Just for Fun: The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes

Just for Fun: The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, having been amused by the inanity of some theology dissertation or religion blog, the Ig Nobel Foundation comes along and raises the bar on inanity. The Ig Nobel prizes are given by Annals of Improbable Research which honors “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Don Troop writes an article on this year’s Ig Nobel prize winners in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Oct 7, 2011).

Troop headlines the article with an exploration of John R. Perry’s Ig Nobel prize for his article on “How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done,” in which he argues that “the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely, and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.” Dr. Perry is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford University. Troop reports that “Perry advises procrastinators to make a list of the many things they hope to accomplish, and then place a goal like ‘Learn Chinese’ at the very top. ‘You have to have good self-deceptive skills,’ he said. ‘That’s key.'”

Other Ig Nobel prize winners include:

Anna Wilkinson (University of Lincoln) and co-authors, for their paper, “No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise,” Current Zoology (2011)

Arturas Zuokas (Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania) “for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.”

Makoto Imai (Shiga University of Medical Science) and co-authors for their research demonstrating “the ideal density of airborne wasabi (a pungent horseradishlike condiment) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm”

Luk Warlop (Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium) and other researchers for their multiple papers “demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things, but worse decisions about other kinds of things, when they have a strong urge to urinate.” Papers published in Psychological Science (May 2011) and Neurology and Urodynamics (Jan 2011). Seriously.

Daryll T. Gwynne (University of Toronto-Mississauga) for his discovery “that certain kinds of beetles mate with certain kinds of Australian beer bottles.” Australian Journal of Entomology (1983).

Karl Halvor Teigen (University of Oslo), for his article “Is a Sigh ‘Just a Sigh’? Sighs as Emotional Signals and Responses to a Difficult Task,” in Scandanavian Journal of Psychology (2008).

This is not, I repeat not, a parody. I’m hoping that this research is helpful in some way for somebody, but until that can be proven, I don’t see the need for it any more than I do for wrapping my head in asbestos or wearing a tutu.