Archive for 'Improbable investigators'

Ig Nobel Prize winner Deepak Chopra offers a million

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Ig Nobel Prize winner Deepak Chopra is offering $1,000,000 (a million dollars) to any critic who can explain — to Dr. Chopra’s satisfaction — why Dr. Chopra’s explanation of quantum phenomena is flawed. Details are in this video, and in an accompanying essay called “Getting Zombies Excited (It Takes a Million-Dollar Challenge)” published  in the Huffington Post.

Dr. Chopra was awarded the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for physics, for his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness.

BONUS (possibly unrelated): The 2000 Ig Nobel Prize for psychology was awarded to David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kruger of the University of Illinois, 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.]

O.S. McDoom the prophet; and McDoom’s shoe deodorant insert

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

OmarMcDoom-2012O.S. McDoom, known to some as the prophet McDoom, has written a new study that explains how to prophesy violence in one particular context:

Predicting violence within genocide: A model of elite competition and ethnic segregation from Rwanda,” Omar Shahabudin McDoom, Political Geography, vol. 42, September 2014, pp. 34–45. (Thanks to investigators Rose Fox and Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The author, at the London School of Economics, UK, writes:

I present a theoretical model to predict when and where violence will likely break out during a genocide.

• I develop two constructs – extremist elite control from above and the ethnic segregation of society from below – as predictors.

• I test the model using new sub-national data on the onset of violence in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

• I identify important temporal and spatial dynamics to genocidal violence.

• I suggest how the findings may be useful to international policy-makers as they respond to impending or ongoing genocides.

Earlier, McDoom wrote his doctoral thesis about some of the notions that would inform his later prophesy:

Micro-politics of mass violence,” Omar Shahabudin McDoom, PhD diss., London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London), 2009.

BONUS (unrelated): McDoom’s packaged shoe deodorant insert. Another McDoom, in a slightly earlier era, invented a packaged shoe deodorant insert, obtaining this patent for it:

Packaged shoe deodorant insert,” US patent 5720432, granted February 24, 1998 to Joan McDoom Gaskin.


King Gustaf III’s coffee-kills-which-murderous-twin experiment

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

This publication alludes to one of the few documented experiments that involved coffee, a king, twins, and death:

Coffee drinking was compared with tea drinking in monozygotic twins in 18th century,” Lars Breimer, BMJ, vol. 312, June 15, 1996, p. 1539. The author, at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in London, explains:

“One of the more peculiar attempts to throw light on the question of whether drinking coffee is bad for one’s health’ was carried out in the 18th century by King Gustaf III of Sweden…. A pair of monozygotic twins had been sentenced to death for murder. Gustaf III commuted their death sentences to life imprisonment on the condition that one twin drank a large bowl of tea three times a day and that the other twin drank coffee. The twin who drank tea died first, aged 83-a remarkable age for the time. Thus the case was settled: coffee was the less dangerous of the two beverages. The king, on the other hand, was murdered at a masked ball in 1792 at the age of 45 and became the subject of an opera by Verdi.”

Here’s video of part of a performance of that opera:

The Case of the Four Goodmans

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Our Multiplicity of Authors project gains a four-Goodman item (thanks to investigator Dorothy Petersen):

Allen Goodman

Allen Goodman

A Few Goodmen: Surname-Sharing Economist Coauthors,” Allen C. Goodman [Wayne State University], Joshua Goodman [Harvard University], Lucas Goodman [University of Maryland], Sarena Goodman [Federal Reserve Board], June 5, 2014. The authors explain:

“We explore the phenomenon of coauthorship by economists who share a surname. Prior research has included at most three economist coauthors who share a surname. Ours is the first paper to have four economist coauthors who share a surname, as well as the first where such coauthors are unrelated by marriage or blood.”

Joshua Goodman

Joshua Goodman

The study’s reference list includes several less numerous co-author collaborations. Among them:

Ahlin, C. and P. Ahlin (2013). Product differentiation under congestion: Hotelling was right. Economic Inquiry 51(3), 1750–1763.

Dal Bo, E. and P. Dal Bo (2011). Workers, warriors, and criminals: social conflict in general equilibrium. Journal of the European Economic Association 9(4), 646–677.

Friedman, M. and R. Friedman (1990). Free to choose: A personal statement. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Sarena Goodman

Sarena Goodman

Goodman, A. C. and J. L. Goodman Jr (1997). The co-op discount. The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 14(1-2), 223–233.

Kehoe, P. and T. Kehoe (1995). A primer on static applied general equilibriummodels. In Modeling North American Economic Integration, pp. 1–31. Springer.

Modigliani, F. and L. Modigliani (1997). Risk-adjusted performance. The Journal of Portfolio Management 23(2), 45–54.

Ostrom, V. and E. Ostrom (1999). Public goods and public choices. In Polycentricity and Local Public Economies. Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, pp. 75–105. Ed. Michael McGinnis, Ann Arbor.-University of Michigan Press.

Pope, D. and J. Pope (2009). The impact of college sports success on the quantity and quality of student applications. Southern Economic Journal, 750–780.

Ramey, G. and V. A. Ramey (2010). The rug rat race. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 129–176.

Reinhart, C. and V. Reinhart (2010). After the fall. Working Paper 16334, National Bureau of Economic Research.

Romer, C. and D. Romer (2013). The most dangerous idea in federal reserve history: Monetary policy doesn’t matter. The American Economic Review 103(3), 55–60.

Sexton, S. E. and A. L. Sexton (2014). Conspicuous conservation: The Prius halo and willingness to pay for environmental bona fides. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 67(3), 303 – 317.

Skarbek, D., E. Skarbek, B. Skarbek, and E. Skarbek (2012). Sweatshops, opportunity costs, and non-monetary compensation: Evidence from El Salvador. American Journal of Economics and Sociology 71(3), 539–561.

Stinebrickner, R. and T. Stinebrickner (2014). A major in science? Initial beliefs and final outcomes for college major and dropout. The Review of Economic Studies 81(1), 426–472.

Summers, L. and V. Summers (1989). When financial markets work too well: a cautious case for a securities transactions tax. Journal of Financial Services Research 3(2-3), 261–286.

Tremblay, C. H., M. J. Tremblay, and V. J. Tremblay (2011). A general Cournot-Bertrand model with homogeneous goods. Theoretical Economics Letters 1, 38.

Ulph, A. and D. Ulph (2013). Optimal climate change policies when governments cannot commit. Environmental and Resource Economics 56(2), 161–176.

Van Praag, C. M. and B. M. Van Praag (2008). The benefits of being economics professor A (rather than Z). Economica 75(300), 782–796.

Winkelmann, L. and R. Winkelmann (1998). Why are the unemployed so unhappy? Evidence from panel data. Economica 65(257), 1–15.

Celebrate the 19th Dead Duck Day, on June 5th 2014

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

logo_DEAD DUCK DAYThursday June 5th, 2014 is Dead Duck Day, arriving exactly one year after last year’s Dead Duck Day. At exactly 17:55 h we will honor the mallard duck that became known to science as the first (documented) ‘victim’ of homosexual necrophilia in that species, and earned its discoverer, Kees Moeliker, the 2003 Ig Nobel Biology Prize.

Please join the short open-air ceremony next to the new wing of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam (the Netherlands), right below the new Dead Duck Memorial Plaque, where that duck (now museum specimen NMR 9989-00232) met his dramatic end.

This is what will happen

Feeling nostalgic? Dip into a brief history of Dead Duck Day.

UPDATE (June 9, 2014): An action-packed report about what happened on Dead Duck Day 2014