I personally favor the "ideas are welcome from anyone" approach. It has served me well, both in science and in my past career in the Navy. I was very senior in the Navy -- one of the most hierarchical organizations around -- yet if the lowest E1 had a better idea of how to do something, I wanted to hear it.
Isn't this an ideal or at least a more effective personnel management style i.e., you increase productivity by encouraging cooperation and collective effort, recognising individual contributions and not stifling initiative and resourcefulness from each member of the group?
I'm not saying that everyone's equal (not in an imperfect world) but one doesn't need to feel that s/he's just a mindless drone whose opinions don't count. If one has concerns, they shld be addressed and the person must be allowed to argue their case instead of being ignored, shut out or put down just bec as in this case, they're only techs or newly starting students. And then the PI won't even defend or at least explain his decision not to investigate a different direction, what for, why waste the time? This is probably not ejim's case and yes, we only have his side of the story but his concern is real that's why he asked those questions.
I know George doesn't like entitlement since he considers science as a kind of mental sports wherein one must be able to defend or fight for their ideas....but in this case, what? not when you're just a lowly tech or newbie in the lab? So there's no choice but to accept their lot and how to improve it without the support of the PI? Or this basic requirement of being a good team player is just a joke?