16 November 2012

When you hear "correlation" at the barbecue place

It's funny what words you associate with your job.

While I was Li'l Red's Cookin' last night, trying to decide what to have, I heard a woman at the table scross the aisle - not quite opposite mine - say "correlation." And I immediately started paying attention. "Correlation" is not the sort of word that comes up in everyday conversation for most people, but that academics say all the time.

I kept listening. I was curious just how "correlation" worked itself into the conversation.

And darned if it wasn't a set of people talking academic research. I wasn't able to make out everything, but I think the woman was a psychological researcher doing some research related to sexual harassment. There was talk about regressions, groups, editors, reviewers, and I sat there thinking, "These are my people." I just never expected to hear that sort of conversation in a barbecue place... when I wasn't involved in the conversation.

When the talk turned to evolutionary psychology, I was very, very tempted to walk over and start making comments. I repeatedly reminded myself that would have been rude.

But I lingered at my table much longer than I had to before I walked over to pay the cashier. Just to eavesdrop.

It is striking how recognizable academese is. It only took me one word to spot another member of the tribe.

(Incidentally, Li'l Red's is a great barbecue place.)

1 comment:

Ewan said...

Rude? Naah. I would totally have wandered over. There have been a couple of times at coffee shops in town where I've been talking diabetes and had someone introduce themselves - in one case it was the head of diabetes research at a neighbouring Uni :).