Thursday 23 June 2011

Experimental results and a confidence crisis

To: Frankie Furter, Mayor of Blogville

Dear Frankie,

Oh dear, oh dear, oh deary deary me.

I felt so honoured to be asked by you, my esteemed friend, to put on a science demonstration at the Blogville Picnic in the Bark.

It seemed such a good idea at the time. A series of water-related scientific experiments, especially designed to be educational, enjoyable and canine-relevant.

Now I am beginning to doubt my scientific vocation.

Perhaps I should go back to doing just mainstream dog stuff. You know. Chewing toys. Sniffing. Enjoying ear scritchies and tummy tickles. Licking my private parts. Bouncing around.

About last Saturday's experiments. I have been poring over the results all week, desperately trying to make sense of the data.

I have failed. Miserably.

The first experiment looked the most promising. I had thirteen willing participants, Dex and Lou, Dexter, Pip, Jazzi, Sarge, Asta, Shawnee, Daisy, Kendra and Bella, Ludo, and Jed. I took into account everyone's useful suggestions and devised a cunning plan to allow for differences in size, coat type, grooming regime, and degree to which the Mums and Dads had past histories of noisy aversion to cold water. I had my stopwatch and my microphone at the ready. There was much shaking of wet coats and squealing of Mums and Dads.

I know. It was foolish of me to stand right by the pond while taking the measurements. The tsunami created when Dexter and Jed leapt in together swept me off my paws, and I fear that my electronic recording instruments did not survive the immersion...

As for the second experiment. It soon became clear from all the comments that my past attempts to educate the dog-blogging community into the nature of the scientific process have been falling on deaf ears (of all shapes and sizes).

I had hoped that my students would by now be able to distinguish between a serious scientific experiment and a race! How could so many of them fail to appreciate that a test of the hypothesis that dogs with longer legs can swim faster is not a swimming competition? And that winning is not the point. Yes I'm looking at you especially, Tessa. Now I don't know which dog it was that decided to 'cheat' by handing out large plates of pilfered tube steaks and bratwurst to some of the participants immediately before the experiment, and slipping collars weighted with lead onto others, all I can say for certain is that I am desperately disappointed in each and every one of those involved. Pip, Frankie, Sarge, Asta, Puddles and Jed, did you really mean for it to be one big fiasco?

Then there was the third experiment Frankie. Or rather there wasn't. WHERE WERE ALL THE VOLUNTEERS? MANGO? I can only conclude that, to a man, the purportedly 'all male' doggies feared looking 'small' after a fifteen minute dip in the 10ÂșC water.

And you know what? Gail has been no help at all. When I told her that none of my friends had offered to have their testicles photographed, strictly in the cause of science, was she sympathetic? She was not.

"Well Bertie," she said, "I think you should do as Toby suggested, and volunteer yourself. That's what a really dedicated scientist would do. Did you know that when Sir Isaac Newton was conducting experiments into the nature of light, he poked a darning needle into his own eye socket to test the theory that colour perception is caused by pressure on the eyeball?"

As you can imagine, I explained to Gail very patiently that since I was conducting the experiments myself I could not possibly take part, and while I appreciated her offer of help I didn't think it at all appropriate that she should take 'before' and 'after' photographs of me...

But instead of saying "yes Bertie, you're right, of course, as always," Gail just gave me a LOOK.

Well that was the final straw.

I am so downhearted and discouraged.  All that hard work, and for nothing.

Maybe I should hand back my badge of office?

Your most despondent Scientific Advisor,
Bertie Boffin (not feeling very bouncy today).


  1. Bertie - don't despair . Just make sure that in future your experiments involve food . You'll get all the data , and more , that you could ever need . As that old sage once said , if at first you don't succeed then try again with biscuits .

  2. BERTIE... BUDDY... this was Not a failure in any SCENTS of the word. YOU know that we learn NOTHING from Success.. We only learn when somethingy goes Wrong!!

    I think all THREE were Wonderful experiments and we have ALL learned TONS of stuffs from them...
    Like... if at furst you don't succeed.. Try Try Try AGAIN!!
    AND... don't furget the pawsibility of US having learned thingys.. that you didn't even INTEND or Realize we would.
    NO SIReeeeee.. You may NOT turn in your Badge... You are a Stellar Scientific Advisor.
    You just furgot.. who you were Stuck Working with... hehehe Blogville's Finest and Funkyest. We are a WILD and Crazy Bunch.
    Perhaps your next experiment could involve... Cattle Prods and such.. NOOOOOO Wait... NOT That, beclaws I (Frankie Furter) would find that SHOCKING.
    How about this one...
    The Length of time required to UNSTUFF an New Toy.

