Where There Is Life, There Is Stupidity

, , , | Learning | December 27, 2017

(I’m studying biology at a university. We periodically have events where the different courses and research groups can show their work and projects in display stands. I have joined a herpetology research group and we have tables with alligator and turtle skulls, snake head models, and some glass boxes with real but dead animals — snakes, lizards and frogs common in this place — preserved in alcohol. It’s common for people to come and ask about them, but this time I almost lose it. A group of four girls approaches our stand:)

Girl #1: “Woah! Oh, my God! You have live animals here!”

Me: “Actually, no. These are real, but they are long dead and have been preserved in alcohol.”

Girl #2: *to another that seems to be really interested and is looking closely at the boxes* “Don’t get near it! They can bite you!”

Me: “No, they won’t. They are dead, but perfectly preserved in alcohol and—”

Girl #1: “—but are they like, alive?”

Me: “No, they are dead but preserved in alcohol. That’s why they are still looking—”

Girl #3: “Oh, my God! I saw it moving!”

Me: “I can assure you that they are dead. Probably someone just shook the table and they floated in the alcohol.”

Girl #1: “So, are they alive?”

Me: *grinding my teeth while still smiling* “No, they are not. They are dead but have been preserved in alcohol for research purposes. They have been like this since before I even joined this research group.”

All Three Girls: “Oh…”

(They finally seem to understand and are quietly looking at our display; then [Girl #4], who has been looking at her phone the whole time, finally stops and looks at the table.)

Girl #4: “Oh, my God! Are they alive?!”

The Other Three Girls & Me: “NO!”

(My colleagues and I often retell this story to our new members to prepare them for this kind of question, but seriously, this was the worse case by far.)

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