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Academia (vs. Industry)

“The Smarter You Are, The More I Will Hate You”

I have just enough time today to link to this – which is simultaneously a nasty prank to pull on someone, and (for anyone who’s been to grad school), completely hilarious. A message went out over a mail server list in Europe, after a post-doc position in Germany had been posted. It, um, clarified the nature of the position:

I am desperately searching for eager victims – postdocs or PhD students – mine or other supervisors’ – to make my workhorses and to plunder ideas from. . .I cannot do research myself because I’m narrow-minded, rigid-brained, and petty. Therefore, I have to recruit desperate scientists from anywhere in the world and then manage (harangue) them into submission. The smarter you are relative to me, the more I will hate you. . .

It goes on in that vein for a while, winding up with the usual boilerplate legal language: “I am entitled to success because supremacy is my birthright”.. Read it, cast you mind back to your own grad student/post-doc days, and imagine the temptation to do the same!

35 comments on ““The Smarter You Are, The More I Will Hate You””

  1. RB Woodweird says:

    Man, Corey isn’t even trying to pretend anymore.

  2. K C Nicolaou says:

    How the hell did this leak?

  3. Leo Paquette says:


  4. Michael Krische says:

    At first I was a bit worried, but then I saw it came from somewhere in Germany.

  5. Erick Carreira says:

    Please, not another one of my letters shamelessly exposed to the glare of public scrutiny.

  6. Dieter Seebach says:

    Sorry Eric, it was mine, or did I plagiarize it, I can’t remember.

  7. Bionic Brothers says:

    Sorry guys, JJ La-Clair patented this years ago.

  8. Hasufin says:

    I once had this notion of going back to school; maybe getting a doctorate in bioinformatics. Seemed like a good idea.
    Then I dated a grad student.

  9. RD says:

    Ha! Try being a non-PhD working at a PhD level in a department full of PhDs suffering from PTSD. Get credit for your work? As if. The logic goes like this: “You don’t have a PhD. Therefore, this work is, by definition, not as good as ours but if it is, it’s only because someone in our group directed you or gave you the answer. But it really doesn’t matter because you will be gone in the next layoff. We don’t want upper management to get any ideas.”
    I’ve also heard, “You’re work would be taken more seriously if you had a PhD.”, like the right answer must come with a certificate of authenticity.
    Poor Michael Faraday once had to play valet and got dumped on for years before anyone took him seriously, not that we’re all Michael Faradays. Things never change.

  10. P. A.. Evans says:

    I am gonna find out who did this in my group!….Oh, wait, it is from Germany…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Could be a voice from the grave of Oppolzer??

  12. A. R. Katritzky says:

    What, no mention of Saturday morning group meetings?? What a slacker.

  13. The Ghost of Bill Johnson says:

    None of you pussies ever had one of your grad students pull a gun on you.

  14. Stuart Schrieber says:

    I forgot to add that I do give time off for you to do your laundry on Saturday nights. I will even rebate the quarters on the dryer cycle to get you back in lab expidiciously

  15. Barry Trost says:

    Ahhh, a chip off of the old block…..

  16. GreedyCynicalSelfInterested says:

    You make a very important point as to why science is a crappy career. Even if you escape the graduate school ordeal, you find yourself working in a “class-based” environment where you are first judged on whether you have a Ph.D. and then where you got it if you do have one. It’s an unending intellectual pecker contest that I want no part of.
    If the government did not subsidize the exotic and esoteric hobbies of academics, there would be many fewer victims.
    I still have nightmares about graduate school and my postdoc even though I started graduate school more than 20 years ago.

  17. Non PhD in R&D says:

    @ 9 and 16
    How about a big glass of Quit Your Bitchin. If your sht was that good, you would be taken seriously.

  18. Non PhD in R&D says:

    @ 9 and 16
    How about a big glass of Quit Your Bitchin. If your sht was that good, you would be taken seriously.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Holy Jorge Cham, Batman!

  20. Bartosz Grzybowski says:

    What! How the hell did this get out?! You think you’re going to steal my ideas now!? You second-rate losers shouldn’t have time to write this stuff anyways, get back to work! I will, will…. (FOAM)

  21. Elias J. Corey says:

    I think you will find I personally wrote this about myself some 30 years ago. I didn’t at the time think it important so I did not publish it.

  22. Dieter Seebach says:

    Don’t forget to put my name on the (stone) paper when you get round to sharpening your chisel.

  23. Adolf says:

    You chemists are crazy.

  24. Fritz Haber says:

    Hey Adolf how you doing these days?

  25. E.J. Corey says:

    I forgot to put in the part about my traffic light, sorry.
    Also, @RBW – let’s get together and talk about those orbital symmetry rules I invented…

  26. Dalibor Sames says:

    Qualifications: Please have a good sense of creativity, and a good understanding of ethics and legal documents

  27. Dalibor Sames says:

    Also, an attractive countenance won’t do harm (if you know what I mean). Get consistently good yields and I promise we will go over your figures together…

  28. Sam Danishefsky says:

    This letter contains thoughts very close to my own but I would add one more important admonition; looking up the chemical literature and reading papers for your next experiment is not considered part of your workday. You do that on your own time, that’s what evenings and weekends are for.

  29. Phil Baran says:

    You oldies are crazy! That much exploitation. Look at my group, we do not have seminars on Saturday…………………………..evenings………………………………………from 9 to 10 PM

  30. Alois Fürstner says:

    Well, don´t look at me! I am from Austria, Am I? Am I?

  31. Phil Baran says:

    And every knows the campaign medals and combat helmets are just ironic, right? Right?

  32. S. L. Buchwald says:

    I on the other hand, I urge my servants to take vacation. I find this a necessity for creative ideas to take credit for. Now get back to your hood.
    PS. Hilarious comment thread.

  33. Easy solution says:

    I would assume that most of these comments come from PhDs, many still holding to their well paid jobs in Pharma, Agro etc. I bet some of you can also make hiring decisions.
    Now, if doing a PhD, with say EJ Corey, is such an exploitation of young Einsteins that come up with all these Nobel-winning ideas, then why industry doesn’t hire all these geniuses at the BSc level, or even MSc, pay them a decent salary and have them do their magic?
    The last time I checked, big (and small) Pharma would rarely hire top-notch PhDs, unless they had at least a couple of years postdoctoral experience.
    So put your wallet where your mouth is!

  34. Terry says:

    it sucks, in china we dont do this!

  35. Terry says:

    it sucks, in china we dont do this!

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