Science is often accused of being quite dry in terms of its language. This makes sense, to be fair – clear text without any purple prose is needed to convey the factual information as precisely and as understandable as possible. Every now and then, however, researchers rebel, and nowhere is this more evident than in the titles of their research papers.
Like a headline for an online article, papers sometimes have eye-catching turns of phrase inserted into them. On other occasions, they’re just downright strange. “Wax on, Wax off: Pubic Hair Grooming and Potential Applications” is an example of the former; “Toilet reading habits in Israeli adults” is a marvelous specimen of the latter.
A couple of years ago, Slate published a list of some truly bonkers paper titles, including the painful “From Urethra With Shove: Bladder Foreign Bodies” and the extremely inappropriate “Ashes to Ashes: Thermal Contact Burns In Children Caused By Recreational Fires.” We thought we’d have a look for some of our own, and here, in no particular order, are the strangest of the bunch – 17 for 2017.
1 – “On human odor, malaria mosquitos, and Limburger cheese”
2 – “Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull?”
3 – “Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus?”
4 – “I’ll scratch your back… if you have one”
5 – “Traveller's Diarrhea, With A Vengeance”
6 – “Sauropod farts warmed the planet”
7 – “Similar mechanisms of traumatic rectal injuries in patients who had anal sex with animals to those who were butt-fisted by human sexual partner”
8 – “Fart molecule could be the next Viagra”
9 – “Chickens prefer beautiful humans”
10 – “Death by chocolate – is it possible?”
11 – “The Sweet Smell of Success: Pooper-Scooper Cam”
12 – “How to commit a perfect murder”
13 – “The Effect of Country Music on Suicide”
14 – “The perils of bungee jumping”
15 – “Epidemiology of lawnmower-related injuries in children: A 10-year review”
16 – “Ocular lawnmower injuries” (Yes, you read that right)
17 – “Teeth in the brain: An unusual presentation of penetrating head injury”
Intriguingly, there’s been a study on investigating the effect of using bizarre paper titles on citation frequencies, because science can’t resist being a little bit meta from time to time. Sadly, those with “highly amusing titles received fewer citations” overall, suggesting that academics often fail to have a sense of humor.
Know of any more unusually titled scientific studies? Let us know in the comments, ladies and gentlemen.