An effect of croquet on predator/parasite author order

Scientists sometimes find clever ways to decide contentious questions. Witness the method mentioned in this paper:

Aggregation of predators and insect parasites and its effect on stability,” M.P. Hassell and Robert M. May, Journal of Animal Ecology, 1974, pp. 567-594. (Thanks to investigator Betsy Devine for bringing this to our attention.)  In the 1974 predators/parasites paper, May and his coauthor wrote:

“The order of authorship was determined from a twenty-five-game croquet series held at Imperial College Field Station during summer 1973.”

[A CURIOUS HISTORICAL NOTE: Two decades after this paper appeared, Robert May held the post of Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government. In 1995 he asked the Ig Nobel Board of Governors to stop giving Ig Nobel Prizes to British scientists — even if those scientists wanted to be awarded the prizes. The incident was celebrated in the science journalism world at the time, and years later was celebrated in a popular Japanese manga.]

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