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Ways to Use the Chocolate Issue

April 20th, 2021

Ways to Use This Issue” is a featured article in the special Chocolate issue (volume 27, number 1) of the Annals of Improbable Research. This article is free to download:

Here’s a shorthand version of what’s in that article:

  • Write a limerick about one of the cited studies….
  • Write a long-single-sentence short story that includes the titles of every study mentioned in one of the review articles….
  • Do dramatic readings, in person, or in live or recorded video, of little chunks from the magazine….
  • Watch an Ig Nobel Prize winner…
  • Go down a rabbit hole. For some item that catches your fancy…
  • Go down a maybe-important rabbit hole…
  • If you are a journalist, some of those rabbit holes house bunnies that can make news editors hop to attention…
  • Start an argument about whether some particular study is good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless.

Podcast Episode #1064: “The Best Life Opera (Act 3)”

April 19th, 2021

In Podcast Episode #1064, Marc Abrahams presents the third act of “The Best Life”, a mini-opera which debuted in 2015 at the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Ceremony.

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

Seth GliksmanProduction Assistant

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

The Need for Justifiable Busyness [study]

April 19th, 2021

If someone had told Sisyphus that he was no longer required to push a large boulder up a mountainside for all eternity . . . would he have carried on anyway? According to a 2010 paper in the journal Psychological Science, he might well have.

“Our research suggests that Sisyphus was better off with his punishment than he would have been with a punishment of an eternity of doing nothing, and that he might have chosen rolling a rock over idleness if he had been given a slight reason for doing it.”

The research team speculate(d) that :

“[…] most people today no longer expend much energy on basic survival needs, so they have excessive energy, which they like to release through action.”

And so, due to idleness aversion, prefer fighting each other, making money, or writing scientific papers. The authors offer some practical advice regarding their discoveries :

“For example, homeowners may increase the happiness of their idle housekeepers by letting in some mice and prompting the housekeepers to clean up. Governments may increase the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless.”

See: Idleness Aversion and the Need for Justifiable Busyness Psychological Science. 21(7):926-30. A free copy of which may be found here

Illustration source Wikipedia. Research research by Martin Gardiner 

Depression and Chocolate

April 16th, 2021

Depression and Chocolate” is a featured article in the special Chocolate issue (volume 27, number 1) of the Annals of Improbable Research. This article is free to download:

The article highlights several research studies about the search for delicious mood management methods.

Dr. I.C. Notting— A classic case of nominative determinism

April 13th, 2021

Dr. I.C. Notting, an ophthalmologist at Leiden University, is a classic case of nominative determinism.

Improbable Research