Elephant in the lab series: common science excuses

In this Elephant in the lab series we discuss the most taboo topics in science.elephant in the room

Past Elephant in the lab examples include such pieces as the following:

Today we are talking about science excuses.

Remember, “My dog ate my homework”?

mouse ate my paper

What are the best or worst excuses that some scientists may use — or you have actually heard them using or you used yourself– when in a sticky situation?

Some examples follow. Please add more in the comments.

  • My mouse ate my paper
  • My PI told me to do that
  • My student did it.
  • My clone did it (watching too much Orphan Black)
  • I spilled coffee on my laptop
  • Was it wrong to reuse the same data without saying so?
  • We didn’t have money to actually do the experiment.
  • I base my lab management on Game of Thrones.
  • My laptop exploded.
  • TSA confiscated my samples.
  • I wrote that paper while on jury duty.
  • I ran out of caffeine.
  • My computer mouse deleted the data.
  • I drank (fill in the blank such as “industrial water”, “pure EtOH”, “6 energy drinks”…) that day.
  • You didn’t know our paper’s work was simulated?
  • I was hung over that day.
  • I dropped my iPhone in the toilet.
  • I meant to rewrite that section in my own words.
  • I was binge watching Dancing with the Stars.
  • I didn’t have the right cable for my Mac.
  • I accidentally hit “Reply all”.
  • I was going through a breakup.
  • I wasn’t thinking straight due to a bowling accident.
  • My PI is the devil.
  • I was in the process of upgrading Windows on my PC.
  • I did that experiment in my garage.
  • Too much multitasking.
  • A computer virus did that.
  • The tube slid under the freezer when I dropped the box.
  • It was taking too long to get the (fill in the blank here such as “data”, “approval letter from the institution”, “needed cells”, etc.) so I made it up.
  • Actual results may vary.

Note: This post was a draft re-sparked to full development with some inspiration from reading this from Retraction Watch last week, mentioning an excuse.

Do you have any Elephant in the lab type ideas?

6 thoughts on “Elephant in the lab series: common science excuses”

  1. “You need to keep an open mind” – when I suggested to a colleague that crystals channelling the earth’s healing energies were not particularly scientific. My response “not so open that my brain falls out”.

  2. Nice to see Orphan Black get a shout-out – it’s the best thought out stem cell TV dystopia complete with human cloning and the sociopolitical aftershocks. They even worked out that it’s not the evil government or big bad biotech that will be the future tech abusers – it’s the transhumanists! 😮
    Watch this space

  3. I love windows into scientists’ lives– hope you will write about such matters again– important, I think. Don

  4. 1) I have always done it like that, you are a bad scientist for questioning my methods..
    2) I just put in that (obviously non physical) data as a placeholder, I will get the proper data shortly, its not a problem….

    quotes from a “scientist” I never wish to meet ever again

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