Nathaniel Barr’s Ig Nobel lecture on Pseudo-Profound Bullshit

October 1st, 2019

Nathaniel Barr did a five-minute-long talk about pseudo-profound bullshit, and then answered questions, two days after receiving the 2016 Ig Nobel Peace Prize.

That prize was awarded to Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”. (The study was published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 10, no. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563.)

Here’s video of that talk, part of the Ig Informal Lectures, at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Quantifying Missing Drizzle – a new paradigm [study]

September 30th, 2019

If a raindrop is less than 0.5mm in diameter, it’s drizzle – and if a drizzle particle is over 0.5mm, it’s a raindrop. That’s following the definitions of the National Weather Service Observing Handbook No. 8, Aviation Weather Observations for Supplementary Aviation Weather Reporting Stations (SAWRS), Manual Observations, October 1996. But quantifying drizzle is not as straightforward as simply collecting raindrops in a disdrometer, [see photo] because drizzle doesn’t (necessarily) ‘fall’ in a predictable way, as rain (sometimes) does, In short, Disdrometers have difficulty with drizzle :

“Commonly used disdrometers tend not to accurately measure concentrations of very small drops in the raindrop size distribution (DSD), either through truncation of the DSD at the small-drop end or because of large uncertainties on these measurements. Recent studies have shown that, as a result of these inaccuracies, many if not most ground-based disdrometers do not capture the ‘drizzle mode’ of precipitation, which consists of large concentrations of small drops and is often separated from the main part of the DSD by a shoulder region.”

– explains a report in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, Jan. 2019. The authors propose a solution to such problems :

“We present a technique for reconstructing the drizzle mode of the DSD from ‘incomplete’ measurements in which the drizzle mode is not present.”

See: Reconstructing the Drizzle Mode of the Raindrop Size Distribution Using Double-Moment Normalization, Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, Jan. 2019

Note: If the water droplet size is below 20 micrometers (or so) it’s not drizzle, it’s fog. [Ref : Pruppacher H., Klett J. (2010) Microstructure of Atmospheric Clouds and Precipitation. In: Microphysics of Clouds and Precipitation. Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences Library, vol 18.]

BONUS: The internationally recognized symbols for drizzle(s) can be found here.

Photo: Courtesy Wikipedia

Research research: Martin Gardiner

What happens at an Improbable Dramatic Readings session

September 27th, 2019

Improbable Dramatic Readings is (or are) one of the kinds of events we’ve invented. Here’s video of the Improbable Dramatic Readings session at Arisia, in January 2019.

This particular session included:

  • Dramatic readings from (real) improbable research studies. The dramatic readers: Gary Dryfoos, Sonya Taaffe, Jeremy Bell. Michele Liguori, Geri Sullivan, human spotlight Jim Bredt, and an unnamed timer also are featured.
  • Also: The world premiere performance of the chorus-enhanced version of William Topaz McGonagall‘s disastrous poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster.” (This poem, in this enhanced version, was performed again later in the year in Ig Nobel shows in England.)

You may wonder why the performers repeatedly refer to music. There was an event in an adjoining hall that involved loud music which would sometimes become overpoweringly audible in the hall where we performed. Happily for you, dear video watcher, that music did not get nearly as distractingly picked up in this recording.

(Thanks to David Kessler for arranging this event from 3000 miles away.)

Ig Nobel Peace Prize winner Jacques Chirac has died

September 26th, 2019

Jacques Chirac, who was awarded the 1996 Ig Nobel Peace Prize, has died. A news report in DW says: “The former French president, Jacques Chirac, has died ‘peacefully’ at the age of 86, his family said.’

The 1996 Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Jacques Chirac, President of France, for commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima with atomic bomb tests in the Pacific.

Will you go to Hel?

September 26th, 2019

Will you go to Hel? If you go to Pomerania, specifically to the Hel Peninsula, and then go alllllllllllllllllll the way to the tip of that peninsula, you will find yourself in the town of Hel. Good luck, voyager!

Here is a tourism photograph of Hel:

Need a map? Here’s one.

You might notice that the Hel Peninsula is not far from Puck. Yet Puck is a long way from Hel. Make of that what you will.

BONUS FACT (unrelated): The 1994 Ig Nobel Prize for mathematics was awarded to the he Southern Baptist Church of Alabama, mathematical measurers of morality, for their county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to Hell if they don’t repent. The railway station master in Hell, Norway sent greetings that were delivered at that year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony by the Norwegian consul to Boston.

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