They walk among us.
I’ve met too many grad students out there who are very interested in whatever anyone else is working on, asking friendly questions to get to know classmates. Or rather, to get a grasp on what their classmates think, while never revealing their own thoughts.
This is what I’d call academic vampires, people who soak up the positions, theories, and expertise of their peers, only to reformulate them and take them on as their own. I’ve known several peers in the past who spoke with me to discuss a thinker I work in, only to later hear them mention my same claims in conversation with others without ever reading that initial thinker.
While I argue against developing a sense of impostor syndrome in academia, there are nevertheless impostors who cultivate a fraudulent rapport.
The types of academics who cannot formulate an argument of their own, but look instead to others to give them ideas.
It’s hard to sniff out these vampires until it’s too late, but I’m ever wary of anyone who asks probing questions about what I’m working in.