Here are the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize 'winners'

When keeping it scientific goes wrong.

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Let’s say you’re a scientist, and you’ve worked your entire adult life at your discipline. You do a sort of offbeat study, for valid scientific reasons, and figure, hey, this’ll get a laugh in whatever journal is relevant to your field, and then somebody calls you from Cambridge, Mass., and tells you you’ve won science’s equivalent of a Razzie. These are this year’s Ig Nobel Prize winners. Enjoy.

RELATED: The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize winners

The 2014 Ig Nobel Prize winners

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WINNERS: Ahmed Shafik (deceased)

FOR: Studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and, later, on humans.

OUR THOUGHTS: There’s a lot to unpack here, which is difficult when I keep imagining rats in a tiny club, drinking thimble-sized Jager Bombs and trying to squeak to each other over the music. Also, there are rat pants?

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Wikimedia, Thinkstock, Pixabay


WINNERS: Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes and Shelagh Ferguson

FOR: Describing the perceived personalities of different rocks from a marketing perspective.

OUR THOUGHTS: I’d laugh, but I have to get back to my marketing MBA thesis, about the branding implications of the different strata of the Grand Canyon. Are 18-to-25 year-olds really going to pay attention to basalt? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Wikimedia, Thinkstock


WINNERS: Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth

FOR: Discovering that dragonflies are apparently very attracted to dark colors

OUR THOUGHTS: Dragonflies, it turns out, are attracted to dark colors, and are therefore clearly super goth, only instead of smoking clove cigarettes and listening to terrible music, they bite you and interfere with the practice of agriculture. Otherwise, exactly the same. Science!

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Wikimedia, Thinkstock


WINNERS: Volkswagen

FOR: “Solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.”

OUR THOUGHTS: In case you’ve been living under a rock. Personally, if I was Volkswagen, this is what I would have argued I was doing. “See, we’re just testing better emission controls really, really selectively! Just happens to be whenever you’re testing our cars!”

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Stephen Sauer


WINNERS: Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger

FOR: Discovering that, if you have an itch on the right side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the left side of your body.

OUR TAKE: OH MY GOD THAT’S THE CRAZIEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD although I tested it just now – got a horsefly bite on my arm – and I’m not sure it worked for me.

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WINNERS: Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere

FOR: “Asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.”

OUR TAKE: Plot twist: They asked 10 people the same question 100 times each, then went to Aruba on the rest of the research funding. What’s the difference?

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Flickr/ Georgie Pauwels


WINNERS: Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang

FOR: A study titled “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit.”

OUR TAKE: /gif of Orson Welles applauding intensely

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Thomas Thwaites


WINNERS: Charles Foster, Thomas Thwaites (joint winners)

FOR: Foster for living in the wild as, variously, a badger, a deer, an otter, a fox and a bird. Thwaites for “creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.”

OUR TAKE: This may have worked too well, since Thwaites enlivened the award ceremony by gnawing on the edge of his prize and bleating.

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WINNERS: Fredrik Sjöberg

FOR: Writing a three-volume autobiography centered on the pleasures of collecting both dead and living flies.

OUR TAKE: Geez, and I struggle to wring 1,000 words out of interesting topics. Maybe he travels to far-off lands in search of interesting dead flies, and performs amazing feats to track down living ones. I hope he has a nemesis fly, that he has been chasing for years and never gotten close to. A white whale fly, if you will.

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WINNERS: Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi

FOR: Investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

OUR TAKE: Why not just ask an NFL center? My educated guess is that the world moves the other way when you try to walk and everyone you can see looks much more amused than they otherwise would.