Usurping the Throne

Ever since I was a child, I’ve known my father as the King of Farts. It was a matter of great pride in the family. After all, if he was the king, that made me the Prince of Farts, of course. Who wouldn’t want to be royalty?

Only recently, however, did I discover the not-so-fragrant story as to how my father became king. I had always assumed that he had been anointed king the same way that, say, Hank Aaron or Elvis Presley got their nicknames.

Nope. Not my Dad. He usurped the throne.

It all starts with Oui magazine — a “gentleman’s” magazine that was all the rage in the 1970’s. They caught wind of some of my father’s research. In particular, my father had a patient who was severely lactose intolerant (before people really knew what that was). Anyway, my Dad figured out that milk led this man to have terrible gas. So in the name of research, my Dad put him on a milk-only diet for a few days and told him to count the number of times he farted. My Dad got a nice academic publication out of it; the man applied to the Guinness Book of World Records, but because there was no witness, they wouldn’t include his superhuman output in the book. It was this patient upon whom Oui magazine bestowed the title the “King of Farts.”

Eventually, however, the patient’s time in the sun would fade, and my father would come to be known as the king. It is not clear how or when this happened, but it is obviously still an issue of great sensitivity to him. Rarely have I seen my Dad angrier than the time a reporter referred to him as the “self-proclaimed King of Farts.” My father bellowed, “That title was given to me!”

Or was it?

Which brings me to the point of this post: no one wins the prize from the last Freakonomics contest. My Dad answered the question himself in the blog comments, and he hardly deserves a signed book for ruining everyone’s fun by giving the answer.


adrienne

I hope your dad could get a free signed copy of your book without having to enter the contest.

All that gas kept you in Cheerios, young man!

M.B.

He who denied it supplied it.

AScribMac

I think it will be a quiet Thanksgiving at the Levitt's this year.

science minded

Here's the rub. Intellectuals usurp leadership. (weber circa 1918) Scientists are committed to expanding the frontiers of knowledge. Your dad was reporting his research results and deserved to be acknowledged not only for his discovery; but for his novel way of resolving the problem. Gas is a sensitive area in our country where cleanliness is
godliness. we try so hard to rid ourselves of our bad odors, with perfumes, deodorants etc.

deuce

Dude, what are you waiting for? When is your dad going to do one of those "answer the reader's questions" things?

Tim

"They caught wind of some of my father's research."

Brilliiant.

econobiker

"Oui" had articles?

It seems we were too busy looking at the pictures in the ones which we purloined from someone's older brother or boosted from the local newstand to have read the content...

Which leads to the question: Does yLevitt have the copy in which his father's patient was featured as the "King of Farts"?

economics

Going back to the Scheiber retort and before:

I like your academic work. However, you get a lot of backlash due to your book's narrative. When your horn is tooted in the introduction, is it you talking or Dubner? It comes off as very strange either way (Either you are attributing Olympian praise to yourself or have hired somebody else to do so.).

Let us say that it is Dubner speaking in the introduction of Freakonomics. Is he any more qualified than Scheiber (whose qualifications you besmirch) to assess your status as an economist? In the end, I believe that people like Scheiber and Rubinstein wouldn't have had so much material with which to lash back had your book omitted the PR content.