Ken Pledger wrote: > As for the social situations, I doubt if it's possible to give a > serious answer in a short time. My standard ploy is to grin and say, > "Well, if everyone was good at it then I'd be out of a job." That's not > true, of course, but it rescues people from feeling threatened (or > disliking me).
Hmm.. What do you people think, are people threatened when you say to them that you are a researcher or a mathematician?
I am a relatively new doctoral student and I personally could never have imagined that to be the case. To me being a student reflects my interest over things, not some educational merit. However, I sometimes wonder how people actually feel about that.
For example, when I started a grant on my doctoral studies last year, a group of my friends started calling me a "doctor" everytime they addressed me on freetime. I didn't find it funny at all, but I handled it for some time as a bad joke. This continued for some time and didn't look like it was going to stop, despite the discreet hints I gave that I disliked it. Well, one day I finally got enough and told them to quit doing that for real. They did. But I still wonder the actual motivation to do that: you don't tell a bad joke multiple times, especially if the target doesn't find it funny. Could their motivation been that they felt threatened? Maybe..
I have another kind of story as well, maybe a bit funnier:) In a bar I told a newly met girl that it was interesting to me she being a paramedic. She answered, jokingly, "I wish I could say the same about mathematics.". Well, that's pretty much what others in this thread confirm, right:)
(Also, since she insisted me to describe my research topic, I told her how the succession from natural numbers to integers to reals to complex numbers allow to solve for increasingly harder equations. That was probably a bad idea and she didn't get it anyway. So I left out quaternions and Clifford algebras.)