Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Candidate for an "Ig Nobel Prize"?

Each year the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research awards "Ig Nobel Prizes" (a parody of Nobel Prizes) to ten serious scientific studies "that first make people laugh, and then make them think." For example, in 1993 the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics went to French alchemist Corentin Louis Kervran for his finding that calcium in chicken eggshells was a result of cold fusion.The 1996 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the editors of the journal Social Text for publishing meaningless and incomprehensible articles claiming that reality did not exist. Here is a complete list of former Ig Nobel Prize winners.  

Were I on the nominating for the Ig Nobel Prize in Sociology or Public Health for this year, I would nominate a study discussed (here) in today's Daily Telegraph, according to which people named Andy and Sarah are most likely to "call in sick from work." It made me laugh. However, it has not yet made me think.

1 comment:

  1. In 1997 an IgNobel prize was awarded to a cold fusion researcher, Bockris. Long before that date, cold fusion has been replicated by thousands of scientists and these replications were published in hundreds of mainstream peer-reviewed papers. Opposition to the research is motivated by academic politics, and the kind of ridicule that prompted the IgNobel prize is caused by ignorance and people who are too lazy to read the peer-reviewed literature. See:

    Kervran's work has been partly replicated by other scientists. It has not been confirmed but it does not deserve ridicule. No serious scientific research does. In 1990, a Nature editorial attacking cold fusion called for "a measure of unrestrained mockery, even a little unqualified vituperation."

    Ridicule, mockery and vituperation have no place in science, and they are a betrayal of scientific and academic ethics.


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