The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’

As a thoroughly unrigorous experiment, BL posted this Facebook status:

Let’s have a list of bad behaviours during Q&A sessions. The invitation to discuss the questioner’s stuff rather than the speaker’s. The venomous clarification. Etc..

Within a couple of hours, it garnered the following suggestions:

  • Hostile criticism based on something you never said (or would ever have said given the context of your talk).
  • “I have a couple of comments then maybe a question…” <10 minute lecture> “Do you agree?” [That’s the advertised question]
  • The “look at my massive dick” questions that insist on references to such obscure texts that there’s no chance anyone has a clue what the question is actually getting at. But slow clap for being *so* well read…
  • The questioner’s speech disguised as “I have just a couple of points here”
  • “Clearly”, “obviously”, “LOOK!”
  • “You’re not serious right?”
  • Sniggers and ‘private jokes’ amongst the audience
  • Over the top gestures and looking at the people around you rather than talking to the guest speaker.
  • Saying ‘can I just ask…’ And then regurgitating a whole paper in order to show how clever I am
  • “I have the greatest respect for your views of course, and I’d just like to add …” [trans: “listen, fuckwit …]
  • “I understand that we are pressed for time and will keep my question very brief. I’m sure the panel will be aware of the paper published in [X], which I will begin by summarising …”
  • The questioner who raises a finger to indicate they have a follow-up point, then says “I agree with what [previous questioner] said, and would like to add…” before raising a completely unrelated question.

Most of these came from University of Hertfordshire philosophy alumni.


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