D&D Misrepresented in Medical Journal Review


Off-Topic Discussions


I recently read a link to CNN website called MedPage. They usually do a summation of medical journal articles, and present them with tips on how to improve your health. I don’t read it every day, but it seems to be a pretty innocuous site.

However, one of the most recent articles on MedPage is about the prevalence of self-inflicted harm on members of “Goth” culture, based on a journal article published on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in February.

The web posting gives a decent summation of the journal. But then. . . Completely out of left field, the review states:

“There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon.”

The original cohort study in the BMJ interviewed children in SCOTLAND. It never mentions, studies, or draws comparisons to Goth culture or subculture in the United States, nor is there ANY mention of Dungeons and Dragons anywhere in the original journal article. The reviewer simply added it in.

I find that line about D&D to be very misrepresentative. The journal reviewer that wrote this review is Dr. Robert Jasmer, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco. His e-mail address at the University of California is robert.jasmer@ucsf.edu.

I am writing him to present my experience of Dungeons and Dragons as a healthy pastime with many positive social effects, and I am urging him to either present research that supports such a claim, or offer a retraction of that line in a future MedPage article.

I’m hoping that a few others might join with me to do the same.

You can read the CNN Medpage review here:
http://www.medpagetoday.com/Pediatrics/Parenting/tb/3098

You can read the BMJ abstract here:
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/rapidpdf/bmj.38790.495544.7Cv1

Thanks.


Oh yeah, let me qualify something:

I do not feel that Goth culture in the US or anywhere is inherently unhealthy, and I am not implying or judging that D&D is hurt by any association to it.

The article simply misrepresents D&D by an implied association with a series of specific, maladaptive behaviors, not a culture or a subculture.

That's what I meant, in case there was any confusion about that.


Once again, the society of victims is again just looking to find something to blame other than bad parenting.

Chris...this guy's gotta give parents an out. They can't possibly be held responsible for their kids' actions.

He might as well have written "inspired by the thrash metal culture" or "inspired by the gothic punk rock culture" or inspired "by the combat boot and black makeup megacorp."

"inspired by fantasy games such as D&D" is a plug and play phrase used to justify whatever idiotic conclusions they draw other than the obvious one--bad parenting and emotional neglect.


I just emailed Dr. Jasmer...

Marc Chin wrote:

Dr. Jasmer;

I came across your review, like many others recently, through a link to your review that was featured on the CNN Website; I found that your mention of the Role-Playing game ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, as related to Goth subculture as a possible trait or symptomatic behavior of the social group, to be either ill-informed, misinformed, mistaken or discriminatory.

As a former Psychology major at Florida State University, I was probably able to digest the BMJ abstract and your review article better than the average layperson, but nevertheless, attaching implied causality of a specific pastime to the Goth subculture, where absolutely no mention is otherwise made throughout the research, gives the appearance to an informed reader that you have hijacked the researchers’ data and results in order to forward a political/social agenda within your article.

If my knowledge of the game itself is of significance to weigh my letter in its relevance, I would like to tell you that I have been an avid player of this game in all its versions since 1980 and I have never been a member of the ‘Goth’ subculture; while remaining a constant player and referee of this game along with various groups of friends and acquaintances over the past twenty five years, I may have shared the company of those who would be considered ‘Goth’, but they numbered no more in proportion to the overall demographic breakdown of those players than any other socioeconomic group. I have played the game alongside those who were rich and poor, stable and quite anti-social, conservative and liberal; for what my unofficial research can say, I have found NO link between gaming of any type, be it board games, role playing games, computer games or console games, and the prevalence of any single subculture.

Your article review has become a topic of discussion at the www.paizo.com bulletin board, where discussion of your motives, as well as a greater debate of various public misconceptions over the years, is taking place.

I invite you to respond in the message thread here, if you wish to clarify your position, offer an apology, or perhaps take your claims directly to those who might be in the very subculture you mentioned:

http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/general/offTopicDiscussions/dDMisrepre sentedInMedicalJournalReview

As an adult professional, I would like to add that there are many players like me, who came of age in the ‘gaming culture’ and yet carry on professional careers, maintain families and are raising their own children to exercise their imaginations, practice mental problem-solving and teamwork, learn history, literature and many other intelligent skills while they engage in an entertaining recreation that keeps our young people, both Goth and many others, off of the streets and out of trouble.

