Sometimes research is funny. No, really! Using actual money and resources to study if roller coasters can help move kidney stones? Comedy GOLD.
When research, either good or bad, is funny and thought provoking it can earn an Ig Nobel Prize. Organized by the Annals of Improbable Research, ten prizes in different fields have been awarded in September every year since 1991.
Here are some highlights from the 2020 award winners:
- Psychology Prize: for devising a method to identify narcissists by examining their eyebrows
- Peace Prize: For the governments of India and Pakistan, for having their diplomats surreptitiously ring each other’s doorbells in the middle of the night, and then run away before anyone had a chance to answer the door
- Economics Prize: for trying to quantify the relationship between different countries’ national income inequality and the average amount of mouth-to-mouth kissing
- Medicine Prize: for diagnosing a long-unrecognized medical condition: Misophonia, the distress at hearing other people make chewing sounds
- Materials Science Prize: for showing that knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work well
That last one is my personal favorite. Where would we be without this VITAL research?!?!
Here are a few of my all time favorite winners:
- Medical Prize (2018): for the medical report “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.”
- Economics Prize (2017): for experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person’s willingness to gamble
- Psychology Prize (2016): for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers
- Literature Prize (2012): The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
- Archeology Prize (2008): for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
- Literature Prize (2006): for the report “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”
- Peace Prize (2005): for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie “Star Wars.”
- Psychology Prize (2004): for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it’s all too easy to overlook anything else — even a woman in a gorilla suit.
Think these are fake? They sound like clickbait, but you can check out the full list and read the original research articles yourself!