Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Parable of the Experiments

14 For it will be like the advisor before a journey, who called his charges and entrusted to them his laboratory. 15 To one he gave five experiments, to another two, to another one, to each according to their ability. Then he went away.

16 The postdoc who had received the five experiments went at once and performed them, and she published two papers more.

17 So also he who had the two experiments performed them and published one paper.

18 But he who had received the one experiment searched the literature and found his advisor’s experiment already published.

19 Now after a long time the advisor returned and held group meeting once more.

20 And she who had received the five experiments came forward, bringing two publications more, saying, ‘Professor, you delivered to me five experiments; here I have made two publications more.’ 21 Her professor said to her, ‘Well done, good and faithful postdoc. You have been faithful over a little; I will call on my acquaintances to employ you. Enter into the favor of your professor.’

22 And he also who had the two experiments came forward, saying, ‘Professor, you delivered to me two experiments; here I have made one publication more.’ 23 His advisor said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful graduate student. You have been faithful over a little; I will bestow additional projects of promise. Enter into the favor of your professor.’

24 He also who had received the one experiment came forward, saying, ‘Professor, I knew you to be a hard advisor, being cited where you had no publications, and speculating where you had no data, 25 so I was cautious, and I further searched and found precedent in the literature showing your experiment would not bear fruit.’

26 But his advisor answered him, ‘You wicked and willful graduate student! You knew that I speculated where I had no data? 27 Then you ought to have read the literature and developed your own project. 28 So take the experiment from him and give it to him who has the two experiments. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and they will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’

30 And he cast the woeful student out of the laboratory with no recommendation. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

with apologies to Matthew

16 comments:

  1. How do you come up with these literary parodies (and how long does it take)? I think you managed to make a hilarious comparison without losing the message the passage originally meant to convey. This is brilliant.

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    1. Thank you. This one took about 30 minutes, and then ~5 months, and then 1 hour with the help of a capable editor.

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  2. That... rang a little too true. It's kind of like how animators don't make animations look too human-like or the viewer rejects them.

    What's the grad school version of Catholic guilt? ... PI shame?

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  3. Praise be to the Advisor.

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  4. From the same book: "... and I shall post--doc all the days of my life and dwell in a rented room forever."

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  5. I'm personally a little partial to Koans in this regard (see link in handle).

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    1. LOL. http://chemistrykoans.tumblr.com/

      (Very funny.)

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    2. These are entirely lost on me. What the hell am I reading?

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    3. What is the sound of one probe spinning?

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    4. "A Koan is a story, dialogue, question, or statement, which is used in Zen practice to provoke the 'great doubt' and test a student's progress in Zen practice."

      These are all based on Koans from the collection "The Gateless Gate"

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  6. This is brilliant! I do feel sorry for the poor student though, he meant no harm. Coincidentally, also how I feel about the bible passage. I feel like the parable should also include someone who actually tried, but still failed, and what the reaction to that would be.

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    1. But let each one test their own work, and then their reason to boast will be for them alone and not in the advisor. (Galatians 6:4) :-)

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  7. I have a feeling that the book of Job could too easily be adapted to graduate school...

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    1. @Rhenium - I can see a number of parallels, but who would be in the role of Satan? :)

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