Why a promising experimental result is like a new boyfriend.

There may have been others before you, but I can you tell this time is different. You won’t deceive me, and what I’ve found in you will be true. You won’t be like the others, who raised my hopes and had me planning for a future together. A future that was never realized. The follow-up experiments that were never performed, the papers that went unwritten.

And I admit it. It was my fault.

Prematurely, I placed significance on relationships that were new and uncertain, that hadn’t yet been tried and tested. I did this because I wanted so badly for each one to work out. My heart swelled at the slightest suggestion of a correspondence between my deepest hypotheses and desires and my experimental results. I wanted to find meaning in it all, to know that all of the time and effort I had invested in the lab wasn’t in vain. That my work would lead me to that feeling of discovery that happens when you find the right one. The one who opens your eyes to new possibilities and forever changes the course of your thesis project.

But I’m not a first year graduate student anymore. I guess you can say I’ve built up my defenses. I don’t fall so easily. They say that love is blind, and you know what – it’s probably best that the experimenter is too.

Still, that didn’t stop me from getting butterflies the first time I saw you. But this time I kept my cool. I took my time getting to know you. I checked that you were consistent, saw how you behaved in different conditions. I made sure that you’d stick around before I ran to tell my labmates about you. And now I can say that I think I’ve found the real deal. This relationship looks like it’s too significant to fail.

My n is high and my p value is low, and this time, baby, I think we’re going to make it.

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