Poisons. Love them or hate them, we all have a secret desire to own some in a bottle with a big skull and cross bones on it (I really hope that at least one of you is nodding at this point, because otherwise I'm turning weirder with age. Just pretend that a number of other people are currently reading this and nodding to the notion of owning poison being cool, and therefore making you the odd one out).
But the discovery of poisons is one that seems rather unlikely in many cases. I doubt that there was a job title of "poison discoverer" in the olden days. What a horrific job that would be. It must take the form of eating just one thing a week, and then spending the week noting consequences.
"Week 4. This week's food: pen lids. I have taken 3 (12g) pen lids, crushed them into a powder and then digested them. Immediate effects were coughing, nose bleed and sneezing (the combination of which has left my lab in a rather pebble-dashed fashion).
-Long term effects: stomach cramps and loss of feeling in every odd numbered toe.
-Conclusion: This should not be given to someone unless it is as an irritant, or if they have particularly high blood pressure around the sinuses."
Of course the main problem with this is that if the poison discoverer was to stumble upon something like cyanide, then there report would not be very useful.
"Week 142. This weeks food: nutty smelling water. I..oh God I can feel my mouth..I AAR MY HEAD MY HEAD ISwfdsaff.dsf.sf....."
Assuming of course that they could write this whilst dieing. Perhaps discovering a dead poison discoverer was rather like striking oil. Clearly the discoverer was dead, so it was up to you to collect the vial sitting next to the corpse, and then sell it to the highest bidder.
Being a poison discoverer therefore is a crap profession, and should be avoided.
But it must also be considered that this archaic methodology can not explain more confusing and complicated poisons. The kind of ones that's recipe goes along the lines of "take one rats tail and add it to broth of tadpole...". This brings a host of questions to mind, but the main two points I will raise here are:
I) How many combinations of parts of animals/fungi/LIDL's value range soup were tried before this one was found to work, and who was fed it?
II) Was someone happening to eat this concoction one day, died, and then someone finds them and says "Oh my God, clearly eating this exact proportions of rat tail, frog spawn and rice crispies forms a poison. It just so happens that I'm writing a book on unusual things to make with rat tails and this is perfect!" instead of saying "well if you insist on eating raw rat tails, what do you expect?!"
Maybe it was all really a way of hedging bets. You really want to kill someone, but you don't have the first clue about poisons. So you make a list of things that you can get that -might- kill them, take a proportion of each, and then mix them all together. But then you have the problem of getting them to eat it. It seems rather pointless to use a poison if you have to beat them unconscious and then force-feed them the slops. Poisoning should be a stealthy thing. You would have to take minute amounts of each of the disgusting things and then liquidate it.
It would seem rather incriminating though to then release a book with details about how someone might go about creating the poison you used. But if OJ has proven anything, its that you can do this, but just be so blatant that people can't question you