The most inappropriate thing I've seen at a conference

What is the most inappropriate thing you've ever seen at a scientific conference?

I've seen my share of the hapless and the rude. The people whose cellphones go off blaring out the Macarena in the middle of a talk. Even a presenter whose cell phone goes off and who then proceeds to fish out his phone and take the call.

There was also this fellow who'd been laid off. His ex-employer had paid for him to go to the conference so that he could network and perhaps line up the next job. What did the fellow do? His entire talk consisted of badmouthing his old job. To an audience of perhaps 100. I've never seen him again, so I'm pretty sure he no longer works in the field.

Anyway, today I saw the behavior that took the cake. This was during a session on probabilistic forecasting of wind speeds for use by wind power companies. These two idiots were sitting in the front row. She was sitting on his lap. His arms were around her waist and his hands seemed to be busy. Not that I was craning to look or anything, mind you.

Meanwhile, with a straight face, the presenter went on talking about how she'd found that there was no need to adjust the coefficients of a probability distribution because it turned out to be invariant in space. I didn't quite get all of that. I was busy fishing out my camera and not craning.

P.S. photo not published on the blog to protect the idiots who were making out.


  1. You'd think they'd at least have the common courtesy to take it to the back of the room, not the front row!