Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2019: Sweet Little Lies

Can academic satire exist in the age of “fake news?” Tracking the citation record of a “holiday review” paper

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 16 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6763
  1. Kenneth A Myers, clinician, scientist, pediatric neurologist and epileptologist, assistant professor123
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics, Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, PQ, Canada
  2. 2Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, PQ, Canada
  3. 3Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, PQ, Canada
  1. kenneth.myers{at}

As a medical student Kenneth A Myers published a satirical research paper for the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It’s been cited 11 times—and not for the reasons it was written

Nine years ago, I published an article in the holiday review issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) entitled “Cigarette smoking: an underused tool in high performance endurance training.”1 I was a medical student at the time, and the article was meant to illustrate the potential perils of non-systematic review articles. I attempted to take a light hearted approach, cherry picking articles and taking findings out of context, in order to make what I thought was a ridiculous argument. At the time I was mildly concerned that some people might take the article seriously; the abstract was clear, however, that this was not a sincere thesis, and clearly explained the underlying message of the paper. “SATIRE” was even written in large font at the top of the first page.

Initially, the paper was well received, and I was pleased to …

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