Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Ig Nobel winner David Dunning surveys recent research about incompetent people

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Ig Nobel Prize-winning Cornell psychology professor David Dunning — he of the Dunning-Kruger effect — tells the majestic story of incompetent people, in this essay in Pacific Standard:

We Are All Confident Idiots

BY DAVID DUNNING • October 27, 2014 • 4:00 AM

The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise. A leading researcher on the psychology of human wrongness sets us straight.

The 2001 Ig Nobel Prize for psychology was awarded to David Dunning and Justin Kruger, for their modest report, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” [Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 77, no. 6, December 1999, pp. 1121-34.]

Here’s a link to a full copy of the prize-winning study.

Here is a curious interview, conducted in the year 2012 by opinionated interviewer George Galloway, with David Dunning. The interviewer, a former politician, keeps asking whether voters are stupid:

Dr. Schwab explains why woodpeckers don’t get headaches

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Dr. Ivan Schwab explains why woodpeckers don’t get headaches, in this Discovery Channel video:

He explains it in more detail, in this TEDx Talk:

Dr. Schwab, of the University of California Davis, and the late Philip R.A. May of the University of California Los Angeles, were awarded the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for ornithology, for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers don’t get headaches.

REFERENCE: “Cure for a Headache,” Ivan R Schwab, British Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 86, 2002, p. 843.
REFERENCE: “Woodpeckers and Head Injury,” Philip R.A. May, JoaquinM. Fuster, Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7957, February28, 1976, pp. 454-5.
REFERENCE: “Woodpeckers and Head Injury,” Philip R.A. May, JoaquinM. Fuster, Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7973, June 19,1976, pp. 1347-8.

If you come to the Improbable Research show at the AAAS Annual Meeting, on February 14, 2015, in San Jose, California, you can see and hear and meet Dr. Schwab, and learn the latest on his work.

This video from the University of Southern California (USC) explains how USC researchers are following in the path laid out by Dr. Schwab, to better understand how the woodpecker insights might be applied to protecting the brains of human football players:

BONUS: Dr. Schwab also wrote the book Evolution’s Witness: How the Eye Evolved.

A quick intro to the Ig Nobel Prizes, on Belgian TV

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Here’s a twelve-minute introduction to the Ig Nobel Prizes, in case you need one, on Belgian TV. Lieven Scheire is your guide. The program is Cafe Corsari:

Brady Bunch’s Florence Henderson Gets Quizzed About the Ig Nobel Prizes

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Florence_hendersonFlorence Henderson, the actress who played Mrs. Brady on the TV show The Brady Bunch, answered questions today about the Ig Nobel Prizes. This happened on the NPR program Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me.

You can, if you like, listen to it on the Wait, Wait web site.

Here’s historic video footage of Florence Henderson in The Brady Bunch:

 

Here’s a transcript [supplied by the Wait, Wait staff] of Florence Henderson answering questions about the Ig:

For decades — during the original run and then countless reruns — Florence Henderson, who presided over the Brady Bunch, was America’s perfect Mom.

We’ve invited Henderson to play a game called “They said you were mad at the Academy! Mad, I tell you!” In September, the Annals of Improbable Research handed out their annual Ig Nobel Awards for achievements in real, if ridiculous, research. We’ll ask three questions about the far horizons of science.

[HOST PETER] SAGAL: Now a few weeks ago, the Annals Of Improbable Research – that’s a journal – handed out their annual Ig Nobel Awards for achievements in real – if ridiculous – science. We’re going to ask you three questions about the far horizons of science.

[FLORENCE] HENDERSON: Oh, my gosh.

SAGAL: Answer two of these questions correctly, you’ll win a prize for one of our listeners – Carl Kasell’s voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is the immortal Florence Henderson playing for?

[ANNOUNCER BILL] KURTIS: Sharon Gavin of Atlanta, Georgia.

SAGAL: All right. Are you ready to do this?

HENDERSON: Oh, my gosh, I’ll feel terrible if I don’t win. Can I send her something?

SAGAL: You may.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or perhaps her husband might be more appreciative.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Whatever works – but let’s play the game.

