I’m in a doctoral program. It’s a highly specialized road to travel, and there’s no single thing that brought me here. But I can point out one specific person who is most responsible for sending me down this path. Every year for the past five years, I have returned to his class to give a lecture on the basics of perception. It’s a fun, slapdash sort of talk where I get to cherry pick all the most interesting research from cognitive science and make a case before my audience. Kind of like Malcolm Gladwell.

The first time I put the talk together I wondered how I’d fill an hour and twenty minutes. Now I have the opposite problem. Should I maybe split this into two separate lectures? Unfortunately I’ll never have a chance to find out, as the professor in question will likely be retiring at the end of the year.

About halfway through this year’s lecture I digressed to tell an old joke. It begins, “What’s the difference between plagiarism and research?”

“Lipstick,” interjected the professor.

I’m really going to miss him.

(And if you really want to know the difference between plagiarism and research, it’s this: in plagiarism you steal from one person, whereas in research you steal from a lot of people.)