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Ross Geller is a terrible palaeontologist.


When all of the seasons of Friends were released on Netflix this winter, many of us took the opportunity to catch up on a show from our 90s childhoods. But when I did I couldn’t help but be struck by how awful its characters could be to others within the TV universe, Ross most of all. Many of Ross’ shenanigans were related to his job as a palaeontologist, first at a natural history museum and then as a lecturer (later tenured) at NYU. Ross is a terrible person, and that bleeds into him being a terrible palaeontologist & professor. Binge-watching the series really drives this home, as you can see from this parade of professional nonsense:

-He has an after-hours date, then sex, in the museum and gets caught the morning after by kids on a field trip.
-He yells at and threatens his museum coworkers, leading to a forced leave of absence while he undergoes anger management training.
-His papers are widely discredited.
-He forgets to attend his own classes (this running gag usually happens when they're all sitting around the coffee shop).
-He dated an undergraduate former student (which was not technically prohibited but is frowned up) and he concealed it from his colleagues and her father.
-He abandoned a new department hire he was meant to take on a tour of the city because the other new hire was an attractive woman.
--He is a boring lecturer, terrible marker (he doesn’t read his students’ papers), and gets manipulated into improving students’ grades. His poor teaching earns him terrible evaluations at the end of term.
-He conned his way (after the organizer falls asleep) into giving the keynote speech at a major conference (the speech itself was full of platitudes, but many keynotes are).
-He can’t organize a commute between 2 areas of campus in time to teach 2 courses in one day, or request that one of the courses change time/location, or anything a reasonable teacher would do. Instead, rollerblades!
-He steals from his museum to bribe people for favours.

Buzzfeed even has a post delving into the specific reasons it's unlikely that Ross could have the career he does on Friends.

He was, however, a good TV example of a regular (if angry) person who happens to have a scientific job, as opposed to a scientist who isn't at all like a regular person. His frustrations with his less scientifically-minded friends make you temporarily forget how awful he is (like the many times Phoebe argues that her new-age beliefs in telepathy, psychic senses, etc. are as valid as his scientific outlook). And to be fair, he is put in terrible professional situations so that his rageful self can be unloosed for comedic effect (like having his girlfriend’s Nobel Prize-winning ex be the one who decides whether his project will be funded).

But he isn't a very good palaeontologist.

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