Thursday, 9 September 2010

"I really wouldn't recommend doing evolutionary psychology. I mean, there is no money behind evolutionary psychology research," the female professor said.

At that moment there was quite an instinctive urge to shove a middle finger into her face, but of course I replied matter-of-factly, "but it's not because of money that I'm keen to pursue research in evolutionary psychology."

"Oh, er, yes of course," she stammered as she attempted to salvage what was the deteriorating impression I had of her in my mind, "we shouldn't be pursuing academics and research because of the money, and I wasn't trying to say that either. It should really be about our interests. But I'm just saying that there's no demand for something like evolutionary psychology out there."

My stand on evolutionary psychology is defensible, but I didn't bother because that wasn't the point (evolutionary psychology is just one out of the many academic means to my own ultimate interests in knowledge and academia). Further, based on my experiences with people, there really isn't a point in arguing with people when they come from very opposing points of view and are emotional or dogmatic (or even ignorant) about their stand.

I also recall another case where the supervisor for my stint in entrepreneurial journalism had a rather prejudiced view against research/academic careers. When I told her that I love to write, which was why I'd signed up for the job, she said, "Yes, an interest in writing is one thing... But wouldn't you also want to learn something from these great entrepreneurs? Like perhaps business skills?" To which I replied, maybe, and one day I may become an entrepreneur, who knows? But at the moment I have my sights set on postgraduate studies and hopefully I'll get to write my own books, linking things back to my writing interests. She then gave me a look and said, "But... Why would you want to do something like that?"

Or maybe she wasn't prejudiced but puzzled because it's rare to hear of such an ambition around here that is, well, so unambitious and unrealistic.

There's just something about the general perception of holding down an important, secure and useful finance or business job in Singaporean pragmatism and culture. But I guess I'm being too harsh on them, particularly the lady prof. She comes from the Business School of the World afterall.

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