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Tee time: Swinging a ‘banana ball’ shot at the weird and wonderful origins of golf

As things stand when this is written, golf’s PGA Tour 2021 is about to tee-off, while Ireland’s Leona Maguire has just played a starring role on her Solheim Cup debut as Europe retained the cup on US soil. The professional golf circuit is of course a highly sophisticated machine that caters for the players’ every…

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They put their right foot in, their right foot out –a dance of death that puzzled doctors for centuries

Following on from the last issue’s overview of the ‘Laughter Epidemic’ of Tanganyika, let’s touch on another condition with bizarre and confusing symptoms that baffled doctors when it manifested in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th Centuries. ‘Dancing mania’ – also known as ‘dancing plague’, ‘choreomania’, ‘St John’s Dance’, ‘tarantism’ and ‘St Vitus Dance’…

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Mass psychogenic illness was no laughing matter for the kids of Tanganyika

We all need a laugh from time-to-time, but the ‘Laughter Epidemic’ of Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1962 was, you might say, beyond a joke. Still, it is one of the best-known instances of mass hysteria and an interesting medical history side-note for the medical detectives among you. It all kicked-off on 31 January 1962 in…

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The roots of medicinal cannabis use

A round-up of news and oddities from left field by Dr Doug Witherspoon In years gone by, the suggestion of using cannabis for medicinal purposes would have raised a lot more eyebrows that it does today. Likewise, CBD has blossomed into an industry in itself, so perhaps it’s apt to now take a look over…

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Lockdown 2.0 — could the ‘cure’ prove to be worse than the disease?

When discussing the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it has become obligatory to add the phrase ‘at time of writing’. This is done in the full knowledge that what is written in the current context now may be a historical footnote in two weeks’ time. And so, ‘at the time of writing’, the rates of infection are still…

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An indispensible companion

that takes the pressure off At the time of writing, there is much hand-wringing and number-crunching as committees, sub-committees and specialist subgroups are formed to determine when lockdown should be fully lifted. The negative psychological aspects of self-isolation have been widely reported and this is no doubt on the minds of the policy-makers who will…

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Freedom of speech — to a point

With everything that has been going on with you-know-what, we could be forgiven for shrugging when World Press Freedom Day came and passed on 3 May. A minor landmark but perhaps one that should rank a little higher on the list of days dedicated to esoteric topics such as ‘National Popcorn Day’ and ‘National Thesaurus…

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Fact vs fiction: Disappearing down the Covid-19 rabbit hole

Whatever the eventual consequences of Covid-19 may be, it has brought to light some interesting developments in medical-governmental-industry collaboration. It has also provided sometimes ridiculous, sometimes troubling, insights into human nature in times of crisis. In addition, it has spawned some controversial theories regarding the origins of the virus. Therefore, in keeping with the tradition…

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