  3. Ah, Bertie! Just keep your sunny side up for a while, and this too shall fade away. In a month or so, no one will recall the events and you can get on with some other difficult experiments. Sort of a start all over kind of thing. I was busy and could not attend the Picnic in the park, but I would have wished you well had I been there.


  4. Hey Bertie it was NOT my fault! I swear that Puddles was behind it! I am too sweet and TINY to have caused ALL that commotion, really!

    Besides, it was all Puddles idea! She MADE me do it!

    not Tessa, she left the building, my name is Sweetie

  5. Hey Bertie!
    Wow, please don't feel bad. I really thought your experiments were a lot of fun. I didn't care so much about the results part, I only wanted the fun part! BOL BTW: I just thought that the brats would taste good...I swear it never occurred to my doggy brain that it would slow everyone down. I'm betting that's why I came in so far back in the pack...I had more than my share of brats! Anyway, I still think it was a blast and I can't wait to see your next round of experiments!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  6. I'm thinkin that Tessa might just be onto something.. Puddles was prolly just Pretending that she had computer problems.. She was no doubt ... messin with your experiments... I'm just sayin.
    Maybe the Actual Result(s) was/were... Dawgs are Pawsitively effected by MEAT Pawducts!!!!!
    Yep.. I'll bet that is EXACTLY what was proven!!!

  7. Shhhhhh....I was nevers here...hehehe! Name

  8. Unfortunately, that's the life of a scientist....back to the drawing board.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

    You win BTW, summer in Scotland is worse than winter in our part of Oz. We're currently going from 1 C - about 12, but it is dull and dismal even without the rain.

  9. No worries Bertie, we will blame the computer for the scientific delay
    Benny & Lily

  10. Dawling little BEwtie
    Pleeez dont be downheawted..we all need youw bounciness to get us thwoo ouw days and youw inquisitive scientific mind to get us thinking outside ouw food bowls..I'm so sowwy that I was pawt of the cause of youw expewiment going'll fowgive me won't you???? food has aways been one of my downfalls..I just can't wesist any of it, gulp.
    I will jump off the woof if i think that I am the cause of a pwomising , bwilliant young skye entist 's cawweew to go off twack
    Smoochie kisses full of extwa bounce fow you

  11. Bertie, you look so downtrodden. Please let it go. We're a bunch of DOGS, afterall. BTW, even though Ruby has a thicker undercoat, we all spray just about the same amount of water on mom when we shake off. She says she doesn't like it but she does.

    -Gizmo, Bart and Ruby

  12. If nothing else, dear Bertie, this exercise has given you a disturbingly accurate view of the state of science education in the U.S. of A. To further illustrate, we still don't get your point about experiment #2. Were you proposing a time trial instead of a race? And the difference would be ..?? And if neither, then what is the appropriate test of your hypothesis? Please elucidate.

    So clearly, we NEED your scientific brain to patiently explain this stuff to we less educated doggies. Your tendered resignation is emphatically declined. Oh, and we're sorry about the damage to your scientific equipment in experiment #1. It was, of course, insured?

    Jed & Abby the totally innocent bystander

  13. Hey Bertie bud...

    Eish! (A South African expression)It sounds like you've had a right Royal time deliberating all those difficult concepts. My own mentals can't go that far either, but one thing's certain...from now on, I am going to be calling you......

    ...wait for it....


    Woof! Woof!

  14. Bertie...keep in mind dat every good and forever remembered scientist had to have lots of failures at furst. Science is not a dance in a sea of Milk Bones!

  15. Hey Bertie, go get yourself a beer and chill out, the weekends here go for a walk and clear your fuzzy fur head, things can only go up from here ;) and I look forward to your next experiment as long as there is no water in it!!!
    Have a good week
    See Yea George xxx

  16. Hey Bertie,

    Don't be too down on yourself.
    Many wonderful inventions came about as a result of failures!

    Have a good weekend!


  17. Dear Philosophical one...I just realized that this post was lost on our followers who reside outside the US. There's an ad campaign for a beer (Dos Equis) which centers around a very handsome man, always surrounded by gown-clad women. He makes some sort of preposterous statement - like the one I quoted - and then says, "I am the most interesting man in the world." He has a rich Spanish accent. Then he says, "stay thirsty, my friends." Actually there are probably some on You Tube. Anyway, he's so interesting he could accurately assess his own interestingness!! Cheers :-)

  18. If only we, your esteemed students, had been there. But, alas, we weren't. (Blame it on Moma)

    Jake and Fergi