Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Sensation Seeking, Sports Cars, and Hedge Funds (new study)

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

“The emerging [hedge fund] manager who goes out and buys a fancy sports car right off the bat is someone you probably want to avoid.”

– informed an article in Business Insider (Singapore), February 2016. But was the statement measurably valid? To find out Stephen Brown, Yan Lu, Sugata Ray and Melvyn Teo set up a research project to empirically investigate the so-called ‘Red Ferrari Syndrome’.

An analysis of 48,778 hedge funds (with reference to the automobile preferences of the funds’ managers, and the funds’ results over time) showed striking results.

“The empirical results are striking. We find that hedge fund managers who purchase performance cars take on more investment risk than do fund managers who eschew performance cars. Specifically, sports car drivers deliver returns that are 1.80 percentage points per annum more volatile than do non-sports car drivers. This represents a 16.61 percent increase in volatility over that of drivers who shun sports cars. Similarly, drivers of high horsepower and high torque automobiles exhibit 1.14 and 1.25 percentage points per annum more volatility, respectively, in the funds that they manage than do drivers of low horsepower and low torque automobiles.”

See: Sensation Seeking, Sports Cars, and Hedge Funds NYU Working Paper, December 2016.

The photo shows the new, red, Ferrari J50

The dismaying danger of buying perfume as a gift

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Craig Roberts, at the University of Stirling, warns you, based on his research, that there are “more reason to choose fragrances carefully“:

there is no one-scent-fits-all effect here. Different fragrances suit different people. In a study with my Czech colleague [Ig Nobel Prize winner] Jan Havlíček, we found that some people get this spectacularly wrong. While overall artificial fragrances improve the smell of their natural body odour, for some people, their armpit odour smells worse when they use their chosen fragrance – they have selected one that clearly doesn’t blend well with their own odour. More recently, my excellent ex-student Caroline Allen has shown that the right fragrance choice can emphasise the distinctiveness of our underlying body odour.

Now, Caroline has found something really very interesting about the effects of fragrances. Whereas the smell of unperfumed armpits (relatively masculine or feminine) predicts how our faces look (relatively masculine or feminine), this relationship disappears when men use fragrance. The relationship is maintained in the case of women’s smell and faces. And it disappears, in men, in an interesting way

DNA Cologne, invented by Bijan of Beverly Hills. The inventor was awarded the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize in chemistry.

DNA Cologne, invented by Bijan of Beverly Hills. The inventor was awarded the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry.

In a recent Improbable Research podcast, Jean Berko Gleason explores the Roberts/Havlíček team’s garlic/armpit-smell study, with glee and more than a soupçon of disgust.


When a monkey loved a deer…

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Love has always been difficult to define exactly. A newly published study adds nuance, or at least data, to the concept. The study is:

Interspecies sexual behaviour between a male Japanese macaque and female sika deer,” Marie Pelé, Alexandre Bonnefoy, Masaki Shimada, and Cédric Sueur, Primates, epub January 2017. The authors, in Strasbourg, France and Uenohara, Japan, report:

“Interspecies sexual behaviour or ‘reproductive interference’ has been reported across a wide range of animal taxa. However, most of these occurrences were observed in phylogenetically close species… Only one scientific study has reported this phenomenon, describing sexual harassment of king penguins by an Antarctic fur seal. This is the first article to report mating behaviour between a male Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata yakui) and female sika deer (Cervus nippon yakushimae) on Yakushima Island, Japan. Although Japanese macaques are known to ride deer, this individual showed clearly sexual behaviour towards several female deer, some of which tried to escape whilst others accepted the mount.”

Here’s pictorial detail from the study:

The penguin/seal study, mentioned above, is: de Bruyn PN, Tosh CA, Bester MN (2008) “Sexual harassment of a king penguin by an Antarctic fur seal,” Journal of Ethology, 26:295–297.)

(Thanks to Reto Schneider for bringing this to our attention.)

Alwynne B. Beaudoin’s compost of dung research

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Alwynne B. Beaudoin’s “The Dung File” is one of the more effusive collections of research about dung. Beaudoin says:

“The Dung File consists of a list of references dealing with pollen, parasites, and plant remains in coprolites and latrine fills from archaeological and palaeoenvironmental sites. The focus is on studies in North America, although the list also includes studies from many other areas. About 48% of the citations are from areas other than North America. The list includes mostly publications in the English language.”

The Dung File has a logo:


Who is Alwynne B. Beaudoin? Dr. Alwynne. B. Beaudoin is Head Curator, Earth Sciences, and Curator, Quaternary Environments, at the Royal Alberta Museum. That’s who.

(Thanks to Dan Odell for bringing this to our attention.)

UPDATE (January 8, 2017): Inéz López-Dóriga alerts us to the existence of a different list of dung research citations: “An Idiosyncratic and Not Exhaustive Bibliography for Animal Dung and Archaeology,” accumulated by Naomi F. Miller (pictured here) of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. López-Dóriga alerts us also to the National Poo Museum, the contents of which are deposited in the museum, which is on the Isle of Wight.

Nominative Determinism: Harry Beaver, gynecologist. Also: Bush and Blinder.

Saturday, January 7th, 2017


Three more doctors who benefit/suffer from nominative determinism:

Harry Beaver [pictured here], gynecologist.

Nicol Bush, urologist.

Kevin Blinder, ophthalmologist.

(Thanks to anonymous person for bringing these to our attention.)