(Unintended) scientific humour

During my research I have often come across some quite funny/surprising/shocking titles and

lines. I guess Mark Twain’s quote “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” is taken quite seriously.

Apparently, there are also some studies that focus on humour in scientific publications (e.g. Sagi, I., & Yechiam, E. 2008. Amusing titles in scientific journals and article citation, Journal of Information Science). It seems that their conclusions may be a little off-putting for those looking for a good pun:  “humorous titles yield lower amounts of citation”…

In any case, they make a perfect topic for a Sunday post. So here is my brief list with some of the highlights from the past month or so. It is a list of mostly unintended humour, from mere stupid lines to funny ones, all making one wander “what was the author thinking about !?”


– “Small-town Martyrs and Murderers: Religious Revolution and Counterrevolution in Western France, 1774-1914” (Edward J. Woell- The Heythrop Journal, 2008)

– “How Thin Is a Demon?” (Gregory A. Smith- Journal of Early Christian Studies, 2008)

– “The Blood of the Female Martyrs as the Sperm of the Early Church” (JN Vorster – Religion and Theology, 2003 )

– “Not guppies, nor goldfish, but tumble dryers, Noriega, Jesse Jackson, panties, car crashes, bird books, and Stevie Wonder
(Gert Storms, Paul De Boeck, Iven Van Mechelen, Wim Ruts- Memory & Cognition 1998) (the abstract is delicious too: “…The most frequently given examples of this effect,guppy and goldfish, are shown not to be more typical of the conjunctionpet fish than offish in two between-subjects and one within-subjects experiment.”  http://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2FBF03211377)


reading Peter Brown (1982, The cult of saints): “Up to the present, it is still normal to assume that the average homo religiosus of the Mediterranean, and more especially, the average woman, is, like Winnie the Pooh, “a bear of very little brain.” ”

moving on:

“Every self-respecting suburban garden center can supply a concrete statue of Saint Francis with a bird perched on his shoulder, and over thirty filmmakers, going back before the “talkies,” have given us versions of Saint Joan of Arc.” (Lawrence Cunningham 2008, A Brief History of Saints)


Roman Toilets of the Capital‘ workshop. My favourite I think is the last contribution listed in the programme:

How to Inspect a Roman Toilet: Important Issues for Consideration (Dr. Gemma Jansen)

And to finish this in style, I have just been shown this news, “Classical sculptures dressed as hipsters look contemporary and totally badass“. (http://todayilearned.co.uk/2013/06/13/classical-sculptures-dressed-as-hipsters-look-contemporary-and-totally-badass/).

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” (Charlie Chaplin)


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