Great moments in human research

Part two: "Concluding, among other things..."

Also in this week's column:

Great moments in human research 2: "Concluding, among other things..."

The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded to research that is not exactly compelling. Here are some more "winners" in human research.

  • An August 1994 article in Ergonomics concluding, among other things, that wet underwear has a "demonstrated" cooling effect upon the body.
  • An April 1996 article in Parasitology Today concluding, among other things, that a particular species of female mosquito that can carry malaria is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese as she is to the smell of human feet.
  • A 9 November 1996 article in The Lancet concluding, among other things, that if you prick your finger on a chicken bone it is possible to smell putrid for five years. The case was of a 29-year-old man was reported by his doctors.
  • A 1997 article in Neuropsychobiology concluding, among other things, that chewing gum of different flavours produces slightly different brain wave patterns.
  • A 20 March 1999 article in Tidsskift For Den Norsk Laegeforening [The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association] concluding, among other things, that patients differ in which containers they prefer for urine samples.
  • A May 1999 article in Psychological Medicine concluding, among other things, that from the brain biochemistry stand-point, people who are in romantic love are indistinguishable from people suffering from extreme obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • A December 1999 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluding, among other things, that people who have difficulty recognising their own incompetence often have "inflated self-assessments".
  • A December 1999 article in the British Medical Journal concluding, among other things, that: "[T]aking magnetic resonance images of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible and contributes to understanding of anatomy."
  • A June 2001 article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology concluding, among other things, that nose picking is a common activity of adolescents.
  • A 2002 article in the Human Nature concluding, among other things, that chickens prefer beautiful people compared to ugly people and that "the animals showed preferences for faces consistent with human sexual preferences (obtained from university students)".

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

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