A good portion of the population I regularly deal with seems utterly incapable of practicing the art of keeping a respectful silence (or at the very least, whispering). Perhaps it's a great failing of my own, but I require almost complete silence when engaged certain kinds of thinking and/or concentrating. The times when noise pollution clashes most frequently with my need for silence happen during research talks. Anyone who regularly attends such talks will surely know of whom I speak of: the few, the proud, the blatantly obtrusive.
Not surprisingly, my worst case scenario involves a pair (or more) of these decibel rebels planting themselves squarely in front of me. Once the chattering begins, it becomes pretty much impossible for me to focus on the presentation. Furthermore, I often observe others sitting nearby also shifting around uncomfortably, so I know I'm not alone with my frustrations. One might wonder if someone would speak up and ask for silence. Of course, the ones who would've been inclined to speak up are probably already blabbering away to begin with. It's indeed a bleak situation.
In years past, I've occasionally been guilty of such infractions as well, with the slight difference being that my bouts of chatting occurred during undergraduate class lectures rather than research talks. It's usually the case that I found the contents of that lecture rather mundane or obvious. And, of course, the instructor would typically have no problem getting me to shut up.
By and large, these offenders tend to be older (i.e., more senior), and seemingly oblivious of their environment. I suppose it's possible that these senior members of the research community are so brilliant and knowledgeable that they just don't feel the need to devote their full concentration on the materials being presented.
Oh well, sucks to be me.