Science: Controlling Our Bladders Makes Us Better Liars

September 27th, 2015

According to a recent scientific study, we’re better at lying when we are also controlling our bladders.

Investigators Elise Fenn, Iris Blandón-Gitlin, Jennifer Coons, Catherine Pineda, and Reinalyn Echon from Claremont Graduate University were studying the Inhibitory Spillover Effect (ISE), which “occurs when performance in one self-control task facilitates performance in another (simultaneously conducted) self-control task.” Deception requires inhibitory control, and of course so does holding one’s bladder.

The following expert from the paper’s abstract provides a good summary of the authors’ findings:

Deceiving requires increased access to inhibitory control. We hypothesized that inducing liars to control urination urgency (physical inhibition) would facilitate control during deceptive interviews (cognitive inhibition). Participants drank small (low-control) or large (high-control) amounts of water. Next, they lied or told the truth to an interviewer. Third-party observers assessed the presence of behavioral cues and made true/lie judgments. In the high-control, but not the low-control condition, liars displayed significantly fewer behavioral cues to deception, more behavioral cues signaling truth, and provided longer and more complex accounts than truth-tellers.


This new article cites — and takes part of its name from — the Ig Nobel-winning paper by M. A. Tuk et al.: Inhibitory spillover: Increased urination urgency facilitates impulse control in unrelated domains.

(Thanks to investigator Karen Kustedjo for alerting us to this article.)

What’s it like to be an atom (and be in love?)

September 27th, 2015

Frank Wilczek tells BBC3 Radio’s “Private Passions” what it was like to be an atom, which is what Wilzcek was in his public opera-singing debut, in which he played the role of an atom who fell in love with a human being (and she with him!) in the Ig Nobel opera “Atom and Eve‘.


BONUS (unrelated, really): “The vocal tract organ is a new musical instrument

Wedding spending and marriage duration, linked?

September 26th, 2015

diamondAre higher wedding expenses associated with longer-lasting marriages? And is the phrase “A diamond is forever” just a fairytale? Professors Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon of the Economics Department at Emory University, US, express their opinions in their forthcoming paper for Economic Inquiry, entitled: ‘‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration’

“The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages. This paper is the first to examine this relationship statistically. We find that marriage duration is either not associated or inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony. Overall, our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes.”

Also see: (by Professor Hugo M. Mialon) ‘The Economics of Faking Ecstasy’


Jurassic Pork: Were dinosaurs and their colleagues kosher?

September 26th, 2015

Dinosaurs, the so-called “paleo diet”, implied time travel, and religious theoretical sensibilities all figure in a new study called “Jurassic Pork: What Could a Jewish Time Traveler Eat?“, by Roy E. Plotnick, Jessica M. Theodor, and Thomas R. Holtz, published in the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach, vol. 8, no. 17, September 34, 2015. The authors, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Calgary, the University of Maryland, and the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, explain:

Paleontologists use multiple methods to reconstruct the anatomy and behavior of extinct animals, including direct observations from well-preserved fossils and inferences from the phylogeny of modern and extinct relatives. We illustrate these techniques by reference to the biblical definitions of kosher and non-kosher animals; that is, how can we apply these approaches to the hypothetical question of whether an extinct form would have been kosher. The biblical categories do not readily map to modern understandings of systematics, but are heavily based on life mode. When given, distinguishing characteristics, such as the presence of fins and scales in aquatic animals, can be readily seen directly in fossils. In other cases, such as cud chewing, they need to be inferred from the phylogenetic relationships of the fossil forms. Dinosaurs (other than birds), unfortunately, are not kosher. A kosherpaleo diet” would be increasingly difficult further in the past….

“Figure 1 shows the known time range of the families whose members today are considered kosher and that occur in the fossil record. The range goes from today back to the oldest fossil occurrence of that family. Of the forty-four families that are found as fossils, only 14 go back as far as the Cretaceous, four to the Jurassic, and only one, the bowfins (Family Amiidae) as far back as the Triassic.”

fossil record

Here is an earlier, somewhat similar — though incomplete — study, the trailer for a film called “Jurassic Park”:

Ig Nobel TV special on BS-SKY-PerfecTV — September 27

September 25th, 2015

Dr. Nakamatsu contest of special program – Ig Nobel Prize knowledge” will be a special broadcast on Japan’s BS-SKY-PerfecTV channel, on Sunday September 27, at 5:00 pm.

The program will, we are told, be composed of highlights from the June 2015 Ig Nobel show at the University of Tokyo with Marc Abrahams, Dr. Nakamats, and several other Ig Nobel Prize winners, and some brave students from the University of Tokyo.

That June show (and indirectly, this broadcast) was made possible through the generosity of some colorful donors. We want to again thank them. They are:

Platinum SponsorsEisaku Amano,Hirokuni Ito, Gonji Iyama,Kouji Oosawa, Toshihiro Kakimoto, Arata Samon, Toshihiro Suzuki, Kazuo Sekine, Asuka Tsuzuki, Hisashi Niizuma, Hirotada Hashimoto, Yasuto Hara, So Fujioka, Akira Yamane

Gold Sponsors: Yasumitsu Aoyama, Masashi Ishizuka, Makoto Imai, Keiko Uchida, Koichi Ota, Hironori Ozaku, Hisashi Kamiuchi, Hiroshi Kawai, Sayuri Kishi, Toshikazu Kimura, Masatoshi Kumagai, Takeshi Sasaki, Tatsuya Satou, Azumaya Kimonohiroba, Keiko Serizawa, Yoko Taniguchi, Satoru Chiba, Satoru Nakajo, Koichi Tsuji, Katsumi Tsuruta, Yasuo Tomita, Miyoko Nakagawa, Katsuroh Nishikubo, Megumi Hattori, Akira Fukuda, Tomio Horiuchi, Midori Matsumoto, Ken Murata, Yusuke Yasukawa, Hisashi Yada, Akira Yano, Shuhei Yamada, Ryusuke Yamanouchi, Jun Watanabe

And, of course, very special thanks to Sir Dr. Nakamats and his staff and family and friends — especially Hasegawa the Great!