Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Philosophical disagreements on possible reason(s) ‘Why Flatulence is Funny’ – Professor Sellmaier v. Professor Spiegel

Thursday, January 17th, 2019
If you want a reliable method of raising laugh, you can always resort to references of flatulence – a comedic ploy that goes back (at least) 2000 years. But the question as to why it’s considered funny, remains, to this day, a hotly debated subject.

In 2013, Professor James Spiegel of the Philosophy Department at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, US, took a stab at explaining the phenomenon in issue 35 of the journal ‘Think’ (a journal of The Royal Institute of Philosophy, UK)

“[…] flatulence is a phenomenon that prompts a sudden sense of superiority, is incongruous with many aspects of human social life, and creates a constant exertion of mental energy from which we all need relief from time to time.”

See: ‘WHY FLATULENCE IS FUNNY’
4 years later, however, in the same journal, Prof. Dr. Stephan Sellmaier of the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences at Ludwig Maximilian-Universität, München., Germany, gave a blow by blow account of no less than five ‘problematic issues’ with Prof. Spiegel’s essay,

• (1) His claim that laughter always results from a pleasant psychological shift is false.
• (2) His argumentative move from what makes paradigm cases funny to what makes flatulence funny is unwarranted.
• (3) His notion of a psychological shift is not specific enough and lacks explanatory power.
• (4) The claim that funniness of flatulence involves superiority is doubtful.
• (5) His talk about ‘nervous energy’ is questionable and has implausible implications

See: CUT TO THE CHEESE – REPLY TO SPIEGEL’S ‘WHY FLATULENCE IS FUNNY’
The illustration is a detail from the He-Gassen scroll (c. 1603–1868)
[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

Nude Photos of College Students, for Research or Other Purposes

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Many people like to study the nude bodies of other people. This study studied some of those students of student bodies:
Using the student body: College and university students as research subjects in the United States during the twentieth century,” Heather Munro Prescott, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, vol. 57, no. 1, 2002, pp. 3-38. (Thanks to Ben Wurgaft for bringing this to our attention.) The author explains:

Among the major results of these efforts were the infamous “posture pictures” collected at many elite men’s and women’s colleges around the country. The practice of photographing students in the nude started in the late nineteenth century, and continued well into the 19705. The original purpose of these photographs was to assess the physical health of students at admission, since many believed that poor posture was a sign of illness, particularly tuberculosis. Students were photographed every year to demonstrate the positive impact of physical education programs and other preventive health measures in college.
Physicians soon realized that these data could do more than demonstrate the effectiveness of physical education programs: they could also be used to show the physical superiority of young people from the white, native-born, upper-middle classes.

Virtual Reality ‘Teabagging’ – an 'unlaughing' matter for hardcore gamers (study)

Monday, December 31st, 2018

First popularized within Halo 2 multiplayer competitive matches, teabagging is a controversial practice where the player’s avatar repeatedly crouches over a defeated player’s ‘body’ in order to simulate rubbing his or her genitals over the avatar’s body” [our hyperlink]

By way of a recent essay for the academic journal Games and Culture, the first (and quite probably as yet the only) critical scholarship study of Virtual Reality Teabagging is provided by Brian Hunt Myers, who a doctoral student at the Department of Communication, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, US.
He informs that some ‘hardcore’ First Person Shooter (FPS) enthusiasts are often not amused by such practices – quoting a comment from a player :

“I think teabagging represents a lower level of FPS play. Time spent teabagging a player could otherwise be used to reach the next objective, defend the area, or go on the offense once more. Many times a second or two counts, so the player engaged in teabagging isn’t thinking of the big picture.”

Thus, when confronted with VR teabagging, it’s not uncommon, says the author, for ‘serious’ players to resort to ‘unlaughter’.

“Unlaughter is more than just the absence of laughter but is instead the conscious withholding of laughter in response to an invitation or demand to laugh.”

In conclusion, he adds, however :

“Alongside the derisive sneer or the silence of unlaughter, then, I optimistically assert that perhaps another kind of laughter exists, one that is gentler and more receptive. If nothing else, the example of teabagging demonstrates that those moments of laughter are not beyond the realm of possibility and that allowing for those moments can offer critical inquiry resources for new alliances and reparative practices.”

