In a recent post on the Weird Experiments blog, Reto U. Schneider reveals the results of probing Google Scholar for papers based on movie names. It’s a fairly easy exercise — simply type in a movie name, and watch the papers usher forth. The movies inspiring the most titles of academic papers include:
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- “The Good, the Bad, and the Outsourced”
- “The Good, the Bad, and the Whole Grain”
- “The Good, the Bad, and the Cell Type-Specific Roles of Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1 in Neurons and Astrocytes.”
- Sex, Lies, and Videotape
- “Sex, Lies, and Herbicides”
- “Sex, Lies, and Insurance Coverage”
- “Sex, Flies, and Microassays.”
- Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)
- “Everything you always wanted to know about Amorphophallus, but were afraid to stick your nose into!”
- “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Copula Modeling but Were Afraid to Ask”
- “Everything you always wanted to know about protein kinases but were afraid to ask.”
If you want to see how pervasive movie titles are in the scientific and academic literature, just run your favorite movie title through Google Scholar, and watch the results issue forth. It’s a mix of books, somewhat normal Google results, and scholarly results, but the papers are pretty easy to spot.
Not everything generates mild hilarity. The Lord of the Rings generates some disappointingly unimaginative entries, as does There’s Something About Mary.
As you’d anticipate, there’s a scolding quality to papers based on Dumb and Dumber — but it gets a little lost in on particularly forced example:
- “Dumb and dumber–the potential waste of a useful antistaphylococcal agent: emerging fusidic acid resistance in Staphylococcus aureus.”
You can also find strings of papers with titles borrowed from song titles, such as the Nirvana-inspired, “Smells Like Clean Spirit: Nonconscious Effects of Scent on Cognition and Behavior” and “Smells like sib spirit: kin recognition in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is mediated by olfactory cues.”
It’s a good reminder that science is a human endeavor, and that researchers are often a little giddy when they get to the point of writing their paper’s title.