Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's better than brain doping? Cello Scrotum is what.

OK I have a lot to learn. I was (and still am) pretty proud of the April 1 prank I pulled off this year with many other bloggers announcing a fake crackdown on brain doping. But my joke is not even close to this one. A letter in a recent issue of BMJ has announced that the malady known as Cello Scrotum was in fact made up. Why did they make this up? In response to a publication about guitar nipple (for more on this see CNN and the Times Online). And now they have confessed only 35 years later.

And I must say - God Bless Pubmed Central. Because here is the original very brief letter which I am posting below:


  1. Sir -
    One of the reasons I like to read _Nature_ and _The Economist_ is the archaic Britishness of their letter columns. These BMJ letters are of the same delightful nature.

    Speaking of "etc." what's up with the closing phrase "I am, etc."? I mean I *get* the Sir part -- a relic of the days when the editorial staff of a journal was often one male person -- but I can't make heads or tails of the closing -- anybody have an idea?

    I am, etc.
    Jonathan Badger

  2. I was wondering this. I just figured it was like an abbreviation for something like "I am humbly yours ..."

  3. Note the perpetrators of this hoax include a member of the House of Lords, no less.

    The BMJ actually has a tradition of running non-serious pieces, especially in the Christmas issue -- articles that are research (sort of) but on non-serious topics, like the histology of haggis, for example, or the correlation between publishing success and HLA-type.

  4. Thanks Andy. Not sure what happened to my text in the post about the House of Lords. But that is one of the more delicious parts of this story.

  5. Before I read the original, I feared that "cello" was in the sense of "cello tape" -- and that the disease caused the sufferer's scrotum to become transparent.

  6. The LA Times has an article about this today (but I read it here first)!,0,597841.story


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