Scientific pseudonyms

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This article, about the grave (and life) of Powell Crosley Jr., reminded me of my graduate school colleague Crosley Shelvador, M.D.

OK, the "M.D." part is fictional, and the "colleague" part might be considered as a misleading way to refer to an elderly but functional refrigerator. For some of the facts, see "Dr. Alfred Crockus and Crosley Shelvador, M.D.", 9/19/2007; "Crosley Shelvador comes in from the cold", 9/20/2007; "Stronzo Bestiale, Galadriel Mirkwood, Crosley Shelvador, …", 10/10/2014.

Anyhow, this post starts a chronological list of scientific pseudonyms — at least those that resulted in one or more real (or at least cited) publications — along with links to the associated stories and Google Scholar's publications and citations. The list is certainly incomplete, and additions via the comments will be welcome.

I'll start with Nicholas Bourbaki, whose works (begun in 1934) were first published in 1939, and are far more serious and influential than those of the other scholarly noms de plume listed here.

Then there's Quang Phúc Đông and Yuck Foo, pseudonyms of James McCawley. Their works were were first circulated in mimeographed form (two of Quang's papers here: "English sentences without overt grammatical subject"; "A note on conjoined noun phrases"), and then included in a 1971 publication, reprinted in 1992: Arnold Zwicky, Peter Salus, Robert Binnick, and Anthony Vanek, eds., Studies out in Left Field: Defamatory essays presented to James D. McCawley on his 33rd or 34th birthday.  As far as I know, Yuck Foo's work appears only in a footnote to one of Quang's papers:

Then we get to Galadriel Mirkwood, an afghan hound who began publishing in 1978.

And then Stronzo Bestiale, whose first publication appeared in 1987 ("Diffusion in a periodic Lorentz gas", Journal of Statistical Physics 48, 709-726), and locates him at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Palermo — which does not seem to exist in this particular instance of the multiverse:

And finally we get back to Crosley Shelvador, whose first publication was a 1996 book review in Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America — then edited by Mark Aronoff, another colleague of Crosley's from the 1970s.



  1. Fernando said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 9:04 am

    Oh, now I want a pseudonym of my own…

    Richard Guy wrote two book reviews of the Mathematical Association of America under the pseudonym "Dick Fellow". In one case, the book Dick Fellow was reviewing had Richard Guy as one of the co-authors. The "about the reviewer" section gave an entirely truthful biography of Fellow/Guy, and ended with "His motto is 'If E. T. Bell could do it, so can I.'", a reference to mathematician E. T. Bell's alter-ego the science fiction writer John Taine.

  2. mg said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 9:30 am

    You left out the most ubiquitous of all – Student (William Sealy Gossett), whose "Student's t-test" is one of the first statistical tests researchers learn and is very widely used in the scientific literature.

  3. Guy Plunkett III said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 9:41 am

    I invented Dr. Ohno Itsunotme over 35 years ago, in the Dawn Age of the internets, as a fake scientist who worked in the field of Molecular Theology. He was never published, but was one of the authors of a poster presented at the University of California – Berkeley. The title of the poster was "Sequence Analysis of PLAV (Pinko Liberal Associated Virus): Genomic Satanic Messages and the Spread of Secular Humanism"

  4. Stephen Goranson said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 10:24 am

    Batson D. Sealing
    named author of
    Three Unrecognized Demotic Texts
    a 1990 hoax
    available only in a preprint of
    Discussions in Egyptology
    claiming text putatively published in an old (fake) New Orleans publication
    and noted in British press
    and still partly, as far as I've seen, unsolved.

  5. Ron Irving said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 11:12 am

    Two more:
    1. John Rainwater, my long-time colleague in the Math department at the University of Washington in Seattle. Wikipedia entry here:
    And a biography here:

    2. H. Pétard, author of "A Contribution to the Mathematical Theory of Big Game Hunting," which appeared in the American Mathematical Monthly in 1938. This also has a Washington connection, as the author, Ralph Boas, was born in Walla Walla and spent his retirement years in Seattle. The text of the article is reprinted here:
    Wikipedia has this entry on Boas:
    It appears that Frank Smithies is jointly responsible for the article on big game hunting.

    By the way, regarding E.T. Bell, mentioned in the first comment above, he received his Master's degree at Washington and returned to join the faculty a few years later, eventually moving on to Caltech.

  6. Brett said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 12:48 pm

    From the comments on that "Lawyers, Gun, and Money" grave post, I learned where the "Shelvador" brand name came from. Apparently, Crosley's refrigerators were the first to have door shelves, which the name was created to emphasize.

  7. Jerry Packard said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 3:16 pm

    A tip of the hat to Jim McCawley.

  8. Chas Belov said,

    June 8, 2022 @ 11:19 pm

    Grimaced at the faux-Asian pseudonyms.

    As for humorous papers, I fondly remember the years when I subscribed to the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

  9. Philip Taylor said,

    June 9, 2022 @ 4:19 am

    No scientific pseudonym involved, but this spoof paper on the Y Window System, with its discussion of words, phrases, sentences, etc., may be of interest to this with an interest in the history of the linguistic aspects of computing.

  10. Daniel Deutsch said,

    June 9, 2022 @ 8:50 am

    Political scientist Bernard Groffman sometimes published as A. Wuffle.

  11. wanda said,

    June 9, 2022 @ 9:37 am

    I also find the pseudo-Asian names distasteful, especially as they were chosen to highlight the resemblance of some real Asian names to scatological terms in English.

  12. Jerry Packard said,

    June 9, 2022 @ 12:09 pm

    I agree.

  13. Erik Mueller-Harder said,

    June 9, 2022 @ 1:40 pm

    Josiah S. Carberry, Professor of Psychoceramics since at least 1929 at Brown University:

  14. David L said,

    June 9, 2022 @ 3:40 pm

    Not exactly a pseudonym, but I can't resist mentioning Einstein's one-time collaborator S.B. Preuss.

  15. heino said,

    June 9, 2022 @ 7:53 pm

    Preformationists believed that the perfectly formed organism (though tiny) is already present in a germ cell, one school maintaining that the miniature individual was located in the sperm cell. In 1699 François de la Plantade (under the Latinized, anagrammatic pseudonym Dalenpatius) published an illustrated account of his sighting of little humans in sperm – as a satire aimed at ridiculing preformationist beliefs. His account is in 'Nouvelles de la République des Lettres', May 1699, pages 552-554 & the accompanying, unpaged plate.

  16. Peter Taylor said,

    June 11, 2022 @ 7:42 am

    Shalosh B. Ekhad has an impressive publication record (Google Scholar, zbMath) for an inanimate object. It is a computer (or, I suspect, a series of computers) owned and operated by its most frequent co-author, Doron Zeilberger.

  17. pamela said,

    June 11, 2022 @ 4:25 pm

    my father's old cousin Powell (my father's family uses both spellings). he and his brother, clever people.

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