Two weeks ago, I came back to the US after my holiday trip to Germany and France. This moment when you stand in front of the frosty immigration officer who makes you press all your fingers onto the dirty glass of the fingerprinting scanner, takes a webcam photo of your travel-exhausted face, and then scrutinizes your papers. This moment alone always makes me feel like an illegitimate intruder. But of course, it always goes well for me. This last time the immigration officer, still with her poker face on, noticed that my visa would run out in 3 months. Yes, I said hurriedly, I need to reapply. Ever wondered why they make you do this, the officer asked. I looked at her, slightly alarmed. To make a shitload of money out of you, she said, looked up, and smiled a friendly smile. I also smiled, relieved. We both laughed, and that is how I re-entered the United States of America.
Criticism, and how to (not) do it has been a hotly discussed topic. For example, there is a very useful three-point guide by Uri Simonsohn how to handle criticism in a civil way. If you do science, you will be criticized at some point and you will have to criticize others. After all, our whole peer review system hinges on picking out all that might be wrong. Not everyone knows how to give and handle feedback, actually, and it’s really very hard sometimes (and this is for example an integral part of science woman’s origin story). Some people might spend their whole scientific career never learning anything about being constructive, be it as recipient or criticizer. Continue reading Critical culture