Roy Exum: 2018 Ig Nobel Awards

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
The word ‘ignobel’ is rarely used because only a few among us know that it means "characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness." About 30 years ago, a glorious group of great scholars took a literary hatchet to form the word into ‘ig nobel’ so it could be placed in the dictionary as a term that means “a satirical social criticism that identifies absurd research.”
Think of it as the moment in our universe when science meets silly. The organizers openly admit it id a parody of the Nobel awards and, to put it more simply, the Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded to "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think."
Last Thursday night before a sell-out crowd in Harvard’s Sanders Theater, the 2018 winners were proclaimed at the 28th First Annual event.
(“Yeah, it was the First Annual when we started in 1991 so ‘First’ is part of the original name.”)
You must understand: The hysterical studies are actual research – with legitimate papers and such. I have been keen on the ‘Igs’ for years and some readers still don’t believe anything so preposterous exists. That is why this year, as you laugh in disbelief and wonder, I have included the actual references so you can research for yourself how to scientifically determine the nutritional value of cannibalism, and this trick you can do with postage stamps.
A drumroll, please, as we honor the …
2018 FIRST ANNUAL IG NOBEL PRIZE AWARD WINNERS
MEDICINE PRIZE [USA] — Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.
REFERENCE: "Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster," Marc A. Mitchell, David D. Wartinger, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 116, October 2016, pp. 647-652.
* * *
ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, ROMANIA, DENMARK, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, UK, INDONESIA, ITALY] — Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.
REFERENCE: "Spontaneous Cross-Species Imitation in Interaction Between Chimpanzees and Zoo Visitors," Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, Primates, vol. 59, no. 1, January 2018, pp 19–29.
* * *
BIOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, COLOMBIA, GERMANY, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND] — Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.
REFERENCE: "The Scent of the Fly," Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.
* * *
CHEMISTRY PRIZE [PORTUGAL] — Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.
REFERENCE: "Human Saliva as a Cleaning Agent for Dirty Surfaces," by Paula M. S. Romão, Adília M. Alarcão and César A.N. Viana, Studies in Conservation, vol. 35, 1990, pp. 153-155.
* * *
MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Akira Horiuchi, for the medical report "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy."
REFERENCE: "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy by Using a Small-Caliber, Variable-Stiffness Colonoscope," Akira Horiuchi and Yoshiko Nakayama, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, vol. 63, No. 1, 2006, pp. 119-20.
* * *
LITERATURE PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, EL SALVADOR, UK] — Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.
REFERENCE: "Life Is Too Short to RTFM: How Users Relate to Documentation and Excess Features in Consumer Products," Alethea L. Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, Interacting With Computers, vol. 28, no. 1, 2014, pp. 27-46.
* * *
NUTRITION PRIZE [ZIMBABWE, TANZANIA, UK] — James Cole, for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.
REFERENCE: "Assessing the Calorific Significance of Episodes of Human Cannibalism in the Paleolithic," James Cole, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 44707, April 7, 2017.
* * *
PEACE PRIZE [SPAIN, COLOMBIA] — Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge, Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Jaime Sanmartín, Constanza Calatayud, and Beatriz Alamar, for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.
REFERENCE: "Shouting and Cursing While Driving: Frequency, Reasons, Perceived Risk and Punishment," Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge and Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, vol. 1, no. 12017, pp. 1-7.
* * *
REFERENCE: "La Justicia en el Tráfico: Conocimiento y Valoración de la Población Española" ["Justice in Traffic: Knowledge and Valuation of the Spanish Population")], F. Alonso, J. Sanmartín, C. Calatayud, C. Esteban, B. Alamar, and M. L. Ballestar, Cuadernos de Reflexión Attitudes, 2005.
* * *
REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE PRIZE [USA, JAPAN, SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, INDIA, BANGLADESH] — John Barry, Bruce Blank, and Michel Boileau, for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly—as described in their study "Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps."
REFERENCE: "Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps," John M. Barry, Bruce Blank, Michael Boileau, Urology, vol. 15, 1980, pp. 171-172.
* * *
ECONOMICS PRIZE [CANADA, CHINA, SINGAPORE, USA] — Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa Keeping, for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.
REFERENCE: "Righting a Wrong: Retaliation on a Voodoo Doll Symbolizing an Abusive Supervisor Restores Justice," Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping, The Leadership Quarterly, February 2018.
* * *
“The sentence ‘The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’ uses every letter in the alphabet.” – Unknown

Dog Abuse On Signal Mountain

Simple War Widow Leaves A Memorable Legacy

Planning Ahead For Winter Road Safety


I just witnessed a very disturbing and disgusting example of dog abuse on Signal Mountain. It took place in Old Town near Alexian Brothers. A man who was in his late 30s to early 40s, wearing ... (click for more)

Every day it seems we read the obituary of another unheralded senior citizen from one town or another across our land, that time has finally taken from us. A grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt, cousin ... (click for more)

The long awaited season of autumn has finally arrived in Bradley County. This time of year brings along some very special moments that we can all look forward to year-round: meeting a cool breeze ... (click for more)


Opinion

Dog Abuse On Signal Mountain

I just witnessed a very disturbing and disgusting example of dog abuse on Signal Mountain. It took place in Old Town near Alexian Brothers. A man who was in his late 30s to early 40s, wearing shorts, with an athletic if not hefty build, was running a chocolate lab or a Chesapeake Bay retriever. The incident took place in the early morning. The dog stopped for a breather. When ... (click for more)

Simple War Widow Leaves A Memorable Legacy

Every day it seems we read the obituary of another unheralded senior citizen from one town or another across our land, that time has finally taken from us. A grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt, cousin or friend that bravely served our country in uniform, and even worked in our factories that supplied our troops with the means to fight. They will forever be remembered as one of those ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Motorcyclist, 30, Killed On Interstate 24 After Rear-Ending Tractor-Trailer At High Rate Of Speed

A motorcyclist was killed Saturday afternoon on Interstate 24. The crash occurred at 18400 Interstate 24 eastbound at approximately 4:33 p.m. The CPD Traffic Unit responded to the scene. A Suzuki motorcycle was traveling near mile marker 184 at a high rate of speed when the driver struck the rear of an International semi-truck. The man, 30, separated from ... (click for more)

University Of Georgia Photographer From Ringgold Released From Hospital After Scary Incident

A University of Georgia photographer who was knocked unconscious as she stood on the sidelines at the Auburn game on Saturday has been released from the hospital. Chamberlain Smith was carted off the field after being struck by a player and was taken to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. Her mother, Layna Smith, later said she was "conscious & in good spirits." ... (click for more)

Sports

Lee Wins First Gulf South Soccer Championship

Yotam Balbul headed home the lone goal of the match in the 81st minute to give the Lee men's soccer team its first Gulf South Conference Championship in program history with a 1-0 shutout of West Florida on Sunday afternoon from the Ashton Brosnaham Park. Balbul connected off a corner kick from Jared McWhorter to give the Flames the advantage late in the title game. Lee kept ... (click for more)

Lee Women Win 92-66 Over Clark Atlanta, Improve To 4-0

Five Lee players scored in double figures and a total of 13 Lady Flames scored points in a 92-66 victory over Clark Atlanta inside Walker Arena on Saturday evening. The win improved the unbeaten Lady Flames record to 4-0 on the year and they will be back in action on Wednesday, hosting Bryan College in another 6 p.m. tip. “Clark Atlanta is much improved from last year and forced ... (click for more)