What’s better than brain doping? Cello Scrotum is what.

OK I have a lot to learn. I was (and still am) pretty proud of the April 1 prank I pulled off this year with many other bloggers announcing a fake crackdown on brain doping. But my joke is not even close to this one. A letter in a recent issue of BMJ has announced that the malady known as Cello Scrotum was in fact made up. Why did they make this up? In response to a publication about guitar nipple (for more on this see CNN and the Times Online). And now they have confessed only 35 years later.

And I must say – God Bless Pubmed Central. Because here is the original very brief letter which I am posting below:

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

6 thoughts on “What’s better than brain doping? Cello Scrotum is what.”

  1. Sir – One of the reasons I like to read _Nature_ and _The Economist_ is the archaic Britishness of their letter columns. These BMJ letters are of the same delightful nature.Speaking of “etc.” what’s up with the closing phrase “I am, etc.”? I mean I *get* the Sir part — a relic of the days when the editorial staff of a journal was often one male person — but I can’t make heads or tails of the closing — anybody have an idea?I am, etc.Jonathan Badger


  2. Note the perpetrators of this hoax include a member of the House of Lords, no less. The BMJ actually has a tradition of running non-serious pieces, especially in the Christmas issue — articles that are research (sort of) but on non-serious topics, like the histology of haggis, for example, or the correlation between publishing success and HLA-type.


  3. Before I read the original, I feared that “cello” was in the sense of “cello tape” — and that the disease caused the sufferer’s scrotum to become transparent.


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