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Dammit, Science Writers Are Not Afraid To Curse

Illustration for article titled Dammit, Science Writers Are Not Afraid To Curse

On his eponymous personal blog, Nature Chemistry editor Stuart Cantrill offers a post on "how sweary Nature has been over the years," spurred by the use of "bollocks" in a 2014 piece on e-cigarettes.


Using George Carlin's famous "seven dirty words" bit as a guideline, he investigated hard-copy issues of the publication, which began in 1869. "Fuck" made it in for the first time in 1937.

Of those 7 dirty words, only 4 have appeared in Nature, and the one that has appeared the most (more than 650 times) is in an ornithological context rather than any swear-y sense. So that leaves fuck, piss and shit (and variations thereof). I've found 48 shits (including 13 bullshits, 1 shit-stirrer and 1 nano-shit), 26 piss-derived expressions, and a grand total of 10 fucks.


Cantrill goes on to break down the use of each "fuck," citing its specific context. Of particular amusement:

It's only in 1989 that 'fuck' is first used in anger. While reviewing Stephen Jay Gould'sWonderful Life, Richard Fortey repeats a quote ("Oh fuck, another new phylum") featured in the book.

Via Language Log.

Photo by Keenan Pepper.


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I prefer made up sci fi cursing usually. Use that science writers!