Thursday, 18 December 2008

Public Health update: Papal mortality and Welsh rugby

The most recent issue of the British Medical Journal, the Christmas edition, continues the tradition of prior years in reporting on the truth (or lack thereof) in popular medical knowledge.

Here is a sample of one of the medical myths put to the test:

Payne GC, Payne RE, Farewell DM. Rugby (the religion of Wales) and its influence on the Catholic church: should Pope Benedict XVI be worried? BMJ 2008;337:a2768. doi:10.1136/bmj.a2768

Objective: To explore the perceived wisdom that papal mortality is related to the success of the Welsh rugby union team.

Design: Retrospective observational study of historical Vatican and sporting data.

Main outcome measure: Papal deaths between 1883 and the present day.

Results: There is no evidence of a link between papal deaths and any home nation grand slams (when one nation succeeds in beating all other competing teams in every match). There was, however, weak statistical evidence to support an association between Welsh performance and the number of papal deaths.

Conclusion: Given the dominant Welsh performances of 2008, the Vatican medical team should take special care of the pontiff this Christmas.

A link to the editorial covering all the myth-busting articles can be found here:

Delamothe T. Editor's Choice: Everything you know is wrong. BMJ 2008;337:a3027. doi:10.1136/bmj.a3027

1 comment:

Her Grace, Eva Bellambi said...

Oh dear. I shall commence lighting candles for the Pope now.


p.s. I am sending you the cleaning bill as I just spewed my tea onto my newest gown while reading this.