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Contributions from Scott Gilbert
I once wrote an article about the importance of scientific puns. If you're interested it's:
Gilbert, S. F. (1985). Bacchus in the laborabory: In defense of scientific puns. Perspec. Biol. Med. 29: 148-152.
The punch-line, so to speak, is that puns create boundaries between knowers (cognescenti) and everyone else; they are a form of self-congratulations. They also create bonds between the teller and responder, for response to a pun signifies that one shares a common background or training. (Always take the absolute value of a response to a pun. It's the recognition that counts, not the directionality). In developmental biology, puns consolidate knowledge and make the responders feel that they have learned something. They are now in a community of cognescenti, whereas a few days before they would not have understood the joke.
1. George Lucas is filming a movie about the heroic attempts to eradicate the gypsy moth. What is it called?
2. What did the mesoderm say to Hensen's node?
WHY ARE YOU DETERMINED TO BE SUCH AN ASSHOLE?
Then, of course, there are the sperm anthropomorphism jokes:
1. Why is a lawyer like a human sperm?
THERE'S A ONE-IN-200-MILLION CHANCE OF HIS BEING A REAL PERSON.
2. Why does it take 200 million sperm to fertilize a human egg?
NONE OF THEM ARE WILLING TO STOP AND ASK DIRECTIONS.
If you have something you want posted on the Education Pages, please e-mail it to Rich Nuccitelli (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Modified Friday, October 20, 1995
Copyright 1995-1996, Society for Developmental Biology