It’s that time of year again when the Annals of Improbable Research (not to be confused with the Journal of Irreproducible Results, which also exists) dishes out gongs to research that fits into the ‘wild haired mad scientist’ category.
Who, for example, knew that polyester underpants reduce male sex drive? The now sadly deceased Dr Ahmed Shafik found out by dressing male rats in tiny underpants made of different materials, and studying how often they had sex. One of the (female) reviewers of the study drily remarked that she felt it was just a result of it being hard to get a date when you dress like a weirdo.
The prize for literature went to Fredrik Sjoberg, a Swedish entomologist for his three-volume autobiography about the pleasures of collecting flies, dead or alive. Apparently he lives on a really tiny island, so he’s no threat to anybody else, except in the unlikely event of him being married.
Still in the world of insects, we find why white horses are more resistant to horsefly bites than are dark horses, and why dragonflies are attracted to black tombstones.
The chemistry prize went sarcastically to Volkswagen ‘for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions.’ I like the style here.
Things got really swivel-eyed when we got to the economics prize. I’m not sure how this came about, but it was awarded to a bunch of marketing theorists (‘Danger Will Robinson! Danger!’), who studied how people perceive rocks’ personalities. Getting the grant for that must have been a job for my hero Marc Zimmerframe. I’m sure you remember him.
There’s the man who lived as a goat for a week, even designing his own limb prosthetics to make things more authentic. He even consulted a goat psychologist, another unlikely occupation. His joint winner has lived variously as a deer, an urban fox, an otter (catching fish with his mouth), and a swift. The two nutjobs were awarded the biology prize.
My favourite though was Tania Lambrozo. Crazy name, crazy gal. She got the literature prize for a treatise entitled ‘On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit.’ Gotta love that. She must have a hoot looking at memes on Facebook in her spare time.
The overall winner was given a prize of a ten trillion dollar note from Zimbabwe. That’s not as funny as it sounds; they’re collectors items because they only printed ten of them.