clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Here's what scares scientists when they're out in the field

New, 4 comments

Researchers dodge bears, fend off venomous insects, endure dangerous weather and even more dangerous people — all in the name of science. This week, they took to Twitter to talk about their close calls in remote locations, and the hashtag #FieldWorkScares was born.

"Someone mentioned that the stress of fieldwork made every little thing scary which I agreed with so I created the #FieldworkScares as a way of showcasing this," ecologist Scott Davidson, told The Verge via direct message. But while some shared photos and stories about false alarms, others gave scary insights into the real risks of fieldwork. Risks, like itchy corn rashes and stumbling across cars filled with dead pigs. Also bears.

But a darker theme emerged, too. No matter how remote the location, unsafe the weather, or infected the bug bite — other people are the scariest things around. The data backs that up: in a 2014 study, more than 20 percent of people who responded to an online survey reported being sexually assaulted while doing fieldwork.

Even as they one-upped each other, scientists pointed out that swapping stories shouldn’t encourage a culture of toughness. "#FieldWorkScares remind us there are #researchers putting their bodies on the line for #science.We take precautions but there r always risks," tweeted Australian veterinarian and conservation scientist Stephanie Hing. So the conversation slowly shifted to #FieldSafety — which is equally horrifying, in its own, special way.