The scientific community has always had a long-held a fondness for coming up with creative collective nouns for groups of animals. From a clowder of cats to a crash of rhinoceroses to the better known murder of crows, the variety of names are plentiful and often a little ridiculous.
Now scientists have turned the creative nomenclature onto themselves, thanks to the hashtag #ScientistHerdNames which began trending overnight.
What would you call a group of audiologists for example?
A collective of weather scientists?
There’s even a special mention reserved for the anti-science community:
The trend seems to have originated with Ritankar Majumda (Twitter name @ritankarm), a Post-doctoral fellow at National Institutes of Health. A couple of days ago he blogged about an article by consultant pathologist Sanjai Pai, which was published in the British Medical Journal all the way back in 2002.
So it was actually Pai who first proposed a new set of collective names for doctors 14 years ago, writing: “Why is it that you can see a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, and other such delightful collective terms, but only a boring crowd of journalists, historians, and doctors? In fact, one uses the same collective term, “crowd,” for all sorts of doctors.”
“I propose a new set of collective terms for doctors.”
Pai proposed some quirky new suggestions, including “a Gray of anatomists (not to be mistaken for the unit that radiotherapists use), a flap of plastic surgeons, a joint of orthopaedic surgeons, a g(l)ut of gastroenterologists, an apron of nurses, and an orbit of ophthalmologists.”
And so it seems the internet has finally heeded his call! Behold the hilarious glory of the many creative new collective nouns that the internet has proposed:
Time will tell whether the scientific community actually chooses to embrace and utilise any of these terms, but in the meantime, the trend has certainly challenged the misconception that scientists don’t have a sense of humour.
In fact, it’s the second time in a week that the scientific community has kicked off such a trend on social media. Earlier this week Twitter user @Daurmith kicked off another interesting topic when she imagined what it would be like if male scientists were written about as though they were female.
She took to Twitter (originally in Spanish) with reimagined biographies, humorously - yet accurately - highlighting the sexist attitudes successful women face. Although descriptions of women that involve their non-career (and often domestic) achievements plague more than just the science field, these famous scientist biographies really brought the point home.