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Archive for 'Improbable Sex'

“The most viewed medical video in the world” [sex in an MRI]

Friday, December 20th, 2019

French medical journalist Marc Gozlan reminds us that the most viewed article in the history of the British Medical Journal led to the creation of what became “The most viewed medical video in the world“.

Here is that video:

Where did that come from?

Here’s the story of how that video came to be, and how it came to be seen. We are not unhappy at having played a part in that story: “Sex and videotape“.

How phonies and self-promoters came to rule the world

Friday, May 24th, 2019

“Our obsession with money and susceptibility to charisma, over-confidence and surface gloss have propelled us into an age where sham, spin, trickery and twaddle have become the new norms,” writes Shelley Gare, in the Sydney Morning Herald:

How phonies and self-promoters came to rule the world

… We can’t say we weren’t warned….

Almost 25 years ago, David Dunning, a psychology professor at Cornell University in upper New York state, became fascinated by a trait he had noticed in some of his students taking tests: “They expressed all sorts of confidence about how they’d done but no, they hadn’t done all that well.”

He wondered about its relevance in the workplace: “I was trying to figure out: do incompetent people really not know how badly they are performing?” On the phone from Ann Arbor, where Dunning now works at the University of Michigan, he marvels as he recalls how he and a graduate student, Justin Kruger, “decided to take a look at the people who were doing really poorly and we tested them on logic, grammar and humour. And what we discovered was that – after the tests and after they had seen the responses of other, more competent students – the people at the bottom wouldn’t revise their self-impression at all.” They continued to over-estimate how well they had done. “After that, even I was convinced the theory was right,” Dunning laughs.

Their 1999 findings are known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. It explains how many incompetent people not only are confident that they are competent but, it also turns out, when they see real competence, their incompetence means they can’t recognise it. Meanwhile, in a true catch-22, competent people, because they know what they don’t know, will underestimate their competence – and often be less confident. Dunning and Kruger’s findings spawned hundreds of articles and features, and a musical rendition, The Incompetence Opera. In 2000, the authors were awarded the Ig Nobel prize, which celebrates research “that makes you laugh, then think”. The election of uber-confident businessman Donald Trump to the White House in 2016 only gave the theory fresh life….

Here’s video of the Dunning Kruger Song, the thrilling finale to The Incompetence Opera. The opera premiered as part of the 2017 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony:


“Journal to retract article from 2000 that plagiarized one from 1984”

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

In digging up material for a book, I ran across a pair of quasi-identical articles on an unusual topic. The articles were so similar that I sent word to our friends at the Retraction Watch web site, who dug into the history of those articles. Today, Retraction Watch published their report about those two reports:

Journal to retract article from 2000 that plagiarized one from 1984

When it comes to plagiarism, there is apparently no statute of limitations.

That’s one lesson one might take from this tale of two papers, one published in 1984 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG), and the other published in 2000 in the Medical Journal of The Islamic Republic of Iran (MJIRI). Both are titled “The use of breast stimulation to prevent postdate pregnancy.” …

In a note to us late last year, Marc Abrahams, the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, flagged the apparent plagiarism. In January, we asked Hamid Baradaran, the editor of the MJIRI, if the journal was aware of the overlap. Baradaran, of the Iran University of Medical Sciences, said he’d follow up, and earlier this month he said that the journal had decided to retract the paper….


Nasality in Homosexual Men, Compared to Heterosexual Men and Women

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

Do homosexual men sound different from other people, when they talk? This Belgian study is a new attempt to answer that question:

Nasality in Homosexual Men: A Comparison with Heterosexual Men and Women,” Belle Vanpoucke [pictured here], Marjan Cosyns, Kim Bettens, and John Van Borse, Archives of Sexual Behavior, epub 2018. The authors, at Ghent University, Belgium, explain:

“Several studies reported that pitch and articulation may vary according to a person’s sexual orientation. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether homosexual males also demonstrate differences in nasal resonance compared to heterosexual males. Speech samples of 30 self-identified homosexual males, 35 heterosexual males, and 34 heterosexual females were compared both instrumentally and perceptually. Nasalance scores were calculated for the sounds /a/, /i/, /u/, and /m/ and for an oronasal, oral, and nasal text. In addition, the Nasality Severity Index was determined. Spontaneous speech samples were used for a perceptual evaluation of nasal resonance. Neither the nasalance scores nor the Nasality Severity Index were significantly different between the homosexual and heterosexual males. Heterosexual females, on the other hand, showed significantly higher nasalance values for the oronasal and oral text and a significantly lower Nasality Severity Index than both the homosexual and the heterosexual males. The perceptual judgment revealed no significant differences between the three groups. The results of this study suggest that, in contrast to pitch and articulation, nasality does not tend to vary with sexual orientation.”

Using Smartphone Apps to Find Sexual Partners [research study]

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

How to use smartphones to pick up sex partners is a problem that’s been studied by scholars. Now, three other scholars have studied those studies. Here’s what they say they found:

Using Smartphone Apps to Find Sexual Partners: A Review of the Literature,” A. Anzani, M. Di Sarno, and A. Prunas [pictured here], Sexologies, vol. 27, no. 3, July–September 2018, pp. e61-e65.

The authors, at the University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy, explain:

The current paper aims to offer an overview of recent research on mobile dating apps as a way to find sexual partners… The average app user profile is that of a white man having sex with men (MSM), between 25 and 35 years of age, with high education and income, who has a large number of sexual encounters and often engages in risky behavior (e.g., unprotected anal intercourse, drug or alcohol use during sex). Studies in the field suffer from several limitations, including a… paucity of studies on the positive sexual and relational outcomes of app use; finally, few studies explored app use in the LGBTQIA population as a whole, in addition to heterosexuals….

Finally, the large majority of studies were conducted in the United States, Australia or Asia, and there is still a lack of data from European countries.

Improbable Research