"You either work at the bench, or you don't work at the bench."

1 minute read

Here's some timeless advice for anyone:

If you wish to be a prophet, first you must dress the part. No more silk ties or tasseled loafers. Instead, throw on a wrinkled T-shirt, frayed jeans, and dirty sneakers. You should appear somewhat unkempt, as if combs and showers were only for the unenlightened. When you encounter critics, as all prophets do, dismiss them as idiots. Make sure to pepper your conversation with grandiose predictions and remind others of your genius often, lest they forget. Oh, and if possible, grow a very long beard.

In this particular instance, it's from an article about biogerontological prophet Aubrey de Grey in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article has a short review of the recent Cambridge conference on Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. But mostly it's a profile.

And it's quite a profile, if you can suffer through some "Oh, please" moments describing his personal life.

This is my favorite part, although not the most entertaining:

One will not find Mr. de Grey in the laboratory hovering over petri dishes or test tubes. He readily acknowledges that he lacks the qualifications to perform experiments. What some might view as a handicap, he sees as a strength: Rather than spending his time behind a microscope, he reads the literature and searches for connections that a specialist may have missed.

Imagine that! And what does it get him?

Mr. [David] Finkelstein has little respect for Mr. de Grey's own research contributions. "I am very underwhelmed," he says. The fact that Mr. de Grey does not set foot inside a laboratory also bothers him: "Look, you either work at the bench, or you don't work at the bench," he says.