I still don’t quite know what to think about this report from Marc Alpin at Fantasy Faction: “Medical Science Reveals Why Gollum & Smaug Lost to Hobbits.” Yes, apparently an article has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia contending that one of the reasons the good guys win in Middle Earth is because of the bad guy’s poor diet and lack of sunlight. According to the abstract,
Objective: Vitamin D has been proposed to have beneficial effects in a wide range of contexts. We investigate the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency, caused by both aversion to sunlight and unwholesome diet, could also be a significant contributor to the triumph of good over evil in fantasy literature.
Design: Data on the dietary habits, moral attributes and martial prowess of various inhabitants of Middle Earth were systematically extracted from J R R Tolkien’s novel The hobbit.
Main outcome measures: Goodness and victoriousness of characters were scored with binary scales, and dietary intake and habitual sun exposure were used to calculate a vitamin D score (range, 0–4).
Results: The vitamin D score was significantly higher among the good and victorious characters (mean, 3.4; SD, 0.5) than the evil and defeated ones (mean, 0.2; SD, 0.4; P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Further work is needed to see if these pilot results can be extrapolated to other fantastic situations and whether randomised intervention trials need to be imagined.