We’re paying for this research

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration the University of Manchester and the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), have uncovered new evidence to suggest that the Sicilian mafia arose to notoriety in the 1800s in response to the public demand for citrus fruits.

Arguably one of the most infamous institutions in the Western world, the Sicilian mafia, first appeared in Sicily in the 1870s and soon infiltrated the economic and political spheres of Italy and the United States.

Dr Arcangelo Dimico, Lecturer in Economics from Queen’s Management School, and the research team hypothesized that the Sicilian mafia rose to power due to the high public demand for oranges and lemons following physician James Lind’s discovery in the late eighteenth century that citrus fruits could prevent and cure scurvy, due to their high levels of vitamin c.

I read this a few years back in a book about the Mafia that had been published at least a decade before.

Sigh.

15 comments on “We’re paying for this research

  1. 1. Didn’t Vito Corleone sell olive oil as the front for his business ?

    2. I don’t think that they knew about Vitamin C until the 1930s.

  2. Criminal Itie gangs go back to the Middle Ages if not before.

    We are now supposed to be dumb enough to believe they are all down to the popularity of Marmalade?

  3. Marmalade is made from Seville oranges, Ecks. Seville is not in Sicily. Further evidence that you are a Yank.

  4. Reevaluating old hypotheses in the light of new evidence seems a perfectly valid research activity to me – otherwise received wisdom can stick around for too long.

  5. “Marmalade is made from Seville oranges, Ecks. Seville is not in Sicily. Further evidence that you are a Yank.”

    Does that include the Lime or Lemon versions? Or the three fruits ones?

    Poetic licence to make a joke should not be taken literally Dearime.

    But all the best from Downtown LA anyway.

  6. At least some comfort can be taken that it’s not just the UK’s higher education system that has become a fvcking joke

  7. What f***ing interest is it in Belfast or Gothenburg? Or was this a ploy to get Dr Arcangelo Dimico a freebie back to see the family in Italy?

  8. The Royal Navy used to add lime juice to sailors’ grog even during the Napoleonic wars, so they must have known about the link with scurvy.

  9. It’s a bit long, but this article is a fascinating story of scurvy and vitamin C.

    http://idlewords.com/2010/03/scott_and_scurvy.htm

    It’s hard to believe, but when Scott set out for the pole everybody in the world had forgotten that citrus fruit prevents scurvy.

    We still use “guinea pig” to mean test subject because they’re one of the few animals that can’t synthesise their own, so they can be used to prove that scurvy is a deficiency disease.

  10. The article’s abstract is a bit of a mess.

    ‘Until now the Sicilian mafia’s origins have always thought to have been a consequence of the weak institutional setting related to the failure of the feudal system present in Sicily and from the political instability in Italian history.’

    But in the previous paragraph we have this: ‘Lemon producers, therefore, resorted to hiring mafia affiliates…’

    If the actions of the lemons grower brought about the origin of the mafia, then who are these ‘mafia affiliates’ they hired?

    And then we have this: ‘However this research is the first piece of evidence to suggest that their rise to power was actually due to the boom in the economy.’ (emphasis added).

    OK. So are we talking about the origin of the mafia or the ‘rise to power’ of an already-existing group?

  11. Slightly OT but also about fvckwits at University

    The learned Prof’s latest blog is about CbC reporting:

    “I thought up country-by-country reporting in 2003.”

    No, not anyone else. Me, myself I, all on my own, not anyone else and not based upon prior work by another person, thought up CbC reporting. So there. Contradictory comments will be deleted as not contributing to the discussion about this irrefutable fact.

  12. Sometimes it is valid research to do some tests to get a common sense result in order to test the testing, not in order to get the result. Then when you have a repeatable methodology that repeatedly shows that putting a tea bag in cold milk and pouring hot water over it produces a disgusting cuppa, you know you have a working methodology for testing hot beverage production, which could be very valuable to hot beverage manufacturers.

  13. Ok, we know about the Italian mob, so what’s the explanation for the Jewish and Irish mobs in the U.S?

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