The phrase originated in the episode “In the Cards” of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The man who states it comes across as being something of an oddball, and is decidedly outside of the norm for scientists. His ideas are derided, and he maintains that the establishment is out to get him, adding paranoia to his already odd personality.
The thing is, I get him. I’ve never been an “inside the box thinker.” I come at problems from a perspective decidedly different from my colleagues. I do have some colleagues that appreciate and understand my approaches, but they are in the minority and never in the upper echelons. Like me, it seems their ideas and approaches are not appreciated by the orthodoxy.
I can’t help but think that this stifles innovation. How can there be new ideas, new ways, and true progress when certain people and ideas are shut out?
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m complaining like the character from DS9. Maybe I’m too far outside of what is normal, and I’ll never fit in. So I think I need to relocate myself to find people more like myself. When that happens, I’ll be within a new orthodoxy.