I offer an opportunity to step beyond a simple retraction and to interface directly with the audience; I believe your reputation would benefit from this chance to clarify your thoughts and comments that have been brought to the general public. I hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,

______________________________________________
Marc Chin

Feel free to copy/paste portions of this if you wish to send your own communique'...

robert.jasmer@ucsf.edu

M


Well done Mr. Chin! Thank you!

Loops! (belonging to no subculture!)

The Exchange

Seconded, that's the kind of grammatical clarity and professionalism that shatters the stereotypes of our "gaming culture." Bravo, Marc, bravo :)


Marc,

Really well written, I must say.....I'll hire you to write my next resume.

I edited this post to take out any negative sounding comments. I'll give these doctors a chance to come here and prove they're not academically unethical.


I just emailed Mr. Robert Young, the original researcher, along with Helen Sweeting and Patrick West of the Universituy of Glasgow, Scotland, about the article review. I invited them to the thread and to comment on the fairness of the comment in the article review.

Marc Chin wrote:

Dear Mr. Young;

I recently sent Dr. Robert Jasmer a commentary on his review of your research for MedPagetoday.com which was linked from the CNN.com website; he had mentioned the Role-Playing game ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ as a descriptor of the Goth subculture.

Directly quoted, I took issue with this following passage in the review:

“Goth is a subgenre of punk culture characterized by "a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music," the investigators said. There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon.”

Your research has become a topic of discussion at the www.paizo.com bulletin board (the website run by the publisher of “Dungeon” Magazine and “Dragon” Magazine, two major gaming industry journals), where discussion of Dr. Jasmer’s possible social or political motives, as well as a greater debate of various public misconceptions of Role-Playing games over the years, is taking place.

I invite you to directly respond in the message thread here, if you wish to clarify your position on this or perhaps correspond directly to those who might be in the very subculture you study:

http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/general/offTopicDiscussions/dDMisrepre sentedInMedicalJournalReview

I hope that you take the opportunity to refute the implied connection between the gaming community and Dr. Jasmer’s comments and/or clarify as to whether or not your research mentions gaming at any specific level. I invite you to include your contemporaries, Helen Sweet and Patrick West, in any dialogue that you wish to initiate with the gaming community through the message thread. We all look forward to any comments you wish to share.

Sincerely,

______________________________________________

Marc Chin

Thanks for the kind comments on my emails; I'm striving for objectivity, like a good academian.

Let's keep it clean, people - we're having guests. :-)

M


Dungeons & Dragon? Why are there multiple dungeons and only one dragon? Have adventurers killed them all, and now they're all combing the world's dungeons looking for the last dragon, who's in hiding for fear of being slain? Perhaps he's gone made from the realisation that there are men out there more powerful than dragons, and is plotting to wipe out mankind with a series of natural disasters and curses!

At any rate, everyone knows that goths play Vampire.

Contributor

farewell2kings wrote:
He might as well have written "inspired by the thrash metal culture" or "inspired by the gothic punk rock culture" or inspired "by the combat boot and black makeup megacorp."

Thrash metal? Gothic punk rock? Black makeup? Man... if those were truly self-destructive, I'd be totally screwed.


James Sutter wrote:
farewell2kings wrote:
He might as well have written "inspired by the thrash metal culture" or "inspired by the gothic punk rock culture" or inspired "by the combat boot and black makeup megacorp."
Thrash metal? Gothic punk rock? Black makeup? Man... if those were truly self-destructive, I'd be totally screwed.

LOL....

James...you're a academic grantmonger's nightmare....don't let them get you. If they find out you exist and you dont' fit the mold, THEY will silence you. You're supposed to be socially inept and marginalized, just waiting for rescue by those who know what's best for us.


I find it interesting that in reviewing a study that is trying to determine "whether participation in Goth culture leads to self-destructive behavior or whether adolescents with those tendencies gravitate to Goth", Dr. Jasmer writes (in the next paragraph no less), "There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon"

"reportedly inspired by?"

Isn't the study attempting to discover if Goth behaivour "inspires" self-destructive behaivour and vice versa?

Chris was right in his original post when he stated that the statement in question comes out of left field. Since no evidence can be found of D&D's influence on Goth culture in the original Glasgow study, I am confounded as to where Dr. Jasmer's comment stems from.

To insinuate that Dungeon & Dragon (sic) "inspires" Goth behaivour is either a sly and insidious attempt at linking self-destructive behaivour with D&D or a dangerously misinformative error in writing.

