Orphans and liars only

June 14, 2002

Roy Lee-Faulkner (Letters, THES , May 31) suggests there is a research opportunity on the sudden family death phenomenon among students at examination time. I regret to tell him the matter has already been studied and the correlation established (M. Adams, "The dead grandmother/exam syndrome, Annals of Improbable Research , 1995 5 (6), 3-6).

Adams comes up with three possible solutions: stop giving exams; allow only orphans to enrol at universities; or have students lie to their families (for example, as part of registration they must promise not to let any of their relatives know that they are at university).

Charles Oppenheim
Department of information science
Loughborough University

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