Saturday, March 3

A Study of the Behavioral Patterns of Homo sapiens scientificus in Captivity

Aim: To identify and characterize the behavioral patterns observed in Homo sapiens scientificus (common name: Human Scientist) when enclosed in a specific habitat (a Conference Room) over extended periods of time (8 hours).

Materials and Methods: A set of 35 human scientists (give or take a few) were enticed into a 'Conference Room' with no little difficulty. The observer (also the author of this paper) remained in the said 'Conference Room' with experimental group and made notes at varied time points detailing the behavioral patterns of specific specimens as well as any general patterns observed. Materials used included Notebook:1 and Pencil: 1.

Observations: Time course over a time frame of eight hours:

0800 hours: A group of the experimental species is herded into annexe by enticements in the form of a breakfast buffet. The near stampede that succeeds the announcement of free bagels proves completely non-fatal since all members of the group appear extremely skilled in the art of extracting bagels from a table whilst fighting off other equally skilled individuals. Some members are almost strangled by their ties (an unfortunate sartorial decision indicating what is believed to be lack of experience and a sign of extreme immaturity within the group) but these specimens are untangled from general crowd and settled safely in a corner by expert organisers of the event.

0815 hours: Attempts are made to move the group of said species to adjoining conference room (the site of the experiment). This task proves more difficult than foreseen due to (one can only assume) the excellence of the stale 2-day-old bagels still surviving the initial breakfast rush.

0830 hours: Expert organisers of event with keen foresight bring jugs of hot coffee and cold orange juice into the conference room. On announcement of this new nutrtional addition to the morning repast, the group of human scientists is successfully manouvered into the conference room. On the heels of last entrant the doors are smartly closed.

0845 hours: Whilst the participants in the experiment are intently occupied with coffee and juice, the inaugral speaker quickly mumbles an introduction and ushers the first speaker in. The expert organisers are observed sporting hunted looks at this critical juncture and a cordon is formed by them at the various entry points to prevent sudden breaks from the coffee/juice table. Fortunately before the experimental group is aware of the conference beginning, it begins. The group seems bewildered by this but quickly settles into the comfortable chairs provided to work off the unaccustomed activity undergone to procure breakfast and coffee.

0945 hours: The second speaker ascends the dias and makes the customary jokes. The experimental group beguiled by the orange juice sniggers at appropriate pauses. Two pertinent questions are even asked at the end, causing speaker to adopt the hunted look from the organisers.

1015 hours: Said observer after 4 cups of coffee is enthusiastically engaged in a quest for the rest room after successfully dodging cordoning organisers. Therefore, the data for next ten minutes is lost although the observer thinks several significant thoughts involving great empathy for both Schrodinger and his cat.

1025 hours: Observer re-occupies observation post and intelligently notices that nothing significant has changed. A few erstwhile members of experimental group have decided to catch 40 winks (no doubt, in order to refresh themselves for the next speaker) but for the most part there is much interest in the current presentation on crypreservation of samples.

1045 hours: While waiting for next speaker to begin his endless presentation, observer has brief but illuminating conversation with neighbour about the efficacy of freezing human subjects and reviving them after 20 years. No conculsion is reached but there is general agreement that it would make an admirable dissertation topic.

1050 hours: New speaker of Asian origin. Observer understands only every second word, and attempts to recreate the rest of the sentence from these words. While this is an amusing game for 5 minutes, it's appeal soon palls and said observer seeks new methods of amusement.

1145 hours: Observer wakes up with a start recommences observation. Topic of next presentation is a so-called 'hot topic' and rival researchers are present in the experimental group. Much gripping entertainment is expected. At end of presentation there is a five minute free-for-all. The expert organisers step in at the first signs of a fist fight and firmly declare this the 'last question'. Much disappointment is swallowed by rest of bloodthirsty audience.

1250 hours: Lunch is announced. There is a repeat of breakfast buffet scene (expounded on in further detail in Appendix 1). In the pell mell, said observer loses her notebook and pencil but is not much perturbed by it. Weightier matters occupy her mind.

1315 hours: Posters are arranged in adjoining room for active perusal by experimental group. Other than the occasional (metaphorical) bared teeth, the passage of time is uneventful. Since observer is engaged at her post next to her poster she is unable to make a detailed firsthand analysis of proceedings. Her primary source for this time interval is the gossip auditory evidence she collects from independent external sources.

1345 hours: Observer realises that she does not have a control group for the experiment. She contemplates ditching it. Then she realises that she can always fudge control group data for the paper. So she sensibly decides in the last minute to continue.

1400 hours: Experimental group herded back into conference room. The expert organisers are prepared with tea this time around and the progress is smooth. However some of the experimental group having wisened up, nip into the room for tea and then leave with muttered comments about vital ongoing experiments in their labs. The expert and by-now-exhausted organisers don't care anymore and are busy sucking up most of the tea themselves.

1415 hours: Man with sticking out ears sitting in front of observer keeps bobbing his head into her line of vision. Observer is appalled by her overwhelming urge to grab his ears and yank his head out of her line of vision. Observer masters the impulse by sitting on hands. Hers, not his.

