The Ig Nobel Prizes

If you aren’t familiar with the Ig Nobel prizes, they are given out every year by the Annals of Improbable Research to the silliest real science papers of the year. My physicist cousin won one many years ago for levitating a frog.

Here are the 2022 winners:

Art History Prize - “Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth, for their study ‘A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery.’”

Applied Cardiology Prize - “Eliska Prochazkova, Elio Sjak-Shie, Friederike Behrens, Daniel Lindh, and Mariska Kret, for seeking and finding evidence that when new romantic partners meet for the first time and feel attracted to each other, their heart rates synchronize.”

Literature Prize - “Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson, for analyzing what makes legal documents unnecessarily difficult to understand.”

Biology Prize - “Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, for studying whether and how constipation affects the mating prospects of scorpions.”

Medicine Prize - “Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz Basak, and Emilian Snarski, for showing that when patients undergo some forms of toxic chemotherapy, they suffer fewer harmful side effects when ice cream replaces one traditional component of the procedure.”

Engineering Prize - “Gen Matsuzaki, Kazuo Ohuchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno, and Goro Imura, for trying to discover the most efficient way for people to use their fingers when turning a knob.”

Physics Prize - “Frank Fish, Zhi-Ming Yuan, Minglu Chen, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji, and Atilla Incecik, for trying to understand how ducklings manage to swim in formation.”

Peace Prize - “Junhui Wu, Szabolcs Számadó, Pat Barclay, Bianca Beersma, Terence Dores Cruz, Sergio Lo Iacono, Annika Nieper, Kim Peters, Wojtek Przepiorka, Leo Tiokhin and Paul Van Lange, for developing an algorithm to help gossipers decide when to tell the truth and when to lie.”

Economics Prize - “Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda, for explaining mathematically why success most often goes not to the most talented people but instead to the luckiest.”

Safety Engineering Prize - “Magnus Gens, for developing a moose crash test dummy.”


Much more info here - Here are the winners of the 2022 Ig Nobel Prizes | Ars Technica


Either there is some forced perspective at play in that photo or I have DRAMATICALLY underestimated the size of a moose :open_mouth:


Moose are pretty big.



This strikes me as completely valid and a potentially great service to all humankind (if only those in the legal profession should choose to implement its findings).


Vis-à-vis your message, and without the introduction of prejudice as to any outcome, I on this day and by means of this message so give you notice that due consideration will be given to this study through the application of a timetable of our choosing with a remittance on any recommendations contained within at a time consistent with said timetable with any responses to be provided in writing to you and / or your specified representative at the conclusion of consideration in line with the aforementioned timetable


Ahem, I’m pretty sure it’s “meese.” :face_with_monocle:




I know these are tongue-in-cheek awards and a lot of the time the recipients get a good laugh out of it, but most of the time these are either legitimate research questions (if a little weird to people outside the field) or a side-result of a bigger project. It always bugs me a little when I see these, especially in the current anti-science environment.

Oh, and Mythbusters made a moose crash test dummy years ago!


They actually intend it to be a teaching moment. They’re teaching through laughter, but it’s a way to make science more accessible to the public.


Ages ago there was a short story (in OMNI magazine?) that mentioned a device that took plain English writing and converted it to lengthy, error-free legalese. Of course, when anyone in the legal profession wanted to read these things, they would put it through the reverse process to get the plain English part first.

Also, that Moose diagram made me replay in my mind the Resident Alien series title music.


Oh, I know there’s no ill intention. It’s more when these lists show up a few levels down the line and you start getting “look at what they’re wasting our money on!” comments. I personally love reading about the crazy research projects these come up with. Looking at you, Mayan enema art!


Okay, I want a link to this because that’s interesting…

Okay, but now you have to tell me which part?

I love the word “trying” because it implies they still don’t know.


For some reason, the link to the paper didn’t copy over with the legal one. Here it is: Poor writing, not specialized concepts, drives processing difficulty in legal language - PubMed

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This is what you win if you win an Ig Nobel.

It’s worth about 40 cents.


I met an INP winner once. He won for feeding Prozac to clams.

Which is hilarious, but it was in an effort to find what made clams spawn so we could deal with the Zebra Clam problem.


I agree – it may be meant tongue-in-cheek but the anti-science crowd never misses a chance to start stomping their feet and shaking their tiny fists in impotent rage. My favorite part is when someone howls about “the waste of U.S. taxpayer money” for a study financed by a university in Lisbon.


Yup. I do not see any mention of the cast and crew in the publication. Since the published study was started in 1994, it is possible that the Mythbusters staff received consultation from these researchers. IIRC, the moose designs were very similar (though I can’t confirm as I do not see any screenshots on the interwebs).


I didn’t see that the study went back that far. In that case, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Mythbusters consulted them. The designs do look pretty similar.



Love the Igs, been following them for a long time. My favorite is still the horrific one on Mallards.