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Improbable Research

Research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK

Last Build Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2018 02:09:25 +0000


That glop of computer code

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:06:57 +0000

Talent vs Luck: the Role of Randomness in Success and Failure [research study]

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:00:06 +0000

Are successful people better than people who did not achieve success—or are they to a large degree lucky? This physics-based analysis looked into that tangled question: “Talent vs Luck: the Role of Randomness in Success and Failure,” Alessandro Pluchino, A. E. Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda, arXiv:1802.07068v1, February 20, 2018. The authors, at the University of […]

Sad news: Dick Taylor is gone

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:00:41 +0000

A news report from Stanford University says that Dick Taylor died today. We had a good time back in 1998 at an Ig Nobel show at Stanford University. Lila Guterman, writing in the Stanford Report, described part of that evening: Theories of improbability: Gum-chewing Nobelists talk silly science A paper airplane whizzed through the air […]

A dinosaur movie that scholars can admire

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 18:05:27 +0000

Dinosaur scholarship becomes ever more open to discussion between scholars and the general public. This video is evidence thereof. (Thanks to Sally Shelton and Scott Langill for bringing this to our attention.)

(At least) Two Ways to Frustrate a Desire (for a Cup of Tea)

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:00:49 +0000

How might a person’s desire be ‘frustrated’ by another person? Philosophers David Birks and Thomas Douglas at the University of Oxford, suggest two ways in the Journal of Value Inquiry, September 2017, using the desire for a cup of tea as an example. “Suppose that a person, call him Andrew, has a desire to drink […]

Macaques Form Preferences for Brand Logos Through Sex and Advertising [research study]

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 17:57:17 +0000

A further advance in understanding the value of butt recognition: “Rhesus Macaques Form Preferences for Brand Logos Through Sex and Social Status Based Advertising,” M. Yavuz Acikalin, Karli K. Watson, Gavan J. Fitzsimons, and Michael L. Platt, PloS ONE, vol. 13, no. 2, 2018, e0193055. (Thanks to David Austin for bringing this to our attention.) […]

Awaiting the press release for the press release exaggerations study

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 14:40:09 +0000

We are eager to see the press release (if there is one) that heralds this research study: “Exaggerations and Caveats in Press Releases and Health-Related Science News,” Petroc Sumner, Solveiga Vivian-Griffiths, Jacky Boivin, Andrew Williams, Lewis Bott, Rachel Adams, Christos A. Venetis, Leanne Whelan, Bethan Hughes, and Christopher D. Chambers, PLoS One, vol. 11, no. 12, […]

Earprints as criminal evidence

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:55:36 +0000

“An earprint is an impression of the external ear. House breakers may leave their earprints inadvertently when they listen at doors and windows to check if there is anyone inside before breaking and entering a premises. Owing to uniqueness and individualistic characteristics of the human ear, earprints can be used as evidence to link a […]

OUTSTANDING PRESS RELEASE of the Year: “Most Loved Injector”

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:29:13 +0000

Here is the verbatim text of the OUTSTANDING PRESS RELEASE of the Year: Date: Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 9:41:29 AM Pacific Standard Time From: Michelle Thompson Boston’s beloved facial injector, Dr. Onir Spiegel, was the only doctor in Massachusetts named as RealSelf’s “Most Loved Injector Award for 2017.” RealSelf received over 20,000 nominations nationwide, and […]

Improbable Research at AAAS — Saturday Night in Austin

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 01:29:48 +0000

Join us for the Improbable Research session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, in Austin Texas! When: Saturday night, February 17, 8:00 pm. Where: Hilton Austin Hotel— Salon H, Austin, Texas The event will include will include: Marc Abrahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony Ig Nobel Prize winner Alex Suarez (Zurich, Switzerland)—Using a didgeridoo […]