Category Archives: I wish I was less of a scientist…

I wish I was less of a scientist… when thinking about hand sanitizer

I wish I was less of a scientist when I have to use hand sanitizer.

Today in the kitchen at work, I noticed two bottles of hand sanitizer next to the sink and thought to myself, “Why in God’s name would you use hand sanitizer when you had access to soap and water?”

Really, why would you? I wouldn’t, for the reason below.

Source and Explaination here.

Source (xkcd) and Explaination here.

Another thing to consider- hand sanitizer just kills the bacteria/viruses, it doesn’t remove their dead corpses from your hands.  If you had poop on your hand, but I assured you all the bacteria in it were dead, would be fine with leaving the poop on your hands?

There’s a difference between disinfected (no infectious agents to get you sick) and clean (free from germs, dirt, and filth).  I much prefer clean.

My mother (a school nurse and RN) always jokes, “Back in my day, we didn’t declare a jihad on germs, we just washed them away with soap and water.”  She has a point.

I do use hand sanitizer, but only when there is no soap and water available, and even then I like to use it and then use a baby wipe to wipe them off once they are dry.

Even the CDC recommends soap and water over a hand sanitizer (see here for the recommendation and step by step instructions on how to wash your hands)!

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I wish I was less of a scientist…

I wish I was less of a scientist when a friend posts or tweets something and comments on “Mother Nature,” because all I can think of is, “It’s not Mother Nature, it’s science.  That flower/fruit/animal was genetically engineered, by breeding, to be like that.”

For example, wild strawberries are teeny tiny compared to the Godzilla-sized ones you can buy at the store.  Why?  Because they’ve been bred.

“Clockwise from top: local garden strawberry from u-pick operation, variety unknown; true wild strawberry, from up the road; Mignonette, from the garden; Pineapple, a “white” alpine (supposedly less attractive to birds) that has gone wild in the side yard; and one of the u-pick strawberries standing in for the size of a Tristar” (Source:

Think about it- varieties of seedless fruits wouldn’t survive in the wild!  Seedless grapes, watermelons, oranges- they are all the result of genetic engineering.

Also, a lot of hybrid crazy plants- lilies and roses, are just extreme phenotypes selected and bred.

Now, I know this makes me sound like a party popper, but I’m not.  I am still in awe of Godzilla strawberries, insanely fragrant and colorful flowers, and I love seedless grapes (I mean, who wants seeds in there?), I just know that in addition to Mother Nature, I have human ingenuity to thank for them.

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I wish I was less of a scientist…

… when I’m getting a mani/pedi.

I can’t help but imagine all the microbes that are capable of surviving the cursory cleaning/sterilization efforts the nail places make.

If I don’t make a concerted effort to concentrate on the gossip rag I’m reading, my mind wanders to news stories like this.

That said, it doesn’t stop me from getting them.

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I wish I was less of a scientist when…

I wish I was less of a scientist when somebody posts some holistic medicine/homeopathic remedy/naturopathic treatment/herbal mumbo jumbo on Facebook.

Recently cracked me up on Facebook. Source: IFLS

I have friends who are very into the holistic lifestyle- or whatever you want to call it.  They routinely post stuff that is just totally not true, scientifically false.

For instance- a friend published a link to some woo-woo site talking about how inflammation is a good thing and NSAIDs are bad because they block the body’s inflammatory response.

I really wanted to write a (scientifically) snarky response along the lines of, “Why don’t you ask someone with rheumatoid arthritis about how great inflammation is?!”

Is physiologically appropriate inflammation a good thing?  Yes, it’s crucial for your immune system to function.

Is chronic inflammation a good thing?  No, it causes things like arthritis, bowel disease, kidney problems, etc.

Also, it has been said, but apparently bares repeating:  Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you!

You know what’s natural?  Arsenic.  It sure as hell isn’t good for you.

You know what else is natural?  Radon, fecal coliform, infection, migraines, cancer.  Just because they are natural, doesn’t mean you want them!

I’m never quite sure how to respond to these kinds of posts.  Most times I just keep my mouth shut/scroll down.  Other times I feel the need to educate.  Does it ever get through?  Nope.

Thus, I wish I was less of a scientist when a friend posts holistic mumbo jumbo on Facebook.


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I wish I was less of a scientist…

… when I’m getting a facial.

The moment they turn on that steam machine and point it at my face, I take a deep breath and think, “I hope they did a good job sterilizing this. I’d really hate to get Legionnaires Disease from this.  I can see the headlines now:  Tragedy strikes area mom- woman killed trying to remove blackheads!”

The funny thing is, a few months ago I went with my mom and sister for a facial. My mom is a nurse. After the facials, I said, “All I could think about when she put that steam on my face was…” and my mom finished my sentence with, “I hope it’s clean and I don’t get Legionnaires?”

So I think she also wishes, at times, she was less of a nurse.


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You might be a #scimom if/I wish I was less of a scientist.. crosspost

This one falls under both categories.

You might be a #scimom if… you’re wracked with guilt over buying your kid a helium balloon.

I wish I was less of a scientist when…I buy my kid a helium balloon.


Why?  Because helium is a finite resource here on earth, it’s crucial for many scientific and industrial applications, we’re running dangerously low, and we’re squandering it on balloons!

Seriously.  Given the amount of helium, how it could actually be used, it should be $100!  Somebody tell the people at Dollar General that they’re getting supremely ripped off when they sell me that silver star balloon for only $1!

It makes Mabel’s second birthday party look like an episode of “My Super Sweet Sixteen.”


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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.


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