Joke Christmas medical journal papers make unfunny bad science

Respected medical journal the BMJ has a long history of publishing silly papers at Christmas, but the joke is wearing thin – and actually harming science

Christmas is coming, and so are the cheesy seasonal science stories. For most of the year, the BMJ publishes some of the most important medical research conducted today. But at the end of the year, it turns to what it calls “light-hearted fare and satire” – also known as silly tabloid fodder.

The work, while “real” according to the BMJ, has at times been impossible to test or based on fictional characters and traits. The journal has previously published a paper looking at whether the magical skills possessed by the fictional Harry Potter were heritable and why Rudolph the reindeer’s nose is red.

Sure, it is all a bit of fun. But not everyone is in on the joke – and in an era of fake news, maybe it is time for a rethink. The BMJ tells journalists reporting its

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