Letters Data, data everywhere

The John Henry effect

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1804 (Published 02 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1804
  1. Greg Irving, general practitioner1,
  2. John Holden, general practitioner2
  1. 1Department of Health Services Research, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GL, UK
  2. 2Garswood Surgery, St Helens, UK
  1. Greg.Irving{at}liverpool.ac.uk

The “Ballad of John Henry” tells of the legendary black American steel pin driver, John Henry, who swung a huge nine pound hammer driving railroad spikes on the Chesapeake and Ohio railway in the 1870s.1 John Henry was renowned for his strength among his fellow workers and could drive a steel pin into a track with a single blow instead of the usual three. The ballad centres on a competition between John and a mechanical steam powered drill, a controversial innovation that threatened to replace thousands …

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