Cautionary Tales – South Pole Race: When Limeys get scurvy

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Polar exploration is harmful… however trudging lots of of miles in subzero temperatures isn’t made any simpler if you happen to’re affected by scurvy. The lethal vitamin deficiency destroys the physique and can of even the strongest and most decided adventurer – and evidently scurvy caught down the ill-fated expedition of Captain Scott. 

However scurvy… in 1912? Hadn’t the Royal Navy to which Scott belonged famously cracked the issue of scurvy a century earlier than, with a each day dose of lime juice? How did the ‘Limeys’ seemingly unlearn that lesson? 

Cautionary Tales is written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It’s produced by Ryan Dilley, with help from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.

The sound design and unique music is the work of Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Because of the staff at Pushkin Industries, together with Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fain, Jon Schnaars, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Daniella Lakhan and Maya Koenig.

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Additional studying and listening

Stephen Bown The Final Viking

Alfred Bollet Plagues and Poxes

David Crane Scott of the Antarctic

Apsley Cherry-Garrard The Worst Journey within the World

Malcolm Gladwell David and Goliath

Ranulph Fiennes Captain Scott

Roland Huntford The Final Place on Earth

Edward Larson An Empire of Ice

Diana Preston A First Charge Tragedy

Robert Scott The Voyage of the Discovery

Kristin Asdal, Contesting the Animal Mannequin: Axel Holst and the Controversy over Scurvy and Beriberi, Social Historical past of Medication, Quantity 27, Problem 3, August 2014, Pages 577–593, https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hku007

Butler AR. The position of scurvy in Scott’s return from the South Pole. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2013;43(2):175-81. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2013.217. PMID: 23734365

Maciej Cegłowski “Scott and ScurvyIdlewords 6 March 2010

LUND CC, CRANDON JH. HUMAN EXPERIMENTAL SCURVY: AND THE RELATION OF VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY TO POSTOPERATIVE PNEUMONIA AND TO WOUND HEALING. JAMA. 1941;116(8):663–668. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820080003002

Jeremy Hugh Baron “Sailors’ scurvy earlier than and after James Lind – a reassessment” Vitamin Opinions Vol. 67(6):315–332 315 doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00205.x

Koettlitz, “The British Antarctic Expedition” British Medical Journal 8 Feb 1902

“Captain Roald Amundsen and the Society” The Geographical Journal Dec 1927 https://www.jstor.org/secure/1782920



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