Donate to the Igs

Study plumbs the influence of Ig Nobel winner Trump

September 30th, 2020

A new study identifies and tries to quantify the influence of one of this year’s nine co-winners of the Ig Nobel Prize for Medical Education: Donald Trump.

The study is “Coronavirus misinformation: quantifying sources and themes in the COVID-19‘ infodemic,’ ” by Sarah Evanega, Mark Lynas, Jordan Adams, and Karinne Smolenyak. The authors, at Cornell University and Cision Global Insights, explain:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded alongside what the World Health Organization has termed an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation.This study identifies and analyzes the most prominent topics of COVID-related misinformation… We found that media mentions of US President Donald Trump within the context of COVID-19 misinformation made up by far the largest share of the infodemic. Trump mentions comprised 37.9% of the overall misinformation conversation, well ahead of any other topics.We conclude that the President of the UnitedStates was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation ‘infodemic’ “.

The 2020 Ig Nobel Prize for Medical Education was awarded on September 17 to Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Narendra Modi of India, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Donald Trump of the USA, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, for using the Covid-19 viral pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors can.

The New York Times and other media present news about the new study.

Null Salad—A Mathematician goes salad bowling

September 30th, 2020

Mathematician Jim Propp worries over a concept he’s been trying, for decades, to digest: Null Salad. Propp explains:

“If you have arugula, basil, celery, dandelion, and endive leaves, how many different tossed salads can you make?” That question, or something like it, was asked in a Math Bowl that I participated in back in high school, during my halcyon days as a mathlete. Actually, “halcyon days” are supposed to be calm days, and quiz-show-style math-smackdowns aren’t known for being calm.  It was certainly an un-halcyon moment when my Math Bowl teammates were urgently saying we should buzz in with the answer 32 to that salad question, and I was saying we needed to figure out whether the judges would think that a bowl containing no ingredients at all was a valid salad.  While we were debating the issue, the other team buzzed in with the answer 32, only to be told “That is incorrect.” Our team immediately buzzed in with the answer 31, which seemed likely to be the answer the judges were looking for.

We got the points, but I liked the other team’s answer better. The idea of an empty salad might seem like a purely mathematical fancy, but half a dozen years later I saw a restaurant menu that offered the null salad, or rather “Nowt, served with a subtle hint of sod all” (for the unbeatable price of 0 pounds and 0 pence)….

Comparing piano keys sounds with earthquakes [study]

September 28th, 2020

Can the recorded sound of a single note played on a piano be compared to the seismic records of an earthquake? If so, how much (so)? A 2020 research project from the Golestan Institute of Higher Education, and the Department of Civil Engineering, Islamic Azad University of Kish Iran, has investigated.

“The comparison between near-field recordings and synthetic recordings derived from piano sound showed that the highest correlation with the Loma Prieta, Niigata, Japan and Chuetsu-oki, Japan earthquakes was about 60%. Also, the lowest correlation for Northridge earthquake was about 30% and also the comparison between remote area records and synthetic records derived from piano sound showed that Friuli, Italy-01 and Borah Peak, ID-02 70% had the highest correlation. Coalinga-01 had the lowest correlation of about 40% among the selected records. The results also showed that the correlation between the selected synthetic records for the faraway fault zone is higher than the near fault state.”

See; Using the Piano Keys Sound as Artificial  Accelerations in Advance Researches in Civil Engineering, Vol.2, No.2, pages: 56-64

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Pocket-Sized #1035: “What Is Stupid”

September 27th, 2020

In this special Pocked-Sized episode #1035, Marc Abrahams shows an unfamiliar research study to Jean Berko Gleason. Dramatic readings and reactions ensue.

The research mentioned in this episode is featured in the special Psychology issue (vol. 26, #1) of the Annals of Improbable Research magazine. 

  1. Jean Berko Gleason encounters:

What Is Stupid?: People’s Conception of Unintelligent Behavior,” Balazs Aczel, Bence Palfi, and Zoltan Kekecs, Intelligence, vol. 53, 2015, pp. 51-58. 

Remember, our Patreon donors, on most levels, get access to each podcast episode before it is made public.

Seth Gliksman, Production Assistant

Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Google Podcasts, AntennaPod, BeyondPod and elsewhere!

Mary Ann Raghanti joins the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS)

September 25th, 2020

Mary Ann Raghanti has joined the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists™ (LFHCfS). She says:

The main focus of my research is human brain evolution. I chose this field of study after spending an inordinate amount of time chasing monkeys around forests, hoping against hope that each of them would defecate close to a trail to facilitate fecal sample collection. That was followed by another unusually dedicated time period grinding up said samples for various analyses. Brains, on the whole, smell better. Nevertheless, the beguiling siren call of excreta returns to my lab and research in fascinating forms. I am driven by a passion to understand what makes us human, and one characteristic of our species is the presence bountiful scalp hair. This is just one reason why I am delighted, honored, and humbled to become a member of the LFHCfS.

Mary Ann Raghanti, Ph.D., LFHCfS
Ig Nobel Prize Winner (2020 Materials Science Prize)
Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology
Kent State University
Kent, Ohio, USA

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!