I sincerely hope that Dr. Jasmer replies to Mr. Chin's request and joins the discussion on these boards.


As an adolescent, my goth nature and my self-destructive nature are two completely different things. My basic goth-ness, or what is sterotyped as a modern goth, comes from a discomfort of what society deems normal as well as my own personal tastes, which stems from depression at an early age and the need for a signiture identity from my peers. My self-destructive nature stems from a knowledge of what not only limits are, but improving those limits, by force if necessary .

D&D has nothing to do with it. A disfunctional parent, the awesomeness of eurometal, and a feeling of uniqueness due to early praises of my intellilect caused all of it.


As an avid D&D player, metal fan, and pseudo-goth-extraordinaire, this sort of thing has always bothered me. Seeing it in medical journal only makes it worse. I sincerely think that some of these people either need to get a clue, or need to have their second-rate DNA removed from the communal gene pool. I've done my own little research on these sorts of things when I was in junior high (which was a very long time ago, I might add). Now granted, my research was geared more towards the whole "Satanism" scare when it comes to D&D, loud music, and even Sci-Fi (oh yes, some groups claimed that science fiction lead to devil worship....I didn't think that Captain Kirk swung that way). All of the research that I had found pointed back at bad childhoods and crappy parenting, not to a game, music, or genre of books. Now, I do agree to the whole "plug and play" theory mentioned earlier, it is something that's often used. But I must say, anyone who has ever been to med school and NOT played D&D is either a liar or a closet geek :-p


Well, folks, at least we know that it's not the fault of the research...

This morning, I was happy to recieve a reply from Mr. Robert Young, the researcher who wrote the original paper:

"Robert Young wrote:


“Goth is a subgenre of punk culture characterized by "a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music," the investigators said. There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon.”

The text in bold is a quote from our paper. The additional comments are by the reviewer. This was a UK based study and I cannot authoritively comment on US Goth subculture or the veracity of Dr. Robert Jasmer comments. Our study did not specifically ask about D& D or any other role-playing game.

Regards

Robert Young

There you have it, from the horse's mouth. The research paper did not in any way mention Dungeons & Dragons specifically, or role-playing games in general, as linked in any way to Goth subculture or self-destructive behavior.

For the record, here is my reply to Mr. Young:

"Marc Chin wrote:


I appreciate your clarification of the delineation between the text of your paper and the additional comments of the reviewer; while there may or may not be any inferred connection between the Goth subculture and Role-playing games in general, I can vouch, as an aficionado, that there are many gamers in the UK both Goth and otherwise.

With your permission, I would like to post your reply to the messageboard at www.paizo.com where this topic is under discussion. I appreciate your taking the time to respond.
___________________________________________

Marc R. Chin

Tallahassee, FL, USA

I'm grateful to Mr. young for taking the time to distance himself from the obvious error (or possible subversion) of the review author.

M


This article bugged me as well when I read it this morning. I am glad the researcher clarified the point.

- Ashavan


d13 wrote:
"reportedly inspired by?"

"Reportedly" is something of a weasel word, if that's the right term. It implies "this information came from an authoritative source" without citing the source, and shifts the responsibility for the sentence's accuracy to this anonymous source.

This reminds me of studies that try to link videogames with violent behaviour, or any two things teenagers often do. They're teenagers, of course they're doing things adults don't approve of! The root cause of them all is the very nature of the transition toward adulthood. They're old enough to be able to do anything but not always wise enough to avoid it, and even those who are wise enough are often sucked into doing it because their peers are, and people naturally emulate their peers.

What I don't like is when people say, "People in category A are more likely to be in category B, therefore A causes B." Even educated scientists make this mistake. Rather, it may be that B causes A, or that A and B have a root cause. At best we can draw a statistical correlation - "people in category A are more likely to be in category B" - but it's entirely wrong for the media to report on that if they're going to assume unscientifically that it leads to a conclusion.


My email to the webmaster at www.medpagetoday.com, regarding the article (which has since come off of the CNN site and is now located at http://www.medpagetoday.com/Pediatrics/Parenting/tb/3098):

Marc Chin wrote:


Greetings;

Concerning an article written by Jeff Minerd about a journal review by Dr. Robert Jasmer, "Goth Youths Prone to Suicide Attempts and Self-Mutilation", there was a particular passage that caught my interest:

“Goth is a subgenre of punk culture characterized by "a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music," the investigators said. There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon.”

