At Xconomy, Luke Timmerman has words of wisdom for people in the small biotech world: "Never back smug". That's a quote from venture capitalist Bob More, and it rings true to me as well. Says TImmerman: ". . .it strikes me that life sciences has more than its share of spinmeisters, hypesters, smoke-and-mirrors actors, and worse."
Then there’s smugness, that arrogance or sense of superiority. Developing innovative new drugs or devices requires a strong ego, high IQ, stamina, an inspiring personality that attracts other people, and other things. Often, that combination spills over into smugness or arrogance. More says he watches for a lot of the same cues that his sister, a teacher, watches for. . .
I suspect that many readers will have encountered this trait (very occasionally) in their careers. There's a particular danger in the sciences, because (on the one hand) there's so much to know, that a given person does indeed have a good chance of knowing something that others don't. But on that inevitable other hand, this knowledge is set against a background of the huge, vast, pile of what we don't know - and if you keep that perspective, that knowing little smile just starts to look ridiculous.
And consider the audience - scientists, good ones, pride themselves on curiosity and being able to master new material. That means that "You don't have to know about that" or "Don't you worry about that, that's my department" (not to mention "Oh, you probably wouldn't understand") aren't going to get a good reception, not from anyone who could be of any help, anyway. Someone with that kind of attitude ends up driving away people who are smart, competent, and motivated - they won't put up with it.