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Death of an Earl

Research in 2002 concluded that this is the world's funniest joke:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says, "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence; then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, "OK, now what?"

Once upon a time, it wasn't so easy to determine whether a person was dead, or merely ailing. A case from 1702 chronicles how Anthony Grey, the Earl of Kent, keeled over and died, possibly from a stroke. Dr. Charles Goodall was staying at the same location, and hurried to do what he could to revive the 57-year-old man. However, the standard procedures of the time were tantamount to torture, and could have even hastened Grey's death.

Then Doctor West came, who advised a frying pan made red hot to be applied to the head…

Read the timeline of those procedures as they were recorded by the doctor, at Thomas Morris. -via Strange Company  

(Image credit: Wellcome Images)

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