As an aficionado of role-playing games and gaming in general, I found the statement to be highly inaccurate; when discussion of this article was posted to www.paizo.com (the publisher of two major gaming industry journals), there was an immediate response over the inaccuracy of the implied connection between gaming and self-destructive behaviors.

I contacted both Dr. Jasmer and Mr. Robert Young (the original author of the research paper) to clarify their positions; Mr. Young replied with the following:

[“Goth is a subgenre of punk culture characterized by "a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music," the investigators said. There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon.”

The text in bold is a quote from our paper. The additional comments are by the reviewer. This was a UK based study and I cannot authoritively comment on US Goth subculture or the veracity of Dr. Robert Jasmer comments. Our study did not specifically ask about D& D or any other role-playing game.”]

Considering that Mr. Young was clear in his explanation that there was no mention of gaming of any kind inferred from his research, it would suffice to say that either the journal reviewer, Dr. Jasmer, or the article’s author, Mr. Minerd, took liberties with the research results for the purpose of forwarding some kind of social or political agenda.

I’ve sent an email to Dr. Jasmer, inviting him to clarify his position on the message board where the discussion is taking place:

http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/general/offTopicDiscussions/dDMisrepre sentedInMedicalJournalReview

I also invite Mr. Minerd to the message thread to justify his source or explain his motivations for including an unsupported claim in his article.

Sincerely.

______________________________________________
Marc Chin

M

The Exchange

Marc, thank you for championing the cause. I want to contribute but I know that I don't have the legal knowledge or professional saavy to do anything more than muddy the waters with my comments. I can only offer my thanks and unwavering support in this affair. I have an avid dislike of stereotypes regardless of race, creed, sex, sexual orientation, or culture. People prove who they are on a daily basis through their actions. I believe the person who wrote the article has proven who he is, bigot is a word I would use but ignorant is probably more PC. If people would look beyond their small comfort zone and analyze different ideals this kind of thing wouldn't happen. Instead of a response to this thread, I would challenge the writer to find a good gaming group and sit in with them for 3-4 sessions of gameplay. He would see intelligent people sitting together and enjoying a game with a spirit of commeraderie. No different than a group of guys getting together to play poker, michigan rummy, monopoly, or any number of other games. Serenity now........anyway, thank you Marc for taking the role of D&D Advocate and good gaming.

FH


This is, perhaps, a bit of a tempest in a teapot. But I think two things are worth pointing out. First, D&D has been around for at least a decade longer than the "goth subculture"--if it is indeed a source of inspiration for that subculture it still does not follow logically that D&D in any way has caused the phenomenon.

Secondly, I strongly suspect that any well-designed research into the "goth subculture" phenomenon will find a large number of reasons why young people identify with that subculture, most having to do with feelings of discomfort with or alienation from parents and society. I haven't personally had a lot of experience with goths, but from what I've seen, the "goth subculture" is not in essence much different from any of the many other countercultural movements that have developed among groups of alienated youths over the years--when I was in high school the "punk subculture" played an analogous role. I don't think the "goth subculture" as such is particularly harmful, but many of the young people who are attracted to it are struggling with depression and insecurity because they have bad relationships with their parents and are having trouble fitting in with the more "normal" sets that dominate the high school scene socially. "Goth" gives them a place where they can fit in and feel safe, with people who are having some of the same problems, and what people perceive as their antisocial behavior and "sinister" tastes are mostly just a fashion statement. So, yes, many participants in "goth subculture" are at risk, but it's not so much a result of the subculture as it is a result of their parents' failure to provide them with the combination of love, support, and acceptance that every teenager needs.

And if our esteemed researchers, reviewers, and editors deign to visit this board, I hope they'll take away from it the knowledge that D&D, and gaming in general, are hobbies that huge numbers of normal people of all ages share. Many of us who passionately enjoy this avocation share it with our children as part of a healthy parent-child relationship that encourages our children to be creative and develop problem-solving skills and an understanding of how actions have consequences. And many of us also try to include young people who are at risk (due to dysfunctional parents or bad relationships with parents, etc.) in our activities, giving them a chance to bond with and communicate with adults who are more together and more understanding in a setting that is less threatening than the typical adult-youth situations that such young people encounter. (Not just "goths," but kids of all stripes who are having trouble finding themselves and fitting in.)


