Today, February 22, is International Sword Swallowers Day, created by sword swallower — and Ig Nobel Prize winner — Dan Meyer, who also created the organization Sword Swallowers Association International, of which he serves as president. Dan, an American, together with Dr. Brian Witcombe, a Briton, shared the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize for medicine, for their penetrating medical report “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects” [published in the British Medical Journal, December 23, 2006, vol. 333, pp. 1285-7]. This video documents the acceptance speech the pair delivered at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard in 2007:
Huffington Post reports about Dan and the day:
For instance, in 1868, a sword swallower assisted Dr. Adolf Kussmaul in Freiburg, Germany, in developing the first rigid endoscopy. Another sword swallower underwent the first esophageal electrocardiogram in Wales in 1906.
In both cases, the researchers got the credit, but the sword swallowers’ names disappeared down the esophagus of time, and Meyer just doesn’t think that’s right.”Sword swallowers go unrecognized, but their physical and mental abilities to shut off bodily reflexes is very helpful to scientists studying the inner workings of the body,” he told HuffPost in 2012.
To emphasize that point, Meyer scheduled World Sword Swallowers Day in February, which is also National Swallowing Disorders Month.
(Thanks to investigator Neil Judell for bringing this to our attention.)