1445 hours: Presentation on the evils of aspirin. A much awaited issue that is presented by a competent speaker. Most of the experimental group appears pacifist, satisfied by their whiled away day. Much hilarity ensues during a discussion of how one subject treated with various doses of aspirin died not from aspirin overdose but from a cancer that was picked up unawares by the subject.

1515 hours: Keynote speaker makes speech. A specific group call, 'the boot-licking hyena laugh' makes an appearance at regular intervals. Hysterical applause at the end. A couple of overenthusiastic members of group attempt to extend a standing ovation but are embarrassed into sitting back down by the glares of would-be-aspirants to the position of Keynote speaker. The observer observes that it's a dog-eat-dog world and decides to jot that down, only to remember that her notebook was lost during lunch. She then observes that such is life and rues that she cannot note this profundity down either.

1545 hours: End of conference for the day. The observer is unable to make further observations as she is carried away in the current of jostling experimental specimens headed for the elevators.

Conclusion: The experimental group, Homo sapiens scientificus appears to be completely at home in captivity. No stereotypical behaviors e.g pacing or (literal) teeth baring were observed. There was no self mutilation, or periodic scratching and sneezing. The group did appear to perform a crucial ritual when in the vicinity of any nourishment. It is our belief that this ritual allows establishment of hierarchy within the group. Some amount of appeasement of higher order members by lower order members was manifested, primarily in the form of enthusiastic applause and inappropriate laughter. Verbal communication was used effectively by experimental specimens analogously to 'antler locking' manifested by males of other species. We conclude from the experiment that these individuals can be kept locked in a room indefinitely as long as they are equipped with an overhead projector and provided with food at regular intervals.

Acknowledgments: We thank all the participants in the experiment. We are also eternally indebted to our parents without whom we could not have achieved this landmark publication. We particularly thank our mentors who were never rude or dismissive or unencouraging or unreasonable.

20 comments:

Tabula Rasa said...

heh! although ...

there is general agreement that it would make an admirable dissertation topic.

... would you ever get that past IRB?

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

lollll.

professor above raised an important point. must consider.

Anonymous said...

oh you are so cute...ok so I used that word.
Shoot me.
Now.

Revealed said...

@tr: We can but try. In the interest of human welfare and the progress of our civilization and all. Worth a shot, no? :P

@TGFI: Maybe I could just do it on the sly ;). Hide some frozen humans in the back of the -80 ;);)

@Anony: BANG! Enough said (done?) I think! :P

MockTurtle said...

Hahaha - nicely done. I think any grad student would relate.

Tabula Rasa said...

hmm. i can see how a sample size of a few dozen undergrads might be sanctionable.

Heh Heh said...

hahahahahaha.. I swear you could have been describing the *exact same* conference I was at last week.

Sunshine said...

:D I think even Homo sapiens ITproficus show similar behavioral patters

Confused & Baffled said...

may i know whatever happened to the plans for chocolate reviews???

Revealed said...

@MT: Ty muchly :D.

@TR: Y'know all those pesky ones that keep submitting those damn assignments? Send a batch over here;) (the undergrads, not the assignments :P).

@heh heh: Maybe I was :D. They're like Robin Cook books. You've read one you've read 'em all.

@SS: It's a universal phenomenon. It's like a pandemic :P

@C&b: They're coming, they're coming. Dya have a useful contribution to make? Cos I wanna compile all contributor's reviews :D

Szerelem said...

oh how apt....I have an 8.30 class tomorrow mornin. They should just be banned.

Revealed said...

@szerelem: Welcome. What should be banned exactly? Classes? Undergrads? Or just 8:30 in the morning?

Cloudy said...

No one claimed first! No one claimed first!!! Can you believe it? Will proceed to do so.

Revealed, haven't laughed this hard since my first reading of PGW! You really need to link this one somewhere (remember that 'Gems' section?), coz I'll need to revisit this whenever I require a pick-me-up! I'm glad to be back too :-))))

Obi, if you have designs on first posish, read line one above. That IS a claim.

Revealed said...

@Cloudy: Well done on the claiming bit :P. And that's the nicest thing you could have said. Ty >:D<

Jay said...

Wow, you're a really diligent notekeeper.

Renovatio said...

Hers. Not his.
That did it for me :p

Revealed said...

@jay: Someone has to do it, no?

@renovatio: As long as it did it :D

(Did what btw?)

Heh Heh said...

wait a minute, this is the same format i learnt back in school when i had to write chemistry experiments. you mean you still have to write it this way. whoa. your academic hell is more hellish than my academic hell.

Szerelem said...

Classes and 8.30 in the morning. I am undergrad for another month - after that they can be banned too :D

Revealed said...

@heh heh: I just have a stellar memory! But I have *no doubt* that mine is worse than yours!! The nightmare stories I have cannot be matched!

@Szerelem: Shushhh!!! Don't say you're an ug out loud in this space!! It's dangerous to your very existence!!