Marc Chin wrote:
There you have it, from the horse's mouth. The research paper did not in any way mention Dungeons & Dragons specifically, or role-playing games in general, as linked in any way to Goth subculture or self-destructive behavior.

Thank you for writing to Dr. Young, Marc. Your representation of D&D has been spot on. I am very glad to see that he replied, and I'm hoping that he makes his own inquiries.

On a side note, Reuters also has a review of this study on their web site (it was picked up by Yahoo news). While I'm happy to see that there is no mention of D&D (why would there be?), they imply that both Marylin Manson and the Columbine shootings are directly related to Goth culture.

Same stuff, different story.

That article, published last Thursday, can be found here:

http://go.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=healthNews&storyID=1184750 7


Wow, making a connection between both Marilyn Manson and Columbine to Goth Culture. That's a heavy undertaking...it's like blaming God for George W. Bush.

It's really funny, considering Goth Culture has been around since before both Marilyn Manson and Columbine :)


And I'm all out of bubblegum... wrote:

Wow, making a connection between both Marilyn Manson and Columbine to Goth Culture. That's a heavy undertaking...it's like blaming God for George W. Bush.

It's really funny, considering Goth Culture has been around since before both Marilyn Manson and Columbine :)

I second that 'wow'...

But, not having ever been or will be a Goth, I think that gripe can be taken up with the proper people, by those who are most outraged... I think I'm all rabble-roused out.

M

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Marc Chin wrote:
I think I'm all rabble-roused out.

Thanks for rabble-rousing you did do and thanks too for the heads up. Just when I think blaming D&D for self destructive behavior has become passe someone goes and waves a red flag to prove me wrong.


I blame President Kennedy's making the wearing of hats unfashionable for the onset of goth culture, D&D, and videogames.

Seriously; excellently written letters, Marc Chin.

I'm disappointed that the medpagetoday article writer has not joined the discussion here or even replied to you.


I know some goths and I think they would be more offended by Dr. Jasmer's statement of connection with DnD then we are.


I too wish to praise Marc for his efforts and add my two bent coppers to the pile. Not being very eloquent I will avoid sending emails to people, Marc has handled that more than adequately.

Just wanted to note that while I am not a 'Goth', I have a good number of friends and associates who are, as well as being on the fringes of that subculture more often than not over the years. While I think it is incorrect to state that D&D is an inspiration to the Goth subculture, other RPGs (White Wolfs World of Darkness for example) are not too uncommon among those that I know. I may be a bit biased, since a large portion of my friends are gamers. Though I think for the most case this is based more off a fascination with the subject matter than the game itself (At least initially). Goth, Vampires and Angst all go hand in hand after all, at least as a general rule of thumb.

I vote for claiming the Goth culture was inspired by Anne Rice, who's with me? Or maybe just blame Dracula... or maybe the Visigoths. I dunno.

As one of my well worn shirts says: If you're really a Goth, where were you when we sacked Rome?


Blubbernaught wrote:
Goth, Vampires and Angst all go hand in hand after all, at least as a general rule of thumb.

Taking an entirely new tangent...

My own personal vendetta in the vein of the journal author's muse is against the use of the phrase, "Rule of Thumb"...since the phrase was born out of the need for men to regulate the diameter of the stick that they were allowed to use to beat their wives with to avoid charges of actual abuse.

If you didn't know where it came from, now you do.

M


Marc Chin wrote:
Blubbernaught wrote:
Goth, Vampires and Angst all go hand in hand after all, at least as a general rule of thumb.

Taking an entirely new tangent...

My own personal vendetta in the vein of the journal author's muse is against the use of the phrase, "Rule of Thumb"...since the phrase was born out of the need for men to regulate the diameter of the stick that they were allowed to use to beat their wives with to avoid charges of actual abuse.

If you didn't know where it came from, now you do.

M

Actually, I did know the origin of the phrase. It was the focus of one of the first scenes in the movie Boondock Saints, although I was aware of the meaning prior to seeing that movie.

It has no particular negative overtones for me though. As I'm sure has happened with many other words or phrases used daily across the world it no longer carries the weight of it's origin for the vast majority of people. (Most people never think twice about riding 'Shotgun' in a car either) Most don't even know the origin of that phrase as an example. I'm assuming your response was to my post, as in the journal/review I don't recall seeing that phrase used. No offense was intended in its use and I do apologize if any has been given. The phrase is simply part of my everyday vocabulary.

