(Investigator 38, 1994 September)



1994 April 18

Editorial Division.
Britannica Centre
310 South Michigan Ave
Il. 60604

Dear Sir,

An Adelaide magazine called INVESTIGATOR (January 1992 No. 22; March 1992 No. 23) had articles about an alleged Britannica discrepancy.

The Micropedia entry "Cobra" in the 1988 edition says that cobras respond to the movement of the snake charmer and that the charmer's pipe plays at too high a frequency for snakes to hear. (3:415)

The Micropaedia article "SENSORY RECEPTION" (27 159) says that snakes detect airborne sounds in the range 100-700 hertz.

INVESTIGATOR reproduced a letter from the High Commission of India explaining that the instrument played by snake charmers is called a "been" in Hindi and that its playing range is 250-500 hertz.

Subject to the loudness being adequate the cobra should therefore hear the tune and (I expect) at least part of its response would be to the sound.

According to INVESTIGATOR these matters were reported to the Britannica editorial division. Yet upon examining the latest edition I found the discrepancy still there.

Editorial Offices
May 25, 1994

Mr. _______


Dear Mr

Please excuse our delay in responding to your letter of 18 April regarding an error in the Micropaedia entry "cobra".

Some time ago, the editors were informed of the need to revise the entry, but it had not been possible to do so before now. The editor responsible for the Micropaedia has scheduled the entry "cobra" for revision next year. We appreciate your taking the time to contact us.

Sincerely yours,

Stephen P  Davis
Editorial Division

"Anonymous" regularly supports the Bible with science in Investigator Magazine.

In Investigator No. 22 & No. 23 Anonymous used Psalm 58 in the Bible to argue that snakes have internal ears and can hear.

This contradicted the centuries-long belief, supported in many encyclopedias that the cobra is deaf and does not hear the snake charmer's music.

For details about the hearing of snakes go to the home page, click on "The Bible" and the article about the cobra: