With his dazzling wit, charm and handsome moustache, Groucho has an engagements calendar that would make the most sparkly socialite jealous. He therefore asks:
Should you ever turn down an invited presentation?
If being dead since 1977 isn’t enough to get you out of an awkward invited spot, I recommend you follow your own advice: I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. Not least because a conference full of sassy scientists would be a truly miserable affair.
If this isn’t enough to dissuade you, I recommend answering two questions: “Why am I being asked?” and “What’s in it for me?” before making a decision.
As a white, male American (albeit Jewish) the answer to the first is unlikely to be tokenism. Lucky you! If you hand-on-heart do not believe you were invited for the brilliance of your science, it seems likely that the convenors desire your presence in the pub afterwards. This is not necessarily a negative.
As to the second question, if none of the following options are valid, I really would recommend you decline. Valid reasons to accept may include: it’s an excellent holiday destination; I really want to go to the pub with the convenors; I’m bursting to share my science (really?!); and it’s not going to cost me anything.
If the convenors tell you all exposure is good, they’re lying and have probably already asked everyone else in their contacts list. No one remembers the invited presentation after the first pint.
I hope this truly cynical checklist emboldens you to think critically about your future RSVPs. And never forget to enjoy the ego boost, even if you do decline.
The Sassy Scientist
PS: This post was written as procrastination instead of the presentation I was stupid enough not to decline.