HENDERSON: OK.

SAGAL: OK, here we go. Here’s your first question. The Ig Nobel Prize in physics this year went to a team in Japan that investigated what? Did they investigate A, what would happen to an average building if Godzilla were really to step on it? B, the actual amount of friction between a person’s shoe, a banana peel and the floor; or C, how big Angelina Jolie’s lips could become before they explode?

(LAUGHTER)

HENDERSON: You know what, I’m going to go with A.

SAGAL: You’re going to go with A, what would happen to an average building if Godzilla were to stop on it?

HENDERSON: Yeah.

SAGAL: OK, no. Actually was B, the banana peel.

DICKINSON: Oh.

HENDERSON: Are you serious?

SAGAL: I’m very serious and so were they. According to their exacting measurements, we can now say for sure that a banana peel on a linoleum floor is slippery.

(LAUGHTER)

HENDERSON: Now, please.

BABYLON: And funny.

SAGAL: And funny. You have two more chances, so you can do this.

HENDERSON: OK.

SAGAL: And we always know Mrs. Brady always had a happy ending, so here we go. A special prize was given in Arctic Science and that was given to an international team of scientists who explored what question? A, if ice cubes taken from the polar ice cap can improve a cocktail; B, if putting up big fans on the poles to blow on the Arctic ice can help reverse global warming; or C, how reindeer behave when they are approached by humans dressed as polar bears.

HENDERSON: Oh, jeez. What was A again?

SAGAL: A was if ice cubes taken from the ancient polar ice cap will actually make your cocktail taste better.

HENDERSON: I think I have to go with that.

[PROGRAM PANELIST AMY] DICKINSON: That’s like a Dean Martin kind of question.

HENDERSON: It is, absolutely.

SAGAL: It is a Dean Martin kind of question.

DICKINSON: Can I weigh in? It doesn’t…

HENDERSON: Yeah, help me out here.

DICKINSON: I don’t know. Think that sounds wasteful. What was the second one?

HENDERSON: Blowing a fan is going to help global warming.

SAGAL: Yeah, that sounds ridiculous.

DICKINSON: That’s kind of crazy. And the other one was the…

SAGAL: The last one was how reindeer behave when they’re approached by humans wearing polar bear suits.

DICKINSON: I’m liking that one. I’m liking that one.

(APPLAUSE)

HENDERSON: Oh. I think I have to stay with A.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Really? I want to point out you may not know this, but Amy is an advice columnist.

HENDERSON: Oh, Amy. My gosh, yeah, I like three. I like number three.

SAGAL: There we go. Yes, you’re right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It turns out – and this is again according to this very scientific study – that reindeer are kind of freaked out when people dressed as polar bears approach them. All right, Florence, get this one right, you win.

The Public Health Prize went to a team that tried to determine if doing what was detrimental to your mental health? Is it A, trying to get your cable hooked up; B, playing the computer game Candy Crush; or C, owning a cat?

(LAUGHTER)

HENDERSON: Wow.

BLOUNT: I own a cat.

HENDERSON: It’s bad for your mental health.

SAGAL: Yes.

BLOUNT: And Roy just said he owns a cat, which to me is sort of proof right there.

(LAUGHTER)

DICKINSON: That’s true.

HENDERSON: Well, all right, let’s go with number three.

SAGAL: You’re going to go with number three, owning a cat?

HENDERSON: Yes.

SAGAL: Yes, that’s right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: So they published a number of studies that involve various things like parasites that cats sometimes have, but the short answer is yes, cats make you crazy.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Bill, how did Florence Henderson do in our quiz?

KURTIS: Well, Florence and Amy got two out of three.

DICKINSON: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Florence Henderson was, is and always will be America’s favorite TV mom. Florence Henderson, what fun to have you. Thank you so much…

BONUS: The Professor from Gilligan’s Island took part in the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony (in 1993)

My recent Ig Nobel talk, at TED Talks

Friday, October 24th, 2014

The talk I did recently at TEDMED is today’s talk of the day at the TED Talks site:

For more detail about any of the winners mentioned in the video, see the full list of Ig Nobel Prize winners.