I wish I was less of a scientist…

… when I watch any of those shows that involve lab work. You know the type- the CSIs, NCIS, Bones, Fringe, etc. I find myself wondering if they have a consultant/advisor to correct their poor technique.

For instance, they can’t hold a pipet properly- your thumb goes on the plunger, not your pointer finger.

They use pipets that are designed to dispense fluids accurately down to the microliter, but they slurping up all kinds of bubbles like it’s a turkey baster.

They are dangling their long flowing locks all over the corpse they are searching for trace evidence. When they find a hair, how do they know it’s not one of their hair extensions?

They also dangle their hair and ties all over the lab- EHS** would be all over that if it were a real lab.

They have at their disposal and use regularly, all right in one lab, multiple pieces of equipment that in real life would require hundreds of millions of dollars, an entire building, and a team of highly trained technicians.  Instead, they have the single “scientist” on the show who can run and maintain an electron microscope, a mass spec, a DNA sequencer, spectrometers, HPLC, etc., etc., etc.  It’s like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island who just knew everything about science and medicine and could make anything you want out of bamboo and leaves.  Doesn’t work that way!

They never button their lab coats. Given the fancy and expensive clothes, you’d think they’d button up the lab coat. There’s a reason scientists look like hobos when they’re in the lab- it’s because they don’t want to ruin their nice clothes and/or they don’t bother owning nice clothes because they’d just get ruined. In grad school I used the rainbow of Sharpies and VWR markers to fill in the bleach stains on my clothes. (This really works- if you splatter bleach, just find a marker that most closely matches the item of clothing and color in the spot).  Unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done for the holes that appear on the belly of all my shirts, right at lab bench height.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I’m pretty sure that if I actually worked in a crime lab my head would explode from all the additional mistakes that are made.


Filed under I wish I was less of a scientist..., Scientist

3 responses to “I wish I was less of a scientist…

    • Librarian

      No tv show or film ever portrays an occupation as they are in reality. No school functions like the one in Glee. No hospital or doctor’s office is like Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice. No librarian I’ve ever seen portrayed in film or tv is anything like me and their experiences aren’t anything like the ones I have. If shows accurately portrayed jobs, they would be pretty boring since exciting things don’t happen all that often for most of us. It’s called suspension of disbelief….

      • I hear you. I think the problem is that when it is one’s own profession, it’s much harder to suspend disbelief.

        Also, the public already has a MASSIVE problem with misconceptions about science.

        Think how many people you know have ever set food in a library and seen how one works. Lots, right? I mean if you haven’t been to your local library, you don’t have a library card, you should be ashamed of yourself.

        Pretty much everyone goes to school, the doctor’s office, the hospital, etc.

        Now, think about how many people have been in a laboratory? Other than maybe a grade school lab, or a hospital lab for bloodwork, how many people have actually seen how a research lab or a forensics lab works? Very, very few.

        There has been talk of the “CSI-effect” where jurors are coming to expect the kind of unrealistic evidence they see on TV (http://www.nij.gov/journals/259/csi-effect.htm).

        There is also the issue of people just genuinely not understanding why we haven’t cured cancer yet- because they really have to concept of how long it takes to do research.

        It’s find to suspend disbelief when you watch TV, but when that suspension becomes 24/7 and how you expect things to operate in the real world, there is a real problem. I think that’ why the comic above is so funny.

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