Sunday, 27 September 2009

The Ig Nobel Awards for Rectal Massage & Rat Linguistics

Apparently, the government intends to rationalise funding for scientific studies, cutting back on the silly ones and directing funds to those which have 'impact'. This Telegraph article suggests a few candidates for wasted time and money, although given the world's malaria-related mortality rates I'm not so sure that 'mosquitos prefer limburger cheese to feet' is totally irrelevant. Ditto the 'rectal massage cure for hiccups'. (To be fair, the Telegraph itself points out that chronic hiccuping is a serious problem for some and the research may eventually contribute to an effective theraputic approach.)

I also have to take issue with the idea that 'Lap dancers get more tips while ovulating' is useless information. Human sexual behaviour is sufficient a conundrum to usefully muse upon the role of subconcious signals. It puts us in our biological place - not a bad philosophical endeavour.

So I was going to write about how stuff gets invented by accident and that our understanding of our place in the universe has been refined by all sorts of research that looked pointless at its inception - and then David Mitchell did it better. So go here if you'd like a good read and to find out how we got diverted from building the perfect mammoth trap.

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