A Guide to QI. Series I, Episode 9 'Illness'

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The Epworth Sleepiness Scale came in the I-series of QI under the guise of "Indices".  If you'd like to take the test yourself, then get yourself over to Stanford's website here:


and for more information, check out the official website of the Index's inventor, Dr Murray Johns, here:


The perpetual pill of antimony which was a small lump of Antimony that was swallowed, fished out of the patient's stool, cleaned off, and used again and again can be read about in the excellent book:  "The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison" by John Emsley.


What else is Antimony used for?  Well there's a video for most elements on Youtube - and here is the antimony one:

The shepherd of the anus of the pharoah is well attested over the net, for instance, in this well-written article on medicine in Ancient Egypt:


Our resident scientist and web king, known in these parts as Dr.Bob, read through Ben Goldacre's bad science book and took out all of the most interesting facts related to the placebo effect.  There is way too much to replicate here, but you can read the whole post on our talkboards:


The Garn Scale is named after Jake Garn and you can read all about it here:


It's an informal name for the index, the more formal version is 'Space Adaptation Syndrome' and the wiki on the subject is well worth reading if you want to learn more:


The question about 'Intelligent Falling' as we wrote it was actually about the difference between the scientific use of the word 'Theory' and the layman's use.  We attempted to invoke the idea of "Intelligent Falling" to those ends, but perhaps that wasn't all that intelligent of us, as it ended up being a rant againt the American Intelligent Design movement. 

Here is a video about 'Intelligent Falling':

...and who better, given the fact that the question turned into a rant against religion, to explain the point we were trying to put across about the word "theory" than Richard Dawkins:

Drapetomania, the
pseudo-medical term coined to describe a 'disease' found among black slaves in the United States. The main symptom of the disease was their desire to run away from their masters. Can be read about in Arthur Caplan's book: 'Health, Disease and Illness' as well as in the following websites:


Dr Samul Cartwright's description of the phenomenon can be found at this link.

Here's an article from the British Medical Jounral about the "murder" of George V:


and here's an article from the ever-entertaining Fortean Times about Tarrare and other great eaters:


In a 2008 outbreak, a study found that people infected with bubonic plague were more likely to share a bed with a dog than uninfected counterparts.  The citation is "dog-associated risk factors for human plague" by Gould et al.

The CART technique for shallow-breathing when having a panic attack was developed by Dr Alicia Meurat - here is here website with a list of her papers on the subject:


and the fact that c
atharsis--"letting it all out"--isn't helpful and, in fact, may increase an angry  person's hostility comes from a 1999 study by psychologist Brad Bushman, PhD, and colleagues, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 76, No. 3).


So how many portions of fruit and veg should we be eating?  Here are a couple of articles on the whole '5 a day' idea:



The number, it seems, was picked out of the air:

"We all understand targets in the policy world. I remember being in the room when we were being briefed by Americans on five-a-day, which we adopted from them. They chose five partly as it was considered a nice round sum and partly because it seemed possible, given how low consumption of fruit and vegetables was."

And finally.  Setting fire to farts.  This most scatological of questions came from the reading of the book: "Who Cut The Cheese":


It's a must-read for anyone who likes obscure facts and farting. 

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by eggshaped published on November 7, 2011 1:44 PM.

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