In England it is called the “Graveyard Grannies” problem, in France the “Chere Grand’mere,” while in Bulgaria it is inexplicably known as “The Toadstool Waxing Plan” (I may have had some problems here with the translation. Since the revolution this may have changed anyway.) Although the problem may be international in scope it is here in the USA that it reaches its culmination, so it is only fitting that the first warnings emanate here also.
The basic problem can be stated very simply: A student’s grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly just before the student takes an exam, than at any other time of year.—Mike Adams —The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome and the Potential Downfall Of American Society. (Biology Department, Eastern Connecticut State University)
I’m reminded of a flashback scene in Wit, where the protagonist, a crusty professor named Vivian Bearing, relives an incident in which a student asks for an extension, she grumpily guesses, “Your grandmother died?” and the student, dumbfounded, responds, “How did you know?” So a spoof article like this could hit a student at a very bad time.
As for the results of the study, it’s possible that student family members die at a constant rate year-round, but when students don’t have a pressing exam, they simply don’t bother to tell the instructor.