Monday, May 16, 2005

How to profit from your dead grandmother

According to Mike Adams of the Department of Biology at Eastern Connecticut State University, a "student’s grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly just before the student takes an exam, than at any other time of year." This is an apparently well-known phenomenon (called the "Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome") that occurs around the world and which is due to the stress a parent suffers on expecting the students to do well on exams. The article was a tongue-in-cheek report written in 1999 for the Annals of Improbable Research.

Now colleges in the UK have acknowldeged the Syndrome as real.

"GCSE and A-level pupils in England are given 5% more if a parent dies close to exam day or 4% for a distant relative.

They get 2% more if a pet dies or 1% if they get a headache [...] the system was an attempt to quantify the sorts of circumstances which would merit special consideration and ensure consistency across the various exam boards."

I feel this doesn't go far enough in attempting to stem the flow. Davis' solutions are much more appropriate:

  • 1. Stop giving exams, or

  • 2. Allow only orphans to enroll at universities, or

  • 3. Have students lie to their families (This being the favored solution). "Students must never let any of their relatives know that they are at university."

Thanks to Improbable Research -- What's New for their treatment of the problem.

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