See: ‘Friends With Benefits : Plausible Optimism and the Practice of Teabagging in Video Games’ which is awaiting publication in a future issue of the journal Games and Culture. (A full copy may be found here courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.)
Note: For an overview of real-world (as opposed to virtual-world) ‘teabagging’ see John Waters’ 1998 film Pecker.
Also See: Teabagging in the Name of Science
[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

FucU (Fucose, Unknown)

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

an evolutionarily conserved protein FucU (Fucose, Unknown) is a close paralogue of RbsD, with any compared pair of RbsD and FucU homologues sharing about 20% amino acid sequence identity with each other.

—so says the study “Crystal Structures of RbsD Leading to the Identification of Cytoplasmic Sugar-binding Proteins with a Novel Folding Architecture,” Min-Sung Kim, Joon Shin, Weontae Lee, Heung-Soo Lee and Byung-Ha Oh, Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 278, no. 30, July 25, 2003, pp. 28173–80. (Thanks to investigator Caroline Richmond for bringing this to our attention.)

Fresh Pees in the Garden

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Pee to help make your garden grow
Gardeners at a National Trust property in Cambridgeshire are urging people to relieve themselves outdoors to help gardens grow greener…. “There are obvious logistical benefits to limiting it to male members of the team…”

So says a November 13, 2009 BBC report. (Thanks to Dave Brooks for bringing this to our attention.)

Erectile dysfunction: stimulating news

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

If you are male, a headline mentioning male sexual problems could be the key to getting you interested in scientific research. That’s the theory, perhaps, behind a health.com report that begins:

Study links BPA in plastics to erectile dysfunction
Bisphenol-A, a chemical found in hard, clear plastic used to make everything from baby bottles to food packaging, may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems in male factory workers…

Object is Not Prussian

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Olivia Rausch is a moron. The photo in her article (“Museum
Treasures for Children,” AIR 14:7) does not show a “disused late-nineteenth century Prussian cannon shell” as she claims. That’s no cannon shell. It’s a piece of whale anatomy.

Doris Morra, Ph.D.
Cajamarca, Peru

(That’s an excerpt from the article “AIR Vents,” Published in AIR 15:4.)

New bat fellatio study gives insights

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

A new study helps answer the question raised in Thomas Nagel’s 1974 philosophy essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” A team of Chinese and British researchers focuses on one measurable aspect:
Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time,” Min Tan, Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang and Libiao Zhang, PLoS ONE, vol. 4, no. 10, e7595. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007595. The authors, who are variously at Guangdong Entomological Institute in Guangzhou, China; at the University of Bristol, UK,, at Guangxi Normal University in Guilin, China, and at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China; report:

Action video of two bats (click to start)


Oral sex is widely used in human foreplay, but rarely documented in other animals. Fellatio has been recorded in bonobos Pan paniscus, but even then functions largely as play behaviour among juvenile males. The short-nosed fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx exhibits resource defence polygyny and one sexually active male often roosts with groups of females in tents made from leaves. Female bats often lick their mate’s penis during dorsoventral copulation. The female lowers her head to lick the shaft or the base of the male’s penis but does not lick the glans penis which has already penetrated the vagina. Males never withdrew their penis when it was licked by the mating partner. A positive relationship exists between the length of time that the female licked the male’s penis during copulation and the duration of copulation. Furthermore, mating pairs spent significantly more time in copulation if the female licked her mate’s penis than if fellatio was absent. Males also show postcopulatory genital grooming after intromission. At present, we do not know why genital licking occurs, and we present four non-mutually exclusive hypotheses that may explain the function of fellatio in C. sphinx.

(Thanks to investigator Andrew Francis for bringing this to our attention.)

minimovie: Having sex in an MRI scanner

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Filmmaker Bahram Sadeghi made a six-episode minimovie documentary about Ig Nobel Prize winners. We are showcasing one episode a day here. (If you can’t wait to see the others, watch the entire set in hi-def at the minimovie.org web site.)
Episode 4: Sex in a MRI-scan! Pek van Andel, Willibrord Weijmar Schultz, Eduard Mooyaart and Ida Sabelis conducted the revolutionary experiment in which heterosexual couples made love in a MRI-scan. The Medicine price in 2000 went to the Netherlands.

minimovie: Homosexual necrophiliac duck

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Filmmaker Bahram Sadeghi made a six-episode minimovie documentary about Ig Nobel Prize winners. We will showcase one episode a day here, beginning today. (If you can’t wait to see the others, watch the entire set in hi-def at the minimovie.org web site.)
Episode 1: Kees Moeliker won the Ig Nobel Prize for Biology in 2003 for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.

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