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The Ig Nobel Awards Celebrate Their 26th First Annual Awards Ceremony (improbable.com) 37

Thursday Harvard's Sanders Theatre hosted the 26th edition of the humorous research awards "that make people laugh, then think...intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." One of this year's winners actually lived as a goat, wearing prosthetic extensions on his arms and legs so he could travel the countryside with other goats. Long-time Slashdot reader tomhath writes: The Journal of Improbable announced these winners:

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] -- The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] -- Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective...

PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] -- Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'...

PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] -- Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

The Improable Research site lists the rest of this year's 10 winners, as well as every winner for the previous 25 years.
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The Ig Nobel Awards Celebrate Their 26th First Annual Awards Ceremony

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 25, 2016 @10:41AM (#52957135)

    'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'

    To my eye, that seems like a study that could have profoundly broad applicability.

    • I feel that anylasis of the study would reveal the varying applicability of aforementioned study in different situations based on the application of the method to said situations.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is a promising area of investigation, however, more research is needed.

    • Here is the link to the study [sjdm.org].

      • The participants were students of the University of Waterloo who took the questionnary for course credit. The following quote from the original paper has given me good laughs. How would this not invalidate the study?

        Participants were also given an attention check. For this, participants were shown a list of activities (e.g., biking, reading) directly below the following instructions: “Below is a list of leisure activities. If you are reading this, please choose the “other” box below and
        • by pla ( 258480 )
          Back in my college days, we had a saying about student-run experimental design: "Psychology is the study of females ages 18 to 22 with above-average intellect and an interest in psychology".

          Although that does mean you need to eventually check your results on a larger, more random pool of participants, it doesn't flat-out make those first-round results invalid. It just means you can get (at least) two papers out of the same results, verifying (or refuting) the external validity of the initial results. ;)
    • 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'

      To my eye, that seems like a study that could have profoundly broad applicability.

      How to detect bullshit! Pay just $19.95 to read the full article!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I did, and you won't believe what happens next!

    • If I wanted to hear bullshit, all I had to do is pay attention at a meeting.

    • Somehow I have a feeling the entire study could (was) done on Facebook posts.

      Most of them I would describe as "Word Salad". Some appear to have a slight veneer of meaning, but are really just complete nonsense.

    • Unfortunately, it's been widely criticized for serious methodological issues. The Snopes page [snopes.com], which deals primarily with the paper's middlebrow reception (almost exclusively among people who hadn't read it, of course), has a good summary and links.

      My take is that it's an interesting start, but 1) it doesn't mean what most people who haven't read it think it means, and 2) there are, indeed, some very serious issues with it. For example, as one of the commenters that Scopes cites points out, the paper makes

      • by imidan ( 559239 )

        The study may have some issues, but it is at least suggestive. It sounds like a good candidate for methodological improvement and repetition. I think it's important in the context of academic publishing today. I understand that domain-specific jargon is part of academic life, but it seems like we've been getting carried away with using unnecessarily dense language in papers because we think it sounds more 'scientific' or 'official'.

        It isn't exactly new. There's a passage from an anecdote of Feynman's, w

  • 26th or the first?

    • by Salvage ( 178446 )

      Uselessly short answer: Yes

      Somewhat longer, there's probably a bunch of ways to parse this, such as this being the 26th time (year) they've used version 1, or this is their 26th revision of (the first set of) awards this year, or....

      Maybe there should be an award for titles like this.

    • Either is equally proable.

  • Medicine price (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reaper9889 ( 602058 ) on Sunday September 25, 2016 @11:00AM (#52957219)

    My gf and I tested the medicine prize (itch on one arm + scratch on other arm = relief). It works somewhat but not as much as scratching the right one.

  • Profound (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alomex ( 148003 )

    Every time you read the word "profound" in a text stop and ask yourself if its use is (1) warranted and (2) even has a proper meaning beyond trying to make the text look more profound than it is.

    I do this all the time, and something like 19 out of 20 uses of the word profound are plain bullshit.

    • by JustOK ( 667959 )
      it works on your comment too.
      • by Alomex ( 148003 )

        Of course it does. The original heading was "A profound observation". That word seems to disable our BS detectors and let garbage past our rational circuits like alcohol goes past the physiological brain barrier that keeps most other substances away.

    • That's an exponentially high proportion. Does it literally make your blood boil?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 25, 2016 @11:26AM (#52957339)

    Have done some seemingly wacky experiments and have discovered how we perceive things or don't perceive things. A famous one off of the top of my head was having people count how many times a team wearing a certain color shirt passed the ball and finding only a few of them noticed the guy in a gorilla suit walking through and waving. On the surface of it, the experiment sounded like an Ig award winner.

  • A Nobel Prize can be won by at most three people, so shouldn't the Ig Nobel Committee impose a similar restriction?

    PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] -- Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by weinbrenner ( 248778 )

      With such a restriction we would have lost the the 1993 Ig Nobel Literature Prize: http://www.improbable.com/ig/1993/1993-lit.html [improbable.com]

      which was awarded to E. Topol, R. Califf, F. Van de Werf, P.W. Armstrong, and their 972 co-authors,
      for publishing a medical research paper which has one hundred times as many authors as pages.

      • Did it have more co-authors than subjects?

      • which was awarded to E. Topol, R. Califf, F. Van de Werf, P.W. Armstrong, and their 972 co-authors,
        for publishing a medical research paper which has one hundred times as many authors as pages.

        How about the Wikipedia page for George W Bush, with 46,000 revisions by 14,500 authors? It has about 2 words per author or 1/2 word per revision. https://tools.wmflabs.org/xtoo... [wmflabs.org]

        Although I must say that it is pretty impressive for a research paper to be so nearly comparable to one of the most controversial wikipedia pages in terms of authors.

  • "One of this year's winners actually lived as a goat, wearing prosthetic extensions on his arms and legs so he could travel the countryside with other goats. "

    Other goats? You mean goats, or you didn't get the joke.

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