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Does wearing a lab coat make you smarter?The phenomenon of ‘enclothed cognition’

Up to the 1800s, doctors traditionally wore black or beige coats during the course of their work. When exactly this changed is a matter of discussion, but around the beginning of the 19th Century, the white coat was introduced as the standard ‘uniform’ for doctors. Not because of the most obvious reason that all kinds…

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Chainsaws, yucca plants and airport trolleys – health hazards of the world’s top golfers

A round-up of news and oddities from left field by Dr Doug Witherspoon As we bid farewell to the more clement weather and it becomes more challenging to get a round of golf in, perhaps the more accident-prone among us are better off – even for the most skilled and coordinated pro, the strangest injuries…

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Research designed to raise a few eyebrows

This issue’s offering compiles for you a round-up of some of the more unusual research and strange events that have transpired in recent weeks. Our world is only partially recognisable from what it was like 18 months ago, but strangeness remains a constant. We begin with research that was first published in the Journal of…

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Sexual intercourse versus a decongestant for nasal breathing issues? Trust the science…

For those who like to take a sideways look at science and research, not least of the medical variety, the Ig Nobel awards are a highlight of the scientific calendar. The awards are for research that “first makes people laugh, then makes them think”. This year’s Ig Nobels threw-up the usual assortment of wondrous oddities.…

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The dapper drummer gathered no moss, but he did amass a fine collection of bespoke menswear

The old ‘the Beatles or the Stones’ debate continues ad infinitum among many music lovers as to which was the greatest band of all time. While just two Beatles are left standing, Stones fans will have noted with sadness the passing of the band’s drummer Charlie Watts recently, a man who stood out as an…

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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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