Digging through a box in my garage this week, I came across a treasure from days of yore (image below, scanned pdf version here). Below you will find Denatured a parody of the table of contents from Nature, filled with snarky comments about the journal, various leading researchers at the time, and laboratory life in general. This isn’t quite pre-internet humor, as by 1992, most of us working at universities had email addresses and access to discussion forums via Usenet, but it does qualify as pre-Web (Mosaic and the Trojan Room Coffee Pot wouldn’t appear for another year).
And so we had to rely on samizdat for the spread of cultural humor, as xeroxed copies like this one somehow made their way from lab to lab. I know little of the origins of this particular example (and if you do have more info, please reply below in the comments). The authors appear to be from the UK, given the spelling, and jokes about local research institutions and the Welsh Rugby Team. They were clearly scientists (as can be inferred from the one lame attempt at a naughty sex joke) and I’m guessing molecular biologists as the preponderance of scientists named are from that field.
Regardless of the details, it’s good to see that a lot of the humor still holds up, particularly the jokes aimed at publishing (whether in Denatured or its rival journal Cool). Some things never change.