Sorry for the tangent. Bringing things back a little more towards the topic of discussion, since I seem to have caused a detour. A question: I don't follow any sort of medical or scientific journals, papers or articles with anything resembling regularity. Is it common for professionals to add such random pieces of opinion/information to a review that have no backing or even mention in the article itself? I would hope it is not the case, I am just curious if this seems to be something of an isolated event. (Not strictly in reference to D&D, but the way it was inserted)


Blubbernaught wrote:
Is it common for professionals to add such random pieces of opinion/information to a review that have no backing or even mention in the article itself?

Yes. It's called "bad journalism". To some extent it's unavoidable, since journalists may be forced to omit details due to lack of space or a lack of time and money to fully research the topic they're writing on. Sometimes, a journalist will have his facts wrong, and sometimes they'll just plain make stuff up because they know they can get away with it and that it largely won't matter. They might even embellish things just to make a more catchy story in the hopes of his story getting famous.

Journalists, in other words, aren't experts in the fields they report on, have limited resources, and not all of them are honest.


Marc Chin wrote:

My own personal vendetta in the vein of the journal author's muse is against the use of the phrase, "Rule of Thumb"...since the phrase was born out of the need for men to regulate the diameter of the stick that they were allowed to use to beat their wives with to avoid charges of actual abuse.

If you didn't know where it came from, now you do.

M

Not necessarily. There's very serious debate over the origin of the phrase; the first known connection between the old rule of being able to beat a wife with a stick no larger than the thumb and the phrase "rule of thumb" was made in 1976. The specific quote is: "For instance, the common-law doctrine had been modified to allow the husband 'the right to whip his wife provided that he used a switch no bigger than his thumb' -- a rule of thumb, so to speak" (Del Martin, Battered Wives Volcano Press, 1976, page 31).

A more likely origin for the phrase deals with rough-and-ready measurements made by thumblength; carpenters often used various body parts, particularly the thumb, as a way of taking a measurement, as did many other trades such as tailors.

Just FYI. ;-)

Scarab Sages

otter wrote:


A more likely origin for the phrase deals with rough-and-ready measurements made by thumblength; carpenters often used various body parts, particularly the thumb, as a way of taking a measurement, as did many other trades such as tailors.

Just FYI. ;-)

I agree.

I regularly use portions of my body to 'guesstimate' distances.

CALM DOWN AT THE BACK!

Ahem,
I can use my thumb (knuckle to tip) as an inch, thumb tip to pinky tip (9 inch), and I know from my surveying days that my feet are a foot (so to speak).

Wargamers are well aware of the players who memorise the dimensions of their arms and hands, and lean on the table before 'guessing' the range of a cannonball....


otter wrote:
Marc Chin wrote:

My own personal vendetta in the vein of the journal author's muse is against the use of the phrase, "Rule of Thumb"...since the phrase was born out of the need for men to regulate the diameter of the stick that they were allowed to use to beat their wives with to avoid charges of actual abuse.

If you didn't know where it came from, now you do.

M

Not necessarily. There's very serious debate over the origin of the phrase; the first known connection between the old rule of being able to beat a wife with a stick no larger than the thumb and the phrase "rule of thumb" was made in 1976. The specific quote is: "For instance, the common-law doctrine had been modified to allow the husband 'the right to whip his wife provided that he used a switch no bigger than his thumb' -- a rule of thumb, so to speak" (Del Martin, Battered Wives Volcano Press, 1976, page 31).

A more likely origin for the phrase deals with rough-and-ready measurements made by thumblength; carpenters often used various body parts, particularly the thumb, as a way of taking a measurement, as did many other trades such as tailors.

Just FYI. ;-)

Indeed. Here's a decent (very abbreviated) look at the history. The use you noted Marc does seem to be an urban legend, albeit one that dates back over a hundred years.

But I'd like to add my thanks for your efforts in taking on the foolish summary erroneously, and spuriously, linking D&D to goths. That was just ignorant on their part - and very nice work on yours.


RolandStJude wrote:


Indeed. Here's a decent (very abbreviated) look at the history. The use you noted Marc does seem to be an urban legend, albeit one that dates back over a hundred years.

But I'd like to add my thanks for your efforts in taking on the foolish summary erroneously, and spuriously, linking D&D to goths. That was just ignorant on their part - and very nice work on yours.

Comprehensive explanation on that site. Thanks for the link.

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