Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Everyone likes to be recognized for their work. Napoleon once said that "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon," and it's true that military people often crave the recognition inherent in a colorful medal, ribbon, or sash. In the world of business, we present workers with certificates, small gifts, or similar things (often in lieu of cash). Those sorts of things aren't always received in the right spirit, though. Years ago when I was working in Berlin, our commander presented a certificate of recognition to one of our more outspoken local national employees who, preferring a raise or bonus to a piece of paper, took the certificate, looked at it, ostentatiously folded it roughly in quarters, and shoved it into his back pocket before returning to his seat.

There are all sorts of professional recognition. Actors crave receipt of an Oscar (although the Academy Awards are somewhat diminished by the proliferation of awards for obscure things: "Best Use of Left-Handed Cross-Dressing Midgets in a Scene Filmed in Less Than Four Takes," for instance). Musicians want Grammies. Theater actors want a Tony. People who design and produce annoying TV commercials would love to win a Clio. And so it goes.

A week or two ago came the announcement of the 2008 Ig Nobel awards, presented annually by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine to scientific research that "first make people laugh, then make them think." My favorite of this year's Ig Nobel prizes went to an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico who knew of existing studies that found women are more attractive to men when at peak fertility. The professor and his assistants decided to expand on this knowledge by studying the earnings of ... um ... exotic dancers. They ... er ... studied 18 "subjects," learning that, on average, they earned $250 for a five-hour shift. However, the same ladies earned $350 to $400 per five-hour shift when they were at their most fertile. The practical result of this research appeared to be that, based on "anecdotal evidence," some lap dancers scheduled their shifts at times of maximum fertility to enhance their earnings.

Now that's my kind of scientific research.

You can read the whole story of this year's Ig Nobel awards here.

I think I'm going to propose some research worthy of an Ig Nobel award for next year. My topic will be "Harnessing the Energy of Political Campaigns: Proposals for the Capture and Efficient Use of Hot Air and Bull...t."

There's no shortage of research material, after all.

Have a good day. Do something worthy of an award. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

That's some they enjoyed doing it too.

Blog Stalker said...

Some lonely college guys came up with that study for sure.

I really liked your idea for a study. If we could harness all the hot air and bull $*^& from the politicians we would solve the whole worlds energy concerns.

Have a great day!

Mike said...

Where do I sign up for the next study?