This year’s winners include scientific studies on woo-woo nonsense, itching, and pretending to be a goat.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.
Some of the 2016 honorees:
Medicine: Researchers from University of Luebeck in Germany discovered a weird neurological phenomena: they had people who itched stand in front of a mirror and scratch the side of their body opposite of the itch. The itching stopped.
Biology: Split by two researchers that spent a lot of time pretending to be animals. Thomas Thwaites is a biologist (in the above photo). He made prosthetic limbs that allowed him to move like a goat, and then he spent a bunch of time with the animals. He wrote a book about his experiences called Goatman. The other winner is Charles Foster for his time spent living as a badger, an otter, and an urban fox. This included living in the woods and behind dumpsters, and eating worms and salvageable food out of the garbage. You can find more on him here.
Reproduction: Putting pants on rats to determine if different types of fabric affect sexual activity levels. Ahmed Shafik tested five different type of pants on 75 male rats: 100% polyester, a 50/50 blend of polyester and cotton, 100% cotton, and 100% wool. The rats wore the pants for 6-12 months, and their activity was monitored. Here’s the study, and here’s an image from the study:
Chemistry: This year’s award went to the engineers at Volkswagen. Understandably, no one came to pick this one up.
Peace: On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bulls**t takes a hard look at statements like the Deepak Chopra quote below. They found that such statements aren’t actually meaningful and a defining “characteristic of bulls**t (in general) [is]: that it attempts to impress rather than to inform; to be engaging rather than instructive.” Great one to read if you know someone that constantly posts inspirational, woo-woo nonsense memes on Facebook.
Perception: An article published in Vision Research aims to discover if things appear to be the same size when you bend over and look at them between your legs. Subjects wore special goggles that inverted their vision, there was a lot of measuring… the answer is no.
Psychology: From junior to senior Pinocchio: A cross-sectional lifespan investigation of deception looks at dishonesty and how our successful use of it changes over our lifespans. It examines cognitive and analytic functions of the inverted U of human development – we excel at things in our middle years, but not so much in early and later years. It seems out ability to lie fits that pattern, as well.
Check out all of the winners here, and you can see the full ceremony below.
Which study do you find funny and interesting?