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Continuing need for the ‘medical effects of sword-swallowing’ study

Jennifer Weiss, writing in the Wall Street Journal, explores the continuing need for the prize-winning study “Sword-Swallowing and Its Side Effects“. The study’s authors, Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer, were awarded the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize for medicine. Witcombe and Meyer’s Ig Nobel acceptance speech is documented in this brief video:

The Wall Street Journal article says, in part:

Students Take a Stab at Sword Swallowing
Sword swallowers are on edge as TV and the Internet spur neophytes to guide sharp objects down their throats

Don’t try this at home, the master of ceremonies of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow cautioned, and with good reason.

One performer was reclining on a bed of spikes. Another danced on a pile of broken glass. And his own “human blockhead” act involved hammering a nail into his nasal cavity.

Then there was Betty Bloomerz, who wore a black skirt and fishnet stockings as she moved playfully in time to Louis Prima’s swing classic “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

As about 30 spectators looked on in a small Brooklyn theater, Ms. Bloomerz tilted her head back, placed a foot-long blade into her mouth and, using her tongue, began to move it in time to the music. She let the sword drop downward until its metallic gold hilt came to rest near her bright red lips. Then she pulled it out with a flourish.

Point taken….

A study [Dan] Meyer co-wrote with Brian Witcombe, a British radiologist, found that “sword swallowers run a higher risk of injury when they are distracted or adding embellishments to their performance.”

The authors got information for their research from 46 practitioners. The study was published in the British Medical Journal in 2006 under the title “Sword swallowing and its side effects.”

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