Pranking can help scientists tap into creativity, build camaraderie: Opinion


An article in Nature by Amanda Heidt highlights the value of an appropriately designed prank in the research lab, whether that be on April Fool’s Day or throughout the rest of the year. Speaking to academics across the sector, Heidt explains that while pulling off a prank can take time, it can also offset the intensity of scholarly activities, spark creativity in the minds of researchers, and strengthen social bonds within the lab. The author stipulates that there are rules to pulling off a good prank, such as never choosing a target that the prankster is in a position of power over and ensuring that the prank will not break any lab rules or bring harm to anyone. The pranks highlighted in the article include hiding toy spiders or horses around the lab, creating a fake letter from the Smithsonian expressing historic interest in old lab equipment, and throwing a birthday party for old lab stocks.