Thigh Gaps

June 26th, 2015

Considering the relatively high level of media interest in the so-called ‘Thigh Gap’ phenomenon over the last few years, it’s perhaps surprising that very few scientific researchers appear to have looked into it. Improbable has managed to find only one experimental study, undertaken by Khyati Maheshkumar Ganatra of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi, and published in 2014. The research was conducted to find out if a difference exists between males and females regarding their preferences for (or against) thigh gaps. Ganatra showed 148 participants (84F, 64M) the nine images below –


– and asked them to rate the following statements according to applicability.

I have a thigh gap and love it
I have a thigh gap and hate it
I don’t have a thigh gap but would like one
I don’t have a thigh gap and would not like one
I couldn’t care less about the thigh gap

Analysis of the results revealed the following :

“Overall, there seems to be one main conclusion based on the results of the participants’ reported responses. That is, there does not appear to be a difference between men and women’s reported preferences for a thigh gap in the female silhouettes used in the present study.”

see: ‘Analysis of Body Type Preferences Among Young Adults’

Non-experimental academic scrutiny of the phenomenon is also quite rare. See one of the few examples (in French, from le Journal Français de Psychiatrie, 2015 /1, n° 41) ‘De Body art en phénomène du thigh gap : monstration de corps, présentation de « moi »’ by Catherine Desprats-Péquignot.

Du désir et du sujet divisé …
… à la jouissance et au mirage du « moi-corps »
My thigh gap is myself

Books to train your brain to suchandsuch or thisandthat

June 25th, 2015

If you want to buy a book to try to train your brain to do something, you have many somethings and many books to choose from. Here’s a sampling:

There is a near-infinity of other such books available for consideration by you or your brain. All of them may be equally effective.

Near-infinity extends in many (perhaps a near-infinity of) directions. In one direction, you can find the splendid Brain Train, invented by Ig Nobel Prize winner Bart Knols. In a very different direction, you can find BrainTrain.

Podcast #17: The real-life Wizard of Oz

June 24th, 2015

The real-life Wizard of Oz, artificial fruit processing in children and chimps, and other things, turn up  in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

Click on the “Venetian blinds” icon — at the lower right corner here — to select whichever week’s episode you want to hear:

SUBSCRIBE on or iTunes, to get a new episode every week, free.
[NEWS: Soon, the podcast will also be available on Spotify.]

This week, Marc Abrahams tells about:

The mysterious John Schedler perhaps did the sound engineering this week.

The Improbable Research podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that may be good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, both on the new CBS web site, and on iTunes (and soon, also on Spotify).

Advice to kids: Just say no (to fainting)

June 24th, 2015

Mass inoculation programs for school children sometimes encounter problems – with considerable numbers of children fainting. Fortunately, in 1973, a very straightforward remedial strategy was discovered by Alan Hedberg and Audrey Schlong. It was described in the journal Nursing Research.Faint_Not

The final birthday party of Dr. Nakamats, this Friday in Tokyo

June 23rd, 2015

I am traveling to Tokyo to take part in the final birthday party — that’s how he describes it — of Dr. Nakamats, the world’s most inventive inventor (more than 3500 patents, including patents for the floppy disk, the self-defense wig, and flying shoes), author, political candidate, Ig Nobel Prize winner (in 2005, for having photographed every meal he had consumed during the previous 34 years) and the closest we will ever see to a real-life Wizard of Oz.

Unlike most people’s birthday parties, this one will happen at the National Press Club, in Tokyo. Dr. Nakamats was diagnosed with a form of prostate cancer that will kill him, his doctors say, some time before the end of this year. Dr. Nakamats, in characteristic form, is choosing to make the very best of the situation. [UPDATE NOTE: See photos from the press conference / party, below.]

There will be nine days of Nakamats and Ig Nobel events — the first-ever official Ig Nobel Prize events to be held in Japan. Several other of Japan’s many Ig Nobel Prize winners will participate in some of those events.

This week’s Improbable Research podcast is largely about Dr. Nakamats, and features the adventure we had recently on a train going from Denmark to Sweden.

If, somehow, you have never encountered the wonder that is Dr. Nakamats, you can get a good introduction by watching Danish filmmaker Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s mesmerizing documentary called “The Invention of Dr. Nakamats.” Schröder is filming a second documentary, which will include footage from some of the upcoming events.

Here is the schedule of events (we will frequently update the details, on our events listing page — so check there to see the latest version of this list):

  • June 26, Friday: Sir Dr. NakaMats 87 the LAST birthday party & Ig Nobel Prizes Japan Event Press Conference, @Japan National Press Club, 10th floor Nippon Press Center Bldg., 2-2-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Tel:03-3503-2721
  • June 27 (Saturday) 12:00-12:30 Sir Dr. NakaMats Cancer CD Artist Debut Event @GINZA
  • June 28 (Sunday) 13:30- Lecture at Tokyo City University and Setagaya-ku.
  • June 29 (Monday) — special event at the Dr. Nakamats House.
  • June 30 (Tuesday) Ig Nobel event at University of Tokyo – public lecture in science — featuring Dr. Nakamats and other Ig Nobel prize winners: Masanori Niimi (effect of opera songs on heart transplant patients who are mice), Yukio Hirose (why one particular bronze statue fails to attract pigeons), and the team of Shinsuki Imai, Nagatome Yoshiaki, and Tsuge Nobuaki (biochemistry of onions causing human tears), and others. Details TBA.
  • July 1 (Wednesday) 15:00-16:00 — press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Details.
  • July 3 (Friday) Ig Nobel Event at Chuo-prefecture. Details TBA.
  • July 4 (Saturday) 10:00. Marc Abrahams will cut the tape at the Opening ceremony of the World Genius Convention, of  which Sir Dr. NakaMats is chairman.
  • Other events, possibly in profusion, TBA

If you are in Tokyo, please join us at one or more of these events. If you have friends in Tokyo, please spread the word.

Here is a further look at the world of Dr. Nakamats:

UPDATE: Here are panoramic photos I took while sitting next to Dr. Nakamats at the press conference, and at the Final Birthday Party, which immediately followed the press conference (Click on each image to see an enlarged version):