2008 Ig Nobel Prizes, and Comment(s) o’ the Week!

As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, last night I attended the Ig Nobel awards, hosted by previous Boston Skeptics in the Pub speaker Marc Abrahams. As always, it was full of unabashed nerdiness, paper airplanes, actual Nobel laureates (Mandelbrot!), operatic interludes, and a goofy theme: this year was redundancy. Yes, the theme was redundancy.

The list of “winners” can be found here. Among them, please notice Dan Ariely, whom I mentioned on Skepchick last week. Dan won for his research into whether or not more expensive placebos are also more effective (they are). When I saw that he won, I was surprised only that the award was not for his study on the inability of men to accurately predict how kinky and sexually deviant they will be while masturbating (seriously, pick up his book, it’s great). In his acceptance speech, he expressed the exact same concern I did, before being driven off the stage by Miss Sweetiepoo, an adorable little girl who cuts long-winded speeches short with a plantive and repetitive (redundant?) “Please stop, I’m bored.”

I wanted to hang around after the show and chat with some of the winners, but had to dash off to a friend’s birthday gathering across the river (where I saw the blond dude from Queer Eye, as the Twitter followers also know . . . I was a Twittering fool last night).

I’d love to make up for it by attending the free Ig Nobel lectures tomorrow (Saturday, at MIT), but I’ll be out of town for yet another friend’s birthday. Yes, we Libras who don’t believe in astrology tend to stick together. I may not be able to make it, but I hope some of you go. The Igs are always fun and often informative, to boot. Oh, and next year? We need to have a Skepchick/Skeptics in the Pub contingent there.

On to our own special award show: Comment o’ the Week!

There were significantly fewer posts nominated this week with a helpful “COTW!” response, but that’s okay. Instead of awarding the prize to one post, I am instead going to give it to every single post made by SophieHirschfeld in this Afternoon Inquisition on whether or not a woman working in the sex industry can be a feminist. Sophie made some very good arguments backed up by scientific research, and it didn’t hurt that she happens to be a feminist in the sex industry.

That whole thread was very interesting, and most everyone was well-behaved and rational about a very divicive topic. So kudos all around, including to Sophie’s primary discussion partner, SicPreFix.

Oh, hell, I’m going to give kudos across the board. The AIs have been pretty damned interesting, with lots about sex and politics, and I didn’t see anyone behaving like a total jackass. Way to be awesome, Skepchick commenters!

To celebrate, let’s have another open thread where you can post anything (anything! Doesn’t have to be skeptical or sciencey, though that’s allowed) that you think will make us all smile. Here’s the previous one, to get you in the mood.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Rebecca, I think you are a victim of your own success. AI is working out so well no one wants to leave those discussions to make you laugh.

  2. Cool! Kudos. I like kudos. Haven’t had kudos in donkeys.

    Sophie posted some really good stuff didn’t she. I look forward to her future contributions.

    I don’t really have anything funny and skeptical, but I find this site has some pretty well written satire that gives me a smile:


  3. By the by Rebecca, we share a last name and a birthday separation of only four! I know it’s not quite a 3, or a 7, or a holy 9, but jeebles, there must be some mysticality brewing in the fog of … uh, something or other.


  4. This is an open thread so I think I can ask this question.

    Why is it that being a good father is noteworthy? Shouldn’t it be taken as a given? I don’t think I do anything special but so many people make a big deal out of the fact that I am a good dad. It makes me feel really uncomfortable when people do it. Aren’t most dads good dads? The ones I know are anyway.

  5. Okay, why did I just ask a whiney cry baby question?

    I just watched “Run fatboy, run.” With simon pegg and thandi newton. And one of the things I noticed is that even though “Dennis” is a bit of a dick he is really good with his son. He can’t do much else right but he is good with his boy.

    How many of the skeptics are good parents? I hope most of you are. I would be surprised if you weren’t

  6. There’s a few people I would like to see nominated for Ig Nobel prizes, but here’s just one example:

    I’d love to see somebody like Helen Caldicott nominated for the Ig Nobel prize for physics, for her persistent belief that she can just make up her own version of the laws of physics as she goes along.

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