I meant to say:
      But to say that “I do not [nasty-word-for-otherwise-pleasurable-activity]“?

  5. Dawn Oz
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    I assume your tongue was firmly in your cheek, or a petard has just been hoisted. 😉

  6. zackoz
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Can’t resist quoting this. Does it apply to scientists?

    “Seven Ages: first puking and mewling

    Then very p**sed-off with your schooling

    Then f**ks, and then fights

    Next judging chaps’ rights

    Then sitting in slippers: then drooling.”

    — Robert Conquest

  7. Dominic
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Awww! Cheer up! We still love you!

  8. Sven DiMilo
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    You do not blog?

    um

    keep on websitin’ then, I guess…

  9. Marta
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    It’s just the word that’s bothersome.

    Reading or hearing the word “moisten” makes me think “ewww”.

    • Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:25 am | Permalink

      Now you’ve got me thinking it too! NOoooooooOo!!

      • Marta
        Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:30 am | Permalink

        I KNOW. What is it about that word?

        • EdinAnn
          Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          We have had family discussions of our least favorite words. My adult son cannot bring himself to say “moist”. (My husband detests “tawdry”, the etymology of which I find fascinating.) At any rate, guess which English word seems to be universally detested by women? Sorry to go off topic here.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

            Don’t leave us hanging! :- )

  10. stvs
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    JC is just aarping when he blogs cranky posts about blogging and tweeting.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

      Betcha we outvote you, sonny! 😀

  11. Jimbo
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    “I do not ‘blog'” – Jerry Coyne

    Uh, sure. Updates about your travel, culinary tastes, places to eat, your interests in science and scientific debates, discussions of high profile research papers in biology, philosophy, favorite music and artists (including best of lists), cats and cat humor, world news, atheism and its influence…

    Okay…maybe you haven’t “tweeted” but you definitely blog. The blog definition found at Wikipedia describes your site perfectly and I’m surprised they don’t have your picture in the right hand column.

    • Sal Bro
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      I’m surprised they don’t have your picture in the right hand column.

      Does anyone know the folks at LulzSec? They could fix that for us.

  12. Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Jerry just logs his thoughts on the web. A sort of “weblog” if you will. It has nothing to do with blogging.

  13. Diane G.
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Y’all don’t know what you’re risking, arguing with Ceiling Cat!

    (^^need lolcat translation)

  14. Posted June 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Erm, what about the stage where scientists actually do experiments and all that good stuff??? 🙂


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Coyne, on The seven ages of the scientist: Right before my talk, my friend David Hillis (a systematist) noted that there should be a stage 8: […]

  2. […] Link to original blog post. […]

%d bloggers like this: