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Defending your thesis is no joke. I've had friends crack up while preparing. It plays out like an episode of "Defend Your Life." In many cases you are defending your life. Your thesis is more than words on a page, it's a fundamental belief that you've been working towards for years. Everything learned and gained has had a part to play in the birth of that brief. So it can be gut wrenching and life altering when you find yourself at a loss in it's moment of reckoning.

Redditor u/dexMiloyev wanted to know about the times as a student when many of us were left.... stumped by asking.... Doctoral candidates who couldn't defend their thesis, what happened?

In Bed

doctor who blonde woman GIF Giphy

One of my colleagues in grad school didn't finish his dissertation. Our advisor moved universities and told him he wasn't invited.

My friend had a nervous breakdown from which he never recovered. His wife divorced him because he spent all day catatonic in bed for months, and they had two young children to take care of.

flyover_liberal

Remind me Later

I've only heard of one or two people who didn't pass in the 6 or so years I was in grad school. They just worked on whatever their committee said to expand on and re-did their defense at a later date. Your advisor really shouldn't let you get to the point where you're defending and there's a chance you won't pass. It's more common that people will Masters out or go ABD, but not outright fail.

3nd0r

20 Years Later....

In the early 1970s, my father was an Ed.D candidate, and his thesis was on the topic of self-pacing computerized instruction (at the high school level). He taught himself the Basic programming language and everything, and was quite confident of success.

His thesis was summarily rejected because "there will NEVER be computers in the classroom" other than postsecondary computer science curriculums.

20 years later computers were everywhere in our schools, and you could go to any big box store and buy educational software similar to what my father had envisioned.

lucky_ducker

The Thief

late night lol GIF by The Rundown with Robin Thede Giphy

While in graduate school, a professor at my university came up with an idea to write his thesis on. He told his advisor, who basically laughed him out of the room and told him it was a ridiculous idea. A year later, he learned that his advisor had stolen his idea and written a paper on it to be published in a major scientific journal. The student (my current professor) then left the program in disgust and just finished with a master's instead. Pretty good physics professor though.

cardinals1392

Eventually....

I knew a PhD student in Math who discovered halfway through her doctorate that the problem she was working on to get her PhD had just been solved by someone else. She was able to work with her advisor to find a way to make the work she applied to that problem be applicable to a similar one. She eventually earned her PhD.

cezxq

dead to rights....

I have a friend who is a tenured professor at a major university. He submitted a proposal to a funding agency. He later discovered that the program manager had not only stolen his idea, but even reused substantial amounts of text from his proposal in a publication. It turned out that the same guy was in the process of being hired by my friend's university for a leadership role.

Even though he had the guy dead to rights, and my friend's position was fairly secure, the politics of the situation made him too fearful to mention it to anyone.

I can only imagine what might happen to a mere student who accused a professor of this kind of misconduct. The sad truth is, even if the student had unimpeachable evidence, I think a lot of people would choose to obstruct and bury it and destroy the student's life rather than burn a colleague.

Rostin

Take 2....

We have a family friend who was in a PhD program that basically got disbanded. Like his advisor and several other faculty members got fired. I believe they ended up giving him two master's degrees, Which is nothing to sneeze at but he did the work for a PhD.

jonahvsthewhale

Not Passable....

New York Yankees Reaction GIF by MLB Giphy

From my experience in grad school, your committee is there every step along the way.

You cant even start until you have an approved thesis prospectus. In this structure, you know if you're ready to defend or not. A member of my cohort was told prior to her thesis defense that she wouldn't pass, so they rescheduled for later.

rughmanchoo

Frozen...

It's exceedingly rare to outright fail a defense as others have mentioned. One person in my department failed their final defense because they froze up and couldn't even answer the easiest questions from their committee. Most people I know of who didn't complete their defense either left voluntarily with master's degrees for various reasons or failed out for silly, preventable reasons like plagiarism or not turning in their written qualifying exams on time.

cdogg300

Really Fool?

new girl facepalm GIF by HULU Giphy

Had a Chinese doctoral student in the program I worked for, who was intentionally putting off and screwing up his thesis process. He only had a student visa, and didn't want to go back to China.

spikyman

Don't be Salty

I know a guy that eventually got his PhD, but it took extra work and encouragement. Poor guy. His adviser left for another university and forbid him from publishing like 2/3 of his work/data. He failed by trying to honor the former adviser's wishes; he was so depressed and going to just accept it. I was freaking livid, and so was everyone else with a graduate degree that heard about it. In the end he presented all his work, got his PhD, and left for a postdoc. His former adviser was told to pound sand. I'm still a little salty.

YourHuckleberry2020

"all but defense"

OP, since you're an undergrad perhaps this is new: no competent advisor will let a student defend without meeting requirements. It would be a huge embarrassment for the advisor and committee to fail a candidate at the defense, because it implies they didn't do their supervisory job prior to the defense. Good advisors are invested in helping people in their group succeed.

Nevertheless, not everyone who starts the program will finish. People can drop out for every imaginable reason. From failing to meet the requirements for a PhD (e.g., not producing original work of substantial impact), to losing interest in the topic, medical problems, having problems with their advisor, getting an industry job, deciding to move...

For completeness: the impact of the original research and publications generated during the PhD are the key to a solid defense. Sometimes people put "all but defense" in their resume. This means they took classes and did not defend. But the point of a doctorate is not to take classes, but rather to contribute to the state of the art.

protastus

Cheers

Shake Cocktail GIF by Team Coco Giphy

I went to post grad school with a few who couldn't or who timed out. They are known as all but dissertation or ABD. They typically find work relating to their masters degree... or they bartend. Those are literally the top two options I've witnessed!

Richardbear70

Years later...

The thesis directly opposed the main premise of the field at the time, the board had a political stake in preserving the status quo. Went to another school and they immediately were just like, yep, here's your PhD. Years later, the original school's board was found to be taking oil money on the side.

heratic_12

Just Fail

Failing the defence (or not being allowed to defend) happens, but rarely. What is far more common is failing the comprehensive exams that most PhD programs require. Comps usually happen before or around the time of proposal approval. They consist (for me at least) a reading list of c.260 books that you have to complete three written exams on and two oral exams. It's not uncommon to fail them and not be allowed to continue.

ryguy_1

Upon Review....

Not me, but my friend at her quals. She walked in, and the committee said, "We've reviewed your work, and we can tell that you won't pass this. Therefore, we're not going to give it to you so that you don't have it on your records that you failed. Withdraw from the program."

I was crushed, and it wasn't even me.

To_a_Green_Thought

Predictable...

Giving a serious answer here...

If your dissertation advisor is any good whatsoever, they will tell you when you are ready to defend and not allow you to defend until that point. For this reason, it is rare that a doctoral candidate ever fails to defend. The only times I have heard of it happening are when a student insists on defending even though their advisor says they are not ready, with predictable results.

w4terfall

I Made It...

Idk GIF by VidCon Giphy

I have always been a horrible procrastinator and did not have the demeanor to complete a PhD. Did great in the coursework first two years then failed out after the third year. Now I make a lot of money as a quant.

Negotiator1226

Give me my backpack...

There was a guy in my program before I started (early 2000's) that had ALL of his data on one flash drive. He lost it when his backpack was stolen. Rumour had it he almost committed suicide after loosing like 3 years of work. He never finished and I think he went into a trade. Probably makes more money this way so good on him.

discostud1515

In the Netherlands...

My grandfather did not have to defend his thesis because he did not have to make one. In the Netherlands one could do doctoral by defending a number of assertions/propositions in front of the professors. So a real oral exam. He studied law, so he had to make a list of about 60 topics in different fields of law (criminal, civil, bankruptcy, merchant, sea etc.) like e.g. 'victims of violence have enough/not enough ways of getting compensation' and was questioned in depth about those. Apparently he did well, got the doctorate, and 25 years later Leiden University gave him a special diploma commemorating his doctorate.

EdjKa1

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Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Have you ever been reading a book, watching a movie, or even sitting down for a fantastical cartoon and began to salivate when the characters dig into some doozy of a made up food?

You're not alone.

Food is apparently fertile ground for creativity. Authors, movie directors, and animators all can't help but put a little extra time and effort into the process of making characters' tasty delights mouthwatering even for audiences on the other side of the screen.

Read on for a perfect mixture of nostalgia and hunger.

AllWhammyNoMorals asked, "What's a fictional food you've always wanted to try?"

Some people were all about the magical foods eaten in the magical places. They couldn't help but wish they could bite into something with fantastical properties and unearthly deliciousness.

Nutritious

"Enchanted golden apple" -- DabbingIsSo2015

"The Minecraft eating sounds make me hungry" -- FishingHobo

"Gotta love that health regeneration" -- r2celjazz

"Pretty sure those are based off the golden apples that grant immortality. Norse mythology I think?" -- Raven_of_Blades

Take Your Pick

"Nearly any food from Charlie and the Chocolate factory" -- CrimsonFox100

"Came here to say snozzberries!" -- Utah_Writer

"Everlasting Gobstoppers #1, but also when they're free to roam near the chocolate river and the entire environment is edible." -- devo9er

Peak Efficiency

"Lembas" -- Roxwords

"The one that fills you with just a bite? My fat a** would be making sandwiches with two lembas breads and putting bacon, avocado and cheese inside. Then probably go for some dessert afterwards. No wonder why those elves are all skinny, eating just one measly bite of this stuff." -- sushister

Some people got stuck on the foods they saw in the cartoons they watched growing up. The vibrant colors, the artistic sounds, and the exaggerated movements all come together to form some good-looking fake grub.

The One and Only

"Krabby patty 🍔" -- Cat_xox

"And a kelp shake" -- titsclitsntennerbits

"As a kid I always pretended burgers from McDonalds were Krabby Patties, heck from time to time I still do for the nostalgia of it all. Many of my friends did the same thing." -- Thisissuchadragtodo

Cheeeeeeeeese

"The pizza from an extremely goofy movie. The stringy cheese just looked magical lol" -- ES_Verified

"The pizza in the old TMNT cartoon as well." -- gate_of_steiner85

"Only bested by the pizza from All Dogs Go to Heaven." -- Purdaddy

Get a Big Old Chunk

"Those giant turkey drumsticks in old cartoons that characters would tear huge chunks out of. Those things looked amazing, turkey drumsticks in real life suck and are annoying to eat."

-- Ozwaldo

Slurp, Slurp, Slurp

"Every bowl of ramen on any anime, ever." -- Cat_xox

"Studio Ghibli eggs and bacon" -- DrManhattan_DDM

"Honestly, any food in anime. I swear to god half the budget no matter what the studio goes into making the food look absolutely delicious." -- Viridun

Finally, some highlighted the things that aren't quite so far-fetched, but still far enough away that it's nothing we'll be eating anytime soon.

That tease can be enough to make your mouth water.

What's In It??

"Butter beer" -- Damn_Dog_Inappropes

"came here to say this. i was pretty disappointed with the universal studio version which was over the top sweet. it was more of a butterscotch root beer. i imagine butter beer to be something more like butter and beer, which wouldn't be crazy sweet, but would have a very deep rich flavor" -- crazyskiingsloth

Slice of the Future

"The microwave pizzas in back to the future two" -- biggiemick91

"I've been fascinated with those for years! They just look so good!" -- skoros

As Sweet As They Had

"The Turkish Delight from Lion Witch & Wardrobe. The real ones I had weren't bad but nothing special." -- spoon_shaped_spoon

"Came here to say this. I know it's a real thing, but I always imagined that it must have been amazing to betray your siblings over." -- la_yes

"You're used to freely available too sweet sweets. For a WW2 era schoolkid, it would have represented all the sweets for an entire year." -- ResponsibleLimeade



Here's hoping you made it through the list without going into kitchen for some snack you didn't actually need.

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