Ig Nobel 2008

Last Thursday, the 2008 Ig Nobel awards were given out, recognizing scientific achievements “that first make people laugh, and then make them think” (http://improbable.com/ig).    I am pleased to announce that once again, anthropological knowledge (irrespective of the affiliations of the researchers) has made a substantial impact on the field of weird research, with no less than three awards given in three very different areas of research:

Evolutionary anthropologists will be thrilled to hear that Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan won the Ig Nobel for economics for their article ‘Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers‘, in which they demonstrate that strip club dancers earn significantly larger tips while in estrus than while menstruating, but that those who use contraceptives show no peaks and valleys in their earnings.   This represents the first time that human estrus has been demonstrated empirically to have economic effects in the real world.

In archaeology, Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and Jose Carlos Marcelino have won the Ig Nobel in archaeology for their insightful, ‘The role of armadillos in the movement of archaeological materials‘.   For the first time, we know not only that armadillos do play such a role, but specifically what sorts of post-depositional activity can be attributed to the critters.

Of relevance to linguistic and organizational anthropology, David Sims has won the Ig Nobel for literature for ‘You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations‘.  This is a fascinating study of interpersonal relations gone wrong in the workplace, using ethnographic and linguistic methodologies to demonstrate how and why certain people are demonized as ‘bastards’.  I’ve known of this article for a while, and am using it next term in my Language and Society course.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Works cited

Mello Araujo, Astolfo G. and Jose Carlos Marcelino. 2003. The role of armadillos in the movement of archaeological materials: an experimental approach. Geoarchaeology 18(4): 433-460.

Miller, Geoffrey, Joshua M. Tybur and Brent D. Jordan. 2007. Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus? Evolution and Human Behavior 28(6): 375-381.

Sims, David. 2005. You bastard: a narrative exploration of the experience of indignation within organizations. Organization Studies 26(11): 1625-1640.

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