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Futility Closet

Mar 16, 2020

On New Year's Day 1963, two bodies were discovered on an Australian riverbank. Though their identities were quickly determined, weeks of intensive investigation failed to uncover a cause or motive for their deaths. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Bogle-Chandler case, which riveted Australia for years.

We'll also revisit the Rosenhan study and puzzle over a revealing lighthouse.


Alphonse Allais' 1897 Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man is silent.

In 1975 muralist Richard Haas proposed restoring the shadows of bygone Manhattan buildings.

Sources for our feature on the Bogle-Chandler case:

Peter Butt, Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler?, 2017.

"A New Twist in the Case That Puzzled a Nation," Canberra Times, Sept. 3, 2016, 2.

Damien Murphy, "New Twist in Gilbert Bogle and Margaret Chandler Murder Mystery," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 2, 2016.

Tracy Bowden, "Two Women May Hold Answer to How Dr Gilbert Bogle and Margaret Chandler Died in 1963," ABC News, Sept. 2, 2016.

Tracy Bowden, "Two Women May Hold Key to Bogle-Chandler Case," 7.30, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sept. 2, 2016.

Frank Walker, "Deadly Gas Firms as Chandler-Bogle Killer," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 17, 2006, 41.

D.D. McNicoll, "Riddle by the Riverside," Weekend Australian, Sept. 9, 2006, 21.

Malcolm Brown, "The Gas Did It: Bogle-Chandler Theory Blames Toxic Cloud," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 8, 2006, 3.

Anna Salleh, "Bogle-Chandler Case Solved?", ABC Science, Sept. 8, 2006.

Michael Edwards, "Experts Divided Over Bogle Death Theory," PM, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sept. 8, 2006.

Lisa Power, "Daring Affairs Came to a Gruesome End," Daily Telegraph, Sept. 7, 2006, 28.

Skye Yates, "New Year's Curse," Daily Telegraph, March 26, 2001, 63.

Tony Stephens, "New Year Murder Theory in Bogle Affair," Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 2, 1998, 6.

Joseph Lose, "Lovers 'Poisoned', Not LSD; Bodies Found Neatly Covered," [Auckland] Sunday News, Jan. 28, 1996, 7.

"Breakthrough in 30-year Murder Mystery," [Wellington, New Zealand] Sunday Star-Times, Jan. 21, 1996, A1.

Jack Waterford, "Mystery Unsolved After 25 Years," Canberra Times, Jan. 1, 1988, 2.

"Court Told of Close Association," Canberra Times, May 25, 1963, 3.

"Chandler in Witness Box," Canberra Times, May 23, 1963, 3.

"Woman Called to 2-Death Inquest," The Age, March 1, 1963.

Cameron Hazlehurst, "Bogle, Gilbert Stanley (1924–1963)," Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, 1993.

Malcolm Brown, "Sweeney, Basil (1925–2009)," Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed March 2, 2020).

Listener mail:

Vaughan Bell, "I Seem to Be What I'm Not (You See)," Lancet Psychiatry 7:3 (March 1, 2020), 242.

Roderick David Buchanan, "The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness," Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 56:1 (Winter 2020), 52-53.

Jennifer Szalai, "Investigating a Famous Study About the Line Between Sanity and Madness," New York Times, Nov. 27, 2019.

Emily Eakin, "Her Illness Was Misdiagnosed as Madness. Now Susannah Cahalan Takes on Madness in Medicine," New York Times, Nov. 2, 2019.

Hans Pols, "Undercover in the Asylum," Science, Nov. 8, 2019, 697.

Gina Perry, "Deception and Illusion in Milgram's Accounts of the Obedience Experiments," Theoretical & Applied Ethics 2:2 (2013), 79-92.

Hannah Dwan, "Fighting Baseball on the SNES Had Some of the Funniest Names in Gaming," Telegraph, Oct. 5, 2017.

Wikipedia, "MLBPA Baseball" (accessed March 7, 2020).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Steven Jones. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at Thanks for listening!