You may have heard of the Myers-Briggs
personality test. I remember taking a self-administered version several years ago, but I don't remember what type I turned out to be.1
This isn't a test, but Virginia Hughes has taken some of the same ideas and identified four types of scientists
- The Data-Driven Nerd
- The Theory-Driven Nerd
- The Data-Driven Adventurer
- The Theory-Driven Adventurer
I wish I could say that I was one of the data-driven types, but the way the types are defined they don't fit me at all. Data-driven scientists in this view of the world are those who generate
a lot of data. I get a kick out of analyzing
data and discovering patterns, but I'm pretty much a klutz when it comes to generating it.2
So that leaves me to pick between nerd and adventurer. Here are the descriptions:Theory-driven nerd:
These are big-thinking intellectuals who build systems and make
wide-sweeping hypotheses. They love giving long keynote lectures at
scientific conferences. They listen to classical music in their rich
mahogany offices while writing up their papers, in which they're likely
to quote philosophers or drop in bad poetry.Theory-driven adventurer:
They're problem-solvers, multi-taskers, broad thinkers. They love
showing off their skills and playing with big, impressive toys.
Journalists like labeling them as 'rebels' and, especially,
I don't listen to classical music when writing my papers,3
and I don't have a rich mahogany office,4
but I think it's pretty clear I'm more of a nerd than an adventurer.
Which type of scientist are you?