I have been reading Pharyngula for many years before joining FtB. Recently, PZ published excerpts from a couple of papers, which caused me to both laugh and groan at the evident laziness of the reviewers. In one case, a review in Cell seemed unaware that flies are, in fact, animals. In a paper published in PLoS One (and later retracted), the authors concluded that the hand is perfectly designed by a Creator. In both cases I found myself asking, doesn’t anyone proofread these before sending them out? Even so, don’t the reviewers actually read through the bloody paper before publishing them?! It certainly seems as though they pick through them with a fine-toothed comb whenever I try to get some work published!
The disappointment aside, there is one paper that I do not recall PZ ever mentioning, but I feel that it deserves a shout out all the same. Not because the science is faulty (it seems perfectly fine), nor because of an idiotic conclusion. It deserves a shout out because it is just so, damned funny. It comes from another one of our beloved PloS Journals, PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
The title of this masterpiece, you ask? Well, that’s where the fun begins. The paper is titled An In Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit: Distribution of Schistosoma mansoni and Hookworm Eggs in Human Stool.
Now that’s ballsy. If it was just left at the provocative title I probably would have never even bothered bringing it up. Scientists often use puns or jargon in their titles to draw attention to their papers, though I am surprised that they had the nerve to go with the word “shit”. However, the crowning jewel of this paper is Figure 1. I now give you the most hilariously ridiculous figure I have ever seen published in a paper in my life. Just in case the title of the paper left you in any doubt as to what they were doing, this figure should make it perfectly clear.
I’m not kidding, that’s Figure 1.
I hope for that woman’s sake that drawing is not to scale.