If I had a nickel for every time I heard a laboratory technician say “I felt I didn’t need to….” when questioned about why a particular protocol was not followed exactly as described I’d have about two bucks. You thought I was going to say “be a millionaire” or something clever that I can’t think of at the moment, but that would make you smile or chuckle, didn’t you? It’s OK you can admit it. Well I didn’t, and you know why? Because it’s cliche, and the only thing I hate more than cliche is something or other I can’t think of at the moment, but that also would be clever and make you smile or chuckle. In any event two bucks is still an awful lot of nickels, 40 to be precise. But I digress (also cliche by the way).
The thing about science, and it is a very good thing I think, is that feelings got nothing to do with it. Of course, I admit, some observations might be based on feelings, if by feelings you include sensations such as hot, cold, bitter, sweet, etc. And observations/measurements are certainly a part of science. However, for purposes of this discussion let’s consider feelings only in the touchy feely sense. In science we do not base our decisions on how something feels to us. We base our decisions (hopefully) on how things actually are. On the facts of the matter at hand. When following protocols we don’t only do the parts that feel right or are easy, but we do all the parts, exactly as described. We do not cut corners because there are no corners to cut. There are no corners. There is only a straight line, a hallway with no doors or windows or turns. We walk down it to the end and then we stop. And we take each and every step along the way. If we do not do this we are no longer doing science, we are simply pretending to do science or we are doing art. In the case of a lab technician skipping steps because they did not feel like doing them, I will go out on a limb and say they are not doing art, though their pay does approach the lofty heights of the greatest starving artist. I have no problem with your feelings, but I have a big problem with their misapplication. When you come in to the lab to work walk straight down the hall and take every step. Leave the feelings at home with the girl/boy friend and the dog/cat.