A colleague of mine was recently asked to help organize part of the program of a conference, and was asked to recruit someone to work with him on this. This colleague was specifically asked to find their "opposite".
THIS INTRIGUED ME.
It intrigued me for several reasons, not the least of which were the opportunities for making jokes like "So you're supposed to find someone who is very organized and answers their e-mail but is not very smart?". And so on.
Let's consider what the relevant variables are in finding one's opposite. In this case, owing to the specialized nature of the conference, field of expertise is not a major variable, although there is room for considering different researchers who use different primary research methods.
Gender? Should one program organizer be male and the other female? I know this is not actually as simple as it may seem, but for a start, should there be one of each?
Age? The colleague in question is middle-aged, so this leads to the options of finding someone who is very young or very old. Or is your opposite definitely a much younger person because, after a certain career stage (tenure), we are all old?
Geography? Is your opposite someone from a different continent (or at the very least, a different country)? This raises the question of whether one's home institution's location is the relevant variable or one's country of origin, or both.
Primary Research Method/Subfield? If you are a theoretician, should you get a lab person as your opposite co-organizer? And so on?
What else? If you were asked to find your "opposite" (in a professional context, but within your general research field), what would you consider?
Responses need not be entirely serious.
But, if you do consider only serious variables and come up with a list of people who fit the description of your opposite, how many possibilities are there? Many? A few? None?
2 months ago