The Ig Nobels

A decent crop this year, although they do seem to have changed a little bit from honouring completely nutty research to honouring really rather good research which only sounds nutty at first.


Geoffrey Miller at the University of New Mexico for discovering that lap dancers get larger tips when they are ovulating.

This touches on something really rather important. We know that there\’s something of a game going on between men and women over when women ovulate. We\’re pretty much the only mammal that doesn\’t in fact advertise the moments of maximum fertility. In this game women are attempting to hide when they are indeed fertile. But if the strippers get higher tips when they are ovulating, this presumably means that men can in fact tell, even if only subconsciously, when they are.

Which shows that there might be a few rounds in this game still to go.


Dan Ariely at Duke University for demonstrating that expensive placebos are better painkillers than cheaper ones.

And that\’s got a lot of implications for health care, doesn\’t it?

6 thoughts on “The Ig Nobels”

  1. It seems as if, insofar as price of placebos is concerned, a more proper test would look into whether a higher price for the very same placebo rendered it more effective.

  2. Regarding the strippers, I honestly couldn’t comment. As for the placebo effect, this is simply more proof of the mentality that afflicts socialists: the more money you throw at things the better they will get. Sadly the world of government doesn’t behave like the world of medical research.

  3. Actually quite a few social-living animals, including mammals, conceal peak fertility. It increases paternity uncertainty, which is to the females’ advantage because increases their scope to select for the best genes. Those pink swellings on the rear of primates are cyclical signals but intentionally vague ones.

    That men can register unconsciously the signals of ovulation despite the lack of their lack of obviousness shows how far this sexual arms race has run.

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