This job interview takes place sometime in future. A John Mather Nobel Scholar “Jim” has finished his Ph. D. and has applied for a most coveted job. In due course he is called to an interview.


INTERVIEWER: Jim, great to meet you. Please have a seat. Can I get you a cup of coffee?

JIM: Great to meet you too. No coffee for me, thanks, I’m good.

INTERVIEWER: OK, so I have been going through your resume with interest. You truly have had a most accomplished student career – finest universities, straight A’s, scholarships all the way, awards, summer internships at impressive places. The letters of recommendation we have received on you are all superlative. You’re just the kind of person this organization is looking for.

JIM: Thank you. I am most interested in becoming a part of this organization.

INTERVIEWER: That’s good to hear. Now, there’s just one thing in your otherwise fabulous record that puzzled me a bit. I looked you up on the Internet and read about this John Mather Nobel Scholar thing you had won, although this is not included in your resume. Is this the same John Mather who has been exposed as the greatest science fraud in history?

JIM: Well .. er…

INTERVIEWER: Don’t be uncomfortable. I’m just trying to understand something about your thought process and decision-making process. At the time that you made a decision to apply for this, was there any indication that Mather is a science fraud?

JIM: Well .. er … not officially, no.

INTERVIEWER: So there was some indication unofficially?

JIM: It was just some crackpot agitating on the Internet. Otherwise Dr. Mather was held in the highest regard by the scientific establishment. He was constantly in the limelight – more so than any other Nobel physicists. He was seen with the most powerful leaders of the United States Congress. He was on such distinguished forums as the National Geographic, Smithsonian Institution and TIME Magazine. A professor who knows Dr. Mather called me into his office and strongly urged me to apply for this. My NASA Goddard internship supervisor who is a colleague of Dr. Mather wrote me a strong recommendation. And after I received the award, the Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese met with me personally and congratulated me.

INTERVIEWER: I see. What did the award consist of?

JIM: It’s the right to call yourself a John Mather Nobel Scholar, a photo-op with Dr. Mather, and a scientific travel grant of $3000.

INTERVIEWER: That’s not a lot of money. It’s not like something you could not find from other sources if you had a scientific meeting to go to. So your real motivation was not this money, right?

JIM: If you put it that way, yes.

INTERVIEWER: So the fact that you end up with the name of the greatest science fraud in history attached to you stems from your decision to glom on to a famous name at a time that name was placed in question?

JIM: Placed in question by a crackpot, I remind you.

INTERVIEWER: You might have a point there. You were a young student and you went with the scientific establishment view. No one would fault you for that. I certainly would not hold this against you.

JIM: (Appearing visibly relieved) Thank you. I am glad that’s all cleared up.

INTERVIEWER: Well, actually it is not. What concerns me is that you have omitted from your resume factual information that I should have had right in front of me. You could have then explained it. Instead you have hidden this from your resume. That’s the type of thought process and decision-making process I was talking about. The fraud itself is not at issue here. So thank you for coming in. Our HR Deaprtment will be in touch with you about what we decide.

JIM: (Hesitatingly) Just one question. If I had included this in my resume, how would you have reacted to that?

INTERVIEWER: That would depend on how you would have explained it. Actually, in my browsing the Internet I found that there was much more to the allegation of science fraud than just a crackpot agitating at the time you applied for this program. How would you have explained that?


The same scenario also applies to the AIP Mather Policy Intern Program.


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