When people think of scientists I think they picture a school teacher, in a lab coat, with messy hair, but as someone who generally just knows a lot about science! When in reality a scientist is really more like a philosopher, they really don’t know anything but are striving to find reasons, relationships and facts.
People think that as a scientist I should be smart, this depends on how you interpret smart! My overall general knowledge is not great, my english is shocking, I can barely spell. I know almost nothing about history or politics. My subject range is very very narrow, I’m knowledgeable about a single few species, and its not even like I know everything about them. I’m not a cell biologist or geneticist, my physics and chemistry are very basic, I would describe myself as more of a photo-physiologist and environmental biologist. Even then my knowledge range is limited, yes I know how to calculate certain parameters and use a range of equipment, but give me a piece of equipment of a different brand and I would probably struggle. It takes years to get to that point where you can comfortably see the relationships and patterns instantly and feel like you actually know what you are doing. Science is an impossible task! Life involves so many parameters and it is impossible to account for every eventuality. I think luck plays a big part, you may get lucky and get it right, identify that identifying cause with certainty.
A PhD is not about changing the world, it is highly unlikely that you will actually discover anything new. It is more a path to find yourself, its about learning to ask the right questions and although you may not necessarily find them during the course, it gives you the frame of mind, a taste of the scientific world. It is a test to see if you are cut out for the life of a scientist because as I said, science is a life choice!