In her inimitable style Ms.PhD of Young Female Scientist threw down some smack in a post entitled The Brainwashing of American Postdocs:
Among other things, I'm interested in why, when postdocs become PIs, they suddenly switch from "The system is flawed" to "The system is fine."
and in case you didn't quite grasp the point:
The logic goes:
The system is broken --> but the system likes me --> therefore, the system is not broken, because I refuse to admit I got my job based on knowing people and not on my scientific qualifications alone.
What a crock!
I'm willing to bet there are some new-ish and old-ish faculty in the biosciences who have always had rainbows and unicorns surrounding their scientific training and activities. I am also quite certain that most of these types think that the system is nearly perfect and that their relative success is a natural result of their inherent worth, talent and accomplishment. For them the system works and no doubt they are not shy about testifying to this. I doubt, however, that such people ever changed much throughout training and across the transition to independence.
That leaves the rest of us. Most of us, as MsPhD and other disgruntleblogger/commenters tend to forget, were disgruntled trainees. With many complaints and objections about our career system. Going by the evidence of my peers and the relative handful of PI bloggers about the net, MsPhD's contention that we somehow forget our roots is nonsense. Utter nonsense.
What happens, of course, is that as with most of life we gain perspective and information as we progress and mature. We can handle the apparently subtle distinction between prescriptive and descriptive analysis. We can manage the duality of simultaneously advising how to succeed within a system as it is found and advocating or working toward improving that system.
Nevertheless, MsPhD's point is well worth keeping in mind because it is entirely possible. Possible to sell-out and start endorsing and reinforcing exactly the same things to which one used to object merely because it is now convenient to do so. And by this I mean is personally advantageous at the expense of other people and/or the overall conduct of science.