stories from the wilder side of science


And the Winner is "The Good the Bad and the Outsourced"

Posted on December 4, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Who would have thought that scientists favourite movie is a spaghetti western? I can prove it statistically: No other movie title pops up more often in the heading of a scientific paper than Sergio Leones The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Below a ranking of the films that were most often referenced in google scholar:


1. The Good, the Bad and the Outsourced (Health Manag Technol, 22: 22-24)

based on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966) 

2710 hits at google scholar

Variations include The Good, the Bad and the Whole Grain (Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 17: 16-19) and The Good, the Bad, and the Cell Type-Specific Roles of Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1 in Neurons and Astrocytes (The Journal of Neuroscience, 28:1988-1993).


2.  Sex, Lies, and Herbicides (Nature Biotechnology 18: 241)

based on Sex Lies and Videotape (Steven Soderberghs, 1989)

526 hits at google scholar

How about Sex, lies, and insurance coverage? (Tort Insur Law J, 34:921-4),  Sex, Guys, and Cyberspace (Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 11: 63-91) or Sex, Flies and Microarrays (Nature Genetics 29: 355 - 356). Some of them even rhyme: Sex, Lies and Tumor Size (J Urol, 179: 1657).

3. Everything you always wanted to know about Amorphophallus, but were afraid to stick your nose into! (Aroideana 19: 7-131)

Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) (Woody Allen, 1972)

513 hits at google scholar

I can vaguely see why one could be afraid to stick ones nose into an Amorphophallus (which is a genus of tropical and subtropical plants from the Arum family with a spadix that looks like a penis) but in other cases of cinematographic headline formation it is more difficult to understand why anyone should be afraid: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Copula Modeling but Were Afraid to Ask (Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 12: 347-368 ), Everything you always wanted to know about protein kinases but were afraid to ask (Biology of the Cell 97: 113–118 ).

4. Some like it haute: leadership lessons from France's great chefs (Organizational Dynamics 30: 134–148 )

based on Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

512 hits at google scholar

5. Dances with Leukocytes (Journal of Cell Biology, 183: 375-376)

based on Dances With Wolves (Kevin Kostner, 1990)

454 hits at google scholar

It's amazing who and what can be danced with: Dances with Horses (Conservation Biology 10: 708–712), Dances with Data (Bioethics 7:323-9), Dances with Sigmas (EMBO Journal 10: 3559–3566).


6. The Incredible Shrinking Lesbian World and other Queer Conundra (Sexualities 13: 21-32)

based on The Incredible Shrinking Man (Jack Arnold, 1957)

424 hits at google scholar

If something can be danced with there is no reason why it can't be shrinked too: The Incredible Shrinking Pipeline (Communications of the ACM, 40: 103 - 110), The Incredible Shrinking Torus (Nuclear Physics B, 501: 409-426), The Incredible Shrinking Law School (University of Toledo Law Review 31).

7. The Silence of the Lambdas: Deterring Incapacitation Research (Journal of Quantitative Criminology 23: 287-301)

based on The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

400 hits at google scholar (estimation)

The silence of the ribosomal RNA genes (Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences  62: 2067-2079), The Silence of the Labs (Defence Horizons 2003), The Science of the Lambs (Nature 391).


8. The unbearable lightness of being... a cirrhotic (Gastroenterology 105: 1911-4)

based on The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman, 1988 )

297 hits at google scholar

Based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Milan Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness of PIN Cracking (Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Financial cryptography 2007), The unbearable lightness of peptidyl-tRNA (The Ribosome: Structure, Function, Antibiotics, and Cellular Interaction 2000) and The Unbearable Lightness of Cleaning: Representations of Domestic Practice and Products in Good Housekeeping Magazine (UK): 1951–2001 (Consumption, Markets and Culture 8: 379-401) and obviously .


9. One Flew over the Cardiologist's Nest (Arch Mal Coeur Vaiss. 94: 624-31)

based on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)

205 hits at google scholar

If something can be danced with and shrinked it can also be flown over (and it's astonishing who sits in the nest below): One Flew over the Conflict of Interest Nest (World Psychiatry 6:26-7), One Flew over the Progenitor's Nest: Migratory Cells Find a Home in Osteoarthritic Cartilage (Cell Stem Cell 4:282-4).


10. Once Upon a Time in the Electron Radiation Belts (American Geophysical Union, Spring Meeting 2007, abstract #SM52A-01)

based on Once upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968 )

99 hits at google scholar

Did I miss something? Let me know.

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Reply Guy Plunkett III
8:23 PM on February 6, 2011 
Not a movie title, but it is a quote from The Lord of the Rings -- which was also made into a movie ;-) The BEST scientific paper title (and a good paper as well, whatever its Google Scholar rating):
Thomas CA Jr. "The rule of the ring." J Cell Physiol. 1967 Oct;70(2):Suppl:13-33. PMID: 4867582
Reply Michael Meadon
5:17 AM on February 7, 2011 
You forgot the best one! "Gorillas in our Midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events".
Reply ruschneider
5:25 AM on February 7, 2011 
How could I have missed that!! I just interviewed the author and wrote a long piece about it. Inattentional forgetfulness...
Reply lucam
9:30 AM on February 10, 2011 
you missed this one! ;-)
Some things couples always wanted to know about stable matchings (but were afraid to ask)
Reply Victor
12:33 PM on February 11, 2011 
One of mine is inspired by a movie title: "The Last Picture Show"!
Reply Eleanor
5:41 AM on February 16, 2011 
riff on "Of Mice and Men" abound!
FOXP3: of mice and men
Of mice and men: species variations of Toll-like receptor expression
Of mice and (Viking?) men: phylogeography of British and Irish house mice
Reply Antoine Malibran
8:28 AM on February 18, 2011 
Nice article!
You could mention as well a tribute to Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels :
"Dumb and dumber--the potential waste of a useful antistaphylococcal agent: emerging fusidic acid resistance in Staphylococcus aureus", by Howden BP and Grayson ML, in Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Feb 1;42(3):394-400.
Reply SnarpTrearO
12:12 PM on June 3, 2011 
lart mikid
Reply Ruby
11:04 PM on June 8, 2012 
I am quite surprised too! I can be a geek sometimes too and I have enjoyed some of the movies here. Definitely going to watch the others.
Reply Ruby
11:06 PM on June 8, 2012 
Also, as a self-proclaimed geek and movie fanatic, I am wondering why Startrek and Star Wars aren't included in the list.
Reply Marlies
3:07 AM on February 25, 2013 
A hitchhiker's guide to mechanobiology.
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