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October is the cruelest month

by Geoff Hart

Previously published as: Hart, G.J. 2003. October is the cruelest month. the Exchange 10(4):5.

Those of us who work with scientists often think that we have it tough. Of course, toughness is always relative, and though the grass often seems greener on the other side of the fence, sometimes it's not always grass. Pace T.S. Eliot, this time I'll propose that October is really the cruelest month—at least in the minds of the editors of Popular Science.

The October issue of the magazine contains an article entitled The Worst Jobs in Science that should make even the most jaundiced scientific communicator grateful for the relatively minor ills of our jobs. The editors selected their top 18 favorites by rating the jobs based on the following criteria: career-track bait and switch, futility, "inspires reflexive ridicule", inspires hatred, involves digestive product, olfactory overload, physical torture, political quagmire, psychological torture, risk of death, risk of disease, risk of physical violence, and the onomatopoeic "zzzzzzzzzz". Each job is accompanied by delightful icons representing the criteria that earned it the dubious honor of appearing in the list. My favorite? Using Barney the dinosaur on the icon representing psychological torture.

Pick up a copy of the magazine, or visit Popular Science online to see the article.

My essays on scientific communication have now been collected in the following book:

Hart, G. 2011. Exchanges: 10 years of essays on scientific communication. Diaskeuasis Publishing, Pointe-Claire, Que. Printed version, 242 p.; eBook in PDF format, 327 p.

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