When Luc – a reader of this blog – pointed me a study containing the words “fuck, fuck, bitch”, I thought it was another sensational joke (do you remember the case of Stronzo Bestiale?).
Following his cue, with some skepticism I typed those 3 words on PubMed, the most important database on biomedical research worldwide. And I got the first surprise: the research really exists (click to enlarge).
It’s entitled “Ovarian teratoma in a bitch” and is signed by ,,, C. E. Curti. The study was published in 2006 by “Veterinary record“, the Journal of the British veterinarians. In fact, bitch means both “female dog”, as well is a pejorative (a woman who is belligerent, unreasonable, malicious, a control freak, rudely intrusive or aggressive).
Then, the research was about ovarian cancer. But the authors Fuck E. J., and. T. Fuck? I was sure they were invented: the research title was, probably, an irresistible temptation for the true author of the paper.
Maybe there was another scientific joke to report about. So I set out on the trail of the first author, Headley, and it was not easy to find him with just the initials. Finally I found him: he is Selwyn Arlington Headley, an adjunct professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, State University of Londrina in Paranà, Brazil.
And his response was another surprise: “The research is not a joke, and I am the lead author of it. The two authors surnames, which are not unusual, are really Fuck and Fuck: they are the owners of a veterinary hospital in southern Brazil”. For the record, they’re called Egon José Fuck, and Eliane Miranda Thomaselli Fuck (click to enlarge). So, this time the credibility of science is safe: no one has attempted to mock the scientific controls system. But why not entitle the research “Ovarian Teratoma in a German shepherd”? That research would have had a less embarrassing impact. But maybe it would not have passed into history.
What moral to draw from this story? Vulgar surnames do exist: professor Mark Liberman, linguist at University of Pennsylvania, noted the case of Professor Connard (dickhead), author of thousands of publications (indeed, they exist, because there is more of one). And Corey Bradshaw, Director of the Environment Institute in Adelaide (Australia) in an ironic article posted on his blog has listed dozens of (real) researches signed by: Bastard, Crap, Dick, Junk, Prick … Reality, in few words, exceeds imagination.
Speaking about signatures, after Stronzo Bestiale case there’s another observation to do. My website has been seen by nearly 90 thousand people in few days and the story has gone around the world, inspiring among other things, a fake account on the site weibo.com in China (click to enlarge).
Professor Bestiale has inspired dozens of researchers and science enthusiasts, who reported me the most amazing research.
I remember two that are stuck in my mind:
|the group of galaxies HGC31, in a sensational phallic shape (page 17 of the study here: Canada-Usa, 2006, “The astronomical journal”);|
|and a molecular reaction that seems to come from the imagination of a porno graffiti artist (the study here: Brazil, 2004, “Inorganic chemistry”).|
I asked myself the reasons of this unexpected success. I think people like these stories because they reveal the human side of science, also made of jokes, taunts, oversights, errors or misunderstandings. Even scientists have emotions, they like to joke and play. Just like everyone of us.
[ Italian version here ]