“So is it possible to fail, once you’ve made it to the defence?” I asked, hoping the answer would be no.
“Oh yes!” he answered with glee. “Absolutely! Actually, there was one particularly bad case in medicine a while back. Everything looked great until one of the doctoral candidate’s lab assistants asked a question ex auditorium.”
“What was the question?”
“Oh, he just asked why none of the human subjects who had died during the experiments were mentioned in the thesis.”
Once my relieved laughter had subsided he added, “I think that was back in the twenties.”
“So what about the other times people have failed at the defence?”
“Other times? I’ve never heard of any other times that’s happened,” he said with a smile.
I’d still prefer there to be no questions ex auditorio.