I recently sat down with a trusted confidant and went over my statement of purpose and personal statement. Although the overall message and commentary was positive, what I realized was that I needed to metaphorically pull myself from the sky and back to earth. In other words, a head-shrinking was in order. My topics were far too lofty to be accomplished in half a decade.

As I continue to procrastinate from writing by asking this question, I wonder how can one ground themselves as they move forward in their graduate education and post-graduate career.

In times past, I've came across a blog post by a computer scientist who has made great work into the field of medicine and bioinformatics despite not having a medical background, all in effort of finding a diagnosis and cure for his child's disease. But I cannot find it.

Found it, thanks Nat!

But what the post doesn't address is a means of pointing out the flaws of a given bias, in the day to day events of life.

How do we keep ourselves humble as researchers and intellectuals?

  • 6
    Experience has a way of doing this naturally. – user24098 Dec 9 '17 at 9:05
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    Going to talks is a great means of doing this. The number of times I've gone to a seminar or lecture by a professor/group leader/leading academic and thought how little I actually know is very high. – Eppicurt Dec 9 '17 at 9:55
  • @Nat Right on, exactly the person I was think of. Thanks! – Bluebird Dec 10 '17 at 0:42
  • @dan1111 Care to share an answer? It looks pretty empty at the moment... (perhaps it is impossible!) – Bluebird Dec 10 '17 at 4:07

Staying down to Earth is different from being humble. Having concrete, non-lofty goals is different from being humble.

The current academic environment does not encourage people to be humble, quite to the contrary. I am seeing many people whose career is built on preposterous grandeur.

What is different from being humble and a selling point is having a plan on how to make progress. If you have got lofty goals, fine, but then you better have a thought-through plan on how to make concrete progress in achieving your lofty goal.

Knowing what you are talking about will set you apart from the crowd that just emits shedloads of buzzwords.

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    I have upvoted this answer because of I, too, felt that the OP's assessment that "My topics were far too lofty to be accomplished in half a decade." is unrelated to whether or net they are humble about what they can and have achieved. – O. R. Mapper Dec 12 '17 at 8:35

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