12/28/2011 11:21 am ET Updated Feb 26, 2012

Researcher Reveals 100 Things That Are Better Never Than Late

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. -- When Ken Gerbka was growing up, his mother would often use the expression, "Better late than never," in her attempt to teach Gerbka that it is preferable to accomplish something past its deadline than never to complete it at all. Gerbka bought into this philosophy until the painful day Joan Reid, his high school girlfriend, dumped him.

"I had completely forgotten her birthday," Gerbka recalled. "So I ended up spending a fortune on a gift to make it up to her, which I gave her, apologetically, three days later. She was still so angry, she threw my gift on the floor and told me we were finished. And to add insult to the injury of being dumped, it turned out the expensive gift was non-refundable. I wished I'd never gotten it for her in the first place."

Years later, thinking back on that painful time, Gerbka started wondering about how many other of life's situations might well be better never than late. "And since I'm now the Senior Research Director at the Buchner Institute, I had the ability to research the matter scientifically."

Using a combination of thorough interview and statistical analysis, Gerbka and his team compiled a listing of 100 things or activities that would be far better left undone or unexperienced -- than experiencing or accomplishing them late. "The top ten include," revealed Gerbka, "death, disease, natural disasters, war, terrorist attacks, and prejudice."

Gerbka was about to elaborate on some of the others, when he was called away for an emergency meeting on his next project. "I'm compiling the definitive listing of every significant person throughout history who did not become lost after hesitating."