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Profile of the first double-Ig Nobel Prize winner, Jacques Benveniste

Jacques Benveniste [pictured here] was the first person (but not the last!) to be awarded more than one Ig Nobel Prize. John Welford the renowned “professional librarian, now semi-retired, who writes articles based on material gleaned from obscure books and journals,” crafted a profile of Benveniste. Here are some highlights:

“… Having – as he thought – produced convincing proof of the memory-retaining capacity of water, Jacques Benveniste thought he saw a way of cashing in on his work. He left Inserm (it is possible that he was pushed out rather than resigning his post voluntarily) and founded a company named the Digital Biology Laboratory, through which he hoped a make a vast fortune by completely revolutionizing the world of medicine.

“His new idea was that the memory retained by a quantity of water could be digitized and then transmitted to another body of water via a telephone line or the Internet. If one assumed that the first flask of water contained the cure to a particular ailment – which might well be assumed by a convinced homeopath – then the digitized memory of that cure could be sent anywhere in the world and transfer its miraculous powers to patients who would only need a glass of water and a computer (these days, a smartphone would probably have been sufficient). Presumably, a certain amount of money would also have flowed into the coffers of the Digital Biology Laboratory….

“Jacques Benveniste had the unique honor of winning two Ig Nobels, the first being in 1991. This was the first such award in the field of Chemistry. However, his persistence in continuing to astonish the scientific world earned him a second Ig Nobel, in 1998. He did not collect either award in person, but said that he was happy to be recognized in this way because it proved that the people making the awards did not understand the first thing about anything.

“Unfortunately, there was no possibility of Jacques Benveniste ever collecting a third Ig Nobel because he died in 2004 at the age of 69, with his revolutionary claims still unproven.”

Improbable Research