The Ig Nobel awards
Muse #235 - meaningless research is still research that has some meaning
It is that time of the year. The time for the yearly Ig Nobel awards. The parody on the Nobel prize. Evaluating the dumbest of the dumbest research to award the most dumbest. Interesting indeed.
Consider things this year, like the Transporation Prize on whether it is ideal to transport Rhino’s (via helicopters) right side up or upside down and to figure what is less harmful to these animals. Or discovering that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption, in the Economics prize category. Head over to their site to see the full list of 2021 winners and also past winners all the way to 1993.
My personal best is two from the Psychology category. And I use both of them when I teach “Agility” while on the topic of introduction to human behavior.
One is attention blindness in humans. Or inattention blindness. Depending on the perspective you look at it. Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Christopher Chabris of Harvard University got the 2004 Psychology award for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it’s all too easy to overlook anything else — even a woman in a gorilla suit.
REFERENCE: “Gorillas in Our Midst,” Daniel J. Simons and Christopher F. Chabris, vol. 28, Perception, 1999, pages 1059-74.
The second one is the famous Dunning-Kruger effect which got the Psychology award in the year 2000. David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kruger of the University of Illinois, for their modest report, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” [Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 77, no. 6, December 1999, pp. 1121-34.]
This second one, I have reduced it to a quotation that might explain it more effectively and I shall leave you with it…
If a country bumpkin is aware that he is a country bumpkin, and knows why he is a country bumpkin, is he still a country bumpkin?
- A country bumpkin paradox